Costa Rica has become an increasingly popular vacation destination for people of all backgrounds. From family trips, to spring breakers, to business retreats, Costa Rica has the modern development and tropical charm to host any type of get-away. Its luxury hotels and exotic cuisine entices the pickiest of travelers, and the modern city development and access to wifi has the nervous adventurer feeling right at home. Best yet, airplane tickets from the United States cost no more than a simple domestic flight, so families are choosing a tropical beach vacation over a road trip more and more consistently.
Although Costa Rica is the most developed country in Central America with the highest standard of living, there is still a lot of need. Many groups of travelers, especially young families, are choosing to dedicate one day of their Costa Rican vacation to doing good in their host country. These do-gooders get the best of both worlds, they enjoy a full tropical vacation and return home feeling fulfilled with their volunteer work. They even get the special opportunity to experience a different side of Costa Rica not seen by many tourists. For those looking to leave Costa Rica with just a bit of volunteering under their belt, there are plenty of ways you can donate a day of your vacation while not missing out on a tropical experience.
Volunteer with Children
There are hundreds of programs working with children across the country. These range from reading groups, to English lessons, even to playing soccer with young children in after school programs. Look into programs benefiting high-risk youth in your area and send an email to a program coordinator. Some organizations will invite you to spend an afternoon playing hop-scotch and soccer on an orphanage campus and others may find good use for your professional skills, whether that be physical therapy or accounting.
You’ll find educational programs, children’s hospital volunteer days, and programs catering to homeless or abandoned children in many main cities. Your Spanish doesn’t need to be perfect to spend an afternoon playing soccer under the tropical sun.
Work with Animal Welfare and Conservation
Costa Rica is considered one of the most ecologically important countries in the world, supporting over 4% of the entire world’s biodiversity. With this huge importance comes great responsibility, and Costa Rica has set up protected National Parks and started environmental initiatives across the country. Volunteering a day of your vacation to contribute to species conservation will be the perfect way to spend your time. After a vacation full of beach relaxation, rainforest hikes, and volcano explorations, contributing to the conservation of the environment will be the perfect gift to leave behind before your flight home. Best yet, this day of volunteering will most likely be beach-side.
One of the more popular volunteer opportunities is to give a day working with endangered sea turtle populations on the Osa Peninsula. You’ll be invited to join a boating expedition dedicated to tagging wild turtles to study their habits and create better policies to protect their migration patterns and habitats. You may also work in mangrove reforestation and beach clean-up projects. You’ll join a diverse and wildly interesting team of volunteers from all around the globe and learn a lot about the animal life of the Central American region.
Support the Local Economy
A lot of people quickly find out that there is a way to do good during your Costa Rica adventure that doesn’t include dedicating an entire day to volunteerism. You can travel as you please, receive all the services and products available, and receive an even better and more genuine view of Costa Rica by supporting the local economy during your stay. There is no reason for you to stay in a chain hotel when local families have tropical and modern lodging options ranging from luxury resorts to eco-lodges. Look into the owners of the businesses you decide to support. You will very easily find lodging options, tour operators, transport services, and the most incredible of restaurants which are locally owned. You’ll receive a high-quality, genuine view of Costa Rica and will be supporting local families and the increasingly strong local economy of your all-time favorite vacation destination.