Embark on an alternative spring break volunteer experience focused on learning about sustainable development and contributing towards vital development projects.
In the town of Quepos, a coastal community based at the entrance to Manuel Antonio National Park, partake in a variety of development programs dependent on the needs of the community at the time. Most programs will revolve around construction and restoration projects focused on community and educational centres.
In addition to contributing to a diverse range of projects you will also have time to explore the stunning area surrounding Quepos. The Pacific coast provides fantastic surf opportunities, the nearby jungles are full of incredible wildlife, and the surrounding towns provide a taste of typical Costa Rican culture.
In addition to educational opportunities to learn more about sustainable development there will also be organised reflection sessions where individuals will engage in critical conversations surrounding their involvement on the project, their perceived successes, and perceived areas for personal development.
Live in and explore a typical Costa Rican town; one that is close to exciting adventure activities but not located right on the typical backpackers route.
Create connections with the local community that are typically hard to develop in only a week, getting the chance to better know individuals providing a unique glimpse into ‘Tico’ culture.
View a range of diverse wildlife; howler monkeys, toucans, and sloths in nearby Manuel Antonio National Park.
"The holistic approach of our programs in Quepos allows us to contribute to the education of the children where and when our work is needed the most."
What's Not Included
Your experience in Costa Rica will begin in the cultural capital of San Jose. This is where you will initially meet up with the rest of the group and begin with a comprehensive orientation covering essential elements for the upcoming week. You will review the projects that GVI is running in Costa Rica, a general cultural introduction to the country, as well as a beginning conversation surrounding what creates a successful development project.
Once in the town of Quepos you will jump into contributing to various development projects. You might find yourself building new shelves for the local library, jazzing up the local community centre with a fresh coat of paint, or working alongside locals to add to the expansion of the town’s communal garden. Additional activities might include partaking in teaching English classes to both children and adults and organising after school activities revolving around either athletics or the arts.
During the week’s hands on elements there will also be time to learn more about Costa Rican culture, successful sustainable development projects, and your individual reflections surrounding the spring break experience.
The Weekend and evenings are for explorations and many activities will be on offer dependent on the interests of the group. Cultural classes might include local cooking and dance classes, side trips might include ventures into the jungle, to nearby towns, or even white water rafting!
What's Not Included
As with all GVI volunteer programs, our work is determined in collaboration with community members and will focus on current local needs. Your primary focus will be on assisting on a building or maintenance project.
How this project makes a difference
Your presence as a volunteer will aid in ensuring that the community of Quepos is progressing towards their personal goals while simultaneously contributing to overall worldwide sustainable development goals. All construction projects will contribute towards creating safer and more suitable community centres to ensure better opportunities for the future of Costa Rica’s youth.
What's Not Included
Volunteering with GVI not only allows you to participate in programs assisting disadvantaged communities or endangered ecosystems, but it also offers wonderful opportunities to travel in the local area in your downtime or further afield either before or after your programme. Many decide to travel after volunteering, solidifying the lifetime friendships established during the programme.
Our long-term field staff are a great source of advice and are here to help you make the most of your time abroad. Remember to ask about discounts on local activities and side trips through your association with GVI. Our Manuel Antonio field teams have helped us put together the following information on trips and travel options in Costa Rica!
Optional Side Trips
On weekends and downtime, the region around Manuel Antonio is excellent to keep yourself as busy or relaxed as possible! See the pristine beaches and hike the trails of the National Park to discover the diverse wildlife the region has to offer, including four types of monkey; go on a canopy and zip-lining tour through the treetops of the rainforest; visit the souvenir shops at the beachfront or cafes along the way and watch the world go by; take surf lessons or surf some of the neighbouring breaks in this famous surf destination.
Further Travelling Opportunities
Costa Rica is an amazing country with an abundance of travel opportunities further afield with the following just a snapshot of the many possibilities!
Admire the world famous and active Volcan Arenal at a distance, and relax in the natural hot springs; explore the Osa Peninsula and Corcovado National Park; for the advanced surfer, aim for Pavones, the second longest left break in the world; spot migratory raptor birds in the Talamanca Mountains and visit indigenous villages; go deep sea fishing in the Pacific Ocean; canoe or kayak along the waterways in the local area on organised river tours; visit the Caribbean coast, snorkel and go wildlife watching in Cahuita National Park; go white water rafting on the world famous Pacuare river – rapids classed III to IV; climb Volcan Irazu and visit coffee farms on the way back to San Jose; back in the capital, visit the Gold Museum or the Jade Museum, attend a play in one of the numerous theatres or take in the Latin American vibe with its lively nightlife.
Meet Esther, our dynamic base manger at our hub here in Quepos. With a degree in Education of Music from the conservatory of Utrecht, she is the perfect person to oversee our community development programmes. Esther specialised in songwriting in sign language with deaf kids in Bolivia and later she got also specialised in teaching Dutch as a second language and recently she started an online master of Education in Spain.
She loves to travel and going on adventures, from skydiving in France to eating ceviche in Chile, from mount Kenya to a ger (white nomad tent) in the middle of the big nothing of Mongolia. She really likes GVI's view on development programmes and our passion to make this world a better place.
Meet Hector, our Community Field Staff Member in Quepos. He was a GVI marine conservation volunteer before becoming a staff member in Costa Rica, and the fact that GVI works together with local communities, protecting the natural environment and working towards making our world a better place first attracted him to GVI.
Hector studied Sustainable Tourism Development and has experience working with a company doing camps with children with special needs. His role as a community development staff member proves to be rewarding and he is enjoying it thoroughly; “when children smile it makes me feel so happy knowing that I am making a difference.”
Director of Programs
Meet Danny, our Director of Programs. Although he’s based in Playa del Carmen, Danny oversees the development and running of all of our field operations. He started out with GVI as our Country Director in Mexico and quickly became an invaluable part of the team.
Although being Director of Programs is a pretty demanding job, Danny manages to find time to do the other things he loves in-between. He’s an avid photographer and is always training for a triathlon or ironman.
What’s Danny’s favourite aspect of his job? “Starting new projects – we get lots of request for assistance and it’s difficult to decide when funds are limited. The evaluation process and those initial talks with local partners are very interesting. Seeing projects grow from an idea to full programs is very exciting. I also love the relationships you create with local organisations, they become friends and we jointly work to achieve the project aims.”
Cynthia Arochi Zendejas
Costa Rica Country Director
Meet Cynthia, our Country Director in Costa Rica. She started out with GVI as one of our National Scholarship Program participants in 2006 and later became our Programme Coordinator in Mexico. Her skills and enthusiasm just made it too hard to let her get away!
Cynthia is a certified Veterinarian, an EFR Instructor and holds a Master’s degree in International environmental Science. She is also a member of the Mesoamerican Society for Biology and Conservation, chapter Costa Rica.
The most interesting things she’s experienced during life in the field? “Watching the turtles hatching! Also finding jaguar tracks and being able to participate in community tours.” Apart from those, Cynthia also loves arranging and participating in the fun Charity Challenges with volunteers.
What does Cynthia think volunteers bring to the projects? Since our goal is to provide support to local organisations which don’t have the human or economic resources to achieve their conservation or sustainable development objectives, our volunteers play a key role by being the hands needed, or helping to fund raise for those projects.”