Book a Trip
Volunteer Travel

Costa Rica

Ecological Awareness and Sustainable Agriculture


Overview            Partner             Details             Impact             Testimonials             Videos             Program Fees

Typical Program

Through our local food forest partners, Via offers groups a unique glimpse of some solutions for the issues of climate change, food insecurity and poverty.   Groups will follow a path to various local farms, learning particularly about how breadfruit can be a solution to food insecurity in many regions of the globe.   The group will visit various farms and learn about renewable energy, food forest production, and approaches to resolving global issues. All along the way we will taste the famous products of Costa Rica including coffee and chocolate.

Participants will engage with environmental programs including turtle rescue and will visit the wonders of the cloud forests usually seeing many endangered animals and birds.  The itinerary includes some beach fun and river rafting!


Duration and Directions

Groups will arrive and be greeted at the Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose and ground transportation will be provided for the duration of your stay and is included in the fees. This includes transfer to the airport in San Jose upon departure.


Upon arrival and after resting from the flight, an orientation will be provided including an introduction to Costa Rica with facts about local customs and culture, safety, rules and expectations. The orientation will provide an overview of activities for the week and background on the projects, people, and places where we will engage.

Via International is also prepared to offer a curriculum in support of this journey. This includes reading lists, pre trip seminars and post trip reflection modules.

Via International is also prepared to offer a curriculum in support of this journey. This includes reading lists, pre trip seminars and post trip reflection modules.

Volunteer Requirements

Volunteers should be adaptable and flexible, willing to work as part of a team, and respectful of local traditions, culture, and customs. Those taking part in community development or farming projects need to be capable of doing physical work, although previous experience is not essential. Spanish language ability is useful, but not necessary as English is widely spoken throughout Costa Rica.

Click here to view the packing checklist.

Food and Accommodations

The cuisine of Costa Rica is similar to that of other Central American and Caribbean nations, with a heavy reliance on beans, rice, plantains and root vegetables and varies in different parts of the country depending on past influences and history. One distinct aspect of this adventure will be the opportunity to eat truly farm to table for most meals. Meals will vary from place to place but will include a variety of local dishes both vegetarian and meat based. Costa Rican food is not typically spicy (although you will find some spicy influence on the Caribbean Coast) but rather relies on the fresh flavors that are woven together from the multitude of plants, fruits and vegetables available in this tropical land. For those with food allergies or needing a special diet, accommodations are made.

Accommodations will vary from place to place along the journey and will be a mix of small locally run hotels, dorm-style farm housing and family stays if your group chooses this option. If staying with a family, students will be housed in pairs. All accommodations will be a minimum of double occupancy.

Community and Region

Costa Ricans speak Spanish and are largely Catholic as a result of their colonization in the 1500s. However, there were a variety of pre-existing indigenous groups before the arrival of Europeans, and many traditions, recipes, artistic and musical styles have been retained over time to create a blended culture that is a rich and interesting mix of influences.

Costa Rica’s first inhabitants were indigenous tribes who were largely absorbed into the Spanish colonial society in the 1500s. While some indigenous peoples still retain their culture, language and traditions today, the number is relatively small and they continue to fight to retain and regain their rights.

Due to a lack of exploitable mineral or indigenous human resources, and its many mountainous, hard to reach areas, Costa Rica remained one of the poorer, more isolated, and under-populated regions of the Spanish Empire, where settlers had to work their own land. As a result, Costa Rica was largely ignored by the Spanish and left to develop their own rural democracy and was less impacted by the various wars in the region as power shifted throughout the colonial period.

Costa Rica formally declared its independence in 1838. Coffee plantations were established in the early 19th century, and quickly became the first major export industry. Coffee remained the number one source of income for the next century, prompting the development of transportation infrastructure. Immigrants who worked on the railway, completed in 1890, settled in Costa Rica, some with land grants which were used to produce bananas in quantities to rival coffee as the main export. This allowed foreign fruit companies to gain a large role in the nation’s economy. To this day, large scale banana plantations are a main economic driver for Costa Rica, however, with the emergent environmental movement in the country, there have been many efforts toward more ecologically friendly and sustainable farming practices. This goes hand in hand with Costa Rica’s emerging reputation as an eco-tourism destination. We will meet Costa Ricans working at the forefront of this movement to encourage small scale farming and agro-forestry initiatives that support the environment, people and economy of the region.