Costa Rica Frequently Asked Questions

You will find below answers to many frequently asked questions. If your question does not appear then please click here to open the 'contact us' page to ask us your question.
01. Is Costa Rica safe?
Generally speaking Costa Rica is a very safe country for travellers but as ever you should be on your guard and act sensibly, especially if travelling alone. As in most countries there is a possibility of theft. Violent robberies are rare and the most common problem is pickpockets. Thieves look for the easiest target. If you carry a wallet that is sticking out of your back pocket then you are asking to be the target. Be careful in crowded areas such as markets and bus terminals and on public transport. You can plan before you go by purchasing a money belt that goes underneath a T-shirt, or even a belt that has hidden zip pockets.

By travelling with Globalteer you have an advantage over the thousands of other tourists that visit Costa Rica. You will be collected from the airport and given an orientation on arrival. Here you will be given advice on many things including safety, and all your questions will be answered. Thousands of tourists visit Costa Rica every year and have no problems whatsoever, so don't be paranoid. Just take the basic precautions and you will have an amazing and trouble-free trip.
02. What languages do I need?
The common language for staff and volunteers at this project is a mix of English and Spanish. It is beneficial to be able to speak some Spanish.
03. What are the living conditions at the project?
Volunteers at the Conservation Project on the Pacific Coast live in shared houses that consist of shared bunk rooms, shared toilets and cold water showers, and a large common area only a few minutes from the beach.

Volunteers on the Caribbean coast stay in shared cabins a few blocks from the beach.
 
Volunteers are expected to hand wash their clothes. You should make sure to bring lots of light clothing and bio degradable detergent for hand washing your clothes. There are laundry sinks for washing and clothes lines for your clothes to dry.  
 
Volunteers are responsible for keeping the common areas, rooms and bathrooms clean and tidy.
 
You will need to bring a mosquito net, sheets (or sleeping bag), and a pillow for your bed as bedding is not provided. 
04. What type of food will I be eating?
Three meals per day are prepared by the project staff and are based on a Costa Rican diet of beans and rice. Breakfast is generally Gallo Pinto, lunch and dinner consist of beans and rice with salad and a meat dish. Vegetarians and other dietary restrictions can be catered for.
 
There are nearby stores where you can purchase snacks. 
05. Will I have time for extra activities?
Volunteers are expected to work six days per week at this project.  You will also have a few hours off during the day as much of the work is done at night. You can also spend time touring and sightseeing after your placement.
 
Additional activities depending on your placement location include the following:

  • Chill out on the beaches and rainforest of the Nicoya Peninsula
  • Visit El Arenal, one of Central America’s most active volcanoes
  • Enjoy wildlife and bird spotting in the Manuel Antonio or Corcovado National Reserves
  • Marvel at the unique biodiversity of the Monteverde Cloud Forest
  • Indulge in surfing and nightlife at the Caribbean village of Viejo Puerto de Talamanca
  • Spot crocodiles, jaguars and sloths in the Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge.
  • Bathe in the hot springs at Tabacon near El Arenal Volcano.
  • Snorkel in crystal clear waters off Isla Tortuga or many of the other beautiful beaches
Whilst working at the projects volunteers additional activities are limited as the locations are remote, have curfews at night and restricted access to other locations.
06. Do I need to be qualified to work with wildlife?
No, a love of animals is the main qualification. You will be given guidance and training, and will initially be supervised by the project staff and work with the experienced volunteers. A certain amount of independence is required to be a volunteer.
07. Is there access to a telephone?
The Costa Rican cell phone provider, Kolbi, has service at all the project sites.  If you would like to access the local Kolbi network we recommend bringing a 3G unlocked phone and purchasing a SIM card in-country.
08. Do I need travel insurance?
Travel insurance is highly recommended for all our projects

To help make getting insured easier we have formed a partnership with award-winning travel insurers, World Nomads. They provide insurance to travellers from over 140 different countries and are the only insurer we have found that will allow you to take out a policy even after you have left your home country.
 
If you purchase an insurance policy from World Nomads through this link - Travel Insurance - they will also make a donation to Globalteer and the many projects we support.
 
Please note that Globalteer can accept no responsibility for your travel or insurance arrangements and encourages you to fully research all travel and insurance options available to you.

09. Is there access to email?
There are local internet cafes within a few kilometres of each project. If you sign up with a local mobile service provider you will be able to access the internet on any internet enabled phone.
10. Who usually volunteers at these projects?
The Costa Rica Sea Turtle Conservation Project will typically have between 8 and 10 volunteers at a time with more during the summer months of June to August. These volunteers will come from various countries and a variety of backgrounds. Ages range with the majority aged between 18 and 30.

The majority of volunteers are from the UK, United States, Canada and Europe. The majority of volunteers travel alone to the projects, although we also accommodate couples and groups.
11. What vaccinations do I need for Costa Rica?
We recommend that our volunteers consult a doctor for up-to-date advice about vaccinations and general travel health. Do this as soon as possible as some vaccinations take time to be effective. General advice is to be up to date with tetanus and diphtheria, Hepatitis A & B and typhoid.

Anti-malarials are not usually required for travel to any parts of Costa Rica, but we strongly recommmend that you take sensible anti-mosquito precautions at all times to avoid bites while your are at the project or travelling around the country. You can also find information online regarding suggested vaccinations. Please note that some vaccinations require a course of injections over a period of 3-4 weeks and may be expensive depending on your health service. Therefore you are advised to organise this in plenty of time before you travel and include it in your budget.

Centre for Disease Control

Fit for Travel - For People Traveling from the UK
12. Do I need a visa?
Volunteers from most countries will automatically be granted 90-day tourist visas on arrival at San Jose international airport. You must have a current valid passport and return ticket to exit Costa Rica. Your passport must be valid for 6 months beyond your entry date.
 
As these details change frequently, it is best to check with your travel professional for the latest information.
 
It is best to tell immigration officials you are simply a tourist on vacation. The concept of volunteering is not clearly understood in Latin American countries and can be confused with working, for which a special visa is required.
 
You will need to complete a tourist card upon entry. These cards are supplied by airline staff on the plane to Costa Rica. You will be required to pay an exit fee of $29 upon leaving the country. 
13. What cultural differences do I need to consider?
Costa Ricans are very friendly and often interested in you as someone different. 
Expect to exchange kisses on the cheek with people you know (opposite sexes and between women). A hand shake is always exchanged when meeting new people. 
 
In the Western world we are very hung up on time, with our meetings and schedules. Costa Ricans do not stress over time and it is not uncommon for things to happen later than arranged. Just go with the flow and forget stress – it’s better for you anyway! 
14. Can I drink alcohol and smoke?
We request that you use your common sense and respect for others if you smoke. Because the project is a licensed research facility, drinking alcohol is not permitted at the project itself or within three hours of working with the turtles as the smell can affect the nesting females and the hatchlings. Otherwise you can drink alcohol off site. 
15. How many hours per day will I be volunteering?
Volunteers are expected to work six days per week at this project. Generally you will be working 6-7 hours per day.
 
Your hours will vary depending on the needs of the project. Some days you may be working 3-5 hours at night with only a few hours of work during the day whereas other days you may be working mostly during the day.
 
Outside of working hours you can take surfing lessons, hike to a local waterfall, walk the beach, etc. 
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