Eligibility requirement: Suitable for participants who are reasonably fit, as tasks will involve moderate physical activity. A background in biology or a related field is desirable but not essential and High School graduates aged 18+ are welcome to apply.

Language requirements: Interns must be confident enough to communicate in basic to intermediate Spanish. Click here if you are seeking a comparable internship which is suitable for participants who do not speak Spanish.

Associated career paths: Environmental Scientist (Policy/Planning/Law), Horticulturist, Soil and Plant Scientist, Ecologist, Biologist, Climatologist, Geology, Herpetologist, Habitat Specialist, Entomologist, Ranger, Forest Management, Agricultural/​Horticultural Scientist

Minimum duration: 2 weeks

Internship details

Gain hands-on experience helping with environmental sustainability in Costa Rica, assisting conservationists in reserves, forests and greenhouses. Help to grow and maintain plants and organic gardens, research plant health and wildlife and make a genuine contribution to conservation in Costa Rica’s stunning ecosystem.

This is an in-country internship, with accommodation and meals provided.

Environmental Conservation Internships in Costa Rica are typically based at natural reserves that are involved in environmental research or sustainable eco-tourism. These reserves have a large focus on preserving the fragile ecosystem in protected areas, parks and foundations. 25% of Costa Rica is environmentally protected land, and this includes its stunning cloud forests, where interns can be based.

Environmental Conservation internships in Costa Rica

Interns assist a small team that works towards monitoring and maintaining plant life in reserves and greenhouses. You’ll be guided by local supervisors who are passionate about the environment and conservation, assisting with seasonal tasks that can include:

  • Working in greenhouse nurseries, helping to grow new plants and propagate others
  • Helping to organize and run environmental informational workshops for the public
  • Maintenance of public and private gardens
  • Tending to medicinal plants
  • Install research cameras to analyze activity of wildlife such as deer, dantas, tapirs, snakes, and wild cats
  • Assisting in tracking various bird species and insects
  • Caring for butterfly farms
  • Organic gardening
  • Helping to maintain trails

Interns can also help to provide feedback on previous efforts by gathering information on plant, insect or wildlife numbers in certain areas. This helps with both record-keeping, and guiding future work.

Interns should be fit, have a genuine interest in environmental sustainability, and enjoy working outside. It’s important to be aware that conditions can be hot and physically demanding.

Environmental Conservation interns learn from a qualified and experienced supervisor, and can be involved in:
  • Working in greenhouses
  • Environmental workshops for the public
  • Organic gardening
  • Tending to medicinal plants
  • Install research cameras to analyze wildlife activity
  • Wildlife tracking
  • Caring for butterfly farms
  • Trail maintenance
Professional development opportunities:
  • Cataloguing plant, insect and wildlife species
  • Learn about forest and greenhouse management
  • Experience sustainable tourism practices
  • Gain work experience in greenhouses and natural forests
  • Gain practical skills and boost your employability, with guidance from Intern Abroad HQ’s Experiential Learning Curriculum to support your learning and cultural intelligence.
Typical schedule:
  • Monday to Friday, 6 hours per day
Internship highlights:
  • Gain hands-on conservation conservation experience through gardening and tending to specific plants
  • Experience Costa Rica’s biodiversity and renowned cloud forests
  • Contribute to environmental sustainability in Costa Rica
Types of host organizations:
  • Private reserves
  • Sustainable eco-tourism reserves

Keen to get started?

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Program fees

It’s free to apply for this internship. Once we have reviewed your suitability and accepted you onto this program, you’ll need to pay a deposit of US$449 to confirm your place. The remaining balance of your Program Fee (less your initial US$449 deposit payment) will be due no less than 60 days before your internship start date.

Internship Duration Program Fee (USD)
2 weeks 2 weeks $1,357
3 weeks 3 weeks $1,635
4 weeks 4 weeks $1,913
5 weeks 5 weeks $2,021
6 weeks 6 weeks $2,130
8 weeks 8 weeks $2,349
10 weeks 10 weeks $2,522
12 weeks 12 weeks $2,695
16 weeks 16 weeks $3,042
20 weeks 20 weeks $3,388
24 weeks 24 weeks $3,735
  • To convert these prices to your local currency visit the XE currency converter.
  • All payments attract a 5% transaction fee to cover international banking fees and currency charges. International wire transfer payments attract a minimum fee of US$75.
  • Terms and Conditions apply

Program fee for abroad internships

What it covers
  • Securing your internship placement
  • Personalization of your internship plan
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • Airport pick-up
  • Program orientation
  • Accommodation
  • Meals (for selected programs)
  • Experiential Learning Curriculum
  • In-country guidance for social and tourism activities
  • International reference letter

Intern review: Ingrid Gomez

"From the moment I was preparing for my internship to the moment I took the plane back home I was submerging myself in the Tico culture. It was indeed a dream come true. The beauty and purity of the fo..." read more

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Arrival and Orientation

Programs begin on the first and third Monday of every month and participants may choose to spend a minimum of 2 weeks, up to a maximum of 24 week. All participants fly into the Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) in order to be picked up and transported to the accommodation, unless alternative arrangements for an overland arrival have been made. Orientation is given by our local hosts at their offices in San Ramon and covers important details concerning introductions, support, culture, customs, safety, rules and expectations, things to see and do, and more.

Accommodation

All interns in Costa Rica are accommodated in various homestay accommodations. Interns are matched to an appropriate host family, taking into consideration convenient proximity to their internship placement. Typical host families in Costa Rica usually comprise of two parents and children or a single parent with children (the ages of a host family’s children can range from young and still living at home, to adults living independently). There are usually 1 - 2 bedrooms in most home-stays and everyone has their own bedroom (unless special requests are made in advance to share with a friend or partner). Bathrooms are shared. Living is comfortable and home-stays offer electricity, running water and western bathrooms. However, showers can be low pressure and unheated/tepid. WiFi is provided in most of the home-stays but it is important to note that it is not guaranteed.

Accommodation upgrades are available at an additional cost, for those who would prefer more independent accommodation and social interaction with other travelers. Interns who have confirmed their participation may opt to arrange hostel accommodation, in either a dorm (sharing a room with 4-8 beds) or a private room. Dormitories provide lockers, so that guests may securely store their personal items. Bathrooms are typically shared. Amenities include WiFi and a common area for guest use. Please note that hostel accommodation is subject to availability (depending on the location of your internship) and includes daily breakfast only. Interns who are interested in arranging an accommodation upgrade are welcome to speak with their Internship Program Manager for more information.

Meals

Internships in Costa Rica include two meals per day, served at the home stay. A typical Costa Rican breakfast is provided and may consist of bread, spreads, fruit and eggs accompanied with tea or coffee. Dinner commonly consists of meat (often chicken), soups, pastas, starches and vegetables. Please be sure to let us know of any specific dietary requirements that you have in advance, so that we may ensure your hosts are aware and make recommendations accordingly.

Activities and tourism

Spanish lessons

Internships in Costa Rica require interns to have varying levels of Spanish language proficiency, from either a confident level of basic Spanish to a more developed grasp of intermediate language skills. The definition of having basic Spanish skills (Level A2) includes the ability to exchange brief information with questions and answers, use and understand simple language in daily situations and cultural aspects.

Keep in mind that despite you level of proficiency, a language barrier can still be encountered to a certain extent. Interns should be prepared for the very natural and normal frustration of not always understanding what is being said around them. Most interns are able to have a successful internship experience and it is essential to come prepared and willing to surmount a language barrier, as opposed to being intimidated by it.

We strongly recommend that all interns take advantage of the affordable language lessons offered exclusively to Intern Abroad HQ participants by our host organization in Costa Rica. These can be arranged directly with the local team once registered for the program (ask about online Skype lessons) or at the orientation in-country. Language lessons are tailored to each individual’s current level of Spanish and classes run from Monday through to Friday.

Weekends and travel

During the weekends, free time is available to relax, engage in tourism activities and explore other parts of Costa Rica. The program is based in the canton of San Ramon, in Alajuela Province. This is 55 km/34 mi northeast of Puntarenas (the nearest coastal town), 58 km/36 mi from the capital city of San Jose, and 31 km/19 mi from Juan Santamaría International Airport. The Pan-American Highway is easily accessible to the south and a northern route provides direct access to the popular tourism destination of Volcan Arenal.

Popular tourist attractions in and around the Alajuela Province include visiting Poás Volcano National Park, Arenal Volcano National Park, Los Ángeles Cloud Forest and La Paz Waterfall Gardens. Within the city of San Jose, there are various museums and galleries, such as the Precolumbian Gold Museum, Jade Museum, National Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art and Design - just to name a few!

Our local team in Costa Rica are also able to assist interns with trip bookings, to experience more of the country. These can be coordinated directly once you’ve registered to confirm your internship program. Options include:

  • Tortuga Island: This sightseeing full-day trip includes return transportation from local pick-up points, guides, snacks and entertainment, catamaran tour, and lunch in Tortuga Island. Located within the Gulf of Nicoya, Tortuga Island is a paradise archipelago which has maintained the Ecological Blue Flag status for more than twelve years. The turquoise waters are beautiful to swim in and the trip is not to be missed while you’re exploring the coasts!

  • Poás Volcano National Park, Doka Coffee Tour and La Paz Waterfall Garden: This full day excursion covers some of the region’s highlights. You’ll want to bring your camera and comfortable walking shoes for the three adventures, all across different eco-systems. Within La Paz Waterfall Garden, you’ll have a great opportunity to check out some of the amazing wildlife. There’s a hummingbird garden, serpentarium, aviaries, butterfly garden and tropical frog exhibit.

  • San Luis Canopy Tour: This tour departs from San Ramon and only takes half a day. Enjoy views of the Cataraticas River, bring comfortable clothing and a sense of adventure! There are 12 cables on this zip-line tour, with lengths from 56 to 550 meters, connected across 18 platforms. You’ll also get to experience the Tarzan swing and Superman cable - woohoo!

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Country profile

Capital San Jose
Population 4.805 million
Languages Spanish
Currency Costa Rican Colón (CRC)
Time zone UTC−06:00

Weather and climate: Costa Rica is unequivocally a tropical country, situated between 8° and 11° north latitude, fairly close to the equator. Although you get much cooler temperatures in the mountains above 2000 meters, the average annual temperature for most of the country lies between 21.7°C (71°F) and 27°C (81°F). The coolest months are from November through to January, and the warmest months are from March through to May. San Jose stands at approximately 1170 meters altitude and has a mean annual temperature of 20.6°C (69°F).