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Sustainable Business & Tourism Internships in Costa Rica

Sustainable Business & Tourism Internships in Costa Rica

Sustainable Business & Tourism internships are facilitated through a local Marine Conservation non profit organization, which works to protect the local marine environment, through community involvement and ongoing educational support. Interns assist with business and growth strategies, while learning about the essential environmental, socio-cultural and economic pillars of sustainable development.

Internship Highlights:
  • Explore sustainable development initiatives within the marine tourism industry
  • Gaining insight into NPO operations and development priorities
  • Learn from experienced career scientists
  • Enjoy spare time in Manuel Antonio, one of the world’s most biodiverse destinations
Type of host organizations:
  • Non-profit organization
Fully hosted experience from $2875
Includes accommodation & meals
Start dates every other Monday
Minimum duration 4 weeks, up to 24 weeks maximum
Spanish language lessons available
Get job-ready with our Experiential Learning Curriculum
Options for English language speakers
Eligibility requirements and Associated career paths
Eligibility requirement

Currently studying or graduated from a related field, such as tourism, business, arts, sustainability, marketing, international relations, international development, political science, etc.

Language requirements

This internship is conducted in English.

Associated career paths

Tourism Operator, Conservationist, Environmental Consultant, Ecologist, Urban Planner, Business Sustainability Analyst, Community Relations and Outreach Manager, Chief Sustainability Officer, Corporate Social Responsibility Coordinator, Marketing and Public Relations, Policy Specialist

Internship details

Costa Rica has a rapidly developing economy, which strives to balance business priorities with environmental interests. Through this Sustainable Business & Tourism internship, interns can gain insight into how non profit organizations can build networks and strategies to further sustainable development, in collaboration with communities and business partners.

This is an in-country internship, with accommodation included. Click here to view remote Business Administration & Start Ups internships, which you can undertake from home.

International Internships for Marine Sciences

To many people, the concept of “sustainability” is just associated with being environmentally-conscious. While this is certainly important, many establishments can be considered “green”, or even carbon neutral, without upholding socio-cultural and economic facets of sustainability as well. For this reason, Sustainable Business & Tourism interns collaborate with a Marine Conservation nonprofit organization, to explore holistic initiatives for business and growth strategies.

Interns have broad scope to make a difference in the field of marine conservation, while also gaining insight into NPO operations and general business sustainability principles. The day-to-day operations of this internship can be anticipated to involve a range of activities which are related to relationship building for public and private sector project support, corporate partnership development, networking for funding, corporate client outreach, public relations, awareness campaigns, and more.

In addition, marketing and communications efforts include ongoing updates across social media platforms, website editing, graphic design support and fresh copy writing for proposals, grants, blogs and other articles. If interested, there is an opportunity for interns to also incorporate tasks related to environmental education within the community and local schools.

Proactive interns with an interest in business and marketing strategy, corporate social responsibility, and passion for sustainable practice, have ample opportunity to expand their experience and skill sets. There is a high expectation for interns to exercise initiative and manage a flexible schedule during this internship. Progress reports are expected on an ongoing basis. Emphasis will always be focused on progressing actions and strategies that holistically address environmental, socio-cultural and economic priorities.

In all cases, interns should expect that the first week of your experience will focus on settling in and gaining some introductory knowledge, as you will not “hit the ground running”. Rather, you should start with learning about the placement to gain an understanding of what you can build upon, develop, learn, and contribute. Ensure that you ask questions and provide feedback during the introductory period, so that your supervisor understands how you’re progressing. This will help them to better understand important details, such as how quickly you learn, what you find challenging, what you find interesting, etc.

Understand and expect that individual internship experiences vary, as the specific placement that you’re assigned will depend on review of your resume and your current level of studies and experience. Therefore, if you’re at a more introductory level, you should reasonably expect a more introductory internship. Likewise, if you’re interning for a shorter duration, you will have a different experience from someone who is interning for a longer duration. Placement preferences are considered but always subject to availability.

Typical Schedule

  • Approx. 8am to 4pm, Monday to Friday

Career Benefits

Sustainable Business & Tourism interns learn from a qualified and experienced supervisor, and can be involved in:
  • NPO administrative support

  • Corporate partnership development

  • Awareness campaigns

  • Digital media communications

  • Copywriting

  • Community education

Professional development opportunities:
  • Explore holistic initiatives for business and growth strategies

  • Build relationships with the public and private sector for project support

  • Contribute to awareness campaigns and sustainability education

  • Gain practical skills and boost your employability, with guidance from Intern Abroad HQ’s Experiential Learning Curriculum to support your learning and cultural intelligence.

Costa Rica photo gallery

What recent interns said about their experience

Camila Flores Rodriguez
January 2024

I loved my time in Quepos, Costa Rica! My favorite part of the experience was probably getting to know so many people from the area and from around the world. And also getting to explore the natural wonders of this country. This experience was also a great opportunity that allowed me to see the work nonprofits do from up close and consequently get a better understanding on how they work. Would recommend it if you want to learn more about this field and about other countries at the same time. Especially for people that have either graduated college or that are in their last years.

James Baxter
August 2023

I'm writing this 4 months into my 6 months on the Sustainable Business and Environmental Tourism Internship in Quepos, Costa Rica and I can safely say I've made the best choice I could have. The internship has been really interesting and I've been supported well throughout. Intern Abroad provided weekly reflection reviews for the first 12 weeks which really make the experience useful in developing my own professional skills. On arrival, travel was arranged for me and the accommodation has been fantastic throughout with lovely food. I feel like I've really immersed myself in the culture and helped make a difference to the company while learning a bit more about the business practices needed for a charity.

Danielle Brittle
June 2023

This internship contributed towards the achievement of my long-term goals by providing me with real life experience in the field of marketing, business approaches, and overall methods of running a non-profit organization. Specifically, in my future career of public management and community development, these skills will be very useful for finding a job and being good at it too. As an intern, I was responsible for completing tasks such as creating weekly newsletters, casual blogs to be posted on the website, forming new ideas to better the business, and even managing small tasks like creating incentives such as membership programs and marketing for coral conservation.

Grace Downey
June 2023

I loved meeting so many new people and experiencing so many cultures. Everything about it made me a stronger, and happier human and opened my eyes to a great world of traveling that I want to keep experiencing.

Emily Jackson
May 2023

I feel more empowered in any field because of the information I learned about nonprofits. I had a behind the scenes look at the operations that go into this type of organization, with some information applying to all types of companies. I would advise future interns to make sure they keep an open mind for anything that they may experience. Various things across all aspects will be different than what you're used to, but you should welcome changes and new experiences, for that is the purpose of traveling and expanding your perspectives.


To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.

Our commitment to providing safe internship experiences

Academic credit available for all internships

Gain course credit from your college or university and meet your academic requirements when completing an internship abroad or remote internship program with Intern Abroad HQ.

Learn about course credit

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$499 to confirm your place. The remaining balance of your Program Fee (less your initial US$499 deposit payment) will be due no less than 60 days before your internship start date.

Program Fee (USD)
4 weeks $2,875 Equivalent to $102 /day
5 weeks $3,252 Equivalent to $92 /day
6 weeks $3,629 Equivalent to $86 /day
8 weeks $4,383 Equivalent to $78 /day
10 weeks $5,187 Equivalent to $74 /day
12 weeks $5,941 Equivalent to $70 /day
16 weeks $7,474 Equivalent to $66 /day
20 weeks $9,007 Equivalent to $64 /day
24 weeks $10,565 Equivalent to $62 /day
  • Airport pick-up
  • Daily breakfast and dinner
  • Accommodation
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • Program orientation
  • Dedicated support before, during, and after your internship
  • In-country guidance for social and tourist activities
  • Sourcing and securing your internship placement
  • Personalization of your internship plan
  • Coaching from your supervisor
  • Documented portfolio of your experiential learnings
  • Academic credit facilitation
  • International reference letter
  • Certificate of Internship Completion
  • Lunches
  • All in-country transportation
  • Visa (if required), flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check
  • Transfer back to the airport at the end of your internship program
  • Personal spending money for snacks, drinks, public transport, laundry, and leisure activities during your free time.
  • A deposit of $499 (approximately 499) is required to secure your internship
  • Coral Restoration and Marine Biology internships include diving activities. If you are not currently PADI certified, then you are still welcome to participate. However, you will be required to complete an “intro week”, at an additional cost, prior to beginning the Coral Restoration internship. During the intro week, you will complete Open Water and Adventure Diver with PPB certification. This introductory week will include the necessary online materials and certifications that you need.
  • Balance of your Program Fee is due 60 days before your internship start date.
  • All payments attract a 5% transaction fee to cover international banking fees and currency charges.
  • Terms and Conditions apply.

Free-time experiences & tours in Manuel Antonio

Take your internship to the next level with Intern Abroad HQ's affordable activity and tour add-ons in Manuel Antonio! Explore your options below and learn how to book them once you've been accepted onto an internship program.

Intro Week Dive Package
Intro Week Dive Package

All participants on our Marine Conservation and Coral Restoration programs must be scuba certified to minimum PADI Adventurer with buoyancy experience. If not, it’s ok - you are still welcome to proceed - but you’ll need to achieve the required level of PADI proficiency before the start date. Just sign up for our “intro week” package.

Manuel Antonio Park Guided Tour
Manuel Antonio Park Guided Tour

Hike through the Costa Rican rainforest and discover a large variety of flora and fauna in Manuel Antonio Park’s 683 hectares.

PADI Advanced Diver Course
PADI Advanced Diver Course

If you are already Open Water certified you just need to complete this PADI Advanced Diver Course, which can be integrated into the regular internship schedule (so there is no need to arrive an extra week in advance). This course is facilitated through the Dive Center and must be confirmed and paid for in advance.


Language lessons

Fluency in Spanish is not a requirement for interns in Manuel Antonio; however, lessons with a local language school can be arranged for those who wish to learn. Lessons are coordinated directly through our team in Costa Rica and can be confirmed in advance or at the orientation.

Arrival and Orientation

Internships in Manuel Antonio begin on the first and third Monday of each month. Exceptions may be made to this when start dates are shifted to avoid public holiday disruptions or closed when the program has already reached capacity. Interns may choose to spend a minimum of 4 weeks, up to a maximum of 24 weeks.

Note that Coral Reef Restoration and Marine Biology internships are unavailable from mid September, through till the end of October. This is due to heavy rainfall in October. The Environmental Education and Sustainable Business & Tourism internships are available year-round.

Airport pick up and accommodation are included in the Program Fee:

  • The accommodation is covered from the Sunday night before the Monday start date - interns are required to arrive no later than the Sunday before their Monday start date, as all orientations are held on Mondays.
  • The typical port of entry is the Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO). Upon arrival, interns will be met, greeted, and transferred to the accommodation.
  • Interns are asked to arrive at SJO no later than 3pm on Sunday (before the Monday start date), as Quepos / Manuel Antonio is approximately 3 hours drive from San Jose. It’s advisable to have an early night, to avoid being overtired on the start date.
  • The last night of the accommodation is the Saturday night of the final week, leaving interns free to depart on Sunday.
  • Extra nights of accommodation can be arranged in advance, if requested, and are subject to availability.

If you are planning to spend time independently in Costa Rica prior to your internship and will not require an international airport pick up, we can discuss alternative arrival logistics with you.

Orientation covers important details for your internship, including introductions, information about culture, customs, rules, expectations, safety, language lessons, cultural excursions, and more. Your specific internship placement orientation will follow the general orientation, as you’ll be shown how to travel to and from your internship and be introduced to the team you’ll be joining.

Please note that all internship participants are advised not to book flights until they have first registered to confirm their internship placement.

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Accommodation and WiFi

Interns are accommodated in various local homestays, which are typically situated in the “Zona Americana” neighborhood of Quepos. This is an extremely convenient location, being within walking distance of the world class yacht yard of Marina Pez Vela (just 5 minute’s walk of the dive center), the local farmers market, central market, bus station, abundant shops, restaurants, cafes, and the “malecon” boardwalk. Both the Quepos airport and the Manuel Antonio National Park are approximately just 5-10 minutes’ drive.

Each homestay will, on average, accommodate between 4-9 program participants. Bedrooms are basic and each can sleep between 2-3 guests, with space for guest storage (rooming arrangements are not shared between genders). Bathrooms and common areas are shared. Breakfast and dinner is provided, as well as laundry service and basic WiFi.

Homestays do not have air conditioning. The typical constructions allow for open air flow and accommodations are equipped with fans. Most families have pets at the home stays (including small dogs or cats). If you have severe allergies please let us know so that we can make alternative arrangements in advance if needed (this may incur additional accommodation expenses).

Please note that the accommodation pictured in the photo gallery of this webpage is provided as an example. Since we work with more than one option for accommodation, the exact accommodation that you’re assigned may differ from the photos. However, you can expect a similar standard and similar amenities, to what is shown.


Internships include two meals per day provided by the host family (daily breakfast and dinner). Breakfast in the homestays is served at 6.30am. Interns will usually spend lunch time around the marina, where you can purchase sandwiches and snacks from the commercial plaza. There is also sufficient time to walk into downtown Quepos, where there are many affordable eateries. Dinner at the homestays is served around 6.30pm. If you choose to opt out of breakfast or dinner, any day of the week, you should communicate this back to your host family.

A typical Costa Rican breakfast may consist of cereal, fruits, pinto and eggs, accompanied with coffee. Dinner commonly consists of starches (rice and beans), as well as meat (often chicken) and salad. Meals are basic, hearty and nutritious, but may not be what you’re used to eating at home. Tap water may be consumed in Costa Rica. If there are special snacks you like to have, please budget for them. Alcohol consumption and smoking is not permitted in any of the homestay accommodation.

Let us know in advance if you have any specific dietary requirements. Bear in mind that strict vegan diets can be more difficult to accommodate. Lots of fresh fruit and vegetables are available but specific substitution products, such as non-dairy milks, are very expensive in Costa Rica.

A weekly budget of approximately US$100 should be sufficient for covering weekly lunches, while also having extra for snacks/treats/drinks and public transportation. (If you want to eat at fancy restaurants every day, it will be easy to spend more. However, there are great local eateries and markets which are affordable).

Essential country information

Capital San Jose
Population 5.094 million
Languages Spanish
Currency Costa Rican Colón (CRC)
Time zone UTC−06:00
Weather and climate:

Costa Rica experiences a tropical climate year-round. Although you get much cooler temperatures in the mountains, the average annual temperature for most of the country lies between 21.7°C (71°F) and 27°C (81°F). In the Quepos / Manuel Antonio area, the temperature typically varies from 78°F to 92°F (25°C to 33°C) and is rarely below 75°F or above 94°F (24°C or above 35°C).

There are just two seasons - the dry season, from December to April, and the rainy season, from May to November. Due to the large amount of rain in October, the diving internships (Coral Restoration and Marine Biology) are unavailable from Mid September until November 1st. The non-diving internships are available year-round.