Under 18’s Alternative Spring Break Costa Rica Community Development

Use your spring break wisely contributing to vital community development projects on Costa Rica’s stunning Pacific coast.

Program Information

Spend an entire week contributing to a range of projects in the Quepos community of Costa Rica. Jump into construction projects, educational support, and sports development initiatives. In your free time explore the stunning biodiversity of the region and the vibrant culture of Latin America.

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals


Choose to turn your spring break into a truly unforgettable experience, by diving into a week far more involved than any holiday. Spend your time contributing to community development projects that are dependent on the needs of the community at the time.

You will work in the community of Quepos, a coastal community based at the entrance to Manuel Antonio National park. Days may be spent refurbishing furniture for local community centers, teaching English to students in after school programs, or painting classrooms to create more inviting environments.

In addition to contributing to a diverse range of projects you will also get ample time to explore the culture and surrounding area of Costa Rica. A place of surf waves, biodiverse jungles, and a general relaxed and friendly way of life.

Balanced between volunteer work, adventure activities, and cultural excursions. This trip is an excellent opportunity to experience everything a Latin American adventure should be, but one that also benefits the local community.

Highlights Include

Making a connection with the local community that is often hard to accomplish over a shorter period of time.

Live in and explore a typical Costa Rican town; one that is close to exciting adventure activities, but also isolated from the typical tourist route.

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.
- Stephen Meyer (Ex-Costa Rica Country Director)

Program Details

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Project Life

The program will begin in San Jose, Costa Rica’s centrally located capital city. First up will be meeting with the group and going through a comprehensive introduction which will include; an introduction to the various GVI projects that are running in Costa Rica, a briefing of some of the particular community development issues that the area faces, and a welcome to the intricacies of Costa Rican culture.

The group will then be transported to the town of Quepos, which is about three hours away from San Jose, and will jump straight into the various volunteer projects. Day to day involvement will be completely dependent on the needs of the community at the time and previous projects that need added attention.

Volunteers will help to develop both the infrastructure and the quality of educational offerings in order to bring a better quality of life to local disadvantaged youth. Most work will revolve around construction, renovation, developing the community gardening projects, or helping with preparations for local community events. There may also be involvement with English teaching and running various after school activities in the community.

Of course time will also be spent exploring and enjoying the pacific coast of Costa Rica. Side projects will be planned for both your evening and weekends as well as a variety of different cultural activities. These will be based on the interests of the group and may include; dance classes, cooking classes, surf lessons, or explorations into the surrounding jungle!

Project Details

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.

Quepos' short, mid, and long-term objectives:

All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualize their contribution to the UN SDGs.

Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.

Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfill our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.

Learn about the long-term objectives you will be contributing to in Quepos:

1. Improve access to education and wellness to El Cocal community
2. Increase environmental awareness in the local community
3. Improve English literacy levels in Quepos community and surrounded areas
4. Ensure that GVI Quepos base provides volunteers and interns unique, safe, responsible travel experiences, exceptional training and career development opportunities, and facilitate the ability to make a real difference

How this project makes a difference

Your presence as a spring break 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 Included

  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • Welcome meeting

What's Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal kit
  • Police or background check (where necessary)
  • Visa costs


Although this trip follows a structured itinerary, don’t think you won’t be seeing and doing some amazing things! You’ll get to see some of the amazing sights the region has to offer!

The Team

Hannah Watson

Education Officer
Meet Hannah, our happy education officer. Hannah joined the GVI staff after she decided to work abroad in the field, in a more face to face role. She has a degree in Spanish and English Literature, evidently making her a perfect fit for this role!

Hannah also has other impressive experience working abroad. "I worked in Spain for a year as a language assistant in a primary school. I then went to Colombia and I ran a conversation club in a University. When I returned from Colombia I got a job with World Challeng. In between all this I have nnterrailed around Europe, spent a summer volunteering in a hostel in Barcelona, helped to lead an expedition to Morocco, cycled around Cuba, hiked in Peru, rocked around the Galapagos and Ecuador, spied on Orangutans in Borneo and chased Penguins in the Falkland Islands!"

Luis Jimenez

Logistics Manager
Meet Luis, our well-travelled logistics manager! Luis studied Arts History and also has degree in Human Resources. His first contact with volunteer work was when he was studying at the University of Costa Rica and worked on a project to protect the sea turtles at Ostional beach in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Luis has a culturally diverse background as his stepfather was German and he had the opportunity to get to travel to some European, American and Latin American countries.

The chance to contribute to community development and help shape the children’s futures is what first attracted Luis to GVI. He loves getting to know and work with all the volunteers from around the world!

Eunice Jimenez

Base Manager
Meet Eunice, our experience base manager here in Quepos. Eunice is a Biologist with a Masters in high school education and has volunteer experience doing construction work in the middle of a forest in Germany, rebuilding some public areas in a small village in the north of Spain, and working with marine turtles in Costa Rica. She has also been lucky enough to have travelled around Europe, China, Canada and the USA.

Her internship as a Environmental Educator was what set her career into motion and now, years later, she is still pursuing her passion for the environment and teaching. She loves working for GVI as it gives her the opportunity to make a difference and to work with people from all around the world!

Shayle Havemann

Director of Programs
Meet Shayle, our innovative and driven director for all our projects around the world. She has two honours degrees, one in Industrial and Organisational Psycology, and another in Developmental and Education Psycology. Shayle also has over 10 years experience in setting up, managing and evaluating environmental and community programs across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.

She is well-practiced in facilitating meaningful and effective intercultural engagement and this makes her the perfect person for overseeing our operations in the multicultural country of South Africa.

When not attending meetings or planning her next endeavour, Shayle can be found spending time with her family or taking part in some or other exciting outdoors activity!

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.”

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  • 2019

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