One of the best ways to experience Costa Rica is to volunteer. Not only is volunteering a great way to help foster local economies in a sustainable way, it also opens the door to a potentially life-changing travel experience.

Costa Rica is justifiably famous as a leading ‘voluntourism’ destination, particularly because of the wide range of programs it offers: animal lovers can help baby sea turtles scamper out to sea, tree huggers can help plant new life in the forest, green thumbs can try their hand at organic agriculture...there are opportunities for everyone. Here are our top five picks.

Teach English
Although you may take your mother tongue for granted, English opens doors throughout the world. To gain valuable teaching experience while potentially changing someone’s life, check out the programs offered by Amerispan Unlimited and Sustainable Horizon.

Save the turtles

Baby sea turtles are just about the gosh darn cutest little things you’ve ever laid your eyes on, though there are tragically less and less of them with each passing year. For a chance to help give these little guys a fighting chance, consider a volunteer placement with Pretoma.

 Baby olive ridley sea turtles on Ostional beach. Image by Yuri Cortez / AFP / Getty Images

Protect the forest

If you’re an aspiring forester, or simply want to feel good about saving the rain forest, consider a placement with the Bosque Eterno de los Niños (Children’s Eternal Forest). There are opportunities here to learn about trail maintenance, surveying, administration and wildlife management.

Go organic

Organic farming is the wave of the future, so why not take some time to learn how to grow a better tomato. One of the country’s best volunteer-run farms is Finca la Flor de Paraíso, which offers training in a variety of agrarian disciplines.

Want to lend a hand? Find out what you need to know before you go with Lonely Planet’s Volunteer: A Traveller's Guide.

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