A Guide to Volunteering in Central America

If you are looking for an experience not to be missed think about volunteering in Central America. This continent is home to an amazing array of sea and tropical wildlife within its rainforests. Projects are plentiful in this amazing country where the locals will be delighted to greet and spend time learning from you. Community building projects are common as are teaching positions, animal care and conservation projects. 

Participating is a good way to have a structured trip, base yourself in a country and then explore more of the region, you will find local people very welcoming and also you will meet lots of other international volunteers. There are structured programs where you might need to pay a fee but you can volunteer for free with local charities and NGO's. Before applying try to research all destinations, use our website, buy a guidebook or view past experiences on blogs or facebook. This will help you prepare for a trip and will provide guidance on what to take.


Find Projects By Destination


Best Volunteer Programs & Organizations in Central America

One World 365 features projects from the best volunteer organizations in North America. You can find a range of different programs from top rated local and international companies offering opportunities to international participants. Thousands of people book with these organizations every year and they have very good reviews.


How You Can Help

There are so many different volunteer placements in Central America in a variety of countries. These include marine conservation projects, working with wildlife, helping sea turtles, sports projects, teaching English, working on community and building programs and more. You can make a big difference in this region and there are projects available to join every month. Summer volunteer trips are very popular.  Applying is a great way to do something rewarding, make a difference, gain CV / resume work experience and get to live in a different culture. To be a volunteer in Central America you will need  be adventurous, energetic, responsible and be open to meeting new people and working in rustic conditions.  


Community Development Projects

Help improve infrastructure and living conditions for local people. Helping community based efforts in Central America is a great way to understand the culture of a country, interact with local people and learn some of the local languages too. You will be able to brighten the lives of orphans and abandoned children by volunteering on orphanage volunteer programs or you could help provide healthcare for people at hospitals where there are skilled / non-skilled placements available. 

Most programs require you to be aged 18+ but there are taster and shorter summer trips available which accept 16 and 17 year olds. Some medical placements will require you to have certain skills or relevant experience but most programs are open to everyone. Please research all options and make sure this experience is right for you, sometimes working and living conditions can be rustic compared to what you are used to.


Conservation Projects


Central America has 7% of the worlds biodiversity and there are lots of fantastic environmental conservation programs available to join. We have programs listed where you can work in a team helping the environment and wildlife. Marine conservation projects are really fun, you can help eco systems and restore coral reefs whilst you might even get to go scuba diving. On some projects you will be working with beach clean ups and help sea turtle conservation.

Some organisations aim to regenerate locations of degraded mountainside into a self-sufficient farm community, using permaculture design principles. They reforest (using native and exotic species), experiment with and apply appropriate technologies, and practice intensive organic gardening in order to find a way to provide the needs of a small community while simultaneously restore soil fertility, increase biodiversity, and be carbon negative. 


Educational & Teaching Programs

You could sign up and help leading lessons to local communities or in schools improving standards and helping children and youngsters learn in a fun environment. If you are looking for a rewarding experience we highly recommend going to help at community programs teach. There are placements available throughout the country and you can help future generations of children learn. Some countries in this region have booming economies but sadly infrastructure is sadly lacking an schools are often under-funded and under-staffed. International volunteers are needed to help, you can work with local staff or even lead your own lessons. Creativity and adaptability is welcomed. 



Volunteering is a great opportunity to improve your Spanish language skills and gain experience, both personal and professional. Some programmes include language lessons and homestays with local families where you can best integrate into the community. We recommend learning local language this is one of the best ways to interact with local people and this will make volunteer holidays in Central America more meaningful.

Most volunteer programs in Central America require you to be over 17 years of age and they can be a real eye opening experience. You do not need to know any Spanish but this will help, also no previous experience is needed for most programs. If you apply for skilled positions like medical placements you might need experience or qualifications. Please note some countries might have less infrastructure and facilities than you are used to so please research all projects to see if they are right for you.


How to Apply

Sometimes you might need to pay a fee or donation but this varies depending on the organisation or projects. There are low cost and free volunteer programs available though, view our featured organisations. Positions are available all year round but popular program can be joined in summer and by signing up will learn more about how you can help.


Volunteer for Free in Central America

Search our featured organizations to find low cost and free volunteer programs in Central America.


Central America Volunteer Reviews

Have you ever participated on a volunteer program in Central America? Would you like to share your feedback, experiences or write a testimonial? Please contact us.


Related Pages