Local Costa Rica non-profit organizations & other projects doing amazing work that needs your help!
The ideal Costa Rica surf trip involves catching plenty of waves, working on your tan, meeting new people, and enjoying some cold beverages on the beach. Sounds good to me! But something that most people don’t think about when traveling is looking into ways to volunteer or give back to the area that they are visiting during their trip. Not only could you make a positive impact, but volunteering at Costa Rica non-profit organization can also be a fun way to learn more about the local culture and meet amazing people if you are willing to try it out. If you come to Tamarindo, not only are there amazing waves but there are also a number of awesome local Costa Rica non-profit organizations that could use your help during your time here! Unfortunately, there are a number of underprivileged communities, animals in danger, and unwanted trash on the beaches in the Guanacaste region so if you have the means to help, why not spend a couple of hours, a couple of days, or even a couple of weeks giving back between surf sessions!
The mission of Abriendo Mentes (Opening Minds) is to empower rural Costa Rican communities to further their own economic development by providing educational, social, and technological programs to families and youth in need.
Abriendo Mentes operates in the rural village of Playa Potrero, about half an hour from Tamarindo, where the only educational resource for youth is a small, dilapidated, four-room public school that offers classes a mere three hours per day, 85 days per year. The lack of enthusiasm and funding for public education leads to apathy in the students, fosters a negative view of school and learning, and discourages children from pursuing higher education.
Abriendo Mentes is the only organization in this specific area offering continuing education classes and extra-curricular opportunities to community members. For many students, the AM classes are their only creative and educational outlet, and their primary opportunity for personal growth. In an area that has almost nothing, the AM programs give people something to work for, to strive for, and to feel proud of.
“We don’t only give people the tools to carve out better lives financially and linguistically, we give them the chance to change their entire perspective, and the opportunity to seek a better life for themselves and their children. Not only does AM teach job skills, but we also teach self-esteem, hope, and inspiration.”
This organization usually is looking more for long term volunteers rather than folks who are just in and out, but it is always worth reaching out to see what might be possible. Donations are also accepted and greatly appreciated if you would prefer to help out with funds rather than time!
CEPIA stands for Culture, Education, and Psychology for Infants and Adolescents and is a Costa Rican nationally accredited non-profit organization that seeks to promote culture, health, sports and education for children and teenagers and their families from poor backgrounds in the communities of Guanacaste, Costa Rica. They have been active since 2005. They are always looking for volunteers and support, and would appreciate any time you have whether it is hours or weeks!
If you are going to be around Tamarindo in November, there is a benefit event for Cepia that is going to be amazing! It will be held on November 15th at Pangas Beach Club. There will be a dinner provided by Pangas, a silent auction, raffle prizes, a wine bar, and music and dancing with DJ Ciro.
Doors Open at 6 pm
Dinner 7-8:30 pm
Here is a little info about the reason behind the party:
Children start school in February and we want to make sure every child enjoys the same fresh start! CEPIA’s volunteers and staff work hard to identify the most underprivileged kids in the coastal communities and bring them a backpack full of school supplies. These kids are also invited to the Christmas party to meet Santa and get a special gift. Most kids would not get a gift without this party. This is an easy way to have a lovely evening for an incredible cause, and give back while checking out one of Tamarindo’s best restaurants and enjoying one of the best DJ’s!
RSVP to the facebook event here!
Conectando Corazones Santa Rosa
Santa Rosa is a small town close to Tamarindo where many locals live, work, and go to school. Alexus Barnes Chaves and her husband Francisco live in Santa Rosa, and the kids in their neighborhood would often come over to their house to play or share a meal. Soon Alexus started teaching some small classes out of her house for the kids to come enjoy, which were a great success. Then over the course of a few months, the group of kids and everything she wanted to offer them continued to grow bigger and bigger until she realized that she would need more space and more help. Thus creating Conectando Corazones, which although still a very young organization, is growing rapidly and changing lives in a huge way.
Their kids center is located about 400 meters past the main plaza in Santa Rosa on the left side.
CC is a place for children to come to learn, play, grow, and become the best version of themselves that they can be. It is not a school, but there are a variety of classes like English, arts and crafts, and sports. They are planning to expand to add more programs such as yoga and mindfulness, gardening and creativity clubs, music and circus courses, and more soon! Their goal is to create a clean, pure and safe space for kids to come and just be kids because in Santa Rosa there are not many things for them to do.
And they can always use volunteers! If you are interested in helping, contact Alexus at +506-8564-0607 directly about what you can do!
If you head down to Playa Guiones in Nosara for some new waves on your Costa Rica surf trip, check out Costas Verdes (green coasts in English). Costas Verdes imagines a day when the forest of BarriGuiones once again reaches the sea and serves as a habitat for wildlife such as sea turtles, monkeys, and parrots. They have planted over 6500 trees of 30 native species. They conduct educational activities to spread environmental awareness that will both help the community live in harmony with the environment and will further the local eco-tourism economy for the benefit of the local community. The waves of Playa Guiones are well known to surfers, and the long stretch of beach is part of a National Wildlife Refuge that is home to abundant wildlife. However, the coast was deforested over half a century ago by ranchers, which threatens its use as a corridor for animals.
Costas Verdes often welcomes volunteers to work with local staff on large-scale reforestation projects. The work varies by seasonal cycles, and includes creating planters and tending to seedlings in the nursery, collecting native seeds and saplings from the nearby forest, mulching and fertilizing recent plantings, and digging holes and planting trees, so there is always something to do! Volunteers may even get a chance to give a name to a tree.
This is the perfect way to check out the coastal surf town of Nosara and give back to the area at the same time!
The Clean Wave
The Clean Wave is a non-profit foundation committed to the environment, specifically ocean protection. Founded in 2017 in Playa Tamarindo, their main goal is to raise environmental awareness through the organization of beach cleanups, educational workshops and recycling campaigns.
This organization hosts regular beach cleanups in Tamarindo which is probably one of the most fun and easy ways you can make a positive difference in just an afternoon! They often provide some water and snacks too to make it more fun, and you will likely meet a lot of interesting, like-minded friends as well!
Fundación Futuro Brillante (Brilliant Future) was established in August 2016 by a group of private developers from the United States. The founders are deeply committed to supporting local communities and thus created Futuro Brillante to help the residents of the Cabo Velas District in Guanacaste achieve a “brighter future” through the delivery and execution of high-quality education programs, infrastructure development, technical training, and environmental projects. Futuro Brillante accomplishes its mission through direct program delivery in coordination with the local community, as well as collaborative partnerships with the private sector, public institutions, and other nonprofit organizations.
They are always open to having new volunteers! There are many different projects that you could get involved in to help make this community a better place. From education and technical training to help prepare individuals to join the workforce, the creation or improvements of community spaces, working in the community garden, community development through advocacy efforts and financial support, and a number of environmental programs, this organization does a little bit of everything and needs your help!
Las Playas Food Bank
The Las Playas Food Bank is a non-profit registered association in Costa Rica that helps provide food & provisions for over 100 local families in the Tamarindo and surrounding areas. The organization was started over 3 years ago by Valerie Eschuk and it is now her life mission to assist as many families as possible with this program. This organization benefits directly from your contributions and leads to more families being able to enter the program. If you don’t have much time but would like to do something with a financial donation, the local food bank is always accepting donations.
SalveMonos (Save the Monkeys) is a nonprofit organization with the mission to “protect and rescue the wildlife, especially monkeys, through actions that reduce the threats to their way of life, create the environment needed for the survival of their species and guarantee assistance to monkeys that have suffered accidents or are in danger.”
The organization was created in Costa Rica in 2004 by two local entrepreneurs from the region of Guanacaste: Patricia Sterman (owner of Azul Profundo Boutique) and Simona Daniele (owner of Hotel Luna Llena). Worried about increasing harm to the survival of the howler monkeys, they decided to take action. Howler monkeys have a very important presence in the area, and economic and touristic development is threatening their way of life.
The construction of buildings, houses and roads have a negative effect on the amount of trees available for monkeys to move around. When there are no trees, monkeys use streets and electric cables to move from one place to another. Car accidents and electrocutions are the main cause of deaths and injuries of howler monkeys in the area because the cables are usually not isolated and drivers are not always aware of the presence of monkeys on the roads. To try to combat this, they have been focusing on reforestation and regeneration of biological corridors, accident prevention, monkey rescue shelters, community awareness, and influencing authorities and electric companies. The support from the community has been growing every day and has made a tremendous impact, but we can always do more! When you are in the area, check out their website to see if you could volunteer your time with them and help the monkeys.
The Surfrider Foundation
Surfrider is a global organization that is dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s ocean, waves, and beaches through a powerful activist network. There are chapters all over the world led by locals. Just in the United States, there are 81 chapters, and also a ton of Surfrider Student Clubs at various schools to organize beach cleanups and green up campuses. And there is also a group in Tamarindo! They also often hold beach cleanups and other events to raise money and awareness for ocean protection.
Here is the link to the Surfrider Tamarindo public group, where there are always updates about current events and ways to get involved!
Even after your Costa Rica surf trip, you can likely still be involved in the Surfrider Foundation wherever you call home, since they have such a large activist network. Check out their main to find more ways to get and stay active in this incredible group. Even just making a small donation is better than nothing!
These are just a few of the amazing non-profit organizations that you can give back to while on your Costa Rica surf trip. Below are few more to check out as well:
- The Monkey Park
- Hospital Veterinario Cavallini
- Vida Verdiazul
- Yo Seré Su Voz Guanacaste
- ADIT Tamarindo
- Local Vets
Clearly, the community of Tamarindo is pretty incredible – they come together and want to work hard to improve the lives of all – from the oceans to the monkeys, to the next generation of young Guanacastecos. While you are visiting on your Costa Rica surf trip, consider taking a moment to check out some of these amazing organizations and donating some time or funds to their important causes. You won’t regret it!