Esparza is a medium-sized agricultural town nestled amongst the mountains above Rio Barranca, in the Central Pacific Coast area of Costa Rica. The area was first settled by the Chorotega and Huetar peoples. The Chorotega people fled from Mexico 1,500 years ago and brought their traditions with them. This is a possible reason why there are Mexican words which jump several countries and turn up again in Costa Rica.
The Spanish town was founded in 1577, making it the second oldest in the country. It has a rich history which includes legends of hidden pirate gold. Esparza is the second largest cantón in the province of Puntarenas, covering an area of 216.80 km², and with a population of approximately 35,000.
Social Life in Esparza and Costa Rica
Your placement will keep you busy during the week, but you will generally have your evenings and weekends free to get to know Esparza, Costa Rica, and of course your fellow volunteers. Esparza is a largely rural community, and off the tourist track, which means you can experience genuine Costa Rican culture. The pace of life is relaxed, and it is not unusual to see horses being ridden in the street. Our in-country team will organise a weekly evening activity, such as dancing lessons, cooking lessons, Spanish lessons or a trip to a nearby town or tourist destination. Every month, on a weekend, there will be an organised trip to a tourist destination – volcano, beach, waterfall, canopy, ziplining, horse riding etc. When there are local events and fiestas we will make sure that you are involved.
Your new home will be one of two eco houses in our centre in Esparza: Jaguar House and Toucan House, sleeping 22 people max. Rooms are single gender occupancy, and sleep a maximum of 4 people in bunk beds. We have two private rooms available for those travelling as couples. Each house has two western style WC/shower rooms with cold water, which is refreshing in the heat of Esparza. Rooms are equipped with mosquito screens and 2 fans. All doors are lockable. The houses are run by our volunteer coordinator for Costa Rica who lives above the two houses with his family and works full-time catering to the needs of the volunteers.
Washing facilities are provided, and there is a large dining hall/games room/communal area shared by both houses, with free WiFi, TV and table tennis, plus a large garden of tropical plants, including coconut palm, papaya, banana, and citrus.
With the environment in mind, all volunteers are asked to be sensitive with the resources they use, in regards to water, paper and electricity.
There are shops within 300 metres of the centre, and bars, restaurants, and an excellent public pool within 15 minutes walk. There is an ATM within 1km and more ATMs in town, about 2kms. Buses into town and further afield leave from within 300ms of the centre.
Esparza and the surrounding area has plenty of shops, bars and restaurants within easy reach.
Travel and Adventure in Esparza and Puntarenas
Esparza and Puntarenas have plenty to offer for weekend activities, including horse riding, water sports (surf is huge), game fishing, canopy tours, Puntarenas Marina, National Parks, hotels to suit all budgets, and some of the best scenery in the world. Puntarenas is also ideally suited to take a scenic ferry to the Nicoya Peninsula and its many secluded beaches.
Beautiful beaches for surfing and relaxation are a short bus journey away from the centre, and Esparza has its own secluded waterfall with legends of buried pirate treasure.
Esparza is on the Panamerican Highway, so access to the rest of Costa Rica and the rest of the American continent is at your doorstep.