Venture into rural, coastal communities throughout the beautiful province of Santa Elena, Ecuador while volunteering and living with a host family! Earn 110+ service hours while supporting local initiatives to empower youth through collaborating on service projects. Truly immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of Ecuador's Pacific coast by getting into the day-to-day rhythm of life in your host community.

The deadline to apply was May 17.
Length Training
Ages Application
Ecuador: Santa Elena 6 Weeks

Online training on COVID-19, health and safety, mental health, travel, and AMIGOS history before departure. Leadership and orientation training take place in-country.

June 16–July 27

16–22 The deadline for this project has passed. Please email our Admissions team with any questions at [email protected]

$6,875 – includes all in-country expenses

  • Ecuador: Santa Elena
  • Length
    6 Weeks
  • Training Dates

    Online training on COVID-19, health and safety, mental health, travel, and AMIGOS history before departure. Leadership and orientation training take place in-country.

  • In-Country Dates

    June 16–July 27

  • Ages
  • Application Deadline
    The deadline for this project has passed. Please email our Admissions team with any questions at [email protected]
  • Price

    $6,875 – includes all in-country expenses

About the Project

Project Type

Homestay – you’ll live with a host family and be placed in a community with one or two other AMIGOS volunteers.


Coastal. Daytime temperatures can be hot!

Service Hours

Earn at least 110 service hours!


Lots of seafood!
Corviches = Deep fried plantain stuffed with peanut sauce and fish
Encebollado = Traditional Ecuadorian soup made from onions and tuna

Live With a Host Family

Dive deep into Ecuadorian culture by living with a host family! You’ll get to practice your Spanish, spend time with your host family and members of the community, and learn about the world by living in it.

Structured Independence

You’ll live with a host family in a rural community. One or two AMIGOS volunteers will also live in your community and a staff member will visit you at least once a week to check in with you and provide support as needed. Your summer experience will be largely what you make of it!

Santa Elena, Ecuador
Find out more about our programs

Join an online info session!


What You'll Do

Youth EMpowerment

Partner with local students to work in community spaces for Santa Elena’s youth. From beautification projects and risk reduction to public health workshops and community gardens, empower the youth of your host community through collaboration.


Partner AgencY

AMIGOS has worked with Plan International in Ecuador for more than a decade. Plan is well-respected and has long-standing relationships with communities all over the country. AMIGOS volunteers will plug into the initiatives that Plan is carrying out in local communities around the Santa Elena province.


Example Activities

  • Enjoy quality time with your host family
  • Design and build a community garden
  • Visit one of Ecuador’s beautiful protected areas on the Pacific coast
  • Earn 110+ service hours volunteering on youth empowerment projects
  • Join in on a game of Ecuavolley, an Ecuadorian version of volleyball

A Day in the Life

Days 1–4*

  • Wake up and have breakfast in small groups
  • Begin briefing and orientation
  • Morning: Rotating schedule of activities, including Spanish classes, orientation, explore topics like youth empowerment, natural resources, and sustainability in action, and volunteering activities.
  • Lunch outside
  • Afternoon: Rotating schedule of activities—Spanish classes, briefing, etc. in small groups
  • Free time to explore the grounds
  • Dinner in small groups
  • After Dinner: free time, fun group activities


Day 5 through End of Project

  • Meet your host family and settle in to your host community
  • Wake up and have breakfast and coffee with your host family
  • Meet up with local students and your AMIGOS partners to plan your service project
  • Have lunch with your host family
  • Volunteer on your service project, attend community meetings, get to know your local community
  • Dinner with your host family
  • Relax with your host family, play games, listen to music
  • Meet up with the rest of the AMIGOS group for your last few days in Ecuador – go on an excursion and reflect on your experience before traveling home

Program Pillars

Ethical Service

Learn how to create ethical service initiatives by working with–not for–a community, engaging local organizations and partners, and evaluating the impact of your work. AMIGOS works with trusted local partners that are passionate and committed to working with our volunteers on community service projects.

Cultural Humility

Cultural humility is a process of both self-reflection about your own culture as well as learning about other cultures. You will examine your own beliefs and cultural identity and gain an understanding of how structural racism has impacted societies and the roles that communities can take to lead systemic change.


Learn, grow, and discover your leadership potential! Explore your sense of purpose and start to establish your personal goals and values through introspection and inquiry.

Apply Now

Click here

Why Choose AMIGOS?

Have an Adventure

Travel off the beaten path and to must-see spots in Ecuador! Live like a local, not a tourist, with a host family in your host community. You’ll get to see these places from the distinct perspective of someone who has spent time in that country and learned about the culture firsthand. Plus, you’ll bond with volunteers and community members and have fun!

Travel with Trust

AMIGOS is the industry leader in health and safety management. Our staff is prepared to help you with any situation that may arise. Each volunteer receives a personalized emergency plan, as well as support from local staff teams and a professional 24-hour On-Call Safety Team of travel specialists, doctors, and mental health specialists. A Health and Wellness Coordinator is on staff with the group throughout the duration of their stay. AMIGOS also has an established network of vetted medical clinics and hospitals throughout the region.

Practice Spanish

AMIGOS programs provide a unique opportunity to experience a new culture. Volunteers report increased fluency in Spanish after completing our program. Activities go far beyond the classroom — you’ll lead activities in Spanish, learn local slang, and increase your confidence with real-world practice. You will not believe how fast your Spanish improves when you use it in conversation every day!

My favorite part of AMIGOS was getting to know my host family and having the experience to be part of a second family.

—Hannah, Volunteer in Santa Elena, Ecuador

Program Requirements
  • Have taken 2+ years of Spanish or the equivalent
  • Meet the health criteria for AMIGOS participation and follow the mental health procedures if necessary.
  • Receive required immunizations and medications
  • Be age 16–22 on the project start date
Apply Now

Field Notes

Last Week in Community


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End of Summer in Barahona


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Report from Parque Nacional Marino Ballena


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Want to join AMIGOS this fall? Apply by September 6 for the Social Impact Accelerator! Head to @amigos_americas to learn more. ...

New AMIGOS programs for summer 2022 just announced today! Head to @amigos_americas to find out more 🙌 ...

Hey La Sierra volunteers! We miss you already! 💚

Don’t forget to follow our main account @amigos_americas to stay up to date with AMIGOS, and tag them if you share photos from your summer experience!

Check out our story and submit to our photo competition to get reposted! We can’t wait to see all your photos! Winners get a personalized video message DMed to them! ...

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