Costa Rica: Ultimate Adventure and Service
$5,695 + Airfare
Jul 10 – Jul 30
9, 10, 11, 12
|Who can go on this trip?||
Students from around the world!
San José, Dominical, Uvita, Manuel Antonio, Avellanas, Monteverde, La Fortuna, Turrialba, Puerto Viejo
|Optional group flight there:||
Miami to San Jose
|Optional group flight back:||
San Jose to Miami
This ultimate Costa Rican adventure packs in 21 days of pure adrenaline mixed with just the right amount of community service! We will kick the adventure up a notch and explore this gorgeous country in very unique ways. To start, we will hike up a mountain to a campsite set in a cave behind a waterfall, where we will spend the night listening to the relaxing sounds of nature and gentle rush of water. The next morning we will rappel 150 feet down to the ground! We will visit four different world class beaches where we’ll enjoy everything the ocean has to offer, including snorkeling, sea kayaking, a sunset sail along the coast, and even a whale watching trip!
The adventures continue as you zip-line above the canopy and go whitewater rafting for a three day journey on the world famous Pacuare River. Along the way you’ll be surrounded by a plethora of wildlife in its natural habitat, including sloths, monkeys, and giant iguanas. You will also mingle with locals as you work side by side the Costa Rican Boy Scouts and other local organizations. Visit an animal rescue center to learn more about protecting Costa Rica’s wildlife. If you’re looking to get your adrenaline pumping and enjoy a blend of Costa Rican jungle and beaches while also giving back to the local community and its nature, then this is the trip for you!
On this trip you will:
- Earn up to 30 hours of community service
- Hike to a campsite set up in a cave behind a giant waterfall and yes, spend the night!
- Rappel down waterfalls deep in the jungle
- Go on a three-day whitewater rafting trip through lush jungle, spotting wildlife and exotic plants along the way
- Relax in natural hot springs at the foot of a volcano
- Zip-line over the vibrant jungle canopy
- Hit three different beaches and swim and relax along the stunning jungle coast
- Head to Uvita, a destination known for its whale migration, and spot different species of whales on an exciting whale watching tour!
- Enjoy a variety of watersports including sea kayaking, surfing, and snorkeling
- Sail along the coast at sunset
- Swim beneath a 210 foot waterfall in the middle of the jungle
- Explore hanging bridges and take a nighttime rainforest walk to discover nocturnal wildlife
- Visit a small countryside town, drink rich Costa Rican coffee, and work alongside local Boy Scouts
- Learn about Costa Rica’s wildlife firsthand at an animal rescue center
DAY 1: GROUP FLIGHT DEPARTS FROM MIAMI, FL
DAYS 2–3: DIAMANTE WATERFALL OVERNIGHT
After a good night’s sleep, we are ready for our first adventure. Wake up early to take a challenging but gorgeous 1.5 hour hike through the cloud forest. Once we get to the top, we will have the opportunity to rappel down a 100 foot wall and swim in the natural pools formed at the base of the waterfall. Tonight you will sleep inside of a very large, open cave behind two 90 foot waterfalls – don’t worry, it is fully equipped with beds, bathrooms and even a kitchen! The next day we will hike to one of the most amazing waterfalls in the country, standing at 600 feet tall! Finally, we will make our way back down the mountain, stopping to take breaks and if you feel up to it, you can cool off in the refreshing river.
DAY 4: MARINO BALLENA NATIONAL PARK
Today we will take a half-day boat trip to spot whales, dolphins, and sea turtles on an amazing boat ride along the coasts of this national park. See Uvita’s famous Whale Tale, a portion of coastline that is shaped just like its name suggests! After cruising around on the boat, wind down on pristine beaches and look out at the vastness of the ocean, reflecting on the majestic creatures that you saw today.
DAY 5: MANUEL ANTONIO NATIONAL PARK
Wake up early to get on the road for our next destination, Manuel Antonio National Park, a small biological peninsula on the Pacific Coast. Walk through the lush park, keeping your eyes wide open because here you can spot raccoons, agoutis, and two-toed sloths, as well as white-faced howler and squirrel monkeys. One of the region’s most beautiful and famous beaches is located in the park, so you can work on your tan while you enjoy the unique fusion of mountain and beachfront beauty in this stunning destination.
DAYS 6–8: AVELLANAS
Say adios to Manuel Antonio as you continue to travel along the Pacific Coast to Avellanas. During the next three days, you will learn how to surf in one the most popular surf spots in all of Costa Rica. The waves here are appropriate for all surfing levels, from beginners to pros. Take an afternoon to visit Tamarindo Beach, one of the most famous surf towns in the country, as well as Conchal Beach. In this beautiful beach the sand is composed of millions of tiny crushed shells, making it one of the only Pacific Coast beaches with crystal clear water, similar to the beaches in the Caribbean. Avellanas will also be home to one of our service projects where we will give back to the local community.
DAYS 9–10: MONTEVERDE
From Avellanas we will travel to Monteverde, considered to be one of the most well-known cloud forests in the world for its wide variety of biodiversity, important conservation contributions, and scientific research. We will explore the area by touring along the hanging bridges, a walkway that consists of eight suspension bridges connected by trails that covers almost two miles! After dinner we will take a rainforest night walk at Bosque Eterno de Los Niños for an amazing opportunity to hike and view the area’s amazing biodiversity. During the night walk you are likely to see snakes, tarantulas, beetles, fireflies walking sticks, sleeping birds, bats, agoutis, coatimundis, frogs, and owls. If you’re lucky, you may even see a sloth, wide-eyed kinkajou, armadillo, or a porcupine! Complete your time in Monteverde by trying the local coffee shops around the area or doing some souvenir shopping.
DAYS 11–13: LA FORTUNA
From Monteverde we will travel to La Fortuna, where we stay in a comfortable hotel near the breathtaking Arenal Volcano – the 10th most active volcano in the world (don’t worry, it’s safe and very closely monitored!). We’ll also visit a small countryside town to take in some Tico culture and learn how to make tortillas, drink rich Costa Rican coffee, and eat a delicious homemade traditional meal. Meet local kids when you work side by side with the Costa Rican Boy Scouts in the community. Get ready for an exhilarating canopy tour, zip-line over the rainforest for a thrilling view of the jungle from above, and in the evening relax your muscles at the natural hot springs. No trip to Arenal would be complete without a hike down to La Fortuna Waterfall, a 210 foot ribbon of water that gushes into a refreshing pool in the jungle. We’ll swim next to this natural marvel, relax on the rocks, eat lunch, and head back to our bus for the next leg of our journey.
DAY 14–17: TURRIALBA
Our next destination is Turrialba, home of the world famous Pacuare River. We’ll volunteer with a local school and spend some time with the children. After our service work it’s time for some more adventure! Embark on a three-day river adventure, including two nights in a lodge overlooking the river. From here you get to experience incredible zip lines through the trees, rainforest hikes with naturalist guides, horseback riding to a local community with tours of their sustainable farming and conservation practices, birdwatching, and insights into the sustainable development in this area. The best whitewater rafting of the trip awaits you just below the lodge.
DAY 18–20: PUERTO VIEJO
Surf’s up! Have fun catching the Caribbean waves at Manzanillo Beach and learn to cook like a Tico with an authentic Costa Rican cooking lesson. You won’t believe your eyes as you snorkel to explore the underwater realm at Cahuita National and tonight, put on your dancing shoes, because it’s time to learn to dance like a Tico! On our last day in Puerto Viejo, we will visit an animal rescue center where we will learn about their efforts to rescue, rehabilitate, and ensure good conditions for wildlife in Costa Rica, and even spend time with some of the rescued animals! We will end our day either visiting the local shops or chilling out at the beach before we enjoy our final dinner in this marvellous country. After our delicious final dinner in Costa Rica, we will reflect on our incredible adventure and say our goodbyes.
DAY 21: FLY HOME
Today we will return home or get ready to join our next adventure with Travel For Teens.
Who can go on this trip? What kind of teen typically goes on this trip?
We have teens join this program from all over the world! They are typically culturally curious teens who are excited about making new friends, stepping out of their comfort zone, expanding their horizons, and trying something new.
Where do we stay?
Our hotels are specifically chosen to be in safe areas and well-suited to facilitating group supervision. We stay in centrally located accommodations, usually within walking distance of the main attractions. This means we do not use large, impersonal chain hotels on the outskirts of cities. We prefer to select smaller, family run hotels where we establish personal relationships with the owners.
In Dominical we will stay in a hotel near Dominical beach in the heart of the forest, then will sleep inside a very large, open cave behind two 90 foot waterfalls – don’t worry, it is fully equipped with beds, bathrooms and a kitchen. In Avellanas we stay in a hotel surrounded by a trees where you can see monkeys, iguanas, and toucans hanging around close to the beach. In La Fortuna we stay close to the city center where you can souvenir shop. In Turrialba we stay in a beautiful family-run hotel with views of the amazing Turrialba Volcano. We also stay in an eco lodge tucked in the rainforest on the banks of the river.
For safety reasons, we do not publish the names of the accommodations we use. We do not feel it is safe to publish the name of a hotel where a group of teenagers is staying abroad. After registering, participants and parents are given access to our secure parent website where you will be able to see the names of all of the accommodations for a trip.
Do most travelers go by themselves?
Yes, in fact over 75% of students who travel with us choose to come independently. This encourages teens to step further outside their comfort zone and make new friends. We believe that one of the most rewarding and exciting elements of travel is the new friendships that are formed along the way. If you travel by yourself, you are bound to make new friends from all over the country and even the world. The best part is, you can travel again with your new BFFs on another TFT trip the next summer!
Can I bring a friend?
Absolutely! We just ask that if you come with a friend, you and your friend(s) are still open to meeting new people and sharing this special experience with the entire group.
What do students generally like most on this program?
Students love that they are able to explore the country and get a real local experience. They love that it covers everything you would want to see while in Costa Rica, including waterfalls, volcanoes, jungles and beaches! Working with the Costa Rica Boy Scouts and dedicating time at the Jaguar Center are also highlights of this trip.
What is unique about this program?
From spending a night in the heart of the jungle behind a waterfall to a whitewater rafting adventure at one of the best rivers in the world, TFT’s expertise in leading trips through Costa Rica provides unique insider access for our special Ultimate Adventure trip
What is included?
Ground transportation, accommodations, all breakfasts, lunch and dinners, chaperones and guides, trip related activities, trip related activity admissions, taxes and tips.
Not Included: (not intended to be an exhaustive list) Airfare, rail passes, visas & visa application fees, beverages other than tap water, activities and admissions not referenced in the itinerary or deemed not trip related, such as movies and clubs, expenses incurred by the participant that are outside the trip description, such as damage to hotels and excess baggage fees, expenses related to unforeseen circumstances, such as transportation strikes and natural disasters, as well as personal and medical expenses.
How do the optional group flights work?
Upon registration, you will be contacted by our International Logistics Team to discuss this trip’s flight details. You are not required to take the group flight, although there are several advantages to doing so. The group flight is chaperoned by TFT staff, it offers an opportunity for the students to get to know each other before the trip starts, and we get preferred group flight prices on trips that have group contracts (ask for details). Parents are responsible for arranging for participants to get to the group flight airport. Travel For Teens staff are at the airport, greet arriving participants, and help them get to where the rest of the group has assembled. For more information about Flights, visit our Flights page.
Who are the counselors on the trip?
The Trip Director for every trip is a seasoned teen travel professional with extensive TFT experience. Trip Directors often live or have lived and worked in the destination country. Extensive knowledge of the language and culture of the destination is crucial. Our Senior Counselors are experienced, responsible and fun-loving individuals who our participants can share experiences with and look to for guidance and support. At Travel for Teens we pride ourselves on our rigorous staff application process and the professionalism of our full time and summer staff.
It is the job of the counselors to keep the trip fun and exciting, the learning and the laughter in good balance, and to oversee the safety of the participants. Minimum ratios are on average one staff member to every seven participants. Trips may also include one or two Junior Counselors, who are college students with a history of TFT travel, and one or more Counselors in Training (CIT’s) with limited responsibility. CIT’s are not counted in staff-participant ratios.
What are the safety qualifications for our staff?
All of our staff members attend a week long training session every May to prepare for the upcoming summer and go over safety precautions and protocols. Likewise, every counselor is CPR/First Aid certified and Trip Directors are Lifeguard certified. All staff undergo a rigorous interview process and thorough background check.
What is the average group size?
At Travel for Teens, our trips typically fall into 3 different size categories.
Small: 7-14 students where 14 is the maximum.
Medium: Average is between 14-21 students with 21 as the maximum.
Large: Trips 21-35 students. These are our largest trips.
Typically Costa Rica: Ultimate Adventure falls into the medium range, but trip sizes differ from year to year.
How does this program connect to other programs?
Most of our Latin America programs are designed specifically so that participants can combine them with other trips. If you are connecting to another program, your counselor will escort you to the airport on the last day of the trip and help you get to your next destination where you will meet up with your new counselors and group.
What is the food like on this trip?
In a word – Delicious! At TFT, we believe food should be an integral part of the travel experience and always make an effort to eat at authentic establishments when we can. What better way to immerse yourself in the culture of a place than by sampling the local delicacies, and we encourage students to do so whenever possible! Just as we stay away from Americanized hotel chains, we try to avoid restaurants with menus that cater only to tourists because every good traveler knows the best food is found wherever the locals are eating!
The food in Costa Rica is delicious! Expect to eat seasoned rice, beans, chicken, steak, tropical fruit and veggies, plantains, and many other foods flavored with unique Caribbean spices! Vegetarians will have no issues eating well on this trip. Also, unlike in Europe where a light breakfast of coffee and toast is the norm, Ticos (Costa Ricans) eat big, savory breakfasts—and so will we!
As always, we are willing and able to accommodate vegetarians, vegans, gluten allergies, and other dietary restrictions.
Do I need any vaccinations for this trip?
We recommend that you check with your family doctor regarding vaccinations and medical advice for the areas you will be visiting. For more information, please check out the World Health Organization’s website www.who.int/en/.
How much free time do we get?
Our counselors are with the group almost always. Everyday we will break up into smaller groups to give our participants some choices and flexibility in their itinerary. We do offer some free time to do some shopping, for example, in defined areas that we are very familiar with. If participants are ever shopping by themselves within these defined areas, they go in groups and for no more than an hour. On this trip, the group will have some free time to explore some of the safe pedestrian areas of Arenal and Sámara Beach. A counselor will always be nearby when participants have free time in each city.
What kind of Visa do you need for this trip?
Any US citizen that enters Costa Rica is automatically granted a free 90-day tourist visa. If you are coming from somewhere outside the US, please be sure to check your country specific visa requirements.
Do I need to speak the language?
No, our skilled staff members will help you get around and even teach you a few fun phrases!