Costa Rica Teen Service & Adventure Trip Overview

This ultimate Costa Rican adventure packs in 21  days of pure adrenaline mixed with just the right amount of community service!  You’ll experience the natural beauty of Costa Rica while giving back to local communities. Teach local children English, plant trees, engage with the locals during meaningful service projects, and more. After a hard day of work, relax on Costa Rica’s pristine beaches, fly through the jungle canopy on a zipline, and catch some waves at some of the world’s most famous surfing destinations! This trip strikes a perfect balance between work and play. You will earn up to 20 service hours, and at the same time try new adventure activities such as whitewater rafting, swimming in waterfalls, canyoning, and rappelling, among others. What are you waiting for? A perfect summer in Costa Rica awaits!

Our Older Teen community service summer programs are carefully crafted with 11th and 12th graders in mind. We do not just take our standard programs and open certain dates to an older age group without changing the itineraries. Instead, we understand that older teens require a different type of program, and need itineraries with more challenges and independence to help them grow and encourage even more confidence with traveling. These programs are designed to nurture older teens and teach them to be more independent and savvy travelers. Because as you grow, your interests and needs do too.

Price

$7495 + Airfare

Departures
  • Jun 29 - Jul 19 Full
Days

21 Days

Finishing Grades

11, 12

Who Can Go On This Trip?

Students from around the world!

Where We Go

San Jose, Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Monteverde, Jaco, Uvita

Optional Group Flight There

Miami (MIA) to San Jose (SJO)

Optional Group Flight Back

San Jose (SJO) to Miami (MIA)

Countries

Costa Rica

During this program, you will…

  • Volunteer in three different communities for up to 20 hours of service
  • Swing through the trees like Tarzan on an epic treetop canopy tour
  • Go whitewater rafting on class II-III rapids down the Sarapiqui River
  • Visit a cacao plantation and learn all about the nectar of the gods – chocolate
  • Ride gentle horses through the jungle to a gorgeous hidden waterfall for a refreshing swim
  • Take a breathtaking hike in Cahuita National Park
  • Sunbathe on pristine beaches and swim in the turquoise Caribbean Sea
  • Take a surfing lesson at a beach famous for its perfect waves
  • Visit a small countryside town and drink rich Costa Rican coffee
  • Learn how to Salsa with an evening dancing lesson

Trip Itinerary

DAY 1: DEPART FROM MIAMI (MIA)
DAYS 1-4: PUERTO VIEJO DE SARAPIQUI

¡Bienvenidos a Costa Rica! Our first stop is Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, a picturesque eco-destination off the tourist radar. Visitors come to Sarapiquí for thrills as well as relaxation and nature immersion in tropical rainforest tours.

During our time here we will visit a cacao plantation where you will embark on a journey through time to uncover the fascinating tale behind the “drink of the gods” – chocolate. From its ancient origins and the traditional methods of preparation by our ancestors to its evolution over the centuries, the chocolate tour offers an educational and delightful experience. Explore the rich history of cacao as you witness, taste, sip, and experience every step of the chocolate-making process.

The next morning we will go on a captivating journey on horseback – through the enchanting corners of Sarapiqui, traversing country roads that wind through pastures, charming threshing fields, and pockets of lush forest. Guiding you on this adventure will be a local ‘Vaqueano,’ an expert guide who will reveal the breathtaking scenic wonders of Sarapiqui. Get ready to encounter a diverse array of bird species and local wildlife, immersing yourself in the natural beauty and cultural richness of rural Sarapiqui.

Participate on an exhilarating adventure down the Sarapiquí River, where the rush of class II-III rapids awaits. Feel the adrenaline surge as you navigate through the twists and turns of this pristine river, surrounded by lush tropical rainforest. Expert guides will lead the way, ensuring both safety and excitement as you conquer the rapids. Prepare for an unforgettable experience filled with thrills, laughter, and breathtaking natural scenery. Whether you’re a seasoned rafter or a first-time adventurer, whitewater rafting on the Sarapiquí River promises an unforgettable journey into the heart of Costa Rica’s wild beauty.

In between these activities we will rejuvenate the soul as we work to make a positive impact in the local community before moving on to our next adventure.

DAYS 5-8: PUERTO VIEJO DE TALAMANCA

On to our next destination, we will discover the charm of Puerto Viejo De Talamanca.

We will hit up the beach at Manzanillo, a picturesque Caribbean town offering warm crystal-clear waters, souvenir shopping, and delectable cuisine. Spend the afternoon unwinding on its pristine beach, indulging in the serene beauty and refreshing Caribbean waters.

Pay a visit to the Jaguar Rescue Center, a dedicated project aimed at rescuing, rehabilitating, and providing optimal conditions for wildlife in Costa Rica. Through our visit, we aim to promote respect and appreciation for wildlife.

Embark on a morning adventure to the picturesque Cahuita National Park and close out the night with Salsa dance lessons!

On our last day here, enjoy a day-long journey through the foothills of the Talamanca mountains, delving into the heart of the rainforest to discover the rich culture of the local Bribri people. Marvel at breathtaking waterfalls, explore lush rainforest trails and learn about indigenous plants and traditional remedies used by the Bribri community.

DAYS 9-10: SAN JOSE

Today is an unforgettable adventure day at La Paz Waterfall Gardens, where you’ll encounter five breathtaking waterfalls nestled within the cloud and rain forests. Traverse safe hiking trails teeming with wildlife, including toucans, butterflies, capuchins, and black-handed spider monkeys, as well as a hummingbird garden and snake exhibit. Explore this amazing sanctuary for wildlife enthusiasts, offering the opportunity to observe animals in their native environment.

DAYS 11-13: MONTEVERDE

A haven for nature lovers nestled in the misty cloud forests of Costa Rica. With enchanting hikes through lush greenery, encounter diverse wildlife, and marvel at breathtaking vistas. Immerse yourself in the tranquility of this ecotourism hotspot, where every step reveals the wonders of the natural world.

The next morning get back to the action with an exhilarating canyon canopy tour! On this exciting adventure, nature becomes our playground. We will venture through the lush jungle to a steep canyon with a river cutting through it. While here we will spend time amongst the jungle canopy while ziplining, riding “Tarzan swings” and crossing hanging bridges.

Delve into the rich history and significance of Costa Rican coffee on this guided tour of a local plantation. Gain insights into the cultivation, harvesting, and processing of coffee beans while exploring the scenic landscapes of the plantation. Discover how coffee has shaped Costa Rica’s history and economy, and savor the aroma and taste of freshly brewed coffee along the way.

In between all of this fun and adventure, the group will be collaborating with a local association in different projects like painting a school or community playground.

DAYS 14-15: JACO

Here we will venture to Tortuga Island. This island paradise, with tall coconut palms, beautiful white sand beaches, and crystal-clear waters, is the perfect way to explore Costa Rica’s Pacific Ocean. Once you arrive, you can spend the day swimming, playing beach volleyball, or sunbathing. After lunch, you can participate in activities like snorkeling, with excellent opportunities to view marine life such as stingrays, angelfish, dolphins, and octopuses. You can also enjoy an exciting ride on the banana boat!

DAYS 16-19: UVITA

Uvita is a coastal gem nestled between lush rainforests and the sparkling Pacific. From relaxing on pristine shores to exploring hidden waterfalls and hiking through dense jungles, Uvita offers a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure for every traveler.

Join our community service program where all volunteers play a vital role in on-site initiatives. Your contributions help expand the reach of our services and provide better support to the local community and its residents.

In the evening, earn to ride the waves in the stunning coastal town of Uvita with our surf lessons. Whether you’re a beginner catching your first wave or looking to improve your skills, our experienced instructors will guide you through the fundamentals of surfing. Get ready to paddle out, catch some waves, and experience the thrill of surfing in one of Costa Rica’s most beautiful beach destinations.

The next morning, embark on an unforgettable marine adventure featuring whale watching, dolphin encounters, snorkeling, and exploration of natural water caves! As you journey through the ocean, keep your eyes peeled for majestic humpback whales, listen to their enchanting love songs, and witness the awe-inspiring sight of these massive mammals breaching and splashing their colossal tails. It’s an experience you won’t want to miss!

To close out, join us on an unforgettable journey to witness the grandeur of Costa Rica’s largest waterfall! This adventure-packed tour includes a scenic hike through lush landscapes, a visit to an organic medicinal garden, and an exploration of four stunning waterfalls. Take a refreshing dip in two natural pools and indulge in an all-inclusive lunch served in the unique setting behind twin waterfalls. It’s an experience you won’t want to miss!

DAY 20: SAN JOSE

We will spend our last full day together unwinding in San Jose. Explore the town, go shopping, and eat to your heart’s content. We will have one last farewell dinner to celebrate the trip of a lifetime.

DAY 21: RETURN FLIGHT TO THE USA

Ready For Your Next Adventure?

Space is limited, reserve your spot! Then get ready for an authentic teen travel experience this summer!

Photo Gallery

Authenticity is engrained in everything we do. Eat, stay, and travel like a local.

Check out what past travelers have to say about TFT and discover why we are consistently awarded “Top Youth Travel Organization” year after year.

See all program reviews

"Zoe had a wonderful time in Costa Rica. She enjoyed the activities, especially sharing this journey with her long time friend. Zoe has made lifelong friends with her fellow 2023 CR teen travelers. There was a perfect balance of activities vs free time. She enjoyed the flexibility of the suggested schedule. As a parent, I believe the CR staff did an AMAZING job with daily photos and recap. Even if I didn’t get a chance to connect with my teen each day, the trip leaders ALWAYS posted photos, emailed a recap and provided the next days agenda."

Alison Jacksonville, FL

"Amaya went to Costa Rica with another program two years ago and I can honestly say TFT is crushing the competition! From the time Amaya arrived (traveling alone) to the accommodations, caliber of staff, and activities, we were very impressed! TFT has provided far more activities than the competition and has far better communication with parents! I absolutely love the daily updates and photos! Not only is it informative and personal, but it gives me my own little escape from the monotony of my work world!"

Melissa Taylorsville, MS

"I just wanted to thank you (and the other counselors) for these past three weeks. Olivia had a fabulous time on the trip!! She absolutely loved the country and really adored you. I don't think she wanted to leave! We are so grateful to you and the staff for all you did to ensure that the campers were having a blast and staying safe!! There were MANY times throughout the past few weeks that I really wished I was on this trip. The pictures were terrific and I always enjoyed your short updates from the day."

Jamie B. Bedminster, NJ

Travel with us and discover why we are consistently winning awards for Top Youth Travel Organization.

Frequently Asked Questions

See All FAQs

What is unique about the Costa Rica for Older Teens: Ultimate Adventure & Service trip?

Costa Rica for Older Teens: Ultimate Adventure & Service uniquely incorporates exhilarating adventures while also intergrading community service projects. 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 kind of teen typically participates in this program? What are the requirements to join?

Teens from all over the world join this program! Typically, our participants are culturally curious individuals who are excited to make new friends, experience something unique, and interested in stepping out of their comfort zones and expanding their horizons.

This program is exclusively for students who are currently in 11th or 12th grade and approximately 16 to 18 years old. Students living outside of the USA are welcome to join!

What do students like most about the Costa Rica for Older Teens: Ultimate Adventure & Service trip?

Our adrenaline-seeking participants truly love the layout of our trip! Costa Rica for Older Teens: Ultimate Adventure & Service gives our participants the opportunity to explore Costa Rica’s hidden treasures while also being able to give back to the community. Our service projects are centered towards volunteering at local schools, helping maintain local centers, as well as working with local non-profit organizations. ¡Pura Vida!

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 Rincón de la Vieja, we stay at a beautiful hacienda near to the famous Rincón de la Vieja volcano. The Hacienda has great facilities including a pool with natural mineral water from the nearby volcano, gardens and exotic birds, hammocks and incredible views of the volcanoes and valleys in the surrounding area. In Tamarindo our hotel also has a great pool and we stay close to the city center with easy access to anything you need. In Turrialba, we begin our stay in a beautiful family-run hotel from which you can see the amazing Turrialba volcano. Next, we stay in an eco-lodge tucked in the rainforest on the banks of the river. In La Fortuna we stay close to the city center where you can souvenir shop. In Sámara we stay in a hotel surrounded by trees where you can see monkeys, iguanas and toucans hanging around the property.

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 program.

Do most travelers go on their own?

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 form along the way. When we travel by ourselves, we 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 friends on another TFT program the next summer!

If you are thinking about joining a TFT program by yourself but you are feeling unsure, please let us know! We have plenty of references from solo travelers who had great experiences and would be happy to chat with you about it.

Can I bring a friend?

Absolutely! We ask that if you do come with a friend, you and your friend(s) maintain openness to meeting new people and sharing this special experience with the entire group.

What is included?

Tuition cost includes ground transportation; accommodation; chaperones and guides; program-related activities and admissions; taxes and tips; all breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.

Not included in cost (this is not intended to be an exhaustive list): airfare; visas and visa application fees; personal and medical expenses; activities and admissions that are not program-related or referenced in the itinerary; beverages other than filtered water at meals; participant expenses that are outside of the program description, such as excess baggage fees and damage to hotels; expenses related to unforeseen circumstances, such as transportation strikes and natural disasters.

How do the optional group flights work?

Upon registration, you will be contacted by our International Logistics Team to discuss the program’s flight details. There is no requirement to take the group flight, but there are several advantages to doing so. The group flight is usually chaperoned by a TFT staff member, and it also offers an opportunity for the students to get to know one another prior to the start of the program. Parents are responsible for coordinating transport to the departure airport – however, the logistics team will send out instructions detailing the exact meeting spot and airport point person. For additional information about flights, visit our dedicated flight page.

Who leads the program?

Our staff is a cut above the rest! We seek out two main characteristics in our counselors – extensive knowledge of and experience in our destinations, and a passion for working with teens. Our staff’s backgrounds include living abroad and working in summer camps or other educational settings. Team members are proven leaders and role models, who connect easily with others and form genuine friendships with each student – all while bringing each destination to life.

We celebrate diversity! Our staff represents 49 different nationalities, speak a combined total of 21 languages, and visited 142 countries. Additionally, 80% of our staff lived or worked abroad in their lives. With so many unique experiences to share, you are sure to gain a global perspective.

Our average minimum ratios are one staff member to every seven participants. Each program has one Trip Director with several support staff, depending on the group size. Directors must be at least 25 years old within the calendar year and have prior experience working with TFT.

What are the safety qualifications for our staff?

Our staff members undergo a rigorous hiring process. They receive the same background check as school educators, an extensive training process to go over all safety precautions and protocols, and are required to be certified in CPR and First Aid.  We exclusively hire responsible, multi-talented individuals who are safety-minded and are as passionate about teen travel as we are.

What is the average group size?

We pride ourselves on small group sizes to create a more authentic and personalized experience. Our group sizes fall between 13 and 24 students – the perfect size to facilitate new friendships without feeling lost in a crowd! We believe smaller groups eliminate the likelihood of cliques, and allows for a well-rounded, healthy group dynamic.

How does this program connect to other programs?

Our program dates are designed specifically so that participants can opt to combine trips throughout the summer.  When connecting to another program, your counselor will escort you to the airport on the last day of the program and assist you in meeting your next group at your new destination.

 

What is the food like on this program?

In a word – delicious! At TFT, we believe food is an integral aspect of the travel experience, and we make an effort to eat at authentic establishments whenever possible. There is no better way to immerse ourselves in the culture of a place then through sampling the local delicacies. We stray away from westernized restaurants and chains that cater to tourists, because every true traveler knows the best food is found where 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 the 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!

Of course, we are always willing and able to accommodate vegetarians, vegans, gluten allergies, and other dietary restrictions.

Do we ever get time to go off on our own?

Our staff and teens are nearly always together, but we do provide the opportunity to break up into smaller groups to allow for flexibility and customization within the itinerary.

We offer free time in defined safe areas – for example, shopping in a market or exploring a museum. During these times, students remain in groups of at least two and are given no more than an hour. Of course, the counselors remain nearby and available. Additionally, a lifeguard-certified counselor supervises the campers any time they are involved in water activities.

Do I need any vaccinations for this program?

We recommend checking with your family doctor regarding vaccinations and medical advice for the destination you are visiting. For more information, please check the World Health Organization’s website. Upon registration, we provide a list of recommended vaccinations that can be discussed further with your doctor. For Specific questions pertaining to the COVID-19 vaccine, click here.

What kind of visa do you need for this trip?

All US citizens that enter Costa Rica are automatically granted a free 90-day tourist visa.

When joining a TFT trip from outside of the US, please be sure to check your country’s 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!

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