Costa Rica for Older Teens: Adventure and Service
$2,995 + Airfare
Jul 21 – Jul 31
|Who can go on this trip?||
Students from around the world!
|Places we visit:||
Turrialba, La Fortuna, Pacuare River, Arenal, Samara Beach
|Optional group flight there:||
Miami to San Jose
|Optional group flight back:||
San Jose to Miami
What better way to make new friends than by spending the summer ziplining over lush jungle canopies, rafting on rushing rivers and giving back to local communities? On our Costa Rica Adventure and Service program for Older Teens, you’ll be able to do all this and more while enjoying the company of other students your age. On this service trip designed specifically with older teens in mind, we will have the unique opportunity to perform 20 hours of valuable service work in two different communities. In La Fortuna we will work alongside the local association of Boy Scouts with various projects like planting trees to promote a better ecosystem, light construction, and clean-up projects. TFT feels strongly about the impact of this organization and we contribute every year to help them continue their mission in the community.
In Sámara we work with another local association that provides supplemental educational, recreational, and career opportunities for youth with limited resources in the rural beach communities of the surrounding area. We will be helping run one of their many programs focusing on academic and artistic education, environmental consciousness, health, and socio-cultural development. Projects vary but our service work typically consist of working on art projects with the children, reading to them, teaching them English, and general upkeep of the school such as painting and light maintenance.
Along with our meaningful service work you will explore volcanoes, jungles and beaches. We will experience the best Costa Rica has to offer while ziplining, hiking, white water rafting, sea kayaking, and much more! ¡Pura Vida!
On this trip you will:
- Volunteer in two different communities for a total of 20 hours of service
- Participate side by side with two local associations on various projects, including working with local children
- Go on an overnight whitewater rafting trip in the lush jungle
- See a plethora of wildlife in its natural habitat including sea turtles, white-faced monkeys, giant iguanas and of course, sloths!
- Zip-line over the jungle canopy
- Take a surfing lesson at a beach famous for its waves perfect for both beginners and avid surfers
- Swim and sunbathe while staying at a tropical paradise along the coast
- Sea kayak over to a gorgeous island for an incredible snorkeling adventure
- Swim in the pool formed by a 210 foot waterfall deep in the jungle
- Hike through beautiful jungle trails and spot exotic wildlife
- Visit a small countryside town and drink rich Costa Rican coffee
- Prepare a classic Costa Rican meal at a cooking lesson
- Relax in the natural hot springs at the foot of a volcano
DAY 1: GROUP FLIGHT DEPARTS FROM MIAMI
DAYS 1-3: TURRIALBA
Our trip begins in Turrialba, home to many of Costa Rica’s adrenaline-pumping activities and one of Costa Rica’s famous volcanoes! Spend your first night at a mountain lodge overlooking the volcano. The next day we will jump straight into a thrilling two day white water rafting adventure on the Pacuare River! This rafting trip is suitable for all skill levels and completely safe! We will spend the night in a lodge tucked in the rainforest on the banks of the river. Everyone always has a blast at our comfortable jungle accommodation! When we aren’t rafting, we’re taking fun hikes to waterfalls and natural pools. The second day of our rafting journey will not disappoint since the Pacuare River is rated one of the top rivers in the world for whitewater rafting! Throughout our rafting adventure we will have great bonding opportunities with everyone in our group and together we will experience spectacular views of the rainforest and even spot exotic wildlife like monkeys, colorful birds and sloths.
DAYS 4-5: LA FORTUNA
After our rafting journey it’s on 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!). In the morning, we will start working on our service projects with the Costa Rican Boy Scouts Association helping out with whatever project they are working on. Past projects have included light maintenance and painting.
During our time in La Fortuna we will zip line over the rainforest and have a thrilling view of the jungle from above. This activity is fun, safe, and just the right amount of adventure! In the evening we will relax our muscles at the natural hot springs formed by the volcano.
The next day we will hike down to La Fortuna waterfall, a 210 foot ribbon of water that gushes into a cool pool in the jungle. We’ll swim in the refreshing pool formed by the waterfall, relax on the rocks, eat lunch and head back to our bus for the next leg of our journey.
DAYS 6-11: SAMARA BEACH
After breakfast, the group will board a private coach to Samara beach, a small surf town with breathtaking mountain views. Samara is famous for its gentle waves (perfect for surfing) and wild horses that roam the beach.
Here, we will continue our community service. We will work with a local association that provides supplemental educational, recreational, and career opportunities for youth with limited resources. We will be working directly with the children on various projects. In the past we have done group art projects, helped teach English, worked on environmental tasks and more! It’s a great opportunity for us to connect more closely with the community and interact with the friendly locals.
During our stay in Samara we will enjoy the beach, soak up the sun, swim and of course, take a surfing lesson! We will also spend an afternoon taking kayaks out to Chora Island to snorkel and observe bi-color parrotfish and and other colorful sea life!
To finish our journey we will learn how to make authentic tortillas during a hands on cooking lesson, sample rich Costa Rican coffee, and learn more about what makes the Costa Rican culture so vibrant and unique!
DAY 11: RETURN FLIGHT HOME TO THE USA
WHAT KIND OF TEEN TYPICALLY PARTICIPATES IN THIS PROGRAM? WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS TO JOIN?
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.
This program is only for students who are currently finishing 11th and 12th grade and approximately 16-18 years old. Students living outside of the USA are welcome to join!
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 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 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. This program allows them to discover the rainforest, get out of their comfort zone and enjoy exciting activities like whitewater rafting, surf lessons and zip-lining. Combining these adventures with two meaningful service projects provides for a well rounded experience.
What is unique about this program?
We have great contacts in Costa Rica who have worked with us to bring this trip to life while providing a fun, authentic and meaningful experience. We include service projects in two areas where teens will have the opportunity to connect with the locals in each region. The service work is balanced out with fun activities for the ultimate Costa Rican experience!
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 and visa application fees, beverages other than tap water, activities and admissions not referenced in the itinerary or deemed not trip related such as movies, clubs and the like, expenses incurred by the participant that are outside the trip description such as damage to hotels, excess baggage fees and the like, expenses related to unforeseen circumstances such as transportation strikes, natural disasters and the like, 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?
Group size is important! A smaller group size provides unique opportunities that a large group cannot accommodate. Think of your favorite local restaurant; could it easily accommodate a group of 50 teens? Probably not! Our group sizes average between 14 to 21 students, which means that we are able to comfortably use local transport, enjoy local restaurants, and have a more authentic experience overall! A smaller group size also eliminates the likelihood of cliques, meaning that our groups all tend to bond as a cohesive unit. We guarantee that you’ll have enough people to meet some new best friends, but not so many that you feel like “just a number” or lost in a crowd.
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 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!
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 nearly 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 I 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!