Costa Rica for Older Teens: Ultimate Adventure and Service
$5,595 + Airfare
Jul 10 – Jul 31
|Who can go on this trip?||
Students from around the world!
|Places we visit:||
Rincon de la Vieja, Avellanas, Flamingo, Conchal, Tamarindo, Potrero, Lake Nicaragua, Ciudad de Granada, Masaya Volcano National Park, Turrialba, la Fortuna, Pacuare River, Arenal, Samara Beach
|Optional group flight there:||
Dallas to San Jose
|Optional group flight back:||
San Jose to Dallas
This ultimate Costa Rican adventure, designed specifically with older teens in mind, packs in 22 days of pure adrenaline mixed with just the right amount of community service! Combining all the best elements of our popular Adrenaline and Adventure and Service programs for older teens, you’ll experience the natural beauty of Costa Rica while giving back to local communities and making friends with other travelers your age. Volunteer with local Boy Scout troops to repair schools, teach local children English, plant trees, 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 24 service hours, and at the same time try new adventure activities such as whitewater rafting, swimming in waterfalls, canyoning and rappelling, among others. You’ll even get to cross another country off your bucket list as we spend a day in beautiful neighboring Nicaragua. What are you waiting for? A perfect summer in Costa Rica awaits!
On this trip you will:
- Volunteer in three different communities for a total of 24 hours of service
- Climb, slide and jump through natural rock formations and rappel down waterfalls on a canyoning adventure
- Take an exhilarating tubing trip down the Río Negro
- Catch the sunset over the Rincon de la Vieja and Santa Maria Volcanoes
- Take a day trip to Nicaragua to visit beautiful Lake Nicaragua, Granada and the imposing Masaya Volcano
- Hike in Rincon de la Vieja National Park and spot exotic wildlife, including monkeys, toucans and sloths
- Ride gentle horses through the jungle to a gorgeous hidden waterfall for a refreshing swim
- Relax at the natural hot springs and take a mud bath for a fun spa experience
- Sunbathe on pristine beaches and swim in the turquoise Caribbean Sea
- Learn how to surf in one of the most popular spots in Costa Rica
- Sail into the sunset along Flamingo beach
- Sea kayak through crystal clear water
- Go on an overnight whitewater rafting trip in the lush jungle
- Take a surfing lesson at a beach famous for its waves perfect for both beginners and avid surfers
- Swim in the pool formed by a 210 foot waterfall deep in the jungle
- 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: OPTIONAL GROUP FLIGHT DEPARTS FROM MIAMI TO SAN JOSE
DAYS 1 – 5: RINCON DE LA VIEJA
¡Bienvenidos a Costa Rica! We’ll kick off this adventure-packed trip by settling into our cozy ‘hacienda,’ our home for the next few nights. This ecotourism lodge is surrounded by lush gardens, complete with exotic flowers and colorful birds. There is a large refreshing swimming pool filled with natural mineral spring water that comes from the nearby volcano. A lookout point on the property reveals to us the natural beauty of the surrounding area and provides an incredible 360-degree view of the Rincon de la Vieja and Santa Maria Volcanoes, the Guanacaste plains and the Pacific coastline. Sunsets here are spectacular!
On day one we will take a hike to Las Pailas in Rincón de la Vieja National Park, where you can see volcanic steam and sulfur pour out of the ground at natural ‘fumaroles’. Then, we’ll head out from the hacienda by horseback to the foot of the Victoria Waterfall, where our tubing adventure begins. We will float down the Rio Negro on inner tubes, enjoying the refreshing water and fun rapids, spotting plenty of exotic wildlife in the surrounding jungle along the way.
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 zip lining, riding “Tarzan swings” and crossing hanging bridges. After exploring everything from high above the trees we will head down into the canyon while rappelling and rock climbing.
After a morning filled with adventure we will spend our afternoon riding horses through a scenic forest trail to an enormous rock with a beautiful view of a rushing waterfall. There will be time for a swim at the foot of the falls before we return by horseback.
On the last day at the Hacienda we will go on a waterfalls canyoning tour. Canyoning through the jungle waterfalls is an experience you’ll never forget! We will climb, slip and slide our way along natural rock formations and rappel down Victoria Falls. Once we reach the pool at the bottom we will do a guided climb back up the wall of the cascade. Canyoning is a must for any true adrenaline junkie!
In the afternoon we will visit the Río Negro hot springs with six pools heated naturally by the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano. This is the perfect opportunity to soothe our sore muscles after so many days filled with fun activities! We will even treat ourselves to a volcanic mud bath and wash it off with a cool river water shower.
DAYS 5 – 10: TAMARINDO
The second half of our trip will be spent exploring Tamarindo beach, one of the most beautiful places along the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. On the first day we will explore the town and enjoy its many shops and friendly atmosphere before heading to the stunning Conchal Beach. The sand at Conchal is famous for being made of millions of tiny crushed shells and it is one of the only Pacific Coast beaches with crystal clear water. It’s the perfect scenic spot to spend an afternoon!
Tamarindo is also famous for being one of the best surf spots in Costa Rica, with waves for all levels, from beginners to pro surfers. We will take advantage of this and spend a day taking surf lessons. After a day of lessons with our expert instructors you’ll be catching waves in no time!
The next day we will head to an animal rescue center to help out and learn about the efforts of the center to rescue, rehabilitate and protect Costa Rica’s endangered wildlife. It’s a great chance to interact with some of the country’s fascinating animals and support a good cause. You will earn 4 hours of service credit for your time at the center.
Next, we will visit Nicaragua for the day and be able to experience the culture and beauty of another country in Central America. We will head to Granada, one of the most historic and important cities in Nicaragua. This colorful city is famous among travelers for its Colonial charm and stunning architecture. After Granada we will head to Masaya Volcano National Park and treat ourselves to gorgeous views of the volcano while shopping for local handicrafts at the vibrant markets. After a stop for lunch we will hit up Lake Nicaragua for a boat tour of this freshwater lake while visiting some of its picturesque islands. No trip to Nicaragua would be complete without a visit to San Juan Del Sur, the country’s premier coastal destination. After a day filled with exploring another country we will head back to Costa Rica for another evening of relaxing by the pool and playing games.
On our final day in Tamarindo we will spend the morning at the beach. We’ll swim, snorkel, play beach games and enjoy one last day in the sun with our new friends. In the afternoon we will finish the day off right with a fantastic sailboat ride. During our sailing trip we will cruise along the coast, stopping to snorkel among vibrant coral reefs and discover colorful marine life. You’ll also have the opportunity to go sea kayaking. The sailing trip goes until sunset, and we will relax with our friends as we coast back to shore watching the sunset on the horizon.
DAYS 11-14: TURRIALBA
We’ll take a day to relax before jumping straight into a thrilling two day whitewater 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 14-15: 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 zipline 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 15-21: 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 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 21: RETURN FLIGHT HOME TO THE USA
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 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 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 Wildlife 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 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 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?
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 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!