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Meaningful Community Service

Turrialba, Costa Rica

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Zipline through the jungle

Turrialba, Costa Rica

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White Water Rafting!

Sarapiqui, Costa Rica


Costa Rica Service and Spanish (22 Days)


$5,595 + Airfare


Jul 10 – Jul 31




Session 3

Finishing Grades:

9, 10, 11, 12

Who can go on this trip?

Students from around the world!

Places we visit:

Turrialba, Puerto Viejo, Sarapiquí, Manuel Antonio , Dominical, Uvita, Tamarindo

Optional group flight there:

Miami to San Jose

Optional group flight back:

San Jose to Miami

This program is a dynamic combination of interactive Spanish lessons and practicing your language skills while performing valuable service work and helping out the community! You will take lessons in gorgeous open air classrooms surrounded by nature in both the mountainous jungle town of Turrialba and the beachside community in the Caribbean town Puerto Viejo, as well as the Pacific towns of Manuel Antonio and Tamarindo. You will take lessons every morning with local teachers while incorporating fun activities like playing games, singing songs, learning traditional dances and taking cooking lessons. By keeping the lessons fun and interactive you will have the opportunity to enhance your speaking skills and better understand the language.

The service component of this program involves directly working with the local communities, so not only are you giving back, but you’ll be putting your Spanish skills to use in real world situations as well! In Turrialba, our community service will consist of working with local schools. We will play games with the children and also teach them some English (in return they will help teach you some more Spanish!) and also perform some light maintenance work. In Puerto Viejo we will be working directly with the rangers at the Cahuita National Park to keep the park and beaches beautiful. In Tamarindo we will working with different schools around the area doing whatever they need us to help out with.

Of course, with all of our efforts learning Spanish and performing service work we will need some time to relax and experience the best Costa Rica has to offer! We will snorkel in crystal clear waters, zipline over jungle canopy, go whitewater rafting, ride horses, spot monkeys, sloths and tropical birds in protected rainforest, and much more! So what are you waiting for? Discover the real meaning of Pura Vida with us this summer!

On this trip you will:

  • Improve your Spanish with 30 hours of fun interactive classes, some of which are incorporated into cooking and dance lessons!
  • Perform 25 hours of meaningful community service in local communities
  • Teach schoolchildren English and learn some Spanish from them in return!
  • Snorkel in azure Caribbean waters and spot exotic marine life
  • Relax on the beach and soak up the sun
  • Take a fun surfing lesson (for all skill levels)
  • Ride horses through the lush Costa Rican countryside with views of a majestic Volcano (no experience necessary!)
  • Go white water rafting through the jungle on a world famous rafting river
  • Zipline over the jungle for a bird’s eye view of the canopy
  • Hike to and swim in a stunning waterfall deep in the middle of the jungle
  • Experience authentic Costa Rican cuisine as you indulge in fresh delicious meals
  • Take nature walks and spot monkeys, sloths, tropical birds, and other incredible wildlife
  • Go on a once-in-a-lifetime whale, dolphin, and sea turtle-watching and snorkeling cruise
  • Rappel down a 120-foot waterfall
  • Go sailing along the Pacific Coast at sunset
  • And so much more!



We start our 11 day journey with a private coach to Turrialba, a beautiful little town located in the center of Costa Rica and our home base for the next six days. Here, we’ll have our Spanish lessons and work on various service projects, including working with children at a local grade school. Spending quality time with the children and speaking to them in Spanish is always a highlight of the trip! When not volunteering or learning Spanish we’ll do adventure activities like canyoning and a ziplining canopy tour in the jungle, hiking to a stunning waterfall, and taking in amazing views of the nearby volcano on a horseback ride through the countryside.


Next stop is Puerto Viejo, one of the premier destinations on the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica. In Puerto Viejo we will continue our Spanish lessons with style! Our lessons here will incorporate both a cooking lesson and a dance lesson! In addition to spicing up our language classes we will delve into a new service project while helping out at a National Park.

During our time in Puerto Viejo we will have plenty of beachside fun! We will perfect our surfing techniques in the Caribbean water (for all skill levels), go snorkeling to see colorful marine life, and relax and enjoy the sun and sand!


Our next stop is Sarapiqui, where we’ll jump into some adventurous activities like whitewater rafting and a fascinating nature walk through the jungle. You’ll never forget the adrenaline-pounding experience of whitewater rafting down the Sarapiqui River with our professional guides!


We’ll hit the road to our next destination, Manuel Antonio National Park, a small peninsula on the Pacific coast that is an ecological reserve. Trek through the lush park keeping your eyes wide open, because here you can spot raccoons, agoutis, two-toed sloths, as well as white-faced, howler and squirrel monkeys. In the park is one of the region’s most beautiful beaches and we will spend some time swimming and relaxing on the warm sand.

While we are in the area we will visit Dominical to hike to one of the most amazing waterfalls in the country, standing at 120 feet tall! Then, make your way down to Uvita, where we will take a half day boat trip to spot whales, dolphins and sea turtles.


Say farewell to Manuel Antonio to keep traveling along the Pacific coast to Tamarindo. In the next days you will learn how to surf in one the most popular spots in Costa Rica. The waves here are appropriate for all levels, from beginners to pro surfers. Take the afternoon to visit Tamarindo beach, one of the most famous surf towns in the country. Perform meaningful community service at the public schools around the area and sail along the coast at sunset.


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. We find this program attracts teens who are looking for a balance of language instruction and service in an exotic location.

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 stay in a beautiful family-run hotel from which you can see the amazing Turrialba volcano. In Puerto Viejo we stay at a nice hotel close to the beach and town. In Sarapiquí we stay in a great centrally located hotel. In Manuel Antonio our hotel is near the ocean. In Tamarindo our hotel is close to the beach and town. At all of our accommodations in Costa Rica you can expect to see monkeys and other wildlife hanging out!

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 the fun and interactive Spanish lessons. They appreciate that they are not stuck inside a classroom the whole time, and find that the activities and format of the lessons help take their Spanish further than a standard class ever could!

What is unique about this program?

One of the most unique aspects of this program is our approach to language lessons. Teens learn the language better when they are immersed into it and incorporating it into fun activities. Combining the language lessons with a service project is a great way to enhance the lessons and get the students interacting with locals throughout the entire trip!

What is included?

Ground transportation, accommodations, all breakfasts, lunches 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

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 the towns. 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!


  1. Taylor Klinefelter


    Thank you so very much for taking good care of our budding travelers and guiding a mind-opening experience that will be indelible in their memories! It was also really pleasant to live a bit vicariously. Between the photos and your emails, it was exciting just to follow along; especially with the confidence that they were safe. Another excellent experience for Olivia with Travel For Teens!

  2. Taylor Klinefelter


    The boys made it home safe and sound and while they are very happy to be home, already speak of missing their “Costa Rica Family.” Zachary commented about how everyone just seemed to click almost immediately and felt as if they knew one another for years. They have made friendships that will last a lifetime and are already scheming as to when they (at those that live relatively close by) can get together again. They are even going to try to plan another trip through TFT and attempt to go again as a group. I must say to hear these things just warms my heart and exceeds all expectations I had about the trip. Zach and Nate both spoke very highly of both you and Harry “the coolest, the best, so sweet (Deanna) and nice; they are awesome, so much fun, etc., etc.” I cannot thank you both enough for making certain this trip would be as memorable and impactful as it turned out to be. You all are fantastic and we are so pleased that we chose TFT for this amazing experience. We will be returning!!

  3. Katie Zinkham


    Thank you for being such great leaders for the kids! Allison had an AMAZING experience on this trip and we really appreciate all you did to make it so meaningful and fun. As parents, we especially loved getting your detailed letters and pictures – this was such a gift and we’ve never had leaders who have put so much time and thought into keeping us up to date on all the activities. So thank you again and we hope you enjoy the rest of the summer.

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