Costa Rica Surf and Service
$2,395 + Airfare
Jun 29 – Jul 9
9, 10, 11, 12
|Who can go on this trip?||
Students from around the world!
|Places we visit:||
Sámara beach, Playa Grande, Tamarindo
|Optional group flight there:||
Miami to San Jose
|Optional group flight back:||
San Jose to Miami
This program combines fun surfing lessons (for all skill levels) with meaningful community service for an incredible Costa Rican experience! We will learn to surf at one of the best beaches in the country, Playa Sámara, known for its gentle waves for beginners and fun easy riding for those who already are comfortable on a surfboard. Keep an eye out for the wild horses that roam the beach here!
Our certified surf instructors will teach you everything you need to know to be safe and have fun in the water. After several days of lessons at Playa Sámara we will take our surfing skills to Playa Grande for some of the best beach breaks on the Pacific Coast. Here, we will enjoy additional surfing lessons to perfect our surfing skills.
We’ll also spend time with local schoolchildren and help to improve their community facilities. Projects vary but our service work typically consists 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.
Surfing and service aren’t all we’ll do! We will also take cooking and dance lessons, zipline, hike, go on a mangrove animal safari, snorkel and enjoy the pura vida!
On this trip you will:
- Donate your time and energy to meaningful community service projects in Playa Samara working with local schoolchildren at their schools. You’ll earn up to 20 hours of community service!
- Learn to surf in Playa Grande in the idyllic Pacific coast
- Go ziplining through the pristine rainforest canopy
- See the abundant animal life that Costa Rica is famous for, including sloths, capuchin and howler monkeys, iguanas, parrots, and so much more
- Go on a safari through a rare coastal mangrove forest
- 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
- Hike through beautiful jungle trails and spot exotic wildlife
- Prepare a classic Costa Rican meal at a cooking lesson
DAY 1: GROUP FLIGHT DEPARTS FROM MIAMI
DAYS 1 – 6: PLAYA SAMARA – COMMUNITY SERVICE
Playa Sámara is our home for the first six days of the trip. With comfortable yet rustic lodgings at a farmhouse we’ll get to know both the animals and the family that cares for them. During our stay in Samara we will spend our time with local students getting our hands dirty working on important projects at a community center. Past projects have included painting school buildings, renovating a soccer field, planting trees, or cleaning up and renovating the town park.
We will also begin our surf lessons! The waves in Samara are perfect and gentle enough for beginners, yet still fun for more advanced surfers. Other activities will include zip-lining through the jungle canopy, sea kayaking and eco-hikes to nearby hidden beaches!
DAYS 6-10: PLAYA GRANDE / TAMARINDO– SURF CAMP
The Playa Grande is where we learn the true meaning of Pura Vida – here on the Pacific coast we will take our surf lessons up a notch and start to perfect our skills. We’ll also learn about local Tico culture, cooking up local specialties, learning traditional dances, and paddling with a nature guide through a coastal mangrove forest.
DAY 11: SAN JOSE, FLY BACK TO MIAMI
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 surfing or learning how to surf for the first time. Participants who travel with are keen to make new friends, step out of their comfort zone and aren’t afraid to try something new.
Do I need to know how to surf already to go on this trip?
Students do not need to have any experience surfing to participate. Students who already have a comfort level or previous experience surfing routinely do this program to improve their skills while other participants are there to give it a try for the first time.
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 Sámara we stay in a hotel right by the beach surrounded by a trees where you can see monkeys, iguanas and toucans hanging around. Our hotel in Playa Grande is very similar.
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 while combining surf lessons with meaningful service work. Teens leave the program feeling like they accomplished new skills and made a difference!
What is unique about this program?
We have strong ties to the community in Samara where we complete our service work, so you are guaranteed to have an authentic experience. Students will be immediately welcomed into the community and treated like family. The aspect of combining surf lessons with service while still incorporating the other fun adventures of Costa Rica makes for dynamic experience!
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 flavorful and 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 in defined areas that we are very familiar with, for example a safe shopping street. We use the buddy system and free time never lasts longer than an hour. A counselor will always be nearby when participants have free time.
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!