Costa Rica School Trip Overview
The thrill of whizzing through the jungle on a zipline, the rush of rapids as you whitewater raft down the river, the soft white sand on Pacific beaches…The tropical paradise of Costa Rica is a perfect introduction to Latin America for student travelers! On this immersive cultural experience, students will gain an appreciation for Costa Rican culture as they volunteer in two different communities on meaningful service projects. First, we’ll work at a wildlife rescue center in the charming town of La Fortuna, where students will learn about Costa Rica’s incredible biodiversity and conservation efforts. Next, we’ll head to the beach town of Playa Sámara, where students will volunteer with a local community organization that works on education for underprivileged youth. Students will earn up to 15 hours of service and enjoy unique experiences that can only be had in Costa Rica.
Our mission is to provide an authentic experience rooted in “teaching teens to be travelers, not tourists.” Language students will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in Spanish and practice what they have learned in the classroom. Our staff members will help students discover that foreign languages are an exciting tool they can use wherever their travels might take them.
Our goal is to help students to step outside their comfort zone, appreciate other cultures, and discover the joy of traveling. Thanks to our years of experience in leading young travelers around Costa Rica, Travel For Teens are experts in engaging and inspiring student travelers. Join us on this one-of-a-kind cultural experience and leave them with memories to last a lifetime!
Did You Know? Teachers travel for free! Enroll just six paying participants and your trip is covered. Learn more about the Benefits for Teachers.
During this trip, you and your students will…
- Earn up to 15 hours of community service credits volunteering at an animal refuge and with a local community association
- Rush through the jungle on an adrenaline-pumping whitewater rafting adventure
- Hike through the rainforest at the base of the impressive Arenal Volcano
- Swim in natural pools formed by waterfalls
- Zoom through the lush forest canopy on a ziplining tour
- Relax with a soak in the hot springs, heated by the volcano’s geothermal energy
- Learn to surf with local instructors on one of the best surfing beaches in Costa Rica
- Try stand-up paddleboarding, sea kayaking, and snorkeling in the turquoise waters of the Pacific Ocean
DAY 1: ¡Bienvenidos a Costa Rica!
The adventure begins as you fly from your preferred airport to San José. Your Travel For Teens guides will meet you at the San José Airport and accompany you for the duration of your journey. Upon arrival, board our private coach and head out to the town of Turrialba. Get settled into the hotel and enjoy your first dinner of authentic tico cuisine.
DAY 2: Rushing down the river
This morning we’ll take an incredible whitewater rafting journey down the Pacuare River! The Pacuare is one of the world’s top-rated rafting rivers, and is perfect for beginners and advanced rafters alike. Float through the dense rainforest and keep an eye out for local wildlife, like monkeys, toucans, and sloths. In the afternoon, hike to a natural pool and waterfall to refresh after a day of paddling. This evening, board our private coach to La Fortuna. Towering over this quaint town is the impressive Arenal Volcano. Enjoy another delicious Costa Rican dinner at one of our favorite local restaurants and take a walk to explore the village.
DAY 3: Aiding the Animals
Let the community service begin! We’ll be volunteering at a refuge for injured and sick wildlife, helping the animals on their way to recovery. We’ll have an introductory talk from the refuge coordinators before getting to work cleaning the animals’ cages, feeding them, and any other tasks that are needed. The refuge has all sorts of local wildlife present, like margays, toucans, sloths, monkeys, snakes, and more. In the afternoon, whoosh through the jungle canopies on a zipline tour. Costa Rica is the world’s premier ziplining destination, and with good reason!
DAY 5: Beach time!
Say hasta luego to La Fortuna as we depart for our third and final destination: Playa Sámara! This idyllic beach town features long white sand beaches, turquoise waves perfect for surfing, and friendly locals. Travel For Teens have been leading service trips here for over a decade, and our relationships in the community give us unique insider access to show students authentic Costa Rican culture. Upon our arrival, relax on the beach and take a walk to get acquainted with this charming town.
DAY 6: Connecting with the community
Today we begin our next service project. We’ll be working with a local community association that provides supplemental educational, recreational, and career opportunities for community members, primarily youth with limited resources, in the rural beach communities surrounding Playa Sámara. In the afternoon, relax on the beach or give stand-up paddleboarding a try!
DAY 7: Kayaking adventure
We’ll continue our service today by helping to run one of the association’s many programs focusing on academic and artistic education, environmental consciousness, health, and socio-cultural development. After lunch, we’ll take a sea kayak and snorkeling tour out to the beautiful Chora Island. You’ll see hundreds of brightly colored fish, like bi-color parrot fish!
Day 8: Surf's up!
As always, we’ll spend the morning working on our community service. In the afternoon, it’s time for a surfing lesson! Playa Sámara is one of Costa Rica’s top surfing destinations, so what better place to learn how to catch some waves? The gentle waves here are perfect both for beginners and for more advanced surfers.
Day 9: Pacific sunsets
Enjoy your last day of community service in Playa Sámara this morning. Say hasta luego to the new friends you’ve made during this incredible experience. In the afternoon, we’ll have one more surf lesson and time to relax on the pristine beaches. For dinner, enjoy an upscale final meal to celebrate the end of an amazing trip!
Day 10: ¡Adiós, Costa Rica!
Your TFT guides will accompany you to the airport and assist you with check-in for your flight. Wave goodbye as you head through security and sit back and relax on your flight home.
looking for a shorter adventure? this trip can be adapted!
For teachers who are short on time, we can make this a 7, 8, or 9-day adventure! One of our expert trip designers will help adapt this itinerary to suit your specific needs. Contact us for more details.
The TFT Difference
We Never Combine Groups
Your tour should be special and just for you and your students! We will never combine two or more groups on the same bus or tour. We will lead a trip with as few as six people and a teacher. Your Trip Director travels with you for the duration of your program.
Stress-Free Planning and 24/7 Support
We are there for you every step of the way, and our support begins the moment you decide to do a TFT trip! We will provide you with a team member who will help bring your tour to life, along with everything you need to help get students to sign up for the adventure! On the tour you will have 24/7 dedicated staff with you to ensure everything runs smoothly and because we know travel is full of surprises, solve anything that may pop up along the way.
Photos and Email Updates
Your trip is special and you and your students should have those memories captured forever! Expect frequent personal email updates and hundreds of photos from your TFT staff shared with you and your students’ families so everyone can follow along on the journey. We are the only teen travel program to offer this in-depth trip communication and it truly makes all the difference!
Central Accommodation and Local Meals
Authenticity is engrained in everything we do. We stay at locally owned accommodation in the city center so you don’t waste your valuable time commuting. We dine at charming authentic restaurants to get a real flavor (literally!) for the local culture. The best way to travel is like a local. So ditch the tour bus and have a real traveler’s experience with us!
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 winning awards for Top Youth Travel Organization.
"We can't tell you enough how much Lucy (and Katie) enjoyed the trip. Lucy came back with such an appreciation for Costa Rica and for you and the other TFT team members. She said you were one of the most amazing persons that she has ever met. We want to thank you whole-heartedly for giving the kids such a wonderful experience! Wishing you all the best!"
"I just wanted to write and let you know how grateful we are for the positive, incredible experience this trip as been for Noah. He said that he has more stories than he could ever tell. It’s been remarkable…And your emails with the updates and the foods eaten, etc, have allowed us to have a glimpse at what is happening every day. These things are life changing for teens and we’re beyond grateful to you and your team."
"Thank you a million times over for leading an incredible trip. Abby has the most amazing time. She said you guys were awesome. She made incredible friends and loved all the adventures. It was a perfect trip. It was hard to find a trip that was only for older teens 11-12th grade and we are so glad that we found you."