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!
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.
"What an amazing experience! This trip was truly 3-weeks that changed my life and perspective forever. Spending this time in Costa Rica will be the best choice you will ever make, I know it’s the best choice that I made. Expect to join a group of teens that are also interested in exploring the world and helping out animals. I still stay in touch with these friends 2 years later, and even have made trips across the country to New York City to visit my Costa Rica pals! The best part of the whole trip to me was the animals and working at the rescue center. Learn the proper care for these exotic animals and work with other volunteers from all over the world who share the same interests as you. Some of the amazing experiences I had were babysitting the baby sloths, taking a baby anteater into the forest, or feeding the young monkeys. Outside of working at the rescue center I tried so many things that were out of my comfort zone, a night hike in the jungle, salsa dancing in front of a whole restaurant, and ziplining through the jungle. I recommend this trip to anyone who is interested in immersing themselves into a new culture, and not afraid to get dirty and work hard to help this animal sanctuary."
"Signing up for a Travel For Teens trip was the best decision I’ve ever made. I was a bit nervous at first about traveling by myself, and I was worried I wouldn’t make any friends. Little did I know that in just a two week time period I’d have a whole new point of view on travel, and friends that will last a lifetime. There was never once a second where I felt homesick because every day was filled with life changing experiences like working hands-on with sea turtles, ziplining, surfing, and exploring the beautiful country of Costa Rica. Our counselors were some of the sweetest, and funniest people I’ve ever met, and were super helpful in guiding us on how to be proper travelers, rather than tourists. I swear time moves quicker in Costa Rica, because those amazing two weeks were over too soon. Our group may have looked incredibly weird to the patrons in Miami Airport terminal 24 who probably do not see very many groups of 12 teenagers huddled in a crying group hug. We eventually all managed to stop crying and go our separate ways, meanwhile planning our TFT trips for the next summer. Overall I returned more confident and open than I was before going on the trip, and am counting down the days till my next trip."
"TFT gave me such an incredible opportunity to experience personal growth, meet inspiring people, challenge my comfort zone, and form long-lasting bonds with families and students that live across the globe from me. It was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I went on the Peru, Ecuador, and Galapagos service trip that I can honestly say changed my life. From working with local preschoolers, living with host families, and picking up trash from sustainable farms to exploring Machu Picchu and swimming off the shores of beautiful white sand beaches in the Galapagos, I had an unforgettable experience. All the people I had met, both in my travel group and locals, have become dear friends and people I will forever share a special bond with. TFT is one of the most amazing programs I have ever been a part of, and I am sure you will discover the same."