Ultimate Costa Rica

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Ultimate Costa Rica


Costa Rica

Current Grades



21 Days

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Arrive: San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO)
Depart: San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO)

After your three-week adventure in Costa Rica, you’ll be speaking Spanish like a local! We’ll spend five days learning the official language with host families, before thanking them with a community service project. We’ll hike along lush trails in Parque Nacional del Volcán Arenal and swim at the base of towering waterfalls. We’ll tube the rivers of Volcán Rincón de la Vieja National Park and contribute to the conservation of Costa Rica’s green turtles. We’ll surf at the world-famous Playa Tamarindo, snorkel in the crystalline waters, and whitewater raft the Río Pacuare!

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Day 1-6: Learn Spanish during a homestay

For five days, we will take Spanish classes with Costa Rican teachers from CPI Spanish Immersion School while staying with local families (two to three students per homestay). Students will be in small classes, grouped by language ability. It’s not all classroom time, however—we’ll also explore the surrounding region in a multitude of ways! One day, we’ll take a Latin cooking class, and another we’ll hike in the verdant Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve. We’ll zoom through the forest canopy on a zipline, and we’ll tour El Trapiche, which houses plantations of sugar cane, coffee, bananas, plantains, oranges, and more!

Accommodation: Homestay

Day 7-8: Community service with Life Monteverde

On two different afternoons, we’ll volunteer with Life Monteverde, an organization of 12 Costa Rican families dedicated to sustainable agriculture and coffee production. Their 42-acre farm is home not only to coffee, but also an organic vegetable garden, fruit trees, and goats, pigs, and hens.

Accommodation: Hostel

Day 9-10: Explore Arenal Volcano National Park

Though once a spectacularly active volcano, Arenal has lain dormant in recent years, with the surrounding lands providing countless recreational activities. Near this perfectly cone-shaped peak lies La Fortuna Waterfall, a 200-foot cascade whose sparkling pools we’ll get to swim in! We’ll also hike in Mirador el Silencio near the national park, a 54-acre reserve filled with blue morpho butterflies, different species of monkeys, old-growth trees like the Cieba and Trumpet Tree, and endless views of Arenal! A trip to this area wouldn’t be complete without a spot to Baldi Hot Springs, a breathtakingly beautiful collection of 25 mineral pools.

Accommodation: Eco-resort

Day 11-12: Hike and tube in Rincón de la Vieja National Park

Our next journey will entail dashing down 25 class II rapids of the Río Negre on inner tubes! Keep your eyes peeled for howler and spider monkeys, 300 species of tropical birds, sloths, and iguanas living in this region. In the next two days, we’ll hike around the Rincón de la Vieja volcano, whose trails afford us beautiful views. We’ll relax after an active day with a mud bath at an eco-spa!

Accommodation: Hostel

Day 13-14: Community service in Ostional Wildlife Reserve

The Ostional Wildlife Reserve on the Nicoya Peninsula is a biological wonder! Its lands extend along nine miles of black sand beaches, and it’s one of the world’s most important Olive Ridley turtle nesting sites. Leatherback and green sea turtles also call Ostional home. Every year, hundreds of thousands of turtles come ashore to nest, known as an “arribada.” (In 1995, it’s estimated that 500,000 turtles landed to lay their eggs!) We’ll volunteer with the refuge, helping with many sea turtle projects and learning all about the egg-laying process.

Accommodation: Guesthouse

Day 15-17: Surf, snorkel, and community service in Tamarindo

While in Costa Rica, you have to learn how to surf! Two days with professional surf instructors will teach us correct technique, water safety and awareness, and surf etiquette. Playa Tamarindo is acclaimed for its reliable, beginner-friendly waves; in fact, this entire area attracts surfers of all abilities from across the globe. When we’ve had our fill of the breaks, we’ll relax on the beach and explore the artsy town of Tamarindo. We’ll also get to snorkel off Tamarindo’s coast, encountering manta rays, butterfly fish, angelfish, and turtles! Several afternoons will be spent helping with beach beautification and helping repair damaged homes and community buildings.  

Accommodation: Hostel

Day 18-20: Explore Heredia and whitewater raft the Río Pacuare

After spending a morning touring the bustling, culturally-rich city of Heredia, we’ll wrap up our Costa Rica adventure with a two-day jaunt down the warm, jade-green waters of the Río Pacuare! Surrounded by dense, lush rainforest and cascading waterfalls, we’ll switch between calm waters and exciting class II–IV rapids; keep your ears pricked and eyes peeled for toucans, parrots, sloths, monkeys, and more. National Geographic has named this river as one of the top 10 rivers to raft in the world.

Accommodation: Eco-resort/Guesthouse


*Listed above is Bold Earth’s intended itinerary for this trip. All itineraries are subject to change in order to provide the best possible program quality.

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Accommodations & Service

Community Service: Approximately 20 Hours
  • Siempre Amigos: Humanitarian projects vary from year to year based on community needs. Projects are usually a combination of housing projects and school visits.
  • Sea Turtles: We help protect local sea turtle populations by helping hatchlings make it to the ocean.
  • 13 nights of bed and breakfast style accommodations. We stay in small, comfortable, and authentic eco-lodges and hostels.
  • 7 nights of homestays. There are 2-3 students per family during the homestay portion of the trip. Students only share a room with other students. Homestay families have been vetted and are middle-class families, they have clean water and refrigerators at every home.


Community Service: 20 hours



Zip Lining

Whitewater rafting


Whitewater tubing


Kayla, student from Snellville, GA

I learned that it’s extremely important to be present and cherish every moment. The three weeks flew by so fast that it almost felt like a dream and that it didn’t even happen. When I returned from the trip, I instantly missed having roommates and eating each meal with the group. I believe that you gain the most knowledge when you travel and immerse yourself in unfamiliar environments. The homestays gave me the opportunity to improve my Spanish skills by interacting with the family in addition to trying authentic food.

Farrior S, parent from Bozeman, MT

What an awesome, well-run experience for my teen. I was excited she got to see a new country, make new friends, and grow in her Spanish skills. 

Ellen C, parent from Chestnut Hill, MA

The trip was well organized with a wonderful variety of experiences for the kids to enjoy and learn from. I never had to worry about safety.

Ross N, parent from Los Angeles, CA

My son had a fantastic time – best of his life! Bold Earth combined volunteering, adventure and travel into an experience that my teenage son absolutely loved. Thank you so much – it was simply a perfect summer program for him! 

Natalia M, parent from Ontario, Canada

This is our second experience with Bold Earth (we sent our other child last year) and they sure know what they’re doing! Their staff is ALL very well-trained in terms of cheery personalities, prompt email responses, organization, and attention to detail. The Bold Earth experience has paved a future of independence, confidence, and courage we wanted for our teens. Thank you so much!

Sverre, student from Norway

I loved everything, especially the ziplining and the waterfalls. Surfing and beach time was also fun! The jungle was really cool, and community service was rewarding. Everything was really well-organized.

Elisa L, parent from Burlingame, CA

My daughter had a wonderful time. It was her first time being away from home for so long and in another country. We felt she was in safe hands and had a wonderful, enriching experience where she made many new friends and gained independence. 

Grace, student from Greenwood Village, CO

It was one of the most fun times in my life. I made many amazing connections in the group, and I could be myself around everyone, which is huge.