Travel to Costa Rica this summer for a teen community service program you won’t forget! Work alongside some of our long-standing service partners on projects such as taking part in a community infrastructure project in Central Valley, working to protect endangered sea turtles and helping cook for and run a food bank for a disadvantaged community. This Costa Rica student trip uses a service-learning framework tailored for high school students, where our staff provide guidance and reflection on the impact of the work we do throughout the program and promote the value of empathy and cultural sensitivity. When not volunteering, you’ll be off on amazing adventures like learning to surf, rappelling down a waterfall and exploring Manuel Antonio National Park, where you might even see a sloth or wild monkey! It won’t be long until you will fall in love with all things Costa Rican and the Pura Vida lifestyle.
About This Program
What It's Like
The perfect balance of meaningful service projects, cultural immersion and unforgettable adventures.
This program requires an open mind to experience a different culture, new foods and new surroundings.
70 Service Hours
A letter of completion detailing the program's service hours and projects will be issued after the program.
Everybody participates together in each project. Specific projects are confirmed in late spring and are similar to those described.
A professional guide accompanies the group to assist, educate and immerse the students into the local culture.
Hotels & lodges.
Includes breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.
Includes all recreation & activities listed.
Chartered, air conditioned motor coach with a professional driver.
Up to 24 participants.
• Work on a community project like helping to build homes.
• Learn to surf with professional instructors.
• Protect endangered sea turtles through volunteer work with LAST.
• Experience a canyoning adventure in Arenal.
• Enjoy a thrilling whitewater rafting adventure.
• Zip-line over one of the most recognized cloud forests in Monteverde.
• Explore Manuel Antonio National Park on a guided tour.
• Help feed an impoverished community by running a food kitchen for the day.
Volunteer at this animal sanctuary, where different animals and wildlife are rescued, rehabilitated, and released back into their natural habitat.
About the Costa Rica Animal Rescue Center The Costa Rica Animal Rescue Center is dedicated to protecting and helping endangered Costa Rican wildlife. This center ensures the welfare of different animals and helps them recover from both physical and psychological wounds.
Flamingo is the quintessential beach community. The impact of tourism and development has created economic and environmental challenges for the locals. Our groups have helped in beach preservation, painting and building local homes for underprivileged residents, sprucing up the community center, and renovating a local classroom – which has all contributed to improving this community’s quality of life.
About Siempre Amigos
Founded in 2011, Siempre Amigos is an NGO partner organization that focuses on social responsibility with the mission to assist low-income families in the rural areas of Guanacaste, specifically in the improvement of living conditions. Siempre Amigos facilitates short-term projects with both local and international volunteers.
Our groups have aided in reforestation and rainforest rejuvenation by planting trees and plants native to Costa Rica. Under the supervision of a local guide, our students learn how to protect growing plants from invasive species at this local co-op. Students also enjoy learning about coffee plants' care and growth.
About the Life Monteverde Co-op
Life Monteverde is a co-operative in Monteverde, Costa Rica, with a strong background in agriculture and nature conservation. Their mission is to produce, protect, and educate to help perpetuate a sustainable life on Earth.
Help with various tasks with LAST including boat trips to conduct in-water studies, lending a helping hand in the sea turtle rescue center, work on mangrove reforestation project and with beach cleaning.
For close to thirty years, their vision has been to realize a future where all inhabitants of the Costa Rican coasts can live together in balance; where healthy populations of sea turtles fulfill their ecological roles and critical natural habitats are sustainably managed.
You will work in food-insecure neighborhoods helping to bring sustainable nutrition & education to families in need both through direct contact and food banks. Volunteer by helping with the preparation of the food, distribution of meals, and helping to improve the infrastructure of the dining rooms, as well as help with planting community gardens and local beautification projects.
About Somos Picnic
Somos Picnic seeks to promote the relationship between individuals and the collective communities they live in, combining economic growth, environmental protection and social welfare. They work in local communities and have various projects including breakfasts for those experiencing homelessness, grocery delivery for vulnerable families, delivering school supplies for children in need and more!
Kick off the summer with a thrilling whitewater rafting adventure! Taste famous and delicious Costa Rican coffee while learning how it’s grown by the comic troupe at Café Britt. You will also flaunt your moves in a Latin dance class.
Visit La Fortuna waterfall and relax in thermal hot springs. Experience a canyoning adventure in Arenal Volcano National Park.
The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is home to unique wildlife. Go on hikes through the lush cloud forest, zip over the rainforest canopy on the SkyTrek zip-line and challenge the locals to a soccer game!
On this retreat, horseback ride to Las Chorreras Waterfall and relaxing at the mud baths. Enjoy some downtime by the pool at our eco-resort. Cool off with a rewarding swim after hiking to a beautiful waterfall.
Get ready for professional surf lessons at Tamarindo Beach, you’ll be on the board in no time! Kick back and relax by an evening bonfire on the beach.
Relax on sandy beaches, go on a sunset sail cruise and enjoy a guided tour with your close friends at this incredibly beautiful National Park. In addition, hike through lush rainforest and view iguanas and the rare white-faced monkeys. Maybe you’ll even see a sloth!
Central Valley, Costa Rica
Our groups will be staying at a few carefully selected hotels in the Central Valley. Properties include Hotel Autentico and Hotel Adventure Inn. Amenities at all hotels include air conditioning, internet access, and a swimming pool to enjoy.
Rincon de la Vieja, Costa Rica
Your group will stay at one of the following hotels in Rincon de la Vieja: Hacienda Guachipelin or Cañon de la Vieja. Facilities include a pool, patio with hammocks, air-conditioned rooms, Wi-Fi, and recreation space.
Flamingo Beach, Costa Rica
Our group will be staying at one of the following carefully selected hotels near Flamingo Beach: Hotel Casas del Toro Hacienda or Hotel Wilson. Amenities at all hotels include air conditioning, internet access and a swimming pool to enjoy.
Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica
Enjoy incredible views of the Cloud Forest while staying in Monteverde at either Monteverde Country Lodge or Hotel Fondavela. All rooms have Wi-Fi.
Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica
Your group will stay at one of the following hotels near Arenal Volcano: Hotel Montechiari or Lavas Tacotal. All of the hotels offer great views of the volcano and surrounding area. Rooms are air-conditioned, Wi-Fi enabled, and have refreshing swimming pools.
La Palma, Cost Rica
Located close to our service project in the town of La Palma, Delfines del Golfo has air conditioning, Wi-Fi and a swimming pool.
Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica
Set amongst this beach resort area on the Pacific Coast, Hotel Mimos offers the ideal location to explore Manuel Antonio Park. The hotel features air-conditioned rooms, a pool, wireless internet, and a restaurant.
Flight to San Jose, Costa Rica
We offer a chaperoned flight to Costa Rica from South Florida. Based on enrollment, participants from the New York area may also have a chaperoned flight. Final flight details are determined in the spring. For our many travelers from outside these areas, you can choose to connect to the chaperoned flight, or reserve a flight arriving & departing within our flight parameters. Our staff will greet you as you come through customs and immigration.
Return Flight Home from San Jose, Costa Rica
We offer a chaperoned flight back to South Florida. Depending on the geographic group makeup, the chaperoned flight will return to South Florida, New York, or both. For our many travelers from outside these areas, you may choose to join the chaperoned flight and arrange transfers (if required) at suitable times after the group has cleared customs and immigration in the USA; or you may fly from San Jose to your home city and our leaders help you to check-in and remain in the airport until flights in designated times have departed.
Where We Stay
We carefully select clean and comfortable accommodations with the needs of our students in mind. While our volunteer programs do not stay at luxury resorts, we do know that a good night’s rest, in your own bed, is key to performing your service hours well and having enough energy to enjoy the day’s activities. For this reason, and also to maintain the close group bond and to uphold the quality of this program, we do not offer any homestays.
Meals & New Cuisines
Eating well while away from home is an important part of a summer’s success. We understand how it helps our travelers feel secure, happy and looking forward to their day. Part of your travel experience will be immersing yourself in the local cuisine and culture, so please bring with you an open mind and a willingness to try new things. For example, Costa Rican traditional cuisine offers plenty of rice, beans, meat dishes and tons of fresh fruit, but don’t worry, they also have North American style options on the menu.
We have satisfied the choosiest of eaters and gladly accommodate most special dietary requests including vegetarian, anaphylactic food allergies, lactose intolerance, celiac disease, and kosher style. We welcome discussing your individual requirements with you and have extensive experience in this area.
It’s generally okay to drink tap water in Costa Rica, except for a few select areas. As a precaution, we will provide purified drinking water in large containers so that travelers can fill up their reusable water bottles as needed.
We recommend you follow the advice of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and consult with your physician for current immunizations and medication required for travelers to Costa Rica. These recommendations may change from time to time. We will send you detailed information in March (or upon enrollment if later) regarding the current recommendations for this itinerary.
You will only need one week’s worth of clothing as outlined in the packing list that will be sent to you prior to departure. Every week you will drop off your laundry at a local wash and fold service and then pick it up clean, folded and ready to go.
Included in your program tuition is all lodging, breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, recreation & entertainment listed, airport transfers in designated times, gratuities & taxes.
Not included is transportation to and from the program and personal spending money for snacks, souvenirs, and laundry. We also make available optional travel insurance that is not included, but highly recommended.
Please contact us with any questions. We are happy to hear from you!
Frequently Asked Questions
What if I need to contact my teen during the program?
Participants may bring their cell phones so parents may call and message their kids directly. You may also contact our Communication Centers which serve as the official link between programs on the road and parents. We are staffed every day during the summer and have somebody on call for after hours emergencies ready to assist you 24/7.
Who are the staff and what are their qualifications?
Our staff are educators, guidance counselors, coaches, college and university students, former camp counselors, residence life coordinators, community volunteers, world travelers, and other leaders with diverse backgrounds. Many are former participants themselves who couldn’t get enough of the Westcoast experience! Learn more about our summer leaders.
How are roommates assigned?
Giving everyone a chance to make new friends creates a cohesive group and the warmest and most welcoming social environments in our industry!
On our Active Teen Tours, Global Adventures and Community Service programs, rooming rotation is as follows:
To promote this we’ve found the best system is for the Program Director to assign the rooms for the first and second stops. For the first stop, independent travelers room with other independent travelers and any friends who enrolled can room together. All participants will be assigned a different roommate for the second stop. After the first two stops, choice of roommates is always up to you!
On our Pre-College Enrichment programs & Career Experiences, rooming is as follows:
We assign independent travelers with another independent traveler for the duration of your stay. Any friends who enrolled together can room together.
Roommates are assigned based on gender identity. We welcome all genders, inclusive of those anywhere on the gender spectrum.
On a few programs where we spend an extended period of time at the first stop, participants have the opportunity to rotate after the first two nights.