Travel to Costa Rica on this Gap college program you won’t forget! Work alongside some of our long-standing service partners on projects such as building local homes for underprivileged residents and participating in environmental conservation projects. This Costa Rica Gap program uses a service-learning framework tailored for high school graduates, where our staff provides guidance and reflection on the impact of the work we do and promotes the value of empathy and cultural sensitivity. This includes developing your Capstone Project; a final presentation which demonstrates your understanding of one or more aspects of the educational/volunteer components of the program. When not volunteering, you’ll be off on amazing adventures like surfing, canyoning, and whitewater rafting! Students can also choose between Spanish language classes, remote learning and chill time at the beach. It won’t be long before you’ll fall in love with all things Costa Rican and the Pura Vida lifestyle.
This Gap program is for high school graduates and college students between the ages of 17-22.
About This Program
What It's Like
The perfect balance of meaningful service projects, cultural immersion and unforgettable adventures.
Certificate of Completion
Upon successful completion of your program you will receive a certificate of completion outlining the various components including 50 service hours.
Specific projects are confirmed in January and are similar to those described.
A professional guide accompanies our staff with the group to assist, educate and immerse the students into the local culture.
Optional Language Component
Combination of Spanish language classes with professional instruction and immersion activities in the community with your instructors.
Bring your laptop and do your college courses from Costa Rica.
Develop your individual Capstone Project.
Hotels & lodges.
Includes breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.
Includes all recreation & activities listed.
Chartered, air-conditioned motor coach with a professional driver.
12 to 24 participants.
• Work on a community project helping to build homes.
• Help protect native plants from invasive species.
• Volunteer in Guanacaste improving the quality of life of its residents.
• Optional Spanish language component in 2 locations – across from the beach and in the Cloud Forest.
• Relax in therapeutic mud baths.
• Experience waterfall rappelling & canyoning by Arenal Volcano.
• Snorkel in a tranquil bay.
• Learn to surf with professional instructors at Tamarindo Beach.
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.
Help promote sustainable living on this 42-acre farm.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.
You will have the opportunity to develop a Capstone Project; a final presentation which demonstrates your understanding of one or more aspects of the educational components of the program. In some cases, a Capstone Project involves identifying a real-world problem and developing a solution using learned skills and methods. Our leaders are available to help guide you through your individual projects, and volunteering alongside local experts can provide inspiration for you as well.
Example projects include interactive workshops, leadership sessions, photography portfolios, or more formal presentations. We encourage you to get creative in your approach and incorporate your Capstone Project into future college and job applications.
This program has an optional Spanish language component. You will be assessed and assigned to a class of up to five students based on your Spanish level, from complete beginners through advanced.
Benefit from a combination of Spanish language classes with professional instruction and immersion activities in the community with your instructors.
There are a total of 12 sessions (8 in classroom & 4 out of class immersion sessions). The classroom sessions are held in the afternoon at two different school locations from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM. The focus of the course is to enhance your verbal skills; however, attention is also given to grammar, vocabulary, reading and writing skills. We don’t just want you to know Spanish, we want you to become comfortable speaking it so that you can confidently use your Spanish skills in your daily life, whether that’s having a conversation with a friend or ordering dinner in a restaurant.
Classes in Two Locations – One Continuous Curriculum
Week 1 & 2: Flamingo Beach Campus
Located literally across the street from the beach, the Flamingo location has a basketball court and is surrounded by cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The first week begins with 5 afternoons of classes followed by 4 sessions in the second week immersing yourself in “out-of-the-class” language activities under the guidance of your instructors. Flamingo becomes your classroom as you participate in real life Spanish interactions such as bargaining at a local market, interviewing local community leaders and other fun learning activities.
Week 3: Monteverde Cloud Forest Campus
Our school is high up in the mountains by the St. Elena Reserve with gorgeous views of the lush cloud forest. The final 3 sessions conclude back in the classroom for a well rounded experience.
Your Language School - Centro Panamericano De Idiomas (CPI)
Founded in 1991, CPI is a respected Spanish language school in Costa Rica, accredited by the Ministry of Education. Teaching staff consists of professionals with university training, certification and experience in teaching Spanish as a second language to visiting students.
Practice Your Spanish Throughout The Day on this Program
Our local guides are fluent in Spanish, so get ready to practice beyond the classroom. Whether you are ordering a meal at a restaurant, working alongside local community members during the service component or bargaining with local market vendors, your Spanish language skills are sure to improve.
*A supplementary fee of $695 applies for optional Spanish Language Instruction.
Fly to Liberia, where your orientation officially begins with some of our favorite icebreakers and “get to know you” activities. Get set for professional surf lessons at Tamarindo Beach, where you’ll be catching waves in no time! Hop back in the water and snorkel in a tranquil bay. Enjoy an evening of karaoke and a beach bonfire with new friends.
On this visit to Hacienda Guachipelin, located near Rincon de la Vieja volcano, embark on a horseback riding adventure to soothing mud baths.
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 and Santa Elena Reserve! Learn how to cook traditional Tico dishes and of course, enjoy the feast at our very own cooking class.
Flamingo Beach, Costa Rica
Your group will be staying at Hotel Casas del Toro Hacienda near Flamingo Beach.Amenities include air conditioning, internet access and a swimming pool to enjoy.
Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica
Your group will stay at one of the following hotels near Arenal volcano: Hotel San Bosco, Hotel Montechiari, Lavas Tacotal, or Lavas del Arenal. All of the hotels offer great views of Arenal Volcano. Rooms are air-conditioned, Wi-Fi enabled and have refreshing swimming pools.
Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica
While staying in Monteverde at the Monteverde Country Lodge enjoy incredible views of the Cloud Forest. All rooms have Wi-Fi.
Central Valley, Costa Rica
Your group will be staying at one of these hotels in the Central Valley. Properties include Hotel Autentico, Hotel Bristol Aeropuerto, Hotel Adventure Inn, La Rosa de America and Hotel Aeropuerto. Amenities at all hotels include air conditioning, internet access and a swimming pool to enjoy.
Flight to Liberia, Costa Rica Students on this program have the option of joining us on a coordinated flight to Liberia that will depart from either a NY/NJ area airport and/or South Florida, determined in January. Our staff will be with you from check-in onward. For our many travelers from outside these areas, you can choose to join the coordinated flight and we are happy to help you arrange connecting flights at suitable times. If you prefer, you may meet us in Liberia and we will help you coordinate your flight times and greet you as you come through immigration and customs.
Return Flight Home from San Jose, Costa Rica For your return from San Jose, we offer a coordinated flight back to the USA. You may choose to join that flight and arrange transfers (if required) at suitable times after clearing customs and immigration in the USA, or you may fly from San Jose to your home city and our leaders help you check in.
Where We Stay We carefully select clean and comfortable accommodations with the needs of our students in mind. While our Gap 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. On this program room configurations are generally doubles and triples.
Meals & New Cuisines Eating well while away from home is an important part of a program’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.
Drinking Water 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.
Vaccinations 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 December (or upon enrollment if later) regarding the current recommendations for this itinerary.
Laundry 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.
What’s Included 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, laundry and optional language components with a supplementary fee of $695. 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!