Costa Rica

 

Student Travel in Costa Rica

Explore Costa Rica With No Barriers Youth Programming

It’s Tico time! No Barriers Youth offers unique and affordable educational tours in Costa Rica, one that other organizations can’t duplicate. What separates us from the pack? Our robust relationships with locals (which translates into deeper, more meaningful interactions within these communities), our focus on growth through guided reflection and other self-awareness activities, and our top-notch staff.

When you travel abroad to Costa Rica with No Barriers, you can learn about conservation and sustainability, study organic farming practices, participate in a variety of service projects, and fly high above the rainforest on a canopy tour featuring walkways and exhilarating zip-lines. And…

  • Contribute to meaningful long-term service projects with local communities across the country
  • Tour an organic farm with little to no carbon footprint
  • Explore the jungle on an adventurous whitewater rafting adventure
  • Watch the rainforest come alive after dark with a night-time search for colorful frogs and three-toed sloths

What to Know Before Educational Trips to Costa Rica

Costa Rica is an inviting first step into Central America for travelers of any age. An environmental science teacher’s paradise, the country’s rich biological diversity – with flora ranging from bromeliads to fungi and fauna ranging from spider monkeys to toucans – thrives within its vast forest preserves.

But Costa Rica has a great deal more than simply biological diversity. From cosmopolitan San José to the rural tranquility of Monte Verde, Costa Rica encompasses an array of geographic and cultural diversity, all in a relatively small area. Educational tours in Costa Rica including hiking, snorkeling, and photographing wildlife; you can visit the cloud forest one day, an active volcano the next, and finish a trip by relaxing on a hot sandy beach.

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Choose Your Adventure for Teen Travel in Costa Rica

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Adventure and Service in the Costa Rican Highlands

Day 1: Welcome to Costa Rica!
  • Evening: Arrive in San Jose, Costa Rica. Meet your No Barriers Youth Expedition Leaders upon arrival and transfer to hotel to settle in and relax.
  • Accommodation: Hotel in San Jose
Day 2: Raft the Pacuare River and Welcome to Turrialba
  • Morning: Get ready for the trip of a lifetime rafting down the Pacuare River. Look for wildlife, marvel at beautiful waterfalls, and take on the rapids! Take a swim and enjoy lunch at a beautiful canyon lodge nestled in the green forest along the river.
  • Afternoon: Enjoy lunch on the river and finish your trip with your new guide friends.
  • Evening: Upon arriving in Turri (as it’s called by the locals), participate in the NBY Opening Ceremony. Meet your host family and get to know more about your host community in the highlands of central Costa Rica. Enjoy dinner with your family. If you are staying in different accommodations, enjoy your first evening in Turrialba and then settle in to your accommodations for the evening.

    Accommodation: Homestay or local hotel, Turrialba
Days 3: Service and Cultural Immersion in Turrialba
  • Morning: Spend the morning working at an elementary school in a nearby village, where you will partner with the community on construction repairs to the school facility and grounds. 
  • Afternoon: Continue your work on your morning service project at the elementary school.
  • Evening: Spend time with your host family or free time at your hotel
    Accommodation: Homestay or local hotel, Turrialba 
Day 4: Service and Cultural Immersion in Turrialba
  • Morning: Spend the morning on continued work at an elementary school in a nearby village, where you will partner with the community on construction repairs to the school facility and grounds. 
  • Afternoon: Participate in an exciting bike tour at CATIE, a center for tropical agricultural research. Learn about the biodiverse surroundings and the many ecological zones within Costa Rica. Spot local wildlife and learn about the flora and fauna of the highlands.
  • Evening: Spend time with your host family or participate in an interactive cooking lesson.
  • Accommodation: Homestay or local hotel, Turrialba
Day 5: Service and Cultural Immersion in Turrialba
  • Morning: Spend the morning working at an elementary school in a nearby village, where you will partner with the community on construction repairs to the school facility and grounds. 
  • Afternoon: Participate in an exciting rappelling and canyoning activity at a nearby waterfall! 
  • Evening: Spend time with your host family or debrief activities together at your hotel.
  • Accommodation: Homestay or local hotel, Turrialba 
Day 6: Back to San Jose
  • Morning: Enjoy one final breakfast together with your host family or at your hotel.
  • Afternoon: Transport back to San Jose
  • Evening:  Settle in to your evening accommodation before having your final dinner and Closing Ceremony with the local team.
  • Accommodation: Hotel in San Jose
Day 7: Adios, Costa Rica!
  • Morning: Wake up, pack, and have breakfast
  • Afternoon: Drive to the airport 
  • Evening: Depart Costa Rica.
  • Accommodation: Overnight flight home

La Fortuna Service, Culture, and Adventure

Day 1: Welcome to Costa Rica!
  • Evening: Arrive in San Jose, Costa Rica. Meet your No Barriers Youth Expedition Leaders upon arrival and transfer to hotel to settle in and relax.
  • Accommodation: Hotel in San Jose
Day 2: Rafting Adventure!
  • Morning: Wake up early for breakfast at the hotel.
  • Afternoon: Get ready for the trip of a lifetime rafting down the Pacuare River. Look for wildlife, marvel at beautiful waterfalls, and take on the rapids! Take a swim and enjoy lunch at a beautiful canyon lodge nestled in the green forest along the river.
  • Evening: Transport to the town of La Fortuna, participate in the NBY Opening Ceremony.
  • Accommodation: Hotel in La Fortuna
Days 3: Tico Village Life
  • Morning: Spend the morning working with local partners on a long-term project in a nearby community.
  • Afternoon: Participate in a cultural presentation with your community hosts. Learn about local music and dance and hear stories from community members with whom you will be working over the coming week.
  • Evening: Spend time exploring the town of La Fortuna.
  • Accommodation: Hotel in La Fortuna
Days 4: Community Infrastructure Projects
  • Morning: Spend the morning working with local partners on a long-term project in a nearby community.
  • Afternoon: Continue your service work with your local community partner.
  • Evening: Participate in a post-service debrief in the evening, discussing what you experienced and learned through hands-on work in the community.
  • Accommodation: Hotel in La Fortuna
Day 5: Service, Immersion, and La Fortuna
  • Morning: Spend the morning working with local partners on a long-term project in a nearby community.
  • Afternoon: Continue your service work with your local community partner.
  • Evening: Spend the evening at one of the nearby hot springs in town and learn about the nearby Arenal Volcano, whose geophysical properties heat the water naturally.
  • Accommodation: Hotel in La Fortuna
Day 6: Community Projects and Rainforest Canopy
  • Morning: Wake up early to head out to zip-line through the Costa Rican canopy. Learn about the biodiversity of Northern Costa Rica, the flora and fauna unique to the region, and take in sweeping views of the nearby Arenal Volcano.
  • Afternoon: Continue your service work with your local community partner.
  • Evening: Learn about sustainable agriculture and farming with a visit to a local farm in La Fortuna. Participate in the NBY Closing Ceremony.
  • Accommodation: Hotel in La Fortuna
Day 7: La Fortuna and Back to San Jose
  • Morning: Head into town for some final souvenir shopping and ice cream. Have one final lunch together with your team before you start the drive back to San Jose.
  • Afternoon: Drive back to San Jose
  • Evening: Settle in to your hotel for the night and enjoy your final dinner and Closing Ceremony together with your team.
  • Accommodation: Hotel in San Jose
Day 8: Adios, Costa Rica!
  • Morning: Wake up, pack, and have breakfast
  • Afternoon: Drive to the airport
  • Evening: Depart Costa Rica
  • Accommodation: Overnight flight home

Pacific Ocean Turtle Conservation Expedition

Day 1: Welcome to Costa Rica!
  • Evening: Arrive in San Jose or Liberia, Costa Rica (depending on final flight selection). Meet your No Barriers Youth Expedition Leaders upon arrival and transfer to hotel to settle in and relax.
  • Accommodation: Hotel in San Jose or Liberia (depending on final flight selection)
Day 2: Through the Mountains to the Ocean 
  • Morning: Wake up early for a good breakfast before departing for the Nicoya Peninsula. Stop along the way for fruits and snacks and to take photos of the stunning mountain vistas.
  • Afternoon: After a beautiful drive over mountains and along the coast, arrive at Camaronal Wildlife Refuge. Once you arrive, you will receive an introduction to the week’s service project with the turtles and participate in the NBY opening ceremony.
  • Evening: Start your expedition with a night walk along the beach patrolling for turtles. If you are lucky, you may arrive during an arribada, when hundreds of turtles are laying eggs along the same stretch of beach!
  • Accommodation: Hotel
Days 3-6: Service and Cultural Immersion in the National Park
  • Morning: Work at the turtle hatchery and have a question and answer session with your National Park Ranger guides. Participate in activities that may include sand aeration, turtle population counting, and other activities designed to protect local sea turtle and wildlife populations. Activities will vary but are always in line with the needs/suggestions of your National Park Ranger partners.
  • Afternoon: In the afternoon, participate in beach clean-ups to maintain the ecological integrity of the surrounding National Park. Daily afternoon activities will also include hikes through the National Wildlife Refuge, walks through the rainforest to a river for a swim, soccer games on the beach and a trip to an inland village to visit a local women’s co-op, where you will learn their woodworking and weaving products and participate in an interactive art class.
  • Evening: Each evening the group will share dinner together. In the late evening (once the sun is down and the only light remaining is that of the moon), the group participates in oceanside turtle walks with the park rangers. Walk the beach with the guidance of your team and collect eggs to be relocated to the hatchery. Learn about nocturnal wildlife as you work to preserve sea turtle populations.
  • Accommodation: Hotel 
Day 7: Sea Snorkeling and Kayaking
  • Morning: Spend the morning out at sea kayaking and snorkeling off the Nicoya Peninsula. 
  • Afternoon: Participate in a NBY Closing Ceremony. Enjoy your last lunch and say goodbye to your new ranger friends from Camaronal. 
  • Evening: Transport to San Jose or Liberia (depending on final flight selection) and have one final dinner together as a group.
  • Accommodation: Hotel in San Jose or Liberia (depending on final flight selection)
Day 8: Adios, Costa Rica! 
  • Morning: Wake up, pack, and have breakfast
  • Afternoon: Drive to the airport 
  • Evening: Depart Costa Rica.
  • Accommodation: Overnight flight home

Service and Adventure in Sarapiqui

Day 1: Welcome to Costa Rica!
  • Evening: Arrive in San Jose, Costa Rica. Meet your No Barriers Youth Expedition Leaders upon arrival and transfer to hotel to settle in and relax.
  • Accommodation: Hotel in San Jose
Day 2: Into the Rainforest
  • Morning: Drive to Sarapiqui; stop along the way to buy snacks and local fruit.
  • Afternoon: Meet with La Organización para Estudios Tropicales (OTS), your programming partner for your days in Sarapiqui. After your brief orientation, participate in the NBY Opening Ceremony.
  • Evening: Conclude your day with your first Tico dinner of gallo pinto at La Selva.
  • Accommodation: La Selva Biological Station
Days 3: Chocolate and Ecology
  • Morning: Participate in a demonstration of the process that turns cacao into edible chocolate. Try your hand at making chocolate and taste some of the center’s creations!
  • Afternoon: After lunch back at the center, join the La Selva crew for a discussion about how plants adapt to different ecosystems in Costa Rica. Learn about the biodiverse forests that surround the institute and about the ongoing projects that you will participate in.
  • Evening: Spend your evening searching for and classifying nocturnal insects on a night walk in the jungle.
  • Accommodation: La Selva Biological Station
Days 4: Ecosystem and Service Immersion with OTS
  • Morning: Spend your morning working in a local community near Sarapiquí on a service project alongside members of the local community. Projects are defined based on the needs of the community’s development association.
  • Afternoon: After a morning of service, learn about the Audubon Christmas Census and how it has contributed to understanding avian populations and movements around the world. Participate in an interactive conservation project with OTS.
  • Evening: Continue your work with OTS, learning more about the bird species you’ve identified by sight and sound during the day. Have dinner before another night excursion, building on what you’ve learned about nocturnal species.
  • Accommodation: La Selva Biological Station
Day 5: Community Service in Sarapiqui
  • Morning: After breakfast, continue your work on your community service project with the people of Sarapiqui.
  • Afternoon: Finish your work on your community service project and participate in a post-service debrief to chat about the work (both scientific and humanitarian) that you were able to participate in during the course of your stay in La Selva.
  • Evening: Free time to pack, visit a local market, and enjoy your final night in Sarapiqui.
  • Accommodation: La Selva Biological Station
Day 6: Beach Day at Cahuita
  • Morning: Rise early for breakfast before departing for Cahuita, a beach town on the Caribbean.  
  • Afternoon: Arrive in Cahuita, have lunch together, and spend your afternoon on the beach. Relax in the sand, swim in the waves, or play a pick-up soccer team with your fellow travelers.
  • Evening: Participate in an informational discussion with your expedition leaders and guides about the species that inhabit this part of the Caribbean Sea.
  • Accommodation: Hotel on the Caribbean coast 
Day 7: Puerto Viejo Beaches and National Park
  • Morning: After breakfast take a short bus ride to the beach town of Puerto Viejo. 
  • Afternoon: Participate in a surf lesson with a local surf company and enjoy your final day by the beach. Participate in the NBY Closing Ceremony.
  • Evening: Visit a local market for some souvenir shopping before heading back to San Jose.
  • Accommodation: Hotel in San Jose
Day 8: Adios, Costa Rica!
  • Morning: Wake up, pack, and have breakfast
  • Afternoon: Drive to the airport 
  • Evening: Depart Costa Rica.
  • Accommodation: Overnight flight home

Surf and Service in the Pacific

Day 1: Welcome to Costa Rica!
  • Evening: Arrive in San Jose or Liberia, Costa Rica (depending on flight selection). Meet your No Barriers Youth Expedition Leaders upon arrival and transfer to hotel to settle in and relax.
  • Accommodation: Hotel in San Jose or Liberia (depending on final flight selection)
Day 2: Community Service and All-Levels Surfing Lesson
  • Morning: Drive to Guanacaste Region 
  • Afternoon: Take time to get to know your host community and visit your community service site for the week ahead. Speak with community leaders about the development of their village and the effects of tourism from the nearby National Park.
  • Evening: Visit the beach for a sunset on the Pacfiic and participate in the NBY opening ceremony. 
  • Accommodation: Hotel in Guanacaste 
Days 3: Community Service and All-Levels Surfing Lesson
  • Morning: Start the day with service in the local community, helping with infrastructure projects designed in close collaboration with our local partners to support community goals.
  • Afternoon:  Spend the afternoon surfing in the Pacific and enjoying the beach.
  • Evening: Participate in a post-service debrief, discussing what you experienced and learned through hands-on work in the community during the day.
  • Accommodation: Hotel in Guanacaste 
Days 4: Community Service and All-Levels Surfing Lesson
  • Morning: Start the day with service in the local community, helping with the same infrastructure project from the day before.
  • Afternoon:  Spend the afternoon surfing in the Pacific and enjoying the beach.
  • Evening: Participate in a post-service debrief, discussing what you experienced and learned through hands-on work in the community during the day. Free time to rest and enjoy the beach.
  • Accommodation: Hotel in Guanacaste 
Day 5: Guanacaste Canopy Tour and Local Service
  • Morning: Start the day with service in the local community, helping with the same infrastructure project from the day before.
  • Afternoon:  Participate in a zip-lining adventure that includes 11 different zip lines and a swinging bridge. Learn more about the biodiversity in the Rainforest Canopy and about the forests that make up Costa Rica.
  • Evening:  In the evening, watch the sunset over the Pacific Ocean and enjoy dinner together with your group.
  • Accommodation: Hotel in Guanacaste 
Day 6: Hike to Rincon de la Vieja Volcano
  • Morning: Drive to Las Pailas area 
  • Afternoon: Hike the Las Pailas trail through dry tropical forest to see the best views of the famous Rincon de la Vieja Volcano. Learn about the effects of the volcano on the local flora and fauna.
  • Evening: Drive back to your hotel and enjoy dinner together
    Accommodation: Hotel in Guanacaste 
Day 7: Community Service and Village Life
  • Morning: Start the day with service in the local community, helping with infrastructure projects designed in close collaboration with our local partners to support community goals.
  • Afternoon: Continue working the local community throughout the afternoon, take time to learn about village life in Guanacaste and the impact of the work we are doing together.
  • Evening: Enjoy your final evening by the ocean and participate in the NBY Closing Ceremony.
    Accommodation: Hotel in Guanacaste 
Day 8: Rafting the Tenorio River!
  • Morning: Enjoy the rapids of the Upper Tenorio River in Guanacaste. 
  • Afternoon: Have lunch and rest along the river. Finish your trip and prepare for the drive back to San Jose or Liberia.
  • Evening: Transit to San Jose or Liberia (depending on final flight selection)
    Accommodation: Hotel in San Jose or Liberia
Day 9: Adios, Costa Rica!
  • Morning: Wake up, pack, and have breakfast
  • Afternoon: Drive to the airport 
  • Evening: Depart Costa Rica.
    Accommodation: Overnight flight home

Getting immersed in the culture of India and getting to know and love the children was the greatest. When the students would cling to me at the end of class, and tell me how much they enjoyed having me there was heartbreaking.

Rachel W., Student

There is so much life, happening all the time. It's crazy to think that, after only three weeks, I feel like I've become accustomed to so much of how the world move.

Saul S., Student

I just wanted to take a moment to formally thank you for another unbelievable and life changing trip. No Barriers Youth made it all possible and took the guesswork out of a potentially nerve wracking and complicated task.

Amanda W., Trip Leader