Costa Rica College Summer Program

START Alajuela, Costa Rica |
FINISH San Jose, Costa Rica |
DURATION 4 weeks |
AGES 18 - 22 |

Immerse Yourself in Costa Rican Biodiversity with Multi-Day Adventures and Wildlife Conservation

Get ready for an unforgettable summer adventure in Costa Rica, one of the happiest countries on earth! This jam-packed program throws you into the heart of the action.  Hike through lush rainforests in Los Santos, navigate thrilling rapids on the Pacuare River, and kayak through the serene Golfito – no experience necessary, just bring your sense of adventure! 

Discover the secret to Costa Rica's happiness: the laid-back "Tico" vibe meets a globally inspiring model of eco-stewardship. Learn about sustainability firsthand at a permaculture ranch, living alongside the local community and immersing yourself in the authentic culture. You'll even have the chance to contribute to conservation efforts at a wildlife rescue center, helping to rehabilitate exotic animals like sloths and howler monkeys. Leave Costa Rica feeling empowered, connected, and with a heart full of happy memories.


Immerse yourself in the world of animal rescue by assisting at a dedicated center caring for sloths and monkeys. These captivating creatures, often orphaned or injured due to habitat loss or illegal wildlife trade, depend on the center's rehabilitation efforts for a chance to return to the wild.  You'll gain hands-on experience assisting with daily care, food preparation, and enrichment activities, all while contributing to the conservation of Costa Rica's precious wildlife.

Our summer program pairs you with experienced guru surf instructors who'll help transform you into a wave rider.  These patient and passionate teachers will share their deep knowledge of the ocean, helping you master the art of surfing in the country's most stunning setting. Picture yourself paddling out into the crystal-clear waters, surrounded by lush rainforests and the thrill of catching that perfect wave – an unforgettable experience to kick off your Costa Rican adventure.

Join us on a heart-pounding 3-day white-water rafting expedition down the Pacuare River! This highlight throws you into the heart of a stunning rainforest paradise, where adrenaline-pumping rapids and cascading waterfalls await. You'll be navigating a thrilling journey through lush gorges, battling exhilarating Class III and IV rapids, and feeling the refreshing spray of hidden waterfalls as you plunge down their cascades. Beyond the white-knuckle excitement, this program offers breathtaking rainforest scenery. Keep your eyes peeled for exotic wildlife like sloths and toucans amidst the verdant foliage, and enjoy delicious riverside meals under the open sky with your newfound friends.  This 3-day adventure is more than just a rafting trip – it's a chance to conquer challenges, forge unforgettable memories, and experience the untamed beauty of Costa Rica in the most thrilling way possible.


This is a guide to what you can expect to do on program. The order in which the activities occur might vary.

Click download to view the full 4 week sample itinerary.

Download Sample Itinerary

Hiking in the Rainforest

Welcome! Bienvenidos! Costa Rica is only a tiny portion of the world's land mass, but it boasts 6% of global biodiversity. The capital of San Jose is surrounded by lush rainforests right in the middle of the country. We will start our journey by strolling through winding cobblestone streets with a European feel, checking out local markets, and trying delicious local food like Gallo Pinto. Getting to know the group is our first priority and our experienced instructors will facilitate orientation topics over the next few days while we are in Santamaria de Dota village. This gorgeous valley south of San Jose is famous for producing some of the best coffee in Costa Rica!

This week we will also dive into our first multi-day adventure, hiking on the Ruta Sukia. The pristine rainforest here has lots of exotic birds and flowing cascades. We will immerse ourselves in Costa Rican culture by living under the same roof as local families in home-stays along the way.

Local Living & Surf Camp

Making our way from the mountains to the Pacific Ocean,  we head to an education and farming center in the rural farming town of Tinamu, situated by evergreen forests on the River Savegre Basin. It’s a working farm and community rooted in environmental sustainability. We will be working alongside the community, furthering our sustainability education and learning skills such as carbon neutrality through tree planting. The area is teeming with rivers and waterfalls and has magnificent views of Cerro de la Muerte and the coastal area of Quepos. We will get out on a night safari and explore nearby caves. This rural living experience embodies the essence of service learning, and we will go away with just as much as we have given at Tinamu.

We transfer to the coast for the week that everyone is so excited about - surf camp! We will spend three days learning how to surf and honing our skills on the Pacific swell in the world-renowned surf mecca of Playa Uvita. The waves here are suitable for all abilities. You’ll see pros out there as well as learners, it just depends on which part of the beach you go to. The instructors will teach us all about ocean currents and wind direction, so we can take these newfound skills and feel comfortable in other surf locations across the globe. It’s such a special moment when we get to our feet for the first time and everyone cheers! By the end of surf camp, we will be catching waves. Spend evenings relaxing at camp, playing games, debriefing, and hearing the instructor’s wild stories before more sunrise surfs. The surf camp is all about laughing together, learning about muscles you never knew existed, and making memories that last a lifetime. 

Program Details

What's Included?
  • All in-program travel and transport, excluding flights
  • All accommodation
  • All meals
  • All expeditions, activities, excursions, volunteer projects and entry fees as described in the itinerary
  • Experienced Program Instructors and local guides
  • Informal lectures from resident experts on conservation and eco-tourism
  • Experiential core curriculum that pushes students to reflect and ask questions of themselves
  • Certificate of Program Completion


For full program details, please request the information booklet.

Request Information Booklet

High Activity Level

There is a high level of activity on this program, but no experience is required! Anyone with an average fitness level and enthusiasm for the outdoors and new experiences will have a great time on this summer program! There are 3 x 3-day expedition-style trips throughout the program: rafting, kayaking, and hiking. You will need to be prepared for some physical work during the conservation projects during the program, like cleaning out animal enclosures and planting trees. There is also downtime scheduled in between these expeditions.

Medium Camping Level

Be prepared to spend some time out in nature. You'll love the experience of camping, staring at the campfire, breathing in the fresh air, and stargazing the night away. You will also spend a lot of your nights on this summer program in comfortable hostels and lodges.

Medium Service Learning Level

You will be able to make a difference in the local community during your stay. Be prepared to get your hands dirty and do some hands-on learning about local issues.

Have you got any questions before applying?

Costa Rica College Summer Program