Join us this summer to navigate the waves in the world-famous biodiversity hotspot of Costa Rica and make a difference in wildlife conservation! 

Spend two weeks surfing and service learning with us this summer. Find balance in exploring the ecologically diverse country of Costa Rica and delving into animal welfare and conservation. We will get first-hand experience of the impact that we can make on other living creatures like sloths and spider monkeys at an Animal Rescue Sanctuary. Following this worthwhile service work, we will be helping in a rural community, furthering our sustainability education and learning skills such as carbon neutrality through tree planting. We will see the best of Costa Rica - go on a night safari to spot exotic animals, visit caves, and hike in the luscious jungle of the Monteverde Cloud forest. 

Surfing is the ultimate connection to mother earth, and taking surf lessons under fun instructors is the ideal way to absorb the ‘Pura Vida’ lifestyle. Surf camp in Uvita is also the place to forge lifelong friendships over belly laughs and shared reflections of our epic journey through Costa Rica.

 Pacific Discovery Top Rated OrganisationCommunity Choice Award Best Program


This Summer Program Is For You if You...

✓ Want hands-on wildlife experience 

✓ Want to surf on the Pacific Coast and laugh with new friends 

✓ See yourself hiking in a beautiful Cloud Forest 

✓ Are interested in environmental sustainability and conservation

✓ Want to receive a Certificate of Completed Service Hours to add to your resume


Thoughts From a Former Costa Rica Student

  I would recommend the program to others to challenge yourself, make new friends, do amazing activities and to immerse yourself in a new culture! You really get to learn more about yourself and who you are as a person on this program! I learned to let go, and live in the moment. My trip to Costa Rica was truly life-changing. I made deep connections, did amazing activities, and I really gained clarity as to what I want out of life. I came out of this experience with more confidence and a greater appreciation for life! Ready to face any challenge and to just stay calm like the waves!” 

- Mia LaFayette, 2021 Student


Not sure where you want to go yet?

Get the full Summer Program run-down in our catalogueThis catalogue provides information about Pacific Discovery's values and program design, as well as program descriptions, testimonials and a comparison chart!

Request Online Catalogue

  • Volunteer Projects
    • • Volunteer project working with sloths and monkeys at an animal rescue center
    • • Investigate sustainable agriculture and its importance in developing communities
    • • Gain real-life work experience and a Conservation and Sustainability
    • • Receive a Certificate of Completed Service Hours to add to your resume
  • Personal Development
    • • Experience deeper gratitude for the life and opportunities you have at home
    • • Gain resilience and confidence 
    • • Explore lots of new activities to see where your interests lie
    • Work collaboratively in groups
    • • Gain a perspective on global issues
  • Fun and Adventures
    • • Travel with an incredible group of new friends! 
    • • Surf on the pristine beaches of Uvita with guru surf instructors
    • Yoga and meditation retreat to increase strength and enable self-reflection
    • Hike through the unique cloud forest of Monteverde
    • • Hang out with sloths and spider monkeys in an animal rescue and rehabilitation center 
    • • Relax with the group on idyllic white-sand beaches

**  The hub will be confirmed on student home locations and flight paths at the time of booking. 

Day 1 - Arrive with the group in San Jose 

Take a peek outside the plane window with our new friends to get a glimpse of Central America as we touch down. San Jose is surrounded by lush rainforests and is right in the middle of the country. Getting to know our group will be the first priority, as well as familiarizing ourselves with the culture and history of Costa Rica. We start our journey by strolling through winding cobblestone streets that have a European feel and checking out local markets and souvenirs. Our two friendly and experienced instructors will facilitate orientation topics over the next few days.

We will relax in our San Jose hotel accommodation, which is comfortable and chosen to our needs. We will share rooms with our fellow group members in all of the locations we stay in Costa Rica.

Days 2-4 Explore Monteverde Cloud Forest 

The first piece of the puzzle to connect the mountains, ocean, and heartlands of Costa Rica is to spend some time immersed in the Monteverde Cloud Forest. We head over to arguably the most beautiful place in the country; the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. The Monteverde cloud forest offers our team lots of different trekking options. The day hikes are really about zooming in on the beauty and keeping an eye out for the weird and wonderful flora and fauna of the cloud forest. Monteverde is also home to what we know as “The Great Divide”, meaning that when we stand on the separation between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, we will be on two continents at once! 

Days 5-7: Volunteer at the Animal Rescue Center 

We head over to Cebadilla, where we will be undertaking our animal rescue volunteering through an organization that Pacific Discovery has been working alongside for many years. This rescue center is home to a variety of animals that were rescued from the illegal animal trade, which is unfortunately still functioning in parts of the country. The goal is to help the animals recover from both physical and psychological wounds that have arisen from their past suffering. During the stay, we’ll support the center with volunteer work such as working in the animal kitchen, assisting with the sloth garden, helping with the compost, and enriching the animal homes. It’s a great opportunity to get situated, practice some Spanish, try new activities, and relax in hammocks chatting with our group members.

Days 8-10: Wilderness Farm Service 

Next, we make our way to an education and farming center in the rural farming town of Tinamu, situated on the edge of evergreen forests in the south of the country. It is a working farm, a mountain lodge, and a community based on environmental sustainability and caring relationships. We will be working alongside the community, furthering our sustainability education and learning skills such as carbon neutrality through tree planting. This experience embodies the essence of service learning, and we will go away with just as much as we have given at Tinamu.  

We will also get a chance to go on an epic day hike, night safari, and caving adventure whilst here. We will be able to reconnect with nature, peace, and relaxation while exploring the surroundings. 

Days 11-13: Surfing in Uvita 

We’ve all been waiting for this part! We will spend a solid chunk of time learning how to surf and honing our skills on the Pacific swell in a world-renowned surf mecca. The surf camp is located within the gorgeous Marino Ballena National Park. We will surf once or twice a day, depending on swell conditions. In between sessions, we will relax on sprawling white beaches and take hikes to beautiful sunset destinations. It really is a dream to spend these days immersing in Uvita. 

Our last days will be spent wrapping up the program, digesting our experiences, and sharing our final moments with some newfound lifelong friends. We’ll be leaving with a whole new set of tools in our bag - trust us on this one!

Days 14-15: San Jose 

It’s time to go full circle and head back to where this all began. Spend a final night in San Jose. Our instructors will farewell us at the airport and we travel as a student group home to the US.


**Pacific Discovery reserves the right to alter and/or change the order of the itinerary, the focus of the projects or the activities themselves due to dates, availability, and safety precautions.

For full program details, please request the information booklet

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 and relatable Program Instructors and local guides

✓ Informal lectures from resident experts on conservation and eco-tourism

✓ Core Activities that encourage shared group reflection 

✓ Certificate of Conservation and Sustainability with a total of 25 contact hours


Activity Level


Medium Activity Level: Anyone with an average fitness level and an enthusiasm for the outdoors and new experiences will have a great time on this summer internship! You will need to be prepared for some physical work during the conservation projects on the program, like cleaning out animal enclosures and planting trees.

Camping Level


Low Camping Level: You will only be camping for a couple of nights on this summer program during the canoeing journey. You will spend most of your time in comfortable hostels and lodges.

Volunteering Level


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


Frequently Asked Questions

Our accommodation will be a mixture of comfortable and clean hotels, hostels, and lodges. Students will share rooms with other members of the group, but only of the same gender.  Sometimes they will be in twin rooms and other times they will be in dorm rooms. There will never be outsiders from the group present in the rooms. The instructors will be in a twin room near the students. Students will always be able to access the instructors for support at any time of the day. Accommodation is diverse, comfortable, and carefully chosen to fit our needs.

Laundry facilities will be available at least once every few days. 

Wi-Fi facilities are limited in Costa Rica because the locations we head to are off the beaten track. There will be an opportunity for students to check in every few days. Instructors will have phones with coverage at all times. There is good WIFI available at the surf camp.

Meals are fresh, tasty, healthy, and varied. Special dietary requirements and vegetarians are catered for. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are included in the program cost. Any snacks are at an additional cost, which we recommend budgeting around $12 per day for.

Meals are a mixture of eating out at restaurants and food preparation shared by students. An average day on program would consist of the following: 

  • Breakfast: continental breakfast, cereals and yogurt, toast, and spreads. A local specialty is gallo pinto; rice, beans, plantains, and eggs - so good!
  • Lunch and dinner: Wraps, sandwiches, salads, soups. A local specialty is casado;  rice, beans, steamed veggies, protein, plantains, salad, and sometimes a kind of macaroni salad. There is also a lot of ceviche here- don’t knock it until you try it!

To make things easy for you, we partner with a full service travel agency that can arrange flights, appropriate travel insurance and post program arrangements for our students.

They have access to a "Cancel For Any Reason" or CFAR travel insurance for US citizens in participating states. This optional travel insurance product allows travelers to cancel for any reason whatsoever up to two days prior to departure and still receive a significant refund. This allows you to keep planning for the future while avoiding the stress and the financial worry of canceling a program if you need to.

Our program locations and itineraries have been carefully selected and modified to minimize risk of exposure to anyone outside the group with most being located in rural areas. This allows for a more focused learning environment, as well as a safe haven from the stress of our modern world.

We've been working hard and watching closely to any CDC recommendations about group sizes and testing requirements to come up with options that will allow you to have a safe, healthy, and stress-free Gap Year experience. We do the hard work so you can come and enjoy the fresh air, adventures, and new friends!

We have been running successful international programs in Spring, Summer and Fall 2021. The students shared their experiences in testimonials and wrote their stories down in blog posts - feel free to have a look.

Check out the information on our COVID-19 page to find out more about our Covid-19 policies, procedures and updates.

We have answered the most frequently asked questions in the FAQ SectionIf you still have any other questions, feel free to  schedule a call with our admissions team for more information.

Summer Dates 22 Jul - 5 Aug, 2024
Duration 15 days
Program Tuition $4,950 USD Estimated Flight Cost $1,200 USD **Flights (including internal flights) Are Not Included
Availability Open
Group Size 14 Students & 2 Instructors Ages 15 - 17 Ideal Covid-19 Vaccination Requirement Vaccination Strongly Recommended
Optional College Credit No Start/Finish Program Start: San Jose
Program Finish: San Jose