Volunteer at an animal rescue sanctuary, learn about sustainability and navigate through National Parks during this Summer Internship Program in Costa Rica!

Experience a Summer Internship Program where you will not only get to explore the amazing country of Costa Rica, but you will get to expand yourself personally and learn about conservation and animal welfare. The nature-based activities will have you observing bioluminescence on a night time kayak tour, walking through clouds in the world-renowned cloud forest, pushing through the river on a wild water rafting adventure, surfing on the Pacific Coast, and seeing new wildlife.

Moving onto the internship aspect, you will get to experience first hand the impacts that you can make for other living creatures like sloths and spider monkeys at an animal rescue sanctuary. After some hard work and animal snuggles, you will be working alongside a local community, furthering your sustainability education and learning skills such as carbon neutrality through tree planting. At the end of the program, you will walk away with a Certificate of Completion, showing a total of 30 contact hours of this internship, a great asset to your resume!


  Community Choice Award Best Program


This Summer Internship Is For You if You...

✓ Want to spot an abundance of wildlife in forests, mangroves and beaches 

✓ Are interested in animal welfare and conservation

✓ Love activities like surfing, yoga and white water rafting

✓ Are eager to experience the “pure vida” lifestyle

✓ Want to add skills and volunteer work 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

  • Internship and Volunteer Projects
    • • Volunteer project working with sloths and monkeys at an animal rescue center
    • • Investigate sustainable agriculture and its importance in developing communities
    • Hands-on marine debris clean-up in a Wildlife Refuge
    • • Gain real-life work experience and a Certificate of Completion, showing a total of 30 contact hours
  • Personal Development
    • Work confidently and collaboratively with others
    • • Step up with confidence to new opportunities and challenges
    • • Transfer the applicable learning activities to benefit both school and personal life
    • Apply innovative leadership that encourages and empowers others
    • Become a global citizen with a global perspective on issues
  • Fun and Adventures
    • • Surf on the pristine beaches of the Pacific coast with professional guides
    • Bioluminescence adventure: see plankton glow in the dark while floating on the water
    • Yoga and meditation retreat to increase strength and enable self-reflection
    • Hike through the unique cloud forest of Monteverde
    • White water rafting trip through rapids and waterfalls on the Sarapiqui river
    • Rest days on idyllic white-sand beaches

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

Week 1. Rafting & Animal Rescue Volunteering

Take a peek outside the plane window to get your first glimpse of Central America as you arrive to San Jose. Start your journey off right by enjoying the most common, delicious local cuisine, Gallo Pinto. Wake up to the sights, sounds and smells of a Latino capital! San Jose is surrounded by lush rainforests and is home to just 300,000 people. Amidst the small, winding streets you will get to see a great mix of European architecture.

A short hop north from San Jose and you will be immersed in a green paradise. Whilst here, you will be white water rafting on the Sarapiqui River! Getting to know your group will be our priority, as well as familiarizing yourself with the culture and history of Costa Rica. Your instructors will facilitate some important orientation topics over the course of the next few days.

Next, we head over to Cebadilla, where we will be undertaking our animal rescue volunteering! 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 their homes. We’re sure that by the end of the week you’ll feel as at home at the center as the animals and won’t want to leave!

Week 2. Surf Camp & Environmental Work

After finishing the volunteer work in the animal rescue center, we will spend two days learning how to surf and honing our skills on the Pacific swell in a world-renowned surf mecca, in between exploring the area’s breathtaking beaches. Give your mind a well-deserved rest and kick back on the beach with a coconut, sprinkled with a few amazing sunset hikes and croc encounters along the way. 

Spend your final day in Jaco furthering exploring the coastline, surfing or swimming in the warm, salty Pacific Ocean. Any activities you choose are optional so make sure to have a good look into all that the surrounding area has to offer.

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 by the River Savegre Basin. It is a working farm, mountain lodge, and community rooted in 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, as you will go away with just as much as you have given at Tinamu. 

You will be able to reconnect with nature, peace and relaxation while exploring the surroundings. There are many rivers and waterfalls, as well as some magnificent views of Cerro de la Muerte and the coastal area of Quepos with clear weather. You will also get a chance to go on an epic day hike, night safari and caving adventure.

Week 3. Bioluminescence Adventure & Beach Clean-up

We take an adventurous journey to the very southern point of the Nicoya Peninsula in Curu Wildlife refuge. This part of Costa Rica will blow your mind and not only will we be able to spot different kinds of wildlife here, we will take part in a bioluminescence experience. This will take place on the water near the refuge we are staying at. When night falls, we can observe the phenomenon of the lights in the water, caused by organisms that react to movement. We can observe this phenomenon from the edge of the beach or dare to swim, so you can enjoy the halo of light around the body when floating on water. During our time here, we will also go hiking and take a session on ocean and beach clean-ups.

Our last days will be spent wrapping up the program, digesting our experiences and sharing our final days floating through a cloud forest with some newfound lifelong friends. The Monteverde cloud forest offers our team lots of different trekking options. Keep an eye out for some of the diverse flora and fauna on offer throughout the cloud forest. It also is home to what we know as “The Great Divide” meaning that as you stand on the separation between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, you will be in two continents at once! 

Finally, we make our way down from the clouds as we transfer from Monteverde to San Jose for a night and depart the country. You'll be leaving with a whole new set of tools in your bag; trust us on this one!


**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

✓ 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

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 volunteer projects on the program, like trail building or the removal of invasive plants.

Camping Level


Low Camping Level: You will spend your nights on this Summer Internship Program 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 hostels, lodges and campsites. Laundry and Wi-Fi facilities will be available most days, except during the weeks in the field on the volunteer projects and on expeditions. Accommodation is diverse, comfortable and carefully chosen to fit our needs.

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: gallo pinto, which is rice, beans, plantains, and eggs
  • Lunch and dinner: casado, which is rice, beans, steamed veggies, protein, plantains, salad, and sometimes a kind of macaroni salad. There is also a lot of ceviche here

Camping meals will be adjusted to the cooking equipment at hand

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 2 Aug - 16 Aug, 2023
Duration 15 days
Program Tuition $3,950 USD Estimated Flight Cost $500 USD
Availability Open
Group Size 14 Students & 2 Instructors Ages 15 - 17 Ideal
Optional College Credit No Start/Finish San Jose, Costa Rica