This middle school student travel program is our signature itinerary. It offers a wonderful balance of cultural immersion, service, educational field trips, adventure activities, and opportunities for personal growth.
After arrival at the San José (SJO) Airport, the student group will travel east to begin their experience in the town of Turrialba. The first three days and two nights of Orientation provide middle school groups with the ideal amount of time to assimilate into a new culture, focus their minds on their personal and group goals, practice the Spanish language, and gain trust within their travel group.
The students are then paired up and will then enter the homestay and service portion of the program. The student group will stay in the same host family community and are just a stone’s throw away from each other’s homestays as well as their host teacher and program leaders’ houses to provide optional comfort and security for this age group. During their stay in the community, students will participate in various educational and adventure activities and then will travel farther east to the small, quaint Caribbean town of Cahuita, where they will relax and reflect upon their experiences.
Top 3 Highlights of the Middle School “Culture, Service & Beach” Student Itinerary
- Ideal Mix of Culture, Service, Education & Fun
- Spend 4 nights with homestays, and 5 nights in hotels
- Participate in a variety of cultural, educational, and adventure activities
- Dedicate 12 hours to Service Project
- Work side-by-side with community members to help them achieve their goals
- Contribute positively to the global community
- Visit two Destinations in Costa Rica
- Mountainous Region of Turrialba
- Caribbean Coastal town of Cahuita
Sample Costa Rica Middle School “Culture, Service & Beach” Student Itinerary
Day #1 – Arrival Day & Night at Mountain-top Hotel
Your group will fly into the international airport of San José (SJO) Juan Santamaria where your two dedicated, professional, bilingual guides will be waiting for you. You will board your private vehicle and head east towards the town of Turrialba. On the way, you will stop to visit La Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Los Angeles and will enjoy a typical lunch in a local “soda” or restaurant.
Upon arrival to your mountain-top hotel in Turrialba, you will unpack your bags and head to your first Orientation Meeting, where you will participate in introduction activities and review the goals and safety policies of the program. Warm dinner will be served onsite before heading to bed for a good night’s sleep. ¡Bienvenidos a Costa Rica!
Day #2 – Teambuilding Activities & Orientation to town of Turrialba
This morning, you will enjoy a delicious buffet-style breakfast of “gallo pinto”, eggs, fresh fruit, and bread. The fruit in Costa Rica is amazing as it is local and fresh. You will really be able to notice a difference in the quality of the flavor!
This morning’s meeting will be focused on culture, and there will be an adventure hike through the rainforest to a local waterfall where students can swim in the natural pool below. You will then transfer to the center of Turrialba, where students will use their Spanish-language skills to participate in an exciting scavenger hunt to learn the ins and outs of the town.
This afternoon, students will participate in team-building activities and prepare for the homestay portion of the program. Dinner and another delightful evening will be spent in the hotel overlooking the twinkling city lights below.
Day #3 – Introduction to Homestays and Service Project & Welcome Dinner
After another wholesome buffet-style breakfast at the hotel, students will pack up and transfer to their homestay community, where they will pair up and meet their individual families. Please read more about our Homestay Selection Process and Families.
Each homestay family will have a mid-morning snack prepared to share with you before the group heads off to their first day of service work. The group will dedicate a meeting spot within the homestay community where the homestay families will drop their students off to meet the rest of the group and their guides. Each of our service projects is customized to fit the current needs of the community and the budget of the project. Read more about our Community Service Partners and Projects.
This evening the homestay families will host a Welcome Dinner for the entire group. There will be warm, home-cooked food, dancing, and games. The night will be spent in the homestay community.
Day #4 – COMBO TOUR: Whitewater Rafting & Canopy/Ziplining
Today is a day full of adventure! A true highlight for the group. Students will have the opportunity to not only whitewater raft the Río Pacuare, one of the top rivers in all of the Americas, but they will also be able to zip through the trees on a canopy tour right off the banks of the river.
Upon arrival at the river, the group will receive a safety talk and will practice working as a team as they descend the Class II & III portions of the river. It is an exhilarating experience crashing through the waves of rapids! The river trip will end at a jungle camp where the group will enjoy a delicious lunch before harnessing up and zooming across cables through the rainforest. The views of the river and rainforest below are incredible.
This evening, students will have the opportunity to spend time with their homestays. We encourage students to bring a family-friendly board or card game to share. It is a fun way to practice Spanish as you explain how to play. Dinner and night in the homestay community.
Day #5 – Local Farm Tour, Reforestation & Evening Cooking & Dance Lessons
After breakfast today, students will meet up to experience a day in the life of a “campesino” or local farmer. On the tour of the farm, students will learn about organic farming techniques, will try their hand at harvesting a bunch of bananas, and will practice collecting coffee beans. The group will give back to the farm by helping with their reforestation project and will collect fresh vegetables for today’s lunch.
After a long morning under the heat of the sun, students will cool off in a local river where they can play in the small waterfalls and natural pools. Lunch will be enjoyed at the farmer’s home and cooking lessons will follow. Students will learn how to make fresh “tortillas con queso” and “enyucados”.
This afternoon, the group will return to their homestays to rest a bit before Costa Rican dance lessons. The homestay family members will accompany the group in learning the basics of merengue, salsa, and cumbia. We couldn’t call this itinerary a “cultural immersion” without incorporating these famous Latin rhythms! Dinner and night are enjoyed at homestays.
Day #6– Service Project & Final Dinner Celebration
Be sure to fill up on breakfast at your homestays this morning, as you will need the energy to finish your service project. Day two of service is typically extremely productive as the group understands the goals and is motivated to finish before heading off to the beach!
This afternoon, students will return to their homestays to pack up their bags. Today ends with a special Final Celebration Dinner hosted by the homestay families. Here the community will thank the group for its service contribution. The hope is that through this international service project, students will return to their hometowns and seek out local service opportunities motivated to continue to give back to the global community!
The evening will be filled with flavorful traditional cuisine and lots of opportunities to practice your new dance steps. This night is the last night within the homestay community.
Day #7 – Transfer to Cahuita & Hiking Tour of National Park
This will be your last morning with your homestay family before departing for the Caribbean Coast. It is typically challenging to say goodbye to your Tico family. In just a short time, participants form strong friendships. Thanks to modern technology it’s much easier to stay in touch!
The group will board their private vehicle and head three hours east to the small fishing village of Cahuita. Here students will enjoy a picnic lunch and hiking tour within the National Park of Cahuita. Cahuita National Park, which was established in 1970, is part of the Caribbean La Amistad Conservation Area. It helps to protect the endangered coral reef off its shores. This unique hiking tour’s trail parallels the beach. You are bound to see a variety of birds, reptiles, crabs, sloths, and monkeys. When the group gets tired, they can relax on the sandy beaches within the park and play in its gentle waves.
This evening, the group will enjoy delicious Caribbean cuisine for dinner at a favorite local restaurant and settle into their hotel for a rewarding night’s sleep.
Day #8 – Visit Animal Rescue Center & Afternoon at the Beach
This morning, you will enjoy a fresh breakfast at your hotel as you listen to the crashing waves against the shoreline and breathe in the fresh salty air! Today the group will transfer to the town of Puerto Viejo where they will visit the famous Jaguar Rescue Center which started in 2008. Since then, they have rescued over 1,200 animals and have a 40% success rate with releasing them back into the wild.
After an interactive tour led by knowledgeable volunteers, students will enjoy a favorite beach amongst Costa Ricans called Punta Uva. This is where the lush rainforest meets the sea making an emerald cove. A delightful place to spend the day. Picnic lunch will be enjoyed on site.
This afternoon, the group will travel back to Cahuita where they will go souvenir shopping and enjoy an authentic Italian pizza dinner before tucking themselves into bed for another night in the hotel.
Day #9 – Morning Surf Lessons & Transfer to the town of Alajuela
After a filling breakfast this morning, the group will set out to Playa Negra for surf lessons. Here they will be met by a team of surf instructors who will teach the basics of this fun water sport. The lesson will begin on land with some stretching. Students will then practice standing up on their boards on the beach before heading into the water. There will be one instructor per student, so students will create groups and take turns practicing their skills.
When students aren’t surfing the waves, they will have the opportunity to play beach soccer or volleyball or just soak in the rays of the sunshine. After surf lessons, the group will shower and pack up before lunch. Lunch will be in a local restaurant and then the group will travel back to the town of Alajuela, which is located within minutes from the San José Airport. Here, there will be a final reflection meeting and Farewell dinner. Students will be asked to share their learnings from the trip and how it has impacted their lives. The evening will be spent at a hotel.
Day #10 – Departure Day
Breakfast is included at the hotel this morning before heading to the San José Airport (SJO) to catch your flight back home. Here you will say goodbye to your two program guides. It is always a challenge leaving as the group has shared so many wonderful moments together. Our hope is that you return to visit Costa Rica in the future!
Customize this Middle School Student Itinerary for Your Needs!
The above itinerary is customizable. We are happy to make modifications based on your group’s goals and needs. Costa Rica Explorations enjoys collaborating with groups to design their ideal travel experience through Costa Rica.
Program Tuition for this Middle School 10-day – “Culture, Service & Beach” itinerary is $2,870 per student for a minimum of 8 participants. The Group’s maximum number of participants is 16 students with 2 chaperones. With 8 fully-paying participants, one chaperone’s program tuition will be covered by Costa Rica Explorations.
If the group size exceeds a 16-student maximum or is smaller than an 8-person minimum, we are willing to discuss options to accommodate your group’s needs. If your group would prefer hotel accommodations to homestays, we also can offer that service; however, the price of the trip will change.
Program Itinerary Inclusions:
- The above highlighted, 10-day customized program itinerary – exclusive to your group
- Two professional, bilingual guides for the duration of the program – on call 24 hours a day
- Private transportation between major destinations
- All meals included throughout the program – breakfast, lunch, and dinner
- 4 nights – Pre-approved homestay accommodations
- 5 nights – In 3+ star hotel rooms w/ students sharing queen-sized beds
- All adventure excursions and educational field trips as indicated in the itinerary – guide tips included
- CRE t-shirt
Note: We ask for students to fundraise $50 per participant to dedicate to service project donation.
12-day Program itinerary includes:
- 1 additional night in homestay community
- 1 additional night in hotel at the beach
- 2 additional excursions – Visit to Guayabo Monument & Snorkel Tour
- Program Tuition is $3,250 / student for a minimum of 8 participants
14-day Program itinerary includes:
- 3 additional nights in homestay community
- 1 additional night in hotel at the beach
- 2 additional educational excursions – Visit to Guayabo Monument & Snorkel Tour
- 1 additional day of service work
- 1 day visiting and participating in local middle school
- Program Tuition is $3,535 / student for a minimum of 8 participants