Countdown to Summer: Pura Vida Service in Costa Rica
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Countdown to Summer: Pura Vida Service in Costa Rica

Pura Vida Service is among Rustic Pathways’ most popular programs, and that’s for good reason. It takes students to a top location for many Costa Rican visitors – the scenic Arenal Volcano region. It has a good mix of service and adventure. And the accommodations are pretty nice.

Arenal Volcano

Students can sit on these swings outside their doorstep and take in views of the Arenal Volcano. Copyright: © 2022 Rustic Pathways

Still, summer travel may be in the back of your mind right now as you juggle events like proms, sporting events, and exams. Yet, the day until our students hop on a plane is quickly approaching. To celebrate that, here are some program highlights traveling students can look forward to:

Views You Don’t Want to Miss

There are many beautiful sights in Costa Rica, but some of the best views come while zip lining. It’s hard to beat gazing at a tropical rainforest from high above.

Ziplining in La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Zipline through the tropical rainforest high above La Fortuna. Copyright: © 2015 Rustic Pathways

A Unique Moment

The hope is that students will have many experiences they don’t have at home. One of these unique moments in Costa Rica is a trip to a hot spring. There are dozens of natural hot springs in La Fortuna that have waters geothermally heated by the volcano. Rustic teens take a dip in the springs after two days of service. That’s not only blissful, but it’s much better than sitting in an artificial hot tub.

Service Highlight

The schools in Costa Rica don’t get much monetary assistance from the government. Therefore, the assistance Rustic Pathways students provide is quite important. Beyond that, the biggest service highlight is working with local residents. Service provides some of the best opportunities to interact with the community and that gives students experiences they just can’t get as a tourist.

Cultural Immersion

Shortly after the students arrive in La Fortuna, they get a taste of the local culture during a presentation at a local school. There the teens are immersed in local music and games to get a feel of what it’s like to live in the community.

Food You’ll Want to Try

Rice and beans are staples in the Costa Rican diet, so that’s something to expect. However, students with a bit of a sweet tooth will want to try arroz con leche or rice pudding. Aside from the expected ingredients or rice, milk and sugar, it also usually has some cinnamon and citrus zest to add more flavor. It’s definitely a treat for travelers. If you want to try it at home, here’s a recipe.

Important Thing to Pack

Students should remember to pack clothes they don’t mind getting dirty. They may be mixing cement or painting to help a local school or just relaxing in nature. Therefore, pack some clothes that are comfortable and that can get a little bit messy.

Copyright: © 2015 Rustic Pathways

Animals You May See

You have to look carefully to see some animals in Costa Rica, but rest assured there are many adorable and picturesque creatures hiding in the rainforest in the Arenal Volcano area. Among them are sloths, toucans, and red-eyed tree frogs. There are also plenty of howler monkeys that students may hear more than they see.

Why the Trip is Special

In case some assurance is needed, thousands of students have completed the Pura Vida Service program over the years, giving it rave reviews. Here are just a few alumni thoughts about this program:

“This trip truly was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had the chance to be a part of, and I couldn’t have asked for a better nine days in Costa Rica. I was immersed in the amazing culture, ate a lot of delicious food, met some of the best people… and felt the major reward of giving back to the community.” – Kanika Patel, Pura Vida Service 2021

white water rafting in Costa Rica

Photo: Kanika Patel

“Local kids were running around while their parents and family were working with us and I could tell they wanted to meet us. So I went over and introduced myself. Soon afterwards, I wheeled them around in the wheelbarrow and played tag with them. I also showed them filters on my phone. The joy they displayed was something I will always take with me in life.”

Christian Robert, Pura Vida Service 2021

Photo: Christian Robert

“This trip taught me to be grateful… for being able to go to Costa Rica and meet amazing friends and group leaders, see some pretty cool and intriguing things, experience local stores, meet locals, and eat foods that are a big part of Costa Rica.”

Zoe Ogden, Pura Vida Service 2021

Photo: Zoe Ogden

To read more about the Pura Vida Service program as you prepare for summer, you can view these articles and view the video below:

Why Costa Rica is the Perfect Place for Student Travel This Year

2022 Service Projects for Surf & Pura Vida Programs in Costa Rica

Costa Rica Prep: Sneak Peek at What’s in Store for Students

The Return to Travel: Best 2021 Photos – Part 3

Show Me the Money: Using Local Currency in the Americas

Rustic Adventures: Crazy, Fun Facts about Wildlife in the Rainforest

If you have any questions about upcoming travel, please feel free to contact one of our global travel advisors. We look forward to seeing you soon!

About the Author

Mary Rogelstad

Lead Editor

Mary is the Lead Editor at Rustic Pathways. She has been a writer and editor for nearly 20 years. Prior to covering student travel, Mary created content for the music education company J.W. Pepper & Son. She also was a writer and producer at CNN International and a communications director for a social service agency and a K-12 private school.