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Join us on a week of pure adventure on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica! Start off with a mountain biking tour in the Turrialba Valley before beginning a two-day whitewater rafting trip down the Pacuare River. The adventure doesn’t stop as you hike to waterfalls, go zip lining, and kayaking in the rainforest of Turrialba. Then, head out to the coast where you will have plenty of beach time and surfing lessons. Settle into the laid-back Caribbean lifestyle influenced by both Afro-indigenous and traditional tico culture.

Dates listed reflect travel time departing from and returning to the USA. International clients click here.

With our No-Stress Travel Policy, you cancel for any reason up until the day of travel, and escrow 100% of the program fees for up to two years from the cancellation date.

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Program Profile

Costa Rica
Community Service Component
Get to Know
The Sights, Adventure
Travel Component
On the Go!
Relax at Hotels, Settle in at the Base

  • Day 1

    Depart the U.S. en route to San José, Costa Rica. Upon your arrival, Rustic Pathways Staff will greet you at the airport.

    Enjoy your first glimpses of this spectacular country. From its rainforests to its volcanic peaks to its two coasts, Costa Rica is one of the most beautiful nations in Central America. Home to some of the most biodiverse swaths of land and sea on the planet, Costa Rica is famed for its natural environment – and it’s commitment to that environment! Costa Ricans – or Ticos, as they’re called here – are intensely proud and protective of their lands, and have put their country on the map as the world leader in eco-tourism and environmental protection.

    In addition to its stunning flora and fauna, Costa Rica is also world-renowned for its adventure activities, many of which you’ll be sampling in the days to come!

    Head to your lodgings for the first night, and spend this evening meeting new friends and mingling about with students preparing for our many enriching programs. Good luck and enjoy your stay in beautiful Costa Rica!

  • Day 2

    Depart to Turrialba for the first adventure, mountain biking and a soccer game. The Rustic Pathways base here will be your home for the next several days. Enjoy a tico dinner and get to know your adventure team.

  • Day 3

    Head out for an exhilarating canyoning and rappelling tour. Prepare to get wet and have a blast! After lunch, embark on a waterfall hike and enjoy natural water slides as your reward for a successful hike. Head home for dinner and relax at the pool.

  • Day 4

    Today it’s time to make the acquaintance of the famous and breathtaking Pejibaye River for an exciting morning of class II and III whitewater duckies (kayaking). Bobbing down the river in your ducky will be a truly unique experience and an adventure you will be talking about for a long time to come.

  • Day 5 - 6

    Today you’ll get your introduction to Turrialba’s other famous river, the Pacuare, and to start your two-day rafting expedition. Enjoy the class III and IV rapids on the most famous rafting river in the country. Eat meals on the side of the river and spend the night in a jungle lodge. After your rafting trip, you will  head off to the beautiful Caribbean beaches of Cahuita and Puerto Viejo.

  • Day 7

    After breakfast, hit the beach for a surf lesson and ride the blue waves of the Caribbean. The afternoon is a perfect time to enjoy the sun and explore Manzanillo beach. In the evening, watch the sunset and relax with your new friends.

  • Day 8

    After breakfast and a final dip in the warm Caribbean waters, participate on a sand castle contest and travel back to San José for a final dinner with the group and your last night in beautiful Costa Rica!

  • Day 9

    Depart for home or connect to one the other amazing Rustic Pathways programs!

An Important Note About Schedule Changes

Rustic Pathways reserves the right to change, alter, or amend the daily itinerary for this trip at any time. Changes can be made for various reasons including changes in flight or program schedules, changes in the schedules of various external tours incorporated in our trips, the addition of new activities into a trip, or the substitution of an old activity for a new activity.

The itinerary shown here provides a good outline of the anticipated daily schedule for this program. As with any travel program, some changes may occur.

“Optional Activities” are fully included in the cost of your program, but you can choose to not do these activities.

“Add-On Activities” are not included in the cost of your program and must be paid for separately. Add-on activities are rare, but include things like skydiving, bungee jumping, or weekend side-trips. Not every program has add-on activities.

For more information, email costarica@rusticpathways.com

Program-Specific FAQs

  • On Tuesday afternoon students will arrive and stay that night in Alajuela in a base hotel. Wednesday morning students will meet with their new group and guides at the same hotel where they stayed and go off on their new program.

  • Students from the United States and Canada will be automatically issued a 90 day tourist visa upon entry into Costa Rica.

    For students traveling on Passports issued in countries other than the United States and Canada, we recommend you contact the Costa Rican embassy in your home country for additional visa details.

  • Yes. All flights between Costa Rica and the USA will have a flight leader starting in both Newark and Houston. Return flights to the USA will also have a flight leader as far as Newark and Houston. Flights between Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, and the Dominican Republic are NOT escorted by a Rustic Pathways staff member.

  • Direct flight from Newark to San Jose takes approximately 5.5 hours.
    Direct flight from Houston to San Jose takes approximately 3.5 to 4 hours.

  • It does include international travel time. Fortunately, Costa Rica is located very close to United States so students will arrive the same day they depart the US.

  • During the Caribbean Adrenaline Program, students will pass through several of Costa Rica’s provinces including San Jose, Heredia, Alajuela, Cartago and Limon

  • Each program will have leaders who are certified in First Aid and CPR. Some of our program leaders are also 
certified as Wilderness First Responders, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), Wilderness EMTs, or Life Guards.


  • Rustic Pathways maintains a minimum of 1 Program Leader for every 7 students. Additionally, each program maintains at least 2 primary program leaders, one male and one female.

  • Rustic Pathways uses sterilization techniques to ensure that all drinking water for students is potable and safe to drink. We ask students to bring reusable water bottles in order to reduce plastic usage.

  • Students are allowed to bring phones on their Rustic Pathways program, but must abide by our cell phone policy. Students will not be allowed to use their phones during group activities, nor at any other time where it is disruptive to the group dynamic. If students are unable to abide by this policy, disciplinary action may be taken.

  • Outlets in Costa Rica are 110 V, with standard US two prong plugs (or three prong if grounded). Students from Europe will need an adapter. (Adapters are very difficult to find in Costa Rica. Don’t forget yours at home!)

  • Students will visit a variety of different locations but most of the time, students should be prepared for hot, humid weather in the 80’s and 90’s during the day with a daily afternoon rain shower.

  • Students will spend several nights in a base house in the town of Turrialba. When at the beach, students will stay in a comfortable hotel with air conditioning. During the two-day rafting trip students will sleep in a rustic jungle lodge on the Pacuare River.

  • Students will be eating at local restaurants as they travel throughout Costa Rica. The food will vary between traditional Costa Rican food and occasional American and international selections.

  • All the places where we stay have bathroom facilities with running water, American style toilets and showers.

  • Students will have limited access to internet during their program when they visit towns with internet cafes. They will be able to purchase international phone cards in Costa Rica from the guides or at local convenience stores which can be used to call home from the public phones.It is important to note that they will also be spending time in some more remote areas, where there will not be public phone or internet access. All of our guides have cell phones for emergency purposes.

  • Students should pack reasonably for this program. Laundry may be available once a week and the cost is $10-$15 depending on the amount of clothes.

  • There are typically more girls than boys however the exact numbers vary from week to week.

  • You can not flush the toilet paper.

  • Students will be traveling through a variety of different locations. Bus rides will vary between a one hour drive to a 3 hour drive.

  • Rustic Pathways hires private buses/vans/4×4 SUV to transport our students to different program locations.

  • We are going to have access to healthcare 30 minutes away in most of the places, the only time that is going to be farther is when we are doing rafting in the Pacuare River that it would take us 3 hours approximately but we would have helicopter support in case of an emergency. We are not in an area where the malaria is present. We do a lot of adventure activities but we frequently check our vendors to make sure that they follow our safety protocols

  • Please consult with a travel doctor or your family physician for immunization and other medical recommendations, based on the area(s) where you will be traveling and on your own medical history. In addition to consulting with a medical professional, please visit the International SOS and Centers for Disease Control websites for country specific information around immunizations and traveler’s health. Please let us know if you have specific questions.

  • International SOS is one of the world’s leading providers of medical evacuation and travel services. All participants traveling with Rustic Pathways will have access to International SOS benefits through Rustic Pathways’ membership.

    As a member you will have access to International SOS extensive travel information database to help you make informed decisions prior to travel. Additionally, all travelers who travel outside their country of residence will have access to medical evacuation support during their program. For more information please visit our International SOS webpage.

  • There is going to be a clinic 30 minutes away from most of the places that we visit, the only time that is going to be farther is when we are doing Rafting in the Pacuare River that it would take us 3 hours approximately, if it is an emergency we will have helicopter support.

  • Rustic Pathways can cater to most dietary needs on this program. There will be ample access to fruits, vegetables, rice, beans, and grains for those who are vegetarian. Vegan diets can be accommodated, but with a little more foresight and planning as this is not a diet commonly encountered in Costa Rica. Please know that while we are happy to accommodate alternative diets, many of the special diets common in the United States are not common in other parts of the world and travelers must be patient and understanding in having these needs be met. Please contact costarica@rusticpathways.com with any questions regarding special diets or allergies.

  • Personal gifts, internet, phone calls, and snacks are not included. All other costs (accommodation, meals, in-country transportation, and activities) are included in the program price.

Packing the right gear (and the right amounts) is the first step to an incredible travel experience. Follow these tips to pack like a pro:

Travel light. Pack only the essentials. You’ll need less than you think!
Bring the right clothes. Pack clothes that are culturally appropriate for your destination and acceptable for service projects. This means bringing long shorts (think Bermuda and basketball shorts), t-shirts with sleeves to cover shoulders, and appropriate footwear.
Leave your valuables behind. While traveling, it’s easier for things to get lost, stolen, or damaged. Keep any prized possessions safe at home.
Check with TSA. Make sure your luggage complies with TSA regulations, especially your carry-on. Useful tip: Pack an empty water bottle and fill it up after security.
Extra paperwork? If you need additional forms filled out to get credit for your service hours, no problem! Bring these forms with you so they can be completed in-country.

Rustic Gear. Want to get all your shopping done for your program in one place? We’ve got you covered. Check out Rustic Gear and get all the essentials sent right to your door.


A school backpack is ideal as it will be used for day trips.

  • Passport
  • Photocopy of passport
  • Wallet/money
  • Book and/or journal
  • Pen
  • Phone
  • Camera
  • Chargers
  • Ear buds
  • Change of clothes
  • Water bottle
  • Medication
  • Additional community service forms
  • Visa documentation (if applicable)
  • Consent to Travel form
  • Rustic Pathways emergency contacts

Checked Luggage

A 50-70 Liter duffel bag or backpack is ideal.


  • Socks (8)
  • Underwear (8)
  • Jeans (1)
  • Long Shorts* (2-3)
  • T-shirt (6)
  • Tank tops (4)
  • Long sleeve shirt (1)
  • Pajamas
  • Swimsuit
  • Rain jacket
  • Fleece/hoodie
  • Strappy sandals (like Tevas or Chacos)
  • Sneakers
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Work gloves
  • Quick dry towel
  • Beach towel/sarong
  • Headlamp/flashlight


(travel sized in ziplock bags)

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Body wash
  • Face wash
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Contacts
  • Contact solution
  • Foam earplugs
  • Personal med kit
  • Deodorant
  • Wet Wipes
  • Razor/shaving cream

Important Reminders

  • *Community Service Appropriate Attire includes T-shirts and tank tops with no visible undergarments and shorts with a 3” or more inseam.
  • Don’t forget the Big Five: Water Bottle, Sunscreen, Bug spray, Rain jacket, Closed-toe shoes.
  1. a
    San Jose

    Welcome to Costa Rica! You will meet your group and program leaders in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica.

  2. b

    Visit the town of the Turrialba volcano, be ready for the canopy and tubbing tours.

  3. c

    Enjoy one of the top 5 rivers in the world for rafting, stay a night in the lodge next to this wonderful river.

  4. d

    After an amazing whitewater rafting in the Pacuare river, be ready for your first immersion in the caribbean side of the country, stay in a hotel beachfront and relax.

  5. e
    Puerto Viejo

    Relax at the Puerto Viejo town, be ready for surf the caribbean waves and try an excellent cuisine from the locals.