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Learn to surf or take your skills to the next level during this one-week, spring break program. Live at our base house and soak in the laid-back culture of beach town life. When you’re not surfing, work directly with local families helping to improve their homes and standard of living. You’ll also have the chance to go whitewater rafting!

With our No Anxiety Escrow 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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2017 Departures

Starts Ends Availability
March 18 March 25 Very Limited
March 25 April 1 Limited

Program Profile

Costa Rica
Community Service Component
Community Service Focus
Infrastructure, Environment
Get to Know
Adventure, Nature, The People
Settle in at the Base
Travel Component
Stationary Program

  • 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 and fantastic surfing conditions, both of which you’ll be sampling in the days to come!

    Get started right away with a four-hour bus ride south to the Pacific beach town of Uvita. Get settled into the Uvita Surf and Service Base and take in the beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean.

  • Day 2

    Wake up early to start the day with service on a local community project helping out on construction projects to improve low-income family homes. In the afternoon, ride the waves during another surf lesson. Relax in the sun, explore the famous Whale’s Tail rock formation, or play a game of beach soccer with local children. In the evening, hang out with your friends at The Base.

  • Day 3

    Spend the morning surfing in one of the best places in Costa Rica. You will even have a chance to sample some fresh coconut water while hanging out on the beach. After lunch, you’ll head off to an afternoon of service in the local community.

  • Day 4

    After breakfast, go back to the community for service during the morning and get ready to catch more waves in the afternoon! In the evening, hang out with your friends at The Base. Relax with a game of pingpong or foosball, strum a guitar, or take a nap in a hammock.

  • Day 5

    This morning you’ll continue your service work on a local community project. In the afternoon, surf the Pacific waves. By now you’ll be a pro!

  • Day 6

    Enjoy a day-long whitewater rafting trip on the Savegre River, one of the most gorgeous rivers in Costa Rica. Spot wildlife as you glide down the flat water parts of the river and paddle hard through the rapids. Thrilling and exhilarating, rafting is sure to be a highlight of your trip!

  • Day 7

    After breakfast, take one last opportunity to surf before its time to say goodbye to your new friends from the community. After lunch, it’s time to head back to San José for your last night in Costa Rica. This night will be spent in a hostel near the airport.

  • Day 8

    Depart early to fly back home. We hope it’s been an amazing spring break experience. Pura vida!

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

  • There are direct flights to San Jose, Costa Rica from many major cities in the U.S. For example, a direct flight from Newark to San Jose takes approximately 5.5 hours and a direct flight from Houston to San Jose takes approximately 3.5 to 4 hours.

  • NO, you will have to make your own flight arrangements to arrive and depart San Jose, Costa Rica within a specific time frame.

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

  • During the Service and Surf Spring Break program, students will spend the majority of time in the Puntarenas province. They will spend the last night in country at a hotel located in Alajuela, close to the airport.

  • Rustic Pathways does not make recommendations regarding immunizations. We strongly suggest that you consult with a travel doctor or your family physician for medical recommendations based on the area where the student will be traveling (as listed above). You can also check the Center for Disease Control website at http://www.cdc.gov for more information. Yellow fever vaccinations may be required to enter Costa Rica if you have traveled to some international destinations including Peru prior to your trip to Costa Rica. Please check the Center for Disease control website for more information.

  • The bus ride from San Jose to Uvita is approximately 4 hours depending on road and weather conditions.

  • Students should be prepared for hot, humid weather in the 80’s and 90’s during the day with a daily afternoon rain shower.

  • While there is no formal language instruction on this program, students will be able to practice their Spanish while working with local communities on service projects.

  • Rustic Pathways works with local community leaders to identify and prioritize the needs of each community. In Uvita and other nearby villages, students will work on small scale construction projects that will help improve community and school infrastructure. Students will also facilitate educational and cultural projects with local children and youth, with a concentration on Teaching English. We also be working with the Marino Ballena National Park in projects like beach cleaning, making signs or helping to improve the rangers station.

  • Service and Surf Spring Break is appropriate for students of most physical activity levels, although students should be aware that it is a very active program. Students should be willing to work on some projects that require manual labor and should be ready to surf and spend time daily at the ocean.

  • The majority of costs associated with the program are included on this trip. Students should have extra allowance money ($200-250) if they wish to buy souvenirs or additional snacks or sodas from the local grocery stores.

  • All activities such as rappelling, white water rafting, and yoga are included in the program cost.

  • Students will be eating meals prepared by local community groups and at restaurants in the area. The food will vary between traditional Costa Rican food (rice, beans, meat dishes and salads) and occasional American and international selections.

  • Rustic Pathways can cater to most dietary needs on this program. Vegetarian diets can be accommodated. 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.

  • Costa Rica’s water is generally potable, so students should feel comfortable drinking tap water unless otherwise advised. They can also purchase bottles of water in the local grocery stores.

  • Students will be staying at a comfortable base near the town of Uvita. Girls and boys will be staying in separate rooms.

  • The base will have modern bathrooms for each cabin including running water, American style toilets and hot water showers.

  • We expect a mix between girls and boys however the exact numbers vary from week to week. The maximum capacity for the Service and Surf Spring Break program is 12 students.

  • Rustic Pathways generally strives to maintain a ratio of approximately 1 guide for every 7 students. Our guides go through a rigorous selection process including interviews with our program managers and a full background check.

  • Because safety is our number one priority, all of our programs have guides that are certified with First Aid and CPR training. Many of our guides are also qualified Wilderness First Responders, EMTs, Wilderness EMTs, or Life Guards.

  • Students should pack reasonably for this program, but should plan on packing enough clothes to last them the duration of the trip without doing laundry.

  • Students will have limited access to the internet during this program, mainly when they are in the town center of Uvita where they can go to 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.

  • Yes, surf boards will be provided. However advanced surfers may prefer to bring their own as Rustic does not have any shortboards to use.

  • Yes. Many of the students who attend this program have never surfed before. All students are welcome, from beginners to advanced, as long as they have a desire to learn to surf or improve their surfing skills.

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 or something similar is ideal.

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

Checked Luggage

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


  • Socks (3 – 5)
  • Underwear (5 – 7)
  • Shorts (2 – 3)
  • T-shirt (5 – 7)
  • Tank tops (2 – 3)
  • Pajamas (2 – 3)
  • Swimsuit (2 – 3)
  • Quick dry towel
  • Rain jacket
  • Strappy sandals (like Tevas or Chacos)
  • Sneakers
  • Sun glasses
  • Hat
  • Beach towel/sarong
  • Rash guard
  • Headlamp/flashlight


(travel sized bottles in Ziploc bags)

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Body wash
  • Face wash
  • Toothbrush
  • Tooth paste
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Contacts
  • Contacts solution
  • Foam ear plugs
  • Personal med kit
  • Deodorant
  • Wet Wipes
  • Razor/shaving cream
  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

    This pristine place will be your house for the week. Be ready for surfing and working!

  3. c
    San Salvador

    Enjoy the Nauyaca waterfall in an awesome rappel.

  4. d

    Raft the cleanest river in Central America.