Pura Vida Service

Pura Vida Service

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2024 Departure Dates

June 11 – June 18, 2024 Limited Enroll Now
June 18 – June 25, 2024 Limited Enroll Now
June 25 – July 2, 2024 Limited Enroll Now
July 2 – July 9, 2024 Very Limited Enroll Now
July 9 – July 16, 2024 Limited Enroll Now
July 16 – July 23, 2024 Available Enroll Now
July 30 – Aug. 6, 2024 Very Limited Enroll Now
Aug. 6 – Aug. 13, 2024 Available Enroll Now

Spend a week at Rustic’s Volcano and Rainforest Service Base working on a combination of service projects and enjoying Costa Rican adventure. You’ll contribute to the community, practice your Spanish, and make new Tico friends while working on service projects including reforestation of an important sloth conservation area or improving and beautifying local schools. After service, experience some of Costa Rica’s best adventure activities like zip lining and whitewater rafting. Visit hot springs and a traditional Costa Rican farm to learn about the local culture. After action-packed days, take a dip in the freshwater pool or relax at the base house. This program is great for first-time travelers and students interested in making new friends from across the globe.

Service projects support UN Sustainable Development Goals: Good health and well-being (SDG 3), Quality education (SDG 4), Clean water and sanitation (SDG 6), Industry innovation and infrastructure (SDG 9), Sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11) and Life on land (SDG 15)

Students love the zip lining, rafting and the impact they create with the community service!

Program Featured In
Program Profile
Program Profile
Program Featured In

Service Projects at the Volcano Base

Students staying at our Volcano & Rainforest Base will have the opportunity to participate in a range of community initiatives that we support in the local area. These projects are designed in close collaboration with our local partners to support community goals. Students are assigned to project teams and will rotate through the initiatives outlined based on the needs of each project during their program.

Environment and Biodiversity Protection

Costa Rica is world-renowned for its dedication to environmental protection. We partner with a reforestation project in an area that is home to two species of sloths. The 3 toed sloth and the 2 toed sloth.
Part of the reforestation project includes a Sloth Observation Tour in their natural habitat, but also plenty other fascinating fauna and flora.

School Improvement Project

We partner with schools in two nearby districts to support infrastructure improvements that create brighter learning environments for students. Schools receive limited funding from the government and communities work hard to provide additional support to boost their children’s educations. This summer we will work on maintenance projects such as the construction of a game field and painting.
We will also organize a cultural exchange activity at the schools. The purpose of these activities is to overcome the language barrier and create a fun space where locals and visitors learn from each other.

Community Infrastructure Project

Residents in communities outside of the tourist destination towns rely heavily on agriculture as a source of income and have limited resources to support their priorities for community development. We have partnered with several rural communities to support these goals and you will work alongside community leaders to undertake building projects. In the past these have included initiatives such as construction of a tilapia fish farm, a kitchen for a community center, and a communal garden project.

Location Highlights

San Jose

San Jose is the capital of Costa Rica and its largest city by far. It’s located in the center of the country. This programs begins and ends in San Jose, but the program adventures take place in much-less densely populated parts of the country.

La Fortuna

Stay in the town of La Fortuna near Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal. This area has beautiful mountain views and rainforests teeming with wildlife, including sloths, coati and howler monkeys. The town is relatively small but has restaurants called sodas, along with stores for souvenir shopping. Many local residents speak English here.

Base House
Service Work

About the program

Live surrounded by lush rainforest in our comfortable base beneath Arenal Volcano. Play with school children as you enhance their day with much-needed English language enrichment. Savor the tastes of tropical fruits while sipping smoothies and relaxing in natural hot springs during your breaks from service. Participate in a variety of adventure activities like zip lining over the jungle canopy and whitewater rafting the class III and IV rapids of the Sarapiquí River. Work on a combination of service projects throughout your week at Rustic’s Volcano and Rainforest Service Base in La Fortuna. Whether helping out with service initiatives or participating in cross-cultural experiences, you’ll contribute positively to the community, practice your Spanish, and make new Tico friends. You’ll work hard and still have the opportunity to enjoy Costa Rica’s many adventure activities. Take a trip to secluded hot springs or hike through the rainforest. After action-packed days, relax in a hammock or take a dip in the freshwater pool. This program is great for first-time travelers and students interested in making new friends from across the globe.

Questions about Traveling to Costa Rica:

Do minors need a passport for Costa Rica?

Yes, minors do need a passport for travel to Costa Rica.

Are Costa Rica tours safe right now?

Generally, it is safe to travel to Costa Rica.

What can you not bring into Costa Rica?

You cannot bring certain items into Costa Rica, such as firearms, illegal drugs, or fresh fruits and vegetables.

Is Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast or Atlantic Coast better for teen travel?

Both sides of Costa Rica offer attractions suitable for teens. Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast tends to be more popular for family vacations due to its calmer waters and kid-friendly activities. The Pacific Ocean is a wonderful backdrop to the exotic fauna and natural beauty.

Questions about “Pura Vida” in Costa Rica:

What does the phrase Pura Vida mean in Costa Rica?

The phrase means “pure life” in English. You’ll hear it over and over again on your entire tour. Costa Ricans are friendly and you’ll feel like you’re at home.

Why do they say Pura Vida in Costa Rica?

The phrase is said in Costa Rica to express a positive attitude towards life, emphasizing simplicity, gratitude, and happiness.

Where is it said?

It is commonly said throughout Costa Rica in everyday conversation.

Travel Planning Questions about Costa Rica:

How many days in Costa Rica is enough?

The ideal number of days to spend in Costa Rica depends on your interests and itinerary, but a week to 10 days is often recommended to explore the country’s diverse attractions.

What is the best time to visit Costa Rica?

The best time to visit Costa Rica is during the dry season, from December to April, when the weather is generally sunny and dry across the country.

What is the average cost of a trip to Costa Rica?

The average cost of a trip to Costa Rica varies depending on factors such as accommodation, activities, and duration, but budgeting around $100-$200 per day per person is a common estimate.

What is the best way to travel to Costa Rica as a teen?

The best way to see Costa Rica is with Rustic Pathways. We will explore the natural wonders, including its national parks, rainforests, beaches, and wildlife reserves. Costa Rica tours are a great way to see the country, enjoy Costa Rican cuisine, and enjoy Costa Rica’s climate. We will ensure you have a wonderful trip and and amazing tour of Costa Rica. Our team is extremely knowledgeable.

Read more:

Why Costa Rica Is the Perfect Place for Student Travel

Countdown to Summer Travel: Pura Vida Service in Costa Rica

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!
Consider no checked bag. We strongly recommend that you consider packing only a carry-on size bag. This prevents your luggage getting lost or separated from you, keeps your bag manageable, and helps you be more mobile on your travel day.
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.


A school backpack is ideal as it will be used for daily activities and outings.

  • Passport
  • Photocopy of passport
  • Photocopy of flight information
  • Wallet/money
  • Journal and pens
  • Book
  • Phone
  • Camera
  • Chargers
  • Change of clothes
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Ear buds
  • Medication
  • Additional community service forms
  • Visa documentation (if applicable)
  • Consent to Travel Letter (for students under 19, recommended by the US State Dept but not required)
  • Rustic Pathways emergency contacts
Main luggage

A 40-50 liter duffel bag or backpack is ideal


  • Socks (4-5) Some should be long socks for boots
  • Underwear (6-8)
  • Pants/capris (2)
  • Long, loose-fitting shorts for service project work. Something that provides coverage and protection while keeping you cool. (5-6)
  • Tank Tops (3-4)
  • T-shirts (6-8)
  • Long sleeved shirt (1)
  • Rash guard (Suggested for rafting)
  • Pajamas
  • Swimsuit
  • Towel
  • Bathing suit cover-up/sarong
  • Rain jacket
  • Sandals for water (like Tevas or Chacos or water shoes for rafting)
  • Sneakers (Closed-toed comfortable shoes)
  • Sun glasses
  • Hat (for sun)
  • Rubber boots (Suggested for service. Try to bring with you as these can be purchased more easily in the US than locally) or extra pair of service sneakers
  • Long socks to wear with rubber boots


(Travel size bottles in Ziploc bags)

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Body wash
  • Face wash
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Oxybenzone-free sunscreen (reef-safe)
  • Biodegradable/natural bug spray
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Contacts
  • Contact solution
  • Foam ear plugs
  • Personal med kit
  • Deodorant
  • Wet Wipes
  • Razor/shaving cream


Portable games–Bananagrams, playing cards, Frisbee
Flash Light or headlamp (suggested)

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

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