Location
Multiple Locations +3
  • Mexico
    • Cancun
    • Tulum
  • Costa Rica
    • Monteverde
    • Uvita
  • Guatemala
    • Antigua
    • Guatemala City
Length
4 - 12 weeks
General grants/scholarships, Payment plans, 529 Plan eligibility
Health & Safety

Program Details

Activities
Animal Viewing Backpacking Camping City Exploring Dancing Hiking Kayaking Remote Exploring Scuba Diving Snorkeling Surfing Trekking Yoga Ziplining
Timeframe
Fall Spring Summer Year Round
Housing
Cabin Guesthouse Host Family Hostel Hotel Lodge
Primary Language
English
Age Min.
17
Age Max
22

Pricing

Starting Price
15500
Price Details
Visas for all countries; All in-country land transport and travel (not flights); All accommodation; All 3 meals a day (excluding snacks); All Spanish language classes, activities, excursions, entry fees and adventure travel as described in the itinerary; Service learning projects in conservation and community development; Informal lectures from resident experts on history, culture, development issues; Experienced Pacific Discovery Program Instructors and local guides; Online image library for your program.
What's Included
Accommodation Activities Airport Transfers Equipment Meals Park Fees Tour Guide Transportation
What's Not Included
Airfare Travel Insurance
May 15, 2024
Nov 16, 2021
25 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

Journey through the cultural and environmental diversity, ancient Mayan ruins, and seascapes of Mexico, Guatemala and Costa Rica!

Join us on this journey, witnessing the cenotes and Mayan ruins of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, down to the black sand beaches and exotic animals of Costa Rica and through the rich highlands of volcanic Guatemala. You will absorb, explore, interact with, and understand the beautiful diversity of these locations. Your days will be as varied as the countries you visit, with a fusion of hands-on volunteer work, connecting with locals, learning the Spanish language, camping under the stars, and a serious dose of adventure. Think scuba diving in Mexico, rafting and surfing in Costa Rica, volcano treks in Guatemala, and standup paddle boarding on Lake Atitlan to name a few!

Video and Photos

Diversity & Inclusion

BIPOC Support

We understand that we have a long way to go in achieving the diversity we strive for among our students, staff, and partners. We are committed to fostering a more diverse and inclusive organization, and we recognize that this requires time, effort, and resources. At Pacific Discovery, we deeply value diversity, equity, and social justice, and we are dedicated to creating educational experiences that reflect and promote these values. Our program curriculum incorporates social justice education and encourages students to explore their own identities. To further support these efforts, we offer a 'Diverse Voices' Scholarship.

LGBTQIA+ Support

All of our Pacific Discovery programs are LGBTQIA+ friendly, and our operations team have attended CIS Abroad's LGBTQ+ Allyship Training, to ensure we’re doing what we can to support this community. We provide an open and non judgemental space for students to explore who they are at this pivotal time of their life, and in our admissions process we seek information not only on a student's gender, but their pronouns and gender identity. We’re aware of the differing cultural perspectives of LQBTQIA in the countries that we visit, and can direct students to a semester location where they’ll feel the most comfortable. Operationally we ensure that our instructors use inclusive language and can facilitate conversations with students around their identity, and discuss the rooming situations with LGBTQIA+ students.

Neurodivergent Support

Our programs are designed to support students with a wide range of neurodiverse conditions while following our essential eligibility criteria. For students needing extra help, we provide personalized wellness plans . These plans include coping strategies, care protocols, and specific requirements to help them engage effectively in the program. Our instructors have access to mental health first aid resources and are well-prepared to offer strong support to students with these needs.

Accessibility Support

Our programs offer a variety of physical activities, including hiking, surfing, rafting, and mountain biking. We make sure to accommodate students with diverse needs such as asthma, diabetes, and chronic medical conditions, while working within the infrastructure of the host country and our program schedules. We're mindful of the varying levels of accessibility in the countries we visit and can help students choose a semester location where they feel most at ease.

Impact

Sustainability

Sustainability is one of the 6 core components of each Pacific Discovery program, where we educate students about the local and global environmental issues, how to travel sustainably, and have them think deeply about their impact and what they can do in their daily lives to affect change.

We recently embarked on a Net Positive Benefit project where we are qualifying what impacts our groups have on the local communities, taking into consideration carbon emissions +/- social impacts +/- conservation impacts +/- community impacts. On our programs, students engage with non-profit organisations such as Litter Intelligence, Scholars of Sustenance, Ulu Mau puanui, Llama Pack project where they directly work for a better future - planting trees, eradicating invasive weed species, helping local communities and food banks.

Ethical Impact

We make a conscious decision to partner with host communities and suppliers who are passionate about our students' participation and involvement with them being of a positive benefit to the community. We want our presence to enable positive sustainable growth for our partners and this mantra is ingrained in the fabric of our programs.

Program Highlights

  • Practice and grow your Spanish language skills through immersion
  • Care for sloths and monkeys at an animal rescue center
  • Learn to scuba dive and explore the underwater world in Cozumel
  • Witness volcanoes glowing in the dark from your tent on overnight hikes
  • Experience homestays with Guatemalan families and live like a local for a week

Program Reviews

4.50 Rating
based on 8 reviews
  • 5 rating 50%
  • 4 rating 50%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Housing 3.5
  • Support 4.25
  • Fun 4.75
  • Value 4.15
  • Safety 4.9
Showing 1 - 8 of 8 reviews
Default avatar
Avery
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Central America

this was an amazing experience with the most incredible people! it was absolutely life changing, & i absolutely loved getting to immerse myself into different central american cultures over the span of three months. we got to see incredible sites while eating authentic cuisine as well. it was easily the most fun & adventurous three months of my entire life. it further strengthened my love for traveling & i plan to continue to do so in the future. i loved every activity we did & im so glad i got to make thirteen new best friends along the way.

50 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Emily
4/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Good times, good people

Overall this was a fantastic experience- I loved all of my group mates and instructors to the bottom of my heart. The activities we did were amazing and always left me wanting more, and I’m leaving feeling very confident in my ability to travel on my own in the future. I did get what I wanted- I challenged myself, learned a bunch of new skills, and met super cool people along the way.

Sometimes, we did struggle with budgeting for food- it was confusing where the money was for the 3 meals a day and a lot of us ended up supplementing with our own money out of pocket. Also the itinerary wasn’t exactly what it was advertised to be- could be due to COVID alterations, but we definitely missed out on some things and had a lot of free time.

I like how much the instructors trust you, the independence you are given, and the confidence this gave me to travel in the future.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Expect to spend more out of pocket money than they say you will- also the packing list isn’t great, try to find one online that’s better
70 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Olivia
4/5
Yes, I recommend this program

PD central america

this has been an amazing experience for the most part. the people in my group have become family and i love my instructors. most of the activities have been interesting and fun. overall i am very happy i joined this program. there are a few things however that could have been done differently or explained more thoroughly. the budget for this trip has not been up to par. quite a few of the places we have been are very americanized and a 5-7 $ budget for dinners is not easily attainable. we are all growing young adults, and this trip is very active. in short, we eat a lot. this can be worked on for future programs.
the next things is the itinerary. i understand that we are now living in a world that has been complicated by the pandemic. however we were given an updated itinerary for this purpose. there have been many occasions that what we are actually doing on the program does not match up to what i initially signed up for. that unfortunately has been disappointing. if the itinerary says that we are surfing or diving for a week, i would assume that would be at a least 5 days of those activities, not 3. i did not enjoy have an entire week at a permaculture farm and only 3 days surfing. we were also disappointed that our marine conservation week is not going to be what was advertised.
the next thing is that i would expect our entire trip to be planned out, per the itinerary. however there are days, meals and accommodations that we can all see have been thrown together in a hurry. that is not what i payed for. this was an expensive trip, i would hope these things would be figured out before we arrive.

What was your funniest moment?
the group i am traveling with as a whole is hysterical. i am very fortunate that i got to travel with them.
61 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Isabella
4/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Central America

We started our trip in Mexico. In Mexico I was happy to have time to get to know the group but I was also extremely bored with the lack of activities. Once in Tulum we had a blast with the students and exploring. However in Mexico we were asked to spend a lot of extra money on food and activities that PD hadn’t budgeted for. The hostel we stayed at in Tulum was absolutely disgusting to the point that I got a bacterial infection in my throat. Guatemala was definitely a highlight of the trip as we were busy outdoors nearly everyday. These activities were physically challenging but definitely worth it. Once in Costa Rica the service work began which was interesting but definitely slow paced and not as fun as Guatemala. It was frustrating to have to deal with expensive meals that pacific discovery gave not even half of restaurant costs, my own medical issues with little support, and very little information or activities planned for many days at a time. I loved my group and the instructors and if I hadn’t made such incredible trips I would have gone home in Mexico. I recommend the experience to anyone looking to travel however the cost was extremely high and definitely not what I had hoped for

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
I would advise future travelers to pack light, sleep as much as possible, remember to be kind, take lots of pictures, journal.
66 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Sanne
4/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Pacific Discovery

This spring I went on a gap year programm with pacific discovery. I joined the programm, together with a friend, 2 weeks before it started so I didn’t have a lot of expectations.
Before comming here we got a packinglist with all the things we need. It said we needed a wetsuit, a divingwatch, a lot of conservative clothes, etc. The first two we didn’t need at all and we didn’t need as much conservative clothes as they told us we needed. I did need more normal clothes, summerdresses, shorts, t-shirts, etc. The next thing is that they told us that we would spend 5 tot 10 dollars a day, which is definitely not what I spent and I didn’t go crazy on the spending so I would
Recommend saying that you need more money. The accommodations where fine most of the time, except for the fact that in a lot of Them you didn’t have any personal space which can be hard. Besides this I love the activities (the hiking, surfing, diving and way more), I love meeting new people and making new friends. It was an experience which wasn’t always easy but definitely worth it!! Overall I love it!

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
Walking to the top of a volcano in Guatemala without extra layers
66 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Katharine
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing 10 weeks in Central America!

I had a great time during my 10 week trip! Because of Covid, we only went to Mexico, Guatemala, and Costa Rica but I think that made it even better because we could really get to know the countries we visited. I liked being immersed in the different cultures and seeing how each country differs. There was a huge range of things we did throughout our time including scuba diving, surfing, challenging hikes, kayaking trips, and a yoga retreat + more. It was great to get so close with the group of students and the instructors and I learned a lot.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
We did three really big hiking trips which were incredible but definitely very challenging and a bit unfamiliar.
61 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
anna
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Great program

It was a great trip with fun activities, good people and a lot of lessons learned. We met a lot of new people who immersed in Latin American culture and taught us about their lifestyles. While having a great time with new people, I also learned a lot about myself and saw opprotunities for more in my life then I ever imagined. At times, it seemed a little disorganized, but everything always worked out. Another great thing was how much variety in the activities we did. It was really cool how much we could do in 70 days. Great experince!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
How I realized I can live off of one bag of clothes and make it work. Also how I accoustumed myself to constantly living with 14 people and learning how to work around those obstacles and how fun it can be
73 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Abby
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Spring 2021 Central America Program - An Amazing 70 Days

My trip to Central America with Pacific Discovery was the best seventy days I could've imagined. We traversed through Mexico, Guatemala, and Costa Rica.

Let me start by saying that I traveled with PD in the spring of 2021 during the Covid-19 pandemic. PD could've easily said that it was too difficult to travel internationally at the time, but with the right protocol, planning, and leadership, they pulled it off. I am so grateful for this opportunity to travel safely and get an amazing experience.

The program activities were something out of a dream; who wouldn't want to spend a semester scuba diving, surfing, hiking, sea kayaking, and immersing oneself in the incredible cultures of Central America? I pushed myself physically, mentally, and socially and got so much out of it. Although not every moment was perfect, the trip was the best thing I've ever done.

Jack and Amelia, my co-leaders, are two of the best people in the world. They modeled leadership, flexibility, and positivity. They encouraged us when we were struggling and would always be willing and available to talk to us.

I wish we'd had a slightly larger food budget when going out to eat, but I understand that Pacific Discovery has to pay its HQ team. I was able to mostly stick to my personal budget through careful planning.

I can't say enough nice things about Pacific Discovery. I have grown so much as a person and learned so much about myself. I feel so ready to travel independently. I will never forget my gap year. I only hope I can inspire others to also take gap years.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
Scuba diving has always been a big fear of mine and it was a huge mental challenge. I almost didn't go through with the PADI certification, but I am so glad that I pushed through it. With encouragement from the PD instructors and the scuba divemasters, I overcame my fears. Now I love scuba diving and I can't wait to dive again!
65 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers