Multiple Locations +3
  • Panama
  • Costa Rica
  • Belize
4 - 26 weeks

Program Details

Rafting Scuba Diving Surfing
Guesthouse Host Family Hostel Hotel Tent
Primary Language
Age Min.
Age Max


Starting Price
Price Details
Tuition includes all lodging, meals and in-country transportation. International airfare is additional.
What's Included
Accommodation Activities Travel Insurance
What's Not Included
Airfare Visa
Dec 06, 2021
May 05, 2022
20 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

ARCC’s Centro-Caribbean Gap Program explores some of the most intriguing and majestic regions of both Central America and the Caribbean. Taking advantage of our deep partnerships, we dive into numerous conservation efforts that include protecting nesting Olive Ridley sea turtles, repairing wildlife habitats for rescued mammals and reptiles, and conducting marine research of the invasive lionfish on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. Shadowing doctors in the Bocas del Toro islands off the coast of Panama, we understand the barriers to medical access for remote indigenous communities. Flying through the forest canopy on ziplines, the vibrancy of life in the jungle beckons us in the calls of toucans and howler monkeys. Exploring the underwater life of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, we gain insights into a world rarely witnessed. After experiencing three of the world’s most fascinating, and beautiful nations, we return to the U.S. with broader perspectives and a newfound passion to learn.

Video and Photos

Program Highlights

  • Partner with a Non-Profit Bringing Healthcare to the Indigenous People of the Remote Bocas del Toro Islands
  • Build and Repair Habitats for Rescued Wildlife at an Animal Sanctuary in Costa Rica
  • Delve into Latin American Culture and Language During a Homestay in the Panamanian Jungle
  • Help Protect Nesting Olive Ridley Sea Turtles Coming Ashore to Lay their Eggs
  • Get SCUBA Certified and Conduct Marine Research in the Belize Cayes

Program Reviews

4.91 Rating
based on 11 reviews
  • 5 rating 90.91%
  • 4 rating 9.09%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Housing 4.75
  • Support 4.75
  • Fun 5
  • Value 4.9
  • Safety 4.75
Showing 1 - 8 of 11 reviews
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Yes, I recommend this program

Center-Caribbean gap semester

This was an amazing experience! The places we visited were beautiful, the people we met were inspiring, and our experiences were unforgettable. Our instructors, Jess and Eli, are amazing at their jobs and made a tremendously positive impact on my experience as a whole. One of my favorite elements about the trip was the ability to try new things and push my boundaries every day. The opportunities I had on this trip were once in a lifetime and I would 100% recommend anyone to take this gap semester!

16 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

ARCC Centro-Carribbean

This trip was great! Jess and Eli were awesome. I’m not sure what to write for 400 more characters. It was a really cool trip. All the activities were a good blend of fun and educational. I never had any complaints about the housing, food, or anything of that nature. One of my favorite parts of the trip was receiving my SCUBA certification on a private island in Belize. It really cannot be beat. Panama and Costa Rica were also really cool. We spent some time living in the jungle, which was sweet.

20 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program


I definitely recommend this trip!! I learned how to scuba dive, I got better at snorkeling, we explored so much, I learned about so many different communities, and all around had a lovely time. Eli and Jess (the instructors) were like siblings and mentors and friends and I’m so glad we had them on the trip. :-) I really enjoyed our slower moments throughout the trips— ones I spent meditating, stargazing with the group, watching the sunrise, or journaling. It was a fast paced program, so it was really nice to slow down.

  • Many new friends
  • Conversational Spanish skills
  • Traveling skills
  • Pretty long trip
  • Sometimes not great living conditions
  • Pretty small group
18 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Best decision of my life

I was very reluctant to go on this trip, and was so nervous about being far away from home, meeting new people, not speaking the native language, and having to deal with COVID. I told myself I needed to step out of my comfort zone - and I most DEFINITELY did. We went all over Costa Rica (spent the most time there), Panama, and Belize (we didnt go to Cuba because of COVID and bad politics at the time in the country) and moved around every 3-5 days by bus. There were definitely some loooong travel days (be prepared for 5-12 hr bus rides and complicated flights). But we were in the mountains, on the beach, and everything in between. One of my favorite things in Costa Rica was working with baby sea turtles. Then in Panama we went to a privet resort, were in Panama City and also provided basic health care to a rural community. In Belize we went scuba diving and got certified (one of my favorite parts - wish we spent more than 10 days there)! I spoke 0 (literally) Spanish but by the end of the program I had completed a 1 week homestay and language school with a local and could order my food in Spanish. I had awesome instructors (shoutout Laura and Carl) and a great group of people. The group was so so close only a week in and were basically siblings by the end. If you are reading this, this is your sign!

- bring extra money for snacks because the meals can get very redundant
- bring a sweatshirt because in the mountains it can get cold
- filter ALL your water (would not recommend a SteriPen)
- accommodations have a very wide range
- pack lightly (very hard but you have too) because your bag gets really heavy fast
- journal every day to remember all the cool stuff you do :)

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
When I got SCUBA certified in Belize on a privet island. I was so exited the whole trip to do it (because it was at the very end for my group). But when I started learning all the skills for the certification I started getting anxiety about being under water. But when I went on my first boat dive (where you go out in the middle of the ocean and actually go diving off a boat) I was soo nervous but as soon as I got down low and saw amazing coral and wild life, it was the most amazing this I have ever experienced. I felt like I was in a movie as I swam through a sea of moon jellyfish!
24 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

ARCC Gap Semester

I had an amazing time on this program. What I love about ARCC is that they create an environment in which learning is fun. To me, learning is more than just facts, it’s emerging yourself and engaging with different communities; it’s learning more about yourself as a person and how you interact with the people around you. It was difficult being away from home for so long, but it made me more confident in my independence and provided a great transition into my life as a young adult. I grew so much as a leader, and I couldn’t have done that as successfully without going on this trip.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
My advice is to be unapologetically yourself because if you’re not, you won’t be able to grow.
23 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program


I would recommend ARCC gap to any of my friends, family or strangers, not only is there a variety of choices of trips but also a variety of activities that ARCC has planned for your semester. In my opinion, ARCC had a perfect balance between educational activities such as the Monteverde Insitute, volunteering activities such as environmental rehabilitation programs and also activities such as surfing and scuba diving and free time to bond with your fellow gap year students. The amount of students and instructors were perfect and was very balanced the only thing I wish about the semester was that it went longer.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would do two things differently, firstly I would take more pictures of not only the people on the trip but also the places and things we visited and saw so in the future I could look back and remember all the good times and secondly I would hold onto every moment more and would have said yes to more things on the gap semester.
37 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

ARCC Centro-Caribbean

This experience was the best experience I could have had this year. I learned a lot about myself, others, the culture of these countries, and how to live sustainably. We saw the most incredible sights and things that I may never see again in my life. The life skills this program gave me will take me very far into the future. It was a great mix of service work, learning, and fun. We went to 10 different remote locations in Costa Rica, and then drove across the boarder and went to 3 incredible towns in Panama. I am now scuba certified, have friends all throughout the United States, hiked the highest Volcano in Panama, learned a good amount of Spanish, and helped local environmental programs in the most sustainable country in the world. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to travel with 13 other amazing people in Costa Rica and Panama.

What was your funniest moment?
Sitting at dinner in a small town in the middle of Costa Rica, a giant butterfly/bat looking bug flys down and attacks my friends sitting across from me, water came flying out of mouths, people went running, and the rest of us were crying laughing because it was just a locust.
37 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

ARCC around 2

During the Fall 2018 semester in Asia, I found out that ARCCwas opening a new program in the spring, in Patagonia and Cuba. My original plan had been to go back to China in the Spring, with a different organization. However, that other organization’s program mostly did things that I was already doing in Asia. Patagonia and Cuba – that would be new to me, but at the same time be with ARCC, which I had great confidence in, so I switched plans. I’m so glad that I did!

I came into Spring Patagonia/Cuba semester trying not to judge it against my last semester, because I think that every trip is unique and special. This semester was very different from my last semester in many ways. I set a goal for this semester to have in more confidence in myself. I experienced a lot of ups and downs this semester which in the end were all worth it to me because in life you are expected to have a lot of highs and lows. We started off in Santiago, Chile where we spent a couple of days exploring the city. I had an opportunity to take part in a week-long language school in Vina del Mar. The class was challenging because I had never taken Spanish, but it was helpful since were were going to be in Chile for 2 months. I also got the chance to learn how to surf while helping local kids how to surf.

In Patagonia, we took on several hikes with a range of difficulty; I enjoyed them because they challenged me physically and the views were magnificent. We also did a lot of camping and learning to set up tents. Even though we had some difficult moments, that didn’t stop me from continuing to have another great life experience! On an especially bright side, when I arrived in Cuba I experienced a cultural that was very interesting to me. Not a lot of people get the chance to go to Cuba, and I am beyond happy that I got that opportunity. I was able to have a salsa dancing class which was super fun - something I’d been wanted to learn ever since I took dance in high school. Some other highlights of my trip included working on a pineapple farm and snorkeling in the Bay of Pigs. There are a lot of misconceptions about Cuba from a USA point of view, but when I delivered food on horse and buggy to the people, I learned that the people in Cuba are really nice and welcoming. Although my gap year has come to an end, I will never forget all long-lasting relationships and memories I’ve made and I know it isn’t the end of traveling for me!

What would you improve about this program?
Partner with a different organization.
41 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers