Outward Bound Semester in Costa Rica

Video and Photos

In the wilderness, your best self becomes second nature.

Unlike survival, compassion isn’t always our first instinct. But what if it was? In the wilderness, and in life, compassion is the source of our resiliency. It reveals our best selves in the best and worst situations. Semester, Outdoor Educator or Pathfinder expeditions reveal who you are and who you want to be. Start your journey now.


Three months. Three countries. Opportunities to test leadership skills in five aquatic wilderness elements: sailing, rafting, surfing, scuba diving and sea kayaking. In this exciting semester course, students will explore the art of water-based wilderness expeditions, developing skills and leadership abilities along the way.

Month One: The course begins in the Florida Keys where students are immersed in the most traditional of marine skills: sailing and navigation. An intensive nine-day Wilderness First Responder certification course will teach students to the essentials of wilderness medicine, providing them with skills to be safe and self-reliant.

Month Two: Students fly to Costa Rica to paddle some of the most exciting whitewater on the planet while working towards becoming a certified lifeguard.

Month Three: Students arrive in Panama where they will earn certification in SCUBA diving and experience an unforgettable sea kayaking expedition up the Carribean coast.

Questions & Answers


based on 1 review
  • Housing 8
  • Support 7
  • Fun 9
  • Value 9
  • Safety 9
Showing 1 - 1 of 1

Outward Bound Keys to Costa Rica 2016

((Warning: first paragraph is mushy for the action/adventure stuff, see below))
I'm an alum of this program, the video above completely describes my OB experience, looking at a challenge and thinking "ha yea ok" and then looking back with an unbelievable feeling of triumph. The most prominent example I can think of is living on the pulling boat, PB 15 was my home for 24 days. That old, smelly, cramped boat was by far the best lease I ever signed. The amount of memories that derive from that boat still come back to me every day (two years later!!). We laughed, we cried, we sailed, we rowed, and we set goals. When you become part of an Outward Bound program, you become part of a crew. Your crew is like any relationship. It needs love, hard work, commitment, and time. This bond, is sculpted through Outward Bound lessons and teaching. That is what makes it so worth while.

This course specifically is full of action and adventure. The Florida Keys are not all sunshine and calm waters, the storms were an adrenaline rush like no other, riding as bow watch rolling over the waves, clinging on to mast while your crew mans Ole Bessie (our name for the main sail). Learning wilderness medicine was exciting, our instructor created some really intense scenarios and brought the whole experience to a new level. In Costa Rica, the view will constantly be taking your breath away. We learned to surf about a mile from a crocodile nesting area! Every morning as the tide went out we'd cheer "una ola mas!" (one more wave!) The beaches were so pristine and the water was always perfect for surfing. Whitewater rafting was thrilling. Rafting down three of Costa Rica's legendary whitewater rivers was incredible, we not only were immersed in Costa Rican culture, but were learning how to read the river hydrology, how to run rapids, and to captian rafts. If you go on this course you'll probably find the spot we named "guide launcher." Finally, Panama, a magical place. The water is my favorite shade of blue, all the time. DIving allowed us to see so many incredible fish, but more importantly to me I was able to take my SCUBA cert home with me and I use it for work (so helpful!!) . Sea Kayaking was the most culturally rewarding part of the trip, and also the most challenging. We stayed in tiny self-sustaining villages, we gave them soccer balls for the kids and some money to stay under a shelter. We'd play soccer with the kids, and teach each other words in english and spanish. When we'd cook dinner local women would hover, wondering what we were making. At one point we were even invited to learn how to make a rare sweet bread recipe, made mainly from coconut! The challenging part was squeezing everything we'd need for a month long expedition into a sea kayak! We paddled over a hundred miles. At this point, our instructors became shadows and our crew was independent. We were in charge of coordinating our own expedition. This was challenging physically yes, but the amount of teamwork, patience, consistency, and motivation that we all had to pitch in was real. What beaches to stay on? Which villages to stop in? What would we eat? Wait, HOW early are we getting up?

Overall my experience on this course was LIFE CHANGING. I am now pursuing a career in Outdoor Recreation, I work as a trip leader/instructor at my university, and I frequently reflect on my time with Outward Bound. I use all of my certifications. I've written so much and I feel like I haven't even gotten started. If you are adventurous, curious, and ready to leap out of your comfort zone, this is the course for you.

How can this program be improved?
The most challenging part of my program was the logistics of our WFR and Lifeguarding session at the Boy Scout camp. However, I feel that the problems we had there were throughly debriefed. I believe changes were already made.
Yes, I recommend this program


Meet the Staff

About Outward Bound

Here at Outward Bound, our motto is "learn by doing." Founded in 1962, Outward Bound has helped over 1 million students achieve their goals. Today, we equip students looking to pursue a gap year with self-confidence, tenacity and compassion. Outward...