• Costa Rica
1 - 4 weeks

Program Details

Program Type
Direct Enrollment
Age Min.
Age Max


Starting Price
What's Included
Accommodation Activities Meals Transportation
What's Not Included
Apr 15, 2021
Apr 19, 2022
49 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

Join us in one of the most astounding collections of ecosystems and cultures on the planet. Global Leadership Adventures runs Costa Rica programs for teens ages 14-19 to complete meaningful community service projects, participate in unique and hands-on cultural immersion, and have a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Choose from programs with themes including: Animal & Wildlife Conservation, Children & Education, Environmental Stewardship, Language Immersion and more.

Video and Photos

Program Highlights

  • Costa Rica: Animal Rescue Project (14-21 Day Program)
  • Costa Rica: Beachside Service Adventure (10-Day Program)
  • Costa Rica: Marine Conservation & Sea Turtle Expedition Program (21 Days)
  • Costa Rica: Spanish Service Adventure (14-21 Day Program)
  • Costa Rica: The Initiative for Children (14-21 Day Program)

Program Reviews

9.84 Rating
based on 68 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 97.06%
  • 7-8 rating 2.94%
  • 5-6 rating 0%
  • 3-4 rating 0%
  • 1-2 rating 0%
  • Growth 9.7
  • Support 9.8
  • Fun 9.7
  • Housing 9.7
  • Safety 9.9
  • Program Selection 9.7
  • Pre-departure Help 9.8
  • In-program Support 9.7
  • Impact on Student 9
  • Value 10
Showing 1 - 8 of 68 reviews
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Yes, I recommend this program

Sun, sand, and Independence

My son went to Costa Rica. He is 16 and had never left the country on his own before. COVID has made traveling difficult with testing and additional documents which made me more nervous about sending a minor child to Central America alone.
Everything went very well! GLA was very clear about exactly what kids needed to spring in terms of paperwork and clothing. They were there to meet my son at the airport.
My son had a most excellent time, possibly the best week of his life and made many friends. He loved the food, the kids, and the staff!

  • Individual attention
  • Friendly staff
  • Complete information
5 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Costa Rica Spring Break

This is what I sent to GLA after my kids trip.

I can’t even begin to articulate how wonderful this whole experience has been. 2019 I discovered you after Emma expressed interest in a peace Corp experience. To send my kids on a trip like this gave me a panic attack AND pure excitement.

I did an optometry mission trip to Honduras as a student. The joy, good hard work, bonding, experiencing and appreciating a different culture, the beauty, the non tourist life changing experiences, I wanted this for Ben and emma. And they got it!

I saw it in the blog pictures, in all the kids. And heard it in the many accounts of the trip. They cried in the last night. Likely a release of such an emotional trip. But also they will miss all their new friends in the hosts, mentors, and peers.

Thank you to all that made this happen. Your passion, dedication, time, personal communication, foresight, planning, April Fools joke! All of it. Thank you so very much.

I cried reading the last blog. Tears of so many positive emotions.

And Delta unaccompanied minor program ended up being a God send.

Bless you all.

Wendy and Josh Arrington

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

Parent review

My daughter returned from Costa Rica saying it was the best experience ever. She had to travel out of the country on her own and handled flight delays coming back. She built strong friendships with all the other attendees and they are already planning reunions. They helped out with children in the community but also learned many new activities including surfing, zip lining, white water rafting. They did cooking lessons, dancing lessons. The facilities were also reported to me as being very nice and there was a special cook who offered a wide range of food. We ran into no problems except the reto4 hour flight delay but that worked out fine in the end. I would highly recommend this program and we already told our younger son that he can go somewhere through GLA when he is the same age.

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

GLA Costa Rica- Beachside service Adventure

I had the best 10 days of my life on this trip! It was not nearly long enough and I'm going back with GLA for 21 days this year. Costa Rica is a beautiful country that GLA does an amazing job of showing to it's students. We learned so much about the culture and how to respect the way of life while there. One of my favorite lessons learned was responsible voluntourism. My service project was to help a local elementary school with a garden and murals. We cleaned out a patch in their back yard area then built garden beds. We also talked to the students about what they wanted on their walls then painted sustainability themed murals. My personal favorite activity was playing soccer with the most beautiful backdrop with local kids. Back at home base after long service days we learned lessons about leadership and service. Meals were eaten outside under the stars or on the balcony overlooking the beach. The nightly "taste of Costa Rica" dish allowed us to sample the local cuisine. Though I was there for just 10 days I made amazing friends and memories to last a lifetime.

What was your funniest moment?
One day at my service site while painting we heard a swell of noise from the tree behind the school. The child next to me said "monos". I was on my feet running for the tree before I could think. Within the limited Spanish I could remember from school the word for monkey was still in my vocabulary. My friends rushed around me and we stared at about 15 monkeys in the tree. There was even a baby clinging to its mother. I was speechless. Though the moment was more amazing than funny to us GLA students the students at escuela paraiso though it was funny. The monkeys was a weekly occurrence for them whereas all i get to see at school is birds and the occasional squirrel. With the children laughing around me and the monkeys screeching above me I realized how amazing it was that I was able to experience this different life in another country.
33 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Empowering Rainforest Communities - GLA 2017 trip

This past summer I was fortunate enough to embark on a life changing journey to Costa Rica where I spent 2 weeks living in the rainforest doing service work. This trip taught me so much about myself and about what I want to do with my life. Global Leadership Adventures plays a big role in the impact my service trip had on me. From the moment I stepped off the plane in Costa Rica, GLA’s staff was there to greet me and they continued being incredible throughout the two weeks! After returning home from my Costa Rica trip, I have become more outgoing and stepped outside of my comfort zone so much! One tip I have for future GLA changemakers is to just let go and live in the moment. I would definitely recommend GLA to anyone who is passionate about giving back and being the change!

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

He is Still Talking About It

Our 17 year old son went to GLA's Sea Turtle Initiative for spring break 2018 to help finish off his volunteer hours required for graduation and he was blown away. He'd already traveled to many countries (10+, many on his own) so we were surprised by the impact. This experience was unlike any he'd previously had in that it was very remote and he was directly involved with the local community while free from the influence of western culture.

The staff was kind, and their genuine concern for the locals and the environment was an eye-opener for our son. He has a new understanding of our impact of humans on Earth and I believe many of the lessons he learned will stay with him for life. He now reminds us to correct our daily habits with regard to conservation and recycling, talks about nature / indigenous populations / wildlife with an educated, informed opinion and sees news headlines under a new light. He is PAYING ATTENTION.

We genuinely believe this program has changed our teen's life. Don't hesitate to send yours.

What would you improve about this program?
I can't think of anything needing improvement.
33 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

The Initiative for Children Volunteer Experience

I had one of the most amazing experiences of my life when I went on the Costa Rica Initiative for Children program through Global Leadership Adventures. Since my sister, who is only a year younger than me, came on the trip with me, my experience was different from most of the students, who came completely alone. Still, traveling to another country with a bunch of strangers seemed scary at first, but our group got in touch before even arriving in Costa Rica (I highly recommend getting in touch before the trip- this helps with packing too) and my nerves eased after meeting our guides and other students. As soon as I sat down with my group at the airport, I was given some local cookies and added into the game of Uno. Our host, Alfredo, provided us with nice housing and fed us very well with traditional Costa Rican food and a variety of local foods, including coffee from Alfredo's own plantations to cheese from a family we met who lived down the street. We also had a lake and dock on the property, which we had plenty of time to swim at. The staff was very flexible and accommodating, such as letting my sister and I get up early and work out (we are intense athletes) before breakfast, and they even offered to take us kayaking on the lake before everyone was up. Our staff I never felt bored on the program and was happily surprised by all the activities we did, since the majority were not in the program booklet. We went zip lining, went horseback riding, rafted down a river, visited a "zoo" with tons of interesting animals I had never seen before anywhere in the States, went to a dog rescue center, went hiking, and much more. However, the friendships I made with both the other kids on the program and the local kids we hosted a summer camp for almost every day are the most valuable part of my trip. We helped clean out and repaint a local abandoned school building and we also held a summer camp for the kids where we taught them English through games and activities. I highly recommend the Initiative for Children program for anyone serious about learning Spanish or anyone who wants to become a teacher or any profession where interaction with kids is involved. I have taken Spanish in school for 13 years and this 14 day trip was the most valuable Spanish lesson ever, since I had to speak Spanish all the time to the local kids. We played soccer, did karate, did arts and crafts, danced, and did leadership activities with the local kids, and spending time with those kids and really immersing myself into another culture in a way I had never done before with my family really opened my eyes to all I can learn from different cultures and helped me realize all the different lifestyles the world has to offer. I also still keep in touch with a majority of the 20+ kids through a group chat, and I know a few members of the group flew from the east coast to California to visit other members. I cried all day in the airport when we left, where we all held hands in a circle and gave each other compliments, our nightly routine back at Alfredo's. I had not anticipated how close our group would become in just 14 days. I highly recommend Global Leadership Adventures for any teen enthusiastic about service (there are so may different programs and there will be at least one for you) and willing to step out of their comfort zone, because the experience is totally worth it.

What would you improve about this program?
Our staff was very chill and let us have a ton of fun, however they were not always consistent with the rules and showed favorites at times.
31 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Satisfied Parent

The summer of 2017, I sent my twins to Costa Rica on the Beachside Service Adventure with Global Leadership Adventures and I could not be more happy that I did. Not only did they have the opportunity to grow as individuals, they grew as part of a group and established lasting connections with their peers. They had a great time and I am so glad I was able to enable their growth! Moreover, the staff was very helpful and understanding. They are very knowledgeable and settled any of my concerns over the phone and made it easy to be a parent sending their child on a life-changing excursion.

What would you improve about this program?
I would have liked for the blog to be updated a little more frequently than it was while my kids were abroad.
28 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers

This program is incredible! I was able to attend it this past summer and it gave me a whole new perspective. Some tips on saving up for the trip is to start a "Go fund me" account and asking relatives to donate money toward that for birthdays or other holidays instead of giving gifts. Also, I've started putting half of my pay checks into a savings account, which adds up really quickly! If you have...

While in Costa Rica, I felt extremely safe and so did everyone in my group! We were immediately welcomed into the country by our mentors and we found them easily after getting off the plane. In both of the places we stayed, everyone was extremely friendly and confident in what they were doing. Our trip was well planned and organized as well. I never doubted that I was safe which allowed me (and...

In my program, there were 14 girls. Although I was initially worried that there were only girls in my group, it made the trip even better! We had an amazing dynamic and all of us immediately bonded. By the end of the trip, it felt as if I had known those girls my entire life -- not just two weeks. We felt like sisters and there were many tears when we said goodbye. However, we still talk almost...

In Spanish and Service in the Osa we rotated through different projects. We painted the bleachers, helped dig the foundation for a basketball court, organize their library, help to brighten up and plant in their school's garden, and my personal favorite paint a large map of the world (as most of their maps were a little outdated). Not even the overwhelming heat could bring us down we were having...