• Costa Rica
1 - 2 weeks
Need-based funding
Health & Safety

Program Details

Program Type
Direct Enrollment
Age Min.
Age Max


Starting Price
Price Details
Tuition is all-inclusive, with the exception of airfare to and from Costa Rica and suggesting "spending money" for souvenirs and emergencies. In addition to lodging, meals, and activities, tuition also includes pre- and post-program support; a 24/7 hotline while programs are in session; a post-program photo album; a certificate confirming community service hours, and more.
What's Included
Accommodation Activities Airport Transfers Meals Transportation
What's Included (Extra)

24/7 Emergency Hotline
Medical insurance

What's Not Included
Airfare Travel Insurance
Oct 27, 2023
Dec 12, 2023
75 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

Join us in Costa Rica, one of the most astounding collections of ecosystems and cultures on the planet!

This 10-day service learning adventure is designed for new travelers and seasoned explorers looking to dive deep into Tico culture. Live in a tight-knit beachside community in the Guanacaste region as you work alongside local organizations to make improvements to infrastructure and assist with ongoing environmental initiatives. Learn about Costa Rica, and about yourself, through leadership activities, local speakers and cultural workshops. You'll also have the opportunity to take full advantage of this country's incredible natural beauty: enjoy peaceful beaches, lively jungle and vibrant undersea ecosystems.

Service Hours: 20
Program Theme: Leadership & Exploration

Video and Photos

Program Highlights

  • Lend a hand on projects that support community development as well as conservation initiatives
  • Get your blood pumping with river tubing and zipline excursions
  • Learn about ocean ecology as you snorkel among brightly colored fish
  • Cook--and eat!--local dishes and learn to salsa dance
  • Practice your Spanish with native speakers or learn the basics in orientation

Program Reviews

4.90 Rating
based on 81 reviews
  • 5 rating 92.59%
  • 4 rating 6.17%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 1.23%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Growth 4.85
  • Support 4.95
  • Fun 4.9
  • Housing 4.85
  • Safety 4.95
  • Program Selection 4.85
  • Pre-departure Help 5
  • In-program Support 5
  • Impact on Student 4.5
  • Value 5
Showing 1 - 8 of 81 reviews
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

re: Costa Rica Beachside GLA

I would like to recommend this Costa Rica Beachside GLA program. My 14-year-old son travelled on his own for the first time. Jordan gained more skills to socialize with students from his age. He also learned from other students from other cultures and people of Costa Rica. He grew a lot from the experience. He came back with more confidence, motivation, and maturity. As a parent, I cannot thank GLA enough for this travel aboard experiences. This is a very unique opportunity for an American teenager to learn and serve diverse communities.

What was your funniest moment?
Seeing baby turtles hatched in the evening
  • Meet other students from all across the country and make new friends!
  • Gained independence travelling
  • Serve the community-picking up garbage along the beach
  • None,
22 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

My Review

Had a great time meeting new people trying out new food and helping out the locals. Would definitely recommend it to anyone trying to go somewhere new. The living quarters are good and it gives you time to interact with the other people living in their with you and become friends. The counselors are very friendly and helpful. The food is also very good with a variety of different meals they offer and the cheap prices for their food compared to American food. The locals love new people and show you all the new things you couldn’t see normally.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
I went zip lining for the first time normally and upside down which was scary but fun at the first time and after doing it a few times I overcome my fear.
  • Better Social Skills
  • Go outside more
  • Better food
  • None
  • None
  • None
20 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

From a Mother’s perspective

First and foremost, the program is great enough that I’m sending my second child to attend a Costa Rica program in 2024. I would caution that you REALLY consider the program you are choosing. I know despite any cons my son experienced, he came back a more confident young man, which was beautiful. He had some extraordinary leaders that he will remember the rest of his life. He saw some pretty cool things. And the work service was Real Work- awesome! Having said that, my son experienced some difficulties… I wish I would have chosen a program with him instead of for him. The word adventure possibly attracts some rambunctious teens, I’m not sure.. but he had a good handful of obnoxious, questionable character teens in his group. It would have been an extraordinary experience perhaps in a different program. But life is like that, you never know… would I choose GLA for my son again- YES! And I’ve recommended it to many families! But if I could go back in time, I DEFINITELY would’ve included my son in the choice and chose another GLA program.

What would you improve about this program?
The program and leaders? 10 out of 10

Some of the other students? Unfortunate experience
  • Confidence builder
  • Immersion
  • Real Service
  • You never know who your child is going to be exposed to with other students
25 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

This program was life changing

ecently had the pleasure of experiencing the GLA (Global Learning Adventures) program, and I must say, it exceeded all my expectations. From the moment I arrived, the staff went above and beyond to make my experience unforgettable. Their dedication and enthusiasm were evident, creating an atmosphere that set the stage for an incredible adventure.

The staff at GLA played a pivotal role in making the entire journey seamless and enjoyable. Their professionalism and warmth were evident from the initial orientation, where they provided comprehensive information about the program, to the daily activities where they offered guidance and support. It was evident that they were not just doing a job; they were genuinely passionate about the program and ensuring each participant had a transformative experience.

What truly stood out was the personalized attention the staff provided. Whether it was assisting with cultural nuances, explaining the significance of local traditions, or simply being a friendly face to turn to, the GLA staff created a sense of community that made me feel at home in a foreign land. Their expertise and commitment fostered an environment where I felt encouraged to step out of my comfort zone and embrace the full spectrum of the experience.

The program itself was a perfect blend of education, service, and adventure. GLA's carefully curated curriculum allowed me to not only learn about the local culture and environment but also actively contribute to community development projects. It was a hands-on approach that enriched my understanding and left a positive impact on the communities we engaged with.

One of the highlights of my time with GLA was the sheer enjoyment I derived from the activities. From exploring historical landmarks to participating in local festivities, every moment was filled with excitement and discovery. The program's balance between structured learning and leisure time allowed me to absorb the surroundings at my own pace, fostering a genuine connection with the destination.

Equally significant were the incredible people I met during my GLA experience. The diversity of participants added a dynamic element to the program, exposing me to different perspectives and forging lasting connections. Collaborating with like-minded individuals on service projects not only strengthened our bond but also highlighted the power of collective action in making a positive impact.

In conclusion, my time with GLA was nothing short of transformative. The exceptional staff, engaging activities, and the wonderful people I met along the way made it an adventure of a lifetime. This program not only broadened my horizons but also instilled a sense of responsibility and cultural appreciation that will stay with me for years to come. GLA has truly set the standard for immersive learning experiences, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone seeking a blend of education, service, and adventure in a global context.

  • Met amazing people
  • The place is beautiful
  • The staff are super fun
24 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Adventure!

My daughter just returned from the three-week coastal clean-up. She had a fantastic experience not only with the staff, and experts brought in to educate but most importantly with the other children that attended. The hotels were clean and the staff did laundry and provided good meals, even for my picky eater. Although she didn't know anyone ahead of time, several of them formed a tight bond. They've been keeping up, sharing pictures and memories for the last few weeks. And, we're already planning out next year with GLA.

  • Great for solo traveler!
  • Can't think of any cons.
46 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Costa Rica

My daughter attended the The Children's Initiative trip from June 26th to July 5th. She had an amazing time. She learned so much being immersed in the culture. She enjoyed participating in her program helping the children. She also made great friendship along the way. They also had so much fun going to the beach, hiking and zip lining. I must say the GLA team was amazing during the whole process from beginning to end. They were very accessible to answer my questions, and the wealth of information available on line about the programs and expectations was helpful. The mentors were kind, fun and knowledgable. The communication provided up until the day of the trip was impeccable. The blogs written by the participants almost daily accompanied by pictures helped to put my mind at ease. Additionally knowing that if I needed to get in touch with her emergently, I would be able to was also reassuring. I highly recommend GLA and I feel this is a well run program and my daughter hopes to participate again next summer.

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

10/10 Loved Costa Rica

I cannot even begin to express how much I loved Costa Rica. Though the housing isn't luxurious, it is not meant to be. This was an exciting and eye-opening experience for me. I was very lucky to have been with the most incredible group of people ever. We were a mix of different personalities, but we all got along well. We were also so lucky to have the best mentors ever. Gina, Sam, and Stef were unbelievably amazing and supportive throughout the entire trip. Everything we did was enjoyable. 10/10

  • Eye opening
  • Fun
  • Building connections & creating memories
  • Smaller housing
  • If you refuse to go vegan for some time, might be tough (I didn't think I could, but the vegan food was prepared so well, amazing substitutes)
  • Bug bites
74 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
No, I don't recommend this program

not a good experience for my child

My child went to Costa Rica last summer with GLA.
This is a good kid who has excellent grades and is home for curfew and does not use substances.
There were many kids caught drinking on her program, actually ON SITE. They stole alcohol from a store where they were taken shopping. This was the majority of the participants, and it was older boys who instigated and some were quite drunk.
My child was in the space but not drinking alcohol, and yet was punished with 3 other kids who were more actively participating, kicked off the program while many who were involved got to stay. I was literally contacted in the process of my child being carted off to a different location in a different country BY MY CHILD, not by any adult in the program.
THEN -- find out through that experience that there were kids drinking on other programs as well. No responsibility was taken that it was the ADULTS running the program that should have prevented this. My child wanted to have a conversation with the adult running the program about the experience -- never happened.
Terrible -- clearly these people have NO IDEA how to safely run a teen program, and how to model responsible behavior and communication.

  • beautiful place
  • nice idea
  • ?
  • Spanish only for beginners
  • Not well run
  • Not safe for teens
80 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...