Costa Rica Summer Service Adventures

Video and Photos

The last night we spent with our host families.
The last night we spent with our host families.
Last Day Of Helping Out At The Local Church
Day 1 of Surf Lessons!
Group of people talking
Group of people talking
Man with back turned to the camera paints a large globe on the side of a building
Man with back turned to the camera paints a large globe on the side of a building

About

Are you a high school student looking for volunteer opportunities in Costa Rica? Global Works has a variety of options for you. Take a look at our programs and visit our site for full details.

Language and Leadership: Spanish Immersion, welcoming homestay families, community-driven service projects, and adrenaline pumping adventure...this trip has it all! Over the course of three weeks, practice Spanish and learn cultural norms and customs through immersive homestays and community service projects

La Pura Vida: On these 2 week adventures, practice your Spanish with local families and community members, roll up your sleeves for some meaningful service projects and pump up the adrenaline on a zip-line canopy tour through the rainforest.

Sea Turtle Adventure: On this week-long trip, we engage in projects and tours to support native leatherback sea turtles and the local community. Activities include a tour of the hatchery, environmental projects, a night beach patrol, a kayak tour through the canals of Tortuguero National Park, and even an overnight rafting trip!

Questions & Answers

Reviews

97%
based on 26 reviews
  • Growth 9.3
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 9.1
  • Housing 9.3
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 1 - 15 of 26
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Finn
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A thousand times over

My Global Works trip was truly inspiring, the leaders were great, and I had an amazing time. When I think of my Global Works trip, it’s my home stay that comes to mind. It was really fun to go through your day with another family from another culture, eat food with them, play with their kids, even go to work with them...it was awesome to be part of a Costa Rican household. I never thought I would learn to catch 20-pound tilapia or harvest star fruit, avocados and mangos on my host family's farm (and, I didn't know that limes could be green on the outside and orange on the inside!).

I thought the kids in my group were all really authentic, creative, and open-minded about trying new things and activities. I felt like we really built a community together. I would do this trip again...a thousand times over!

What was your funniest moment?
It was pouring rain, we were so close to finishing our service project in the community. For some reason one of our group members decided to tell us a story about her science teacher, named Mr. Coward. He told his class that he has thought about changing his name...and, well, I can't really say what he wished to change his name to on this review, but let's just say that we had the best group laugh ever.
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Anna
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Costa Rica: Language and Leadership

I found out about Global Works Travel through research about summer travel programs and I'm so glad I did! Global Works provided me with a trip that was challenging and fun, and where I learned through first-hand experience. Although the seven hour layover in Houston followed by the flight to Costa Rica then being delayed for two more hours wasn't much fun, it did provide me more time to learn about my group mates, and pales in comparison to all the fun I had and the experience I gained on the rest of the trip. The adventures like white water rafting, zip lining and surfing on Playa Uvita may have been the most thrill inducing, but they are not what I remember most about the trip. I remember sitting outside on the porch of Poco Sol Biological station looking over the canopies of the cloud forest. I remember how excited and anxious the group was to meet their host families in the mountainous, breathtaking town of Cedral. I remember struggling to communicate with my host mom and dad and my two little sisters, but laughing about it later with my roommate. I remember getting mud and paint and cement powder on my shirt, but admiring the immense progress we had made later. Most of all, I remember each and every one of my group members and how much I miss them. The people I was with and our dynamic was truly special. While I can't speak for other groups, I can imagine that many other Global Works groups have experienced similar connections. My perceptions of people and places changed drastically throughout the trip and the knowledge and connections I have gained are priceless. The Spanish immersion aspect of the program drastically improved everyone's Spanish and provided and authentic view of Costa Rica many of us would not have experienced otherwise. The only advice I give is to live your trip to the fullest, and take time to appreciate where you are; don't rush through an experience this unique and special.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
If I could go back and spend 3 weeks all over again in Costa Rica with my amazing leaders and group members, I would try to slow down my experience and focus more on the moments instead of working through them. I would want to pause and actively appreciate where I am and who I am with because I know I will never be in the same place with the same people ever again. Finally, I would want to speak more Spanish and get more involved with the locals. There is no need to be shy about how good your Spanish is because the more you immerse yourself the better you'll become. In the end, it is up to your how much you learn and takeaway from this trip, and I wish I had focused even more on the parts of the trip that were the most special to me. I have already taken away so much from this trip; imagine what more I could have taken away had I just slowed down and paused a bit more to reflect and appreciate the trip.
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Lily
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Lily's Amazing Trip to Costa Rica

I had such an amazing time in Costa Rica, and I'm so glad that I chose Global Works as my travel buddy! For starters, I was pretty nervous leading up to the trip. I was worried about my how my language skills would fare in a community full of native speakers, I was anxious about all the new people I would be meeting, and I was hesitant about being away from home. However, the moment that I started talking with everyone at the airport, my fears and anxieties melted away. The next 15 days were the most fun I've had in possibly my whole life. It was amazing to get to know people from all different parts of the world and make connections with them while helping out a community in need. The relationships I made on the trip are ones that I will never forget. Also, the food was incredible!!! I would most definitely recommend a Global Works trip to anyone who wants to travel, experience a new culture, and have a ton of fun doing it!

What was your funniest moment?
The funniest moment was when we named our host family's cat. In Costa Rica they keep most of their pets outside, but we had a cat that lived with us in the house. The family didn't have a name for the cat, so we tried to come up with one for him. After some serious consideration, we decided to name the cat Felipe after a boy in the neighborhood who we all joked about coming back to Costa Rica to marry. Our host mom thought it was hilarious, and it was an inside joke with our family for the rest of the homestay. It was a super funny and perfect way to connect with the family.
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Sofia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Costa Rica Sea Turtle Expedition

Describing this trip is nearly impossible. It changed me mentally and emotionally, and it is an experience I will never forget. Even now I look back on memories, photos, souvenirs, notes and drawings that I have kept from the trip, and can't fully take in how much the trip meant to me. Everyday, I had the opportunity to try new foods, see new flora and fauna, experience new things, and get closer with friends. A year ago, I would've never guessed that I'd get to raft through a jungle, sleep in bungalows, hold a baby turtle, and lay on the soft black sand beach of Parismina. Plus, working with Parismina Association for Sea Turtle Conservation (ASTOP) was a very gratifying and eye opening experience. Being able to look at a problem in the world, learn about it, and be able to even slightly contribute to the help of ending it is something every person should partake in. It changes your mindset on life. I can easily say I am lucky I got to experience that with Global Works. Their program succeeded in immersing us in Costa Rica culture and teaching us about it in very many different ways. Then we were able to take our knowledge and do something with, like in the service part of the trip, and when talking with Costa Rica natives, and then finally at home where we all grew as people.

What was your funniest moment?
It was during our first day of rafting, and our raft leader was asking how old we all were. After each persons response, he would repeat the number but in Spanish. At the very end, a boy who was already pretty fluent in Spanish decided to respond in Spanish rather than English unlike everyone else. He was thirteen. He said "treinta." The leader paused for a minute and blinked at him. Quietly he asked, "You're thirty?" The whole raft broke out in laughter. For the whole rest of the trip, that became a joke amongst our group.
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Kennedi
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Take the Leap!

I participated in session 2 of the Costa Rica: La Pura Vida trip with Global Works this year. As I signed up for the trip, I was excited, but as it drew closer I became more and more wary. I had never traveled without my family before, and other fears crept up as well (what if I didn't get along with the group, what if my Spanish failed me, what if we were in danger, what if...). Motivated by my uncertainty, I emailed my co-leader, Annie. She immediately put my anxiety to rest by describing her own experience on a Global Works trip in high school, and her experiences as a leader as well. My shaking nerves placated, I took a deep breath and resolved to go on the trip, no matter what other worries my brain might come up with. And I am so glad I did. The moment I stepped off the plane in Houston and met my other co-leader, Brent, I knew it would be a fun-filled two weeks. He and Global Works' lively dance instructor/ leader Randall greeted me with smiles and riveting conversation in jumbled Spanglish. The rest of my inhibitions disappeared one by one as the other members of my group arrived. After the flight to San Jose, we bustled through customs and met Annie and the last member of the group. Although we were all exhausted after a long day of traveling, we discussed our concerns and apprehensions-- most of which circled around the homestay. However, after completing that week of immersion I can tell you that without a doubt, the homestay was the most rewarding experience of my life. Since our group was so small, the two other girls and I lived with the same family, who are the most incredible people I have ever met. Our homestay mom was so kind and patient, and curious about our lives back home. We spent many nights up until almost midnight just talking with her and our dad. I look back on those nights as some of the best of my life, because I was able to learn so much about them and the culture of Costa Rica. Our town is called Pueblo Nuevo, and it is small enough that everyone knows everyone. Our three homestay siblings would introduce us to people as we were walking down the street, just as excited on the last day as they were on the first. If you are feeling anxious about the homestay portion of the trip, I hope I can help calm your nerves. I felt safer in every part of Costa Rica than I have in some places in the U.S. The families are patient and understanding, and will open your mind to brand new perspectives. On top of that, in the homestay you get to eat the most amazing food you will ever have. Through the experience, my Spanish improved tremendously. I no longer have any fears about speaking Spanish outside the classroom; in fact, I seek out opportunities to do so. If you are considering a Global Works trip, but you're uncertain, please take my advice and go for it. My live has been improved so much because of what I learned those two weeks, and yours will too. Get out there!

What would you improve about this program?
If it was a week longer! I never wanted to come home.
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Daniel
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Costa Rica Service Trip

Hi, my name is Daniel Dessert and recently last summer I went to Costa Rica with my friend Ethan. This was a one of a kind experience because I made so many new friends that I am still keeping in touch with. This experience was amazing and something I never would have had without Global Works. The environment and the energy from the group leaders made everything so much more exciting. I flew to Houston first, and met my amazing group leader Annie. She has so much energy and was alway super happy. Then I flew to San Jose and met all my other kids and soon to be friends that I would stay with for the next 2 weeks. The first few days we did some cool things in the capital but nothing too exciting. But the amazing part was after. We then went to a small, pretty poor city in Costa Rica and stayed with a host family with 1 other friend. These families spoke no english and at times it was very weird, but we ended up getting along great. This part in our journey was the most amazing because I got to see what it really was like living in Costa Rica. All the little kids that I played soccer with were all so cute and everybody just had a great time. Even though everybody spoke minimal words to all of their host families, the families were so grateful to have all of us there because I guess us young children are pretty exciting. But then the sad part came. Then we had to go almost all of the families kids and parents started crying because we all were so happy together. 100% if you are reading this, thinking about if you should go to Costa Rica or not, these 2 weeks were the most happy moments of my years. I had NO worries, didn't even think about anything, related to social media, school, stress, guilt. NOTHING. I was so pure and so happy to be in another country helping out not as fortunate people then myself. It was truly an amazing experience. Then after the housing, we moved to the west coast to surf. And after that, we had to leave. And again, another sad part. You would think in only 2 weeks you wouldn't become very good friends with the other kids you are staying with but you do. The worst part was leaving and going back to San Diego where I live and thinking, and I ever going to see these people again? We literally all started crying. Yes, even me. And we were so happy, but so sad and I really wish it could all be done over again. But sadly not. I may not be able to have that exact same experience, but I for sure will keep it in my memory for the rest of my life.

What would you improve about this program?
I really can't be improved.
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Jack
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Pre-Med and Public Health in Costa Rica

The program was amazing, it was very cohesive and easy to navigate. The staff was very fun to talk to and hangout with. They were great people and very protective of us, but they also gave us the freedom we need as teenagers. I also became very close with the group I travelled with and by the end of the trip felt like I had known them forever.

Working in the clinics was very interesting and rewarding. I was able to see two minor surgeries from less than 2 feet away and listen to a little girl’s lungs before and after her asthma treatment. I also learned about how difficult it is to work in a pharmacy, and why it takes so long to find, count out and fill the different prescriptions. I will never be impatient with a Pharmacist again. At first, I was a little worried that I didn’t know enough Spanish to understand what was happening in the clinics, but the doctors and guides were helpful, translating everything that was happening, and I was able to learn from them without any trouble.

After our time in the clinics, we did our homestays. The people in the village that we met at the homestays were so nice to us and they honestly felt like a second family to me. My best advice to people joining is that I know no matter how much we say don’t worry about the homestays, you’re still going to worry. I know because I was the same way. However, the homestays were one of the greatest parts about the trip because the families are just so happy to have you and they do their very best to welcome you into their home. Keep your mind open to new cultures and try to learn as much as you can for as long as you’re there.

What would you improve about this program?
I can't think of any way to improve it. It was a great trip!
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Jack
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Pre-Med and Public Health in Costa Rica

The program was amazing, it was very cohesive and easy to navigate. The staff was very fun to talk to and hangout with. They were great people and very protective of us, but they also gave us the freedom we need as teenagers. We got to go to clinics and shadow them and throw ourselves into the language and the culture. The people in the village that we met at the homestays were so nice to us and they honestly felt like a second family to me. My best advice to people joining is that I know no matter how much we say don't worry about the homestays, you're still going to worry. I know because I was the same way. However, the homestays were one of the greatest parts about the trip because the families are just so happy to have you and they do their very best to welcome you into their home. Keep your mind open to new cultures and try to learn as much as you can for as long as you're there. After my trip, I've been obsessed with studying abroad and I want to go anywhere and everywhere and I want to learn what the whole world has to offer.

What would you improve about this program?
Some people brought ipod touches because it said ipods were allowed but then they got taken because they had wifi and social media. just clear that up i guess.
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Lily
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

¡Pura Vida!

Going on this trip was easily one of the best decisions I have ever made. Global Works was super easy to work with and made me feel super prepared going into my trip. The leaders were great ( shoutout to Perri, Taylor, and Randall! ) and I felt very well taken care of, while also having fun, the entire time. My Spanish greatly improved this trip and I enjoyed all of the experiences we had! The zipline experience had such great views and it was so cool to able to do something so special with a great group of people. The homestay experience was something unlike anything I had ever done before and was one of my favorite parts of the trip! The homestay community was so welcoming and my family was so sweet and welcoming. I felt so proud at the end of the week when I looked at all of the work that we accomplished on the community center and all of the relationships we had formed, The friends that I made on this trip are some of the best friends I've ever had. I was with such an awesome group and I'm still talking to them nonstop! Our final days were spent surfing and hanging out on the beach, which was a perfect end to such an amazing trip! The beach was beautiful and made me want to stay in Costa Rica with this awesome group for my whole summer. Overall, this was such a wonderful experience and I can't wait for my next Global Works trip!

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Jasmine
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A beautiful three weeks

I participated in the Global Works Into to Pre-Med program in Costa Rica. This was my first time outside the country and it was amazing! There was continuous support from the supervisors, and I made a strong bond with everyone I met on the trip. The clinics we visited were also fascinating. It was very educational to see another Country’s medical system and how it worked. But the trip wasn’t just visiting clinics. We got to meet holistic health doctors, which exposed us to a wider view of medicine, and an herbalist. We also got to go zip lining.
Over all, the trip was so incredible I can’t describe it in words. I loved every bit of it, and never got homesick because I was enjoying myself so much. In fact, I wish the program had been longer!

What would you improve about this program?
my suggestion would be to choose a different hostel or lodging to stay in at Monte Verde.
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Tara
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Costa Rica: Intro to Pre-Med and Public Health

I cannot begin to express how much fun I had in Costa Rica. As soon as we arrived, the group of students automatically clicked, and friendships only grew stronger as the trip progressed. Even though our trip was changed from Nicaragua to Costa Rica relatively last minute, we still were able to work in multiple clinics and get real insight into the healthcare system in Costa Rica. During the homestay portion of the trip, it was amazing to enter into a rural community, and interact with the people our service efforts would actually be affecting. After living with our homestay families for 5 nights, saying goodbye was extremely difficult. Even a month later, I still miss my homestay family, along with other residents of the community that we grew close to. Going into the trip, though I was not 100% fluent in Spanish, the trip leaders and other students made active communication with community members and the clinic staff easy. Over the trip, I made many lasting friendships and came home with a greatly improved ability to speak and understand Spanish.

What would you improve about this program?
The work in clinics could have been more hands-on.
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Natalie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Costa Rica: Sea Turtle Expedition

This was a fun filled program into the land of turtles! Starting off our trip with adventure we took a stop at a local cheese factory where we got to experience the process of cheese making starting with milking the cows to boiling and stretching the gooey yummy cheese. We then went rafting along the river picnicked on the side and even caught a fish in our boat as the waves splashed over us! Further on in our trip in Parismina we took night patrols watching for turtle tracks, cleaned up trash on the beach. We then helped hatch baby turtles on to the beach into the ocean providing a proper waddling space as the turtles made their way in to the ocean and started there life as a baby sea turtle.

What would you improve about this program?
More Focus on Turtles
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Ryan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best experience of my life

Going into the trip i was thinking it would be very fun. I was very wrong Once i met the other kids i was going on the trip with i started really liking them. Once we got into Costa Rica i was very close with the other travelers and i quickly started having an amazing time. I did not think it would be difficult to leave the trip, but as the day got closer and closer the more i feared leaving. The trip gave me Friends and memories i will never forget. Its almost been 5 months since the trip and i still miss it just as much as the day i left. If you are debating to go on a trip with Global Works i strongly recommend you to go with them!

What would you improve about this program?
Make it 1 week longer
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Jill
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great Adventure

My trip to Costa Rica with this group was hands down one of the best weeks of my life. I was able to experience so many new things from making new friends around the country to learning about a whole new way of life to helping out in the community and speaking the little Spanish I know to the locals. The fact that I was able to experience a whole other way of living at this young age really made an impact on me. Going on this trip opened my eyes to a whole new perspective. I've realized that we should not take anything at all for granted any day of the week because we don't realize how good we have it and how much we ave. I've become a lot more appreciative and also a lot more accepting. With that, I learned through the people in the villages and how they go about their way of life that you should always extend a helping hand and make sure everyone is accepted. Other than my learning experiences, I had such a blast everyday with anything we did - especially the surfing and the late night talks with my group. We were all able to get really close with each other since we were such a small group and it really meant the world to me. This trip was truly such an amazing experience and I would definitely do it again, or something like it, in a heartbeat.

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Abby
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Costa Rican Adventure

My experience on this Global Works trip was nothing less than phenomenal and life changing. Every day I spent in this amazing country helped me grow as a person in knowledge and understanding. Those who accompanied me on this trip would definitely say the same.

What would you improve about this program?
I would change the housing arrangements. By the end of the trip, I think that students should be allowed to choose their roommate.

Location

Location:
Costa Rica
Currency:
Costa Rican Colón
Weather:
Jan-Mar
83 F / 67 F
Apr-Jun
85 F / 69 F
Jul-Sep
85 F / 69 F
Oct-Dec
83 F / 67 F
Airports:
Juan Santamaría International Airport
( SJO )
Limón International Airport
( LIO )
Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport
( LIR )

A pioneer of ecotourism, Costa Rica draws many tourists to its extensive series of national parks and other protected areas. Costa Rica began reversing deforestation in the 1990s, and they are moving towards using only renewable energy. Head to the cloud forest, relax on the beautiful beaches or visit a coffee farm.

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About Global Works

For more than 28 years, Global Works has been an industry leader in community service-based adventure travel programs for high school students and custom group trips. Much more than a vacation, Global Works international trips are the bridge for...