As a bit of a nature freak who dreamed of traveling to Costa Rica since I was about 5 years old, this program seemed too good to be true. Based in Quepos, not 15 minutes from the world famous Manuel Antonio national park, prepare to be surrounded by a cornucopia of exotic animals ranging from toucans, to iguanas, to monkeys, and so much more. There is nothing quite like watching a whole family of squirrel monkeys plummeting from the jungle canopy while enjoying a delicious breakfast, only to be followed up by a sloth cruising down a power line on your walk to work a few minutes later. Only in Costa Rica....
Upon arrival in Quepos, you will take up residence with a local family at a homestay. All of the people participating in Gapforce programs (this one and others) will stay at the same place so you will probably have some unique housemates from all over the world. The homestay provides a fantastic opportunity to work on your spanish, enjoy some great tico cuisine, and completely immerse yourself in the local culture.
Regarding the surrounding area, prepare yourself for beautiful jungle lined beaches complete with loads of opportunities to jet ski, surf, parasail and more. The bus system is very cheap and easy so getting around is no problem. The nightlife is fun and the locals are super kind and laid back.
As should be expected, the dive training is definitely the standout of the program. The staff at Oceans Unlimited (the dive center you'll be training out of) are absolutely top notch. Everyone at the shop is a master at their craft and are capable of providing so much practical knowledge and support through the duration of your stay. I entered the program a novice, and can confidently say I came out a very capable, self sufficient diver. The staff will not hesitate to push you out of your comfort zone, but all with the intention of making you the best you can be.
The diving itself is also incredible, getting to see animals like octopus, eels, sea horses, and turtles on the daily. Costa Rica also has the longest whale season in the world, so prepare to see humpbacks on the surface multiple days out of the week.
The jungle survival portion of the program was also a fantastic addition, presenting a nice break from the dive training and an opportunity to live secluded in the rain forest while picking up some interesting knowledge and skills. During your stay you will cross rivers, bathe in waterfalls, treck through scenic landscapes, encounter a variety of strange jungle creatures, and enjoy some unique jungle snacks. Truly a once in a lifetime experience!
I could not say enough about this experience as a whole, massively worth while if you're looking to get properly educated on diving and enjoy a bit of adventure. The program delivered across the board and I will always look back fondly on my time in Costa Rica.