Short-Term Program

Sustainable Development in Costa Rica

Set out on a month of pura vida: spend four weeks exploring Costa Rica's diverse ecosystems, developing leadership skills, and working with local NGOs on sustainability projects.

Immerse yourself in the culture and nature of Costa Rica as you hike, zipline, and kayak your way through different regions of the country. Collaborate with community members and NGOs to learn about conservation, reforestation, and sustainable development as you work on service learning projects with them. Wrap up your experience with time for reflection through workshops at the UN’s University for Peace.

Upcoming travel dates:
Fall 2023: Oct. 4 – Nov. 1
Spring 2024: Feb. 28 – Mar. 27
Summer 2024: Jul. 5 – Aug. 2

How you'll grow

Program itinerary
Click here to download this itinerary as a PDF.
Note: This itinerary is subject to change due to availability and local conditions at the time of departure.

The Central Valley 6 Days

San José: Welcome to Costa Rica

2 Days San José, Costa Rica

Land in Costa Rica's capital city, San Jose, where you'll meet your fellow travelers and start your journey together. Visit a coffee plantation to learn about the importance of coffee on the Costa Rican economy.

San José: Youth Education Project

4 Days San José, Costa Rica

Collaborate with an educational nonprofit in San Jose that seeks to lift up local youth through education, engagement, help with homework, and teaching English.

The Pacific Coast 8 Days

Manuel Antonio: Jungle & Beach Adventure

2 days Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Explore Manuel Antonio National Park, one of Costa Rica’s natural gems. Walk through the rainforest and try to catch sight of wildlife like toucans, monkeys, and sloths. Take in the pristine white sand beaches.

La Isla: Mangrove Reforestation

2 Days La Isla, Costa Rica

Learn about the importance of mangroves to coastal ecosystems as you work on a mangrove reforestation project. In your down time, enjoy the beautiful beaches of the Central Pacific Coast.

The Osa Peninsula: Sea Turtle Conversation Project

4 Days Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica

Travel to one of the most remote and beautiful parts of Costa Rica, the Osa Peninsula. Partner with an organization that is dedicated to preserving the biodiversity of Costa Rica, and work with them on projects including their sea turtle conservation work.

Arenal & Monteverde 9 Days

Arenal: Sustainable Living & Agriculture

4 Days Arenal, Costa Rica

Spend time at an off-the-grid, sustainable ranch surrounded by the rainforest. Take workshops that focus on sustainable agriculture. During free time, relax in the natural pools, enjoy yoga classes, or rest & recharge in nature.

Arenal: Kayaking, Ziplining, & Hot Springs

2 Days Arenal, Costa Rica

Get your adrenaline pumping as you fly through the rainforest on a zipline and paddle your way through the mists of Lake Arenal. Relax your mind and body in the area’s famous volcanic hot springs.

Monteverde: Cloud Forests & Reforestation

3 Days Monteverde, Costa Rica

Monteverde is a mountain town nestled in Costa Rica’s cloud forests. Work with a local non-profit and research facility on their reforestation efforts.

The Central Valley 3 Days

University for Peace: Wrap-Up

3 Days San José, Costa Rica

At the UN-founded University for Peace campus on a verdant mountain overlooking San Jose, unpack your experience on program and think about how it connects to global sustainability and well-being. Reflect with your group and celebrate all that you’ve been through together!

What service learning means to us

EF Gap Year's service learning philosophy combines educational objectives with hands-on experience as a vehicle to help you become a better global citizen.

Program fee

Tuition for this 4-week program is $7,400, and payment plans are available. A detailed budgeting guide for this program can be found here.

Your program tuition includes:

  • Flights and transportation

    Round-trip flights and local transfers to each stop in your itinerary

  • Room and board

    Your accommodations and some of your meals on the trip

  • Activities and service projects

    Guided excursions and service opportunities with partner organizations

  • EF Global Support Network

    One-on-one mentorship and travel support before and during your program

Ready to get started?

Our Gap Year Consultants are ready to answer any questions you have and to help find the perfect program for your family.

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