What’s the best way to explore two Central American countries? Go on a cross-country expedition with Outward Bound Costa Rica and trek from the Caribbean to the Pacific! Our Coast to Coast Expedition Semester is an 85-day course with an immersive journey on foot through valleys and lush rainforests for 26 days.
You will have the opportunity to brush up on your Spanish and immerse in Costa Rican traditions while through a homestay with a family in a rural area. Boost your leadership and raft-guiding skills through challenging and exhilarating whitewater rafting excursions. Explore remote tropical islands on a kayak and catch some waves on world-renowned beaches.
Then, travel to neighboring countries - Panama and Nicaragua. Go scuba diving in tropical waters and take part in service learning projects. Engage with natives through activities like sailing, wakeboarding, and snorkeling. At the end of the program, you will earn First Aid and CPR certifications, as well as up to 12 academic credits.
Visit our website to learn more, send us an inquiry, or contact our Enrollment Manager directly by calling +1 800-676-2018 (toll-free) or emailing Enrollment@OutwardBoundCR.org.
- Enroll in an exciting semester course that enlightens you of Central America’s beautiful outdoors and rich cultures.
- Experience the diversity of three picturesque Central American countries: Costa Rica, Panama, and Nicaragua.
- Become truly immersed in the environment and distinct cultures of these countries.
- Take part in exhilarating outdoor activities, such as kayaking, scuba diving, and surfing.
- Earn CPR/AED/First Aid and Scuba Diver or Advanced Scuba Diver certifications, as well as academic credits.
PLEASE NOTE: This is a sample itinerary. Details are subject to change.
Orientation, First Aid & CPR: 7 Days
Fly to Costa Rica’s Juan Santamaría Airport (SJO) where you will be greeted by our staff and be driven to our rainforest base in Tres Ríos, Cartago. Meet your coursemates and newfound friends, instructors, and participate in a “duffle shuffle” to prepare all your essentials for the course. Get to know our rainforest base grounds, staff, and what you will accomplish during our semester course orientation. Begin training to earn your Basic First Aid & CPR/AED certification. Nights in furnished dorms.
Hiking Phase: 25-27 Days
Start your cross-country hiking expedition on the pristine Caribbean coast of Costa Rica and make your way through mountains, valleys, towns, and dense tropical rainforest to the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. These world famous and biodiverse landscapes will become your campgrounds as you spot colorful butterflies, tiny tree frogs, exotic birds, and hear howler monkeys in the distance as you trek. This challenge also includes 2-3 days of a solo reflective experience, where you will take inventory of where your life is, where you want it to be, and to experience pure solitude without distractions and without your group in a controlled environment. This experience is adventurous, rewarding and a world away from the norm! At the end of the hiking phase, you will return back to our San Ramón de Tres Ríos rainforest base to clean gear, relax, repack and prepare for the next phase of course.
River Phase: 14-19 Days
Travel to the Pacuare and Sarapiquí Rivers to begin navigating the famous whitewater rapids of Costa Rica. On this course, you will learn the rules of swift water rescue, how to self-rescue, hydrology and river dynamics, equipment, and rope rescue skills. You will also learn how to steer a single inflatable kayak and a multi-passenger inflatable raft down class II-III rapids. Overnights in thatched-roof homes along the river. At the end of this phase, you will return back to our San Ramón de Tres Ríos rainforest base to clean gear, relax, repack and prepare for the next phase of course.
Scuba Phase: 7-9 Days
Depart to cross the Panama border and arrive at the Caribbean archipelago of Bocas del Toro via boat to your island home and begin earning your Scuba Diver or Advanced Scuba Diver certification. Learn how to dive and discover spectacular tropical coral reefs up close and personal. If you are already certified, earn your advanced certification by participating in special dives including a compass navigation dive and a deep dive. Take your practical and written exam and enjoy a celebratory night dive—wave your hands and glide through the waters as thousands of magical bioluminescent lights illuminate your path. Between instructional lessons, learn how to wakeboard through the turquoise enclaves of Bocas del Toro and spend an afternoon in Bocas Town perusing the artisan market and local shops. Overnights in the home of our host family on Isla Solarte. At the end of this phase, you will start your sea kayaking phase.
Sea Kayak & Service Phase: 7-9 Days
From your island home on Isla Solarte, begin your kayak expedition by learning basic sea kayaking skills and then venturing out the following days to paddle around the picturesque Bocas del Toro islands to meet remote communities and volunteer on service projects. Overnights camping in host communities. At the end of this phase, you will return back to our San Ramón de Tres Ríos rainforest base to clean gear, relax, repack and prepare for the next phase of course.
Surf Phase: 7-9 Days
Depart to the Pacific Coast and set up camp at the beautiful beach site. Participate in beach school, where you will learn the basics of board selection, beach safety, paddling techniques and standing upright on your board. Wake up each morning to the sound of crashing waves! Instructors will teach beginner to advanced surf lessons and you’ll practice your new skills in the water. Your days will also consist of theory sessions or hands-on training to earn your Lifeguarding with Waterfront Module certification. Overnights at a beach campsite. At the end of this phase, you will return back to our San Ramón de Tres Ríos rainforest base to clean gear, relax, repack and prepare for the next phase of course.
Service Phase: 7-9 Days
Travel to different regions of Costa Rica or Panama or Nicaragua working on service projects with local community members. Paint and repair school buildings and learn how to cook arroz con pollo for a community celebration for a rural community. During your travels, take a quick break from projects to swim in natural pools and stop into markets to get a feel of the daily life. Overnights camping in host communities. At the end of this phase, you will return back to our San Ramón de Tres Ríos rainforest base to clean gear, relax, repack and prepare for the next phase of course.
Course Wrap-Up: 2 Days
Explore downtown San José on a city tour and trip to the artisan market. Spend your last evening on base with a course reflection and final traditional dinner. Overnight in furnished dorms. Transfer to the Juan Santamaría Airport (SJO) for departure. Say hasta luego to your friends and coursemates. Nos vemos pronto en Costa Rica!
Earn 45-60 hours of community service. Sea kayak from community to community in Panama and visit local communities and volunteer on various community service projects including painting and repairing buildings, installing recreational equipment at school playgrounds, teaching English, cooking meals for communities, and playing interactive games with local school kids to foster personal development and growth.