Costa Rica Experience

Beachside bliss meets awesome adventure activities!

16-29 days

from £1,669

Trip Highlights

  • Volunteer in a fantastic Sea Turtle Conservation project
  • Live it up on Costa Rica’s best beaches!
  • Experience a thrilling volcano visit
  • Enjoy an authentic village stay
  • Get your adventure on with surfing, snorkelling and rafting!
  • Grab the opportunity to continue the adventure with 2 fun-filled extension options!

Trip Summary

Beaches, volunteering, adrenaline and adventure! On this action packed trip you’ll experience the very best of cool Costa Rica. Kick it all off with an incredible Turtle Conservation Project voluntary role, where you’ll be up close and personal with sea turtles! You’ll also be taken to Costa Rica’s shores to surf and kayak, and go on an epic rainforest adventure! This trip includes an exciting volcano visit where you’ll get a firsthand look at Volcano Arenal – one of Costa Rica’s most iconic attractions.

You can tailor make this epic adventure and stay for 16, 21 or 29 days with our awesome optional extensions that’ll have you getting to know the local community of San Ramon, heading to picturesque Panama, and enjoying an idyllic island tour! It’s up to you how long you choose to stay and these action-packed options will help you to get the very best out of Costa Rica!

Interested and want to find out more? Download more trip information and detailed itinerary HERE!

Trip Info

Day 1: Welcome to Costa Rica!

Chill out once you’ve been transferred to your accommodation, and then meet your fellow travellers for a tasty welcome dinner!

Day 2: Awesome Alajuela

After a breakfast and orientation session you’ll head out and explore Alajuela with your guide, and then it’s time to head to the pristine Pacific Coast! You’ll love the stunning beaches!

Days 3-6: Turtle Conservation Project

Spend the next few days getting up close and personal with Costa Rica’s turtles! Your rewarding voluntary role will take place on the beach and will open your eyes to another side of this incredible country!

Day 7: Surf’s Up!

Fall in love with Playa Grande today as you hit the waves for an awesome surfing lesson!

Day 8: Kayak Adventure

Spot some wildlife today as you kayak through the Tamarindo estuary. Later, hit up Playa Grande’s beautiful beaches with some free time – we recommend experiencing Las Baulas National Marine Park!

Day 9: Bijagua

We head up the mountains and into the rustic village of Bijagua today. Hang out with the locals and get a taste of village life!

Day 10: Explore the Costa Rican Rainforest

Walk across the thrilling hanging bridges of the rainforest reserve today for awesome aerial views! There’s an optional trip to a local farm in store later, and then you can head out to chill out beach style!

Day 11: Saddle up and explore the jungle!

Get your adventure on with a horseback ride in Bijagua today – you’ll be heading through lush jungle landscape! Later, we’ll head to the Volcan Tenorio National Park to snap shots of the stunning Rio Celeste before a tasty traditional dinner.

Day 12: Arenal Volcano

Experience the magnificence of Arenal Volcano  today! Once you’ve ticked this spectacular sight off the bucket list you’ll have some time to check out the shops in enchanting La Fortuna!

Day 13: White water rafting!

Get wild with some white water rafting today! You’ve got a full day of adventure before we head back to our accommodation.

Day 14: Hot springs and hiking

An invigorating rainforest hike will bring you to the old volcanic lava flows today, and then we’ll head to the steamy Baldi Hot Springs! There’s pools, water slides and saunas so make the most of it!

Day 15: Zip Wiring!

Head to the hills for a zip wire tour as you experience the scenery in style! With a Tarzan swing and canopy views you’ll feel on top of the world in no time!

Day 16: Farewell or continue the adventure

If you’re not sticking around for the extension you’ll be departing today. If not, you’re in for more fun-filled adventure!

Day 16-20: San Ramon House Building Project

Jump into a great volunteer project over the next couple of days! You’ll be building new homes in San Ramon, helping local families and improving the local landscape. What could be more rewarding?

Day 21: Farewell or continue on to Panama

If you’re not joining us for our trip extension, your itinerary ends today and you’ll be transferred back to San Jose. If you’re staying on you’ll head back to San Jose and head to the bustling Cultural Square!

Day 22: Puerto Viejo, Caribbean Coast

It’s on to the Caribbean Coast today where you’ll have a free day to explore Puerto Viejo – cool, coastal and compelling!

Day 23: Free time to chill out in Puerto Viejo

Spend a free day in Puerto Viejo today. We recommend visiting a local sloth sanctuary or simply kicking back on the beach!

Please note that any activities you choose to do during your free time are optional and you will need to pay for them locally.

Day 24: Panama here we come!

We’ll travel down to the Panama border today and on to Isla Colon in the stunningly beautiful Bocas Del Toro. You can spend the afternoon taking a refreshing dip and chilling with the group in your new home for the next few days!

Day 25: Island Tour in Bocas del Toro

Experience an idyllic island tour today as we hit Dolphin Bay, Coral Bay and Red Frog Beach! Sand and snorkelling are the order of the day!

Day 26: Free time in Bocas del Toro

Spend a free day in Bocas del Toro today. We suggest heading out to snorkel or rounding the group up for some local bites!

Day 27: Zapatillas Islands

Welcome to the Zapatillas Islands! Today we’ll explore the surrounding forests and crystal clear waters so you can soak up the scenery before we head out of Panama tomorrow.

Day 28: Farewell Panama

We’ll transfer back to Alajuela today with enough time to freshen up before our delicious farewell dinner. Swap numbers with your mates as you reminisce about your incredible Costa Rica adventures!

Day 29: Departure day

Your itinerary ends today, and you’ll be transferred back to the airport ready to head home or travel on.

Please note itineraries and activities are subject to change. 

Accommodation & Meals

You’ll be staying in a range of accommodation types during your time in Costa Rica, giving you an authentic experience of the country! You’ll stay in a mix of hostels, guesthouses and home stay accommodation.

Unless indicated in your itinerary, meals are not included as part of this Real Gap Experience. This is to allow travellers the utmost flexibility when deciding when and where they eat and how much they spend on food. Eating with your fellow travellers is usually a good idea, as it’ll allow you to sample a range of great dishes and split the cost of meals! Listed below are some must try Costa Rican culinary staples.

  • Gallo Pinto: A yummy combination of rice and beans with sour cream or fried eggs
  • Sopa de Mariscos: A seafood soup made with prawns, clams, fish and squid. Rich and hearty with vibrant flavours!
  • Olla de Carne: A tasty beef and vegetable stew which showcases the best of Costa Rica’s veggie produce!
  • Chicharones: perfectly seasoned pork is fried until crisp. The perfect Costa Rican snack!
  • Arroz con Camarones: A delicious rice dish flavoured with onions, peppers, tomatoes and cumin and packed with juicy prawns!

If you have chosen option 2 or 3 of the Costa Rica Experience, during the volunteering section of your trip you will receive three meals per day. 

Dairy products in Costa Rica are safe to consume, and food hygiene standards are among the best in Latin America. It’s best to avoid uncooked meats and remember it’s better to be safe than sorry if you’re at all unsure about a dish. 

Eligibility & FAQ's

The minimum age for this trip is 18.

Whats Included

Option 1 - 16 days

  • Accommodation
  • Airport Transfer
  • In Country Transfers
  • Any meals indicated in the itinerary (3 per day during the Sea Turtle Conservation Project)
  • Welcome Meal (dependent on the time of your arrival)
  • Sea Turtle Conservation Project
  • Orientation Session
  • Surfing with Professional Instructors
  • Guided Kayaking Excursion
  • Rainforest Hiking
  • Horse Riding Trip
  • Volcan Tenorio National Park Trip
  • Volcano Arenal Visit
  • White Water Rafting
  • Baldi Hot Springs Experience
  • Zip Wire Tour
  • 24 hour help and support

Option 2 - 21 days

  • All Option 1 Inclusions
  • San Ramon Volunteer Project
  • 3 meals per day during San Ramon Volunteer Project

Option 3 - 29 days

  • All Options 1 and 2 Inclusions
  • Time in Panama
  • Panama Island Tour
  • Free Day in Puerto Viejo
  • Free Day in Bocas del Toro
  • Farewell Dinner

What's Not Included

  • International Flights
  • Travel Insurance
  • Vaccinations
  • Meals unless indicated in the itinerary
  • Free Time Activities
  • Personal Expenses
  • Zapatillas Island Park Fee (Option 3)
  • Red Frog Beach Entrance Fee (Option 3)

Flights

Your flights to Costa Rica should arrive into Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in San Jose at any time on your programme start date, and you should arrange your return flight for your programme end date.

We recommend that you arrive before 6pm on your programme start date, as this will give you a chance to participate in the welcome meal on your first evening and get to know the people you’ll be sharing this experience with!

Reviews

I've done this trip

Write review

Overall Rating 9/10

(18 Reviews)

Georgina Askew

How would you rate your overall experience?

Please rate the service received from our team before departure

Please rate the service provided by the team in country

How do you rate your arrival overseas and orientation (if applicable)?

Please rate the accommodation during your stay

What were the highlights of your trip?

The people that were on this trip could not have been any better, made some life long friends. The activities such as the horse riding and the white water rafting were incredible. The beaches were beautiful, and let's forget or not forget the parties!!

Is there anything else you would have liked to have added to your itinerary?

No

Tips for other travellers?

Bring print out of flights Don't bring a microfibre towel Lots of mosquito repellent

Any other comments?

Anyone that is considering doing this trip, just book it! You'll never regret it!

Simon Thomas

How would you rate your overall experience?

Please rate the service received from our team before departure

Please rate the service provided by the team in country

How do you rate your arrival overseas and orientation (if applicable)?

Please rate the accommodation during your stay

What were the highlights of your trip?

Managed to get so much done, especially the physical activities like rafting and horse riding. Absolutely stunning country! The beaches are the best I've ever seen, especially in Panama. Worth every penny!! Such good organisation by RealGap, all the activities in the right order.

Is there anything else you would have liked to have added to your itinerary?

Maybe a visit to the Monteverde rainforest or maybe even to Nicaragua? But a very very well packed well organised itinerary.

Tips for other travellers?

Learn some basic Spanish (not needed but really helps) Bring lots of sports clothes for travelling/activities - you get very sweaty and by that point no one cares about how you look!! Don't bring microfibre towels. They don't work. Also bring a speaker!!

Georgina Askew

How would you rate your overall experience?

Please rate the service received from our team before departure

Please rate the service provided by the team in country

How do you rate your arrival overseas and orientation (if applicable)?

Please rate the accommodation during your stay

What were the highlights of your trip?

The people that were on this trip could not have been any better, made some life long friends. The activities such as the horse riding and the white water rafting were incredible. The beaches were beautiful, and let's forget or not forget the parties!!

Is there anything else you would have liked to have added to your itinerary?

No

Tips for other travellers?

Bring print out of flights Don't bring a microfibre towel Lots of mosquito repellent

Any other comments?

Anyone that is considering doing this trip, just book it! You'll never regret it!

natalie berman

How would you rate your overall experience?

Please rate the service received from our team before departure

Please rate the service provided by the team in country

How do you rate your arrival overseas and orientation (if applicable)?

Please rate the accommodation during your stay

What were the highlights of your trip?

Panama was absolutely amazing and I am so glad that we ended the trip that way

Is there anything else you would have liked to have added to your itinerary?

I don't think that there is anything that I would add to the itinerary

Tips for other travellers?

It is very expensive in Costa Rica even the food Embrace all the rice and beans

Jodie Easter

How would you rate your overall experience?

Please rate the service received from our team before departure

Please rate the service provided by the team in country

How do you rate your arrival overseas and orientation (if applicable)?

Please rate the accommodation during your stay

What were the highlights of your trip?

I liked the fact that we stayed in hostels, in large groups - meant that we got a proper experience. I really enjoyed the activities week and the home stay whilst in San Roman

Is there anything else you would have liked to have added to your itinerary?

Maybe a few more days in Panama as I thought it was the last week but only 4 days

Tips for other travellers?

1. Check with your bank that you will be going away so they don't block your account 2. Take two towels, one for the beach, one for shower 3. Take lots of insect repellent

Any other comments?

Tour guide Alberth was great, he did his job and so much more. Always answering our questions even if we had asked many times before, very knowledgeable and ensured we were always having a great time. Also think it was very good value for money,

alexander bradbury

How would you rate your overall experience?

Please rate the service received from our team before departure

Please rate the service provided by the team in country

How do you rate your arrival overseas and orientation (if applicable)?

Please rate the accommodation during your stay

What were the highlights of your trip?

Playa grande Turtle conservation Arenal Panama

Is there anything else you would have liked to have added to your itinerary?

Nope

Tips for other travellers?

Dont need a mosquito net Bring enough shower gel Bring enough sun cream

Any other comments?

Randall was the best tour guide ever

Brittany Gilchrist

How would you rate your overall experience?

Please rate the service received from our team before departure

Please rate the service provided by the team in country

How do you rate your arrival overseas and orientation (if applicable)?

Please rate the accommodation during your stay

What were the highlights of your trip?

There is something for everyone on this trip. For me, I loved it all! Turtle conservation, surfing at Playa Grande, zip lining, horse riding, immersion into the natural environment and local culture being highlights.

Is there anything else you would have liked to have added to your itinerary?

Stay at Playa Grande a couple more days!

Tips for other travellers?

Be prepared for some rain and don't let it dampen your spirits Learn some basic Spanish phrases to be able to use at the home stay Immerse yourself in the new culture while you are there and adopt its 'Pura Vida' ideology - makes everything all the more rewarding

Any other comments?

The trip was fantastic. A great way to experience such a beautiful country with so many activities to do with an awesome guide and an amazing group of travelling companions. An incredible experience your future self will thank you for!

averil pocock

How would you rate your overall experience?

Please rate the service received from our team before departure

Please rate the service provided by the team in country

How do you rate your arrival overseas and orientation (if applicable)?

Please rate the accommodation during your stay

What were the highlights of your trip?

The trip highlights for me was the horse riding it was awesome fun. Completing the foundations for building project and the turtle excavation (as no one expected to find baby turtles and then we found 12.)

Is there anything else you would have liked to have added to your itinerary?

Where we did our turtle project. We needed something to break up the day because we had nothing to do in the daytime, as there was no jobs to do (we did a beach clean but there was no rubbish to clean). So we just chilled but there is only so much chilling you can do! And the accommodation was horrible I will explain more about that at the bottom. We saw that you could go quad biking as everyday we saw people doing that. So by doing that in the week it would have broken up the day better.

Tips for other travellers?

Bring a good waterproof coat - you definitely need it! Bring a good camera - I took my waterproof one! Learn a bit of Spanish as the homestay is hard as they don't speak English. Also make sure you bring rehydration sachets - it helps getting use to the heat.

Any other comments?

There are a few other things I would like to add to improve this tour. As I really enjoyed it but there are things you could do to make it better. The first thing is the accommodation at the turtle project. For me I don’t want any future groups to go through what we had to. We literally arrived after a 4 hr journey still getting used to Costa Rica. We got shown to a small room and 10 of use were literally rammed. One fan worked the other one gave no cool air. So we were very quickly coated in sweat. It did turn out that we were meant to be in two rooms, but that didn’t happen. Also the surfing lesson wasn’t very good. 3 people turned up at the place we were staying, got some of the surfboards added wax and gave as a board. They introduced themselves one was a surf teacher the other two wakeboarders. We got split into 3 groups and got in the sea. I was with the wakeboarder, personally I felt he didn’t teach anything at all. I teach surfing in England and he showed me how not to teach surfing! We didn’t pay for a wakeboarder to teach us. Then they expected us to tip them. Also when we were in Bocas Del Toro. The room we stayed in had a leak and two of the girls had wet beds, which is not what you expect. Also when we did the homestay, I don’t remember reading anywhere that you could be by yourself staying with a family. I think that you should always have at least a buddy because when they don’t speak any English and you don’t speak Spanish, then the stay can be more difficult. I would have preferred to stay in the centre of San Ramon instead of the outskirts and a 20 minute walk we had to do every day to the bus stop.

katharine Sworn

How would you rate your overall experience?

Please rate the service received from our team before departure

Please rate the service provided by the team in country

How do you rate your arrival overseas and orientation (if applicable)?

Please rate the accommodation during your stay

alice llambias

How would you rate your overall experience?

Please rate the service received from our team before departure

Please rate the service provided by the team in country

How do you rate your arrival overseas and orientation (if applicable)?

Please rate the accommodation during your stay

What were the highlights of your trip?

Bocas del Toro, Playa Granda, Verdiazul turtles, White water rafting

Is there anything else you would have liked to have added to your itinerary?

Longer in Playa Grande.

Tips for other travellers?

Use travel companies to get orientated but then have sometime afterwards by yourself. It's better to use your phone/contact home as little as possible. Learn some of the local language.

Dates & Prices

Select your option:

Showing all departures (42)

Costa Rica Experience - 16 days 9th Jul 2017 £1,719 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 21 days 9th Jul 2017 £1,879 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 29 days 9th Jul 2017 £2,419 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 21 days 20th Aug 2017 Now £1,829 was £1,879 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 16 days 20th Aug 2017 Now £1,669 was £1,719 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 29 days 20th Aug 2017 £2,419 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 29 days 24th Sep 2017 £2,419 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 21 days 24th Sep 2017 £1,879 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 16 days 24th Sep 2017 £1,719 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 21 days 12th Nov 2017 £1,879 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 16 days 12th Nov 2017 £1,719 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 29 days 12th Nov 2017 £2,419 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 21 days 21st Jan 2018 £1,879 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 16 days 21st Jan 2018 £1,719 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 29 days 21st Jan 2018 £2,419 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 29 days 25th Feb 2018 £2,419 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 21 days 25th Feb 2018 £1,879 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 16 days 25th Feb 2018 £1,719 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 16 days 8th Apr 2018 £1,719 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 29 days 8th Apr 2018 £2,419 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 21 days 8th Apr 2018 £1,879 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 29 days 20th May 2018 £2,419 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 16 days 20th May 2018 £1,719 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 21 days 20th May 2018 £1,879 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 16 days 24th Jun 2018 £1,719 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 21 days 24th Jun 2018 £1,879 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 29 days 24th Jun 2018 £2,419 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 29 days 8th Jul 2018 £2,419 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 21 days 8th Jul 2018 £1,879 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 16 days 8th Jul 2018 £1,719 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 29 days 22nd Jul 2018 £2,419 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 16 days 22nd Jul 2018 £1,719 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 21 days 22nd Jul 2018 £1,879 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 16 days 19th Aug 2018 £1,719 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 29 days 19th Aug 2018 £2,419 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 21 days 19th Aug 2018 £1,879 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 21 days 23rd Sep 2018 £1,879 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 16 days 23rd Sep 2018 £1,719 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 29 days 23rd Sep 2018 £2,419 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 21 days 28th Oct 2018 £1,879 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 16 days 28th Oct 2018 £1,719 Book Now
Costa Rica Experience - 29 days 28th Oct 2018 £2,419 Book Now