Pura Vida (“Pure Life”) is our introductory international community service and adventure travel program for middle school students.
He absorbed so much good from this trip and came back changed and more mature and more open to what the world is and the beauty of it all." - Parent of Benjamin L., Costa Rica: Pura Vida
Keep scrolling to see for yourself the true meaning of “Pura Vida!”
Home to more than 500,000 species, Costa Rica is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. This country may be small, but its dense rainforests, tropical coastlines, and volcanic jungles house nearly 4% of the total species estimated in the world.
Surf Puerto Viejo
Puerto Viejo is known throughout the world as a coveted surfing destination due to the high quality of surf breaks along the beaches. Good surfing paired with a multicultural, laid-back attitude makes Puerto Viejo perfect for every level of surfer.
The Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge, on the border of Costa Rica and Nicaragua, is a wetland reserve home to endangered species like monkeys, three-toed sloths, caimans, and turtles. Be on the lookout for a Basilisk Lizard, which can run across the surface of the water!
Cahuita National Park
Cahuita National Park runs along the Caribbean coast in the Southeast corner of Costa Rica. Established in 1970, the park protects 2,635 acres of land and marine habitat. From mangroves to pristine beaches to rainforests, Cahuita captures the “Pura Vida” spirit by sharing the various habitats Costa Rica has to offer: all in one place!
There are plenty of reptiles for which Costa Rica is famous, and iguanas are the stars. They can be found just about everywhere, including the beaches. Costa Rica is home to about 30 species of mammals but many, many more reptiles.
Costa Rica is the ideal place to hone Spanish language skills with the warm and friendly ticos!
Widely referred to as “jewels of the earth,” rainforest jungles are home to two-thirds of all animal and plant species on the planet. A magnificent world awaits discovery with brightly colored birds, in-your-face howler monkeys, and slow-as-molasses sloths.
We strap ourselves into a harness, latch to a cable, and zip along 525-foot-high lines through the canopy surrounded by the scenic beauty of the rainforest.
The Bribri are an indigenous group that live in the coastal and mountainous regions of Costa Rica and Northern Panama. Our group visits the Bribri to learn about medicinal plants and how they produce and prepare a food with deep cultural and culinary significance: chocolate!
Even if they aren’t seen, they definitely are heard. Pound for pound, the howler is one of the loudest animals on the planet!
A tico-style meal of mixed rice and beans served with eggs and tortillas is a great way to start the day. Add a dollop of sour cream and there is nothing quite like the country’s national dish!
With 750 miles of coastline, there is a special place for everyone. Many of the country's beaches (playas) are part of a national forest or nature reserve, making it easy to see wild creatures only a shell's throw away from the beach.
Sea Kayak: Caribbean Coast
Hike: Cahuita National Park
Surf: Caribbean Coast
Culture: Bribri Indigenous community, Turrialba Valley
Tuition includes all activities and food while on the trip, along with a basic travel protection package. The Road Less Traveled has purchased the Group Protection plan post-departure benefits on behalf of all participants. If interested in the optional Cancel for Any Reason benefits please contact the RLT office for rates and information.
While in San Jose and along the Caribbean coast, we stay in a hotel. Showers are available in the hotels; however, we shower every three to four days to conserve resources and support sustainability. In Turrialba, we stay in a community center where bucket showers will be available every three to four days. During our time in the Jungle we sleep in platform tents with mattresses where showers are available. Bathrooms range from flush toilets in hotels to latrines throughout jungle time.
Newark, NJ (EWR)
A leader-escorted round-trip flight will be available (but not required) for those travelers who wish to fly with a leader. Please contact our office for details.
Join in on the fun! Check out #PuraVidaRLT for a behind-the-scenes look at photos from past participants and leaders.
This summer we successfully ran our Colorado Wolf Refuge program allowing students to get outside, socialize with their peers, and volunteer their time. After months of quarantine and increased exposure to technology, time in the outdoors has proven to be exactly what students needed. With an abundance of caution and well defined protocols, we were able to keep students safe, healthy, and happy. We are confident that we are able to continue offering life changing experiences in the outdoors, mitigating risk to keep students safe. We encourage you to learn more here about our policies related to COVID-19.
Arrive in San Jose, Costa Rica. Meet the group and rest up at the hotel.
Collect supplies. Head out of San Jose due south to the service site in Turrialba. Spend the next eight days helping community members with light construction projects and environmental projects in permaculture, composting, and the 3 R's.
Move to Puerto Viejo, one of Costa Rica’s most spectacular surf spots. Take a surf lesson, kayak the Caribbean, and soak up some sun on the beach of Cahuita National Park. Learn about holistic medicine and traditional chocolate harvesting from the Bribri people.
Head to the Turrialba Valley and the Pacuare River. Raft class 2 and 3 rapids through the rainforest. Zip-line through the canopy, hike to a pristine waterfall, swim in the nearby natural pools.
Reminisce over a final feast in San Jose.
Say final goodbyes and board flights home.
Please note that, given the unprecedented nature of travel currently, this itinerary is subject to change.
The Road Less Traveled requires an up-to-date tetanus shot or booster (within the last nine years). In addition, we require an RLT Physician's Form to be signed by the partcipant's physician, affirming they are healthy to travel on an RLT trip.
Please visit the CDC’s website to read more about recommended vaccinations for travel to Costa Rica. The decision to get some, none, or all of the recommended vaccinations should be discussed with your family doctor.
We will use a combination of quarantining prior to arrival, receiving negative test results, distancing from other groups, utilizing outdoor spaces, masking when distancing and outdoor spacing isn't possible, and sanitizing regularly to create our isolated bubble. We have mitigation plans should a participant or staff present with symptoms of COVID-19, and have extensively researched testing sites and medical facilities in the areas we travel. We are in constant communiation with top experts in the field to stay educated so we're able to make the best decisions for RLT, our participants, and our staff. We have had to completely rethink our itineraries to create COVID-19-safe programming while still maintaining the integrity of the RLT experience.
For an emailed copy of this program’s day-to-day calendar, please call our office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. CST at 773-342-5200 and we’ll happily send you one!
It is imperative that no one make any travel arrangements until RLT provides instructions for specific arrival and departure time windows. Those details are typically released in mid-spring.
Families are individually responsible for booking their own airfare to get their student from home to the starting destination on the first day of the trip, and from the ending destination back home on the last day of the trip.
The Pura Vida program offers an optional escorted flight for participants. All interested students will meet a leader at the Newark International Airport (EWR). Students also have the option of meeting a leader incountry on arrival day in San Jose, Costa Rica.
If you wish to have your participant fly directly into the starting location, please call the office for details.