"It’s amazing what a trail and a backpack can teach you. You might just come back a different person, and probably for the better." - Student Quote
The Coast to Coast Semester course, previously known as Tricountry, provides the unique opportunity to improve your Spanish and expand your cultural awareness while trekking through remote villages, rainforest valleys, and into the homes of welcoming, local families. Travel across each Costa Rican border to dive into the Caribbean Sea of Panama and complete a community service project in the Rivas Province of Nicaragua. Earn up to 12 academic credits upon successful completion of course.
Course Dates:September 14 - December 7, 2013 (85 Days)
Food, accommodations, equipment, and on-course transportation are included in tuition. Airfare to and from Costa Rica is not included. Read through our Preparing Page
. To enroll, fill out an enrollment form
to begin the process. We will then send information about how to prepare, what to pack, and how to submit your deposit to save your spot on course.
During your 85-day course, you will enjoy six distinct activity phases interspersed with cultural and challenge activities and transition days--where you are able to take a break from your time in the wilderness to reconnect with friends and family back home.
Orientation, Spanish Language & Certification Phase (7-8 days)
The Tri-Country course starts at our base camp just outside of San Jose, where you will take classes to earn your First Aid and CPR certifications and build a foundation in the Spanish language. You will participate in five, half-day lessons with a local language instructor geared to your individual Spanish skills. Throughout this week, you will also enjoy various cultural excursions and group challenge activities.
Land Phase (24-27 days)
The cornerstone activity of your Tri-Country experience will be the coast-to-coast Costa Rica hike. This rainforest trek will bring you into some of the most remote regions of Costa Rica, allowing you to practice your Spanish and gain insight into the mysteries of the jungle and the people who live there. Backpack, cook, and camp while learning about wildlife, exploring the terrain and overcoming personal and team challenges. The trek brings the group to a remote village where you will spend a few nights with Costa Rican families, experiencing their famous hospitality and becoming immersed in the rural lifestyle. You will help with traditional activities such as harvesting and grinding sugarcane, making tortillas and playing soccer with local children. During this phase, you will also participate in your “solo,” which is a time to disconnect from the rest of the world and enjoy some self-reflection in a safe, wilderness setting.
Nicaragua Phase (6-8 days)
Coast to Coast is the only semester program who travels into the beautiful country of Nicaragua. There, you will participate in a multi-day service project near San Juan del Sur. Past projects have included constructing a school to house classes designed for adults working towards their high school equivalency, and contributing to projects designed to reduce woodsmoke inhalation and rainforest depletion. The group will also spend a day in the colonial town of Granada. Located alongside Lake Granada, this town is filled with colorful architecture and history.
Beach Phase (9-12 days)
The surf portion of the course takes place on Costa Rica's Pacific Coast, where possible surf sites include Manuel Antonio, Playa Hermosa, Avellanas and Playa Negra. You will gain or improve your surfing skills with the help of our surf instructors, who provide detailed, holistic instruction about how to read waves, tides and currents. Through both group and personal instruction, you will learn how to catch waves and improve your board stance to ride more challenging breaks. In addition to surfing, students often volunteer at a nearby sea turtle refuge, where, depending on the nesting season, you may have the opportunity to release newly hatched baby turtles into the wild.
River Phase (7-11 days)
The river phase brings you to some of Costa Rica's best whitewater rafting, including the Rio General, Pacuare, Pejibaye and Savegre. Spend the days riding Class III and IV rapids, while cooking and camping under the stars at night. Additionally, you will learn both raft guiding skills and whitewater kayaking.
Panama Phase (8-10 days)
The group will travel to the Caribbean archipelago of Bocas del Toro in northern Panama where you will visit with indigenous communities and participate in water sports such as wakeboarding and sailing. Then, in the crystal-clear waters off the island of Solarte, you will have the chance to earn your NAUI Scuba Diver Certification. You will participate in several dives, progressing from contained, shallow-water dives to more advanced open-water dives. You will also complete readings, written assignments and participate in on-land theory sessions required for certification.
- Male & Female, ages 17+
- Typical age range: 17-22
- Average group size: 8
- Commitment to the shared group experience
- Prior hiking and/or backpacking experience recommended
- Interest in Latin American language and culture recommended
Costa Rica is a stable, functioning democracy and generally considered to be a very safe country. Most of the existing crime tends to be opportunistic (pick-pocketing and mugging) and general occurs in the larger cities at night. Students are never left unattended in metropolitan areas and do not carry their valuables during the course, so it is highly unlikely that any student would be a victim of a crime.
Health & Medications
Our staff does everything we can to ensure the that students take all required medications. To help us with this, it is vital that all students complete the medication and medical history sections of the required online enrollment form. We request that you submit your online enrollment form as early as possible to ensure our team can contact you with additional information or requests for clarification or further details. All students are asked to bring extra supplies of all prescription medication in the event some is lost or damaged while on course. Instructors hold and distribute students’ oral medication for the duration of the course. Outward Bound Costa Rica’s only requirement is a Tetanus vaccination. Other than that, there are no required inoculations to enter Costa Rica, but it is a good idea to check with your physician for recommendations of optional inoculations and health precautions.
Food, Water, & Special Diets
All food and water which students access during their course is safe and clean. At our main rainforest base facility it is safe to drink water from the tap. While on course, students are directed to safe water sources by their instructors. All food at our main rainforest base is safely prepared and thoroughly cooked by our cooking staff. On course, students carry food with them and prepare it as a group under the direct supervision of their instructors. Outward Bound Costa Rica has experience with a variety of dietary requirements including vegetarian, gluten-free, lactose intolerance and nut allergies. All students are asked to disclose ALL dietary restrictions in their online enrollment forms to best ensure their needs are met. All meals are served family-style, meaning that students will not have options when it comes to what they eat. Thus it is important that all students be prepared to try new foods and accommodate the dietary needs of their coursemates. Note: Specialty food items geared towards those with dietary restrictions are difficult to find in Costa Rica and surrounding course areas. If you have a very restrictive diet and/or will be attending a course longer than 15 days, you may be asked to bring some food items with you to supplement local products.
With the help of our course instructors, we have compiled comprehensive Packing Lists for each course. Your Packing List will be included in the materials we email to students when they’ve begun the enrollment process. If you have questions about packing and have not submitted an enrollment form, please give us a call 800-676-2018. A common misconception about Costa Rica is that it is always hot. Our Base Camp and many of the camping spots during the hiking phases of courses are almost one mile above sea level. It can get quite chilly at night. This is why we recommend all students bring at least one light sweater or fleece. Also, while hiking in the rainforest it will generally rain for part of each day (usually in the afternoon). A decent rain jacket with a hood is highly recommended.
There are three ways to pay for the course: Visa Credit Card, personal or cashiers check, or wire transfer. We do NOT accept money orders. For complete payment instructions, please view our Payment Information
Travel insurance is not required to come to Costa Rica or to participate in a Outward Bound Costa Rica course, but it is recommended. Many insurance companies offer short-term policies to cover the specific dates of travel. Most of these policies can be purchased instantly online. In addition to medical expenses, some travel insurance policies cover expenses such as lost luggage or cancelled flights. We highly recommend that all families contact their insurance company to request information about international coverage. If you do decide to purchase travel insurance, please read the fine print. Many policies do not cover injuries sustained during adventure activities.
Hold your spot on course by submitting a $500 USD deposit
towards the full course tuition. Deposits can be paid with a Visa credit card, wire transfer or by personal check.