Coast in Costa Rica

A Costa Rican Adventure

Fall 2021


"Pura Vida!” cannot be passively observed from a distance—it must be experienced.

Students should expect to get your hands (and feet, and clothes) dirty as you board canal boats, kayaks, rafts, and zip-lines to get an up-close and personal look at the ever-changing landscapes and unparalleled animal and plant life. Before long, you’ll learn the Pura Vida way: by enjoying each day to the fullest.
Students interested in the Costa Rica trip can register for the class (IS200 with Dr. Bailey) any time after spring registration begins.  Students are advised to register as early as possible as popular trips will fill up quickly.

Group Leader: Dr. Justin Bailey

Registration for the Sustainability and Culture in Costa Rica will begin in March 2021.

Sign up for the waitlist

Your Itinerary

Day 1: Fly to Costa Rica

Arrive in San José: Touch down in San José, the Costa Rican capital.

Dinner: Enjoy your first meal together as a group. From this point on, you’ll enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner together every day.

Day 2: San José | Tortuguero

Braulio Carrillo National Park

Founded in 1978, this park was built to preserve the wildlife of the area, from jaguars and ocelots to quetzals and eagles. Take in views of the dense overhanging plants, nearby valleys, and volcano craters.

Boat ride to Tortuguero

Founded in the 1930s by Colombians exporting sea turtles and coconuts, Tortuguero Village today is accessible only by boat and home to just 700 residents. Begin your visit with free time in Tortuguero Village, gateway to Tortuguero National Park.


Day 3: Tortuguero

Tortuguero National Park

Visit Tortuguero National Park, the most important Caribbean breeding ground for the green sea turtles who have lived here for more than 100 million years. Next, explore the twists and turns of the Tortuguero Canals on a boat excursion. High rainfall, a convergence of freshwater, and the Caribbean sea make the beaches, canals, lagoons, and wetlands of Tortuguero areas of exceptional biodiversity. See if you can spot a howler monkey, toucan, or maybe even a caiman.

Day 4: Tortuguero | Sarapiquí region

Travel to the Sarapiquí region

Make your way to the Sarapiquí region, a county in the Heredia province known for its lush rainforests, outdoor activities, and incredible array of flora and fauna. Keep a lookout for the endangered green macaw, who makes its home here.

Sarapiquí canopy tour

See the rainforest like never before on your canopy tour. Strap into your safety harness and glide from platform to platform through the treetop greenery. As you ride down a zip line, you’ll get a bird’s-eye view of the breathtaking world around you. If you’re lucky, you can spot some of the area’s indigenous wildlife, including monkeys, caymans, crocodiles, and iguanas. Those who opt not to participate in the canopy tour will enjoy free time in the Sarapiquí region.

Day 5: Sarapiquí region | Arenal region

Whitewater rafting

Join an optional whitewater rafting excursion. Take in the Arenal region’s beautiful scenery when you traverse quieter river segments. Then, feel the spray of the rapids as you paddle your way through. Those who do not participate will enjoy free time in the Sarapiquí region.

Travel to the Arenal region

As you continue to the Arenal region, watch for the tremendous cone that emerges from the green hills of Alajuela—the mile-high Arenal Volcano. Overlooking the San Carlos plain and the Pacific lowlands, the Arenal Volcano has been active for the past 7,000 years.

Hot springs

Take a dip in the area’s relaxing hot springs. These pools are naturally heated by thermal energy from the nearby volcano.

Day 6: Arenal region

Kayak on Lake Arenal

The Arenal Volcano serves as a watershed for Lake Arenal, which you’ll see up-close on a kayaking excursion. Glide across the rippling blue water to hidden coves and lagoons. Be sure to keep an eye to the sky—more than 400 species of bird fly overhead here.

Hike to La Fortuna Waterfall

Lace up your walking shoes and hike through thick forest vegetation to the spectacular La Fortuna Waterfall. Surrounded by tall, green cliffs, this 200-foot cascade churns the aqua pool below

Day 7: Arenal region | Guanacaste

Rincón de la Vieja National Park

This morning, along the way to Guanacaste, you’ll explore Rincón de la Vieja National Park and learn about the area’s remarkable array of plant and animal life. Located high in the mountains, this rain and cloud forest boasts numerous geothermal hot springs. The highlight is the Blue Lagoon; its color and name come from the minerals in the stones beneath the lagoon, which is fed by a giant waterfall.


As you arrive in Guanacaste, take in the craggy bluffs cloaked in forests that stretch above you. Along these roads you’re bound to encounter local cattle ranchers driving oxen carts farther inland.

Day 8: Guanacaste


Watch for sea turtles, colorful corals, and all sorts of interesting and unusual marine life as you snorkel through Guanacaste’s clear Pacific waters.

Palo Verde National Park

This park is home to one of the last tropical dry rainforests in Central America, and many different bird species flock to its lush trees and marshlands. See how many you can spot as you explore the grounds.

Palo Verde Boat Tour

Get a whole new perspective on the diverse wildlife of this region on an eye-opening boat tour. Look for monkeys, crocodiles, and more as you cruise the Tempisque River.

Day 9: Depart for home

Transfer to the airport and check in for your flight home.