Outward Bound Costa Rica


OUTWARD BOUND COSTA RICA challenges participants to expand capacity in leadership, intercultural competence, Spanish language, self-awareness, and life skills. For over 70 years, participants have chosen to embark on a life-changing journey with Outward Bound worldwide. The objectives of Outward Bound Costa Rica programs are to facilitate personal growth and success in the following areas: CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT

  • Demonstrating increased self-confidence and self-actualization
  • Demonstrating compassion toward others and living a healthy and balanced life


  • Demonstrating the ability to set goals, and inspire and guide others to achieve them
  • Demonstrating the ability to collaborate, communicate, and resolve conflicts effectively


  • Demonstrating social and environmental responsibility
  • Actively engaging in service to others


  • Demonstrating success against traditional measures of school achievement
  • Connecting concepts and Spanish learned in the classroom with real-life experiences

HIGHLY SKILLED, safety-conscious, trained staff lead OBCR adventure-based programs. Our team is comprised of both local and foreign national staff dedicated to creating the highest quality program for our students. The majority of our Instructor staff has completed their training with Outward Bound Costa Rica and hold certificates in Wilderness First Responder, First Aid, CPR, AED for the Professional Rescuer, Whitewater Rescue, Technical Rope Rescue, International Rafting Federation Guide Class I-IV, Instructor Judgment Training, Land Instructor Training, Sea Kayak Training, Whitewater Kayak Training, NAUI Advanced Open Water Scuba Diver, and Waterfront Lifeguard, depending on their area of specialty. For each course, we strive for one male and one female instructor, one English speaker, and one Spanish speaker. There is one instructor for every 5 – 6 students. The minimum number of instructors per course is 2. Intern instructors are those outstanding students who have completed our fall and/or spring Outdoor Leader Semester in which they earned their certifications. This hands-on training prepares them to take leadership roles within OBCR in subsequent years. OUR HOMESTAY FAMILIES have worked with Outward Bound Costa Rica since its beginning in 1992. Most sons and daughters have been course instructors at varying times, and are called upon regularly to assist with our hikes. The families live along the hike route in Piedras Blancas on which we travel and own the land, farm the land and teach our students traditional methods of farming, harvesting, cooking, and camping. The students stay as a group of the family farms. Students on course are with their instructors at all times. Evening activities include a nightly meeting where the discussion takes place regarding learnings of the day, highlights, and lowlights of the day, open questions or discussions brought to the group by the students and the Moon Frog Ceremony marking an exceptional student’s transformation that day. Students are assigned roles each day, with roles rotating between all students on course. Roles include the Cacique (Leader), the Awa (Spiritual Leader), the Shaman (First Aid Person), the Cocineros (Cooks), Trapos (Dishwashers), the Hanashita (Journal Writer), the Professor (Teacher), Naturalista (Environmentalist), and Agua-Mono (Water Monkey). Food and supplies for the hike are split between all on the hike including the instructors, and any dietary specification for food allergies is kept separate from the main food supply. OBCR routinely has students who have dietary food restrictions and we will accommodate any conditions that arise. OBCR COURSE descriptions and pricing is located on our website www.outwardboundcr.org Pricing is all-inclusive, with the exception of airfare. All students fly into SJO, Juan Santamaria International Airport located in San Jose, the capital city of Costa Rica. Groups range in size from 5 - 15 students on our open enrollment summer courses, 8 - 12 students on semester courses and 5 – 20 students on custom courses. Group accommodations vary from course to course. While in Costa Rica students either camp outdoors under large tarps or tents or stay in dorm rooms with host families or on our basecamps. In Panama students camp near the beaches on approved host family land, and in Nicaragua students camp at community centers. Students and instructors are within sight of each other. Students are in sleeping bags or on mattresses depending on where they are staying. All of our activities involve physical exertion and take place in remote and rugged terrain. The most “pampered” of our courses are the surf and community service courses. All-terrain has its unique and impressive beauty whether in the mountains, on the rivers or by the sea. Course activities include hiking, wilderness trekking, mountaineering, backpacking, sailing, snorkeling, scuba diving, river and sea kayaking, canoeing, whitewater rafting, rappelling, wakeboarding, surfing, boogie boarding, rock wall climbing, tree climbing, zip lining, cultural activities and service projects. All of our courses offer extensive service components. The community service projects focus on people, construction, animals, marine biology and environmental/reforestation/ecological issues. Our semester courses, River to Sea, Coast to Coast each earn students 12 hours of academic credit and Outdoor Leader Semester earns students 10 hours of academic credit. OUTWARD BOUND COSTA RICA offers a mix of courses to a wide range of students. They share a number of traits in common. They have a passion for the outdoors, are high achieving students, welcome opportunities to push themselves beyond known limits, and are open to diversity and the unknown. They are willing to unplug from their electronic world and live in the moment in Costa Rica, Panama and/or Nicaragua, living “Pura Vida,” as we say in Costa Rica. Summer open enrollment students range in age from 14 to 18, semester students range in age from 18 to 24, custom courses range from Girl Scout troops, to high school classes, to university freshman, to families and everything in between. We contract with several other Outward Bound schools, local Tico schools, and high school/university scholar societies. OBCR’S ALUMNI and their families serve as OBCR Ambassadors and are happy to answer questions about their experiences and courses. Please contact us at enrollment@outwardboundcr.org, or call us at 800.676.2018 for a list of recent participants.

This school offers programs in:
  • English
  • Spanish

View Summer courses » View courses »


This school also offers:



Campus Full time 65 - 85  February 2019 Costa Rica San José

Our gap year and semester offerings allow students to learn and master new skills as they venture on challenging expeditions outside of the traditional classroom. [+]

Our gap year and semester abroad courses are ideal for college students and recent high school graduates looking to test their tenacity and cultivate their personal leadership style in the unique tropical wilderness of Costa Rica, Panama, and Nicaragua. Academic credit available for those who apply.

We have specifically designed our gap year and semester courses to be different from other outdoor programs, traditional study abroad alternatives, or any travel experience. Join us and see how much you can learn about yourself and the world around you with the tropical rainforests, rivers, and reefs as your classroom.

For over 70 years, Outward Bound worldwide has provided high impact, life skills, and leadership development adventures.... [-]


Campus Full time 3 - 85  Open Enrollment Costa Rica San José

Our customized group courses are designed to meet the goals of the high school, university, and other organizational, social or civic groups. Group courses utilize a wilderness-based classroom, service learning, and cultural immersion to cultivate leadership, team building, and personal growth in a bilingual setting.


Course length ranges from 3 days to several week expeditions. Groups must have at least 5 participants and there is no limit to the number of participants overall. Spanish language and culture courses are the core of our organization, revealing a Costa Rica that most will never have the opportunity to experience. Activities range from trekking through remote rainforest with local guides and practicing language skills to making traditional meals alongside homestay families and contributing to sustainable living and conservation efforts. Leadership development courses facilitate experiences that encourage personal growth and team building for outdoor educators, sports teams, and peer leaders alike.... [-]

Summer courses


Campus Full time 2 - 8 weeks February 2019 Costa Rica San José

Our Summer Courses combine challenging adventure activities with service learning through which students develop vital life skills as well as expose themselves to the rich, local traditions of Costa Rica and Panama. Open to students 14 - 18 years old. [+]

Our Outward Bound Costa Rica Summer Courses in Costa Rica and Panama provide learning experiences that allow participants to build life skills, intercultural competence, Spanish language, and self-awareness. Through varied adventure challenges and service learning expeditions, students expand self-awareness, step up into leadership roles, and discover that they are capable of more than they ever thought possible.

Combine our two-week courses below to create a program to suite you and your summer schedule.

SERVICE, HIKE & HOMESTAY - Discover the true meaning of “off the beaten path” as you embark on a deep-jungle trek where spectacular rainforest valleys, cascading waterfalls, and winding rivers will both awe and challenge you.... [-]

Summer Rainforest Trek & Scuba Dive in Costa Rica (Ages 19+)

Campus Full time 1 - 2 weeks July 2019 Costa Rica San José

Adults ages 19 and up can discover Costa Rica or Panama in one action-packed week or combine both the courses below for a two-week unforgettable experience. [+]

Adults ages 19 and up can discover Costa Rica or Panama in one action-packed week or combine both the courses below for a two-week unforgettable experience.

Courses & Date Options 19+ Panama Scuba & Service (1 Week)

Volunteer on service projects, learn about the Panamanian way of life and earn your NAUI scuba certification in tropical Caribbean waters while diving among vibrant coral reefs, colorful fish, mangroves, and a sunken ship.

Tuition: $1,640 Dates: July 6-14, 2019 19+ Costa Rica Hike & Service (1 Week)

Hike through remote and spectacular regions of Costa Rica surrounded by rainforest valleys, cascading waterfalls, and winding rivers as you make your way from homestay to homestay. You’ll also, whitewater raft or zip line on this packed one-week adventure.... [-]