EF College Break: Costa Rican Adventure Review

Just 9° off the equator, Costa Rica is full of sunshine and tropical beauty. In the past month, Joey and I have had the pleasure of spending ten glorious, adventure-filled days in this paradise. While we encountered snack-stealing monkeys, slumber engulfed sloths, and daring Costa Rican natives; the most excitement we had emanated from zip-lining, bungee jumping, and even white water rafting! Costa Rica treated us very well, to say the least. 

After several hours of flying and airport dwelling, we finally arrived in San Jose around 3pm on the first day of our adventure, where we gathered our bags and took the bus to our first hotel. We stayed at the Hotel Villa Tournon, a quaint, little hotel tucked in between the large businesses and restaurants, located just a few blocks away from the main town square. Little did we know, the first night we were there, happened to be the same night as the Festival De La Luz (Festival of Lights) in downtown San Jose. The festival is a way for the city to celebrate the official beginning of the Christmas season. The white, paper like confetti is thrown all over the city, as a representation of snow. Needless to say, we enjoyed a few drinks and watched the parade; then we celebrated into the wee hours of the morning. Night one in Costa Rica was a success! 

In the next few days of our trip, we had the opportunity to learn about Costa Rica’s wildlife, climate, and natural resources at the INBioparque, as well as take a trip to the Poás Volcano. Unfortunately, when we got to the crater of the volcano, it was much too foggy and rainy to see the crater. It was disappointing, but that just means we’ll have to take another trip there to see it! Unlike the rainy day before, the next day was full of sunshine and kayaking. After a short drive to Lake Arenal, which sits at the base of the ominous Arenal Volcano, we split into pairs and grabbed our paddles. We kayaked for about two hours around the lake and its many coves, and then took a swim in the frigid water! With a race back to the boat dock, the strength in our arms was depleted. So we ended the evening with a relaxing three hours at the Baldi Hot Springs, which is one of the nicest places we have ever been to! It has a resort style atmosphere, but all of the water is naturally heated from the nearby Arenal Volcano. The relaxing evening was definitely necessary for our sore arms!

Over the next two days, we traveled to Monteverde, (best scenic drive, ever!) and visited a local elementary school. The visit to the school was one of the most humbling and charming things I have ever had the pleasure of being a part of. The children were all dressed up in costumes and they performed a few traditional folk dances for us. After, we played a few games of soccer, in which, they completely owned us! They are some talented kids. And now that we’ve learned about Costa Rica, met with locals, and enjoyed the hot springs, it was time for some real adventure! Horseback riding! This was actually my first time ever riding a horse and it was awesome! Our group took a scenic, two-hour ride through the hills of Monteverde. Yes, we were all very sore the next day, but it was so worth it! And that was just the beginning of our adventures. Through the last few days of our trip, we zip-lined through the canopy of the rainforest, bungee jumped from a cable car with a 460 ft. drop, AND went white water rafting in class three rapids! Costa Rica exceeded any and all expectations we had before and we truly had the time of our lives! We experienced the thrills and adventure, we were humbled by the locals, and most of all, we learned that life isn’t about the things you own or the amount of money you have, it’s about the experiences and the memories you make along the way! Thank you for an awesome time, Costa Rica. ¡Pura Vida!

To view the video from our trip, click here.

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  1. Devon
    Devon says:

    I am thinking of taking the Costa Rica tour with ef college break and was wondering what the accommodations were like, what types of food did you eat, was the water safe to drink, and how much extra cash to bring along? Thanks

    • Joseph Hallgren
      Joseph Hallgren says:

      Hi Devon!

      Thanks for the comment! The accommodations were actually nice. although its not like we stayed there for more than sleep and to wind down at the end of the day. A lot of us spent all of our free time trying to explore the area where we were staying. My favorite place that we stayed was in Jaco, it was a short walk to the area filled with bars and the beach, and it had a pool as well as an outdoor area for seating that was covered.

      I can’t remember if we ever had any issues with drinking water at all and I don’t think I ever thought to ask before drinking it, but that would be something to ask EF College Break or your trips guide.

      In all, I personally spent about $700 including buying presents for family as our trip was right before Christmas (they were cheap, maybe $30). I didn’t really pay attention to what we were ordering for food/drinks in terms of how much it cost since I wanted to just have a good time, and I had budgeted about $100 per day (higher than EF recommends). Myself and some friends I met on the trip also went out to a nicer restaurant on our last night.

      The food in Costa Rica is super simple for the most part. A lot of rice and beans for sides, and they do have various different meats, obviously chicken. In Jaco there is a Fish Taco place I would highly recommend, as well as a burger place (the logo is like a flame, but I can’t remember the name), and there is a bar called Moonshiners where the owner let us sign the wall! If you’re not a picky eater the trip will be a breeze, but in all you should be able to find food you like, there are pizza places, McDonalds, and steak places in San Jose near where we stayed.

      If you’re a first time traveler, send us a message on Facebook and we will send you a code for $100 off your trip! (Good for any EF Trip) As EF has changed how codes are shared. I will be going on the New Years European Roadtrip in a little less than three weeks, so keep an eye out for more blogs about that trip!

      Travel safe!