Day 1 :
Embark on your Turtles and Ecology in Costa Rica Trip
- Departure from home airport:
Relax and enjoy your scheduled flight.
- Upon arrival:
Your International Studies Abroad (ISA) Program Director will meet you at the airport, and your private coach will be waiting to transfer your group to Heredia. Your accommodations for the next two nights will be in Heredia—daily breakfast will be included at the hotel.
Heredia is the capital city of the Heredia Province, one of Costa Rica’s most beautiful areas. Nestled in the foothills of the dormant Barva Volcano and surrounded by lush green hills, Heredia is dotted with coffee plantations, tropical forests, and national parks and offers visitors an ideal location for exploring the region's natural beauty. Only 11 kilometers (less than 7 miles) from San José, the capital city of Costa Rica, your group will also have access to city conveniences. Heredia is a refreshingly pleasant and relaxed Costa Rican city, filled with enjoyable parks and lively plazas you can explore.
- Group dinner:
Enjoy dinner in a local restaurant.
Day 2 :
- Safety and orientation session:
Participate in an orientation, where you’ll learn about Heredia and Costa Rica, health and safety information, what to do in an emergency, important reminders, and more.
- Heredia walking tour:
ISA staff will lead you on a walking tour of Heredia’s main historical sites. You’ll see the Fortin, Parque Central, Casa de Cultura, the Mercado Central, and the National University (Universidad Nacional) along the way.
- Welcome lunch:
Enjoy a special welcome lunch together.
- Afternoon Spanish class:
Get a crash course in basic Spanish phrases to help your transition to life in Costa Rica. The Spanish you learn today will help you communicate with your host family, navigate the city, order at restaurants, and more.
Day 3 :
Medical Plants and Sugar Cane in Arenal
- Continue on your journey:
Your group will have a private bus and driver for the next five days. Your accommodations for tonight will be in Arenal. While here, you’ll enjoy breakfast and dinner at the hotel.
- Arenal Vida Campesina:
Today, you’ll transfer to the Arenal Volcano area. En route, your group will stop at Arenal Vida Campesina, where you’ll learn about medicinal plants and the sugar cane process. Afterward, enjoy a delicious Costa Rican lunch.
Arenal is famous for its tall and imposing volcano, an unavoidable presence while traveling within this part of the country. Arenal’s perfectly symmetrical shape makes it a sightseer’s dream.
- Afternoon activities:
This afternoon, you’ll have free time to enjoy the hotel’s facilities, including the hot springs. There are also natural exhibitions such as a butterfly, turtle, and crocodile farms.
Day 4 :
- Morning zipline excursion:
Enjoy an exhilarating bird's eye view of the rainforest canopy while flying through one of the world's largest zipline systems. Your tour features bilingual guides, an introductory talk, a cart ride, and an 18-meter tower. The seven-wire canopy tour, which covers 2.6 kilometers, is above the treetops and overlooks the volcano. There are also self-guided tour options to visit the nature sanctuary, butterfly garden, frog ponds, and Villa Maleku.
- Continue to Guanacaste:
After your canopy tour, the group will travel to Guanacaste and the Playa Negra (Black Beach). Guanacaste is famous for its sun-splashed beaches and great Pacific surf. The region has a dry tropical climate and a varied landscape—popular white-sand beaches lining the coast and the Guanacaste Mountains to the east, featuring fascinating national parks and caldera volcanoes.
Your base for the next three nights will be in Guanacaste.
Day 5 :
Flamingo Beach—Sailing and Turtle Conservation
- Onward to Flamingo Beach:
Today, you’ll have an early morning departure to Flamingo Beach, which is about an hour’s drive. Here, you’ll enjoy a two-hour sailing trip with wonderful views, basking in the sun, snorkeling, paddleboarding, or kayaking in the blue waters. Your expert crew will round out the experience with personal support as well as delicious food.
- Turtle conservation project work:
After a brief return to the hotel, you’ll begin your Verdiazul Turtle Nesting project at Verdiazul Playa Junquillal with a snack and a lecture about turtles. Your group will then go to the beach to practice finding footprints as well as search for and identify turtle nests. If there have been births that day, you’ll release the baby turtles!
Day 6 :
- Morning free time:
Savor some free time and lunch at the hotel.
- Return to Verdiazul at Playa Junquillal:
After you arrive at Verdiazul, you’ll have a snack, listen to a conservation talk, and begin your volunteer project work. If there are births today, you’ll release the baby turtles. Your group will then have dinner together before a night patrol on the beach.
Day 7 :
Return to Heredia
- Morning free time:
This morning is at your leisure, so have fun at the beach and with the hotel facilities.
- Farewell lunch:
Today, a farewell lunch will be included.
- Return to Heredia:
After your farewell lunch, the group will travel from Guanacaste to Heredia, where your accommodations for the night will include breakfast.
- Farewell dinner:
Enjoy your group’s final dinner together in a local restaurant.
- Final reflection and discussion session:
This evening, you’ll make the final entries in your Reflection Journal and share some of the most significant observations and perspectives that have taken shape throughout your Turtle Conservation in Costa Rica program. We’ll also discuss how these experiences may be most relevant for us all as we return home.
Day 8 :
Departure from San Jose
Your rewarding and enjoyable Turtle Conservation and Ecology Tour in Costa Rica comes to an end as your ISA Program Director accompanies your group to the airport on your final day.