About this Study Abroad Program
The North Pacific Coast of Costa Rica offers among the best and most easily accessible diving sites in the country, an abundance of marine life, and vast expanses of tropical dry forests that often line the darker sandy beaches that lend Playas del Coco its name.
Playas del Coco seems like a sleepy seaside town at first glance, but once you’ve familiarized yourself, you’ll find that it’s a friendly and lively place where tourists easily mix with locals and other travellers from around the globe. At night, the central plaza fills with people, food, laughter and dancing in the true pura vida spirit.
The beachside town and its private villas give students easy access to a variety of excursions, experiences, natural wonders and quiet study spaces. Students will have the opportunity to hike inland trails, zip line above treetops, climb hanging bridges, relax in the mineral-rich hot springs, boat on the volcanic Lake Arenal, and swim along the idyllic coastline. Because Playas del Coco sits in a natural horseshoe-shaped bay, the waves here are easier to swim and snorkel in than other parts of the country, where the surf pounds the shore.
For those who want to get closer to nature and learn about its inner workings, this area is an ideal spot to get an up-close look at an array of animals, including many species of seabirds and monkeys, and the hundreds of sea turtles who come ashore to lay their eggs each year. The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve provides the opportunity to learn about cloud forest ecology and the thousands of species connected to it. Nighttime hikes offer the chance to uncover nocturnal animals not visible during the day.
No study abroad experience to Costa Rica would be complete without a stop in Arenal Volcano National Park. Arenal is one of the world’s most active volcanoes. At over a mile high, it is studied by seismologists to chart the profound changes in our climate and the environment.
From micro to macro, Costa Rica is an exotic oasis that will enrich both knowledge and perspective.
SPECIAL PROGRAM NOTE: Wifi may be limited at times as we travel through the rainforest and remote areas.
Included in Your Program
Hike a volcano
Visit the Cloud Forest
OTHER INCLUSIONS OF THIS PROGRAM:
- Round-trip group airfare from Toronto or Calgary, arranged by Blyth Academy
- Group airport transfers at location
- Transportation for moves between cities with the group
- Breakfast and dinner daily
- Farewell Banquet
- Pre-departure briefing and materials
- Designated outings and activities
- City orientation tours
- Use of free Internet, where available**
- Access to Blyth Academy Travel Journal
- Access to Vidigami photo sharing
- And much more!
** Most hotels have Wi-Fi in common areas. Please note Internet access may not be available in bedrooms.
Groups are required to meet at the airport 3 hours prior to departure
Are you flying into Toronto Pearson International Airport to join the group?
Blyth Academy airport staff will meet students flying into Toronto Pearson International Airport from any city with same-day connections to Blyth Academy group flights at no additional charge. Once your student is registered, please complete the Airport Meet-and-Greet application. Applications must be received by June 1st and will be fulfilled as available.
Are you making your own flight arrangements?
Students who make their own flight arrangements for this program can be met individually by Blyth Academy staff at the destination airport and transferred to our accommodation at no additional charge. Once your student is registered, please email firstname.lastname@example.org no later than June 1st and request an “Airport Meet-and-Greet in destination”.
*The following are examples of optional excursions our students went on in 2018, and are subject to change. Please take a look and don’t forget to check back soon for the final list of excursions, and your chance to register!
Playa Conchal with Banana Boating & Horseback Riding
Playa Conchal is widely considered to be Costa Rica’s most beautiful beach. Situated on the Northwest Pacific coast in a stunning protected bay, this spectacular kilometre-long beach fronts warm turquoise waters and offers magnificent views of the coastline. Its name, which literally means “Shell Beach,” refers to the millions of softened tiny crushed sea shells that construct the beach. This is a cherished national treasure which has been declared a Natural Reserve by the Costa Rican government, making the shells illegal to remove.
We will leave Playas del Coco in the morning for a brief journey through charming hamlets and coastal towns before arriving at Playa Conchal. Bring your towel and your sunscreen and get ready for some fun on the beach.
Our day will begin with Banana Boating! Climb onto the three-person yellow raft and get pulled at breath-taking speeds over the crystal-clear waters! Hang on!
After a light lunch (included), we will enjoy horseback riding! Atop the Costa Rican caballos, we will get a unique view of our surroundings.
Includes banana-boating, horseback riding, lunch and round-trip transportation.
Surfing Lesson at Playa Grande
Costa Rica has long been a popular destination for surfers worldwide. Famous Playa Grande on the Pacific Coast is one of the favoured beaches for wave riders of all levels. Located in Las Baulas National Park, Playa Grande is a long white-sand beach offering stunning views of the surrounding natural marine park, which has been carefully preserved as it is a nesting site for huge leatherback turtles. The quiet beach is also an ideal destination to learn surfing as it is rarely crowded and provides consistent, ride-able waves with perfect left and right peaks.
We will leave Playas del Coco early in the morning for a short ride through coastal towns before arriving at Playa Grande. There we will be greeted by our surf instructors, who will provide equipment and go over the basics and safety of surfing this famous beach. Each student will receive individual attention and instructions before having the opportunity to conquer the waves on his/her own. Hang ten, and look out for those swells!
After a fun day of surfing, we will have lunch (included) in a nearby beach café, stroll through the marine park, and return to Playas del Coco in the afternoon.
Stand Up Paddling
Whether you know it as SUP surfing, paddle surfing or stand up paddle boarding, this new sport is taking the world by storm. Let’s join the movement and grab a paddle and board and get cruising!
This is the perfect way to enjoy the ocean for surfers and non-surfers alike, and you can tailor it to your comfort zone, from flat water paddling to riding the waves. Its fan base is growing so rapidly because everyone can do it and its great fun!
With our instructor, we will learn safety and basic strokes and turns both standing and kneeling.
Included: equipment, including a life vest.
Please wear your swimsuit, and bring insect repellent, sunscreen, along with a hat/sunglasses, a towel and a change of clothes.
Costa Rican Safari
Love wildlife? This excursion will take you down the Tempisque River that borders the Palo Verde National Park. The park has wetlands and is very diverse with 12 different habitats including mangroves, swamps, saltwater and freshwater lagoons and marshes and is home to the “Palo Verde” (horse bean) trees. This excursion really showcases all that Costa Rica has to offer!
While travelling down the Tempisque River, you may see howler and white-faced monkeys, anteaters, crocodiles, giant green iguanas as well as many Costa Rican birds. The Park is internationally renowned by bird watchers as many migratory birds choose Costa Rica as their rest stop.
We will depart Playas del Coco in the morning. A snack will be provided, and we will return by lunch.
White Water Rafting on Corobici River
Join us for a ride down the Corobici River! The Class III rapids will take our breath away, while the natural beauty of the surroundings engulfs us. With chattering birds overhead, we will learn about another Costa Rican eco-system while having a blast!
Experienced guides will lead us through the rapids, ensuring our safety and enjoyment. When the river is calm, our guides will direct our attention to the diversity of life surrounding the river. Then, look out! Another rapid is just a few meters downstream and the action is unstoppable!
Equipment and lunch are included.
Signed waiver required.
Traditional Costa Rican Cooking Lesson
Try your hand at this delicious cuisine! We will spend the afternoon making casado—the most traditional Costa Rican dish, which incorporates meat or chicken, rice, beans, vegetables and tasty fried plantains. We will start from the very beginning, learning the proper way to soak the beans before cooking, and see the dish to its completion! Once finished, we will enjoy the fruits of our labour. This is certainly a skill to take home!
Snorkelling by Boat
This half-day excursion will introduce students to a wide range of the underwater and reef life, much of which can be seen from the water’s surface. Water clarity often exceeds 75 feet at this time of year. Well preserved corals and vast quantities of fish of every shape, size and colour make this trip both memorable and instructive.
We will depart Playas del Coco by boat, motoring through the pristine waters. Once far from the main beach, our guide will lead us into the water, reviewing basic snorkelling techniques and ushering our attention to the diverse life forms of the water.
Discovery SCUBA Diving (no certification required)
This half-day adventure is for the non-certified diver who wants to experience underwater life first hand.
A highly trained instructor will teach students the basics of scuba diving in a swimming pool and then take them on a shallow one-tank dive in the ocean.
Signed waiver required.
PADI SCUBA Certification Course
Jacques Cousteau himself chose to film a “diving special” in Costa Rica, leaving little doubt as to the quality of this activity in the region. The same underwater wonders that attracted the great Captain Cousteau to Costa Rica continue to attract divers from all over the world. These qualities include pristine azure waters, hundreds of miles of unexplored coasts and islands, and an abundance of tropical marine life. While beginners may not yet be ready for a large school of hammerhead sharks gliding soundlessly overhead, Costa Rica has snorkel and dive sites for everybody, from the newcomer to the most experienced professional. Join us to complete your full PADI diving certification while on location in Costa Rica.
Course duration: approximately 4 afternoons.
Equipment: Participants may bring their own mask, fins, snorkel and wetsuit or borrow from the dive shop there.
Signed waiver required.
Diving for PADI Certified Divers, Afternoon Two-Tank Boat Dive
In the Playas del Coco area, there are more than 60 dive sites within a 15 minute boat ride. Among the coral reefs and rocky outcroppings, students can observe and swim with snappers, groupers, angelfish, as well as a startling array of rays and eels.
The best months to dive in the Guanacaste region are between June and November as the water conditions are calm and the water temperature varies from 20-25C in summer. At this time, the coastal visibility is 20 to 80 feet.
The dives include a half-day boat trip in the Playas del Coco area where certified divers will have two dives, each at a different dive site. These dives will plunge students to depths of approximately 60 to 80 feet.
Equipment and snacks are included. Students are welcome to bring their own mask, fins and wetsuit if they wish.
Signed waiver required.
Community Service, Playas del Coco
Community Service is an important aspect of every Blyth International Summer Program. We try to instill a sense of global responsibility in all of our students as they explore the world.
This optional excursion will allow students to engage in locally based environmental or educational initiatives. Their time with local children, animals, or the natural environment of the area will earn them 4-5 community involvement hours which can go towards his/her high school diploma.
Earn one to two volunteer hours before your trip!
Donations (new and used) will be of benefit to many organizations, schools and community centres in the areas that we visit. Items such as school supplies, table games and puzzles (of various difficulty), paint by numbers, books and art materials are needed. Clothing donations will also be accepted. Students may earn up to a maximum of two hours for their time spent collecting the items from friends and family.
Please note: You are responsible for carrying your donation items in your own suitcase.
July 2nd – 25th, 2019*
(Flights, Accommodation, Meals, etc.)
|Taxes & Fees||$600|
|Tuition & Supervision||$1,990|
Courses, Choose One
- English (ENG3U)
- Biology (SBI3U)
- Functions (MCR3U)
- English (ENG4U)
- Biology (SBI4U)
- Advanced Functions (MHF4U)
- Mathematics of Data Management (MDM4U)
- Recreation and Healthy Active Living Leadership (PLF4M)
- Playas Del Coco: 7 days
- Monteverde: 3 days
- Arenal: 2 days
- Playas Del Coco: 11 days
Video of 2018 Program
Video courtesy of Devon H.
*All dates are subject to change.
**Plus $195 registration fee. Includes group airfare arranged by Blyth Academy and an estimated $600 in airline and departure taxes, local taxes and fees. Please visit www.blythsummers.com/fees for an explanation of our departure taxes, fees, and surcharges, and when these fees will be invoiced. All itineraries, excursions, dates, departure taxes, fees, and surcharges are subject to change.
***Please visit www.blythpoints.com for more details on funding your program through Aeroplan points.