A Travel Volunteer Project in Costa Rica
January 3 to 14, 2017

Costa Rica Tour

Experience the beauty and spirituality of this natural wonderland!

Costa Rica offers you one of the world’s greatest collections of rain forests, wild rivers, historic culture, mountains and volcanoes. With its unique combination of beauty and spirituality, it’s the ultimate refreshment for your body, mind and soul.

Enjoy this unique “Vacation with a Reward!”

Most of us look forward to our vacations and take a traditional holiday. But how much better would it be if you could visit a great destination, do sightseeing, enjoy local cuisine and a unique atmosphere with an opportunity to “give back.”

This trip combines traditional touring with participation in a volunteering program that assists children and their families who live in poverty in Costa Rica. What a great way to spend your Christmas Holiday Break.

Course goal: Promotes an understanding of the beliefs, values, environment and lifeways of people during health, and illness, and the variety of meanings these terms carry for members of differing Sociocultural populations.

Course Objectives:

  1. Explore the meanings of culture, environment and socialization and their contribution to health beliefs and practices in rural and urban populations in selected world regions.
  2. Discuss health equity from an ethical perspective that supports a socially just system of care.
  3. Examine the demographic and economic diversity within health, illness and disability in contemporary global society.
  4. Discuss impact of students own ethnocultural heritage and socialization on their understanding of world health.
  5. Analyze selected aspects of health and the health care delivery system in relationship to the lifeways of selected sociocultural groups.
  6. Compare and contrast the perceptions and meanings of health, disability and illness among diverse peoples.
  7. Relate how World Health organizations can contribute to interventions that aim to diminish and correct disparity in the health care system


  • Roundtrip air transportation from New York to San Jose
  • 11 Nights accommodations in San Jose (4), Arenal (3), Puerto Viejo (3) & San Jose (1)
  • Breakfast throughout
  • 6 lunches as per itinerary
  • 11 Dinners as per itinerary
  • Local transportation throughout
  • Afternoon brief walking sightseeing tour of San Jose & Night Market tour of San Jose
  • Additional Sightseeing as per itinerary
  • Volunteer Program
  • Gratuities to guides, drivers, wait-staff, etc.
  • $2,960 Program fee (Includes airfare, ground transportation, hotels, most meals, sightseeing, admissions and Volunteer program)
  • $810: Tuition (out of state students will pay that tuition rate and the program fee will be adjusted)
  • $65: College fees
  • $45: GEO Blue insurance
  • $100: Global Education Office application fee (paid in advance as part of online application)

Price Per student: Billable by or paid to SUNY Plattsburgh
$3,980 in Double room plus $95 prepaid gratuities for guides & escorts

NOTE: Hotel rooms are based on double occupancy.  Students may request a triple room for an approximate cost savings of $100 or a single room for an additional cost of $695.  If a room request cannot be accommodated, students will be placed in the available room type (double or triple) and billed accordingly by SUNY Plattsburgh.


Day 1 – January 3: To San Jose (D)
Depart for Costa Rica. After Immigration and Customs, transfer to reserved accommodations where we will have a bit of time to relax and have lunch on our own before we have a short afternoon tour of San Jose to explore this wonderful city founded in 1737. San José was a forgotten backwater of the Spanish empire until the late 19th century, when it boomed with the coffee business. It’s been a long day of travel, so enjoy a bit of time to relax by the pool before an early dinner. After dinner we will meet with Gail Nystrom for discussion on the Volunteer Project at La Carpio called “Carpio Clean … Carpio Green … Carpio Healthy … Carpio Happy.” La Carpio is a shantytown of 34,000 residents that sits between a trash dump and the Tobias Bolaños International Airport northwest of San José, where a splash of paint, a small toy and something green can go a long way. La Carpio is one of the poorest areas of Costa Rica, inhabited largely by Ticos from other parts of Costa Rica and Nicaraguans who fled a bloody revolution in their home country, and later, a collapse of their economy, began settling in La Carpio in the 1980s. So here on your Costa Rica journeys, you will truly have an opportunity to “give back” and make La Carpio a better place.

Day 2 – January 4: In San Jose- Volunteer Program (B/L/D)
After breakfast it’s off to La Carpio. Upon arrival, we will start our “Carpio Clean.” Painting the front of houses. Picking up trash and promoting recycling through talking with people and showing how to sort trash. It will be an opportunity to show how pleasant it is to have something to look at that’s not trash, not gray dirt, but clean. Working with the local youth of the community through the painting of a mural with this theme. An example is a mural painted over a flap of corrugated tin shows a tree reaching into a night sky. Lunch (Box lunch will be prepared at the hotel & taken with you on your way to La Carpiuo). After lunch, continue today’s volunteer program. Pick-up at La Carpio back to hotel to relax and some R & R before we transfer back into San Jose for dinner at a typical Costa Rican restaurant. Return to our hotel after dinner.

costa rica tour children

Day 3 – January 5: In San Jose- Volunteer Program (B/L/D)
Morning free to relax by the pool or do some independent shopping in town In the afternoon, we depart for San Jsoe and a sightseeing tour featuring the east side of San Jose. Here, we will be able to see the capital’s main attractions: Democracy Place, the National Museum, the Courts, Los Yoses, San Pedro Mall, Hispanidad Fountain, and to check out the extensive and impressive collection of indigenous art and craftworks on offer at Galería Namu. We will also visit the local Market and the famous Gold Museum. Return to our hotel for a quick dip in the pool before dinner.

Day 4 – January 6: In San Jose- Volunteer Program (B/L/D)
One more time to La Carpio for Volunteer program for “Carpio Healthy and Happy.” We start by pairing up with local children and youth of the community as they create their own “Dream Mat” program, which will be an opportunity to teach the children the value of dreaming: how important it is to have dreams, to wish for things, to have goals in our their hearts as they put their names on cloth (in Spanish of course). Each child will leave with two mats as a decoration that they can hang in their homes. So, bring your loving and creative self and give these children an experience that can affect them very positively for years to come. This will be followed by passing out the hygiene kits you have put together and as they are given to the children, you will be interacting with them to practice hand washing, hair care, nail care. Local lunch at Carpio, followed by a local handicrafts program and exhibit (also for purchasing items). Depart Carpio back to the hotel in the afternoon for an early light dinner before we return to the city as we explore San Jose by night and get up close and to the Central Market, which, in our opinion, is the only way to learn about the city’s food (including some tastings, which we’ll get to do!). Stroll the market with our local guide and get to know the secrets and uses of the roots, herbs and fruit common in local cuisines. The locals say that you can get anything you need at the Central Market. Afterwards return to our hotel.


Day 5 – January 7: To Arenal (B/L/D)
After breakfast, depart for Arenal, and a day to discover nature from the tree tops. Arenal Hanging Bridges is where nature lovers from all around the world come visit this unique attraction. It has a 2 mile trail through the rainforest that allows you to take in nature’s beauty in a most pristine way. With 15 bridges from 15 to 30 feet long, and one of them located at a height of about 100 feet, you will get a 360° view of the tropical rainforest. And if the weather is on our side, you’ll see the most amazing views of Arenal volcano.  All the hanging bridges are made of aluminum, galvanized steel and concrete, following the most strict safety margins in the world to ensure visitors safety. Likewise, the trail is built using paving blocks to prevent slipping. And of course, a naturalist will guide you throughout your hike, not only informing you about the surrounding wildlife and flora, but also to assist if needed. And the best way to end this amazing day is at Eco Termales Hot Springs, where you can relax and treat your body to its naturally replenishing effects. After taking your swim in the soothing hot springs, we return to our rooms and end the day dining in the authentic, home-style Costa Rican restaurant. Overnight in Arenal.


Day 6 – January 8: In Arenal (B/D)
Known worldwide for its near perfect cone shape, the Arenal volcano has become a must-see destination when coming to Costa Rica. Its volcanic activity and surrounding natural beauty will make this a most exciting day. Ever since the 1500s, locals considered Arenal to be a mountain. However, everything changed on the morning of July 29, 1968, when the supposed mountain suddenly erupted. The eruptions continued. non-stop for several days, covering more than 40 square miles with lava, rocks and ash, From that time until 2010, Arenal volcano was quite active, often spewing out rocks, lava, ash and smoke. We begin our tour on one of the closest trails around the Arenal volcano. This will allow us to see close-up the area that was destroyed in the 1968 eruption which is now regenerated. The hike around the National Park will last about 2-1/2 hours. We return to our hotel where we have the rest of the afternoon at leisure and for lunch before dinner at our hotel. Overnight in Arenal.


Day 7 – January 9: In Arenal (B/L/D)
Today we partake in a Volunteer program in Finca Don Juan, a farm located at the foot of Volcán Arenal. This farm has a strategic system that incorporates the natural ecosystem of the region with agriculture.  More than 50 different crops are cultivated manually with organic techniques. And to get a “local-feel” of Costa Rica, you are going to work with dairy cows, hens,and tilapia that are used as sources of food, fertilizer, and methane gas production. Then in the farm’s kitchen proudly you are going help prepare a traditional Costa Rican Lunch with produce from the farm, ending your tour in a special way that most tourists do not experience. Dinner at our hotel, Overnight in Arenal.


Day 8 – January 10: To Puerto Viejo (B/D)
After an early breakfast we continue to the coast and our destination Puerto Viejo Limon. The driving time will be approximately 4-1/2 to 5 hours. Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is the home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica. After arrival, some R & R time to relax before dinner at our hotel. Overnight in Puerto Viejo.


Day 9 – January 11: In Puerto Viejo (B/D)
A day is spent at the Bri Bri Reserve which is a language, a tribe and a town. We walk across a river on a hanging bridge and into a Pre-Colombian lifestyle that still exists today.  Here we will visit the six generations of the family of Chief Don Silverio and learn how they farm, cook, what they eat as well as how they build their Pre-Colombian homes using only organic materials from the surrounding forested areas. We will have time to spend time with the family, ask questions and take photos. Our next stop on the reserve is a visit to the Medicinal Plantation where a Bri Bri Shaman will explain about their natural alternative medicines using trees, plants, fruits and vines. There will also be a chance to purchase Bri Bri arts and crafts before we continue our tour, cross a river and walk about 15 to 20 minutes through a primary forest to bathe and refresh ourselves at the waterfall before we enjoy a delicious meal of “Comida Tipica” in a unique setting. The meal ends with a special desert treat at the Cacao House where we’ll see a demonstration of the Bri Bri tradition of making chocolate in a way that has been passed down through the generations for over 300 years. We will learn how important cacao has been to Bri Bri Culture, and how it is used in healing practices, spiritual and purification ceremonies, and has aided in their economic survival. These practices will be explained during the demonstration, and afterwards there will be a chocolate tasting followed by some social interaction time with the Bri Bri Hosting family. Return to Puerto Viejo for our overnight and dinner.
PS – Be sure to bring your bathing suit.

Day 10 – January 12: In Puerto Viejo (B/D)
This morning we will participate in a Volunteer program at a local Puerto Viejo school. Then back to the hotel for lunch on your own and the balance of the day to relax and enjoy the beauty of the Cariblue Hotel & Beach Resort. The beach front resort is the ideal place to discover the crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches. Have lunch in on your own. We end the day with dinner at the hotel. This will be an unforgettable experience in an eco-friendly lodging among centuries-old trees in the heart of the rainforest of Talamanca and near the Wildlife Refuge Gandoca – Manzanillo. Dinner this evening at our hotel.

Day 11– January 13: To Guacalillo & San Jose (B/D}
After an early breakfast we board our coach for the ride back to San Jose. Along the way, we will stop in Guacaillo Town to participate in a recycling project. After checking in at our hotel, we have our farewell dinner.


Day 12– January 14 -To New York (B)
Breakfast on own time, meet in lobby for an early afternoon transfer to Airport for our flight back to New York. On the way, we will stop at the Sr and Sra Eses shop and factory for a short tour and some shopping.


IN SAN JOSE – January 4-7 : The Best Western Irazu
OUR HOTEL IN ARENAL – January 7-10: The Arenal Paraiso
OUR HOTEL IN PUERTO VIEJO – January 10-13: The Cariblue Hotel
OUR HOTEL IN SAN JOSE – January 13-14: The Best Western Irazu


The 325 room Best Western Irazu is located only 10 minutes from Downtown San Jose. “The prestige of a great name and the experience of a hotel… to those who deserve nothing less than the very best” is the promise of quality, friendly service and value in lodging accommodations to all its visitors. All air-conditioned rooms offer a 25″ color TV, in-room ironing board, hair dryer and full-length mirror. Guests can enjoy complimentary coffee served 24-hours a day in the lobby. Happy Hour from 5 pm to 6 pm at the “La Cantina Bar,” free local calls and Internet access. The hotels facilities include: Denny’s Restaurant, La Cantina Bar, Pizza Hut, and Burger King “touch button” for delivery service, lit tennis courts, outdoor swimming pool, laundry service, room service, exercise room, landscaped gardens. A shopping center is located next door to the hotel with souvenir shops, bank, grocery store, pharmacy and much more. All this and more from the most comfortable atmosphere of the happiest and entertaining hotel in San Jose.

The Arenal Paraiso Hotel has a unique charm, combined with the Paradise of the majestic Arenal Volcano and the northern plains of Costa Rica. The rooms are surrounded by natural scenic beauty that will take you to a place of complete relaxation and comfort and connect you to the natural world around you. They offer first class service, where there will be no need to even leave your room. All offer volcano views, 2 restaurants, 13 hot spring pools, 1 fresh water pool, the Mayin Spa, and for the more adventurous; our zipline circuit with 12 platforms and 11 cables above the river canyon with incredible panoramic views, and our horseback ride through mountains, trails, and to the observation deck of Lake Arenal at the base of the Arenal Volcano, which are the perfect compliments to make the most of your stay at the Hotel.

The Cariblue Hotel in Puerto Viejo sits on 5 acres of earth inside of a pristine forest with 45 room accommodations and a wide range of facilities and comforts – two swimming pools, two jacuzzis, the rancho-restaurant SoleLuna, the Totem Beach Bar, a swimming pool bar, the Aqua Spa, the crafts and arts shop El Coral, a surf school, a Bikes Rental and much more) with a direct access to the golden sands of the Atlantic Ocean This an unforgettable experience in an eco-friendly lodging among centuries-old trees in the heart of the rainforest of Talamanca and near the Wildlife Refuge Gandoca – Manzanillo.

Estimated possible additional travel expenses (per student),to be paid by the student to the supplier(s) directly and not billed by SUNY Plattsburgh:

$300 Approximate miscellaneous for personal expenses in Costa Rica (beverages, meals not included, shopping, etc.)

$30 Exit fee from Costa Rica (required and to be paid locally on departure)

$135 Passport (if your current passport expired or you do not have one)

TBD Visa (if required and varies by country passport nationality. Not required for US citizens)

$25 Baggage fees (Currently $25 for 1st bag & $40 for 2nd bag to be paid at departure)

$200: Travel to/from Newark airport

$200: Optional Travel insurance (insurance information booklet given with confirmation)

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Travel Insurance
RMC highly recommends the purchase of Trip Cancellation/Interruption Travel Insurance, and we therefore provide you with an easy way to contact RMC’s preferred insurance provider, Allianz Global Assistance. If you need additional information or have questions, please call Allianz directly at 1-800-284-8300, and refer to code F025323.