I had the privilege of joining one of our class trips to Costa Rica. I’m always thrilled to sit in on a Jumpstreet student tour; I was a Tour Leader for seven years, so it runs in my blood.
Now that I’m Jumpstreet’s Marketing Director, I’m particularly keen to see how our class trips measure up to the commitment we make to quality student travel.
I’m also a parent, so I find myself personally invested in safety more than ever.
So when I embarked on this trip to Costa Rica, I set out to document it through the eyes of a both a Jumpstreet representative, an avid traveller, and a doting dad. The thoughts and photos are my own.
Day 1 – San Jose
I’ve always loved seeing a major city in action, and the Costa Rican capital is no exception. It’s positively buzzing. As soon as we boarded our air-conditioned motorcoach at the airport, our Tour Leader, Seb, described everything that passed us by. His knowledge of the city was encyclopedic.
When we reached our hotel, I was floored. Just ten minutes outside of the city centre, it was the perfect location for the school group: a ‘compound’ layout where the students could safely sleep, eat, and swim. I ate enough guacamole to feed a small country.
Day 2 – Poas Volcano
What a climb! Poas Volcano National Park is roughly 60 minutes outside of San Jose. We hit some fog so Ron, our motorcoach driver, put his safe driving skills on full display.
Navigating winding rural roads was an adventure in itself, but never once did we feel unsafe. Despite the fog, Poas was spectacular. Each sunny break was more breathtaking than the last. The air alone up there was so pure; it was a treat just to breathe it in.
Day 3 – Coffee and chocolate
Costa Rica is a pilgrimage for caffeine-lovers, and we were lucky enough to visit both a cacao and coffee plantation to learn about production methods and, of course, sample in their delicious products. I particularly enjoyed making coffee in my very own chorreador, where the filtration takes place through a tiny burlap pouch. I tried to make one at home using an old gym sock, but for some reason my wife wasn’t on board.
Day 4 – Sarapiqui
I’ve been a Tour Leader for hundreds if not thousands of students over the years, leading countless thrilling activities: dog-sledding, inner tubing, whitewater rafting, etc. They’re all amazing – no matter how many times I do them – and zip-lining in Sarapiqui is definitely up there as one of the best.
There’s nothing quite like skimming the treetops of a vast expanse of rain forest. And the view from the suspended bridges we crossed was simply stunning.
Day 5 – Arenal
A charming town at the foot of another dormant volcano, I was once again reminded how amazing the accommodations are for our student groups travelling to Costa Rica.
The ‘compound’ layout really worked well for us, allowing the students to safely enjoy some free time by the pool.
And how do you reward a class that just hiked along the base of Arenal volcano, where we saw the most beautiful hummingbird sanctuary? With an afternoon at the Balti thermal baths, that’s how.
Day 6 - Rio Tarcoles
It was relatively easy for us to get around in our motorcoach, so we covered a lot of ground. We made our way to Ouepos, but not before stopping in Rio Tarcoles to encounter the incredible wildlife that calls Costa Rica home.
This right here is Chrysina aurigans, or the Gold Beetle of Costa Rica. He was chilling outside my hotel room one evening. Apologies for the blurry photo – I didn’t want to scare the little guy with my flash. Legend has it that these gold beetles were living, breathing fool’s gold for the conquistadors of the 16th Century. I can think of a few Reality TV stars who would still be fooled.
Day 7 – Manuel Antonio Park
This was the apex of the trip. There aren’t many words that aptly describe the privilege of hiking through this stunning National Park.
Gorgeous secluded beaches and wildlife at every glance.
Hmm, do we swim in this turquoise ocean, walk along this pristine beach, or spend an hour with a family of sloths? Champaign problems, am I right?
Day 8 – Jaco
Jaco is a classic Costa Rican beach town. We spent the morning on the beach, soaking up our last day of sun. After lunch, we spent the day exploring the main strip, shopping for souvenirs.
Coffee is a great gift, but it was all about the hot sauce for me. Costa Ricans put Lizano sauce on literally everything, and I'm officially a convert.
Day 9 – Home
Hugs and handshakes were in order as we said goodbye to Seb and Ron, and to beautiful Costa Rica. As our plane took off, I watched lush green forests and rich mountainsides shrink behind the clouds. Costa Rica was behind us, but Pura Vida will never leave us.
I loved every minute of this school trip. The former Tour Leader in me saw a destination that’s ripe for immersion and intrigue. The Marketing Director in me saw a trip that’s well-balanced and fun for all participants. The parent in me watched students safely having the time of their lives. They won’t soon forget this trip, and nor will I.