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Gap Semesters

Atenas, Costa Rica

Welcome to Pathfinder Costa Rica's Gap Semesters. Here you will be able to design a gap experience that suits your needs while also having the added elements of peer support and professional guidance. While each student has activities and internships independent of each other, you still interact, travel, and develop friendships with students who chose different internships and activities than you. The Path-Finding Guidance - Excursions - Sustainable Lifestyles Course - and other daily activities are experienced together as a cohort. 

Individualized programming is available for students who would like to select their start date and length of stay. Be aware that there may not be a cohort if this route is chosen.

Self-Exploration & Growth

At Pathfinder, we use a three prong approach to give you the most memorable and meaningful experience possible. Our goal is to facilitate positive self-reflection and healthy habit formation while you enjoy the richness of Costa Rican culture and the beauty of Costa Rican nature.

Meet as a cohort with a life coach to process and reflect on your shared and personal experiences.

Complete a "Healthy Lifestyle Plan" every week after learning about each of the 9 Dimensions of Healthy Living. The final product is a plan that describes your own version of wellbeing for each dimension, as well as strategies to maintain and regain wellbeing in all 9 dimensions.

Meaningful Hands-on Experiences

Our intentional living model offers adventure trips, community service, wellness activities, Spanish immersion, internships, and cultural immersion - all supported by individual guidance.

Design your experience

Pathfinder Costa Rica plans and coordinates many activities and experiences while you are here. Combine internships, community service, and wellness activities to create an experience that suits your needs and goals.

While Pathfinder does plan and coordinate many of your experiences, you'll also have plenty of free time to explore the treasures of Costa Rica independently or with your cohort.

Internships & Spanish Classes

In addition to the internships, Spanish classes are included in the program tuition. Students can opt-out if learning Spanish is not their priority.

  • Animal Sciences: Farms, veterinary medicine, wildlife refuges, aquariums, etc.

  • Health Sciences: Physical therapy assistant, medical assistant (doctor or paramedic)

  • Fitness: personal trainer assistant, gym assistant 

  • Food: Chef’s assistant, bakery, café

  • Nature / Agriculture: Coffee farms, nurseries & gardening, organic agriculture, beekeeping, etc.

  • Teaching English (to kids, adolescents, or adults)

  • Mechanics of cars or motorcycles

  • Technology: Computer repair or software programming

  • Construction, welding or carpentry

  • Real estate, marketing, advertising

  • Psychology, education & social work

  • Radio broadcasting or journalism

  • Art gallery, museums or crafts

  • Lawyer / legal assistant

  • Data management, business administration


Community Service

  • Soup kitchen: helping in the kitchen and serving meals to families in need

  • Recycling Center: receiving, sorting and organizing recyclables 

  • Elementary schools:  assisting English teachers, helping with school projects, teaching sports / playing with kids 

  • Daycare facilities: helping the teachers, working in the gardens / playground

  • Center for persons with special needs: collaborating with instructors for crafts & activities

  • Municipal market: helping with sale of fruits, vegetables and meats

  • Community Salon: helping teach English, working in community restaurant

  • Retirement home: collaborating with staff to assist the elderly with basic tasks as well as arts, crafts, and activities

Wellness Activities

  • Gym membership with multiple class options

  • Yoga, tai chi

  • Mountain / road biking clubs

  • CrossFit outdoor park

  • Local swimming pools

  • Sports: Soccer, basketball courts, and volleyball, jogging

  • Hiking

  • Surfing (1hr 15 min drive)

  • Rock climbing gym (30 min drive)

*Surfing and rock climbing transportation fees are charged extra 

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Program Details

Program Cost

Per Semester

   8 week gap semester:    $12,000* 

10 week gap semester:   $15,000*

12 week gap semester:   $18,000*

* 1 weekend excursion/month is included in the semester price.

Individualized - Per Week

Per week: $1,500 base charge**

 **Weekend excursions are not included in the individualized price. The weekly cost may be higher depending on participant's choice of internships, transportation, & other services. 

The Individualized cost is on a per week basis due to the flexible nature of the program length. No excursions are included in the Individualized program but can be added.

Image by Lisa van Vliet


Homestay or Independent Living

Living with a homestay family provides a unique opportunity to experience local culture, create a "home away from home" and improve language skills.

What's Included:

  • Private bedroom​

  • Shared bathroom

  • Weekly laundry

  • 3 meals per day

  • Local mentor of similar age


For students wishing to live with other gap participants, Pathfinder can help arrange shared housing with a homestay family or in independent housing.


Atenas, Costa Rica

Atenas is the perfect location for exploring Costa Rica's rich culture and natural beauty. With its central location, Atenas is an ideal jumping-off point for excursions to some of Costa Rica's most famous national parks, such as Manuel Antonio and Arenal. You can hike through lush rainforests, soak in natural hot springs, and enjoy the country's stunning beaches, all just a short drive from your base in Atenas.

Known for its friendly locals and traditional food, Atenas is a great place to learn about Costa Rican culture and practice your Spanish.

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Program Length

Gap Semesters or Individualized

Our Gap Semesters are 8 to 12 weeks long depending on whether you are attempting to earn credit for the university classes. If attempting to earn college credit, please contact us for specific enrollment periods to make sure you are able to earn credit. 

The Individualized program has no defined start or finish date. Your enrollment date and length of stay is up to your discretion. Do a short month-long session or spend 16 weeks exploring everything Costa Rica has to offer. It's entirely up to you!​



Sean, 2023 Gap year 


Experience the cultural richness and bio-diversity of your host country by embarking on our exciting excursions designed to immerse you in the local lifestyle and landmarks. Each cohort will choose one to two excursions depending on whether they are in an 8 week or 12 week semester. Every cohort will experience the Poas Volcano day trip.


Arenal Volcano & Hot Springs

3 Days

On this trip, you will have the opportunity to explore the majestic Arenal Volcano and its surroundings, where you can marvel at the awe-inspiring views of the towering mountain, hike through the lush forests, and witness the abundant wildlife that calls the area home. In the evenings, you can relax in the warm mineral-rich hot springs and soak in the natural goodness of the waters that are known to have therapeutic benefits for both body and mind. But the trip is not all about relaxation. You will also have the chance to experience the thrill of outdoor adventures such as zip-lining and white water rafting. And when you visit La Fortuna, you will be immersed in the town's colorful culture and rich history, where you can explore the local markets and taste the flavors of authentic Costa Rican cuisine. Throughout the trip, you will be accompanied by experienced guides who will share their knowledge of the area and help you discover all that Arenal and La Fortuna have to offer.


Manuel Antonio Beach & National Park

3 Days

An excursion to Manuel Antonio National Park and beach in Costa Rica is a unique opportunity for students to explore one of the most beautiful and diverse natural areas in the world. The park boasts lush rainforests, pristine beaches, and a wide variety of wildlife, including monkeys, sloths, and hundreds of species of birds. The excursion will include a guided tour of the park, a hike through the jungle to the beach, and some free time to relax and soak up the sun. It will be 3 days filled with adventure, discovery, and memories that will last a lifetime.


Poas Volcano & Doka Coffee Tour

Day Trip

A day trip to Poas Volcano and an organic coffee farm in Costa Rica is a chance for students to experience the unique natural beauty and cultural heritage of the region. The Poas Volcano is an active volcano with a crater lake and scenic hiking trails that offer breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. The coffee farm tour will provide a hands-on experience of the coffee-making process from crop to cup, including a guided walk through the plantation, a demonstration of traditional coffee-making techniques, and a tasting of the delicious, organic coffee. This day trip will be a combination of adventure, education, and enjoyment, offering a glimpse into the rich culture and natural beauty of Costa Rica.


Mt. Chirripo

4 days

Located in the Talamanca Mountains, Mt. Chirripo is the highest peak in the country and is known for its incredible views and diverse landscapes. Students will embark on a multi-day trek to the summit, which involves a strenuous hike through cloud forests, alpine meadows, and subalpine regions. Along the way, they will learn about the unique flora and fauna of each ecosystem, including rare bird species and other wildlife. They will also gain insight into the cultural and historical significance of the area, as they pass through indigenous communities and witness the natural beauty of the region. At the summit, students will have the chance to admire breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The experience is both physically and mentally challenging, but also an unforgettable opportunity for students to push their limits, connect with nature, and deepen their appreciation for the diversity of life in Costa Rica.


Bocas del Toro, Panama

5 days

The excursion at Bocas del Toro, Panama is a perfect opportunity for students to immerse themselves in the vibrant culture and natural beauty of this Caribbean island paradise. The excursion begins with a visit to the iconic Red Frog Beach, known for its crystal-clear waters and stunning views. From there, students will embark on a guided tour of the Bocas del Toro Archipelago, where they will explore the lush tropical rainforests, pristine beaches, and diverse wildlife of the area. In addition to the natural wonders, students will also have the opportunity to engage with the local community and learn about their unique customs and traditions. They will visit a traditional indigenous village and learn about the local culture and history from the residents. They will also visit local markets to sample the delicious local cuisine and shop for handmade crafts. The excursion will also include snorkeling and scuba diving excursions, allowing students to discover the incredible underwater world of Bocas del Toro. With its vibrant coral reefs, schools of colorful fish, and diverse marine life, students will have the chance to observe and learn about the incredible biodiversity of the region. Overall, the excursion at Bocas del Toro provides a unique and enriching experience, offering a chance to connect with nature, engage with the local community, and learn about the vibrant culture and natural beauty of Panama.


Uvita Beach & Bellena National Park

3 days

The excursion at Uvita Beach and Bellena National Park is a fantastic opportunity for students to explore the beauty and biodiversity of Costa Rica. Students will start their day with a visit to Uvita Beach, a picturesque and serene beach surrounded by lush tropical rainforests. They will have the chance to swim in the warm waters, sunbathe on the sand, and spot marine wildlife like dolphins and sea turtles. Next, they will head to Bellena National Park, an expansive park known for its diverse ecosystems, including primary and secondary rainforests, mangroves, and swamps. Students will hike through the park, learning about the unique flora and fauna, as well as the important role that the park plays in conservation and sustainability. The excursion will give students an immersive experience in tropical ecology and an appreciation for the natural beauty and diversity of the region.

What's Included

The Pathfinder Costa Rica program fee includes all these great  features below. These features are designed to enrich and organize your experience pre-departure, on-site, and post-program.


Cultural Activities

24/7 Emergency Support

Local Mentor


On-Site Staff Support

Travel Medical Insurance

Airport Pickup/Dropoff


Wellness Activities


Volunteer Opportunities

Welcome Orientation

Sound Interesting?

Send us your info and we will send you a sample week 1 itinerary!

Ready to start your application? Click here!

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