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Costa Rica Scuba Gap Year Program

Marine Conservation + Scuba Diving


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Costa Rica Marine Conservation

Help regenerate coral reefs

Costa Rica has one of the highest biodiversities both on the land and in the water. This is where you come in. We need your help to protect the coral, encourage new growth and protect vital species of marine life.

This program has you working with Marine Conservation Costa Rica - a non-profit organization based in the hip little harbour town of Quepos, close to the famous National Park of Manuel Antonio.

Founded in 2019 by the dynamic duo - Katharine Evans and Georgia King, who combine their love of diving with helping to make a difference to the reefs of today which are struggling to survive due the rise in sea temperatures and pollution. They are passionate about coral restoration, marine conservation and reef health. All of which you will be discovering in great detail.

This program combines learning to dive up to advanced level with their flagship coral nursery and restoration project.

This is what we have planned...

Venture out to Costa Rica to learn to scuba dive so you can help marine scientists regenerate the coral reefs off the stunning Costa Rican coastline.

Costa Rica's Program Itinerary

You will be based in the hip little town of Quepos, where you will help the Marine Conservation Costa Ric, an NGO who are making a huge difference to our ocean.

The following is a sample itinerary.



Welcome to Quepos
As a tropical inlet backed by rainforest, Quepos is a small booming harbour town on the pacific coast, famous for being one of the best places in the world for big-game sport fishing as well as the gateway to the Manuel Antonio National Park, which is only 7 kilometer south.

The park’s mangroves, lagoons and beach-lined rainforests shelter howler, white-faced and squirrel monkeys – so get your binos at the ready.

Nearby you’ve also got sandy stretches of Playa Espadilla and Playa Biesans, before heading Northwest to visit the Damas Island mangrove estuary which is home to caimans, snakes and iguanas – so plenty to see and do at the weekends.


Local homestays .Each family can accommodate about average 4-6 students and are approximately a 5-minute walk from the dive centre.

All the homestays have been personally chosen by Geo and Kat and provide a cosy homely vibe and have been looking after their volunteers for several years now.


Breakfast and supper in the homestay.
Lunch is not included. Most volunteers either eat in one of the local cafes near the dive centre.

Costa Rica Scuba Gap Year Program
Wk 1

Scuba Diving Training and conservation dives

Advanced PADI
You need to be able to dive up to advanced level to contribute to the reef program. This is so we can guarantee you have good buoyancy techniques. If you arrive with these courses already under your belt then you will be taken out for refresher, buoyancy awareness dives or other training while you wait for the others to catch up.

Online Academics
Academics for both core padi courses will be conducted online when you arrive in Costa Rica.

Certifications achieved.
Aside from the open water and advanced certification, students will gain the certification in PADI Coral restoration and PADI Coral research.

Project/Diving outline
Week 1: Base training program to get students up to Advanced open water level. If you already hold these base certifications, there are options to complete buoyancy and other training instead, just let us know.
Week 2: Coral restoration training and survey training.
Week 3 and 4: Coral nursery and survey data collecting.

Each week there will be two days off gas - which is usually at the weekends. Expect to dive at least 4 days per week.

Costa Rica Scuba Gap Year Program
Wks 2 - 4

Marine Conservation Coral Nursery and Restoration Project

Coral nursery and coral restoration

Now that you are trained to advanced level it is time for all that training to come into play - you will now be out in the ocean diving.

Your main aim here is help this flagship project which is based on the immediate coastline around Manuel Antonio. The project aims to literally grow and restore the local reef to keep the local ecosystem health. Did you know that coral is actually an animal not a plant.

Coral reefs worldwide are exposed to multiple human threats and persisting global change impacts, causing coral reef degradation. In the Tropical Eastern Pacific, coral reefs have been affected by rising sea temperatures, unsustainable fishing practices, sedimentation from rivers, and runoff from agriculture and human populations. Did you know that even the suncream you use and then swim in the sea with causes damage to the reef by bleaching it - avoid suncream that contains oxybenzone or octinoxate in.

In response to this, Geo and Kat have developed a two-step restoration project which involves an in-situ nursery phase and then transplantation of nursery-farmed coral colonies back onto the main reef. It’s genius, totally sustainable and effective. They are making great progress, but help is always required, and this is where you will contribute - by literally harvesting, growing and replanting the baby corals.

This program works in relay format - once one team finishes the program, it is over to the next team to continue their work and so on. This means it is a continuing process that matters year round. From fragmenting the coral, replanting it into the ocean and encouraging new growth. This is a real team effort.

The team out there will give you full guidance and teach you about the eco-systems, fish and hopefully you will get to see the passing whales which migrate past this area several times a year.

Costa Rica Scuba Gap Year Program

Covid Protocol

Your Social Bubble

While you are here the team will be split into 2 family houses close to each other and only a 5 minute walk from the dive centre. Each family can sleep 4-6. Both households, combined will become your ‘bubbles’.

Handwash and cough and sneeze protocol all to be will be respected. There will be foot baths and handwashing stations around the house, plus lots of alcohol gel.

Any members not living in the house or in the dive centre will be considered outside the bubble and will have to socially distance and wear facemasks when with them.

All the families have been personally chosen by Georgia and Kat and provide a cosy, homely vibe and have been looking after their volunteers for several years now.

Expect your rooms to be basic with 2 to 3 beds per room with storage. Bathrooms are shared, a laundry service and basic WIFI.

Breakfast and supper will be provided at the homestay, consisting of good wholesome local food – so expect lots of rice and beans, meat/protein and salad. Breakfast varies between cereal, fruits, pinto (beans) and eggs. Lunch is extra down at the marina in one of the local delis.

When moving around the town everyone will have to respect the social distancing rules and wear masks when they are in shops, cafes and supermarkets.

Costa Rica Scuba Gap Year Program
Costa Rica Scuba Gap Year Program

Add on Independent Travel

Combine with Guatemala and Mexico

What we are finding is that our teams never want to come home post program and choose to add on a phase of independent travel with their new found friends - certainly making the most of their gap year. We can easily support this through our Leap VIP travel resource which every leaper has access to.

Costa Rica is the perfect spring board for travelling on to Guatemala or Mexico with flights being reasonable and readily available. If you fancy heading slightly further afield you can head on down to South America to complete your gap year in Peru, Ecuador or Colombia to name a few. Please give us a shout and we can tell you more.

A team of Leapers encouraging new coral growth into the ocean.
Volunteers learning how to identify coral in the ocean of Quepos, Costa Rica.
Costa Rica Scuba Leapers standing in front of plastic sculpture.
Leapers learning how to dive and get PADI certified.
Team of divers out on the boat in Costa Rica on their gap year.

Costa Rica's Details & Costs

We have several departures to Costa Rica throughout the year, which run independently or combine nicely with the other Costa Rica programs. Max team size of 12 per departure.

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Options and costs

Whats included?


Flights: £800 (depending on time of year and availability)

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Beach Life

Bliss. You will be close to the beach and right in the town so easy to get about.

Social Life

The program can accommodate up to 12 volunteers, who come from all over the world, so it's busy and fun.

The Bigger Picture

Be part of a flagship project.


Learn to scuba dive which is a fantastic life skill to have.

Weekends will generally be free time. There are many amazing activities to be enjoyed in and around Quepos on the beaches and National Park. Kat and Georgia will advise when you are there.

Please note

Travel at the weekend, or any of these extra activities, is at your own expense and risk. We cannot be responsible but, if anything happens, we will of course be there to assist.

Costa Rica Scuba Gap Year Program

Marine Conservation Costa Rica was founded in 2019 by Katharine Evans and Georgia King, who met in 2005 in Costa Rica and over the years we have worked together, as scuba diving instructors and on various smaller conservation projects.

Together they will run this program with the help of their conservation diving team and are passionate about regenerating the reefs around this coast line. They are an inspiration.

Costa Rica Scuba Gap Year Program

Leaper's Highlights

Have a read of what our Leapers have been getting up to...

Painting signs, recycling and turtles Lucy Dickens

So the first week of our stay in Costa Rica at Jakera is done. In my opinion I feel it has gone slowly but for others it’s gone quite fast. Our first day was just travelling from the airport to Jakera. It was a LONG journey, mini bus then a ferry and then a mini bus again. But the next day was great it was a free day but most of us all went out to watch the sunset and for dinner. The sunset here is so beautiful!

A lot of us have tried various restaurants and some have been amazing and some not so much. But while we’re here why not try something new and not order a burger?

Spanish lessons. I’ve started to really enjoy our Spanish it’s so nice to be able learn the language whilst we are here. We have different groups based on your level of understanding but we all have them in the morning.

One of the projects we have been doing is creating signs for the beach on littering, recycling, no vehicles on the beach and rocky areas. To finish them it took us maybe 3 days as we had to let the paint dry so we could go over to outline it.

Our turtle watches. I’m afraid to say we have not seen any baby turtles yet as they haven’t hatched. We hope they will in the next day or two. We all take 3 hour shifts everyday from 6am till 12pm. The shifts were uneventful and slightly painful sitting for 3 hours with no turtles. But hey they will come some day!

We also have had a trip to another beach to teach some kids how to surf. When I say the word teach I use it loosely, we took them out spun them around and then pushed them when a wave came. It was a lot of fun being able to help them out and play with them though.

Hopefully we will see turtles next at Montezuma. Until then it was lovely chatting with you!

Costa Rica Scuba Gap Year Program

Turtle hatcheries, surfing, yoga and more Emily Dinovo

We began building our own turtle hatchery at Banana Beach in Santa Teresa on Monday. Jakera decided they would like to take on the mission of helping out the turtles themselves. With our shovels and rakes we cleared out an area and began digging as well as made signs for the new hatchery. We spent a couple of our mornings this week surfing. With the help of Chris, we rented a couple of surf boards, got up early in the morning and headed down to the beach. Since Henry surfs almost daily back home in California, he acted as our surf instructor and helped us attempt to catch a couple of waves. Also, this week Kat and I attended another yoga class. This one was also at sunset. The yoga classes always make us feel very relaxed and, while some of the stretches may be strange or difficult, it’s very enjoyable.

On Friday, as a group, we decided to take a short weekend trip to a town called Tamarindo. I was impressed to see paved roads and sidewalks. The first day we arrived, we didn’t waste any time finding a place to eat lunch. As we explored the new town and the new night life, we started the night off with a toast to our friends that couldn’t be there with us and to the ones that have already made their way back home. Saturday was spent relaxing at the beach and visiting the shops in town.

Sunday, we booked a boat tour on the river. Tamarindo is known for its crocodiles and we saw a few, we also were able to see monkeys, different types of birds and iguanas. To see the monkeys our guide had us get off the boat and walk through the jungle. We also discovered a new kind of insect this weekend. Our time in Tamarindo was a great way to spend the weekend and I felt that we were able to bond in a different kind of way than before. The next day would be spent going back to Santa Teresa for a final week before we all head our separate ways back home.

Costa Rica Scuba Gap Year Program

Tyre garden, hot springs and reforestation Maya Sanden

Monteverde has been a very different experience, since we got to work in a variety of places!

For the first week, we helped out at a local school with their gardening project. There were multiple different beds that needed work, as well as a cute car tyre garden that we created! The best part of that week was working together. The tyre garden came together from nothing with everyone helping in different ways. It was nice to have a project to work on from start to finish, and at the end, we left our mark, with everyone painting their hands and leaving handprints! We had lots of fun and did lots of work! The kids at this school were just as welcoming as the last school, and we played games with them during free time. The kids were always willing to help, and insisted on grabbing our shovels and paint brushes and being a part of the team!

In our free time, we got to explore the Monteverde Reserve, discovering beautiful overlooks and an amazing suspension bridge! It was wonderful to be able to actually get to know the trails that we worked on, and we loved the forests so much we went back for more, doing hikes over and over again and making sure everyone in the group got to see it.

Last weekend, we found out about some natural hot springs nearby and a group of us braved the long, slippery walk down to relax in them! It was definitely worth the hike- the view of the hills was incredible, and the hot springs were two levels high and right next to a beautiful waterfall. We spent the entire afternoon there, leaving right as it started to rain.

We’re very excited for our reforestation work next week, look out for more info and pics on it soon!
When we aren’t working, we’ve been exploring Santa Elena, finding great restaurants and ice cream shops! The area is beautiful, but walking the hills every day wears us out, so we’ve had early bedtimes here. The host families we’re staying with have been incredibly welcoming and accommodating, and we’re trying to practice our Spanish more with them!

Costa Rica Scuba Gap Year Program

Watch our videos

Costa Rica Scuba

Padi training + reef conservation

Costa Rica Scuba

Padi + reef + turtles

Costa Rica Scuba

Reef regeneration + padi courses

"I would love to come back"

I came in with my open water and I was very happy to gain the extra speciality courses. The marine conservation part was incredibly rewarding and I would love to come back.

- George Lockwood

Costa Rica Scuba Gap Year Program

"They have the gap year formula spot on"

Speaking only for our experience with Costa Rica, The Leap know and understand the country so well. The team communicated brilliantly-they were always pro active and accessible, nothing felt like too much trouble and they never made you feel like your question or concern was a silly one.

They have the gap year formula spot on. All the reassurance that parents need whilst safely delivering the freedom and adventure that the volunteers want-and all through a Pandemic (!)

My daughter had the absolute time of her life with them and I’m sure has made friends for life, I wouldn’t hesitate in giving them the very highest recommendation possible.

- Frances (mum)

Get in contact

With the covid travel experts

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