Costa Rica

The World Through Soccer

Costa Rica Zapotal child helping milk cow farmJoin Crooked Trails and soccer coach Emily Cole on a trip of a lifetime that combines service work, the love of soccer, and a deeper connection to the local community. At the end of our trip, you will have helped work on a community soccer field in the small community of Zapotal, Costa Rica!

Our adventure begins in Zapotal, a small community of about 200 people. Their main source of income comes from selling cheese and other dairy products at the local farmer's market. Zapotal offers a cozy and family-oriented atmosphere where we can dig in to local life.

We will be welcomed by local families and will work Emily Cole soccer coachon various elements of the soccer field. We'll also get to know the area and way of life through visits to a local organic farm, a trapiche (traditional sugar mill), and on a nature hike. We'll have daily interactions with coach Emily Cole who will share her passion for travel, service, and soccer. Emily will lead soccer clinics and scrimmages with fellow soccer-loving locals.

Then it's off to Manuel Antonio, a coastal area that's brimming with biodiveristy and natural beauty. We'll Costa Rica child swimmingenjoy exploring Manuel Antonio National Park's and encountering myriad native species within a spectacular landscape. A sailing and snorkeling excursion caps off the experience.

Costa Rica Manuel Antonio capuchin monkeyMinimum group size: 10 participants
Maximum group size: 24 participants


  • All transport as described in itinerary
  • All accommodation as per program
  • All guided activities
  • Bilingual guide throughout your program
  • Service project materials and coordination 
  • All meals as mentioned in itinerary
  • All entrance fees 

Includes a tax-deductible receipt of $1,435 per participant for volunteer time and project fees.

Photo credit: child with soccer ball by Chelsea Matthews via creative commons license

Sample Itinerary

Our itineraries are designed to let the country and its people guide your experiences. Please be flexible and allow the program to unfold.

DAY 1 - February 15, 2020

Arrival in San José, Costa Rica

Welcome to Costa Rica!

Arrange for a flight which arrives at San José, Costa Rica in the late afternoon or evening of February 15th. Upon arrival, you will be met by your Crooked Trails guide and coach Emily Cole and transferred to your hotel about 15 minutes away.

MEALS:  None

DAY 2 - February 16, 2020


After breakfast at the hotel, pack up and head to Zapotal de Miramar (about 2 hrs 15 min), arriving before noon. The group will get checked into a local lodge and/or homestays, depending on the number of participants.

In the afternoon, we’ll have an immersive tour of an ecological farm where everything is produced organically. There’s much to learn about and appreciate, such as the process of purification of wastewater and the bio-digester which is fed by pig waste, as well as chickens, an organic garden and medicinal plants. The group will enjoy lunch at the farm.

After the farm visit, coach Emily will organize a soccer clinic which includes members of the community. The community is small but there are currently at least a dozen kids and adults who are excited to play with our group.

After the soccer clinic we will have dinner together and then rest.


DAY 3 - February 17, 2020


After breakfast, it’s time to begin the service project working on the local soccer field. We will be working on several different components; more information on these elements will be defined closer to our departure date.

After volunteering, the group will embark on a hike to the beautiful Jabonal waterfall. The walk is in a mountainous area of both primary and secondary forests, following the Jabonal River. Along the way, we’ll have the opportunity to see the oldest bridge in the community, which is more than 100 years old; its construction was made for the passage of a cart and served as an important route between San Ramón and Miramar. The 20-meter high waterfall is quite picturesque, but please note that it is not a swimming spot. The walk will take at least 2 hours so will bring a packed lunch.

After the walk, we’ll return and rest a bit before the afternoon soccer clinics with coach Emily and the community kids.

Dinner is at the lodge with the group.


DAY 4 - February 18, 2020


After breakfast, we will head back to the soccer pitch to work on the service project. Around noon, we’ll visit a local trapiche (sugar mill) to see how sugar cane is squeezed in the traditional way using oxen and the sugar cane juice is processed into traditional tapa dulce (a minimally processed sugar), as well as different candies. Lunch will be be served at the trapiche.

After the trapiche visit, we can enjoy a bit of rest before returning to the soccer pitch for clinics with coach Emily.

Dinner with the group at the lodge.


DAY 5 - February 19, 2020


After breakfast, the group will head to the soccer pitch for the last morning of volunteering. Following the work project, we'll enjoy a delicious lunch at Zapotal. Then it’s time to pack up as we will be traveling to the beautiful Manuel Antonio area! (about 3.5 hours ) Upon arrival, we'll get checked into the hotel and everyone can have some free time.

Dinner is on your own.


DAY 6 - February 20, 2020


In the early morning, we will embark on a guided hike in the very popular Manuel Antonio National Park. The park is small, but houses a diversity of species including the only populations of endangered squirrel monkeys. The park is home to 184 bird species and 109 species of mammal including sloths, iguanas, and rare squirrel monkeys. This low-impact hike runs along the main trail system where it is common to find exotic wildlife. Your guide will share all his knowledge on what you are seeing and hearing as well as tell you about the interesting history of Quepos and Manuel Antonio.

Note: You will have the option to stay and enjoy the park or return to your hotel after the hike if you prefer. We definitely recommend staying in the park for a few hours longer. Please note that packed lunch is not included but can be pre-ordered from the hotel. Please take into consideration that the park's administration doesn't allow certain types of foods. You can take a sandwich, fruit or some individual/small packages of granola/energy bars. Please don't take any kind of chips or large bags of cookies as they are not allowed; the monkeys like to steal them.

The afternoon and evening are free to enjoy the park, relax at the hotel or explore the nearby beaches.


DAY 7 - February 21, 2020


After breakfast at the hotel, we will visit The Greentique Wildlife Refuge. This wonderful place protects 12.5 acres of secondary growth Pacific Coastal Wet Forest, harboring species native to the Manuel Antonio region. Enjoy a guided tour of the butterfly atrium and a reptile garden.

We’ll return to the hotel in the late morning. During your free time today, you can relax at the hotel or explore the towns of Quepos and Manuel Antonio. Families will be on their own for lunch.

In the early afternoon, it’s time to head out on the water! Our sailing adventure brings us down the scenic coast past the beautiful beaches and islands of Manuel Antonio National Park. You will have an opportunity to snorkel and enjoy a delicious light dinner while enjoying a spectacular sunset. Be sure to be on the lookout for dolphins, turtles, and whales!


DAY 8 - February 22, 2020


You will have the morning and afternoon free to enjoy the beach. Note: you will need to check out of your room and store your luggage before noon. You will be on your own for lunch today.

At 2:00 pm, we will board the bus back to San José. (Estimated travel time: 3 hours).

We'll get checked into our hotel near the airport and then head out for a final farewell dinner together.


DAY 9 - February 23, 2020


After breakfast, there will be a morning transfer to the SJO airport to catch your flight home.



$2,550 based on a min. of 10 participants ($1,435 tax-deductible)


9D / 8N


February 17 - 25, 2020




San José - Zapotal de Miramar - Manuel Antonio - San José


Volunteering, Village Experience, Great for Families


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