Program Highlights

Help Protect Whale Bay

Ensure that the social and environmental landscape of Costa Rica isn't changed forever

In the Costa Rican rainforest, tucked along a sleepy section of the Pacific Coast, is a beautiful beach that forms the shape of a Whale’s Tail! Renowned as one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, “Whale Bay” is a great place to volunteer and immerse yourself in the friendly and unique Tico culture of Costa Rica!

“The Most Biologically Intense Place on Earth”

According to the Costa Rican Institute of Tourism, a record 2.3 million travelers visited Costa Rica in 2012, in search of adventure, beautiful beaches, and some of the most biodiverse locations on the planet. In a country where 23.4% of the land is made up of national parks and protected areas, there’s no wonder that it is considered a paradise for its natural beauty, biological diversity, and indigenous cultures.

The community of Bahia Ballena, or “Whale Bay,” however, faces a challenging future, as the increased tourism in the area has spurred mega-projects such as the building of an international airport, hydro-electric dam construction, and the rapid increase in the development of African Palm plantations. Massive undertakings in this underdeveloped region are having a dramatic influence on the quality of the water that flows from the high grounds into the pristine waters of Whale Bay. These projects need to be closely monitored in order to ensure that the social, economic and environmental landscape of Costa Rica isn't changed forever.

By enrolling in GLA's "Protecting the Pacific™" program, which partners with Stanford University and the Woods Institute for the Environment, you can help to make a major impact on the footprint we're leaving in a booming Costa Rican region! This summer, GLA students will play an integral role in protecting the land surrounding Bahia Ballena, or "Whale Bay," by testing samples from the ocean and local drinking water for pollutant levels, and will assist in tracking the impact that major construction is having on water purity in the region.

Using the data from their research as a guide, students will also partner with local businesses and build Biogardens that will purify water run off and make certain that the water entering the bay is pure of contaminants. In this rapidly expanding tourism destination, GLA students who travel to Costa Rica this summer can have an immediate- and critical- impact on the environment, before it's too late!

Living the Pura Vida Lifestyle

Of course, no trip to Costa Rica would be complete without the opportunity to experience all that this action-packed corner of the world has to offer. Students will have the adventure of a lifetime while making a vital impact on the future sustainability of Whale Bay. Taking surf lessons and yoga classes, snorkeling in the crystal clear ocean, and ziplining through the lush rainforest canopy are all part of the fun on this Costa Rican journey. Best of all, students will have the chance to see the immediate impact that their summer of service provides the community. You’ll see the produce grown in the Biogardens and use it to cook local cuisines, and kayak through lush mangroves to observe the complex ecosystem that you’ve worked so hard to protect.

The result? This summer science program for high school students is all work AND all play!