Outward Bound Costa Rica inspires and develops leadership, compassion, intercultural understanding, respect for the environment, and a commitment to serve through adventure-based programs led by a highly skilled, safety-conscious staff.

    For over 20 years, we have honed our approach to experiential education, utilizing Costa Rica and Panama’s tropical reefs, rivers, and rainforests to help participants discover their hidden potential.


    Outward Bound is a non-profit educational organization that serves people of all ages and backgrounds through active learning expeditions that inspire character development, self-discovery, and service both in and out of the classroom. Outward Bound delivers programs using unfamiliar settings as a way for participants to experience adventure and challenge in a way that helps students realize they can do more than they thought possible.

    Outward Bound was founded in 1941 in the tumultuous waters of the North Sea during World War II, to provide young sailors with the experiences and skills necessary to survive at sea. Named for the nautical term for a ship’s departure from the certainties of the harbor, Outward Bound was a joint effort between British shipping magnate Sir Lawrence Holt and progressive German educator Kurt Hahn. Hahn had developed his progressive ideas, first as founder of the Salem School in Germany, and later at Gordonstoun, a boarding school in Scotland, that soon became one of Britain’s most distinguished and innovative schools. Hahn believed education must encompass both the intellect and character of a person. In creating the first Outward Bound School, he expanded the concept of experiential learning to include real and powerful experience to gain self-esteem, the discovery of innate abilities, and a sense of responsibility toward others. Outward Bound has since become the premier adventure-based education program in the world.

    Kurt Hahn’s guiding philosophy was summarized best in the following quotation:

    “The aim of education is to impel people into value-forming experiences, to ensure the survival of these qualities:

    An enterprising curiosity,
    an indefatigable spirit,
    tenacity in pursuit,
    readiness for sensible self-denial,
    and above all, compassion.”

    These qualities are equally relevant for today’s youth who are consumed with social media, information, mass media, and peer pressure. Outward Bound Costa Rica courses offer a chance to disconnect from the screen in order to connect to the natural and social community and develop the original Hann qualities.

    There are currently Outward Bound Schools in 33 countries with over 250 wilderness and urban locations. Worldwide, Outward Bound serves over 250,000 participants each year.


    In September 1991, fifty years after Hahn founded Outward Bound, Jim Rowe traveled to Costa Rica from Colorado, where he had been working as an instructor for Colorado Outward Bound School. During his first year in Costa Rica he focused on learning indigenous culture, rainforest ecology, and Costa Rican geography. He returned the second year with a monolithic raft and some scuba diving equipment to begin an adventure activities company, using the same boat to run scuba and river trips.

    In Rowe’s third year he acquired more equipment, expanded into new rivers for river rafting, and began multi-day rainforest expeditions which included home-stays with families in remote village communities. His central location in Manuel Antonio had three rivers that had never been rafted before. He established the first rafting company in the area. Running day trips on the rivers helped him build the needed capital and marketing funds to establish a school for running courses more relevant to his philosophical approach to instructing. Rather than running quick commercial trips, he started leading trips whose objectives were to learn through adventure.

    In 1994 he applied for and received a license from Outward Bound International as the first Outward Bound School in any Latin American country. Outward Bound Costa Rica was originally known as Costa Rica Rainforest Outward Bound School. The organization is established as a Costa Rican fundación as an incorporated business with a charitable focus. Outward Bound Costa Rica is governed by an independent board of trustees comprised of leaders of some of the most prestigious private schools, industry experts, lawyers, surgeons, and safety specialists in Costa Rica.