San Jose & Manuel Antonio


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Costa Rica is by far one of the most exotic places on Earth. The country offers unparalleled natural beauty, active volcanoes, rainforests, and a wide range of national parks and eco-tourism.

Costa Rica is located in Central America and borders Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south. A chain of volcanoes and mountains—part of the Andean-Sierra Madre chain—runs the length of the country and separates the Caribbean Sea on the east coast from the Pacific Ocean on the west coast. In addition, Costa Rica has over 1,000 miles of gorgeous white and black sand beaches, copious amounts of sunshine, world-class sport fishing, surfing and scuba!

Population: 4,900,000
Geography: 51,100 km² (19,730 square miles).
Costa Rica is approximately the size of West Virginia. The highest point is Cerro Chirripo 3,810 meters/12,460 feet above sea level
Capital: San Jose
Founded: 15 September 1821
Currency: Colon (₡)
U.S. dollars are accepted in all places of business and are available at most ATMs. Other currencies can be easily exchanged.
Languages: Spanish
Time Zone: UTC -6:00
Map: Costa Rica Map


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Video Tour Maximo San Jose, Costa Rica


The Maximo Nivel campus is located in San Pedro—the university district of San Jose. The neighborhood offers a great student vibe and is surrounded by restaurants, gyms, and malls, as well as great nightlife with live music and dancing. The institute is only a short 10-minute bus ride from downtown San Jose. The campus and institute have very nice indoor and outdoor study areas and serve as a great meeting place for our international and local students. It is a great home base to get to know other people, plan activities and practice your language skills. The institute has 15 classrooms, a computer lab, an open-air snack bar, and large common areas. The institute is available for you to use 7 days/week, including holidays.

The capital city of San Jose is located in the Central Valley of Costa Rica at an altitude of 1,170 m (3,840 ft). The city is surrounded by beautiful mountains with several nearby volcanoes. The San Jose metropolitan area has a population of approximately 2 million people. San Jose has all the amenities of a large capital city, and offers museums, parks, markets, plazas, and theaters, as well as plenty of shopping and nightlife.

Costa Rica is known for its warm tropical weather. Temperatures in San Jose range from 22-32°C (72-90°F) year round. ‘Green season’ lasts from May to October with the wettest months being September and October. ‘Dry season’ is from November to April.

Getting around San Jose is easy. Local buses are inexpensive and easily accessible throughout the city, and taxis and ride-sharing services are also readily available. There is a bus stop just a half-block from the Maximo Nivel campus. For people looking to explore Costa Rica, San Jose is the perfect starting point. The least expensive travel option is the public bus system, which can take participants anywhere in Costa Rica as well as up to Nicaragua or down to Panama. Private transportation, flights, and rental cars are also available.

Costa Rican gastronomy is based on rice, black beans and tortillas. With its tropical location, fresh fruit and vegetables are always available. If you are a smoothie lover you are in luck because Costa Ricans typically prepare fresh fruit juice and smoothies every day. The most common dishes are gallo pinto and casados. Gallo pinto consists of rice and beans and is usually served for breakfast with scrambled or fried eggs and coffee. Casados are plates of steak, pork, or chicken, loaded with white rice, and black or red beans, served with a side of summer squash or coleslaw, and fried plantains. There are a number of other traditional dishes that you can try including tamales, arroz con pollo, ceviche, olla de carne, and mondongo.

Costa Rica is a fairly conservative country, but at the same time very cosmopolitan. “Ticos” are very friendly and love to welcome visitors to their country. If this is your first time traveling abroad, you can easily adapt to the culture. While in San Jose, dress like you are in the capital city. In Manuel Antonio, shorts, bathing suits, and sandals are the norm. Some cultural recommendations include:

– Dress conservatively in San Jose
– Avoid open displays of affection in public
– Do not bathe nude at the beach
– Do not slam doors, it is considered extremely offensive
– Never raise your voice in anger
– Wear shoes or sandals at your family-stay
– Understand that “tico time” is often flexible
– Avoid direct confrontation and accusations
– Avoid topics such as pre-marital sex and teen pregnancy

San Jose and Manuel Antonio have a number of shops, malls, and art galleries, and you can buy excellent souvenirs, clothes, cigars, and coffee. In downtown San Jose, you can find the artisans’ market and the Central Market, both of which should not be missed!

San Jose and Manuel Antonio offer an excellent selection of both traditional Costa Rican food and international fare. In both cities, you can enjoy delicious and inexpensive local meals at a number of restaurants and at the central market in San Jose. Prices range from as little $5.00 (USD) for a big plate of traditional food to $50.00 (USD) for elegantly prepared international dishes. And of course, do not forget to try Costa Rica’s world-famous coffee. Note, in Costa Rica you are not obliged to tip, as a 10% gratuity is always added to your check.

San Jose and Manuel Antonio offer a wide variety of restaurants, cafés, bars, and clubs. Both cities have a lively nightlife with great places to dance, drink and listen to live music.


The Maximo Nivel campus in Manuel Antonio is centered around our open-air institute, which sits on top of a small mountain and overlooks the clear, blue waters of the Pacific coast. Participants study amidst the natural beauty of the rainforest and white sand beaches that only Costa Rica can offer! Lockers are available at the institute for personal items. Enjoy free WiFi and the onsite snack bar, and after class head to the beach or go snorkeling just a few minutes away by bus or on foot.

The campus is a single story building with 15 classrooms. In true “pura vida” fashion, the terrace overlooks the clear blue waters of the Pacific coast. The common areas have a beachy-breezy feel, and include both indoor and outdoor spaces, a snack bar, and a computer lab. The institute is open 7 days/week including holidays.

Participants stay in Quepos, which is a small village next to Manuel Antonio Beach. The population of Quepos is approximately 22,000 people. Quepos has lots of shops and local restaurants, a central bus station, a great marina, and an open-air market every Saturday. There is also easy access to the Manuel Antonio National Park—Costa Rica’s largest protected rainforest.

The National Park abounds with flora and fauna and you can see howler, squirrel, and white-faced monkeys; two-toed sloths; coatimundis; iguanas; over 350 species of birds; and lots of other wildlife. The park is wonderful for short walks, full-day hikes, and snorkeling.

Manuel Antonio is hot all year round. Average temperatures are approximately 33°C (92°F) and humidity is always high. ‘Green season’ lasts from May to October with the wettest months being September and October. ‘Dry season’ is from November to April.

Participants travel to Manuel Antonio by public bus. Buses leave San Jose all day long, but Maximo Nivel participants usually travel together on the 12:00PM and 6:00PM buses. The trip is approximately 3 hours. For people who prefer to arrange their own travel to Manuel Antonio, there are private shuttle services, rental cars, and domestic flights to the Quepos airport. Once in Quepos, participants travel to/from the institute and the beach via inexpensive public buses, with a bus stop right in front of the Maximo Nivel institute.

Video Tour Maximo Nivel Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Programs in Costa Rica You’ll Love!

We’re the local study abroad organization in Costa Rica.

Volunteer in Costa Rica


Costa Rica is known for having progressive environmental and social policies, and the country is widely considered one of the planet’s most sustainable destinations. It is also a safe country—so peaceful a nation, the government disbanded the Army way back in 1948. At the same time, Costa Rica is still a developing country with a low national income and a number of socio-economic issues. This means Costa Rica offers a wide variety of ways to get involved in volunteer abroad projects, contribute to sustainable programs, and provide help to vulnerable populations. There is a lot to do in a country like Costa Rica and international volunteers are needed and welcomed!



Costa Rica has one of the most advanced economies in Latin America making it a preferred destination for interns of all backgrounds looking for a unique experience abroad. With an established education system, universal healthcare and a booming tourism industry there is an opportunity for you to gain hands-on experience and develop yourself professionally. Join like-minded individuals as you work hard, study hard, and play hard in one of the most exotic travel destinations in the world!

Internships in Costa Rica
Study Abroad in Costa Rica


Costa Rica is one of the best places in the world to study abroad! You can live and study amidst the country’s natural beauty, including rainforests, beaches, volcanoes, and mountains. With a well established education system and an emphasis on peace and environmentalism, Costa Rica offers a certain level of both academic seriousness and tranquility and safety. It is an especially good destination for students who are studying Business, Education, Environmental Studies, Hospitality & Tourism, among many others.



Get TEFL certified in the beautiful paradise of Costa Rica. Earn your internationally-accredited TEFL Certification at the Maximo Nivel TEFL Training Center located in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. This is the perfect place to study for your TEFL certificate because Costa Rica is one of the most active job markets for ESL teachers in Latin America. The Maximo Nivel team and your TEFL Trainer are experienced English-teaching professionals and very knowledgeable of Costa Rica and all of Latin America to make sure you have all the teaching and career support you need.

Teach English in Costa Rica
Costa Rica Spanish Schools


Whether you choose to study in the capital city of San Jose or at the beach in Manuel Antonio, you can rest assured that Maximo Nivel provides the same high quality Spanish instruction. All courses are led by certified native Spanish-speaking teachers. In the classroom, learners and teachers utilize Spanish conversation, context, and visuals to ensure understanding of vocabulary and grammar. Through a structured curriculum that emphasizes speaking, you naturally acquire the language as you are pushed to learn through practice.



Costa Rica offers a wide variety of ways to organize a gap year experience. Get involved with community service working in sea turtle conservation, teaching English, and working with kids, all while studying Spanish. Go to surf school and get certified in scuba diving! The standard gap year in Costa Rica is a 24-week itinerary, however gap year programs are very flexible. Pick and choose from a number of programs to create a personalized gap year experience.

Gap Year in Costa Rica
Adventure and Culture Programs in Costa Rica


Maximo Nivel is proud to offer world-class Adventure & Culture programs in Costa Rica. These programs take you far beyond the traditional classroom and provide unique opportunities to explore and really get to know the beautiful country of pura vida. As the local experts on everything Costa Rica, the Maximo Nivel team helps you travel, explore, and learn. See the highlight tours and most important sites in Costa Rica; get scuba certified, go to surf school, or become a certified yoga teacher. Just about anything is possible in Costa Rica!


Ready to Experience Costa Rica?


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