Alternative Schools in Guanacaste for ex-pat families in Costa Rica

Alternative Schools in Guanacaste for ex-pat families in Costa Rica

Alternative Schools in Guanacaste for ex-pat families in Costa Rica

Ex-pat families in Guanacaste, Costa Rica face a unique set of challenges when it comes to schooling their children. Traditional schools may not be able to meet the needs and ways of life of these families. Because of this, alternative schools that are made for this purpose are becoming more and more popular.

The Guanacaste region in Costa Rica is home to some of the most breathtaking landscapes and rich wildlife found anywhere in Central America. So, it's no surprise that ex-pat families looking for non-traditional educational options would want to take advantage of the opportunities here.

This guide will explore some of the most popular alternative schools in the region, and how they can help you and your family find the best educational environment for your needs and your new life in Costa Rica.


Location: Tamarindo, Guanacaste

TIDE is a quaint school of 80 students. Class sizes are kept small, with 8 students in Kindergarten, 10 in elementary and middle school, and 12 in high school.

Personalized education to each student. A crucial element of TIDE is pushing students to reach their potential while still keeping them interested in their studies. A key component of this program is the personal, social, emotional, and academic notations are made for each student.

Flexible education that is adapted to each student. The school allows students to customize their academic experience by choosing between different learning options, such as online classes, traditional classes, or taking their work on the road.

Promote learning outside the classroom. Education should not begin and end in the classroom- students can also get academic credit for interning at businesses. The school collaborates with various organizations on community projects, such as painting murals, teaching surfing skills, and fundraising for local causes.

The prices for the 2022-2023 academic year for new families are as follows:


Journey School

Journey School of Costa Rica is a project-based international bilingual school accredited in the US and Costa Rica, and in the accreditation process with the International Baccalaureate (IB). The journey sees each student as the unique and wonderful individual they are, placing students into classes that fit their unique learner profiles and academic interests. 

The journey has a firm foundation built upon social and emotional learning (SEL) that beautifully compliments the IB Learner Profile. Students have advisory groups that become their school home base. Their work with their advisors is the cornerstone of our SEL program. 

In addition, Journey believes in incorporating the tenants of mindfulness into the school day. Breathing and composure lead to self-regulation and readiness to learn. Students carry their calm and goodwill from the school into the larger community through community improvement projects, internships, and mentorships. 

Families interested in learning more about Journey School of Costa Rica can email founder, Christa Niven, at 

Pacific Waldorf

Location: Cañafistula (23 min of Tamarindo)

The philosophy, academic approach, materials, rhythms, parental involvement, festivals, and daily activities at Pacific Waldorf School are all based on Waldorf pedagogy. They are also tailored to the area where the school is located. This provides each student with a customized education that meets their specific needs.

Children will partake in the fun, daily activities that double as a method of learning and creating knowledge. This routine is important during the formative years of a child's life; it instills comfort, and security, and sets expectations. The kid prospers from participating in engaging activities and celebrating different aspects of life every day. School-related material is presented interestingly and relevantly, through easy examples present in everyday situations.

The school strives to give children a well-rounded education that readies them both emotionally and mentally for the next level of schooling.

Pacific Waldorf School curriculum has the perfect balance between academic content, art, mind, and body. The curriculum includes Music – Singing Instruments & Notation, Language Arts & Reading, Form & Geometric Drawing, Beeswax & Clay Modeling, Woodworking, Drama & Speech, Eurythmy, Mathematics, Foreign Languages, Handwork, Physical Education, Social Development, Watercolor Painting.

Pacific Waldorf School is a school community. Families of our students are expected to get involved in the volunteer program to collaborate and together make a positive change in the children and the school.


Location: Brasilito (25+ minutes north of Tamarindo)

The Costa Rica International Academy (Cria) is a private, coeducational, college preparatory international school serving students from Pre-Kindergarten to 12th Grade. It provides an education that honors the uniqueness of each child, combines a challenging academic curriculum with character development, and embraces the culture and natural beauty of Costa Rica. They offer two bilingual (English /Spanish) programs: an International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program and a U.S.-style curriculum.

The Cria student experience is built around the concept of “Life Learning”, which creates an environment where learning happens naturally through exploration and discovery. The school encourages students to ask questions, explore, experiment, and create. A variety of methodologies and technologies are employed to ensure a comprehensive, personalized approach for every student.

Cria believes that education should be more than a set of facts or technical skills and should foster the development of critical thinking, social-emotional intelligence, responsibility, creativity, and global perspectives. The faculty

Class sizes in this school are kept small to provide individualized instruction and attention to each student.

Cria also offers unique activities for students, such as service learning trips, exchange visits to other countries, science camps, and a variety of sports programs.

The School fees of Cria vary depending on the grade level. The school has a comprehensive payment plan and offers need-based financial aid for families who qualify.

CRIA school accreditation

Photo taken from CRIA Academy Website

La Paz

La PAZ school CR

Photo taken from La Paz Community School website 

Location: Playa Flamingo (30+ minutes north of Tamarindo)

La Paz Community School is a PreK-12 non-profit school accredited by the Ministry of Education and the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program. The school houses a total of 620 students on two campuses in the towns of Brasilito and Comunidad. 

At La Paz Community School, they believe that every individual is entitled to an education based on innovation and exploration, one that helps them reach their full potential. This is why its progressive educational system embraces the latest technology, a project-based learning model, and a global curriculum focused on science and language arts.

Students at La Paz learn to become confident and independent learners while they develop skills in problem-solving, communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking. 

The school fees for La Paz Community School are based on grade level and family income, and they offer need-based financial aid to families who qualify.

The class sizes hover around 20 per group. This year's tuition costs are here, but please keep in mind that the cost for next year will be announced in the next few weeks.

Guanacaste Waldorf School

Location: 20 minutes southeast of Tamarindo

Many parents may already be familiar with the Waldorf schools and their style of imaginative and artistic learning. A bilingual Waldorf campus just happens to be in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica.

This Guanacaste private school is only for preschool and elementary/primary school students. For early education, “The child learns from thoughtful prepared activities and daily celebration of life.” In grade school education, “academics are introduced in an artistic, experiential and thoughtful way that meets the development of each child.”

A few final thoughts

Guanacaste offers ex-pat families a variety of options for non-traditional education. Whether you are looking for an international baccalaureate or a U.S.-style curriculum, there is something for everyone in this beautiful region of Costa Rica.

Enroll your children in an alternative school in Guanacaste to give them a progressive education in a beautiful natural setting. And if you want to explore the different real estate opportunities available and find a house that suits your needs, don't hesitate to reach out to us. We would be more than happy to help you through the process.

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