The New CIRENAS Campus

With its new campus, Cirenas is prepared to receive National and International teacher led courses for students, gap year students, individual, group and family guests interested in any of our programs, outdoor adventure groups and professionally led workshops. We guarantee programs focused on experiential education, conservation, and culturally authentic experiences.

Facilties

The new Cirenas campus was conceived and built as an educational tool in itself, allowing visitors to experience first-hand more sustainable ways of living.

  • 6 bungalows (total capacity for 24 people)
  • Large dining hall (capacity for 40 people)
  • Fully equipped classroom (capacity for 50 people)
  • Hands-on laboratory
  • Natural spaces for meditation, yoga, and events
  • Hiking trails that connect to the shores of the Pacific Ocean and to the Caletas-Arío National Wildlife Refuge

Comfortable and inspirational spaces were created to host education and research programs for guests of all ages and participants of all walks of life.

Buildings were strategically located to take advantage of natural views and to capture cooling on-shore and off-shore breezes. 

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Sustainable Design and Permaculture Systems 

Land formerly used as a cattle pastures were restored using permaculture, emulating the cycles and patterns of nature to produce food on site. Our techniques will be used to restore part of the Bongo - Ario watershed which supplies water to dozens of communities providing food and water security for the region.

90% of materials for the campus construction were sourced locally.

75% of food consumed on campus will be produced by onsite permaculture.

Water harvesting and management systems have been put in place to ensure a constant flow of water for human consumption and other uses during the rainy and dry seasons. 

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Classroom & Event Space

The CIRENAS classroom is constructed with locally harvested hardwood including pochote, teak, and madero negro. The open air classroom design maximizes airflow for passive cooling, facilitates direct interaction with surrounding permaculture systems, and provides some great views of the landscape.

OUR MISSION

To create a dynamic, entrepreneurial model for sustainable development for the region and the world, through education and applied research to promote watershed management, ecosystem conservation, and transformative connections between people and the environment.

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Educational Programs:

National and International teacher led courses for students. Teachers and students at Cirenas will have access to a fully equipped classroom (with space for up to 50 people) and natural spaces for research, experiential learning, cultural immersion and authentic connections. Our goal is for teachers and students to “leave their comfort zones and become more open minded, more confident and ready for life in our increasingly connected world."

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RESEARCH FOR Gap Year StudENTS:

Opportunities for carrying out fundamental and applied research in the natural and social sciences abound in CIRENAS and its surrounding areas. Our curriculum develops cross-cultural awareness, self-reliance, travel skills, personal growth, language acquisition, and other life-changing experiences. Many students benefit greatly from having additional time to mature and the opportunity to experience an increased sense of focus, before entering college or the “job world”. 

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CONSERVATION EFFORTS & RURAL DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVES:

Protecting the Caletas-Arío National Wildlife Refuge is a priority, as well as connecting it to other terrestrial and marine protected areas in the region. We offer participants an opportunity to immerse themselves into a small rural community, develop long-lasting cross-cultural relationships and make positive contributions that will last a lifetime.

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Outdoor Adventure:

Whether you want to train with a team, join an existing group or train alone for an adventure race, mountain bike race, cross country running, Cirenas is ideally located in an area offering plenty of trails and back country roads with few motorized vehicles. 

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TEACH A WORKSHOP:

Are you an experienced and innovative teacher? Does your work align with Cirenas’ mission? Program offerings at Cirenas are selective and chosen based on a number of factors including mission alignment for personal and social change, subject relevance and uniqueness, presenter's experience, exposure and expertise, as well as space availability and timing. We schedule at least 3 months in advance and confirm the workshop with a contract on agreed terms and conditions.

Combined with your experiential education program,  Cirenas can coordinate additional activities offered off-site which will enrich your experience with lots of fun.

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Surfing, Kayaking & Paddle Boarding Lessons

Playa Hermosa and Playa Manzanillo offer idyllic conditions for both beginner and advanced surfers. With trained surf guides, we guarantee you will experience the thrill of gliding over the clear, blue water of the Pacific Ocean. We can also take you on a SUP or kayak paddle out to the Manzanillo outer reefs or up one of nearby mangrove estuaries.

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2 hour horseback riding TOUR

Known for being the best horseback ride in all of Costa Rica, on a working cattle ranch, overlooking the Pacific ocean. You will be accompanied by an authentic sabanero (traditional cowboy), a bilingual guide and your trustworthy and happy horse.

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Boat & Snorkeling tour to tortuga island

The boat departs from Montezuma - a tranquil town along the southern coast of the Nicoya Peninsula - and heads along a breathtaking coastline until reaching Tortuga Island 50 minutes later. In route, search for dolphins, humpback whales and manta rays that may be plying the waters nearby. Upon arrival at Tortuga Island, your guide will anchor the boat near the shore and provide you with snorkeling equipment. The water here is clear and warm, and has some seriously good snorkeling around the volcanic rock reef, spot King Angelfish, Porcupine fish, Needlefish, Spotted Eagle Rays and more.

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CANOPY TOUR

The exciting canopy ride is nearly a mile long and has 11 platforms set high in the gigantic trees. Steel cables connect the platforms which are between 5 and 30 meters in height. You will not forget the experience of flying along our 300 meters long shot over a canyon between the second and the third platform, or the incredible 500 meters long ride through the jungle along a creek.

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COSTA RICAN CULTURAL EXCHANGE & FARM TOUR

Known as a "Blue Zone", residents of the Nicoya Peninsula live healthier and longer lives, produce a high rate of centenarians, suffer a fraction of the diseases that commonly kill people in other parts of the developed world, and enjoy more healthy years of life. Learn the recipe to achieve these high standards of quality life based on strong family ties, faith, plant base diet, constant physical activity, sunshine, no smoking and no alcohol. Some of the activities to be enjoyed are milking cows, making traditional fresh cheese and producing raw sugar from sugar cane.

Prior to arriving at Cirenas, PLEASE CONFIRM with your Cirenas Sales Agent your approximate time of arrival to the town of Manzanillo de Ario, on the Nicoya Peninsula. This is to coordinate your entry to the campus, as directions can get complicated. From Manzanillo de Ario to the Cirenas campus it is an additional 20 minute drive. During the rainy season (September – October) we do not recommend driving in, as driving conditions become difficult. During these months we will arrange a pick up for you or your group at the town of Manzanillo de Ario.

To arrive to Manzanillo de Ario, on the Nicoya Peninsula from San Jose, you take highway 27 to the Port of Puntarenas. You must check ferry times to be in line at least one hour prior to the ferry departure time. The ferry to take is the ¨Naviera Tambor to Paquera.¨ The ferry ride takes approximately 1 hour and 15 mns. Once in Paquera continue directions to the town of Cobano and then Manzanillo de Ario.

Guests can also arrive by plane from the San Jose or Liberia International airports to the Tambor local airstrip (flights with Sansa Airlines), and then rent a car or catch a cab to Cirenas. Another option is to take a shared mini van transfer with Zuma Tours from San Jose to Manzanillo de Ario, Cobano, Puntarenas. Once in Manzanillo de Ario we arrange your pick up to get you to Cirenas.

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Travel to CIRENAS

CIRENAS is located 30 minutes North of Santa Teresa on the Pacific Coast.

By Air

From San Jose to Tambor (flight time is 30 minutes). Tambor is about a 1 hour and 45 minutes from the Cirenas campus.

By Car

From San Jose to Manzanillo: 6 hours approximately, including the ferry transfer.

From Liberia to Manzanillo: 3 hours and 30 minutes approximately. 

CIRENAS Team & Guides

Ashley Grew - Managing Director Hacienda Ario, the family ranch in which the CIRENAS project has been established has always been a second home to me. After 20 years in the hospitality & tourism industry, mainly in the capital of San Jose, I was recently incorporated as a new team member for the leadership of CIRENAS.  It is with great pride and enthusiasm that we will implement the necessary administrative skills for a successful organization to fulfill the dreams of those who want to mature, learn, achieve greater goals for themselves, the environment, communities and the world.

Ashley Grew - Managing Director

Hacienda Ario, the family ranch in which the CIRENAS project has been established has always been a second home to me. After 20 years in the hospitality & tourism industry, mainly in the capital of San Jose, I was recently incorporated as a new team member for the leadership of CIRENAS. 

It is with great pride and enthusiasm that we will implement the necessary administrative skills for a successful organization to fulfill the dreams of those who want to mature, learn, achieve greater goals for themselves, the environment, communities and the world.

Cindy Murillo - Administration and Operations Cindy is the busy bee on campus making sure everything is running smoothly for our groups. Cindy studied eco-tourism in Costa Rica and is trained as a naturalist guide. Cindy has extensive experience in hospitality with most recent positions at Flor Blanca Resort, where she served in the reception, restaurant and spa departments. Cindy has a passion for the natural environment and is committed to inspiring CIRENAS guests with this love.

Cindy Murillo - Administration and Operations

Cindy is the busy bee on campus making sure everything is running smoothly for our groups. Cindy studied eco-tourism in Costa Rica and is trained as a naturalist guide. Cindy has extensive experience in hospitality with most recent positions at Flor Blanca Resort, where she served in the reception, restaurant and spa departments. Cindy has a passion for the natural environment and is committed to inspiring CIRENAS guests with this love.

Ariadna Sanchez - Community & Naturalist Guide Ariadna has worked as a naturalist guide for more than 10 years, mainly in the South Pacific area of Costa Rica. She has been involved in environmental education for about 20 years, working with young students, teenagers, teachers, decision makers, farmers, indigenous groups, and scientists on a variety of projects. Ariadna holds a degree in natural resources management from Universidad Estatal a Distancia with a background in the arts from the Conservatorio de Castella. The combination of these disciplines has created impact on one of her favorite projects, Eco-Maletas (Eco-Suitcases), which is being developed in Coto Brus, Costa Rica.  This project is a training program for teachers about environmental topics, involving a recreational approach and artistic expressions.  During her spare time Ariadna will be on nature walks, painting, dancing, or doing crafts.

Ariadna Sanchez - Community & Naturalist Guide

Ariadna has worked as a naturalist guide for more than 10 years, mainly in the South Pacific area of Costa Rica. She has been involved in environmental education for about 20 years, working with young students, teenagers, teachers, decision makers, farmers, indigenous groups, and scientists on a variety of projects.

Ariadna holds a degree in natural resources management from Universidad Estatal a Distancia with a background in the arts from the Conservatorio de Castella. The combination of these disciplines has created impact on one of her favorite projects, Eco-Maletas (Eco-Suitcases), which is being developed in Coto Brus, Costa Rica.  This project is a training program for teachers about environmental topics, involving a recreational approach and artistic expressions.  During her spare time Ariadna will be on nature walks, painting, dancing, or doing crafts.

CIRENAS Team  

CIRENAS Team

 

Samuel Kenworthy - Educator on Permaculture Sam is an educator on all the permaculture systems at the CIRENAS campus. Sam brings professional experience involving water infrastructure, renewable energies, building design and whole systems thinking to the CIRENAS team. Having lived in the torrid zone for the last five years, primarily in The Bahamas, Sam has a strong understanding of appropriate design for the tropical climate, particularly in relation to water movement and management. Passionate about food and energy systems and the interactions between humans and the natural environment, Sam has studied permaculture for a number of years. Additionally, Sam has significant experience working in education, including curriculum development, experiential education and traditional in-class teaching. Sam holds a B.A. in Political Science and Spanish from the University of North Carolina.

Samuel Kenworthy - Educator on Permaculture

Sam is an educator on all the permaculture systems at the CIRENAS campus. Sam brings professional experience involving water infrastructure, renewable energies, building design and whole systems thinking to the CIRENAS team. Having lived in the torrid zone for the last five years, primarily in The Bahamas, Sam has a strong understanding of appropriate design for the tropical climate, particularly in relation to water movement and management. Passionate about food and energy systems and the interactions between humans and the natural environment, Sam has studied permaculture for a number of years. Additionally, Sam has significant experience working in education, including curriculum development, experiential education and traditional in-class teaching. Sam holds a B.A. in Political Science and Spanish from the University of North Carolina.

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BACKGROUND

CIRENAS is based on the Pacific coast of the Nicoya Peninsula within Hacienda Ario; a 4,700 acre family owned mixed use coastal ranch. The property resides next to the Caletas-Ario Nature Reserve, one of the last large stretches of undeveloped coastline in the region. The 750-acre nature reserve was established in 2006 by the Costa Rican government and the Grew family.  The area contains two of the largest rivers on the peninsula, wetland and mangrove complexes, tropical dry forests, agricultural areas, small rural communities and a 12 nautical mile marine protected area, home to nesting sea turtles.

Hacienda Ario is committed to sustainable development in the Nicoya Peninsula and is engaging in reforestation programs as well as implementing organic agricultural practices with the goal of receiving a certification from the Rainforest Alliance for sustainable agriculture and ranching.  Hacienda Ario is also the first large-scale ranch to be certified by the Sustainable Blue Flag Program (Bandera Azul), a government program for climate change mitigation (NOTE: Costa Rica has the goal of becoming the first carbon neutral country by 2021).  From this desire to promote sustainability on all fronts, CIRENAS was established in 2007. 

Since its founding, CIRENAS has hosted more than 1,000 students of all ages, faculty, scientists, and others in a variety of programs emphasizing sustainable living and transformational cross-cultural experiences. Courses include opportunities for Spanish immersion, experiential education, outdoor leadership, tropical biology, sustainability, environmental conservation, social responsibility, and service learning.

Cirenas is committed to providing students and guests inspiring and transformative experiences that create positive change for a better world and a better tomorrow.

 

 
 

We are grateful for the people and organizations that give to Cirenas. Together we create change and the transformation of a future generation ready to embrace tomorrow's environmental and social challenges.


Trusted Partners & Clients

Supporters & Strategic Alliances


Become a Partner

If you would like to partner with us, fill out the form below and one of our staff members will get back to you.

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You can make a difference

This year we are fortunate enough to have received another generous Matching Grant for $150,000 designated for student scholarships, experienced faculty, operating costs and the Caletas-Ario National Wildlife Refuge.  We are determined to reach our $150,000 fundraising goal with your help!

We are organizing various fundraising events throughout the year both on campus and abroad, and hope that you will be able to support us in reaching this goal.

Please reach out Caroline Grew or Daniel Grew for inquires on how to give to CIRENAS.

Caroline Grew, CIRENAS BoD President

Daniel Grew, CIRENAS BoD Vice President

Donate

Your donation allows us to expand our mission and become greater stewards of the evironement. CIRENAS is a registered U.S. 501(c)3 organization with tax ID: 26-3868907.

Make a Donation →

Spread the Word

Tell your friends and family about CIRENAS. There's no better way to get involved than to become an active advocate yourself. Join now!

 

We look forward to your visit!

 

Manzanillo, Costa Rica

+506 8390-4088 for Ashley Grew

+506 8378-5707 for Cindy Murillo

Monday – Friday: 9AM – 5PM
Saturday: 10AM – 12PM
Sunday: Closed

email

General Inquiries

info@cirenas.org

CIRENAS DONATIONS:

c/o U.S. Trust-Bank of America
ATTN: Wayne MacIsaac
100 Federal Street MA5-100-11-14
Boston, MA 02110