Hacker Paradise

A hacker retreat this fall in Costa Rica.

September - November, 2014.

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Learn through building things. Focus on projects outside of your comfort zone to push your limits as a programmer and add interesting work to your portfolio.


There are no teachers or curriculum at Hacker Paradise. You decide what you want to work on - build that passion project or learn that framework that you never have time for.

Community Learning

Have a question? Run it by the person sitting next to you. We're big on peer-learning, and we have morning check-ins at the beginning of each day to help each other out and add mutual accountability.

Come hack with us in paradise?

Hacker Paradise is a programming retreat in the beautiful country of Costa Rica, inspired by Hacker School. Our HQ is El Sueno Tropical, a boutique hotel located on the edge of the jungle in the coastal town of Playa Carrillo. Participants come from all over to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and spend 12 weeks writing code and building things with other passionate individuals.

We provide social accountability and a supportive environment in which to learn. While here, you can work on any project you like: learn a new language, write a compiler, contribute to an open source project, or better yet, start your own. Over the course of the retreat, you will improve significantly as a programmer, and get deeply in touch with the joy of building things.

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.

Helen Keller


Pair Up

Pair Programming is a great way to improve your skills and deepen your knowledge regardless of your skill level. We encourage participants to pair as much as possible during their time here.


Participants are encouraged to work on open-source code and 'for-fun' projects that will help them learn new skills and technologies. However, they are also allowed to work on commercial projects, such as freelance work or startups.


There are no teachers at Hacker Paradise, but there will be experienced mentors and facilitators on-site to help give guidance on your projects or point you toward additional resources.


Hacker Paradise is located near Samara in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica. On weekends, you can surf, kayak, or explore all that this Central American paradise has to offer.

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.

Augustine of Hippo

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License    by Randy Son Of Robert


Can I come for a shorter period?
We believe we'll have room for people who can't stay for the entire 12 weeks. Please mention this in your application and we'll discuss in the interview.

What can I learn / work on?
You are free to choose any project you like, ideally something you think will help you improve as a programmer. Participants are encouraged to work on open-source code and 'for-fun' projects, but they are also allowed to work on commercial projects, such as freelance work or startups. We also encourage participants to spend as much time as possible pair programming and collaborating with other people.

How much structure is there?
Hacker Paradise runs from 10:30am - 6:30pm, Monday - Thursday.
Every morning, we come together as a group for a quick standup meeting, during which we discuss what we did yesterday, any obstacles we faced, and what we're planning to do today. We will also have weekly events where people can showcase what they've been learning and building!

Who will be at Hacker Paradise?
The main requirement is that participants show that they enjoy programming, as they will be spending a lot of time writing code during the retreat. As a result, we accept participants with a wide range of experience, from those who have only been programming for several months, to experienced programmers who have been working in technology for many years.

Where is the retreat?
Hacker Paradise is held in Playa Carrillo, a small town on the northwest coast of Costa Rica. We are working with El Sueno Tropical, a boutique hotel in the area, where participants will stay and where the actual programming will take place.

Why Costa Rica?
Costa Rica is a beautiful country, and if you're going to spend several months writing code and working on open source projects, you might as well do it in paradise. The low cost of living in Costa Rica also means that the school is actually cheaper than most other options in the US (including airfare), and thus more accessible.
It should be noted that this is NOT A VACATION. Participants are expected to work hard during "school hours," Monday - Thursday. You will learn a lot, and you will often end the day with your brain exhausted from the intense growth. However, on weekends, participants are free to relax or explore the country.

When is it?
The retreat will be held for 12 weeks, from September 7 - November 28, 2014.

What about visas?
Americans can enter Costa Rica on a 90 day tourist visa without any special documentation (besides a valid passport). The retreat will run for 88 days. If you would like to stay longer in Costa Rica, you may rewnew your visa by traveling to Panama, Nicaragua or another neighboring country for a few days.

How much does it cost? What is included?
Tuition for the program is free; participants need to cover their own housing, food, and recreation costs.

How much does housing cost?
We have negotiated a special deal with the hotel, and can offer single rooms for $700 and shared rooms for $400 a month. This is a >75% discount off their list price and is cheaper than most condos and rentals in the area.

How much does food cost?
Monthly food costs in Costa Rica can range from $450 - $900, depending on what you buy and how often you eat out. There are supermarkets nearby, and there is a restaurant at the hotel.

How much is airfare?
At the time of this writing, roundtrip airfare to Costa Rica from the US is between $350 and $800, depending on the departure airport.

How much should I budget altogether?
All included, we think participants could live frugally and get by on $3,500 for the three month period. However, a participant would have more flexibility with a budget of $4,000 - $5,000.

This will cover airfare and all living expenses for 3 months, and is probably slightly less than one would spend living in a U.S. metropolitan area for the period.

Do you have a Code of Conduct or anti-harrassment policy for the retreat?
Yes! You can find it here.

Education is not preparation for life; it is life itself.

John Dewey


Hacker Paradise is located in the beautiful country of Costa Rica, just far enough off the beaten path that we won't be bothered. Participants can take time on weekends to explore the misty rainforests, majestic volcanoes, and stunning beaches that make this country a Central American paradise.


Wisdom is not the product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.

Albert Einstein


Get busy living or get busy dying.

We have a few spots left for our fall batch, and are currently accepting applications on a rolling basis.

You should receive a confirmation email shortly after you apply, and we will review your application within two weeks.


Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.

Anthony J. D'Angelo


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