This 14-day seaside adventure takes you from scenic Uvita Beach on the south Pacific Coast all the way to Puerto Viejo, on the Caribbean side. Along the way, you’ll stop in Manuel Antonio, with its beautiful beaches and namesake national park. Then, enjoy a day exploring La Fortuna and Arenal Volcano. Mingle with monkeys, sloths, and other animals at the Jaguar Rescue Center on this family-friendly vacation that ends in the capital city of San José.

Highlights

  • Go on a mangrove tour of one of the largest wetlands in Central America
  • Embark on a ziplining adventure in the rainforest of Manuel Antonio
  • Snorkel among marine life in the protected Corcovado National Park
  • Meet the resident animals at the Jaguar Rescue Center

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in San José San Jose
Day 2 Travel to Uvita Uvita
Day 3 Uvita - Peninsula de Osa Mangrove Tour Uvita
Day 4 Uvita - Caño Island Snorkeling at Corcovado National Park Uvita
Day 5 Travel to Manuel Antonio Manuel Antonio
Day 6 Manuel Antonio - Ziplining Adventure Manuel Antonio
Day 7 Manuel Antonio - Free Day Manuel Antonio
Day 8 Travel to La Fortuna and Tour Arenal Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 9 Travel to Puerto Viejo Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Day 10 Puerto Viejo - Visit the Jaguar Rescue Center Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Days 11-12 Puerto Viejo - Free Days Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Day 13 Travel to San José San Jose
Day 14 Departure From San José  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in San José

Metropolitan Cathedral
Metropolitan Cathedral in San José

Welcome to Costa Rica! Once you arrive, a representative will be waiting for you at the airport and will provide all the travel documents you need. A driver will take you to your hotel located in the heart of the metropolitan area of San José.

San José is the capital of Costa Rica and is home to almost two-thirds of the country's total population. It has buildings more than 100 years old and maintains a large amount of art and history that visitors can enjoy. In addition, theaters and museums full of culture make San José a city worth discovering.

Once you arrive in San José, if you arrive early, you'll have free to enjoy the city at your leisure.

Be sure to explore Barrio Amón, a historic neighborhood home to cafetalero (coffee grower) mansions built during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many of this area’s historic buildings have been converted into hotels, restaurants, and galleries, making Amón a popular bohemian district. 

For dinner, opt for a restaurant in the hills of Escazú. This elevated region on the western edge of the city offers panoramic views of the valley below. That said, San José is filled with great restaurants serving everything from traditional to forward-thinking fusion cuisine.

Day 2: Travel to Uvita

The Pacific Coast is known for it's breathtaking sunsets
The Pacific Coast is known for its breathtaking sunsets

After breakfast, you’ll start your journey to Uvita, which is nestled along the South Pacific Coast. In recent years, Uvita has grown into a favorite destination of many tourists. Along the coast, you’ll find miles of isolated, unspoiled beaches and beautiful bays that are great for surfing, fishing, and diving. Its real magic lies in the surrounding scenery.

You’ll have the afternoon to explore the area and then relax at your hotel or on the beach.

Day 3: Uvita - Peninsula de Osa mangrove tour

Osa Peninsula
Osa Peninsula

Today you will enjoy a great tour of the Peninsula de Osa. You’ll travel by the Térraba-Sierpe mangrove, which is one of the largest wetlands in Central America, and the largest wetland of Costa Rica. It is 79,000 acres and has quite a bit of biodiversity.

On this journey, you’ll be able to observe some of the 40 different types of birds, mangrove boa snakes, cat's eyes and corals, white-faced monkeys, caimans, crocodiles, and Jesus Christ lizards, among other species.

This mangrove is one of the largest sites of archaeological interest in the country and has been inhabited by indigenous people dating as far back as 300 BCE. This is also where the UNESCO World Heritage Site stone-carved spheres are found. During the tour, you will enjoy lunch, before heading back to your hotel. The evening is at your leisure.

Day 4: Uvita - Caño Island snorkeling tour at Corcovado National Park

Snorkel above pristine coral reefs
Go snorkeling in the waters of Corcovado National Park

Today, embark on a snorkeling tour on Isla del Caño. It is a protected biological reserve and belongs to Corcovado National Park. Even the sea, with its coral reefs that surround the island, belongs to the protected area.

While snorkeling, keep an eye out for species of sharks and rays, killer whales, humpback whales, and many colorful coral fish. Isla del Caño is covered with humid tropical forest and inhabits several species of plants and birds. The crystal-clear waters and coral reefs of the island are ideal for active snorkeling and swimming. After the tour, you will head back to your hotel, and enjoy the night on your own.

Day 5: Travel to Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio beach
Manuel Antonio

Today after breakfast, you will board the boat to go back to Sierpe. Then, a driver will pick you up to take you to Manuel Antonio, known as one of the nicest beach areas in Costa Rica. Most hotels and restaurants are located up on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean, offering spectacular sunsets.

On the way there, take in the picture-perfect landscapes before arriving in Quepos, a small town close to Manuel Antonio National Park. After you check in to your hotel, you can enjoy the afternoon exploring the beach, or just relaxing at your hotel's pool area.

Day 6: Manuel Antonio - Ziplining adventure

Zip Line Tour
Go on a ziplining tour in Manuel Antonio

Today, you’ll head out on a ziplining tour in Manuel Antonio. Round trip transportation will pick you up at your hotel and drive you to the canopy site, about 20 minutes away. Upon reaching the tour site, you’ll receive a safety and instruction talk. After the talk, you can get geared up with all the proper safety equipment.

Your guide will gladly point out and describe the wildlife found in this area—mainly primary and secondary rainforest. Expect to leave with more extensive knowledge of the regional flora and fauna. The Manuel Antonio zipline course has 11 cables and 22 platforms, as well as suspension bridges and a Tarzan swing. Your guides will educate you on the jungle, pointing out different trees, flowers, and plants, as well as all the wildlife around you—monkeys, sloths, birds, butterflies, numerous bugs, and so much more.

As you zip from platform to platform and soar over the leafy treetops, take in the new perspective the canopy tour provides.

Day 7: Manuel Antonio - Free day

Manuel Antonio is one of the best places in the country for spotting monkeys
Manuel Antonio is one of the best places in the country to spot monkeys

Today, you’ll have a free day to explore the Pacific Coast. You can visit Manuel Antonio National Park, one of the most famous national parks in the country. Take a hike by yourself, and spend time at the beach among the monkeys that are common at the park.

Other options include visiting the Damas Island Estuary or Carara National Park, booking a kayaking tour, surf lessons, or going for a sunset sail.

Day 8: Travel to La Fortuna and tour Arenal

View of the Arenal Volcano
View of the Arenal volcano

Today, you will leave the coast to continue through the northern plains of the country—with its exotic tropical flora and different plantations—before you get to La Fortuna, the little town that is home to Arenal volcano. La Fortuna and Arenal offer a lot of optional activities, like waterfall rappelling, whitewater rafting, or just relaxing in one of the many hot springs resorts in the area.

For dinner, try one of these recommended restaurants:

  • Ave del Paraíso, which serves a mix of local Costa Rican and international cuisine
  • Café Mediterraneo, a friendly osteria serving up homemade pasta and pizza
  • La Parrilla de María Bonita, a must-visit for perfectly cooked steak, as well as Mediterranean dishes, like falafel and baba ghanoush
  • Rancho Perla, a popular open-air restaurant (you may even spot sloths hanging from the nearby trees) serving well-prepared Costa Rican staples

Day 9: Travel to Puerto Viejo

Punta Uva
Punta Uva in Puerto Viejo

Today, a driver will pick you up and drive you toward Puerto Viejo, which is located on the Southern Caribbean Coast. Known for its laid-back attitude and famous for its surfing, Puerto Viejo´s cultural influences are interesting: a mix of Afro-CaribbeanBribri Indian, tico, and hippie-style counterculture.

Depending on what time you arrive, here are some suggestions for things to see and do:

  • Hang out at the town's renowned beaches for some sun, swimming, and surfing; mingle with the locals at Playa Cocles, or head to Punta Uva or Playa Chiquita for some peace and quiet
  • Dine at one of the many restaurants and local sodas this melting pot has to offer; you'll find Caribbean cuisine, fresh seafood, traditional Tico fare, and more—try Bread and Chocolate for breakfast or lunch, and Chile Rojo for a beachfront dinner of Asian fusion, seafood, and even some vegan options, and don’t miss out on Afro-Caribbean-inspired cuisine at Restaurante Johanna
  • If you're in the mood for dancing, check out local hotspots, like Tasty WavesJohnny's Place, or The Lazy Mon for live music and Caribbean rhythms, or just sip on tropical cocktails at one of the many spots along the beach

You’ll have the afternoon free to explore the area at your leisure.

Day 10: Puerto Viejo - Visit the Jaguar Rescue Center

Baby sloth at The Jaguar Rescue Center
Meet baby sloths at the Jaguar Rescue Center

Today, you’ll visit the Jaguar Rescue Center. Take a tour to see how the animals are rescued, such as sloths, monkeys, macaws, and many other species of wildlife. This is also a great experience for kids, as they will get to interact with the animals, and your guide will explain all about the organization’s programs.

This tour is one of the many ways you can support the daily efforts of the rescue, which aims to rehabilitate and protect the wild animals of Costa Rica, and at the same time, provide an unforgettable and unique experience while getting to know the native “residents.”

Days 11-12: Puerto Viejo - Free days

Vendor on the beach, Puerto Viejo
Enjoy free time in Puerto Viejo

Today, you have the day at your leisure to enjoy the beach and everything it offers. You can relax at the hotel swimming pool or take a walk by the beach. You can book optional activities including snorkeling or kayaking tours, horseback riding, or a cooking class. You can also visit an indigenous reserve, or take a tour of Cahuita National Park

Day 13: Travel to San José

National Theater
National Theater in San José

Today, it is time to say goodbye to the beach. A driver will pick you up and drive you toward San José. On the way there, you’ll pass through volcanic mountains, with access to great views along the way.

Once you arrive in San José, take the time to explore more of the capital that you missed upon your arrival. Take a stroll through Mercado Central (Central Market), featuring more than 200 shops, food stalls, and sodas (traditional restaurants). Then, visit the Catedral Metropolitana (Metropolitan Church), whose interior combines Greek Orthodox, Neoclassical, and Baroque styles, and features wood carvings and stained-glass windows. There's also a pair of popular museums in San José: Museo del Oro Precolumbino, the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum, and Museo del Jade, the world's largest collection of pre-Columbian jade artifacts.

Once you’re finished exploring, treat yourself to a nice, farewell dinner to enjoy your final night in Costa Rica.

Day 14: Travel to San José

Airport
Farewell, Costa Rica!

Today, at the appropriate time, you will check out of the hotel and head to Juan Santamaría International Airport. Have a safe flight, and come back to enjoy more of Costa Rica again soon!

Map

Map of Coastal Costa Rica: Caribbean & Pacific Adventure - 14 Days
Map of Coastal Costa Rica: Caribbean & Pacific Adventure - 14 Days