Itinerary #1: Highlights of Arenal, Puerto Viejo, & Tortuguero
Explore the regions of Arenal and Tortuguero National Park, filled with waterfalls, jungle hiking trails, hot springs, traditional farms, and indigenous villages on this culturally-oriented itinerary in Costa Rica.
|Day 1||Arrival in Costa Rica – Experience San José's Culture||San José|
|Day 2||City Tour of San José||San José|
|Day 3||San José to the Caribbean Coast||Puerto Viejo de Talamanca|
|Day 4||Transfer to Bambú - Boat Ride to Bribri Village||Yorkin|
|Day 5||Waterfall Hike - Transfer to Puerto Viejo||Puerto Viejo de Talamanca|
|Day 6||Transfer from Puerto Viejo to Tortuguero||Tortuguero|
|Day 7||Boat Tour of Tortuguero National Park||Tortuguero|
|Day 8||Tortuguero to Arenal Volcano||Arenal/La Fortuna|
|Day 9||Los Campesinos Farm Experience||Arenal/La Fortuna|
|Day 10||Arenal to Rincón de la Vieja National Park||Rincon de la Vieja|
|Day 11||Cowboy for a Day||Rincon de la Vieja|
|Day 12||Rincón de la Vieja to San José||San José|
|Day 13||Depart San José|
Spend a day or two sightseeing in San José at the beginning of the trip to get oriented in Costa Rica. On day three, you'll transfer to the Caribbean coast and see a gorgeous sunset over the water at Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. From Bambú, you'll ride in a cayuco, a traditional indigenous canoe, to the village of Yorkin, home of the native Bribri people. Spend some time in the community learning about the group's language and traditions before taking a waterfall hike. Move onto Tortuguero National Park for a guided boat tour, then visit Arenal Volcano and La Fortuna waterfall.
In the second part of the trip, learn about rural Costa Rican life during a hands-on visit to a farm followed by an al fresco lunch made with local produce. Then it's off to Rincón de la Vieja National Park, where you'll see exotic birds and other wildlife while hiking. On day 11, you'll play the role of a Costa Rican cowboy for the day at Hacienda Guachipeli ranch — you'll learn how to milk a cow and mend a fence, among other tasks. Head back to the capital city for one last night on the town before flying out of Costa Rica. Learn more
Itinerary #2: Costa Rica Wildlife, Nature, and Birding
Costa Rica has over 850 species of birds: see as many as you can on this trip plan through the country's pristine landscapes and national parks.
|Day 1||Arrive in Costa Rica - Experience San José's Culture and History||San José|
|Day 2||Birding at Vara Blanca - Transfer to La Fortuna/Arenal||Arenal/La Fortuna|
|Day 3||Arenal to Caño Negro||Caño Negro|
|Day 4||Early-Morning Birding at Caño Negro||Caño Negro|
|Day 5||Caño Negro to the Celeste River & Tenorio National Park||Cañas|
|Day 6||Travel to Rincón de la Vieja National Park||Cañas|
|Day 7||Palo Verde National Park - Travel to Tárcoles||Tarcoles|
|Day 8||Birding at Villa Lapas - Optional Visit to Carara National Park||Tarcoles|
|Day 9||Tárcoles to the Southern Pacific Coast||La Gamba|
|Day 10||Early Birding on the Southern Pacific Coast||La Gamba|
|Day 11||Esquinas Rainforest Lodge to the Talamanca Mountains||San Gerardo de Dota|
|Day 12||Quetzal Safari in Los Quetzales National Park||San Gerardo de Dota|
|Day 13||San Gerardo to San José - Departure|
After a day in San José, you'll head to Vara Blanca for your first birding experience on the itinerary: look for the fiery-throated hummingbird, barred hawk, ornate hawk-eagle, chestnut-mandibled toucan, tanager, and flycatcher. Then transfer to the Arenal region and Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge, the largest wetland in the country, where you may spot a cinnamon woodpecker or a yellow-throated euphonia. Next up is Celeste River and Tenorio National Park, home to the quail-dove, black-eared wood-quail, rufous-vented ground-cuckoo, and more.
In the second part of the trip, you'll make stops at several national parks: Rincón de la Vieja National Park, Palo Verde National Park, and Carara National Park, each with their own unique populations of birds. Look for scarlet macaws while on a guided birding excursion around Villa Lapas, then continue to the southern Pacific coast for another birding outing in Piedras Blancas National Park. Relax at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge before finishing up with a trip to the Talamanca Mountains and a special quetzal safari in Los Quetzales National Park. Finish up in San José. Learn more
Itinerary #3: Multi-Sport Adventure from Jungles to Beaches
Hike, kayak, raft, and zip through the cloud forest canopy on this active adventure around Costa Rica.
|Day 1||Arrive in San José||San José|
|Day 2||Rafting Río Pacuare||Río Pacuare|
|Day 3||Rafting Class III-IV Rapids - Arrive in Arenal Volcano National Park||Arenal/La Fortuna|
|Day 4||Volcano Hike & La Fortuna Waterfall||Arenal/La Fortuna|
|Day 5||Waterfall Rappelling in Arenal||Arenal/La Fortuna|
|Day 6||Coffee Farm Tour & Tabacon Hot Springs||Arenal/La Fortuna|
|Day 7||Boat from Arenal to Monteverde - Nocturnal Nature Tour||Monteverde|
|Day 8||Zip-Line Fun in the Cloud Forest||Monteverde|
|Day 9||Monteverde to Jacó||Jacó|
|Day 10||River Safari in Carara National Park||Jacó|
|Day 11||Day trip to Tortuga Island||Jacó|
|Day 12||Jacó to San José||San José|
|Day 13||Depart San José|
Kick off the trip with a quick stay in San José, then a transfer to the Río Pacuare river for a whitewater rafting adventure. The next day, you'll arrive in Arenal Volcano National Park. Go for a guided volcano hike and an excursion to La Fortuna waterfall. Feeling extra adventurous? Try waterfall rappelling the next day: you'll make your way down a steep rock face while feeling the spray of the cascades. On day six, tour a coffee farm and go for a dip in the waters of the Tabacon Hot Springs.
Catch a boat from Arenal to Monteverde for a nighttime nature tour. The following day, you'll zip-line through the cloud forest, soaring high above the trees. Then drive out to the Pacific coast to spend the night in the surf village of Jacó, where you can relax, swim, or go for a hike. Next up is Carara National Park and a guided river safari — look out for crocodiles — followed by a day trip to Tortuga Island for snorkeling and water sports. Take it easy for another day in Jacó or return to San José early for an extra dose of Costa Rican culture and cuisine. Learn more
Itinerary #4: Relaxing Nicoya Peninsula Road Trip
Take to the open road on this laid-back self-drive trip around Costa Rica's beautiful Nicoya Peninsula.
|Day 1||Liberia to Tamarindo - Self Drive||Tamarindo|
|Day 2||Private Surf Lesson at Playa Tamarindo||Tamarindo|
|Day 3||Sunset Catamaran Adventure||Tamarindo|
|Day 4||Kayak Tamarindo||Tamarindo|
|Day 5||Free Day in Tamarindo||Tamarindo|
|Day 6||Tamarindo to Nosara - Optional Beach Excursion||Nosara|
|Day 7||Nosara Mangrove Tour - SUP Paddle Board||Nosara|
|Day 8||Nosara - Free Day||Nosara|
|Day 9||Nosara to Santa Teresa||Playa Tambor|
|Day 10||Free Afternoon and Evening Bioluminescent Bay Tour||Santa Teresa|
|Day 11||Free Day in Santa Teresa||Santa Teresa|
|Day 12||Surfing Lesson at Playa Santa Teresa||Santa Teresa|
|Day 13||Santa Teresa to Liberia & Depart Costa Rica|
Touch down in Liberia, where you'll pick up a rental car for the drive to the popular surf village of Playa Tamarindo. Hit the beach on day two for a private surf lesson and a sunset catamaran cruise. On day four, you'll go on a kayaking excursion, and the next day, you'll have a free day for water sports, hiking, or practicing your new surfing skills. You'll be glad to have them on day six, when you'll head to another popular surf spot, Nosara. It's home to the Boca Nosara, a river mouth where both the Nosara and Montana rivers converge.
Go on a mangrove tour and try SUP (stand-up paddleboarding) in Nosara before continuing along to Santa Teresa. Enjoy a relaxed day at Playa Tambor beach. Hike in Curú Wildlife Refuge, then go on an evening bioluminescent tour of the bay. This three-hour interactive trip includes a short kayaking excursion to Quesera Beach, where you'll have a picnic and watch the sun go down. You'll have another day or two in Santa Teresa at the end of the trip for more surfing, yoga, and a dip in the natural tidal pools. Head back to Liberia at the end of the trip, where you'll return your rental car and catch a flight home. Learn more
Itinerary #5: Mountain Biking & Adventure Sports
Cycle along Pacific beaches and go whitewater rafting on the Pacuare River on this outdoorsy Costa Rican itinerary.
|Day 1||Arrival in Costa Rica – Experience San José's Culture||San José|
|Day 2||Warm-Up Ride to Samará||Playa Sámara|
|Day 3||Samará Extended Ride||Playa Sámara|
|Day 4||Mountain Biking to Tilarán||Tilarán|
|Day 5||Mountain Biking Around Lake Arenal||Arenal/La Fortuna|
|Day 6||Arenal Hanging Bridges, Waterfall & Hot Springs||Arenal/La Fortuna|
|Day 7||Mountain Biking Irazú & Turrialba Volcanoes||Turrialba|
|Day 8||Pacuare Adventure||Río Pacuare|
|Day 9||Pacuare Adventure - Free Day in Pacuare Valley||Río Pacuare|
|Day 10||Pacuare Adventure - Finca Pacuarito||Siquirres|
|Day 11||Pacuare Cycling & Kayak Adventure - Puerto Viejo||Puerto Viejo de Talamanca|
|Day 12||Caribbean Coast Free Morning - Transfer to San José||San José|
Get ready for an adventure on two wheels! Warm up at the start of the trip with an easy ride from San José (where the itinerary begins) to Playa Sámara beach. The next day, you'll take a longer ride along the coast, stopping to take a dip in the ocean if the mood strikes. The terrain becomes more mountainous on the next leg of the journey: you'll bike around volcanoes on your way to Tilarán, then pedal to Lake Arenal. Hike to the region's famous Hanging Bridges and go for a dip in hot springs before getting back on the bike for the second part of the trip.
The trail leads you to Irazú and Turrialba volcanoes in the second week, then onto Río Pacuare river for a whitewater rafting trip. Look for toucans (and boa constrictors) at your group's riverside campsite. You'll stay in the region for the next few days, relaxing in a hammock and going for another rafting excursion before getting back on your bike for the 16-mile ride to Finca Pacuarito, where you'll spend the night. The next day, continue cycling to Freeman past a series of old banana plantations. Finally, you'll arrive in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, where you can relax on the Caribbean coastline and raise a glass at the end of your Costa Rican cycling adventure. Learn more
More Great 13-Day Costa Rica Itineraries
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