This two-week nature tour is all about Costa Rica's biodiverse national parks. Begin in Tortuguero, where, depending on the time of year, you can embark on a nighttime turtle nesting tour. In Monteverde, explore the cloud forests via the hanging bridges and ziplines. Manuel Antonio provides the best of both worlds—rainforest and beach scenery–while a tour of the famous Corcovado National Park is a bucket list field trip for nature enthusiasts.

Highlights

  • Go on a nighttime turtle nesting tour in Tortuguero
  • Ascend the suspension bridges and ziplines of Monteverde
  • Visit several beaches rich with wildlife in the Uvita area
  • Spot monkeys, sloths, and more at Corcovado National Park

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Travel From San José to Tortuguero Tortuguero
Day 2 Tortuguero National Park – Guided Tour Tortuguero
Day 3 Fly to San José and Travel to Tamarindo Beach Tamarindo
Day 4 Tamarindo Beach - Private, Guided Tour Tamarindo
Day 5 Travel to Playa Carrillo Playa Carrillo
Day 6 Playa Carrillo - Private, Guided Tour Playa Carrillo
Day 7 Travel to Monteverde Monteverde
Day 8 Monteverde - Tour the Cloud Forests Monteverde
Day 9 Travel to Manuel Antonio Manuel Antonio
Day 10 Tour Manuel Antonio National Park Manuel Antonio
Day 11 Travel to Uvita and Guided Tour Uvita
Day 12 Travel to Corcovado National Park Corcovado National Park
Day 13 Tour Corcovado National Park  Corcovado National Park
Day 14 Depart From San José  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Travel from San José to Tortuguero

Tortuguero Town
Tortuguero 

Welcome to Costa Rica! After a night of rest following your travel to San José, a driver will pick you up early in the morning to drive you through the beautiful mountain ranges of the Braulio Carrillo National Park.

The tour continues after a typical breakfast by bus and boat along a 20-mile-long system of waterways and rivers surrounded by lush scenery until you reach the town of Tortuguero around noon. Tortuguero National Park is one of the most important protected areas in Costa Rica and offers a perfect nesting place for leatherback and green sea turtles, alike.

This afternoon, you’ll visit the colorful town of Tortuguero. Once at the lodge, you can enjoy the amenities at your disposal, including the tropical garden and the swimming pool.

Day 2: Tortuguero National Park - Guided tour

Wildlife at Tortuguero canals
Wildlife at the Tortuguero canals

Today, you’ll experience the beauty of the rainforest on a boat trip through the canals of Tortuguero National Park. Discover birds and animals that can only be seen in this tropical paradise with the help of an expert guide, who will also teach you about the surrounding ecosystem.

After a post-lunch siesta, continue your day in the pretty fishing village of Tortuguero with your English-speaking guide. The rest of the day is free to enjoy the tropical garden and the swimming pool at the lodge. From July-September, you can book a nighttime turtle nesting experience, observing the behavior of nesting turtles at the hotel beach.

Day 3: Fly to San José and travel to Tamarindo Beach

The surf town of Tamarindo
The surf town of Tamarindo

Today after breakfast, you’ll take a local flight from Tortuguero to San José. Once you are in San José, you will continue your trip to Tamarindo Beach via private transportation. Tamarindo is a small community teeming with activity, famous for its sunny beaches and world-class surfing.

You'll find that the laid-back surf town of Playa Tamarindo has some excellent restaurants. A few options include the following:

  • La Bodega, a charming café that serves fantastic egg sandwiches (go for the Kristina, served with tomato, local goat cheese and smoked trout on toasted bread), homemade banana bread, and fresh juices
  • Green Papaya, a popular taco bar serving some of the best tacos and burritos in town (vegetarian options available) in a casual atmosphere
  • Surf Shack, where you can grab topnotch burgers, onion rings, and milkshakes in an aluminum-sided hut decorated with surfboards
  • Nogi's, a spot known for its beachfront location—a perfect pick for sunset dining; they serve a varied menu of seafood and grilled meat, but be sure to save room for a slice of their coconut cream pie

Enjoy an amazing sunset from your hotel in Tamarindo Beach after dinner.

Day 4: Tamarindo Beach - Private, guided tour

Tamarindo Bay
Tamarindo Bay

This morning, you’ll meet your private guide and driver who will join you for the next three days to explore the area.

Your driver will pick you up at your hotel, and during the day, you’ll visit the beaches around the area. Expect to visit Flamingo Beach, Potrero Beach, and Conchal Beach. You can take a dip in the water and walk around to enjoy the outdoor scenery of these locations.

In the afternoon, your guide and driver will take you back to the hotel, where you can relax and enjoy the pool. The rest of the day and evening is yours to enjoy.

Day 5: Travel to Playa Carrillo

Playa Sámara
Playa Sámara

After breakfast today, your guide will pick you up at your hotel and take you to Carrillo Beach. Located on the Nicoya Peninsula, Carrillo Beach is a perfect destination when vacationing on the beach. It is a less-developed beach, and there are just a few buildings and shops in the area. Instead of being developed, it is lined with palm trees and is ideal for some quiet relaxation.  

On the way there, you will visit Samara Beach and Nosara, which are also quieter beaches surrounded by nature. Once you arrive at Playa Carrillo, you can rest and enjoy your hotel. Dinner and the evening are at your leisure.

Day 6: Playa Carrillo - Private, guided tour

Sunset at Samara Beach
Sunset at Samara Beach

Today after breakfast, your guide will take you to explore the area. You can spend some more time at Carrillo Beach, as well as visit some other nearby beaches, such as Santa Teresa, Montezuma, or Manzanillo.

You have all day to visit and explore the beaches around. In the afternoon, return to the hotel and part ways with your guide. At nightfall, make sure to book a nestling turtle tour. This tour, depending on the season, will allow you to see how turtles arrive on the coast to bury their eggs in the sands of the beach. 

Tomorrow, you will continue on to the next leg of your journey to Monteverde

Day 7: Travel to Monteverde

Sunset in Monteverde
Sunset in Monteverde

After breakfast, a shuttle will take you to Santa Elena, a little town near the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Monteverde is one of the most popular destinations for tourists in Costa Rica. Set on a high mountain ridge, Santa Elena was founded in the 1950s by a small group of conservation-minded Quakers who were looking for a peaceful place to live. The Cloud Forest Reserve is one of the most important wild life sanctuaries in the tropics and is well known among both scientific researchers and eco travelers.

Explore the famous 26,000-acre Cloud Forest Reserve–home to countless species of flora and fauna. Then, plan to experience Santa Elena, a charming town known for excellent coffee and cheese. A few restaurant suggestions include: 

  • Orchid Coffee serves a menu of smoothies, salads, and sandwiches; sweet-toothed visitors will appreciate the café’s extensive hot chocolate menu made with authentic Costa Rican cacao and mixed with unique ingredients like cardamom and orange
  • El Jardin Bar & Restaurant wins visitors over with its tree-top setting, friendly service, and fresh, homemade bread served alongside every meal
  • Tree House Restaurant & Café was built around an old higueron (fig) tree, and serves well-prepared Costa Rican standards, like ceviche and arroz con pollo, in a romantic, open-air setting

Day 8: Monteverde - Tour the cloud forests

Monteverde Hanging Bridges
Monteverde hanging bridges

Today, you will hike through the cloud forest at Selvatura Park. Here, you can walk across 15 impressive steal bridges, some of which are suspended over the forest. The bridges offer multiple lengths and heights to allow access to the plants and wildlife at different perspectives as you go through the various levels of the rainforest.

This park also offers optional activities (for an additional charge), like a hummingbird garden, a butterfly farm, and one of the most thrilling zipline tours in the country, featuring 15 cables, 18 platforms, and an optional Tarzan swing at the end of the adventure.

Day 9: Travel to Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio National Park Beach
The beach at Manuel Antonio National Park

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel. Then, a transportation service will pick you up and drive you toward Manuel Antonio, one of the nicest beach areas in Costa Rica. Most of the hotels and restaurants are located up on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean, where you can catch spectacular sunsets.  

On the 4.5-hour ride, 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.

Some recommended restaurants include:

  • Gabriella's, where you can treat yourself to some fine dining; go for the seafood–whether it's the pan-seared scallops, ceviche, or snapper, you won't be disappointed
  • Café Agua Azul, which is ideal during sunset, because the second-floor patio has the best bay views in the entire area; along with excellent fresh fish, indulge in delectable desserts, like homemade brownies and bread pudding
  • Manuel Antonio Falafel Bar, which offers something different in the form of Middle-Eastern dining; order up favorites like falafel, shawarma, hummus, and gain access to a salad bar any vegetarian would love

Day 10: Tour Manuel Antonio National Park

Squirrel monkey
Look out for squirrel monkeys at Manuel Antonio National Park

Today after breakfast, you will enjoy a hiking tour of Manuel Antonio National Park. (which is closed on Mondays), with a naturalist guide.

This park is very famous, due to the fact that it hosts three of the four species of monkeys of the country. Here, you can explore the pristine natural beauty of this world-famous national park filled with other exotic wildlife, such as sloths, birds, reptiles, and butterflies.

Experience the lush rainforest and the white, sandy beaches and swim in crystalline blue waters of the park. Enjoy your surroundings, and then the rest of the day and evening are at your leisure. 

Day 11: Travel to Uvita and guided tour

Whale Tail, Marino Ballena National Park
Whale Tail, Marino Ballena National Park

This morning, a private guide and driver from the area will pick you up at your hotel to take you to the Uvita area. You’ll visit Playa Linda, Playa Dominical, Playa Hermosa, and the Marino Ballena National Park

On these beaches, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy the vast wildlife that inhabits the area: spider monkeys, capuchin monkeys, sloths, anteaters, raccoons, parrots, toucans, raptors, porcupines, and kinkajous. 

Your guide will provide you with a lunch recommendation. Then, in the afternoon, your guide will take you to your hotel located on Uvita Beach. Once checked in to your hotel, you can relax and enjoy the nice views. 

Day 12: Travel to Corcovado National Park

Southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica
The Southern Pacific Coast of Costa Rica

In the morning, a shuttle will pick you up at your hotel to take you on the 1-hour ride to Sierpe. Here, you will start your adventure toward Corcovado National Park

Once there, you’ll take a 1.5-hour boat ride to your lodge, located on the Osa Peninsula, by Corcovado National Park. This protected area is known worldwide for its high percentage of diverse flora and fauna. In the afternoon, you can take a short hike to the beach to enjoy the sunset. Then, the evening will be at your leisure.

Day 13: Tour Corcovado National Park and San Pedrillo Ranger Station

Costa Rica's capuchin monkeys
Costa Rica's capuchin monkeys

Today, you will enjoy the famously biodiverse Corcovado National Park. The park was even recognized by National Geographic as one of the most intense biological places in the world. In fact, it is estimated that no other place in the world (that possesses a similar extension) has greater biodiversity than Corcovado.  

The park is larger than 128 acres and hosts both primary and secondary forests, beaches, and spring waterfalls in its tropical climate. In this park, you will be able to observe more than 100 different types of birds and other animals within their own habitats, including sloths, coatis, tapirs, anteaters, dart frogs (Poisonous and Talamanca), white-faced monkeys, howler monkeys, and more.

Visit the San Pedrillo Ranger Station, which is surrounded by the pristine waters of the Pacific Ocean and lush tropical rainforest. It offers the chance to see multiple species of birds, stunning waterfalls, and the giant trees of the primary forest. You'll also have the opportunity to see endemic animals, like howler and capuchin monkeys, and exotic birds, like toucans, trogons, and scarlet macaws. If you get really lucky, you might spot a jaguar or a puma. 

After the day of outdoor exploration, relax and enjoy your final night in Costa Rica.  

Day 14: Depart from San José

Juan Santamaria Intl. Airport
Farewell, Costa Rica!

After breakfast at your hotel, you will be transferred to Drake Bay Airstrip to take your local flight back to San José, which is approximately 45 minutes. Once you arrive at the airport, prepare for your international flight back home. Safe Travels!

Map

Map of Costa Rica Nature Tour: Tortuguero, Monteverde, Manuel Antonio, & Corcovado - 14 Days
Map of Costa Rica Nature Tour: Tortuguero, Monteverde, Manuel Antonio, & Corcovado - 14 Days