In this eight-day luxury itinerary, you'll travel in style to southwest Costa Rica and the Osa Peninsula. Here you'll embark on excursions in Corcovado National Park, a veritable Lost World preserving one of the country's few lowland rainforests. You'll then fly to Arenal Volcano National Park, where even more active adventures await.

Highlights

  • Hike through virgin rainforest in Corcovado National Park
  • Snorkel or dive off the coast of Isla del Caño Nature Reserve
  • Go on nature excursions and soak in hot springs near Arenal Volcano

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in San José and Flight to Osa Peninsula Drake Bay
Day 2 Corcovado National Park Hike - La Sirena Drake Bay
Day 3 Snorkeling/Scuba Diving Isla del Caño Drake Bay
Day 4 Free Day in Osa Peninsula Drake Bay
Day 5 Fly to San José - Transfer to La Fortuna & Hotsprings Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 6 Hike Arenal 1968 - Tabacón Hot Springs Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 7 Arenal Free Day Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 8 Transfer from Arenal to San José - Depart Costa Rica  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 Arrival in San José - Transfer to Osa Peninsula - Explore Bahía Drake

Drake Bay, Osa Peninsula
Drake Bay, Osa Peninsula

Welcome to the land of pura vida! Upon arrival at Juan Santamaria Airport in San José, you'll hop a connecting flight to Bahía Drake (Drake Bay), a village on the Osa Peninsula. This peninsula is located on the southern Pacific coast of the country, and while not inaccessible per se, it is one of the least developed regions in Costa Rica. It's also the gateway to Corcovado National Park, which is located directly south of Drake. This famous protected area is known for its virgin rainforests and wind-swept beaches.

Upon arrival to Bahía Drake, you'll check into your hotel. You'll now have the entire day to relax and enjoy the beaches until your heart's content. At night, tuck into dinner at your lodgings. Drake's remoteness and limited restaurant options mean most accommodations offer all-inclusive meals.

Day 2: Corcovado National Park Hike - La Sirena

Get lucky and you might even spot a jaguar in Corcovado
Get lucky and you might spot a jaguar in Corcovado

La Sirena, located in the heart of Corcovado, is the park's largest ranger station. The extraordinary diversity and concentration of wildlife here means that you're likely to spot exotic animals at any time on any part of any trail. None of these animals are hunted, so they don't have much fear of human beings. As a result, tapirs often cool off in nearby mud holes, and herds of peccaries frequently roam within a few hundred meters of the ranger station itself. 

To arrive at La Sirena involves a delightful one-hour boat ride along the scenic coastline in a skiff. Once you arrive at the beach near La Sirena there will be cold drinks waiting for you before you embark on your hike. Avid naturalists will enjoy seeing the exotic flora and fauna that abounds in and around this remote station. The guided tour leaves at 6 am and returns at mid-afternoon.

Day 3: Snorkeling/Scuba Diving Isla del Caño

Leatherback turtle
Leatherback turtle

Today, you'll have the pleasure of exploring the waters of the Caño Island Biological Reserve on a scuba-diving excursion. This protected marine area is located just off the northern tip of the Osa Peninsula, by Bahía Drake. It's home to an abundance of marine life including reef sharks, sea turtles, parrot fish, eels, manta rays, puffer fish, snappers, sea cucumbers, octopus, and many more. There's also a wide variety of coral-building organisms and 19 different species of coral, such as fan, head, and brain coral. 

You'll board a 30-foot Island Hopper and an expert will offer a safety lesson geared for all ages and experience levels. Then it's time to plunge into the water. Visibility is 30-100 feet throughout the year, making Caño Island a perfect site for underwater photography.

Day 4: Free Day on the Osa Peninsula

Coatis (part of the raccoon family) are a common site on the Osa Peninsula
Coatis (part of the raccoon family) are a common site on the Osa Peninsula

Today you'll choose your own adventure, whether that's spending more time in the waves or exploring on land. If you'd like to see some of the country's wildlife you can make an excursion deep into the park. This guided rainforest hike is a chance to explore a diverse range of wildlife, including the endangered giant anteater, harpy eagle, tapir, and felines like the jaguar, puma, and margay. You may also see various monkeys, white-lipped peccaries, scarlet macaws, coatis, and other exotic birds and insects. 

Or, for those who prefer the water, you could opt for a boat tour along the coast in pursuit of dolphins, turtles, and whales (viewing season is Aug-Sep). In the late afternoon, consider pampering yourself in the town of Puerto Jiménez with spa treatments or yoga classes before heading out for a gourmet dinner.

Day 5: Fly to San José - Transfer to La Fortuna & Arenal Volcano

Arenal at sunset
Arenal at sunset

After flying back to San José from the Osa Peninsula, your transfer service will meet you for a 2.5-hour chauffered road trip to La Fortuna, which is best known as the base for exploring Arenal Volcano National Park. Located north of the Tilaran Mountains, the cone-shaped Arenal Volcano juts out above the San Carlos Plains and stands an impressive 5,479 feet (1,670 meters). After checking into your hotel, you'll have the rest of the day to explore on your own. 

If you want to get close to the volcano, kayaking on Lake Arenal provides spectacular views of its peak, as does a mountain bike ride through the park toward the village of El Castillo. Or, opt for a zip-line tour over the forest canopy as you soar above the La Fortuna and Pino Blanco Waterfalls. In the evening, hit the town for a meal at one of the area's best restaurants. 

Day 6: Hike Arenal 1968 - Tabacón Hot Springs

A hot spring near Arenal
A mineral-rich hot spring near Arenal

After breakfast, you can take the morning to relax. In the early afternoon, you'll visit Arenal 1968, a private reserve named after the year of the last major eruption of the volcano. The event was so catastrophic that it transformed some of the region’s topography: lava fields now dominate one side of Arenal. Trails wind through those lava fields as well as the surrounding rainforest. Along the way, you'll find lookout points featuring prime views of the volcano. 

After hiking the trails, soothe your muscles with a dip in the mineral-rich waters in and around the Tabacón Thermal Resort. These hot springs have been used as therapeutic baths for more than 200 years, and the luxury resort includes a spa where various treatments, like couples massages, are performed in outdoor bungalows. You'll end the day with an unforgettable dinner at one of the resort’s fine-dining restaurants, which serve Costa Rican dishes as well as international fare.

Day 7: Arenal Free Day

Perhaps enjoy a whitewater rafting trip in Costa Rica

Today is a free day, which is good because there's a lot more to see and do in Arenal. One optional activity is a chocolate tour. During this hands-on experience, you’ll visit a working cacao plantation, participate in the harvest of the fruit, learn how to dry and grind the seeds that produce creamy cocoa butter, taste a traditional chocolate drink that was developed centuries ago, and, of course, sample the freshly made chocolate.

An even more exciting option is a whitewater rafting adventure on the Balsa River or Sarapiqui River. After a lesson from your professional guide, you'll begin your two-hour journey down one of Costa Rica’s most exciting rivers, which features over 30 class III/IV rapids. About halfway through the trip, you’ll stop and enjoy a traditional, Costa Rican picnic lunch right on the riverbank. Then, after the second leg of the rafting journey, you’ll return to your hotel.

Day 8: Transfer from Arenal to San José - Depart Costa Rica

Farewell, Costa Rica
Farewell, Costa Rica

It's time to say goodbye to Costa Rica! Wake up early, enjoy one last sunrise over the volcano, and be sure to take plenty of photos. After breakfast, a driver will pick you up from your hotel and transfer you to the airport, where you'll catch a short flight back to the capital of San José. From here, you'll connect to your flight home. Adios!

Map

Map of Arenal and Osa Peninsula Luxury Getaway - 8 Days
Map of Arenal and Osa Peninsula Luxury Getaway - 8 Days
Yenyi
Written by Yenyi Fu, updated May 13, 2019