Embark on this five-day adventure that introduces you to the natural beauty of northwestern Costa Rica. You'll get to witness native animals during rainforest and sea tours, hike through Arenal Volcano National Park and stand on the active side of the volcano, and take up various activities at Sámara Beach, from snorkeling to horseback riding and laying on the golden sand.

Highlights

  • Take a gentle hiking tour through the rainforest to the active side of Arenal Volcano
  • Spot various wildlife (monkeys, toucans, sloths, and more) in the rainforest
  • Lay on the golden sand and snorkel through the waters at Sámara Beach
  • Book a whale, dolphin, or turtle watching tour to witness the rich sea life

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Liberia to La Fortuna Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 2 Arenal Volcano Hiking Tour & Hot Springs Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 3 La Fortuna to Sámara Beach Sámara
Day 4 Free Day at Sámara Beach Sámara
Day 5 Sámara to Liberia San Jose

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Liberia to La Fortuna

View of the valley, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
View of the valley in Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Welcome to Costa Rica! Liberia is the northern hub of Guanacaste Province, an area famous for both its Pacific beaches and inland mountainous regions. 

After touching down at Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport, you'll pick up your rental car and drive about 2.5 hours east from Liberia to the town of La Fortuna, best known as the base for embarking into Arenal Volcano National Park. You won't miss the namesake monolith as Arenal Volcano juts out above the San Carlos Plains like an arrowhead. After checking into your hotel, you'll have the rest of the day to explore on your own.

Day 2: Arenal Volcano Hiking Tour & Hot Springs

Scenic view of Arenal Volcano and the rainforest that stretches before it.
Scenic view of Arenal Volcano and the surrounding rainforest 

In the afternoon, you'll be picked up at the hotel lobby by a bilingual guide who will take you on a gentle hiking tour to the active side of Arenal Volcano. You will walk through rainforest trails to spot a variety of diverse flora and fauna, such as monkeys, toucans, wild turkeys, sloths, big variety of birds, and sometimes snakes. Arriving at the observation point for sunset, your tour guide will share some history and information about the area and the volcano's activity.

Later, you will be transferred to a local hot spring for a relaxing dip in thermal waters and end the day with a delicious dinner.

Day 3: La Fortuna to Sámara Beach

Water views from the shores of Samara Beach.
A glimpse of the water from the shores of Sámara Beach

You'll depart La Fortuna for the beautiful coastal hamlet of Playa Sámara, commonly known as Sámara Beach, located on the Nicoya Peninsula’s western shore. Famed for its golden sand and gentle waves, Sámara Beach is one of the safest places in the country. The area teems with tropical life, has a thriving fishing and farming economy, and is a favorite of travelers and locals alike.

The activities you can take advantage of at Sámara Beach are many and varied: Frolic in the sand and sun, head down to the water for a snorkel through the aquamarine waters, or sign up for a surfing lesson in mellow waves ideal for novices. You can also explore Sámara Beach above the wave by experiencing the region’s rich sea life aboard a whale, dolphin, or turtle watching tour. 

There’s plenty to do beyond the beach, too. Take a guided hike through a mango plantation (where you’re welcome to eat all the mangos you like) and into the Werner Sauter Biological Preserve to spot monkeys, birds, and butterflies. You can also explore the region’s wildlife on horseback, starting with a ride along the water and then heading into the hills to view iguanas, birds, and more.

When hunger strikes, suggested restaurants include: 

  • Bouticafé Bohemia is a charming coffee spot that also serves healthy breakfast and lunch options, like smoothies and salads.
  • Lo Que Hay is a convivial taqueria and pub serving six taco options. Its beachside setting makes it the perfect spot to watch the sunset from the sand, cold drink in hand.
  • Locanda Playa Samara is a daytime favorite, thanks to its comfortable sunbeds and menu of light bites. They also serve wood-oven baked pizzas shaded by thatched roofs right on the beach. 
  • LuvBurger offers gluten-free, vegan fare like tacos, salads, burgers, and sandwiches, served right on the sand. 

Day 4: Free Day at Sámara Beach

The blue waters, white sand, and lush vegetation of Sámara Beach
The blue waters, white sand, and lush vegetation of Samara Beach

You have a free day on your own to enjoy the beach. Optional activities include sea kayaking, snorkeling, horseback riding, zip-lining, and more.

Day 5: Sámara Beach to Liberia

Lush palm trees on Sámara Beach

It's time to say goodbye to the beach! After breakfast, you'll drive back to the airport in Liberia.

Map

Map of Arenal Volcano & Playa Sámara Excursion - 5 Days
Map of Arenal Volcano & Playa Sámara Excursion - 5 Days