On this nine-day getaway, explore three of Costa Rica’s most prized beaches, parks, and nature reserves—along with plenty of downtime. First, venture to Dominical, home of a biodiverse national park and a great base for watersports, like sea kayaking and tubing. Then, head to Jacó Beach to take a jungle river cruise and zipline over the rainforest. Next is Santa Teresa Beach to see a nature reserve and a massive waterfall. The trip winds down with some sightseeing in the capital city of San José.

Highlights

  • Take advantage of opportunities to go surfing in up to three beach towns
  • Go sea kayaking at Marino Ballena National Park in Dominical
  • Head out on the Jungle River & Crocodile Adventure in Jacó
  • Discover the hidden gems in Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve in Santa Teresa

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in San José San José
Day 2 Transfer to Dominical Beach (Uvita Area) Dominical
Day 3 Free Day in Dominical Beach Dominical
Day 4 Transfer to Jacó Beach Jacó
Day 5 Free Day in Jacó Beach Jacó
Day 6 Boat Transfer to Santa Teresa Beach Santa Teresa
Day 7 Free Day in Santa Teresa Beach Santa Teresa
Day 8 Transfer to San José & City Exploration San José
Day 9 Depart From Costa Rica  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in San José

Welcome to San José!
Welcome to San José!

Upon arrival at the Juan Santamaría International Airport, meet up with your designated travel representative. Collect your travel packet that contains an in-depth travel itinerary, vouchers for services, and other important documents. Your hotel for the night is located in San José, just 30 minutes away from the airport.

During the short drive, you will receive a brief introduction to Costa Rica and some recommendations for your trip. The guide will explain your itinerary in detail once you are at the hotel. Enjoy dinner at the hotel restaurant, or out on the town, and get ready to start a relaxed and fun trip early tomorrow.

Day 2: Transfer to Dominical Beach (Uvita Area)

Sunset in Dominical Beach
Sunset in Dominical Beach

Early today, a driver will pick you up at your hotel to begin traveling south toward the surroundings of the rich Marino Ballena National Park, where Dominical Beach is located. On the way,  notice the change in vegetation as you descend down the mountains toward the coast. The temperature will rise, as well. 

Your hotel is an oasis located in Dominical Beach, just a few minutes from Marino Ballena National Park. Surrounded by lush gardens and old almond trees, the hotel is walking distance from Dominical Beach, the only beach in the country where you can find good waves to surf all year. Due to these great year-round conditions, surfing is one of the main activities in the area.

Set aside some time to admire the breathtaking sunset from the beach, and enjoy the tranquil and fresh ocean breeze.

Day 3: Free day in Dominical Beach

Take a surfing lesson on Domincal Beach
Take a surfing lesson on Domincal Beach

Following breakfast,  prepare for a day out on the water at your leisure. Dominical Beach is great for practicing watersports and spotting exotic wildlife in—and on—its spectacular rivers and beaches. 

If you'd like, book a surfing lesson. An expert guide will teach you the basics of this popular activity on the sand, first, and once you are ready, the guide will help you conquer the first waves on your own. 

Or, rent a sea kayak at Marino Ballena National Park (Marine-Whale N.P.). As the name suggests, there are thousands of whales that swim close to this coast in search of warmer water for better conditions to give birth to their young. Practice snorkeling, while also encountering many chances to see whales while you paddle. Your guide will let you know how to identify the whales from far away and how to get close to them in a safe manner. Whales are around this area from January-March and from July-September every year.

You can also go tubing along the freshwater Baru River, which resides on high elevation, and is surrounded by dense rainforest, which makes it possible to find many species of wildlife. The best way to explore this magnificent river is while comfortably seated on a specially designed tube in direct contact with the water, where you also have the freedom to change direction and look around in the search of animals. Your guides will show you how easy it is to “drive” the tubes on the water, along with providing a safety lesson to ensure that your tubing trip will be smooth sailing.

Day 4: Transfer to Jacó Beach

Jacó Beach
Jacó Beach

Today, after breakfast, travel northwest to the Central Pacific area by shared shuttle.

While en route, keep an eye out for the timelessly beautiful beach towns. Although there is not much time to stop, the journey provides a decent glimpse into what life is like by the Pacific Coast.

Arrive at Jacó Beach by midday, and the afternoon is yours to explore or enjoy the facilities of your beachfront hotel.

Day 5: Free day in Jacó Beach

Spot the American crocodile on a tour of the Tarcoles River
Spot the American crocodile on a tour of the Tarcoles River

Today, enjoy breakfast and take some time to engage with the native wildlife that inhabits Jacó Beach. Or, head out to catch some thrills. The day is yours to plan as you see fit. 

Consider the Jungle River & Crocodile Adventure boat tour, which is just a short drive from your hotel. Arrive at Tarcoles River, where a comfortable boat will be waiting for you to begin your river cruise. This adventure will show you all the wonders of the rainforest, including wild animals. While you explore the river, your nature guide will point out different species of mammals, birds, and reptiles that coexist in this mangrove ecosystem. Depending on the season, you may be able to spot different migratory bird species, but the most interesting will be the huge American crocodiles.

For the adventurous, consider a ziplining canopy tour. This is the perfect way to explore the rainforest from the ground up. The property boasts spectacular views of the Herradura Bay and Island. The adventure starts with a 15-minute ride aboard a specially designed tractor called the "rainforest limousine." Once you are at the top of the mountain, the expert guides will explain, step by step, all the safety procedures and directions you must follow to enjoy the adventure. Once you have the equipment ready, start the descent to the bottom, via a series of ziplines, including 14 platforms and 12 cables, with a total cable distance of 3.5 miles—the longest cable in the area is 2,400 feet long.

You can also go horseback riding to a waterfall. This is one of the most rewarding ways to discover the wonders of the rainforest. On this tour, ride some of the best-kept and gentle horses. The ride takes place on a private, exclusive, 80-acre property, where you will also enjoy a private refreshing waterfall. The tour starts at the beautiful Herradura Beach. Once you arrive, the guides will provide the necessary equipment and assign your horse. Then, you are ready to depart on your journey to the waterfalls and swimming holes. Pass farms along the way and get a closer look at nature as you start ascending through the rainforest. Upon arrival at the river swimming area, your bilingual guide will offer you some fresh fruit and water and you can relax and enjoy the waterfalls and natural waterslide.

In the afternoon, consider a surfing lesson and then enjoy the amenities of your hotel or walk along the beach before dinner.

Day 6: Boat transfer to Santa Teresa Beach

Santa Teresa Beach
Santa Teresa Beach

Following breakfast, travel north to the famous Santa Teresa Beach, otherwise known as "The Beach of the Stars." Take a boat to reduce travel time. A travel representative will pick you up at the hotel and take you to the pier to board the boat and relax while the experienced crew takes you to Montezuma. From Montezuma, it is less than 1 hour, by land, to your final destination.

Santa Teresa is a stunning beach located on the southern side of the Nicoya Peninsula. This beautiful beach community was first popular among surfers. Back in the '90s, there were just a few people that knew the beach, and lonely surfers could surf in one of the many beach breaks for hours without company. But today, it is a busy coastal surf town. In fact, the area has become famous, not only for surfing and its beaches, but also for the beauty of its forests, creeks, and rivers, and the many activities available when staying here for a few days.

Make a stop at the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve to see the endless coves, hidden bays, and secluded beaches—both north and south.

Day 7: Free day in Santa Teresa Beach

Montezuma Waterfall
Montezuma Waterfall

Indulge in a delicious breakfast, followed by a free day on the beach. Work on improving your surfing skills, soaking up the sun, or take an optional tour of the area.

Your hotel is just steps from the beach surrounded by dense rainforest that will help you feel connected to nature and will make you forget that there is even a town with hotels and touristy areas nearby. The gold-sand beach and blue-hued ocean, paired with the colorful rainforest, make this locale a true paradise for the beach lovers of the world. Your hotel is a boutique property placed on a hill where the ocean breeze cools, the old trees around attract birds, monkeys, and other animals to the property.

If you did not do so yesterday, make a trip to the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve. Additionally, other activities to consider include the below:

  • Trip to the Montezuma Waterfall
  • Boat tour of Tortuga Island 
  • Ziplining excursion
  • ATV rentals
  • An ocean and river kayaking excursion
  • Sportfishing in and off-shore

Feel free to consult with your tour guide about any activities or excursions of interest.

Day 8: Transfer to San José and city exploration

Escazú
Escazú

Today, travel back to civilization; your guide leads the way back to San José for the last night in Costa Rica. The shuttle will pick you up after breakfast at your hotel.

Upon arrival back in the capital, take some time to enjoy the city. San José is home to almost two-thirds of the country's total population. It has buildings more than 100 years old and vividly maintains its culture, art, and history. A myriad of theaters and museums make the capital a city full of treasures to enjoy. 

Explore Barrio Amón, a historic neighborhood that is 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 it a frequented bohemian district. 

For dinner, opt for a restaurant on the hills of Escazú. This elevated region on the western edge of the city offers breathtaking panoramic views of the valley below. That said, San José's culinary offerings cover everything from traditional Costa Rican food to forward-thinking fusion cuisine.

Day 9: Depart from Costa Rica

Farewell, Costa Rica!
Farewell, Costa Rica!

After breakfast, it is time to say goodbye to your beautiful, beach-filled journey through Costa Rica. A driver will pick you up at your hotel and take you straight to the airport, which located 30 minutes away. Prepare to arrive at the airport 3 hours before your departure flight home. Until next time! 

Map

Map of Costa Rica Beach Getaway: Dominical, Jacó, & Santa Teresa - 9 Days
Map of Costa Rica Beach Getaway: Dominical, Jacó, & Santa Teresa - 9 Days