Cycle from coast to coast on this epic adventure tour that will take you from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean. See the real Costa Rica as you bike from village to village—past the farms, banana plantations, and sugar cane fields of the lowlands. You'll experience all this gorgeous country has to offer as you make your way towards the west coast, from jungle rivers to mountains to an active volcano to Costa Rica's famous coffee growing region.  After an unforgettable cross-country bike ride, celebrate your achievement on the beaches of the storied Manuel Antonio National Park.

Highlights

  • See both of Costa Rica's magnificent coasts
  • Enjoy a challenging bike ride through the lowlands and the mountains
  • Spend time in Costa Rica's coffee growing region
  • Explore the pristine beaches and tropical wildlife at Manuel Antonio National Park

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in San José San Jose
Day 2 Biking from Playa Bonita to Siquirres Siquirres
Day 3 Cycle from Siquirres to Turrialba Turrialba
Day 4 Bike from Turrialba to Orosi Orosi
Day 5 Cycling from Orosi to Santa Maria Santa Maria de Dota
Day 6 Downhill Ride from Santa Maria to Quepos Quepos
Day 7 Free Day in Manuel Antonio Manuel Antonio
Day 8 Manuel Antonio to San José, Depart Costa Rica  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in San José

The Neo-Classical Teatro Nacional in San José
The Neo-Classical Teatro Nacional in San José

Welcome to Costa Rica, the land of pura vida! After arriving at Juan Santamaria International Airport, in the capital of San José, a local representative will meet you and escort you to your hotel. The rest of the day you'll have free to explore the city at your leisure.

Perhaps take a stroll through Mercado Central (Central Market), with over 200 shops, food stalls, and sodas (traditional restaurants). Then visit the Catedral Metropolitana (Metropolitan Church), whose interior combines Greek Orthodox, Neoclassical, and Baroque styles, and features wood carvings and stained-glass windows. There's also a pair of popular museums in San José. The Museo del Oro Precolumbino (Pre-Columbian Gold Museum), holds a large collection of Pre-Columbian gold artifacts, and the Museo del Jade (Jade Museum) features the world's largest collection of pre-Columbian jade artifacts.

Be sure to explore Barrio Amón, a historic neighborhood 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 Amón a popular bohemian district. For dinner, you might want to opt for a restaurant in the hills of Escazú. This elevated region on the western edge of the city offers panoramic views of the valley below. No matter where you go, though, the whole city is filled with delectable restaurants serving everything from traditional local to forward-thinking fusion cuisine.

Day 2: Biking from Playa Bonita to Siquirres

A Costa Rican banana plantation
A Costa Rican banana plantation

Get ready for your first leg of your cross-country trip! Start your day with a four-hour drive from San Jose to Playa Bonita on the east coast. Spend some time by the turquoise waters of this quiet Caribbean beach before mounting your bike and heading for the west coast.

Follow the coastal dirt road under the shade of the coconut trees, and then make your way inland along the railroad tracks. This is the route used to transport bananas to the port city of Limon. As you continue westward you’ll wind through the small villages and banana fields of Costa Rica’s Caribbean lowlands. End your day at the Finca Pacuarito Camp on the banks of the Pacuare River near the town of Siquirres.

Distance: 37.2 miles (60km)

Day 3: Cycle from Siquirres to Turrialba

A fertile valley lies below Turrialba Volcano
A fertile valley lies below Turrialba Volcano

This morning you’ll cross the famous Pacuare River by boat before making your way north into town. Explore the bustling center of Siquirres and relax in the park before starting your first climb of the day. This 9.3-mile (15 km) uphill stretch along a paved road offers lovely views of the banana plantations carpeting the lowlands below. Keep an eye out for puffs of smoke rising out of the active Turrialba Volcano.

The last 12.4 miles (20 km) of today’s route will take you along the rolling ridgeline of the mountains that separate the Reventazon and Pacuare River Valleys. Spend the night in the hilltop Turrialtico Lodge overlooking the volcano and the valley below.

Distance: 21.7 miles (35 km)

Day 4: Bike from Turrialba to Orosi

Orosi Valley at sunrise
Orosi Valley at sunrise

After a challenging climb yesterday, take refuge in a thrilling downhill ride to the valley floor of the Reventazon River. This area is where much of Costa Rica’s sugar cane is produced, using both modern and traditional methods.  You’ll pass two sugar processing plants along this route: one is a large machine operated plant, and the other still uses a water-propelled wheel to squeeze the juice out of the cane.

Stop for lunch on the banks of Pejibaye River and cool off with a swim. As you continue cycling through the valley, the expansive sugar cane fields narrow into one of Costa Rica’s most important coffee growing regions — the Orosi Valley. Cross a swing bridge into the tranquil town of Orosi and make yourself at home at the Tetey Lodge. If you have time, make sure to visit the 18th-century colonial Iglesia de San Jose de Orosi, Costa Rica's oldest church still in use today.

Distance: 31 miles (50 km)

Day 5: Cycling from Orosi to Santa Maria

Bike through the mountains as you cross the Continental Divide
Bike through the mountains as you cross the Continental Divide

After building up your strength and endurance over the last three days of cycling, you’ll be ready to take on the toughest day of the crossing! Starting at an altitude of 4,265 feet (1,300 m), you’ll climb nearly 3,300 feet (1,000 m) to cross the Continental Divide at just under 7,545 feet (2,300 m) above sea level before dropping down to 4,900 feet (1,500 m) on the Pacific side of the country.

Your morning will be spent pushing up the mountain. The cool mountain air, a slow and steady pace, and plenty of stops to enjoy the unforgettable views will help you reach the top. Take a break there for a delicious buffet-style lunch.

After lunch, enjoy a fun 9.3-mile (15 km) downhill ride to the charming town of Santa Maria de Dota, where you’ll rest for the night. It’s just a five-minute walk from your cabin into town, where you can sample some excellent locally-produced coffee and practice your Spanish with the locals.

Distance: 28 miles (45 km)

Day 6: Downhill Ride from Santa Maria to Quepos

A beautiful Pacific beach in Quepos
A beautiful Pacific beach in Quepos

This last exhilarating push towards the Pacific is nearly entirely downhill. You’ll breeze down the slopes of the rainforest, through dense forest, and past remote farms and coastal plains covered in palm trees.

Once you’re out of the mountains, you’ll cross the river at Paso Real and make your way to the bustling fishing town of Quepos on the Pacific Coast. Take part in a celebratory group photo with the gorgeous sunset to mark the end of your coast to coast ride.

Although Quepos is small, it is the gateway to Manuel Antonio National Park and offers a variety of restaurants and nightlife, as well as the swanky Marina Pez Vela. Enjoy fresh seafood and steak at the upscale Gabriella's or Z Gastro Bar, or opt for classic Costa Rican fare at one of the many sodas, or traditional cafes.

Distance: 40.5 miles (65 km)

Day 7: Free Day in Manuel Antonio

A beach in Manuel Antonio
A beach in Manuel Antonio

Today is a free day to relax or explore the area—whichever way you choose: 

  • You can explore the incredible biodiversity found within the roughly 680 hectares of Manuel Antonio National Park during a guided tour. A naturalist will point out the more than 300 species of mammals and birds that call the reserve home, including sloths, hawks, iguanas, and several different species of monkeys. You'll also have time to spend exploring the park's expansive white sand beaches.
  • Tour the Damas Island Estuary on a guided boat tour through the mangroves. 
  • Take a surf lesson or simply relax on Playa Manuel Antonio.

Day 8: Manuel Antonio to San José, Depart Costa Rica

Farewell, Costa Rica
Farewell, Costa Rica

It's time to say goodbye to Costa Rica! After breakfast, you'll be driven back to San José where you'll depart Juan Santamaría International Airport for your journey home.

Map

Map of Costa Rica Cycling Adventure - 8 Days
Map of Costa Rica Cycling Adventure - 8 Days