As one of the most eco-friendly countries in the world, Costa Rica makes an effort to protect its natural resources and biodiversity. Travelers on this trip will be able to enjoy the many facets of this beautiful country. You will hike up the Arenal volcano, relax in natural hot springs, zip-line through the forest, and snorkel the pacific. You will also do a behind-the-scenes tasting tour of a coffee and chocolate farm, which will stimulate all your senses.

Highlights

  • Hike the Arenal: Costa Rica's most famous volcano
  • Zip-lining and whitewater raft in a cloud forest
  • Go on a coffee and chocolate tasting tour in Monteverde
  • Do a snorkel boat tour in the Pacific
  • See monkeys, whales, turtles and more in their natural habitat

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Departure to the Arenal Volcano Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 2 Hike Arenal 1968 - Eco Termales Hot Springs Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 3 Whitewater Rafting & Zip-lining Adventure Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 4 Departure to Monteverde Monteverde
Day 5 Coffee & Chocolate Farm Tour Monteverde
Day 6 Boat Tour & Snorkeling in Playa Sámara Sámara
Day 7 Turtle Watching Night Tour in Sámara Sámara
Day 8 Back to San José  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Departure to the Arenal Volcano

Smoke rising from the Arenal Volcano
Smoke rising from the Arenal Volcano

Welcome to Costa Rica! After arrival, a local representative will greet you and hand you your roadbook and some useful information. Then, you will receive the keys to your rental vehicle.

You will continue northward to La Fortuna, a town situated at the foot of Costa Rica's most famous volcano—the Arenal.

Although the Arenal's activity has decreased over the past four years, some clouds of smoke can still be seen rising from the crater when the sky is clear.

You will then have the rest of the afternoon to relax by the pool or enjoy other leisurely activities of your choice.

Traveling time: 2:30 hours

Day 2: Hike Arenal 1968 - Eco Termales Hot Springs

Hiking trail in Arenal National Park
Hiking trail in Arenal National Park

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 volcano's last major eruption. 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 of the natural springs in the area. End the day with a nice dinner at one of the town's many restaurants, which serve Costa Rican dishes as well as international fare.

Arenal 1968 hike: 2 hours

Day 3: Whitewater Rafting & Zip-lining Adventure

Rafting in Río Balsa
Rafting in Río Balsa

In the morning, you will meet your semi-collective transport near your hotel's lobby for your next adventure (you will not need to take your vehicle for this trip).

You will travel to Arenal's Río Balsa and challenge yourself with class 2-3 rapids as you whitewater raft down the river. The Río Balsa is a popular rafting spot—with rapids named “Morning Coffee” and “Rock around the Croc!” you are sure to have an unforgettable river adventure! Play around in tranquil river pools, take in the breathtaking scenery, and ride the waves of the Balsa River for about two hours along 10 kilometers of lush Costa Rican rainforest.

Afterward, you'll start the second leg of your day with an Arenal zip-lining tour. This canopy zip-line adventure will take you on a total of 13 cables. The first cable is only 25 meters long, intended to help you feel comfortable with your gear and mentally prepare you for more challenging ones. The thrill of the zip increases from cable to cable until you arrive at number 12, which measures over 1,200 feet (430 meters) long!

Along the way, you'll have the opportunity to do a unique and exciting Tarzan Swing! As you fly above the lush canopy at the base of the Arenal Volcano, you'll get a 360-degree panoramic view of the rainforest.

You’ll finish off this fun-filled day with a delicious traditional lunch at a charming rural location before heading back to your hotel.

Day 4: Departure to Monteverde

Monte Verde Cloud Forest
Monteverde Cloud Forest

This morning, continue your journey to Monteverde, a little village situated on the mountainside of the Tilarán Mountain Range. Monteverde was founded by Quakers who emigrated from the USA during the Vietnam War, choosing Costa Rica because of the country’s peaceful values.

In the afternoon, you will take a guided hike through Selvatura's Hanging Bridges. See the Monteverde Cloud Forest from a bird's perspective as you walk on the hanging bridges suspended from tree to tree. These bridges are some of the longest ones in the country, providing almost 2 miles of canopy walking and exploring. The bridges range from 164 to 557 feet (50 to 170 meters) long and can dangle at heights of up to 197 feet (60 meters).

On this hike, your naturalist guide will tell you all you need to know about Monteverde, its nature, and its natural history. With trained eyes, your guide will point out wildlife hidden in plain sight and will be able to tell you the name of the diverse variety of flora and fauna that will cross your path.  

Traveling time: 4 hours

Day 5: Coffee & Chocolate Tour

Coffee Beans
Coffee beans

Today, you’ll visit The Don Juan Farm in Monteverde.  You'll learn about the methods of processing and producing coffee and chocolate. This hands-on tour invites you to participate in all steps of the process: harvesting, peeling, roasting, and grinding. After all your hard work, you will be rewarded with the best part—tasting the fruits of your labor!

You will have the rest of the day off to enjoy the hotel facilities or explore the area through an optional activity.

Day 6: Boat Tour & Snorkeling in Playa Sámara

Beach in Sámara
Beach in Sámara

After being picked up at your hotel, feel the fresh ocean breeze, and see stunning views of the Pacific coastline along Playa Sámara. You'll head out to sea in a motorized catamaran and search for dolphins and other kinds of sea life. In the past, there have been sightings of spotted dolphins, Central American spinner dolphins, common bottle-nosed dolphins, and humpback and blue whales. During the right season, killer whales may also appear!

After some time out at sea, you will have the chance to go underwater and find tropical fish, as well as octopus, blowfish, and porcupine fish. You can then walk around the island’s beach, enjoy some fresh tropical fruit, and relax and soak up some rays before heading back to the mainland and your hotel.

Day 7: Turtle Watching Night Tour in Sámara

Arribada at Ostional Beach
Arribada at Ostional Beach

Your guide will pick you up from your hotel and take you to a beach in Sámara to observe turtles laying their eggs. This phenomenon is truly amazing and only occurs in seven regions of the world.

In participating in this experience, you are not only witnessing a natural miracle but are also helping these endangered creatures by scaring away predators. Camaronal and Ostional beaches are the nesting sites for three of the seven species of sea turtles in the world: the leatherback, the olive ridley, and the black hawksbill.

Afterward, you can relax in the van while being transported back to your hotel.

Day 8: Back to San José

Juan Santamaría International Airport
Juan Santamaría International Airport

Today, you will head back to San José Juan Santamaría International Airport to catch your departure flight. The time of transport will vary according to the flight departure schedule.

Traveling time: 5:30 hours

Map

Map of Costa Rica Natural Adventure: Arenal, Monteverde & Sámara - 8 Days
Map of Costa Rica Natural Adventure: Arenal, Monteverde & Sámara - 8 Days