This is a special trip for nature lovers to satisfy the adventurer's soul. You will visit the most prominent places in Costa Rica and enjoy beautiful landscapes while experiencing the great variety of flora and fauna of this little paradise. A lot of outdoor adventure awaits you, combining exciting jungle exploration, interesting volcano hikes, boat safari with animal sightings, and beach leisure.

Highlights

  • Zipline among the treetops in Sky Adventures Monteverde Park & Sky Walk
  • Hike on the Arenal 1968 Trail and get a close-up of the Arenal Volcano
  • Walk through the majestic forests in the famous 26,000-acre Cloud Forest Reserve
  • Enjoy a boat safari in Tortuguero and discover unique animal species
  • Relax and surf at the Manzanillo and Puerto Viejo Beach

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival San José - Transfer to Monteverde Monteverde
Day 2 Monteverde Sky Walk, Sky Tram and Sky Trek Monteverde
Day 3 From Monteverde to Arenal Volcano, Hike on 1968 lava fields Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 4 From Arenal to Tortuguero National Park Tortuguero
Day 5 Boat Safari in Tortuguero National Park - Puerto Viejo Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Day 6-8 Puerto Viejo day at leisure Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Day 9 From Puerto Viejo Talamanca transfer to San José San José

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival San José - Transfer to Monteverde

Nature trails in Monteverde
Nature trails in Monteverde

 

After arriving at Juan Santamaría International Airport in San José, a local representative will meet you to provide you with all of the necessary travel documents for your trip. You’ll then leave San José for Monteverde—a journey of 3.5-hours by road. Known as the "Green Lung” of Costa Rica, this biodiverse region is located in the mountainous northwest of the country. 

After enjoying some spectacular scenery during the trip, you'll arrive in Monteverde and the famous 26,000-acre Cloud Forest Reserve—home to countless species of flora and fauna. Suspension bridges throughout the reserve allow for walks above the forest canopy. In between your arrival at Monteverde, you'll undoubtedly want to enjoy a nice dinner. Head to nearby Santa Elena—a  charming town with a heavy Quaker influence, known for excellent coffee and cheese.

Here are a few restaurant suggestions that can be found here: 

  • Orchid Coffee serves a menu of smoothies, salads, and sandwiches. Sweet-toothed visitors will appreciate the café’s extensive hot chocolate menu made with authentic Costa Rican cacao, mixed with unique ingredients like cardamom and orange.   
  • El Jardin Bar & Restaurant wins visitors over with its tree-top setting, friendly service, and fresh homemade bread served alongside every meal. 
  • Tree House Restaurant & Café is built around an old higueron (fig) tree and serves well-prepared Costa Rican standards like ceviche and arroz con pollo (rice with chicken) in a romantic, open-air setting.

Day 2: Monteverde Sky Walk, Sky Tram and Sky Trek

Photo taken by seng K
Ziplining in Monteverde - Photo taken by Seng K

Today, you have some great adventure awaiting you. You will visit the Sky Adventures Monteverde Parkan aerial amusement park that raises jungle excitement to the next level. Its Sky Tram network of gondolas will transport you from one adrenaline pumping activity to another.

First, you'll start with a guided Sky Walk, which combines trails and suspension bridges that ultimately reach heights of up to 984 feet above the jungle canopy. Flora and fauna of the region will be on full display, and our specialized guides will point out the most interesting specimens. Later, you'll ride in an open-air Sky Tram gondola. During this journey, you'll ascend over the rainforest and enjoy sweeping views over the mountains. 

Upon reaching the end of the line, the exhilarating adventure of whizzing down the mountain begins. You will connect to a zip-line cable that stretches over the treetops and across canyons, ultimately returning you to the starting point at Sky Adventures' main building. Sky Trek is regarded as the most thrilling zip line in the country, and this makes sense considering that Monteverde is the birthplace of the canopy tour as we know it.

Day 3: From Monteverde to Arenal Volcano, Hike on 1968 lava fields

Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica
Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica

After breakfast, you will be taken by ground transportation to Rio Chiquito. From here, you'll sail down the river on a 30-minute boat ride to the Lake Arenal dam, where another driver will take you to your hotel near the town of La Fortuna.

La Fortuna is the gateway to the Arenal Volcano area and its endless array of activities. Take the afternoon to settle in and explore your surroundings and go for a hike on the Arenal 1968 Trail for close-up views of the volcano. If you instead want to relax ahead of tomorrow's adventure, try some of the local fares at one of La Fortuna's more than 100 restaurants.

In the afternoon hours, you will enjoy an unforgettable tour. The main attraction of La Fortuna is the Arenal Volcano, with a nearly perfect cone shape and a height of 1633 meters. You'll hike through trails, marked with the remains of previous lava flows of the impressive Arenal Volcano.

Along the hike, you will discover the abundant flora and fauna, and your guide will tell you all about the volcano's history and activity. It's a perfect experience to explore this beautiful area.
Plan your trip to Costa Rica
Customize your trip with help from a local travel specialist.

Here are a few restaurant recommendations for your stay in La Fortuna: 
  • Don Rufino, which serves a mix of local and international flavors in charming digs that include an open-air bar overlooking the main street. 
  • Café Mediterrane is a friendly osteria serving up homemade pasta and pizza. 
  • La Parrilla de María Bonita is a must-visit for perfectly cooked steak as well as Mediterranean dishes like falafel and baba ghanoush. 
  • Rancho Perla—a popular open-air restaurant (you may even spot sloths hanging from the nearby trees), serving well-prepared Costa Rican staples.
  • Ave Del Paraíso offers daily theme dinners such as Italian, Mexican, Mediterranean, and Costa Rican.

Day 4: From Arenal to Tortuguero National Park

Tortuguero River Costa Rica
Tortuguero River Costa Rica

Today, a transportation service will drive you for two hours to Guápiles, where you will stop to enjoy a Costa Rican style breakfast. Afterward, you will depart to the dock in a 1.5-hour transfer. Here, you will board a boat on a system of jungle waterways and rivers for another 1.5 hours until you reach your lodge located in the heart of Tortuguero National Park.

After lunch, you'll depart for a guided visit to the main beach and the colorful town of Tortuguero. The village is known for its ecotourism and its extensive network of canals. It is set amidst tropical lowland rainforests, magnificent rivers, and pristine beaches. A definite highlight of the area is taking the unique once in a lifetime opportunity to watch baby green turtles hatch along the shoreline. At night, you will enjoy a delicious dinner in the hotel`s restaurant.

Day 5: Boat Safari in Tortuguero National Park & Transfer to Puerto Viejo

Birdlife in Tortuguero National Park

This morning you will experience the beauty of the rainforest on a boat trip through the canals of the Tortuguero National Park. During this boat trip, you'll discover many birds and animals that can only be seen in this tropical paradise. Your guide will point out for you the different species of birds, monkeys, sloths, and you'll learn about this beautiful ecosystem. arriving back at the hotel for breakfast, you will travel by boat back to the dock in La Pavona. From here, you will continue by bus to Guápiles to enjoy your lunch.

After lunch, you'll head to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca in private transportation. Puerto Viejo is in the Southern Caribbean Coast. Known for its laid back attitude and famous for its surfing, Puerto Viejo´s cultural influences are impressive: a mix of Afro-Caribbean, Bribri Indian, tico, and free-spirited counterculture.

Depending on your arrival time, here are some suggestions of things to do:
  • Hang out at some of the town's renowned beaches for some sun, swimming, and surfing. Mingle with the locals at Playa Cocles, or head to Punta Uva or Playa Chiquita for some relaxation.
  • Dine at one (or more!) of the many restaurants and local sodas this melting pot has to offer. You'll find Caribbean cuisine, fresh seafood, traditional Tico fare, and more. Try bread and chocolate for breakfast or lunch, and Chile Rojo for a beachfront dinner of Asian fusion, seafood, and even some vegan options. Don’t miss out on Afro-Caribbean inspired cuisine at Restaurante Johanna.
  • Visit the nearby Jaguar Rescue Center to learn about how they rescue and rehabilitate animals before reintroducing them back into the wild.
  • If you're in the mood for dancing, check out local hotspots like Tasty Waves, Johnny's Place, or The Lazy Mon for live music and Caribbean rhythms. Or perhaps sip on tropical cocktails at one of the many spots along the beach.

Days 6-8: Puerto Viejo day at leisure

Bicycle by the beach in Puerto Viejo
Bicycle by the beach in Puerto Viejo

After breakfast at your hotel, you'll have free time to stroll around Puerto Viejo. Head to Salsa Brava—Caribbean's most famous surf break, and watch the surfers rule the waves. Better yet, take a beginner lesson with expert teachers. Even if this isn't your first time out on the water, you can still brush up on your skills. If you do decide to try your luck at Salsa Brava, know that it's an expert-level break—there's a sharp reef here that shreds boards and bodies regularly. 

Spend the rest of the afternoon enjoying Puerto Viejo at your own pace. Maybe stop in at a beach bar and enjoy a sundowner with your feet in the sand.

Here are some suggestions for things to see and do:
  • Hang out at some of the town's renowned beaches for some sun, swimming, and surfing. Mingle with the locals at Playa Cocles, or head to Punta Uva or Playa Chiquita to enjoy some tranquility.
  • Dine at one (or more!) of the many restaurants and local sodas this melting pot has to offer. You'll find Caribbean cuisine, fresh seafood, traditional Tico fare, and more. Try bread and chocolate for breakfast or lunch, and Chile Rojo for a beachfront dinner of Asian fusion, seafood, and even some vegan options. Don’t miss out on Afro-Caribbean inspired cuisine at Restaurante Johanna.
  • Visit the nearby Jaguar Rescue Center to learn about how they rescue and rehabilitate animals before reintroducing them back into the wild.
  • If you're in the mood for dancing, check out local hotspots like Tasty Waves, Johnny's Place, or The Lazy Mon for live music and Caribbean rhythms. Or perhaps sip on tropical cocktails at one of the many spots along the beach. 

Day 9: From Puerto Viejo Talamanca transfer to San José

National Theatre in San José, Costa Rica
National Theatre in San José, Costa Rica

Enjoy the morning at your hotel, go to the beach, and enjoy your last morning on the Caribbean Coast. In the afternoon, a transportation service will drive you back to the Hotel in San José. On the way, you will experience the fantastic views of the Braulio Carrillo Mountains

Once you arrive in San Jose, you will continue to the Juan Santamaria International Airport for your flight back home, with an incredible experience collected in the tropics of Central America. 

Map

Map of Costa Rica Outdoor Exploration: Monteverde, Arenal, Tortuguero - 9 Days
Map of Costa Rica Outdoor Exploration: Monteverde, Arenal, Tortuguero - 9 Days