- Go on a nighttime rainforest walk to see snakes, insects, and exotic frogs
- Relax in natural hot springs after a day out exploring
- Look for sloths overhead while trekking through their natural habitat
- Discover the mangrove ecosystem on a guided boat tour
- Sail along Costa Rica's gorgeous Gold Coast at sunset
|Arrive in San José, Transfer to La Fortuna & Nighttime Rainforest Walk
|Go on a Sloth and Bird Hike & Dip in Hot Springs
|Discover the Children's Eternal Forest
|Tour Monteverde Cloud Forest on a Guided Hike
|Enjoy a Catamaran Sailing Tour at Sunset
|Boat Around Tamarindo Mangrove & Estuary
|Snorkel Around the Catalina Islands
|Depart Cost Rica
Day 1: Arrive in San José, Transfer to La Fortuna & Nighttime Rainforest WalkWelcome to Costa Rica! You'll arrive at San José International Airport. Your driver will be waiting for you just outside the customs area to transfer you to your hotel in La Fortuna (around three hours, depending on traffic).
Day 2: Go on a Sloth and Bird Hike & Dip in Hot Springs
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Go on a hiking excursion today along the so-called "Sloth Trail." This nature trail cuts through a habitat for sloths (both two-toed and three-toed) who like to hang on the branches of the trees and feed on bright green leaves. On this two-hour guided hike, you'll see a few of these slow-moving animals and perhaps even spy a mother sloth and its baby. During the walk, your bilingual guide will also point out other animals common to this area, like the famous red-eyed tree frog.
In the afternoon, discover the La Fortuna area with a hike around Arenal Volcano and other nearby nature reserves. The trails in the area are generally not strenuous—perfect for a leisurely and informative hike with a naturalist guide. Start at the entrance of the 1968 Trail, then hit the well-maintained trails that skirt the base of the Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal. This 1.5-hour route offers some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities in the park, and your naturalist guide will keep a well-trained eye out for exotic birds, monkeys, and other animals along the way.
In addition to the forested parts where you can spot wildlife, you'll also walk through sections of the park devastated by the lava flow of 1968, resulting in little to no vegetation in its surroundings. Your guide will explain the history of the area, both pre-and post-1968 eruption, while also pointing out the unique flora and fauna you will encounter. Of course, the trail also provides magnificent views of the massive Arenal Volcano, the pristine Lake Arenal, and the extinct volcano Cerro Chato.
After hiking the trails, your guide will drop you off at Tabacon Hot Springs so you can soothe your muscles with a dip in mineral-rich waters. These springs have been used as therapeutic baths for centuries. End the day with a nice dinner at the resort's restaurant, which serves Costa Rican dishes and international fare, before being picked up and transported back to your accommodations. If you're interested in staying in a hotel with access to hot springs, read over this list of top picks.
Day 3: Discover the Children's Eternal Forest
Today you will transfer to Monteverde, traveling over water. But this is no ordinary route. You will be picked up at your hotel and taken to the boat dock. After arriving at the shores of Lake Arenal, you'll board a boat and begin the journey to the other side of the lake. Upon arrival, you'll officially be in the Monteverde region of Costa Rica.
Check into your hotel before the evening's activity; a nocturnal walk in the Children's Eternal Forest. The largest private reserve in Costa Rica is part of UNESCO's Water and Peace Biosphere, the Costa Rican Network of Private Reserves, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The activity starts right after nightfall, allowing you to observe the awakening animals and others who seek their nests and caves to sleep.
Learn more about the best time of year to visit Costa Rica.
Day 4: Tour Monteverde Cloud Forest on a Guided Hike
Transfer from your hotel to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, one of Costa Rica's ecological crown jewels. Known as the "green lung of Costa Rica" due to its rich biodiversity, this sprawling reserve is located high in the mountainous northwest region of the country. On a guided tour, you'll get an overview of the incredible biodiversity of this region, where upland and lowland rainforest meet. More than 350 bird species live here, including the resplendent quetzal. It's a nature lover's paradise.
Check out this list of Top Experiences in Monteverde for more ideas of what to see and do.
Day 5: Enjoy a Catamaran Sailing Tour at Sunset
Head to the surf town of Tamarindo today. Soak up the bright afternoon sun until it transitions into soft pinks and oranges later in the afternoon. You'll be picked up at your hotel and transferred to the landing dock in Playas del Coco. You'll board a catamaran and begin silently gliding along the Gold Coast past picturesque bays, white sand beaches, and tropical jungles.
You're likely to spot animals, from dolphins to sea turtles, flying fish, and the occasional breaching whale. The crew will be serving up plenty of delicious tropical drinks as you make your way to a tranquil bay where you can swim in the crystal-clear waters of the Pacific. Snorkel in the bay or enjoy a stroll down the deserted white sand beach. Have dinner on the boat, then sit back and listen to the waves lapping at the sides of the catamaran as you make your way back to shore, taking in gorgeous sunset views along the way.
Read more here about the best things to do in the Tamarindo area.
Day 6: Boat Around Tamarindo Mangrove & Estuary
Estuaries play an essential part in nature, hosting important tree species and populations of birds and animals. They also serve as natural barriers to help prevent floods and protect coasts and beaches from tropical storms. The Tamarindo Estuary, part of Las Baulas National Park, is famous for being one of the nesting spots for leatherback and Pacific green turtles. The tour offers a unique opportunity to observe the wildlife living in this oasis.
The boat will be ready and waiting at the mouth of the river, where you will be provided instructions for a safe take-off. You will glide along the river on this safari tour through the narrow canals. You'll see many different bird species and colorful fish jumping above the water. Above the mangrove trees, you will also have the chance to see monkeys and iguanas. Your guide will stop in some places for a deeper explanation of the local flora and fauna, specifically the famous local Guanacaste trees, Costa Rica's national tree. Listen for the sounds of local howler monkeys, and keep an eye out for crabs and butterflies!
Day 7: Snorkel Around the Catalina IslandsThe Catalina Islands are a group of 20 volcanic islands and rock formations that rise above the ocean surface in front of Flamingo Bay. This morning, you will be picked up from your hotel and taken to a local dive shop in Playas del Coco, where you'll receive your snorkeling gear. Then you'll board the diving boat for a 40-minute ride to the Islands.
The rocky islands may not look like much at first, but below the surface of the indigo waters, you'll find an underwater menagerie of exotic wildlife. You'll see quickly why the Catalina Islands are a world-famous diving location attracting divers of all experience levels. Animals you'll spot include giant manta and devil rays, sea turtles, parrotfish, moray eels, etc. In the right season, you can even hear humpback whales singing! Find out more about the experience here.