With cascading waterfalls, idyllic beaches, and smoking volcanoes, Costa Rica is an ideal destination for families. This exciting 6-day itinerary takes you to some of the country's major highlights. Hike around the towering Rincón de la Vieja Volcano, then go for a swim in Oropendola Waterfall. Then move on to the surf village of Tamarindo, where you'll learn to ride the waves during a private lesson. Finish the trip with a whitewater rafting adventure or a safari float before heading back to Liberia, where the journey comes to an end.

Highlights

  • Hike to Oropendola Waterfall in Rincón de la Vieja National Park
  • Take a private surfing lesson at Playa Tamarindo
  • Relax on the sun-kissed beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula
  • Go whitewater rafting or enjoy a safari float down the Corobicí River

Brief Itinerary

Day Destination Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Liberia & Transfer to Rincón De La Vieja Rincón de la Vieja 
Day 2 Hike in Rincón de la Vieja National Park Rincón de la Vieja
Day 3 Transfer to the Surf Town of Tamarindo Tamarindo
Day 4 Take a Private Surf Lesson at Playa Tamarindo Tamarindo
Day 5 Enjoy a Free Day in Tamarindo Tamarindo
Day 6 Depart Costa Rica, End of Trip  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Liberia & Transfer to Rincón De La Vieja

The famous volcano of Rincón de la Vieja National Park

Welcome to Costa Rica! Liberia is the northern hub of Guanacaste Province, an area famous for both its Pacific beaches and inland mountainous regions. After touching down at Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport, you'll transfer about 40 minutes north to the edge of Rincón de la Vieja National Park, home to the massive volcano of the same name.

On the drive up the Pan-American Highway, you'll take in the beautiful scenery, including the flatlands of the Guanacaste savannah. Eventually, you'll pass the sleepy village of Curubandé before reaching the secluded eco-hotel where you'll spend the night.

Day 2: Hike in Rincón de la Vieja National Park

Hiking through Rincón de la Vieja National Park

Today you'll transfer to the outskirts of Rincón de la Vieja National Park and embark on a brisk 45-minute walk along a scenic forest trail to the entrance. Pause to enjoy views of the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano, the largest and most active volcano in Guanacaste Province. Steaming fumaroles, mini-geysers, and bubbling volcanic mud pits are just some of the highlights along the hike.

You will hike the Las Pailas loop trail over 2.5 miles (4 km) through tropical forest. Lookout points along the way feature some of the best views of the volcano as well as the wildlife that abounds nearer the trail, including tropical birds, armadillos, collared peccaries, iguanas, white-nosed coatis, and various types of monkeys. When you finish your hike, you’ll be ready for a refreshing swim in the Oropendola Waterfall. It is located a short walk from the park entrance on a trail that winds along the Río Blanco (White River). The Oropendola Waterfall plunges an impressive 82 feet (25 meters) down to a bright turquoise pool.

Day 3: Transfer to the Surf Town of Tamarindo

The surf town of Tamarindo

It's time to leave the jungle adventure behind and head to the coast for some surfing and relaxation. You will drive west past the tropical dry forest and vast savannahs of Guanacaste Province, continuing onward over paved and dirt roads towards the Nicoya Peninsula. After an hour you'll arrive at the ocean and the popular surf haven of Tamarindo. This is a small community teeming with activity, famous for its sunny beaches and world-class surf. You'll have the afternoon free to relax or explore.

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Day 4: Take a Private Surf Lesson at Playa Tamarindo

Enjoy a day out on the waves

In the morning, enjoy a private surf lesson on Playa Tamarindo. You can then take the rest of the day to practice riding the waves on your own, or enjoy some well-deserved relaxation on the beach.

A must-visit spot near Tamarindo for more experienced surfers is Playa Naranjo, which locals have nicknamed "Witch’s Rock." It's located in a national park, is accessible only by boat, and features big surf with both left and right breaking waves. A few miles beyond, you'll reach Ollie’s Point, another great surf locale. You could take a yoga class at one of Tamarindo's studios, stroll through town, and enjoy a meal or a fresh-squeezed juice at a local café.

Day 5: Enjoy a Free Day in Tamarindo

A rafting adventure on the Tenorio River

Today can be as relaxing or adventurous as you like. If you've had enough beach time, you can drive east back to Rincón de la Vieja National Park. Hike a jungle trail called Sensoria, which is part of a wildlife sanctuary featuring thermal pools and waterfalls that plunge into turquoise lagoons. Or you can experience the rainforest from the water during a two-hour safari float down the Corobicí River, where a guide will point out a variety of animals including monkeys, bats, lizards, and even crocodiles. 

You could also choose to take a guided whitewater rafting trip down the Tenorio River. With class III-IV rapids, it's the best river in the Guanacaste area for rafting. After a challenging trip down the rapids, have lunch and head back to your hotel in time to catch one last sunset.

Interested in trying more whitewater rafting in Costa Rica? Check out this 8-day itinerary featuring rafting, kayaking, zip-lining, and more. 

Day 6: Depart Costa Rica, End of Trip

Sunset over the ocean
The trip ends today. Transfer back to Liberia to catch your flight out. Safe travels!

More Great 6-Day Costa Rica Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Costa Rica? Check out these other 6-day Costa Rica itineraries, with outdoor adventures, family-friendly trips, and beach vacations to hit the highlights. 

Map

Map of Volcano & Pacific Beach Family Adventure - 6 Days
Map of Volcano & Pacific Beach Family Adventure - 6 Days
Alberto
Written by Alberto Molina, updated May 17, 2022