Get off the beaten path to discover Costa Rica's unspoiled rainforests and secluded beaches on this romantic 10-day road trip. Begin with an indulgent food tour in the capital of San José, followed by zipline rides, canyoning, and coffee tours in the mountainous Central Valley. After a birding trek to spot the elusive quetzal in the cloud forests of San Gerardo de Dota, it's off to the central coast for horseback riding, kayaking, and waterfall hikes around the beaches of Manuel Antonio National Park.


  • Savor Costa Rica's famous flavors on food hops and coffee farm tours
  • Relax in hot springs, soar over the treetops on ziplines, and go birding in the jungle
  • Enjoy the white-sand beaches and hike the coastal rainforests in Manuel Antonio
  • Hit the turquoise waters of Manuel Antonio on kayak and snorkeling tours

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in San José, Food & City Tour San José
Day 2 Scenic Drive to Turrialba Turrialba
Day 3 Canyoning & Zipline Tour, Visit Hot Springs Turrialba
Day 4 Turrialba Optional Activities: Ancient Cities & Local Farms Turrialba
Day 5 Drive to San Gerardo de Dota, Couples Spa Treatment San Gerardo de Dota
Day 6 Day Trip to Coffee Farm & Birding Tour San Gerardo de Dota
Day 7 Drive to Manuel Antonio National Park Manuel Antonio
Day 8 Horseback Tour, Waterfalls & Farm Lunch Manuel Antonio
Day 9 Manuel Antonio Kayaking & Snorkeling Manuel Antonio
Day 10 Drive to San José, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in San José, Food & City Tour

The Teatro Nacional is one of San José's most historic landmarks

Welcome to Costa Rica! With its inviting coastline, lush rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and verdant mountains, this country was built for romance and adventure. You'll arrive in San José, the main hub for exploring this natural biosphere of a country. Pick up your rental car at the city's airport and make the one-hour drive into town, where you'll check into your centrally located hotel.

No doubt you'll be hungry after the long flight. Luckily for newlyweds, a food tour is the first item on this honeymoon adventure. A local guide will meet you at your hotel, and from there, you'll embark on a half-day food hop around the city. It begins at Mercado Central, the epicenter for all things culinary in San José. Browse over 200 shops, food stalls, and sodas (traditional restaurants) in this massive municipal market, stopping to sample local herbs and exotic tropical fruits.

After the market, continue walking down Avenida Central, the city's historic heart. As you go, you'll pass landmarks like the Teatro Nacional, a masterpiece of neoclassical architecture that dates to 1897, and the Museo del Oro Precolombino (Pre-Columbian Gold Museum), which holds an extensive collection of pre-Columbian gold artifacts. At the end of the tour, you'll return to your hotel.

Day 2: Scenic Drive to Turrialba

It's worth the one-hour detour to see the impressive Irazú volcano

Time to hit the road! Leave early on the two-hour drive east out of San José, deep into the mountainous Central Valley and Turrialba. This region is famous for its vast coffee fields and active volcanoes. On the way, there will be plenty of time for optional stops.

One great place for a pit stop is Cartago. The oldest city in Costa Rica was founded in 1563, and a few of its most famous colonial buildings remain. This includes the main church, the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de los Angeles (Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels), which dates to 1639. If you like, after Cartago, you could take a one-hour detour to the north to snap photos of the impressive Irazú volcano.

Eventually, you'll arrive in Turrialba and check into your boutique colonial-style hacienda eco-hotel. Then, you'll have the rest of the day to relax and enjoy the hotel amenities. After a while, it will be time for dinner, which will be a romantic affair in the hotel restaurant.

Day 3: Canyoning & Zipline Tour, Visit Hot Springs

Strap in for a thrilling descent down the face of a waterfall

The first half of today is packed with outdoor adventures befitting this natural wonderland. After breakfast, you'll transfer to a river canyon in Turrialba, where you'll do a bit of abseiling (rappelling). To get there, you'll hike through the rainforest until you reach a group of cascading waterfalls, at which point the fun commences. Put on a helmet, strap into a harness, then descend the rock face alongside the falls.

That's not all. Afterward, you'll cross a 132-foot (40 m) suspension bridge on your way to the next activity: a thrilling zipline ride. The tour includes soaring over the forest canopy on a network of four ziplines. It's guaranteed to get the adrenaline pumping.

After all that outdoor fun, it's time for some relaxation. The next order of business is to transfer a short way south of Turrialba to the Orosi Valley for a dip in volcanic hot springs at Hacienda Orosi. These thermal pools are perfect for relaxing and letting Mother Nature soothe your weary muscles. 

Day 4: Turrialba Optional Activities: Ancient Cities & Local Farms

Unearth the secrets of Costa Rican chocolate with a visit to a cocoa farm
Plan your trip to Costa Rica
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

The day is yours to enjoy the highlights in and around Turrialba. One can't-miss destination is the Guayabo National Monument. Set in the shadow of the Turrialba volcano, you can opt for a private tour through the remains of this ancient city, which is thought to have housed over 10,000 people who mysteriously vanished just before the arrival of Spanish colonialists in the 16th century.

There are also plenty of agritourism activities to enjoy in this region. If you like, you can visit a sustainable cattle farm that has opened its doors to visitors. On a tour, the owners will reveal generations-old secrets to producing their famous artisanal cheeses. You'll learn about different cattle breeds, their feeding and milking, how to process the milk, and, of course, sampling the finished cheeses. Another option is to visit a local cacao (cocoa) farm to see firsthand the origins of Costa Rica's famously delicious chocolate.

Day 5: Drive to San Gerardo de Dota, Couples Spa Treatment

Private Spa Treatment
It's always the right time for a private spa treatment
Get ready for some more pampering in paradise. Leave in the morning on the three-hour drive west to San Gerardo de Dota, a region famous for its virgin rainforests abounding with rivers and waterfalls. It's another scenic drive that passes through gorgeous mountain and forest scenery. Upon arrival at your ecolodge nestled within the cloud forest, you can unwind with a spa treatment. This won't take place in some antiseptic treatment room but rather outdoors, near the rushing waters of the Río Savegre, amid the relaxing sounds of the rainforest.

Day 6: Day Trip to Coffee Farm & Birding Tour

Get really lucky, and you might spot the elusive resplendent quetzal

Coffee lovers rejoice, as this morning you'll visit a working coffee plantation to see why Costa Rica's beans are famous worldwide. It's a short drive to Coopedota, a coffee co-op in the Dota Valley. On a two-hour guided tour, you'll stroll the plantation's fields and learn about the different varieties of coffee cultivated in the region. This is a sustainable operation, and throughout the tour, you'll learn how the co-op uses all-natural methods to control pests and fertilize the plants.

Then, visit the processing plant to see how the coffee fruit is harvested, sorted, and processed. Next up is the roasting facility, where you'll learn about the different types of roasts and how the process affects the flavor and aroma of the beans. Finally, you'll sample some of the co-op's delicious coffees and learn about the brewing methods used to make the perfect cup.

Now that you're jazzed up on caffeine, it's time for a nature hike. Along with a guide, you'll enter Parque Nacional Los Quetzales. This national park spans 30,515 acres (12,355 ha) and features diverse landscapes ranging from cloud forests to rugged mountains and pristine rivers. It's a haven for exotic birds, and on a two-hour hike, you'll try and spot the most famous of all, the resplendent quetzal. This bird, known for its electric green plumage, was sacred to the ancient Aztec and Maya cultures. Even today, it remains elusive; hopefully, you and your partner will get lucky and have a glimpse of it. 

Day 7: Drive to Manuel Antonio National Park

Welcome to the Pacific coast and the unspoiled beaches of Manuel Antonio

It's another memorable drive as you cruise an hour up the Pacific coast this morning to Manuel Antonio National Park. This 1,680-acre (680 ha) protected area is a true gem of Costa Rica, home to virgin rainforest running from the mountains to the coast, where white-sand beaches and coral reefs await. 

After checking into your secluded ocean-view resort, feel free to stake out your own spot on powdery white sands fronting turquoise waters. Then cuddle up with your newlywed and while away the hours with a good book and a tropical drink in hand. You can also opt for a snorkeling adventure and/or embark on another nature hike in the coastal rainforest. Then, enjoy dinner back at the hotel amid panoramic coast views.

Also, don't miss the fine cuisine in this part of Costa Rica. For dinner, you can head into Quepos, where you'll have your choice of various world-class restaurants. The food here reflects the eclectic character of the Manuel Antonio area, as here you can find everything from traditional Costa Rican fare to exotic fusion restaurants.

Day 8: Horseback Tour, Waterfalls & Farm Lunch

Spend the morning horseback riding to remote waterfalls before cooling off in the lagoon

All horseback rides are fun—but there's something particularly thrilling about galloping through the tropical rainforest. After breakfast at the hotel, you'll transfer to a local stables to meet your horse for today's tour. Then, along with a small group of other travelers, you'll set off on an hour-long, guided ride into the wilds of Manuel Antonio.

Following forest trails and crossing over trickling streams, you can peer up and glimpse exotic animals in the trees, like howler monkeys, sloths, and toucans. It's also something of an educational journey because, as you go, your local guide will reveal knowledge about the forest ecosystem as well as the Quepos Indigenous people who have existed here for centuries.

The ride will take you into the mountains, culminating with your arrival at a romantic waterfall. There will be time for a swim in the lagoon, followed by tropical drinks and other refreshments. Then, continue to a local ranch where the group will receive a warm welcome from the hosts and sit down for a farm-fresh lunch. Afterward, you'll transfer back to your hotel.

Day 9: Manuel Antonio Kayaking & Snorkeling

Explore the crystalline waters of Manuel Antonio with your newlywed
It wouldn't be a tropical honeymoon without some ocean fun. Today's doubleheader of aquatic activities begins when you and your partner hop in a twin-seater kayak. Led by an expert guide, you'll paddle along the coast of Manuel Antonio for about an hour before pulling into a secluded inlet for a break.
There, you'll put on a mask and fins and hit the water, swimming around with tropical fish and sea turtles. Later, on the ride back to the starting point, you can enjoy the vast Pacific stretched out before you as pelicans and flying fish skim the surface. You'll have the rest of the day free upon returning to your hotel.

Day 10: Drive to San José, Depart

Onward to the next romantic adventure
With any luck, this honeymoon in paradise will be the springboard to further adventures and marital bliss around the world. For now, you can wake up early and enjoy one more romantic stroll on the beach before returning to the hotel for breakfast. Afterward, you'll make the three-hour drive back to the airport in San José, drop off your rental car, and fly home. Adiós!

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Map of Honeymoon Nature Expedition in Costa Rica - 10 Days
Map of Honeymoon Nature Expedition in Costa Rica - 10 Days