Pamper yourself on an eight-day tropical getaway to Costa Rica that offers wellness and adventure in equal measure. You'll begin in a luxury rainforest lodge with an exciting trip down the Pacuare River. Then it's off to the Arenal Volcano region where you'll relax in natural hot springs and learn the secrets to chocolate making on a local farm.

Highlights

  • Brave class III/IV rapids on a whitewater rafting adventure down the Río Pacuare
  • Soak in natural hot springs near Arenal Volcano
  • Enjoy spa treatments and yoga in the tranquil valley above San José

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Costa Rica - Private Transfer to The Retreat Alajuela
Day 2 Luxury Rainforest Lodge on the Pacuare River Turrialba
Day 3 Rafting the Río Pacuare - Bajos del Toro Bajos del Toro
Day 4 Bajos del Toro Waterfall Hike With Private Guide Bajos del Toro
Day 5 Transfer to Arenal - Luxury Tabacón Hot Springs Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 6 Exclusive Chocolate Making Experience Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 7 Transfer to Alajuela Alajuela
Day 8 Depart Costa Rica  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Costa Rica - Private Transfer to The Retreat

Welcome to San José
Welcome to San José

Welcome to Costa Rica!

Upon arrival at Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO), your private driver will meet you and whisk you off on a 45-minute journey west to the city of Atenas, located in Costa Rica's Central Valley. This remarkably beautiful area makes up most of Costa Rica’s interior and is home to over 50% of the country's population. It boasts many coffee plantations and is fringed by rugged mountains and two active volcanoes, Irazú and Poás

Your destination is The Retreat, a luxury wellness center located on the slopes of a mountain just outside Atenas. Immediately after check-in, you will enjoy their signature "heaven on earth" 60-minute massage. You can then spend the remainder of the day relaxing and enjoying the prime views overlooking Atenas and the Central Valley below.

The Retreat is the creation of celebrity chef, best-selling author and health and wellness life-coach, Diana Stobo. The aesthetics of the deluxe rooms, suites, and bungalows seamlessly blend with the natural beauty of the grounds, and luxury amenities include organic “farm-to-spa” treatments and gourmet gastronomic experiences. Also, easily accessible from The Retreat are many sights and excursions such as botanical gardens, chocolate tours, and waterfalls.

Day 2: Luxury Rainforest Lodge on the Pacuare River

Your next destination
Your next destination

In the early morning, you'll transfer to San José and continue east for three hours down the Atlantic slope of the Talamanca Mountains towards the Caribbean coast. Your destination is the Pacuare River Lodge. As the name suggests, this rainforest lodge is located on the banks of the Pacuare River. This is not only one of the world's premier whitewater rafting destinations, it's also a highly biodiverse region home to much exotic flora and fauna.

The scenery around the river is characterized by lush primary rainforest, lowland tropical forest, and dramatic waterfalls. The lodge is situated in the midst of all this natural beauty, offering visitors both rustic rainforest accommodation and luxury amenities. The 20 villas and suites offer terraces with river views and king-size canopy beds with 300-thread-count Egyptian sheets. There's even a bar, wellness spa, and a millennium pool on site.

This is an eco-lodge in the strictest sense of the term. Their operation promotes sustainability within this river region, which is why their maximum capacity is a mere 56 guests. Even the wood used to construct the lodge came not from the surrounding rainforest trees but from local reforestation projects.

Upon checking in you'll have time to relax, tour the grounds, and learn a little bit about the lodge, its sustainability initiatives, and all the activities on offer. These include massage treatments, waterfall hikes, canyoning, and river rafting excursions.

Day 3: Rafting the Río Pacuare - Bajos del Toro

The incredible scenery along the Pacuare River
The incredible scenery along the Pacuare River

After breakfast, you'll embark on a 2-5-hour whitewater rafting adventure down the Pacuare. You'll experience the best of both worlds as you alternate between exciting class III/IV rapids and long stretches of tranquil, slow-moving water that allows you to enjoy the passing scenery on the riverbanks. This includes towering river canyons and unspoiled rainforest abounding with wildlife such as macaws, toucans, and monkeys.

After the rafting excursion, you'll hop in a vehicle and transfer three hours west to the highland region around the town of Bajos del Toro. The town sits at the foot of the towering Poás Volcano and is surrounded by a number of protected wilderness areas including the Poás Volcano National Park, Juan Castro Blanco National Park, and the Bosque de Paz Rain/Cloud Forest Biological Reserve

You'll arrive at the El Silencio Lodge & Spa, a secluded and luxurious eco-hotel in the mountains and flanked by two national parks. After checking into your private villa, you'll have the rest of the afternoon free to relax and enjoy the surroundings.

Day 4: Bajos del Toro Waterfall Hike With Private Guide

Catarata Del Toro
Catarata Del Toro

You're in for a treat, as today you'll visit the Catarata del Toro, a cascading waterfall that plunges 300 feet into a volcanic crater. The best part is that this waterfall is off the tourist trail so most of the visitors are locals. This is a medium-difficulty, 90-minute hike along the wilderness trails around Bajos del Toro.

Along the way, the guide will reveal insight into the eco-system and the various exotic flora and fauna it supports. This is a cloud-forest region, meaning the temps are cooler due to the higher mountain altitude, and the area gets more precipitation. This results in burgeoning green forests as far as the eye can see that abound with exotic animals.  Eventually, you'll reach the waterfall where you'll be treated to incredible views as well as an opportunity to swim in the lagoon.

Day 5: Transfer to Arenal - Luxury Tabacón Hot Springs

The natural hot springs at Tabacón
The natural hot springs at Tabacón

After spending the morning at El Silencio,  you will transfer 2.5 hours north to the town of La Fortuna, which is the home base for excursions into Arenal Volcano National Park. Even though the imposing (and active) Arenal Volcano is the major attraction here, the surrounding rainforest eco-system is equally impressive. You can enjoy a variety of activities in the Arenal region, including whitewater rafting, rappelling, hiking, and canopy tours. 

The Arenal region is also renowned for its natural hot springs, and some of the most luxurious can be found on the grounds of the luxurious Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort. This resort is situated on more than 900 acres of unspoiled tropical reserve, and it's where you'll stay for your duration in Arenal. After checking in, you'll have the afternoon free to relax and enjoy the flowing waters of the thermal hot springs.

Day 6: Exclusive Chocolate Making Experience

Make your own chocolate
Make your own chocolate

Start the day with a hands-on program in which you'll learn about the origin, history, and production methods of one of Costa Rica's most famous exports: chocolate. Participate in the harvesting of cacao, the drying and grinding of the seeds, and learn how a traditional chocolate drink was developed centuries ago. Of course, you'll have the opportunity to sample freshly made chocolate.

This is a three-hour guided tour, after which you'll return to your luxurious resort and can soak in the natural hot springs.

Day 7: Transfer to Alajuela

The swimming pool at Xandari
The swimming pool at Xandari

It's a long 3.5-hour drive to Alajuela Province, but of course, you'll have a chance to stop along the way for picture breaks, pictures, and snacks. Your destination is the Xandari Resort and Spa, located in the hills just north of Alajuela. This is a city known for its rich history and laid-back charm. Its biggest claim to fame is being the hometown of Costa Rica’s most beloved national hero, Juan Santamaría, a humble drummer boy who sacrificed his life at the Battle of Santa Rosa against William Walker’s Filibusters.
 
The Xandari Resort and Spa is a five-star tropical paradise comprising of 24 individually designed villas nestled on a plantation overlooking the Central Valley of Costa Rica. The resort is a natural oasis with trails, exotic gardens, waterfalls, three lap pools, two poolside Jacuzzis, and five private spas with panoramic views. It's no overstatement to say that this is one of the true hidden gems of Costa Rica.

Day 8: Depart Costa Rica

One last view of Costa Rica
One last view of Costa Rica

With a newly rejuvenated body and soul, it's time to say adiós to Costa Rica! After breakfast, you'll transfer to the airport and catch your international flight home. Come back soon!

Map

Map of Lavish Costa Rica: Rivers, Hot Springs, and Waterfalls - 8 Days
Map of Lavish Costa Rica: Rivers, Hot Springs, and Waterfalls - 8 Days