Enjoy active adventures and luxurious stays on this 11-day Costa Rica journey. Conquer whitewater rapids in Pacuare, before heading to the Arenal Volcano region with opportunities to zipline, hike, and soak in natural hot springs. Then, stop to visit the crocodiles along the Tarcoles River en route to coastal Manuel Antonio, where you'll explore the rainforest and snorkel in pristine waters. Next, hop a flight to an Osa Peninsula eco-lodge, before one last day of exploration in San José.

Highlights

  • Go whitewater rafting and explore the surrounding Pacuare Forest Reserve
  • Hike around Arenal Volcano, go ziplining, and soak in the Tabacon Hot Springs
  • Experience biodiverse Manuel Antonio and snorkeling and sailing at sunset
  • Stay in a remote eco-lodge in the Osa Peninsula centered in the tropical rainforest

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in San José San José
Day 2 Drive to Pacuare River & Whitewater Rafting Río Pacuare
Day 3 Discover the Pacuare Forest Reserve Río Pacuare
Day 4 Transfer to La Fortuna Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 5 Ziplining, Arenal Volcano Hike, & Tabacon Hot Springs Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 6 Visit the Tarcoles River & Transfer to Manuel Antonio Manuel Antonio
Day 7 Sunset Sailing & Snorkeling Tour Manuel Antonio
Day 8 Transfer to Osa Peninsula Corcovado National Park
Day 9 Osa Peninsula Rainforest Exploration Corcovado National Park
Day 10 Travel to San José & City Exploration San José
Day 11 Departure From Costa Rica  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in San José

Welcome to Costa Rica!
Welcome to Costa Rica!

Welcome to Costa Rica! Meet your travel representative at the airport to obtain your information packet that contains an in-depth travel itinerary, vouchers for services, and other important documentation. A driver will take you to your hotel, which is located in San José, just 30 minutes from the airport.

On the route, the travel representative will present a brief introduction to Costa Rica and some recommendations of additional things to do while traveling to ensure your trip is unforgettable. The guide will run through your itinerary with you once you're settled at the hotel.

At night, you can enjoy dinner at the hotel restaurant, or out on the town, before departing for your adventure early tomorrow.

Day 2: Drive to Pacuare River and go whitewater rafting

Go whitewater rafting on the Pacuare River
Go whitewater rafting on the Pacuare River

Today, an exciting adventure awaits. A representative will pick you up early and take you to the area of Siquirres on the Caribbean slopes. On the way, enjoy a delicious, typical breakfast. Taste the famous gallo pinto, which is great sustenance for a day full of activities. 

After breakfast, change clothes and get ready to jump into the Pacuare River, only a few minutes away. Upon arrival, the expert guides will proceed with the safety talk and technical instructions, and then, you can practice paddling on calm water. From there, explore the stunning river rapids and enjoy the majestic scenery among you. Navigate the river for about 1.5 hours, until you reach the amazing lodge immersed in the dense rainforest.

Once at the lodge, have lunch, and the afternoon is free to rest in your comfortable suite, explore the hotel's private trails, or swim in the natural river pools.

Note: For today and tomorrow, you can carry a small bag with whatever you need; the maximum luggage weight is 25 pounds per person. The rest of your luggage will remain safely in the lodge’s operations center in Siquirres.

Day 3: Discover the Pacuare Forest Reserve

Enjoy your lodge in the Pacuare Forest Reserve
Enjoy your lodge in the Pacuare Forest Reserve

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel, and spend some time relishing the peaceful locale in the middle of the forest. Feel free to take advantage of the hotel's facilities and become one with nature.

The hotel offers different included activities—you can request more information about these tours at the hotel. Choose between any of the following tours:

  • Pacuare canopy (ziplining)
  • Canyoning experience
  • Cabecar indigenous hike
  • Early birdwatching walk
  • Rural experience
  • Sustainability tour

Enjoy lunch at the hotel at your leisure, as well as dinner. Then, the night is yours to enjoy. 

Day 4: Transfer to La Fortuna

Arenal Volcano, located in La Fortuna
Arenal Volcano, located in La Fortuna

After breakfast, travel to the northern plains of the country to the La Fortuna area, where the stunning Arenal Volcano welcomes you. Arenal was discovered after a full-force volcanic eruption in July 1968. It has also erupted in 1975, 1993, and 1998, but is currently inactive.

Arrive by late afternoon to the hotel in the Arenal area, and the rest of the day is free to rest and enjoy the hotel facilities.

Consider dinner in La Fortuna at the following restaurants:

  • Café Mediterraneo, a friendly osteria serving up homemade pasta and pizza
  • La Parrilla de María Bonita, 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

Day 5: Ziplining, Arenal Volcano hike, and Tabacon Hot Springs

Enjoy a relaxing soak in the Tabacon Hot Springs
Enjoy a relaxing soak in the Tabacon Hot Springs

After breakfast, try out one of the most popular and highly rated activities in Costa Rica—ziplining, or the canopy tour, as it is called locally. The excursion consists of ziplining on cables between trees and mountains while wearing a special harness designed for the tour. Fly through the dense cloud forest, and see and feel all the natural activities occurring within the treetops, which include wildlife action from birds, insects, and some mammals. Don't forget your camera, so you can capture the amazing views of the forest.

By midafternoon, a local representative will pick you up and take you to  Arenal Volcano National Park for a guided nature walk. An expert guide will explain interesting facts about the volcano and its history. There are many chances to see wildlife on the hike and, of course, experience the volcanic activity firsthand. The trail is easy and your guide will help with spotting and pointing out wildlife as you walk.

Next, reach the thermal waters of Tabacon Hot Springs near the volcano, where you can swim and relax. Dinner is included at the hot springs restaurant, so you can enjoy more time soaking and decompressing.

Day 6: Visit the Tarcoles River crocodiles and transfer to Manuel Antonio

Stop to see the crocodiles along the Tarcoles River
Stop to see the crocodiles along the Tarcoles River

Today, after breakfast, head to the Central Pacific area of Costa Rica. After a couple of hours on the road, stop along the Tarcoles River to see the magnificent crocodiles measuring more than 19 feet in size. They have been on this planet for millions of years. Since they have not changed much over time, some consider them living dinosaurs.  Your driver will stop by the bridge, so you can see the crocs and take beautiful pictures. 

Continue toward Manuel Antonio after the stop. Manuel Antonio is just south of Quepos on the Pacific Coast, and 100 miles from San José.  Visitors flock to area rich with expansive, white-sand beaches that are backed by an evergreen forest that grows right up to the high-tide line. The principal habitats are primary forests, secondary forests, mangrove swamps, lagoons, and beach vegetation. There is quite a varied fauna with 109 species of mammals and 184 species of birds. The park includes 12 little islands just off the coast, which are often visited by a number of dolphins and, at times, migrating whales can be observed from the beach.

The area itself is full of luxury and high-end properties and exclusive restaurants with excellent cuisine, where you can sit and admire the ocean and spectacular sunsets. 

Some recommended restaurants include the below:

  • Gabriella's: Enjoy local fine dining, and go for the seafood—whether it's the pan-seared scallops, ceviche, or snapper, you won't be disappointed; the steaks are great, too
  • Cafe Agua Azul: Visit during sunset—the second-floor patio dining here offers some of the best bay views in the entire area; try fresh fish and delectable desserts, like homemade brownies and bread pudding
  • Manuel Antonio Falafel Bar: For something different, head to this casual Middle-Eastern joint that offers great falafel, shawarma, hummus, and a salad bar for vegetarians

Day 7: Sunset sailing and snorkeling tour

Following a sunset sail, enjoy the evening in Manuel Antonio
Following a sunset sail, enjoy the evening in Manuel Antonio

Have breakfast at the hotel, enjoy the facilities, and spend some time on the stunning beach. 

In the afternoon, board a Sunset Sailing Tour on a 70-foot, modern Tom Cat catamaran. A representative will transfer you to the marina in Quepos for departure. 
 
 Once onboard, an introductory speech is given, the anchor is pulled, and the sailing excursion begins, heading toward one of the many pristine beaches in the area. En route to a secluded beach, look for turtles, dolphins, flying fish, and whales.  Eventually, the boat will pull into a secluded bay and drop anchor.

Snorkeling equipment is provided, so you can admire the colorful rocky reefs and look for exotic sea life. Some of the more common animals seen include tangs, puffers, porcupine fish, eels, starfish, rays, and seahorses.  While you enjoy the bay, the crew prepares a light lunch. Following lunch, the anchor is pulled and the sails are raised to start navigating among the bay.  Arrive at the final anchor location as the sun nears the horizon, and the sky melts into a pallet of thousands of colors. 

Following the sunset sail, the rest of the evening is at your leisure. 

Note: This sailing tour is also available in the morning.

Day 8: Transfer to Osa Peninsula

Sunset over the Osa Peninsula
Sunset over the Osa Peninsula

After breakfast at the hotel, a driver will pick you up to drive you south, to the local airport in Quepos. Board a domestic flight to Puerto Jimenez. Upon arrival, hop on a 4x4 vehicle to the remote reserve of Lapa Rios Eco-Lodge—thanks to its secluded location in a hill's summit, this luxurious lodge has incredible ocean and rainforest views. The primary forest around the lodge makes wildlife encounters very common on the property.

This private nature reserve of more than 1,000 acres of lowland tropical rainforest is a paradise for wildlife, nature, and beach lovers, alike. The lodge’s bungalows line three ridges overlooking the pristine point where the Golfo Dulce meets the Pacific Ocean. Built more than 350 feet above sea level, the property was designed in harmony with the surrounding forest and beaches, and was built with locally harvested materials—all the hotel activities and tours are developed without affecting the environment. The habitat is home to monkeys, macaws, pumas, toucans, tree frogs, and thousands of other creatures. 

Upon arrival, enjoy the surroundings at your leisure. 

Day 9: Osa Peninsula rainforest exploration

Take an optional day trip to visit Corcovado National Park
Take an optional day trip to visit Corcovado National Park

Today is dedicated to discovering the biodiverse rainforest. Choose any of the activities offered by the lodge. Some options include early and sunset bird tours, a waterfall hike, a local medicine hike, a rainforest ridge walk, an Osa trail hike, a Matapalo tour, and a night walk.

All activities are focus on wildlife observation, but some include aspects of the hotel's sustainable practices, too. Optional tours to Corcovado National Park are available, as well. 

Day 10: Travel to San José and city exploration

Go sightseeing in San José
Go sightseeing in San José

Today, after breakfast at the lodge, it is time to travel back to civilization. The lodge staff will take you to the local airport in Puerto Jimenez, so you can catch your domestic flight back to San José. The flight is short, but you can still admire incredible landscapes of rivers, mountains, valleys, and volcanoes as you get close to the city.

Arrive by midday, and the rest of the day is free for you to explore the city or enjoy the hotel facilities. The hotel for tonight is located in the heart of San José. Take some time to visit Central Avenue, where you can interact with locals and learn about the culture and customs of Costa Rica. There are plenty of museums and historical buildings nearby to discover, too. 

Following your self-guided tour, enjoy a nice farewell dinner in town.  

Day 11: Departure from Costa Rica

Adios, Costa Rica!
Adios, Costa Rica!

As they say, all good things must come to an end. After breakfast, say goodbye to beautiful Costa Rica and take with you all of the stunning memories from your adventure.

A driver will pick you up at the hotel and take you straight to the airport, which is just 15 minutes away. Keep in mind that in Costa Rica, you must arrive at the airport 3 hours prior to your departure time.

Have a safe flight!

Map

Map of Luxury Costa Rica Adventure: Pacuare, Arenal, Manuel Antonio, Osa Peninsula - 11 Days
Map of Luxury Costa Rica Adventure: Pacuare, Arenal, Manuel Antonio, Osa Peninsula - 11 Days