This 16-day tour of Costa Rica will recharge your batteries through a combination of luxury wellness experiences and thrilling outdoor adventures. On this excursion, you'll travel across the country, from Arenal Volcano to the wild Pacuare River and out to Pacific beaches. Throughout the adventure, you'll replenish your body and soul in some of the most luxurious eco-retreats anywhere in the world.


  • Enjoy spa treatments in the tranquil valley above San José
  • Brave class III/IV rapids on a whitewater rafting adventure down the Río Pacuare
  • Soak in natural hot springs near Arenal Volcano
  • Snorkel around the tropical beaches of Manuel Antonio National Park
  • Start your day with a yoga class in a luxurious mountain hotel

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Costa Rica - Private Transfer to The Retreat Alajuela
Day 2 Luxury Wellness Experience at The Retreat Alajuela
Day 3 Luxury Rainforest Lodge on the Pacuare River Turrialba
Day 4 Exclusive Pacuare River Trip Turrialba
Day 5 Rafting the Río Pacuare - Bajos del Toro Bajos del Toro
Day 6 Bajos del Toro Waterfall Hike With Private Guide Bajos del Toro
Day 7 Transfer to Arenal - Luxury Tabacón Hot Springs Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 8 Exclusive Chocolate Making Experience in Arenal Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 9 Arenal 1968 Hike With Private Guide Arenal/La Fortuna
Day 10 Transfer to the Pacific Coast - Playa Esterillos Quepos
Day 11 Pacific Coast Excursion With Private Guide Quepos
Day 12 Transfer to San Isidro del General San Isidro del general
Days 13-14 Free Day at Hacienda AltaGracia San Isidro del general
Day 15 Transfer to Alajuela Alajuela
Day 16 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.

Read more about the city's best luxury and boutique hotels.

Day 2: Luxury Wellness Experience at The Retreat

Start the day with a yoga session
Start the day with a yoga session

The agenda for today is simply to disconnect, relax, and recharge. Certainly, the wide variety of amenities on offer at the 7,000-sq-foot Retreat will help you do just that. The facilities here include a spa, steam room, jacuzzi, pool, gym, and a yoga studio. Speaking of which, you'll begin the day with a 60-minute yoga class.

As you retune your body and mind under the tutelage of a private yoga instructor, the experience will be enhanced by the soothing sounds of nature outside as well as the incredible views out to the Pacific Ocean and volcanoes. Afterward, should you desire, you can indulge in some optional spa services such as beautification, hydrotherapy mineral treatments, sauna sessions, healing massages, and more. This is in addition to enjoying organic gourmet dining options throughout the day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Day 3: 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, but 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 4: Exclusive Pacuare River Trip

Cross the river by cable car
Cross the river by cable car

Today, your rainforest adventure begins by crossing the Pacuare River on a gondola suspended from a steel cable. You'll then explore the river basin and rainforest as your accompanying naturalist guide points out all the unique flora and fauna of the region. Your bound to see exotic birds and animals like sloths and monkeys hanging in the trees. 

Then it's time for a visit to the village of Bajo del Tigre, a small farming community that produces spices, roots, tubers, and more. You’ll visit a local family’s home and try a traditional Costa Rican snack, such as picadillo, while seeing how they live. You will then visit the community’s one-room schoolhouse (during weekdays ) where one energetic teacher teaches all grades. Following, you'll head back on a trail that winds its way down to the Pacuare Lodge.

Day 5: 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. Learn more about rafting the river here.

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.

Plan your trip to Costa Rica
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 6: 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 7: 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. Find out more here about the region's best luxury hotels.

Day 8: 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 9: Arenal 1968 Hike With Private Guide

An excursion to Arenal
An excursion to Arenal

This four-hour excursion starts after breakfast with a pickup from your hotel and a transfer to the dock at Lake Arenal. You'll board a boat for a short ride across the lake during which you'll enjoy the passing scenery, which features stunning views of the towering Arenal Volcano looming over the horizon. You'll arrive at the Peninsula Sector, one of two sections of Arenal Volcano National Park. This one has its own network of hiking trails in an area called Arenal 1968. Learn more about hiking around Arenal Volcano here.

This private reserve is named for the volcano’s eruption of that same year, which completely changed some of the region’s topography: lava fields now dominate one side of Arenal. Trails wind through those lava fields as well as through the rainforest, offering beautiful views of the volcano. This is a fairly challenging hike but one that comes with many rewards. 

Day 10: Transfer to the Pacific Coast - Playa Esterillos

Time for some R&R
Time for some R&R

In the morning, you'll transfer four hours west to the central Pacific coast and Playa Esterillos. Along the way, we'll make scheduled stops for rest and food. This section of coast is situated relatively close to the capital of San José, making it a popular weekend retreat for beach lovers.

And what beaches you'll find here. The region is known for its excellent surfing, beaches, and gorgeous seaside resort towns. It's also within day-tripping distance of Manuel Antonio National Park, which abounds with fertile rainforests running all the way up to a beautiful coastline with clear waters. It's the perfect spot for swimming, surfing, snorkeling hiking, fishing, bird watching, or simply relaxing at the beach.

You'll be staying at the Alma del Pacífico Beach Hotel & Spa, located on beach at Playa Esterillos. The hotel features an array of amenities, and the open-air restaurant offers sweeping views of the beach from every table. The menu includes gourmet international and Costa Rican dishes that emphasize fresh seafood and local produce. The seaside spa is comprised of treatment rooms that open into a private tropical garden, and the therapies available here incorporate organic ingredients.

Day 11: Pacific Coast Excursion With Private Guide

Stop at beaches along the central Pacific coast
Stop at beaches along the central Pacific coast

It's time to leave the hotel amenities behind and get out on the water. After breakfast, you'll embark on a three-hour outrigger canoe, kayak, or stand up paddleboard excursion. It's the perfect way to enjoy Costa Rica's magnificent central-Pacific coastline. You'll be guided by local experts who will point out interesting sights during the trip. and fresh fruit and water are included.

If you do opt for the Hawaiin-style outrigger canoe, you'll find it to be a great team-building activity as well as a fun excursion. The steersperson in the canoe controls the direction and everyone has to work together to power the boat. The nice thing is that the canoes are more efficient than kayaks, and paddling is also easier. There will also be stops along the journey for snorkeling (weather permitting) as well as wildlife spotting and beachcombing.

Day 12: Transfer to San Isidro del General

Hacienda AltaGracia
Hacienda AltaGracia

In the morning you'll transfer 2.5-hours east to the area around San Isidro del General. Located in a wide valley in the mountains of Costa Rica’s Southern Zone, 74 miles (120 km) southeast of the capital city San José, lies this prosperous agricultural town. San Isidro del General is most famous for its massive weekly farmers market, which sees over 200 vendors selling every kind of fruit and vegetable you can imagine.

Nearby attractions include Chirripó National Park, which is home to the nation’s tallest mountain; Cloudbridge Nature Reserve with its exquisite gardens, impressive waterfalls and areas of a dense forest; and Nauyaca Waterfalls, one of the country’s most spectacular waterfalls.
You'll be staying at Hacienda Altagracia. This is a boutique hotel located in the mountains just east of San Isidro. All rooms feature exquisite interiors and terraces with panoramic views. Guests can enjoy innovative fusion meals at the hacienda's Ambar Restaurant and/or enjoy sweet treats, pastries, and a coffee at El Bistro. La Cantina features a fully stocked bar and a pool table for entertainment. The hotel also has a wellness center offering a large variety of spa treatments.

After checking in you'll have the afternoon free to relax and enjoy the hotel amenities.

Days 13-14: Free Day at Hacienda AltaGracia

Enjoy the hacienda's emenities
Enjoy the hacienda's emenities

This will be a day of leisure where you can enjoy any number of optional activities in and around this luxurious mountain hotel. One option is to take a walk on one of the serene garden paths to our thatched-roof Meditation Rancho. Here you can clear your mind, relax, and commune with nature as you listen to nothing except the mountain breeze rustling through the treetops.

If you're feeling more adventurous, you can get the heart pumping with one of the more challenging hiking trails around the property. Perhaps you'd like to visit the local farmers market featuring over 200 vendors selling fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, fish, handicrafts and more. You can also stroll through serene garden paths to our thatched-roof yoga sanctuary to partake in a restorative power of yoga session.

Day 15: 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 16: 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!

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Map of Luxury, Wellness & Adventure in Costa Rica - 16 Days
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