Planning Your Costa Rica Honeymoon
Italy, Hawaii, Cancun—sure, those classic honeymoon locales are worthy choices. But for a standout romantic experience without a hint of cliché, you'll want to opt for a certain ecological Eden named Costa Rica. This small country packs a mighty punch: it boasts 5% of the world's biodiversity, and almost 25% of Costa Rica's entire surface area is protected—meaning a quarter of the nation's wild areas are in pristine condition, perfect for a honeymoon filled with relaxation, exploration, or both.
Depending on where you go, you'll find luxurious resorts on the coast, remote jungle eco-lodges, and a range of newlywed-friendly activities. Learn to surf together, paddle over rapids on a whitewater excursion, hold hands on a guided wildlife hike, or veg out with a couples massage on the beach.
An important consideration is time of the year. Costa Rica makes a solid honeymoon destination in any month, as long as you know where to go and what activities you're interested in. If your wedding falls in the spring in the U.S., it will likely coincide with Costa Rica's high season (mid-November through April), when dry conditions make the entire country your playground. In most years, July is another dry spot, making it equally popular with travelers.
The rest of the year, affectionately known as the "green season," sees significant rainfall. That said, you can find excellent travel deals during the wetter months, crowds are non-existent, and some regions—like the Pacific north—don't see much fluctuation in weather yearround. You'll also have better chances at certain activities, like whale watching and sea turtle spotting, outside of high season. This article gives more advice on Visiting Costa Rica During the Rainy Season.
For more on seasonal considerations, read more about the Best Time to Visit Costa Rica.
Costa Rica is as accessible as it is beautiful, making it a breeze to hop on a plane post-nuptials. The principal airport in San José, Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO), receives direct flights from major hubs in the U.S. like N.Y., Chicago, Dallas, and Los Angeles, as well as many around the world, like Toronto and London. Once you've arrived in the country you can easily jet from one corner to the other via flights with local carrier Sansa Airlines.
If you plan on turning your honeymoon into an adventurous road trip, that's certainly an option. The main highways (especially the Pan-American Highway) are all paved and in good condition. However, we do advise renting a 4x4. This is particularly true if you want to reach some of the more remote areas, such as the Osa Peninsula.
Heat Up with Volcanos & Hot Springs in Arenal
Costa Rica is famous for its volcanoes. The country is home to about 200 volcanic formations dating back a whopping 65 million years. Out of all these, the most famous (and still active), is Arenal. Located in the northern Costa Rican lowlands, Arenal is a 3,740 foot Volcano located next to the small town of La Fortuna. It's located about 80 miles north of San José (the flight takes 30 minutes).
It's prohibited to hike up the volcano due to its "active" status (the last major eruption was in 1968), but you can hike up to the base. There's a network of hiking trails, all between one and two miles long, that lead around the volcano, passing through forests and dried lava fields. Hiking for a few hours can be strenuous, so afterward you'll want to take a dip in the decidedly romantic geothermal hot springs that abound in the area. You can even plan your stay around the springs (more on this below).
Last but not least, don't miss La Fortuna Waterfall, located 15 minutes south of town, where thundering cascades plunge 250 feet down to a blue swimming lagoon. Like the volcano, it is one of the most visited destinations in the country. It's also a must-visit for any honeymooning couple looking to snap some romantic photos. If you'd like a more in-depth analysis of this region, see our Ultimate Guide to Arenal.
Honeymooners with limited time should check out this action-packed, 4-day trip idea that will have you zip-lining, rappelling and horseback riding your way throughout the Arenal region (and enjoying some of the best views the country has to offer). For a more comprehensive tour, try a two-week itinerary that covers the Caribbean and Pacific coasts and multiple national parks—along with Arenal, you'll visit Tortuguero, Monteverde, and Manuel Antonio.
Where to Stay around Arenal
If you're staying in Arenal, you're going to want to be as close to the geothermic springs as possible. Luckily Tabacón Resort and Spa actually sits on one of the most famous hot springs in the area (Tabacón). This all-inclusive resort not only allows access to the springs, but they offer a number of spa treatments as well, including facials, full-body massages, and hot-spring enhancements. We recommend the honeymoon suite—which includes an in-room tub for two. Check out more Arenal-area lodging options in this roundup of great boutique hotels.
Remote Romance on the Wild Osa Peninsula
The Osa Peninsula is located on the southern Pacific coast and is the most remote area in Costa Rica. Thus, it's the least visited by tourists. Don't let that fool you, though—there's a reason various publications (including National Geographic) have listed it as one of the most romantic destinations in the world. It's a small area, only 35 miles long, but within you have many options to enjoy a honeymoon suited to your specific tastes. The main transport hub of Puerto Jimenez is located on the Golfo Dulce ("sweet gulf") on the south end of the peninsula. You can spend the days here riding horses along the beach while great pods of spinner dolphins frolick just offshore.
For an active honeymoon head further south to the village of Carate. It's adjacent to Corcovado National Park and you can take an excursion there via a network of ranger stations and connected trails. Within the 164-square-mile protected area, you'll see a diverse array of flora and fauna. All four monkey species found in Costa Rica exist here, along with pumas, tapirs, and sloths. Birds include scarlet macaws, tiger herons, and toucans. For more on this, the Osa Peninsula is featured in the Birding Guide to Costa Rica and the Costa Rica Wildlife Guide.
Hop a flight to Bahía Drake (Drake Bay), on the northern tip of the peninsula for aquatic activities. It's adjacent to Corcovado and you can plan overnight excursions there by boat. Most people, however, come to this end for the tranquility as well as the prime whale watching. From Drake, you can spot humpback whales on their migratory routes all year. Another popular excursion is to nearby Cano Island Biological Reserve. Come here by boat and enjoy the snorkeling and diving—you'll see puffer fish, bull sharks and maybe an olive ridley sea turtle or two nesting on the beach. Read more about the region in our Ultimate Guide to the Osa Peninsula.
For a truly off the beaten path trip, consider this 5-day itinerary built around the region's natural highlights. You'll spend time in Corcovado and Cano Island, having unforgettable encounters with wildlife and learning from a guide throughout.
Where to Stay on the Osa Peninsula
In the Golfo Dulce, one of the best options is the Playa Cativo Lodge. This romantic eco-lodge is tucked away on its own beach amid the 35,000-acre Piedras Blancas National Park. It offers a romance package ideal for newlyweds. During the day you'll tour the reserve on nature hikes, and at night you'll enjoy candlelit champagne dinners in your private bungalow.
One of the best spots to stay near Carate is Lapa Rios, a collection of 16 romantic and luxurious bungalows sitting on its own 1,000-acre rainforest preserve. In Drake Bay, we recommend Copa de Arbol for its location on a secluded private beach, wild jungle setting, and its delicious three-tiered swimming pool.
On the north side, at Bahía Drake, try La Paloma Lodge. Their Superior Rooms have private balconies with sea views and A/C.
Intimate Jungles & Beaches at Manuel Antonio National Park
In a country perfect for honeymooners, Manuel Antonio National Park might just be the best spot for a honeymoon. Where it concerns sultry romance and tropical ambiance, you'll find everything you're looking for and more. This protected area on Costa Rica's central Pacific coast takes up fewer than five square miles, making it the nation's smallest (and most intimate) national park. From the looks of things, you'd never know it was so small. Coral beaches run on for almost a mile and the electric green rainforest canopy stretches as far as the eye can see.
Adjacent to the park, and just outside the main town of Quepos, you'll have your pick of romantic all-inclusive resorts, most of them featuring sea views (and some with 360° panoramic views of the entire area). Activities in the area include catamaran tours off Playa Espadilla for dolphin spotting. You can go parasailing, zip-lining, or opt for a guided jungle tour by night, where you'll spot tree frogs and the shining blue morpho butterfly. Maybe try rafting down the Savegre River. Of course, since it's your honeymoon, one of the most ideal activities will be simply watching the sunset over the beach. For more, read the Ultimate Guide to Manuel Antonio National Park.
Need some itinerary inspo? Active couples will love this 8-day adventure: you'll be rafting through scenic canyons, scuba diving, and whale watching, with four full days in the Manuel Antonio area. Or opt for 12 days of activities focused on wildlife in Corcovado, Tortuguero, and Manuel Antonio national parks, as well as the Monteverde cloud forest.
Where to Stay near Manuel Antonio
For a convenient and luxurious option, you can't beat Arenas del Mar. Not only is it located a mere 13-minute walk to the park entrance, but it also sits on its own private beach. Their gourmet restaurant serves organic food, and they also accommodate dietary restrictions. Arenas del Mar promotes sustainability and nature conservation (get the particulars by taking their Easy Being Green Tour"). We recommend staying in the Ocean View Premium Suite, which features dramatic ocean views and a private hot tub. And for boutique hotel options around Manuel Antonio, check out this article.
Laid-back Coastal Retreat at Nosara
Located on the northern Pacific Coast, on the Nicoya Peninsula, Nosara is a popular beach village with some epic surf breaks. More than that, this enclave on Costa Rica's "Gold Coast" is a popular destination for travelers on a spiritual journey—and due to high temps year round, this is a great spot to visit in the off-season. There's something about the environment and the premium locals place on being at one with nature and adherence to that most Costa Rican of mantras: pura vida, or "pure life."
The beauty of Nosara is obvious upon arrival, and you'll find many spiritual retreats as well as yoga-themed lodges (featured prominently in this list of best yoga and wellness retreats). You can relax in your hotel if you wish but do venture out to the waterfalls at Río Nosara. Like in Arenal, they'll make for some great honeymoon pictures. This is also an ideal destination if you and your new spouse want to learn to surf. Feel free to take a class and hit the waves at Playa Guiones, the main beach. It's just big enough to allow space for beginners. And if not, you can content yourself with riding horses on the beach at sunset.
Learn more about the region in our Ultimate Guide to Guanacaste. If yoga and surfing are both of interest to you and your beloved, check out this combined 10-day itinerary. Set against the Pacific’s warm waves, you'll self-drive via 4WD to Nosara and beyond for surfing, snorkeling, and practicing your downward dog (with opportunities for lessons if you've never been on a board).
Where to Stay in Nosara
For a honeymoon vacation to soothe the soul, why not go the wellness route and opt for the Bodhi Tree Resort? It's located in the foothills outside of town, a short walk from the surf beach of Guiones. Bodhi Tree is famous for its many yoga classes, workshops, and retreats, but its luxury Indian-inspired design, with waterfalls and saltwater millennium pool, will hook any romantic right off. You also won't be able to resist its world-class spa featuring myriad treatments including deep-tissue and therapeutic massages.