- Brave the rapids of the Río Pacuare on a thrilling rafting trip
- Tour the coffee fields near the Turrialba volcano and make artisanal chocolate
- Hike around the iconic Arenal volcano and discover waterfalls
- Explore the rainforests along the turquoise waters of the Río Celeste
- Go snorkeling, boating, and surfing on the Nicoya Peninsula
|Arrive in San José, Transfer to Turrialba
|Río Pacuare Whitewater Rafting
|Canyoning Adventure, Chocolate & Coffee Tour
|Transfer to Arenal/La Fortuna, Sarapiquí Nature Hike
|Rainforest Tree Climbing Adventure
|Arenal Volcano Hike, La Fortuna Waterfall & Zipline Tour
|Transfer to Tamarindo, Hike the Río Celeste
|Kayak & Snorkel in Tamarindo, Sunset Catamaran Tour
|Free Day in Tamarindo, Optional Surfing & Boat Tours
|Transfer to Liberia, Depart
Day 1: Arrive in San José, Transfer to Turrialba
Welcome to Costa Rica! The stories you've heard are true—this is one of the most naturally beautiful and biodiverse countries in the world. Outdoor adventures and thrilling excursions await, and you'll experience the highlights without sacrificing comfort and style. In between all the excitement, you'll stay in comfortable 3 and 4-star lodges and hotels, chosen for their unique settings, eco-credentials, and proximity to the country's best outdoor adventures.
Upon arrival at the airport in the capital of San José, your personal driver will be waiting to transfer you two hours east to Turrialba. Located in the highlands of the Central Valley, this town lies near its namesake volcano, which is the country's second-tallest at 10,958 feet (3,339 m) above sea level. It's a scenic drive where you can soak up views of the region's green valleys, coffee fields, and volcanoes.
You'll check into your accommodation, Casa Turire, a few minutes from town. This colonial-deco gem exudes charm and style, sitting on expansive grounds with networks of hiking trails leading into the surrounding rainforest. There's even a farm on the property with an herb and vegetable garden the hotel uses to supply its gourmet restaurant. The spacious suites are tastefully decorated with bright tropical colors, and an on-site spa offers various treatments—some of which utilize fresh herbs from the farm.
Day 2: Río Pacuare Whitewater Rafting
Turrialba is known for its outdoor adventure activities, and this morning, you'll get the adrenaline pumping with a whitewater rafting trip on the Río Pacuare, one of the world's top rafting spots. Your private guide will begin with a safety briefing before you gear up and complete a crash course in rafting techniques. Next, launch into the river to tackle some of the 19-mile (30 km) stretch of Class III and IV whitewater rapids.
The trip will take you through one of Costa Rica's most impressive primary rainforests, packed with exotic plants and animals. Between navigating the thrilling rapids, you'll float along serene sections of water where you can spot wildlife on the banks or even take a cooling swim. Passing through a deep canyon with cascading waterfalls is a highlight. Finally, you'll disembark and return to your hotel for a well-earned restful evening.
Day 3: Canyoning Adventure, Chocolate & Coffee Tour
Even more excitement is in store this morning as you participate in one of the region's other thrilling activities: canyoning. During this private half-day adventure tour, you'll experience Turrialba's waterfalls up close as you rappel down the cascade face while strapped into a harness. Even if you're a first-timer, there's nothing to worry about, as your personal expert guide will be there every step of the way to ensure you're following all safety protocols. When you reach the bottom, feel free to take a dip in the waterfall lagoon.
Later, you'll enjoy another private guided tour, this one celebrating chocolate, one of the country's most popular exports. It's a two-hour excursion during which you'll visit a local cacao (cocoa) plantation and walk amid the trees, learning about the cultivation process as you go. During this hands-on experience, you'll learn the bean-to-bar process of turning this pulpy fruit into decadent chocolate. Of course, free samples are included.
Capping this full-day itinerary is a two-hour immersion tour of another popular crop: coffee. Your driver will take you to the Aquiares Estate, one of Costa Rica's most historic coffee farms, which sits on the fertile slopes of the Turrialba volcano. Here, you'll discover the origins of your morning brew and the entire coffee production process, from bean to cup. During the private tour, you'll learn about the area's farming community and sustainability initiatives as you stroll rows of coffee plants fed by natural springs. As with the chocolate tour, expect to enjoy a few cups.
Day 4: Transfer to Arenal/La Fortuna, Sarapiquí Nature Hike
Wake up early and leave Turrialba with your guide/driver on a private transfer northwest to La Fortuna. This town sits at the foot of Arenal, perhaps the country's most famous volcano. The drive there takes 4.5 hours, but you'll stop along the way for more memorable activities in Costa Rica's great outdoors.
The main stop will be about two hours into the trip at Sarapiquí. This region stretches from the central volcanic mountain range across the vast northern plains to Nicaragua and is studded with national parks. You'll stretch your legs here on a three-hour nature hike, during which you might spot exotic wildlife like sloths and ocelots. The area is also home to hundreds of bird species, and you might spot colorful specimens like the keel-billed toucan, green macaw, collared aracari, and more.
After the hike, continue driving toward La Fortuna, stopping a few miles before town at your peaceful accommodation: La Finca Lodge. Nestled in the lush rainforests of the Arenal region, La Finca emphasizes sustainable practices. Its eco-friendly bungalows blend in with the natural surroundings and offer volcano and rainforest views from their spacious balconies. There are natural hot springs on-site, plus a pool and Jacuzzi.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 5: Rainforest Tree Climbing Adventure
It's safe to say most tourists in Costa Rica don't ever experience the unique activity you'll enjoy today. Embark in the morning on a tree-climbing adventure in a primary forest near Arenal volcano. Your private guide will introduce you to two ancient trees; the first is Joseph, a ficus (strangler fig) that's hundreds of years old. While here, you'll climb up through its hollow core and rappel down the outside.
The second tree you'll visit is Abraham, a giant ceiba that supports an observation platform 110 feet (33 m) above the ground. If you're agile enough, you can climb up using a rope system or connect to a winch and let the guides pull you up. Once at the platform's top, you'll be treated to stunning views of the forest canopy. It's the perfect spot to enjoy a lavish picnic lunch before descending.
Day 6: Arenal Volcano Hike, La Fortuna Waterfall & Zipline Tour
Get ready for a half-day hike around an active volcano. The adventure begins in the northwest area of Arenal, the region's most active volcanic zone. It's a private tour where your experienced guide will lead you along regenerating forest trails to a large block of petrified lava created by past eruptions. It's a nature hike as well because, along the way, you'll observe various flora, fauna, and unusual rock formations. There are also viewpoints on the trails that offer breathtaking views of nearby Lake Arenal.
Afterward, you'll visit La Fortuna Waterfall, a 210-foot (64 m) cascade in lush primary rainforest just 15 minutes outside La Fortuna. When you arrive, you'll descend some 500 steps to the bottom of the falls. As you go, your guide will share interesting geological facts about the rock formations and the history of the high basalt columns that gave rise to this waterfall. Once at the bottom, you can sit back and enjoy the romantic scenery or take a dip in the turquoise lagoon at the base of the falls.
Later, you'll enjoy a more hair-raising adventure on a canopy tour. From Arenal, transfer to a rainforest platform, where you'll put on safety gear and strap into your zipline harness. Then, soar over the treetops as you enjoy a fun ride and the sight of exotic animals (like monkeys and sloths) down below. This is a private zipline tour, so there are no lines, and you'll have the splendor of the rainforest all to yourself. You'll return to the lodge after the tour.
Day 7: Transfer to Tamarindo, Hike the Río Celeste
After an early breakfast, your driver will pick you up for the scenic three-hour drive west from Arenal to the coast of Guanacaste province. Like with the journey from Turrialba, you'll stop en route to enjoy Costa Rica's natural wonders. This time, you'll visit Tenorio Volcano National Park, named after the Tenorio volcano, which towers 6,286 feet (1,916 m) above sea level.
Once there, join a private guide for a three-hour hike along rainforest trails, spotting native wildlife such as monkeys, sloths, blue morpho butterflies, and anteaters. The journey takes you alongside the famous Río Celeste, passing the confluence of two rivers whose minerals combine to create a striking turquoise hue. According to local legend, God washed his brushes in the river after painting the sky. Eventually, you'll descend 253 steps to reach the base of the Río Celeste Waterfall, where you'll marvel at the otherworldly blue waters before hiking back to the park entrance.
After Tenorio, you'll get back in the car and continue into Guanacaste and the Nicoya Peninsula until you reach Tamarindo. This popular beach town is one of the most prized surf destinations in the country. The area doesn't lack for upscale resorts, and you'll be staying at one of the best: the 4-star Cala Luna Boutique Hotel & Villas. Located mere steps from the beach, it offers many perks, including two on-site eateries, an outdoor pool, a spa, and complimentary yoga and fitness classes.
Day 8: Kayak & Snorkel in Tamarindo, Sunset Catamaran Tour
Start the day with some fun exercise and underwater adventures. Leave your hotel after breakfast and stroll over to Playa Tamarindo, where you'll hop in a kayak and paddle across azure waters to Isla El Capitán. There, you'll leave the kayak on the beach, strap on a snorkel and mask, and hop in the crystalline water. All around this islet are coral gardens teeming with exotic marine life. Expect to see starfish, sea urchins, octopuses, rays, eels, turtles, and plenty of tropical fish.
Later in the afternoon, head over to the pier, where you'll embark on a memorable private catamaran ride. Once on the water, enjoy a scenic four-hour ride along Costa Rica's Gold Coast, a region famous for its white-sand beaches, secluded bays, and tropical jungles. Kick back, relax, and keep an eye out for exotic wildlife like dolphins, sea turtles, and flying fish as the crew serves up tropical drinks. After stopping in a secluded bay for a barbecue lunch and some snorkeling, you'll return to Tamarindo, where you'll have the rest of the night free.
Day 9: Free Day in Tamarindo, Optional Surfing & Boat Tours
Today is yours to enjoy Tamarindo on your own schedule. If you wish, spend the day relaxing at your hotel and enjoying the amenities. Perhaps head to the main drag in town to do some shopping and/or hit some local restaurants and bars.
If you're new to surfing, you can take a two-hour beginners class. This is a private lesson during which your expert instructor will show you the ropes, including paddling techniques, wave selection, and proper stance and balance. When you eventually settle into the groove, paddle out with your instructor and catch a few waves.
Another activity option is a private mangrove tour. Hop aboard a boat for a three-hour tour to explore the estuary where the Río Tamarindo meets the Pacific Ocean. This area features a mangrove ecosystem home to exotic animals such as flying fish, iguanas, crocodiles, sharks, monkeys, and various bird species.