This 5-day itinerary is ideal for adventure-loving couples. Starting and ending in San José, you'll brave the rapids of the scenic Río Pacuare on a guided whitewater excursion, zip line and hike the coastal jungle, and enjoy downtime together in a luxury eco-lodge. With plenty of free time to choose your own activities, it's bound to be a trip you'll always remember.

Highlights

  • Spend two days rafting some of the world's best white-water rapids
  • Take your pick of San Josés most romantic restaurants
  • Stay in a remote, luxury eco-lodge in the Costa Rican rainforest
  • Have a full day to hike, zip line, and explore the Río Pacuare jungle

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in San José, Dinner Reservation for 2 San Jose
Day 2 Rafting Río Pacuare on Class II-III Rapids Río Pacuare
Day 3 Free Day for Jungle Adventures in Río Pacuare  Río Pacuare
Day 4 Rafting Class III-IV Rapids, Return to San José San Jose
Day 5 Depart San José  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in San José, Dinner Reservation for Two

Teatro Nacional in San José
Teatro Nacional in San José

Welcome to the land of pura vida! After arriving at Juan Santamaria International Airport in San José, a local representative will meet you and escort you to your hotel. 

The rest of your day is designated free time for the two of you to explore the country's vibrant capital city. Suggested activities include: 

  • A stroll through Mercado Central (Central Market), the largest in the city, with over 200 shops, food stalls, and sodas (traditional restaurants) perfect for an inexpensive lunch of casado, a traditional dish of rice, beans, and meat, served with tortillas. 
  • Explore Barrio Amón, a historic neighborhood that's home to cafetalero (coffee grower) mansions constructed during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many of the area’s historic buildings have been converted into hotels, restaurants, and galleries, making this a popular district for taking in the art-deco manses and painted tropical Victorian structures. 
  • Visit the Teatro Nacional, an opulent Neo-Classical building constructed in the late 19th century, which offers free guided tours on the hour. You can also check their calendar to take in dance, music, and theatre performances. 

In the evening, head out on the town and check out one of the city's best restaurants:

  • For special-occasion dining, try Restaurante Grano de Oro, an upmarket favorite helmed by French chef Francis Canal, who uses European techniques to prepare Costa Rican-fusion fare paired with an excellent wine list. 
  • Though it's technically attached to one of the more interesting hotels in Costa Rica (visit the lobby and you'll understand), Del Mar's 24-hour restaurant is a nice continental dinner spot in an amazing 19th century restored mansion with a series of beautiful rooms and stained glass windows.   
  • The restaurant Tin Jo serves a variety of excellent Asian dishes including vegetarian options—this is popular with locals, so make a reservation. 
  • Kalú is a sleek and modern option run by a female chef with a love for French culture as well as Asian, Mediterranean, and Creole gastronomy.

Day 2: Rafting Río Pacuare on Class II-IIl Rapids

Brave the whitewater on Río Pacuare, one of the best rafting rivers in the world
Brave the whitewater on Río Pacuare, one of the best rafting rivers in the world

This morning, you'll wake up early, meet your guide, and begin the 2.5-hour drive out through the city and countryside east of San José. Stop en route for a classic Costa Rican breakfast before you arrive at Río Pacuare, where you'll begin your rafting excursion. Located along Costa Rica’s Caribbean slope, Río Pacuare’s river gorge is considered one of the best rafting rivers in the world with warm water and stunning green scenery. 

After a guided orientation, you'll embark on today's exciting 1-1.5 hour river rafting trip on class II-III rapids. Paddle past impressive tropical scenery through rushing whitewater, all the way to your riverside eco-lodge. Here, you will check into your luxury jungle accommodations, and have the rest of the day to explore the surrounding area with your guide.

After lunch, you can hike through the lodge’s protected forest to an idyllic waterfall, opt for a couple's massage at the Jawa Juü Spa, or simply relax in your private bungalow or suite and enjoy the tropical nature and tranquility of this remote and beautiful place.

Day 3: Free Day for Jungle Adventures in Río Pacuare 

Zip-lining through the rainforest is an adventure you'll never forget
Zip-lining through the rainforest is an adventure you'll never forget

Today is purposely unscheduled—this is free time for you to explore the jungle-cloaked mountains of Río Pacuare together. Outdoor adventure options include zip lining through the rainforest canopy trees or canyoning El Tesorito Creek, where you'll descend a small waterfall, slide along cables, and rappel down a 30-meter rock face. 

You can also opt for a hike through the jungle to reach the legendary Sendero de las Mulas (mule trail), which is one of the main routes used by the Cabécar Indians. After the initial climb, you'll hike to the Nairi Awari Indigenous Reserve to reach the high point of this excursion: a hidden waterfall. Enjoy a picnic lunch at this scenic spot before hiking back along the trail to a Cabécar indigenous community.

Day 4: Rafting Class III-IV Rapids, Return to San José

Raft class III-IV rapids
Raft class III-IV rapids

This morning, you'll tackle a more challenging rafting route that lasts approximately 3½ hours over class III-IV rapids. Depart after breakfast and brace yourself for an exhilarating whitewater rafting experience. As you travel down Río Pacuare, expect to see beautiful canyons, waterfalls, and virgin forests. During the calmer stretches, be on the lookout for various species of birds and other wildlife that call the region home.

A deli-style lunch will be served on the riverbank en route, and you’ll have a chance to change into dry clothes before your transfer back to the capital city. Once you arrive in San José, you will have the rest of night to explore perhaps taking advantage of anything you may have missed at the beginning of the trip. 

Day 5: Depart San José

The Plaza Juan Mora Fernandez
The Plaza Juan Mora Fernandez

It's time to say adios to Costa Rica. Depending on your departure time, you'll have the morning to explore more of San José or relax in a coffee shop before boarding your flight.

Map

Map of Rafting & Romance in the Jungle - 5 Days
Map of Rafting & Romance in the Jungle - 5 Days