- Surf and kayak around Tamarindo Bay
- Take a road trip down the Nicoya Peninsula
- Soak in natural hot springs at Arenal Volcano area
- Brave the rapids of the Sarapiquí River
|Day 1||Liberia to Tamarindo - Self Drive||Tamarindo|
|Day 2||Private Surf Lesson at Playa Tamarindo||Tamarindo|
|Day 3||SUP in Tamarindo||Hacienda Pinilla|
|Day 4||Free Day at Hacienda Pinilla||Hacienda Pinilla|
|Day 5||Kayak Tamarindo||Hacienda Pinilla|
|Day 6||Tamarindo to Nosara - Optional Beach Excursion||Nosara Beach|
|Day 7||Nosara Mangrove Tour - SUP Paddle Board||Nosara Beach|
|Day 8||Nosara to Arenal - Self Drive||Arenal/La Fortuna|
|Day 9||Hike Arenal 1968 - Tabacón Hot Springs||Arenal/La Fortuna|
|Day 10||Sarapiquí River Rafting||La Fortuna|
|Day 11||Arenal to Liberia depart Costa Rica|
Day 1: Liberia to Tamarindo - Self Drive
Welcome to Costa Rica! Liberia is the northern hub of Guanacaste Province, an area famous for both its Pacific beaches and inland mountainous regions. You'll get to experience all of it on this self-driving Costa Rican road trip.
After touching down at Daniel Oduber Quirós International airport, you'll meet our representative and pick up your rental vehicle. Get behind the wheel and travel about 1.5 hours west to Tamarindo, on the Pacific coast. On the way you'll pass along the tropical dry forest of Guanacaste until you reach the azure waters of the Pacific. After arriving in the popular surf village of Tamarindo, check into your luxurious villa at Hacienda Pinilla and spend the rest of the day unwinding.
Day 2: Private Surf Lesson at Playa Tamarindo
This morning you'll receive a private lesson on Playa Tamarindo, then you'll have the rest of the day on your own to ride the waves or just relax on the beach.
Another must-visit surf spot near Tamarindo is Playa Naranjo, which locals have nicknamed "Witch’s Rock." It's located in a national park and accessible only by boat. Made famous by the film "The Endless Summer II," Naranjo features big surf with both left and right-breaking waves, meaning it is ideal for any surf style. A few miles beyond here is Ollie’s Point, which has right-breaking waves only. This is a big area, so it won’t feel quite as crowded as Witch’s Rock.
You can also take a yoga class at one of Tamarindo's local studios (optional) and then wander around town, stopping at a café for a snack or meal.
Day 3: SUP in Tamarindo
If you'd like to spend a more mellow day on the water while still being active, stand-up paddle-boarding is the excursion for you. Rent a board and hit Tamarindo Bay. Not only will you enjoy the scenery from out on the water, but you'll get a full-body workout, too. If you've never paddle-boarded before that isn't a problem—individual and group classes are readily available in Tamarindo.
Day 4: Free Day at Hacienda Pinilla
Today is yours to relax on Hacienda Pinilla's sprawling 4,500 acres however you see fit. You can choose from any number of luxurious amenities, be it the private beaches, health spa, hiking and biking trails, wildlife spotting and birding, or simply staking your claim at the poolside tiki bar.
You can also partake in an optional tour. These include: surfing or stand-up paddle-boarding, snorkeling excursions, a catamaran tour, horseback riding, a mangrove kayak outing, and more.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 5: Kayak Tamarindo
On the agenda today is some kayaking around Tamarindo Bay. Not only that, you'll also be paddling out to Capitán Island, located just a couple hundred meters offshore (about a 20-minute trip. As you paddle over the azure waters near Playa Tamarindo you'll eventually reach the crystalline waters and white-sand beaches of the island.
Here you'll have an opportunity to do some snorkeling and observe the underwater coral reef, which abounds with exotic fish. This tour is perfect to enjoy with the entire family (snorkeling equipment and drinking water included). Be sure to bring sunscreen.
Day 6: Tamarindo to Nosara - Optional Beach Excursion
Today you will hit the road again, this time driving south from Tamarindo towards another great surf spot, Nosara. The trip itself only takes a couple hours, but there are plenty of places you can stop along the way for a drink, food, or a dip in the water.
For example, Playa Avellanas (just south of Tamarindo) is a famous surfing beach (nicknamed "little Hawaii" for its large waves), and it's also home to Lola's Beach Bar. This is perhaps the most famous watering hole in Guanacaste Province, thanks in large part to Lolita, the resident pig who doubles as the bar's official mascot.
Once you arrive in Nosara you'll check into your hotel. If you still have energy, there are other beaches you can explore nearby, such as Sámara and Carillo.
Day 7: Nosara Mangrove Tour - SUP Paddle Board
Nosara is interesting in that it is home to the Boca Nosara, a river mouth where both the Nosara and Montana rivers converge. Where these rivers meet the ocean is a section of mangrove wetlands home to an abundance of marine life. It's also the departure point for many kayak and SUP tours in Nosara.
Today you'll paddle around while also taking in the region's exotic flora and fauna. Birders will enjoy the sights of egrets, kingfishers, and spoonbills, and you might even get lucky and spot a crocodile or two. Tours typically involve a stop at a remote beach where you'll enjoy some fresh fruit.
Day 8: Nosara to Arenal - Self Drive
Today you'll hop back in your vehicle and leave Nosara for Arenal, further inland and to the east. As you leave the tropical dry scrub of Guanacaste you'll note the transformation of the landscape as you enter the higher-elevation rainforests of Alajuela Province.
This 4.5-hour route will take you through little villages emblematic of rural Costa Rican life. You can break up the drive by stopping along the way and enjoying lunch at a local "soda." These smaller Costa Rican eateries are typically family run and offer set menus. Sampling one is a great way to indulge in local culture.
Back on the road, if skies are clear, views of the imposing namesake volcano will announce your arrival to Arenal. After checking into your hotel in La Fortuna, you can relax and enjoy the hotel's amenities or even take a dip in a relaxing natural hot spring.
Day 9: Hike Arenal 1968 - Tabacón Hot Springs
After breakfast, you can take the morning to relax. In the early afternoon, you'll visit Arenal 1968, a private reserve named after the year of the last major eruption of the volcano. The event was so catastrophic that it transformed some of the region’s topography: lava fields now dominate one side of Arenal. Trails wind through those lava fields as well as the surrounding rainforest. Along the way, you'll find lookout points featuring prime views of the volcano.
After hiking the trails, soothe your muscles with a dip in the mineral-rich waters in and around the Tabacón Thermal Resort. These hot springs have been used as therapeutic baths for more than 200 years, and the resort includes a spa where various treatments, like couples massages, are performed in outdoor bungalows.
End the day with a nice dinner at the resort’s restaurant, which serves Costa Rican dishes as well as international fare.
Day 10: Sarapiquí River Rafting
Located in the Arenal/La Fortuna area, the Sarapiquí River’s La Virgen section is an ideal introduction to white water rafting. This trip begins in La Fortuna, where our expert guide will pick you up and drive you 1.5 hours to the river. The Class II-III rapids here are perfect for first-time paddlers looking for a challenge or families interested in a wet roller coaster ride. With nicknames like Gringo’s Hole, Confusion, and Air Force, you can bet the excitement will live up to the hype.
But the adventure is only half the experience—there's also ample opportunity for spotting exotic wildlife in the rainforests that hug the riverbanks. You'll certainly see tropical birds like scarlet macaws as well as primate residents like howler monkeys. You'll also stop at little pools between the rapids for a swim. Of course, lunch will be provided on this excursion.
Day 11: Arenal to Liberia depart Costa Rica
It's time to say adiós to Costa Rica! After breakfast, you'll begin the 2.5-hour drive to Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport, in Guanacaste’s capital city of Liberia, for your return flight home.