- Take a hike around Arenal Volcano and soak in volcanic hot springs
- Explore the Monteverde Cloud Forest on a guided nature tour
- Kayak in Manuel Antonio National Park and snorkel offshore
- Enjoy a swim and a picnic on the shores of Biesanz Bay
|Day 1||Arrive in San José, Explore the Rainforest at Night||Arenal/La Fortuna|
|Day 2||Sloth & Bird Hike, Soak in Hot Springs||Arenal/La Fortuna|
|Day 3||Taste Costa Rican Coffee, Nighttime Nature Walk||Monteverde|
|Day 4||Guided Monteverde Cloud Forest Tour||Monteverde|
|Day 5||Tárcoles River Crocodiles and on to Manuel Antonio||Manuel Antonio|
|Day 6||Explore Manuel Antonio National Park||Manuel Antonio|
|Day 7||Depart Costa Rica|
Day 1: Arrive in San José, Explore the Rainforest at Night
Welcome to Costa Rica! You'll arrive in San José, and your driver will transport you to your hotel in La Fortuna (around three hours, depending on traffic). You'll head to Ecocentro Danaus in the late afternoon, a private ecological reserve located 3 miles (4.5 km) east of La Fortuna. Here, you'll wait for nightfall to embark on a guided nature hike and discover the reserve's nocturnal creatures.
As you walk, your guide will point out various insects, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals. Enjoy spotting bullfrogs, the iconic red-eyed tree frog, the translucent glass frog, and perhaps the brightly colored poison dart frog, one of the planet's most poisonous frogs.
Day 2: Sloth & Bird Hike, Soak in Hot Springs
Go on a hiking excursion today along the so-called "Sloth Trail." This nature trail cuts through a habitat for sloths (both two-toed and three-toed) who like to hang on the branches of the trees and feed on bright green leaves. On this two-hour guided hike, you'll see a few of these animals and perhaps even spy a mother sloth and its baby. During the walk, your bilingual guide will also point out other animals common to this area, like the famous red-eyed tree frog.
In the afternoon, discover the La Fortuna area with a hike around Arenal Volcano and other nearby nature reserves. Start at the entrance of the 1968 Trail, where you'll hit the well-maintained trails that skirt the base of the Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal. This 1.5-hour route offers some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities in the park, and your naturalist guide will keep a well-trained eye out for exotic birds, monkeys, and other animals along the way. After hiking the trails, your guide will drop you off at Tabacon Hot Springs so you can soothe your muscles with a dip in mineral-rich waters.
Find out more about hiking around Arenal Volcano here.
Day 3: Taste Costa Rican Coffee, Nighttime Nature Walk
From your hotel, you'll transfer to the boat dock at the shores of Lake Arenal, where you'll board a boat and journey to the other side of the lake. Upon arrival, you'll officially be in the Monteverde region of Costa Rica. First, you'll walk through a local coffee plantation, where you'll have the opportunity to identify and learn about the coffee plant first-hand. Your guide will walk you through every step of the process, from harvesting to roasting and brewing, and show you the simplest way to prepare a perfect cup of coffee.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 4: Guided Monteverde Cloud Forest Tour
Transfer from your hotel to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, one of Costa Rica's ecological crown jewels. Known as the "green lung of Costa Rica" due to its rich biodiversity, this sprawling reserve is high in the country's mountainous northwest region. On a guided tour, you'll get an overview of the incredible biodiversity of this region, where upland and lowland rainforest meet. More than 350 bird species live here, including the quetzal. It's a nature lover's paradise.
Check out the Best Things to Do in Monteverde for more ideas of what to see and do.
Day 5: Transfer to Manuel Antonio National Park
After breakfast, you'll transfer to Manuel Antonio National Park in a private, air-conditioned minivan. The drive takes approximately five hours, depending on traffic. You'll stop along the way in the town of Tárcoles and make your way to a bridge over the Tárcoles River. The river is famous for having the largest American crocodile population in Central America, and this is your chance to see these toothy reptiles in the wild. You can usually see at least a dozen sunbathing on the riverbanks or floating in the water from the bridge.
Continue to Manuel Antonio National Park, check in to your hotel, and get some rest before the next day's excursion. If you have the energy or inclination, both the beach and the edge of the national park are close to town, so you can easily spend time here with water sports on Espadilla Beach or a hike on the trails through the forest. You can also explore the adjacent town of Quepos for sunset views. Or you may prefer to take it easy, wandering at your own pace and stopping for dinner in a local restaurant. Here are some dining recommendations for Manual Antonio.
Day 6: Explore Manuel Antonio National Park
Today you'll go on a guided tour to explore the pristine natural beauty of the world-famous Manuel Antonio National Park, filled with exotic wildlife such as monkeys, sloths, birds, reptiles, and butterflies. Your picturesque hike will take you to one of the country's best beaches, known for its white sandy beaches and crystalline blue waters. Have your camera ready as your knowledgeable guide points out diverse flora and fauna along the way.
Check out the Ultimate Guide to Manuel Antonio National Park for more information.