Get off the beaten path on this weeklong luxury adventure around Costa Rica's beautiful landscapes. After a day exploring the capital city, you'll travel to the Osa Peninsula for a sunset birdwatching tour around Drake Bay. Explore Corcovado National Park on a guided hike, then look for whales and dolphins in the wild on a boat tour. You'll sleep in luxury hotels throughout the week and finish the trip in the Arenal region with a visit to a sloth habitat and a wildlife rehabilitation center.

Highlights

  • Spot whales and dolphins off the coast of the Osa Peninsula on a boat tour
  • Snorkel offshore and discover a rich variety of marine life
  • Go on a birdwatching trip in the Osa Peninsula's dense jungle at sunset
  • Spot snakes and one of the world's most deadly frogs on a nighttime rainforest walk

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in San José, Explore Downtown  San José
Day 2 Transfer to Drake Bay & Take a Birdwatching Tour Drake Bay
Day 3 Hike in Corcovado National Park Drake Bay
Day 4 Whale & Dolphin Tour on Drake Bay Drake Bay
Day 5 Continue to Arenal & Relax in La Fortuna La Fortuna
Day 6 See Sloths in the Wild & Visit a Wildlife Rehabilitation Center La Fortuna
Day 7 Depart Costa Rica  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in San José, Explore Downtown

The National Theater
The National Theater in San José

Welcome to Costa Rica! A driver will transfer you from the airport to your hotel in San José. After settling in, go for a self-guided walking tour of downtown. Depending on your hotel's location, you can walk or take a taxi to your first destination: Mercado Central (Central Market), featuring over 200 shops, food stalls, and sodas (traditional restaurants). It's a short walk to Central Park, a small plaza always bustling with activity. Pass various outdoor sculptures as you walk through the park toward Catedral Metropolitana and continue walking down Central Avenue until you reach the Teatro Nacional, an opulent Neoclassical building constructed in the late 19th century. 

Your first museum stop is the Museo del Oro Precolumbino, which is accessible from beneath the Plaza de la Cultura and holds the most extensive Pre-Columbian gold collection in Latin America. Next, head to the Museo del Jade, the world's largest collection of pre-Columbian jade artifacts. As you wander among thousands of unique jade pieces, you'll gain an even deeper appreciation for Costa Rica's rich history. 

Read about the top restaurant recommendations in San José here.

Day 2: Transfer to Drake Bay & Take a Birdwatching Tour

The beautiful toucan is one of many birding highlights in Corcovado National Park
A toucan in Corcovado National Park

Return to San José International Airport this morning and board a short flight to Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula. When you land, you'll be transferred to your hotel. The luxurious Lapa Rios Lodge is an excellent option.

This evening, you'll go on a birdwatching adventure. Starting in time to see the sun setting over Drake Bay, the tour will take you into the wild jungle at one of the peak times for avian activity. Your experienced guides will help you to identify the bird species, pointing out different species' behavior and food sources, as well as their colors, sizes, and calls. You may spot various tanagers, toucans, motmots, trogons, flycatchers, hummingbirds, and several birds of prey.

After your jungle hike, you'll return to Drake Bay. Though you might like to check out the Ultimate Guide to the Osa Peninsula for more travel inspiration.

Day 3: Hike in Corcovado National Park

A king vulture alights on a branch near San Pedrillo in Corcovado National Park - image by scigelova
A king vulture in Corcovado National Park (photo courtesy of scigelova)

Starting at Agujitas Beach on Drake Bay, today's exciting adventure takes you to an interesting and remote part of Corcovado National Park. The park is home to species including the endangered giant anteater, harpy eagle, tapir, and jungle cats like the jaguar and puma.

Begin your journey with a 30-minute boat trip south down the peninsula's western shore to the San Pedrillo Ranger Station, one of the park's checkpoints. Boats here come in bow first, and you must splash the final distance to shore—an exciting experience reminiscent of what early explorers of this remote region would have done. You'll be in the San Pedrillo area for approximately five to six hours, with time for hiking, wildlife spotting, relaxing on the beach, and cooling off in waterfalls and swimming holes. Afterward, you'll return to Agujitas Beach by boat.

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Day 4: Whale & Dolphin Tour on Drake Bay

Spotting dolphins during the tour
Spotting dolphins during the tour

On the far side of the Osa Peninsula is a secluded sandy curve of Drake Bay. In these unspoiled waters, you'll go on a boat trip to see several species of whales and dolphins. Dolphin viewing is possible here year-round due to large resident pods of dolphins. Spotted, bottlenose, spinner, common, and rough-tooth dolphins are regularly seen. Southern migration whales, including the distinctive humpbacks, can be spotted from mid-July to October, while northern migration whales can be seen from mid-November through April.

The lush, secluded backdrop, where the wilderness of Corcovado National Park meets the Pacific Ocean, is a further highlight of your adventure. Depending on the weather, you may have the opportunity to go snorkeling to see turtles, manta rays, and other marine life. 

Read this article for more about the best nature experiences in Costa Rica.

Day 5: Continue to Arenal & Relax in La Fortuna

Steam emerging from Arenal, one of Costa Rica's most famous volcanoes
Steam emerging from Arenal Volcano

In the morning, you'll head to the airport and catch a flight back to San José. From there, transfer to La Fortuna, the closest town to Arenal Volcano.

You'll check in at the elegant Tabacón Thermal Resort & Spa, then have the rest of the afternoon and evening free to enjoy the area. Take the edge off the day's long journey with a soak in one of the region's natural hot springs.

For dinner, hit the town and sample one of the many restaurants here. Solid dining options include Don Rufino, an upscale grill with a good wine list; Cafe Mediterraneo, an Italian restaurant with fresh pasta and a wood-fired pizza oven; and Rancho Perla, serving up Costa Rican staples like beef, chicken, and seafood. You might spot toucans, iguanas, and even sloths in the trees near your table.

Day 6: See Sloths in the Wild & Visit a Wildlife Rehabilitation Center

Look up to see wildlife
A sloth in the trees

Go on a hiking excursion today along the so-called "Sloth Trail." This nature trail cuts through a sloth habitat (two-toed and three-toed) where its residents 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, you'll visit Proyecto Asis, a rehabilitation and rescue center for local animals. Led by a naturalist, the tour begins with a brief introduction to the center, followed by a walk along the trails around the reserve. You'll stop in front of each animal enclosure to learn about its residents. While the animals at the center vary, visitors will likely see anteaters, snakes, monkeys, parrots, and sloths. Volunteer tours also offer you the chance to help care for the animals during your visit, preparing food and helping to feed them.

Day 7: Depart Costa Rica

Sunset in Costa Rica
The trip ends today. You'll transfer to the airport in San José to catch your flight out. Safe travels!

More Great Costa Rica Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Costa Rica? Check out these other Costa Rica itineraries, explore different ways to spend a week in Costa Rica, or discover the best time to visit Costa Rica.

Map

Map of Wildlife Luxury Adventure in Arenal & the Osa Peninsula - 7 Days
Map of Wildlife Luxury Adventure in Arenal & the Osa Peninsula - 7 Days
Yenyi
Written by Yenyi Fu, updated Jul 20, 2022