Costa Rica's Guanacaste Province is an eco-playground with plentiful beaches and large expanses of protected rainforest. This guide covers everything you need to know to discover this Pacific gem—you'll be learning to surf in Tamarindo or visiting the cascading falls of Viento Fresco in no time.
Best of Guanacaste Pacific Coast
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Guanacaste Pacific Coast Essentials
Costa Rica is blessed with countless beautiful beaches, but two destinations that consistently top the list are Manuel Antonio and Tamarindo. Both offer stunning coastlines, abundant activities, and unique experiences, but each has its own distinct charm. In this guide, our local specialists, Randall Jiménez, Sergio Bolaños , Yuliana Valverde and Olman Romero help you decide which beach destination is the perfect fit for your Costa Rican adventure, covering aspects like activities, wildlife, accessibility, nightlife, and accommodation.
Despite being a small surf town, Tamarindo is officially on the radar of intrepid travelers seeking a slice of tropical paradise. Restaurants continue to pop up to meet the growing demand, and now visitors can find everything from shrimp burgers at a chilled-out seafood shack to beachside fine-dining, flame-grilled barbecue buffets, and even gluten-free Sicilian pizza. Here are eight best bets for getting your grub on in Tamarindo.
One of the most popular experiences in Costa Rica is observing the mighty sea turtles. For thousands of years, several turtle species have used Costa Rican beaches to safely lay their eggs, with each turtle laying roughly 60 to 100 eggs at a time. About two months later, baby turtles wriggle out of the sand and make their way to the surf. Two of the best places to observe nesting and hatching are Guanacaste and Tortuguero, and kimkim provides details on which tours to choose.
On the north end of Costa Rica's Pacific coast lies the Gulf of Papagayo, a tropical beach-laden region that's still relatively undiscovered. As remote as Papagayo is, you'll find many options for grabbing a bite. Most are centered in Playas del Coco, where you'll find (very) fresh seafood, vegetarian Lebanese cuisine, and authentic Italian fare. The list below also includes a beachfront option in Playa Ocotal and innovative Asian-fusion in Playa Hermosa.
From vibrant cities to humble artisanal villages, protected jungles to stretches of farmland, and sweet chocolate to rich rum, Costa Rica is a country full of cultural experiences. You can enjoy cooking classes to discover traditional recipes; learn how farmers grow and process important exports like coffee, chocolate, and sugar cane; visit hamlets known for artisan crafts; or tour museums and beloved neighborhoods in the heart of San José.
Enjoy the incredible scenery of Costa Rica's Gulf of Papagayo, a large stretch of coastline offering some of the best beaches in the country. Set along the Guanacaste region, you can enjoy water sports, including sailing, paddling, and snorkeling, or watch the famous Pacific green turtles nest on the beach at night. Explore natural parks with adventures like hiking, horseback riding, and soaking in hot springs, or view some of Costa Rica's most beloved wildlife, such as monkeys and sloths.
Set in Guanacaste Province, Tamarindo is a dreamy coastal escape with long white-sand beaches known worldwide for surfing. It's idyllic for relaxing and offers several adventures, including snorkeling or diving in the nearby Catalina Islands, boating through the famed Tamarindo Estuary, and exploring dense wetlands teeming with wildlife. To make your visit a bit more cultural, try visiting a traditional hacienda and learn the secrets behind the region's rum-making techniques.
The hidden coves and beaches along the Gulf of Papagayo's rugged coastline offer a relaxing and active stay. Spend your days sunbathing at the beach or enjoy ventures like kayaking, snorkeling, and paddleboarding in the protected waters. And if you're after that beachfront experience, this region offers plenty of options.
If you're planning to visit Tamarindo, it's probably for its renowned beaches and coastline. To truly experience this region's famous shores, you might want to stay in a beachfront hotel or lodgings that offer direct beach access. You'll find plenty of options, from luxury hotels with sports equipment to standard accommodation with common spaces right on the sand.
Boutique hotels in Tamarindo offer a blend of relaxation and authenticity while in the middle of the buzz on the region's famed white-sand beaches. You can choose from luxury hillside hotels, beachfront villas with bohemian vibes, and standard hotels with unique amenities, like happy hour, surf lessons, and beach clubs.
Sporty travelers, adventure seekers, and outdoor enthusiasts will find endless active experiences in Costa Rica, a country filled with rainforests, beaches, coral reefs, volcanoes, national parks, waterfalls, rivers, and more—all waiting to be discovered. In Costa Rica, you can rappel into canyons, raft through whitewater rapids, mountain bike near active volcanoes, hike through national parks, surf at world-renowned beaches, snorkel above reefs, zipline through the rainforest, and more!
Tamarindo's reputation for tropical white-sand beaches makes it an ideal spot for a romantic trip. Couples can enjoy relaxing on the beach and taking in the sunsets or combine their vacation with something more active, like kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, or learning how to surf. And to enhance your stay, opt for accommodation with perks like private hot tubs, spa treatments, outdoor showers, and beach views.
Though Tamarindo is known for its idyllic coves, inlets, and white-sand beaches, sometimes you need a break from the surf and want to relax by the pool. Tamarindo has several lodging choices that offer swimming pools, including many with multiple pools or areas where you can relax in sunloungers and still enjoy those ocean views.
Costa Rica offers adventures suitable for all ages, making it an excellent choice for a family vacation. Kids and adults alike love spotting wildlife, ziplining through cloud forests, learning how to surf, touring organic farms, and much more. The unique experiences you can enjoy in Costa Rica—a country leading the world in eco-tourism and wildlife conservation—will leave a lasting impression on the entire family for years to come.
With such an idyllic setting, Tamarindo offers plenty of beautiful mid-range and luxury boutique hotels to enhance your stay along the region's famed coastline. Choose from luxury hillside hotels, beachfront cabins, villas with private pools, and bungalows with bohemian vibes.
Many visitors choose to stay in Tamarindo for its incredible coastline, beaches, and opportunities for water sports. Surfers from all over the world come here to catch waves, which means there's plenty of entertainment, restaurants, and local shops to enjoy. Some of the best standard hotels in Tamarindo double as surf schools, so you can enjoy the total experience.
Guanacaste Pacific Coast Itineraries
This five-day beach getaway takes you to the heart of Guanacaste Province, in northwestern Costa Rica. You'll have plenty of time to relax and soak up the unique landscapes and beaches of the region, with just the right amount of adventure thrown in.
Great for travelers flying in and out of the Liberia airport, this 4-day beach getaway takes you to the heart of Guanacaste. You'll have plenty of time to relax and soak up the unique landscapes and beaches of the region, with just the right amount of adventure thrown in.
Eight to 10 days is the most popular trip length for Costa Rica travelers interested in visiting the Gulf of Papagayo, especially when also including Arenal/La Fortuna and Monteverde. For travelers wanting to visit the Gulf of Papagayo exclusively, plan about 5 days for a well-paced trip. A fast-paced highlights trip is possible in 3 or 4 days for travelers with limited time. Check out our favorite Gulf of Papagayo trips below.
This eight-day itinerary is perfect for travelers seeking a balanced beach holiday, laced with organized day trips and free time by the water. Land in Liberia, the hub of Costa Rica's Guanacaste province, and head south to the popular surf town of Tamarindo Beach. Spend your days riding the waves, swimming, kayaking and snorkeling, and diving through the reefs of some of the most beautiful Pacific waters rich with exotic marine life. Bookmark day trips to Rincón de la Vieja Volcano and Rio Negro Hot Springs, Las Catalinas Islands, and Capitán Island, too.
Escape to Costa Rica's tropical Gulf of Papagayo on this luxury five-day beach break. Check into a boutique hotel steps from peaceful Playa Hermosa, where you can swim, snorkel, and laze on golden sands to your heart's content. Explore the area's pristine nature with a private ocean kayaking trip and a high-octane adventure tour in the Río Blanco Canyon, complete with ziplining, tubing, and a soak in the hot springs.
From visiting an indigenous village to riding horses in a national park to snorkeling with tropical fish, this six-day itinerary around Costa Rica offers a mix of cultural and outdoor activities. Start at Rincón de la Vieja National Park, where you'll soak in natural hot springs, then move on to the Gulf of Papagayo for a sunset sail, a jungle cruise, and a visit to an indigenous village. End your trip with a snorkeling adventure offshore the Catalina Islands.
Trek to aquamarine waterfalls, snorkel with giant manta rays, and boat through pristine waters at sunset on this invigorating 8-day adventure around Costa Rica. Families will love exploring the country's spectacular landscapes on this itinerary that begins in Arenal with volcano hikes, dips in hot springs, and sloth spotting in the wild. The trip then moves on to the surf hub of Tamarindo for several days of kayaking through mangroves, snorkeling around the Catalina Islands, and observing dolphins, crocodiles, and monkeys in their natural habitat.
This seven-day itinerary is perfect for travelers who want a comprehensive beach holiday. You'll arrive in Liberia, the hub of Costa Rica's Guanacaste Province. From the airport, head south to Playa Sámara, a coastal village on the Nicoya Peninsula. Then, make the drive back north to the popular surf town of Tamarindo, where you'll spend your days riding the waves and taking part in nature excursions—you might even get to see nesting sea turtles, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Experience the best of Costa Rica's tropical forests and beaches on this weeklong itinerary. You'll explore the rainforest via suspension bridges and zipline tours while spotting exotic birds, playful monkeys, and other wildlife. Then, it's on to the western Nicoya Peninsula for a few days spent snorkeling, swimming, and relaxing at the beach.
Time to hit the open road and enjoy the wonders of Costa Rica on this 11-day self-drive tour. Your adventure begins on the Pacific beaches of Tamarindo and Nosara, both gems of Costa Rica's Guanacaste Province. On top of exploring and surfing these beaches, you'll make pit stops in coastal villages and glean insight into the local culture. Continue your journey eastward to the towering Arenal Volcano. Here you will soak in natural hot springs and brave whitewater rapids on a rafting trip.
Travelers to Costa Rica typically plan a trip for 8 to 10 days when combining both Arenal and Gulf of Papagayo with Monteverde. If you're only headed to Arenal and Gulf of Papagayo, you can enjoy a comfortably-paced trip in 7 to 8 days. Even travelers with limited time can see the highlights in as few as 5 or 6 days. Read on for the best itineraries including Arenal, Gulf of Papagayo, and beyond.
Experience a perfect blend of cloud forests and tropical beaches on this eight-day Costa Rican road trip. Start your adventure in Arenal, where you'll explore the rainforest via suspension bridges and zipline tours while spotting exotic birds and playful monkeys. After some exhilarating whitewater rafting and volcano hiking excursions, you'll head to the western Nicoya Peninsula to wind down with snorkeling, swimming, and relaxing on the white sands of Tamarindo.
Enjoy the best of the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica in just one week. Upon arrival, head to Rincón de la Vieja to explore the national park—which hosts a plethora of volcanic activity—embark on a ziplining adventure over White River Canyon, and enjoy some relaxing downtime in your hotel’s spa and natural hot springs. Next, venture to stunning Tamarindo Beach for some fun in the sun. Go surfing and beach hopping, before boarding an unforgettable sunset catamaran—complete with reef snorkeling.
Nine to 10 days is the most popular trip length for Costa Rica travelers interested in visiting Arenal/La Fortuna and Tamarindo, especially when also including San José and Monteverde. If you're only headed to Arenal/La Fortuna and Tamarindo, you can enjoy a comfortably-paced trip in six to eight days. Even if you're pressed for time, you can see the highlights in as few as five days.
Enjoy the ultimate couple's adventure on the northwest coast of Costa Rica. Over just five days, you'll take part in catamaran tours, sunset horseback rides, snorkeling excursions, and candlelit dinners on the beach. The grand finale is a kayaking trip to remote islands, followed by a meeting with an Indigenous tribe to complete this memorable trip.
This active weeklong journey around Costa Rica is perfect for families and lovers of the great outdoors! You'll base yourself in Arenal for the first few days, going on nighttime wildlife hikes through the rainforest, balancing high above the trees on the famed Hanging Bridges, spotting sloths in their natural habitat, and soaking in natural hot springs. Continue to the surf town of Tamarindo, your home base, to explore a gorgeous coastal landscape. Snorkel around a coral reef, sail on a catamaran at sunset, and cruise past mangroves on an estuary boat tour—these are just a few of the highlights of this thrilling seven-day trip.
Unforgettable outdoor experiences await on this colorful week-long journey around Costa Rica's beautiful landscapes. Spend the first part of the week exploring Rincón de la Vieja National Park, enjoying rainforest hikes and a dip in hot springs heated by a volcano. Then move on to the pristine Gulf of Papagayo for several days of boating through mangroves and snorkeling around a coral reef with tropical fish, manta rays, and sea turtles. Featuring a sunset catamaran cruise and several waterfall hikes, this family-friendly itinerary takes you to the best of Costa Rica's wilderness.
Enjoy a romantic Costa Rican getaway with this luxurious seven-day itinerary. Travel from the rainforests of Arenal to the beach-studded Gulf of Papagayo, staying in 5-star secluded cabins and private pool villas. Along the way, you'll explore pristine national parks with your beloved on foot and horseback, discovering crashing waterfalls, volcanic landscapes, and healing hot springs. Highlights include couples' spa sessions, sunset catamaran cruises, and private surfing lessons.
Costa Rica is a favorite destination for all ages. This 10-day adventure allows your family to experience the highlights of the country from the towering Arenal Volcano, to the spectacular, remote beaches of Guanacaste. There are plenty of kid-friendly activities along the way, from sampling locally produced chocolate, to zip lining through the trees, to surf lessons in the Pacific.
Surf lessons, whitewater rafting, river tubing, and nighttime jungle hikes are on the agenda for this active 10-day trip around Costa Rica. Designed with families in mind, this itinerary features a wide range of exciting outdoor activities to entertain travelers of all ages. Frolic in the mud at the Río Negro Hot Springs, brave the rapids of the Río Balsa, learn to catch a wave in Tamarindo, and cruise around the Gulf of Papagayo at sunset—it's all part of the fun on this family-friendly adventure!
Learn to surf, go whitewater rafting, and spot sloths in the wild on this action-packed 11-day trip around Costa Rica. Created for families, the itinerary is full of outdoor adventures. Start with zip-lining and a dip in hot springs in Rincón de la Vieja National Park, then brave the river rapids in Arenal before moving on to coastal Tamarindo for surf lessons and beach time. Wrap up the itinerary on the beautiful Gulf of Papagayo, where you'll enjoy a sunset cruise and a mangrove boat tour.
On this family-oriented 8-day adventure, you'll explore Costa Rica's top natural attractions, from the towering Arenal Volcano and its nearby hot springs to the beautiful beaches of Guanacaste. The itinerary takes you to three distinct regions: Arenal and La Fortuna, the Monteverde cloud forest, and the pristine Gulf of Papagayo. There are plenty of kid-friendly activities along the way, including waterfall hikes, wildlife viewing tours, and a jungle canopy adventure, plus optional excursions to try kayaking and whitewater rafting.
This eight-day trip to Costa Rica offers an array of adventures in a variety of landscapes, from the city to the cloud forest to the sea. Enjoy hiking near an active volcano, some of the world's best bird-watching, paddleboarding across a lagoon, and snorkeling with sea turtles. Begin in Arenal for nature walks, then transfer to Monteverde for zipline tours of the forest canopy. End in Tamarindo—a surfer's paradise.
Experience Costa Rica's cuisine on this eight-day itinerary that will have you visiting food stalls at San José's Mercado Central, trying your hand at traditional recipes in a cooking class, and sampling coffee at a plantation. You'll also have time to relax and experience the jungles and beaches the country is known for.
Get out and explore the spectacular natural landscapes of Costa Rica on this lively itinerary. This family-oriented adventure is well suited to travelers with younger children. You'll spot sloths and monkeys in the wild on a guided jungle hike, soak in natural hot springs, sail down the Gold Coast at sunset, and have the chance to try snorkeling off the Catalina Islands. With a mix of active excursions and relaxation, this 8-day journey is terrific for all ages.
Combine adrenaline-pumping adventure with a relaxing beach holiday on this 8-day active tour of northwest Costa Rica. Snorkel and sail in the turquoise Gulf of Papagayo, then transfer to Monteverde for an immersive rainforest experience. After touring a local coffee farm and soaring through the treetops of the country’s most famous cloud forest, you’ll end your trip in the shadow of Arenal Volcano—hiking the lush El Silencio reserve and rafting the rapids of the Rio Balsa.
Delve into Costa Rica's fascinating traditions and magnificent landscapes on this eight-day tour that blends culture and nature. Highlights along the journey include a cooking class with a Costa Rican chef, tours of two local farms to learn about agriculture and rural life, and a visit to an indigenous community, where you'll have the chance to purchase handicrafts. You'll also go horseback riding to La Fortuna Waterfall, enjoy a jungle cruise in Palo Verde National Park, and sail on the Gulf of Papagayo at sunset.
Travel to three of the best destinations in Costa Rica to ride the waves on this 6-day trip. Start in Playa Santa Teresa, home to major surf competitions and some of the most consistent waves in the country. End the adventure in Playa Tamarindo for surf days that end with glorious Pacific Coast sunsets. You'll also have time to relax on the beach and get acquainted with the country's vast wildlife.
Venture into Costa Rica's pristine landscapes on this 6-day itinerary featuring boat tours, jungle hikes, and wildlife viewing. An excellent choice for families, the adventure begins with a day of cultural sightseeing in historic San José. Then you'll move onward to the cloud forest of Monteverde, where you'll trek to waterfalls and visit the country's largest butterfly garden. Base yourself in Tamarindo for the last part of the trip, enjoying a sunset catamaran tour and a safari-style float down a jungle river to spot crocodiles in the wild.
Some 25% of the total area of Costa Rica is protected. You'll see evidence of this in the country's many national parks and reserves—the goal being to ensure that Costa Rica's natural wonders and delicate eco-systems remain viable for years to come. This is great for visitors such as yourself, who can luxuriate in Costa Rica's natural beauty on this immersive 9-day itinerary.
Experience both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of Costa Rica — and all that's in between — on this 9-day adventure. Starting in the bustling capital of San Jose, you'll make your way to Tortuguero National Park, where you'll watch sea turtles hatch on the beach. Then head inland to the Monteverde Cloud Forest for incredible wildlife and rainforest trails. After two nights in the heart of the jungle, you'll travel to the sparkling waters of the Gulf of Papagayo. Here you'll go snorkeling and surfing, and end your journey with a spectacular sunset cruise around the bay.
From the heights of smoking volcanoes to the depths of a coral reef, this exciting 9-day tour leads the whole family around Costa Rica's most spectacular natural attractions. While exploring Rincón de la Vieja National Park, the Gulf of Papagayo, and the beautiful beaches of Sámara, you'll have plenty of opportunities to hike in the rainforest, splash in waterfalls, soak in hot springs, spot monkeys in the wild, and snorkel with tropical fish.
Costa Rica is a nation as biodiverse as it is beautiful. The best way to experience all this nature and beauty is by touring the country's many national parks, reserves, and protected areas. Also, no trip to Costa Rica is complete without visiting the famous Pacific coast. This nearly two-week itinerary delivers both these highlights with plenty of time to kick back, relax, and enjoy the Costa Rican way of living "Pura Vida!"
With cascading waterfalls, idyllic beaches, and smoking volcanoes, Costa Rica is an ideal destination for families. This exciting 6-day itinerary takes you to some of the country's major highlights. Hike around the towering Rincón de la Vieja Volcano, then go for a swim in Oropendola Waterfall. Then move on to the surf village of Tamarindo, where you'll learn to ride the waves during a private lesson. Finish the trip with a whitewater rafting adventure or a safari float before heading back to Liberia, where the journey comes to an end.
This 10-day itinerary combines mountain adventures with a bit of a beach holiday. Spend two days in Rincón de la Vieja exploring the area around one of the country's most active volcanoes. Then travel deeper inland to cross suspension bridges in the jungle, zip-line over trees, and enjoy guided hikes in La Fortuna and the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. You'll end your trip by returning to Guanacaste for relaxation on the beaches of Papagayo.
Experience a range of Costa Rica's top natural highlights on this family-oriented 7-day adventure. Beginning in Liberia, you'll explore Rincón de la Vieja National Park, home to a towering volcano of the same name. Next, you'll base yourself in the surf town of Tamarindo, a great jumping-off point for visiting the sun-kissed beaches and unspoiled rainforests of the Nicoya Peninsula. There are plenty of kid-friendly activities along the way, including waterfall hikes, kayak excursions, surf lessons, and whitewater rafting.
This 10-day adventure allows you to experience Costa Rica from both coasts. Visit San José, check out Tortuguero National Park, marvel at Arenal Volcano, and lounge on the remote beaches of Guanacaste. Enjoy plenty of activities along the way: watch sea turtles hatch on a Caribbean beach, sample locally produced chocolate, or take a surf lesson in the Pacific.
On this seven-day food-themed itinerary, you'll explore food stalls at San José's Mercado Central, learn how to make traditional dishes during a hands-on cooking class, and participate in chocolate making—one of Costa Rica's most important exports. You'll also experience the country's incredible natural surroundings with jungles, beaches, and plenty of relaxation.
This fun 9-day itinerary highlights Costa Rica's amazing natural scenery through a thrilling series of adventurous activities including whitewater rafting, kayaking, zip-lining, and more. Starting in the nation's capital, you'll make your way to rivers, jungles, waterfalls, and cone-shaped volcanoes, culminating on the Pacific coast with time to do some surfing in Tamarindo's famous beaches.
This 13-day itinerary is perfect for travelers who like to combine their mountain adventures with a bit of a beach holiday. After arriving at the airport in Liberia, you'll head to Rincón de la Vieja to explore the nature surrounding one of the country's most active volcanoes. Then travel deeper inland to spend a few days crossing suspension bridges, ziplining over trees, and hiking through the jungles of La Fortuna and the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. You'll end your trip by returning to Guanacaste for some relaxation on the beaches of Papagayo.
Combine lush rainforests and Pacific beaches on this relaxed, weeklong road-trip through Costa Rica. Starting in the vibrant capital of San José, you'll set out for the volcanic landscapes of Arenal, where scenic hikes and natural hot springs beckon. Continue to the rare cloud forests of Monteverde to zip-line through the canopy and discover nocturnal wildlife on an evening jungle tour. End your trip on the coast, where you can surf, snorkel, and relax on the tropical white sands of Tamarindo.
Escape to the lush rainforests and blissful beaches of northwest Costa Rica on this relaxing 5-day itinerary. Explore pristine cloud forests and brilliant blue rivers in the Río Celeste area, then transfer to the coast, where the white sands and crystalline waters of Playa Conchal beckon. With a perfect blend of laidback activities and lots of downtime, this quick Costa Rican getaway is sure to recharge your batteries.
This nine-day self-drive adventure covers three of Costa Rica's most distinct, exotic, and naturally beautiful regions: Arenal Volcano National Park, the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, and the Guanacaste Province's Pacific coast. Set off from the capital of San José to explore the lush jungles and imposing volcanoes of Arenal, then make your way to the cloud forests of Monteverde for ziplining and wildlife spotting. Head for the coast to end your trip on the spectacular beaches of the Guanacaste Province, where you can surf, snorkel, and go dolphin-watching on a sunset catamaran cruise.
Twelve to 14 days is the most popular trip length for Costa Rica travelers combining Arenal, Tortuguero, and Gulf of Papagayo with Monteverde. Without Monteverde, you can enjoy a comfortably-paced trip in 9 to 10 days. Even travelers with limited time can see the highlights in as few as 7 or 8 days. Check out our favorite trips including Arenal, Tortuguero, and Gulf of Papagayo below.
This 13-day adventure allows you to experience the country from both coasts. It includes a visit to the bustling capital of San José, the lush rainforest of Tortuguero National Park, the towering Arenal Volcano, the cloud forest of Monteverde and the spectacular, remote beaches of Guanacaste. There are plenty of kid-friendly activities along the way, from watching sea turtles hatch on a Caribbean beach to sampling locally produced chocolate to surf lessons in the Pacific.
Featuring thrilling outdoor activities, vibrant wildlife viewing, and hands-on experiences, this 10-day itinerary through Costa Rica is tailor-made for families. Kick off the trip with a hike through a sloth habitat and a visit to a local farm. Then move on to the Monteverde Cloud Forest for jungle hikes, zip-lining adventures, and horseback riding. Finish up in Tamarindo, where kids can learn to surf, witness sea turtles hatching their eggs, snorkel with tropical fish, and cruise down a jungle river.
This trip is perfect for those who want to explore Costa Rica's highlights, combined with active tours that get your blood pumping. Start this adventure navigating rapids on the Pacuare River — one of the top 10 rivers in the world for whitewater. Explore Arenal Volcano by bike, then head to the misty cloud forest of Monteverde for nature hikes and a zip line tour. End your trip on Tamarindo Beach, one of Costa Rica's premier beach destinations. Relax on the sand, take a surf lesson, or go snorkeling, then finish things off with a sunset sail on the Pacific.
Featuring outdoor adventures and abundant opportunities to spot monkeys, sloths, and toucans in the wild, this family-friendly 11-day trip around Costa Rica is fun for all ages. Start by hiking to waterfalls and soaking in hot springs in Rincón de la Vieja National Park, then continue to the Gulf of Papagayo to snorkel around a coral reef and tour a coffee farm. Visit a scarlet macaw refuge before wrapping up the trip with a day of hiking and wildlife viewing in the Werner Sauter Biological Reserve.
Offering an exciting mix of rainforest expeditions, wildlife encounters, and underwater adventures, this active 10-day trip around Costa Rica is popular with families. Explore the volcanoes and waterfalls of Arenal before heading off to the surf town of Tamarindo for a boat trip around an estuary and snorkeling with tropical fish offshore. After spotting sloths, monkeys, and exotic frogs in the wild, you'll learn about wildlife conservation at a scarlet macaw rehabilitation center in Sámara.
From crocodile spotting to frolicking in volcanic mud, this family-oriented 10-day trip features thrilling adventures for kids and adults alike. Start by hiking to waterfalls and spotting wildlife in Rincón de la Vieja National Park. Then move on to the Gulf of Papagayo, where you and the kids will witness sea turtles nesting, snorkel around a coral reef, and visit a working coffee farm. Get up close with vibrantly colored birds at a scarlet macaw refuge, then finish the trip with a day of hiking in the Werner Sauter Biological Reserve.
Travelers to Costa Rica typically plan a trip for nine to 10 days when combining Arenal/La Fortuna, Monteverde, and Tamarindo with San José. For travelers wanting to visit Arenal/La Fortuna, Monteverde, and Tamarindo exclusively, plan seven to nine days for a well-paced trip. Even travelers with limited time can see the highlights in as few as five or six days. Check out the below favored Arenal/La Fortuna, Monteverde, and Tamarindo itinerary options.
See the best of Costa Rica on this family-oriented itinerary featuring a mix of outdoor adventures, wildlife viewing, and hands-on experiences. After a hike through a sloth habitat, kids can try whitewater rafting and learn how to milk a cow while visiting a local farm. Continue to the Monteverde Cloud Forest for jungle hikes, zip-lining, and horseback riding. The trip ends in Tamarindo with surf lessons, a snorkeling excursion, a lively cruise down a jungle river, and the chance to witness sea turtles nesting.
Enjoy waterfall hikes, horseback riding, a sunset sail, and snorkeling with tropical fish on this active 11-day trip around Costa Rica's Pacific Coast. You'll begin the journey in Rincón de la Vieja National Park, where you'll soak in natural hot springs and ride horses. Continue to Arenal for a few days of rainforest adventures, including a visit to a sloth habitat, then head to the Gulf of Papagayo for a jungle cruise. Finish the itinerary with snorkeling, swimming, and hiking around coastal Sámara.
Travelers to Costa Rica typically plan a trip for 8 to 10 days when combining San José, Arenal/La Fortuna, and Gulf of Papagayo with Monteverde. For travelers wanting to visit San José, Arenal/La Fortuna, and Gulf of Papagayo exclusively, consider a week to nine days for a well-paced trip. A condensed highlights trip is possible in six days for travelers with limited time. Read below for the best itineraries, including San José, Arenal/La Fortuna, and Gulf of Papagayo.
This 10-day journey from one side of Costa Rica to the other delivers highlight tours and off-the-beaten-path adventures without sacrificing luxury. Witness nesting sea turtles in Tortuguero National Park before heading to Arenal for waterfall visits, zipline tours, and hiking around the famous volcano. Then, continue to the dazzling Gulf of Papagayo for Pacific coast adventures, including snorkeling, kayaking, and more.
Mix luxury, adventure sports, nature tours, surfing, and more over 10 days in the eco-wonderland of Costa Rica. The thrills start right away with rafting adventures in Turrialba, followed by waterfall visits, zipline rides, and hiking the dried lava fields at the iconic Arenal volcano. Continue north to the Nicoya Peninsula and the surf town of Tamarindo, where you'll catch a few waves, go kayaking, and snorkel in the bay.
Experience the country from both coasts on this two-week trip. You'll visit San José, Tortuguero National Park, the towering Arenal Volcano, Monteverde's cloud forest, and the remote beaches of Guanacaste. There will be plenty of activities to choose from along the way: watch sea turtles hatch on a Caribbean beach, sample locally produced chocolate, and take a surf lesson in the glittering Pacific.
This two-week nature tour is all about Costa Rica's biodiverse national parks. Begin in Tortuguero, where, depending on the time of year, you can embark on a nighttime turtle nesting tour. In Monteverde, explore the cloud forests via the hanging bridges and ziplines. Manuel Antonio provides the best of both worlds—rainforest and beach scenery–while a tour of the famous Corcovado National Park is a bucket list field trip for nature enthusiasts.
Tick off your family's adrenaline-focused bucket list on this two-week Costa Rica trip that offers plenty of outdoor-oriented thrills. Geared toward active families with older kids and teens, you'll start your adventure in Puerto Viejo on the southeast Caribbean coast, whitewater rafting and kayaking on two of the area's most scenic rivers. Next, you'll zipline in the Arenal Volcano National Park and see the rainforests of Rincón de la Vieja by horseback before snorkeling and surfing on Talamanca's famous sands.
Explore the highlights of Costa Rica, from volcanoes and jungles to beach and surfing in one self-drive vacation. Arrive in Liberia and head to Tenorio National Park, where you'll hike along the electric blue waters of the Río Celeste. Next up is Arenal Volcano National Park, a hotbed of adventure activities. After a waterfall trek and whitewater rafting excursion, drive to Monteverde for a zip-line tour of the cloud forest canopy and a guided wildlife night hike. Finally, it's off to the beaches of Sámara and Tamarindo on the Nicoya Peninsula for surfing and relaxation.
Experience the best Costa Rica has to offer on this family-friendly 11-day adventure. You'll watch sea turtles on the Caribbean beaches of Tortuguero National Park, hike around Arenal Volcano, zip-line through the cloud forest of Monteverde, and finally relax on the remote, Pacific beaches of Guanacaste. Along the way, you'll make your own hot chocolate and coffee from bean to cup, spot monkeys in the wild, swim under a waterfall—and maybe even catch a wave.
This 15-day adventure allows you to experience the country from both coasts and is designed from start to finish with kids in mind. You'll visit the bustling capital of San José, the rainforest of Tortuguero National Park, the towering Arenal Volcano, the cloud forest of Monteverde and the spectacular beaches of Guanacaste. There are plenty of family-friendly activities along the way, from watching sea turtles hatch on a Caribbean beach to sampling locally produced chocolate to snorkeling in the Pacific.
Explore the natural wonders of Costa Rica on this exciting 8-day journey around the country's volcanoes, waterfall pools, and top snorkeling spots. Spend the first part of the week hiking through the rainforest and soaking in hot springs in Rincón de la Vieja National Park. Then you'll spend a few days wildlife viewing and boating through mangroves around the Gulf of Papagayo. Finish this family-friendly adventure with a couple of days in coastal Sámara, where a kayak and snorkel tour introduces you to the pristine Isla Chora and the underwater world that surrounds the island.
Combine a beach holiday and jungle adventure in one self-drive vacation. Arrive in Liberia and head to Tenorio National Park, where you'll hike along the electric blue waters of the Río Celeste. Next up is Arenal Volcano National Park, a hotbed of adventure activities. After a waterfall trek and whitewater rafting excursion, drive to Monteverde for a zip-line tour of the cloud forest canopy and a guided wildlife night hike. Finally, it's off to the beaches of Sámara and Tamarindo on the Nicoya Peninsula for surfing and relaxation.
Costa Rica prioritizes the protection of its abundant (and delicate) biodiversity, and national parks and reserves make up nearly a quarter of the country's land. This makes it a fabulous spot for travelers keen on experiencing outdoor activities and spotting wildlife. This immersive 12-day trip includes a guided nature hike in coastal Manuel Antonio National Park, birdwatching and zip-lining in the Monteverde Could Forest Reserve, and aquatic fun in the estuaries of Tamarindo.
This itinerary is designed for families who want a nature excursion with plenty of adventure mixed in. Your first adventurous destination is the remote Osa Peninsula, where you'll indulge in beaches and rainforest hikes. From here, you'll head inland to pay a visit to Arenal Volcano and the Monteverde Cloud Forest, where you'll hike among the treetops via suspension bridges and enjoy even more natural wonders. Finally, make your way to The Gulf of Papagayo to spend three days relaxing on pristine beaches.
Taking a road trip through Costa Rica gives you the freedom and flexibility to explore where you want. You'll pass through stunning natural scenery — from lush cloud forests to picturesque beaches — in seven days of scenic driving. This tour can be extended or shortened depending on how much time you have.
Experience both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of Costa Rica — and all that's in between — on this 9-day adventure. Starting in the bustling capital of San Jose, you'll make your way to Tortuguero National Park, where you'll watch sea turtles hatch on the beach. Then head inland to Arenal Volcano and its magnificent rainforest trails. After a long day of hiking, soothe your muscles in the natural hot springs at Tabacón. After a river wildlife safari and a chocolate lesson, you'll travel to the sparkling waters of the Gulf of Papagayo. Here you'll go snorkeling and surfing, and end your journey with a spectacular sunset cruise around the bay.
This 10-day self-drive itinerary takes you off the beaten path to discover Costa Rica's highlights at your own pace. After an evening in San José, embark from the capital and drive north to explore the cloud forests of Monteverde by zipline. Journey west to the Pacific coast and the surf village of Tamarindo for sea kayaking and wildlife spotting, then make your way inland to La Fortuna. Here you'll explore the lush landscapes of Arenal Volcano National Park, hike the brilliant blue Río Celeste, and visit a working coffee plantation.
Look for snakes in the jungle during a nighttime tour, whale-watch on a boat excursion, and spot slow-moving sloths in the trees on this kid-friendly 9-day adventure! The itinerary leads you through several of Costa Rica's most beautiful natural areas, including Arenal Volcano and La Fortuna Waterfall, the surf hub of Tamarindo, and the gorgeous beaches of Sámara. With swimming, snorkeling, hiking, wildlife viewing, and boating all on the agenda, this active tour has something for all ages.
For most travelers, 9 to 10 days is the perfect amount of time for a Costa Rica trip with stops in San José, Arenal/La Fortuna, Monteverde, and Tamarindo. If you don't mind a fast-paced journey, you can see the highlights of this route in less time—as few as five to eight days. Travelers with more time can enjoy extra sights and activities at each stop or explore more of the country—some of our favorite itinerary extensions include Manuel Antonio, Tortuguero, or Sámara. Get inspired with our San José, Arenal/La Fortuna, Monteverde, and Tamarindo trip ideas below.
Most travelers will find that 8 to 10 days is perfect for a well-paced Costa Rica trip with stops in San José, Arenal/La Fortuna, Monteverde, and the Gulf of Papagayo. Travelers with less time can hit the route's highlights in a week, which makes for a fast-paced journey. Alternatively, extend your trip and explore more of the country; some of the best-loved trip extensions include Tortuguero, Manuel Antonio, or Tárcoles. See below for more ideas for San José, Arenal/La Fortuna, Monteverde, and Gulf of Papagayo itineraries.
Costa Rica's rainforest, volcanoes, and beaches are yours to explore on this two-week self-drive tour. Take in sweeping views of Arenal Volcano as you zip-line over the treetops, then enjoy a hands-on chocolate-making class. Next, it's on to the Pacific Coast for world-class yoga studios, pristine nature reserves, and breathtaking sunsets—the Nicoya Peninsula offers something for everyone.
Explore some of Costa Rica's most classic settings on this adventure trip, from active volcanoes to the rainforest to its gorgeous Pacific beaches. You'll see volcanic fumaroles in Rincon de la Vieja, visit hot springs and cross hanging bridges in Arenal, encounter tons of tropical wildlife in Monteverde, and unwind on the beaches of the Gulf of Papagayo. Get ready to go hiking, whitewater rafting, zip-lining, and more on this thrilling tour of Costa Rica's northwest.
Experience Costa Rica's many ecosystems on this two-week trip. You'll visit San José, the towering Arenal Volcano, Monteverde's cloud forest, and the remote beaches of Gulf de Papagayo. There will be plenty of activities to choose from along the way: raft on the world-class rapids of Río Pacuare, sample locally produced chocolate, and take a surf lesson in the glittering Pacific.
Over an immersive 16 days, you'll alternate between adventure and leisure in Costa Rica. Some days will be filled with culture in the capital of San José, others you'll spend whitewater rafting, and others will involve zipline excursions over the jungle canopy. If that's not enough, you'll also visit Costa Rica's largest active volcano and even make time for surf lessons.
Families with tweens and teens will love this active 14-day adventure that starts on the coasts of Tamarindo, where you'll hike to electric-blue waterfalls and see nesting sea turtles. Then, it's off to Monteverde for horseback rides through lush cloud forests and a visit to a sloth sanctuary. Play on the beaches of Manuel Antonio, kayak through the mangroves of Isla Damas, and snorkel at Drake Bay's Isla del Caño before ending in the capital city of San José to see its colorful streets, lively markets, and historic sights.
This 11-day vacation offers everything you could imagine on a trip to Costa Rica–volcanic views of Arenal, the beautiful Pacific beaches of Playa Panama and Manuel Antonio, and fun activities along the way. Enjoy a chocolate-making class, a mangrove tour by boat, horseback riding along the ocean, and more.
Enjoy a 15-day honeymoon adventure that covers several of Costa Rica’s greatest outdoor destinations. Begin in the capital city for a welcome dinner, before heading to the Arenal region for river rafting, volcano hikes, scenic waterfalls, and more. Next, go snorkeling and kayaking in the ocean on the shores of beautiful Manuel Antonio National Park. Venture into the cloud forests of Monteverde to take suspension bridges and ziplines through the greenery, followed by downtime in Tamardino Beach to surf, sail, and relish magnificent sunsets.
This fantastic 11-day itinerary includes many of Costa Rica's greatest hits. You will venture into some of the country's most beautiful national parks to enjoy hikes, relax in hot springs, go on beach excursions, spot wildlife, and more. In this trip, you won't just be looking outwards, but also inwards, with wellness activities and yoga lessons. Waking up to the sound of waves and trying new poses with the Pacific Ocean in the backdrop will help you be even more mindful during this unique experience.
This 12-day adventure around Costa Rica's spectacular natural landscapes leads you to volcanoes, national parks, and Pacific beaches. You'll start the trip in Rincón de la Vieja National Park, where you'll soak in hot springs and ride horses, then you'll continue to Arenal for wildlife spotting and volcano hikes. Swing through the trees on a zip-line in Monteverde, watch sea turtles nesting on the beach in Tamarindo, and kayak or snorkel through clear turquoise waters off the coast of Sámara.
This self-guided road trip is ideal for those who love nature. You'll visit the country's highlights, from the infamous Arenal volcano to the misty cloud forest to the beautiful beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula. Along the way, you'll sail through trees on ziplines, swim in waterfalls, and also have a chance to spot wildlife (from monkeys to the resplendent quetzel) on naturalist lead walks.
This self-guided road trip is ideal for those who love nature, beaches, and adventure activities. It covers all of Costa Rica's highlights, starting at the famous Arenal Volcano. From there, on to the Gulf of Papagayo on the northern Pacific coast. It's the perfect spot to snorkel and take a sunset sailing cruise. Then, you'll venture into the misty cloud forests of Monteverde—spot rare birds, partake in a zipline canopy tour, and embark on a nocturnal wildlife excursion. End your trip with hiking and beach time in Manuel Antonio National Park.
Hit the road for this 14-day self-drive adventure around Costa Rica's highlights! You'll pick up a rental car in Liberia and head to Rincón de la Vieja for hiking and hot springs, then drive to Arenal, where you'll visit a chocolate farm and spot sloths in the wild. The road trip takes you to Monteverde next for zip-lining in the cloud forest, then to Tamarindo and Sámara for snorkeling excursions and the chance to observe sea turtles nesting. The journey ends with a free evening in the capital city of San José.
This two-week itinerary includes many of Costa Rica's greatest hits. You'll venture into the country's most beautiful national parks and enjoy zip-lining adventures, nature hikes, beach excursions, and more. All the while you'll spot exotic animals as you traverse some of the most virgin rainforest landscapes in Central America.
This 11-day itinerary allows you to enjoy a comprehensive Costa Rican experience that will take you from the Caribbean to the Pacific coast and everything in between. Beyond the virgin rainforest and exotic wildlife, however, you'll also get to experience Costa Rica through its delicious flavors, be it local cuisine or the famed coffee grown in its volcanic soil.