Best of Guanacaste Pacific Coast

Top itineraries and travel advice in and around Guanacaste Pacific Coast
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Guanacaste Pacific Coast Essentials

Beautiful Guanacaste
Ultimate Guide to Guanacaste and the Famed Gold Coast

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.

Taste your way through Tamarindo
Best Places to Eat in Tamarindo

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.

Beautiful beaches in Guanacaste
Best Places to Eat in the Gulf of Papagayo

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.

Costa Rica's beautiful scenery
Top Nature Experiences in Costa Rica

With 28 national parks, nearly 800 miles of coastline, over 300 beaches, and more than half of its land covered in forests, Costa Rica's nature excursions are its biggest draw. Spend your time trekking through rainforests, hiking along hardened lava flows, finding blue-hued waterfalls deep in the jungle, boating along rivers, snorkeling above reefs, spotting wildlife, and kayaking or canoeing in national parks.

Colorful wildlife of Costa Rica
Top Wildlife Experiences in Costa Rica

As a world leader in eco-tourism and wildlife conservation, Costa Rica is known for its abundance of wildlife. With half of the country covered in forests, an intricate network of waterways, and nearly endless coastline, wildlife spotting alone draws travelers to Costa Rica. You can spot beloved sloths, monkeys, and frogs in the rainforest, watch turtles nest on the beaches, go birding in national parks, explore the jungles by night, and visit wildlife rehabilitation centers.

Sunset on Tamarindo Bay
Best Things to Do in Tamarindo

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.

Gulf of Papagayo
Best Things to Do in the Gulf of Papagayo

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.

Hiking in Costa Rica
Top Family Experiences in Costa Rica

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.

Leatherback turtle
The Best Turtle Nesting & Hatching Experiences in Costa Rica

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.

San José from above
Top Cultural Experiences in Costa Rica

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.

Hiking in the Rainforest
Top Active Experiences in Costa Rica

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!

Guanacaste Pacific Coast Itineraries

The Guanacaste region on the Pacific Coast is known for its arid landscape and beautiful beaches
Map of Explore Guanacaste from Liberia - 5 Days
Explore Guanacaste from Liberia - 5 Days

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.

The Guanacaste region on the Pacific Coast is known for its arid landscape and beautiful beaches
Map of Explore Guanacaste from Liberia - 4 Days
Explore Guanacaste from Liberia - 4 Days

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.

Go surfing in Tamarindo Beach
Map of Discover Costa Rica: Highlights of Guanacaste - 8 Days
Discover Costa Rica: Highlights of Guanacaste - 8 Days

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. 

A view over the Gulf of Papagayo
Gulf of Papagayo: Best Itinerary Ideas

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.

Boating in Costa Rica
Map of Hike, Snorkel & Sail in Costa Rica - 8 Days
Hike, Snorkel & Sail in Costa Rica - 8 Days

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.

Surfing in Tamarindo
Map of Costa Rica Pacific Coast Road Trip - 7 Days
Costa Rica Pacific Coast Road Trip - 7 Days

This 7-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.

Enjoy off-the-beaten-path road tripping in Costa Rica
Map of Self-Drive Luxury Beach and Volcano Adventure - 11 days
Self-Drive Luxury Beach and Volcano Adventure - 11 days

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.

Explore the best of Costa Rica's coastline
Map of Arenal & Gulf of Papagayo: Best Itinerary Ideas
Arenal & Gulf of Papagayo: Best Itinerary Ideas

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.

Rincón de la Vieja
Map of Costa Rica: Rincon de la Vieja to Tamarindo Beach - 7 Days
Costa Rica: Rincon de la Vieja to Tamarindo Beach - 7 Days

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.

Snorkeling in Costa Rica
Map of Hike, Snorkel & Sail in Costa Rica - 7 Days
Hike, Snorkel & Sail in Costa Rica - 7 Days

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.

Turrialba Volcano, Costa Rica
Map of Discover the Volcanoes, Waterfalls & Coral Reefs of Costa Rica - 7 Days
Discover the Volcanoes, Waterfalls & Coral Reefs of Costa Rica - 7 Days

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.

The Guanacaste region on the Pacific Coast is known for its arid landscape and beautiful beaches
Map of Relaxed Costa Rica Family Adventure - 10 Days
Relaxed Costa Rica Family Adventure - 10 Days

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.

Relax in hot springs with the family
Map of Family Trip to Costa Rica's Mountains, Volcanoes & the Gulf of Papagayo - 11 Days
Family Trip to Costa Rica's Mountains, Volcanoes & the Gulf of Papagayo - 11 Days

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.

Teach the little ones to surf in Tamarindo
Map of Family Trip to Costa Rica's Mountains, Volcanoes & the Gulf of Papagayo - 10 Days
Family Trip to Costa Rica's Mountains, Volcanoes & the Gulf of Papagayo - 10 Days

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!

Baby squirrel monkey and mother in the Costa Rican rainforest
Map of Volcanoes and Pacific Beaches For Families - 8 Days
Volcanoes and Pacific Beaches For Families - 8 Days

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.

Coffee beans on a local plantation
Map of Costa Rica Culinary Tour - 8 Days
Costa Rica Culinary Tour - 8 Days

One of the best ways to experience a destination is through its cuisine, and Costa Rica is no exception. This itinerary will have you visiting food stalls at San José's Mercado Central, trying your hand at traditional recipes in a cooking class, aand sampling coffee at a plantation. You'll also have time to relax and experience the jungles and beaches Costa Rica is known for.

End the trip with a drive to the Pacific coast for some beach time
Costa Rica Highlights: Arenal, Monteverde and Tamarindo - 8 Days

This eight-day adventure trip to Costa Rica offers an array of adventures in a variety of landscapes, from city to cloud forest to the sea. Enjoy hiking near an active volcano, some of the world’s best bird-watching, paddle-boarding across a lagoon, and snorkeling with sea turtles. Start the trip in Arenal for nature walks, then transfer to Monteverde for zip line tours of the forest canopy. End in Tamarindo — a surfer's paradise.

View of Arenal Volcano from La Fortuna town.
Costa Rica Adventure: Papagayo, Monteverde & Arenal - 8 Days

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.

A waterfall in the Monteverde cloud forest
Map of Explore Costa Rica's Volcanoes, Cloud Forests & Beaches - 8 Days
Explore Costa Rica's Volcanoes, Cloud Forests & Beaches - 8 Days

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.

Surf until sunset on Costa Rica's west coast
Map of Costa Rica Surfing Adventure - 6 Days
Costa Rica Surfing Adventure - 6 Days

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.

Walking on the Hanging Bridges of Arenal
Map of Discover the Cloud Forests, Rivers & Beaches of Costa Rica  - 6 Days
Discover the Cloud Forests, Rivers & Beaches of Costa Rica - 6 Days

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.

Costa Rica's dramatic Western coastline
Map of Discover Costa Rica's Nature and Beaches - 9 Days
Discover Costa Rica's Nature and Beaches - 9 Days

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.

Sunset off the coast of Guanacaste over the Pacific Ocean
Map of Coast to Coast: Beach and Cloud Forest Adventure - 9 Days
Coast to Coast: Beach and Cloud Forest Adventure - 9 Days

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.

Siblings paint themselves in mud from a Costa Rican hot spring
Map of Costa Rica Family Trip: Volcanoes, Waterfalls & Coral Reefs - 9 Days
Costa Rica Family Trip: Volcanoes, Waterfalls & Coral Reefs - 9 Days

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.

View from under the palm trees in Manuel Antonio National Park
Map of Costa Rica's Relaxation and Wildlife Tour - 12 Days
Costa Rica's Relaxation and Wildlife Tour - 12 Days

Costa Rica is a nation as biodiverse as it is beautiful and 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!"

Learning to surf in Costa Rica
Map of Volcano & Pacific Beach Family Adventure - 6 Days
Volcano & Pacific Beach Family Adventure - 6 Days

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.

La Fortuna waterfall
Map of Volcanoes, Cloud Forests, and the Pacific Coast - 10 Days
Volcanoes, Cloud Forests, and the Pacific Coast - 10 Days

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.

The beach in Tamarindo
Map of Volcano & Pacific Beach Family Adventure - 7 Days
Volcano & Pacific Beach Family Adventure - 7 Days

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.

Riverbank lined with untouched rainforest in Tortuguero
Map of Wildlife & Beaches in Costa Rica - 10 Days
Wildlife & Beaches in Costa Rica - 10 Days

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.

Cloud forest canopy in Monteverde
Map of Volcanoes, Cloud Forests, and the Pacific Coast - 13 Days
Volcanoes, Cloud Forests, and the Pacific Coast - 13 Days

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, zip-lining 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.

Sensoria, in Rincón de la Vieja National Park
Map of Costa Rica Adventure: Whitewater, Volcanoes & Surfing - 9 Days
Costa Rica Adventure: Whitewater, Volcanoes & Surfing - 9 Days

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.

Costa Rica's famous Arenal Volcano
Map of Diverse Costa Rica: Arenal, Monteverde & Tamarindo - 7 Days
Diverse Costa Rica: Arenal, Monteverde & Tamarindo - 7 Days

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.

Hike to the Río Celeste waterfall
Costa Rica Rainforest & Beach Escape: Río Celeste & Playa Conchal - 5 Days

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.

Turtle hatchling on the beach in Tortuguero
Map of Coast to Coast Adventure For Families - 13 Days
Coast to Coast Adventure For Families - 13 Days

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.

Arenal Volcano
Map of Arenal, Tortuguero, & Gulf of Papagayo: Best Itinerary Ideas
Arenal, Tortuguero, & Gulf of Papagayo: Best Itinerary Ideas

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.

Jump on in!
Multi-Sport Adventure in Costa Rica: Arenal, Monteverde, & Tamarindo - 10 Days

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.

Take the kids to splash around the Catalina Islands of Costa Rica
Map of Active Family Adventure in Costa Rica - 10 Days
Active Family Adventure in Costa Rica - 10 Days

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.

Raft with the family on the Balsa River
Map of Family Adventure in Costa Rica: Volcanoes, Cloud Forests & the Ocean - 11 Days
Family Adventure in Costa Rica: Volcanoes, Cloud Forests & the Ocean - 11 Days

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.

Take the kids to a macaw rescue center
Map of Family Trip to Costa Rica's Volcanoes, Waterfalls & Coral Reefs - 11 Days
Family Trip to Costa Rica's Volcanoes, Waterfalls & Coral Reefs - 11 Days

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.

Boys trekking in the jungle to waterfalls
Map of Family Trip to Costa Rica's Volcanoes, Waterfalls & Coral Reefs - 10 Days
Family Trip to Costa Rica's Volcanoes, Waterfalls & Coral Reefs - 10 Days

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.

Join a guided horseback riding tour (photo courtesy of Nat Fernández)
Map of Family Adventure in Costa Rica: Volcanoes, Cloud Forests & the Ocean - 10 Days
Family Adventure in Costa Rica: Volcanoes, Cloud Forests & the Ocean - 10 Days

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.

The Guanacaste region on the Pacific Coast is known for its arid landscape and beautiful beaches
Map of Coast to Coast Adventure: Tortuguero, Arenal, Monteverde, & Guanacaste - 14 Days
Coast to Coast Adventure: Tortuguero, Arenal, Monteverde, & Guanacaste - 14 Days

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.

Manuel Antonio Beach
Map of Costa Rica Nature Tour: Tortuguero, Monteverde, Manuel Antonio, & Corcovado - 14 Days
Costa Rica Nature Tour: Tortuguero, Monteverde, Manuel Antonio, & Corcovado - 14 Days

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.

Beach on the Pacific Coast at Sunset
Map of Costa Rica Arenal, Monteverde & Pacific Coast Self-Drive Tour - 12 Days
Costa Rica Arenal, Monteverde & Pacific Coast Self-Drive Tour - 12 Days

Explore the highlights of Costa Rica, from volcanos 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.

Relax in Costa Rican hot springs with the family
Map of Coast-to-Coast Family Adventure - 11 Days
Coast-to-Coast Family Adventure - 11 Days

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.

Snorkel among coral reefs in the Pacific
Map of Costa Rica Coastal Family Adventure - 15 Days
Costa Rica Coastal Family Adventure - 15 Days

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.

Carillo Beach near Sámara
Map of Discover the Volcanoes, Waterfalls & Coral Reefs of Costa Rica - 8 Days
Discover the Volcanoes, Waterfalls & Coral Reefs of Costa Rica - 8 Days

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.

Costa Rica Volcanoes & Pacific Coast Adventure - 12 Days
Map of Costa Rica Volcanoes & Pacific Coast Adventure - 12 Days
Costa Rica Volcanoes & Pacific Coast Adventure - 12 Days

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's dramatic Western coastline
Map of Discover Costa Rica: Manuel Antonio, Monteverde, and Tamarindo - 12 Days
Discover Costa Rica: Manuel Antonio, Monteverde, and Tamarindo - 12 Days

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.

A baby white-faced capuchin in Corcovado National Park
Map of Family Adventure: Jungles, Beaches, and Volcanoes - 16 Days
Family Adventure: Jungles, Beaches, and Volcanoes - 16 Days

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.

Monteverde Cloud Forest
Map of Classic Costa Rica: 7-Day Self-Drive Tour
Classic Costa Rica: 7-Day Self-Drive Tour

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.

Enjoy a culinary-focused trip in Costa Rica
Map of Costa Rica Culinary Tour - 7 Days
Costa Rica Culinary Tour - 7 Days

On this 7-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, 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.

The Guanacaste region on the Pacific Coast is known for its arid landscape and beautiful beaches
Map of Coast to Coast Adventure: Tortuguero, Arenal Volcano, & Guanacaste - 9 Days
Coast to Coast Adventure: Tortuguero, Arenal Volcano, & Guanacaste - 9 Days

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.

Sunset over the Nicoya Peninsula
Map of Costa Rica Road Trip: Arenal & the Nicoya Peninsula - 8 Days
Costa Rica Road Trip: Arenal & the Nicoya Peninsula - 8 Days

Experience a perfect blend of cloud forests and tropical beaches on this 8-day Costa Rican road trip. Start your adventure in Arenal, where you'll explore the rainforest via suspension bridges and zip-line 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.

Have fun at the beach and try your hand (and balance) at surfing
Map of Active Family Adventure in Costa Rica - 9 Days
Active Family Adventure in Costa Rica - 9 Days

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.

Spot howler monkeys among other wildlife
Map of Costa Rica Road Trip: Arenal and the Pacific Coast - 14 Days
Costa Rica Road Trip: Arenal and the Pacific Coast - 14 Days

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.

Arenal Volcano in the Sunset
Map of Costa Rica's Volcanoes, Cloud Forests & Golden Coast - 14 Days
Costa Rica's Volcanoes, Cloud Forests & Golden Coast - 14 Days

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.

The Guanacaste region on the Pacific Coast is known for its arid landscape and beautiful beaches
Map of Costa Rica's Whitewater, Jungle and Beach Adventure  - 14 Days
Costa Rica's Whitewater, Jungle and Beach Adventure - 14 Days

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.

Views of Costa Rica
Map of Costa Rica: Beach & Rainforest Tour - 11 Days
Costa Rica: Beach & Rainforest Tour - 11 Days

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.

Manuel Antonio
Map of Costa Rica Honeymoon Adventure:  Arenal, Manuel Antonio, Monteverde, & Tamarindo - 15 Days
Costa Rica Honeymoon Adventure: Arenal, Manuel Antonio, Monteverde, & Tamarindo - 15 Days

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.

Take a surfing lesson with a local guide and learn to tackle the local breaks
Map of Wild Costa Rica: Beaches, Rivers, and Rainforest - 16 days
Wild Costa Rica: Beaches, Rivers, and Rainforest - 16 days

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 white-water rafting, and others will involve zip-line 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.

Explore Monteverde's cloud forests from above
Map of Costa Rica Self-Drive Adventure: Monteverde, Tamarindo & Arenal - 10 Days
Costa Rica Self-Drive Adventure: Monteverde, Tamarindo & Arenal - 10 Days

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 zip-line. 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.

Yoga lessons
Map of Nature & Yoga in Costa Rica: Tortuguero, Arenal, & the Pacific - 11 Days
Nature & Yoga in Costa Rica: Tortuguero, Arenal, & the Pacific - 11 Days

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.

Sunset on the beach
Map of Classic Costa Rica Self-Drive Adventure - 14 Days
Classic Costa Rica Self-Drive Adventure - 14 Days

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 zip-line canopy tour, and embark on a nocturnal wildlife excursion. End your trip with hiking and beach time in Manuel Antonio National Park.

Pacific coastline on the Nicoya Peninsula
Map of Costa Rica Self-Drive Vacation - 13 Days
Costa Rica Self-Drive Vacation - 13 Days

This self-guided road trip is ideal for those who love nature. You will visit the highlights of the country, from the infamous Arenal volcano to the misty cloud forest, to the beautiful beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula.  Along the way, you will zip through trees on zip lines, swim in waterfalls, and also have a chance to spot the wildlife (from monkeys to the resplendent quetzel) on naturalist lead walks.

Beautiful Rio Celeste in Tenorio National Park
Map of Best of Costa Rica - 14 Days
Best of Costa Rica - 14 Days

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.

The arid landscapes and stunning beaches of the Guanacaste Province
Map of Costa Rica Road Trip: Volcanoes, Cloud Forests & Pacific Beaches - 9 Days
Costa Rica Road Trip: Volcanoes, Cloud Forests & Pacific Beaches - 9 Days

This 9-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 zip-lining 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.

Tortuguero National Park
Map of Costa Rica's Essentials - 11 Days
Costa Rica's Essentials - 11 Days

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.

Volcanoes, Cloud Forests, and the Pacific Coast - 11 Days
Map of Volcanoes, Cloud Forests, and the Pacific Coast - 11 Days
Volcanoes, Cloud Forests, and the Pacific Coast - 11 Days

This 11-day itinerary is perfect for travelers who like to combine their mountain adventures with a bit of a beach holiday. You'll arrive in Liberia, the hub of Costa Rica's Guanacaste Province. From the airport, you'll head to Rincón de la Vieja and spend two days exploring the nature surrounding one of the country's most active volcanoes. Then travel deeper inland to spend a few days crossing suspension bridges, zip-lining over trees, and hiking through the jungles of La Fortuna and the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. You'll end your trip in Manuel Antonio National Park. More than just stunning white-sand beaches, Manuel Antonio is rich in biodiversity and wildlife viewing opportunities.

Other popular travel destinations in Costa Rica
Arenal/La Fortuna · San José · South Pacific Coast · Monteverde · Caribbean Coast · Manuel Antonio · Nicoya Peninsula · Osa Peninsula