Best of Tamarindo

Top itineraries and travel advice in and around Tamarindo
Tamarindo is a popular beach town located in the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica, known for its beautiful resorts, great surf conditions, lively restaurants, and ample nightlife. For those more interested in nature and wildlife, ocean kayaking, snorkeling, and boating the Tamarindo Estuary are just a few of the activities on offer. In the right season, you can even observe sea turtles nesting or hatching on nearby beaches. If you happen to be a surfer (or just want to learn), Tamarindo is the place. You'll find both beginner and advanced waves here, as well as a number of surf schools.
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Tamarindo Essentials

Photos from top left clockwise: Sunset at Tamarindo beach, Wildlife on Manuel antonio beach, aerial view of Manuel Antonio beach, Surf boards on Tamarindo
Map of Manuel Antonio or Tamarindo
Manuel Antonio or Tamarindo

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.

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.

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.

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.

Photo courtesy of Tamarindo Diria Beach Resort
Map of The 5 Best Beach Hotels in Tamarindo
The 5 Best Beach Hotels in Tamarindo

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.

Photo courtesy of Cala Luna Boutique Hotel & Villas
Map of The 7 Best Boutique Hotels in Tamarindo
The 7 Best Boutique Hotels in Tamarindo

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.

Photo courtesy of Jardín del Eden Boutique Hotel
Map of The 6 Best Hotels for Romance & Honeymoons in Tamarindo
The 6 Best Hotels for Romance & Honeymoons in Tamarindo

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.

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!

Photo courtesy of Los Altos de Eros
Map of The 5 Best  Hotels with Pools in Tamarindo
The 5 Best Hotels with Pools in Tamarindo

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.

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.

Photo courtesy of Capitán Suizo Beachfront Boutique Hotel
Map of The 7 Best Mid-Range & Luxury Hotels in Tamarindo
The 7 Best Mid-Range & Luxury Hotels in Tamarindo

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.

Photo courtesy of Hotel Pasatiempo
Map of The 4 Best Standard Hotels in Tamarindo
The 4 Best Standard Hotels in Tamarindo

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.

Tamarindo Itineraries

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. 

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

Take to the waves and learn to surf in Playa Tamarindo
Map of Arenal & the Nicoya Peninsula - 7 Days
Arenal & the Nicoya Peninsula - 7 Days

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

Learn to surf or practice your skills at Playa Tamarindo
Map of Arenal/La Fortuna & Tamarindo: Best Itinerary Ideas
Arenal/La Fortuna & Tamarindo: Best Itinerary Ideas

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.

End each day with epic sunsets in Tamarindo and Nosara
Map of Costa Rica Beach Honeymoon: Tamarindo & Nosara - 5 Days
Costa Rica Beach Honeymoon: Tamarindo & Nosara - 5 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.

Snorkel around the Catalina Islands
Map of Hike, Snorkel & Sail Family Adventure - 7 Days
Hike, Snorkel & Sail Family Adventure - 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.

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

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.

Hike with the family in the Costa Rican rainforest
Map of Family Trip to Costa Rica's Volcanoes, Cloud Forests & Beaches - 8 Days
Family Trip to 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.

Sail along the coast at sunset
Map of Family Trip to the Cloud Forests, Rivers & Beaches of Costa Rica  - 6 Days
Family Trip to 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.

Learn to surf in Tamarindo
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.

Kayak with the kids in Costa Rica
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

A little boy feeds a cow on a Costa Rican farm tour
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.

 A young howler monkey inspects a flower in Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Map of Arenal/La Fortuna, Monteverde & Tamarindo: Best Itinerary Ideas
Arenal/La Fortuna, Monteverde & Tamarindo: Best Itinerary Ideas

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.

Take a family surfing lesson on Playa Tamarindo
Map of Costa Rica Adventure for Active Families: Rainforests, Rivers & Beaches - 14 Days
Costa Rica Adventure for Active Families: Rainforests, Rivers & Beaches - 14 Days

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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 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.

Take the kids to the beach to surf
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.

 Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica
Map of San José, Arenal/La Fortuna, Monteverde & Tamarindo: Best Itinerary Ideas
San José, Arenal/La Fortuna, Monteverde & Tamarindo: Best Itinerary Ideas

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.

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.

 Take an active adventure in Costa Rica with your family
Map of Active Family Getaway to Costa Rica: Cloud Forests, Beaches, Waterfalls & Wildlife - 14 Days
Active Family Getaway to Costa Rica: Cloud Forests, Beaches, Waterfalls & Wildlife - 14 Days

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.

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.

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.

Looking down at Carrillo Beach near Sámara, Costa Rica
Map of Explore Costa Rica's Volcanoes & Pacific Coast - 12 Days
Explore Costa Rica's Volcanoes & Pacific Coast - 12 Days

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.

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'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.

A mineral-rich river crossing near Tenorio National Park
Map of Road Trip to Costa Rica's Pacific Coast - 14 Days
Road Trip to Costa Rica's Pacific Coast - 14 Days

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.

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.

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.

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.