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The Best of Costa Rica, Volcanoes and Pacific Coast

From £4530 pp

Costa Rica

16 Nights / 17 Days

Private Group (2-6)

The Best of Costa Rica, Volcanoes and Pacific Coast

From £4530 pp

What You'll Do

Explore Costa Rica uncovering pristine coastline, lush, tangled jungle, characterful towns, see amazing natural landscapes and wildlife, get off the beaten track, meet the locals and immerse yourself in the Costa Rican way of life.

Tour summary

Day 1 Alajuela

Day 2 – 5  La Fortuna

Day 6 & 7 Monteverde

Day 8 & 9 Isla Chiquita

Day 10 – 12 Drake Bay

Day 13 – 16 Manuel Antonio

Day 17 Departure from San Jose

You’ll start your adventure from Alajuela, and head straight for the the spectacular volcanoes and waterfalls of La Fortuna The country prides itself on eco-friendly and socially sustainable tourism, and this will be the focus of your tour as you visit some amazing less visited areas which are real hidden gems as well as experiencing Costa Rica’s famous highlights. You will hike through the rainforest, see the amazing flora and fauna and the spectacular waterfalls and be amazed by the huge array of flowers, butterflies, orchids and hummingbirds.

You’ll take a guided cloud forest night tour in Monteverde, and visit local communities and eco-farms where you’ll be immersed in rural Costa Rican culture, getting to know how the farm runs and learning how to cook real, authentic Costa Rican cuisine. You’ll take a forest canopy tour, including hanging bridges and zip lines and hope to spot the Resplendent Quetzal!

You’ll take the ferry across the Nicoya Gulf and spend a couple of days relaxing in the remote island of Chiquita in a deluxe glamping experience by the beach, before you head down the coast towards the Osa Peninsula and the Corcorvaro National park. This is the last remaining large and sustainable lowland rainforest in Central America, here the abundant diverse marine life and crystal blue waters are perfect for snorkelling!

You’ll sail through the protected mangrove swamps and perhaps glimpse iguanas, turtles, and crocodiles in the water; on land monkeys, sloths, coatimundi and raccoons can be seen. In Manuel Antonio you will experience river rafting on the Sevegre River, stopping for a refreshing swim at a spectacular waterfall, and then take a romantic sunset catamaran cruise on the Pacific ocean, to spot whales and dolphins basking in the late afternoon sun.

As well as the adrenaline-pumping activities, incredible food and stunning scenery that you’ll experience, this tour offers an opportunity to really get under the skin of Costa Rica and see the hidden gems, off the tourist trail, that you would otherwise miss.

Thanks to your local drivers and guides, you’ll meet and interact with local people, get to know their way of life and establish human connections creating long-lasting memories, from spending a day with fisherman in the islands of the Nicoya Gulf to making delicious meals with a local cook, with garden grown ingredients.

 

Experience
Highlights

Get off the beaten track and see the local side to Costa Rica most tourists miss

Discover incredible wild spaces, dense jungles and pristine beaches

Thrilling adventures, zip-lining, river rafting, horse riding

Meet locals, learn to cook traditional dishes, and see how life really is in Costa Rica

Discover nocturnal life on the hidden forest walk

Your Local Host:

Roberto Lizano

I was born and raised in Costa Rica and have lived here my entire life. And ever since I could, I’ve been travelling the world. Soon after I left school, I travelled around Costa Rica and discovered every single part of it! Although, we do have a fairly small country, there’s an insane amount to explore, and I’m still exploring Read More

Experience Itinerary

Arrive in Costa Rica

Arrive in San Jose airport, where you will be picked up and driven to your first accommodation in Alajuela, a lovely villa on the outskirts of the city where you can recover from your, journey and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime.

There is an outdoor pool, tropical gardens a restaurant and bar. Rooms feature period décor, handmade furniture and have private bathroom with a bath or shower and complimentary toiletries. Central Alajuela is just a 10-minute drive from the property, while San José city centre is a 30-minute drive away.

 

Accommodation

Villa San Ignacio

Meals

None

 

Volcanoes and Hot springs

Today you will set off on your Costa Rican adventure making your way towards La Fortuna you will first stop at the Poás Volcano, an active volcano with a crater over a mile across and 1050 feet deep.  It has erupted 40 times in the last 200 years and you will have time to enjoy the impressive main crater with its sulphur fumaroles.

You will then continue to La Paz Waterfall Gardens, and enjoy an amazing traditional buffet lunch. You will hike the trails surrounded by lush tropical rain forest and see the flowing white rivers, spectacular waterfalls, birds, butterflies, monkeys, and hummingbirds.  This is definitely a tour for nature lovers of all ages.

Then you will drive to La Fortuna and to Costa Rica’s best known volcano.  Until 2010 Arenal volcano was very active, erupting and spewing lava and ash on a regular basis, however it has now become dormant. It is a tall and imposing mountain with a perfectly symmetrical shape, a sightseer’s dream! The verdant lands surrounding it are home to abundant wildlife and you are likely to spot deer, tapir, howler monkeys, white-faced monkeys and birds such as parrots, orioles and brown magpies.

The geothermal activity in the area produces the natural hot springs  and this afternoon and evening you will have chance to relax and enjoy the famous hot springs of the Arenal volcano.

After your hike you will be transferred to you hotel in la Fortuna, the Paraiso Resort and Thermal Spa, where you will stay for 4 nights. The hotel is located in an area that offers spectacular views of the Arenal Volcano, this exotic retreat has a fitness centre and offers a variety treatments in its luxury spa. There are 7 pools with thermo-mineral water and a regular swimming pool, shops and restaurants on site.

Your accommodation will be in a superior room which is an individual wooden cabin with either a balcony or terrace, air conditioning and a mini-fridge.

There are 2 restaurants, one specialises in regional dishes and the other serves international-style cuisine and a pool bar. Free Wi-Fi is available in the restaurant and in the reception.

Accommodation

Arenal Paraiso Resort and Thermal Spa

Meals

Breakfast

 

Arenal Volcano Hike and La Fortuna Waterfall

Today you will explore the area around Arenal Volcano: La Fortuna Waterfall visit and the Volcano hike is a great combo for the day.

The day will start late in the morning, at 11am so you can have enough time to enjoy a nice breakfast, explore the surroundings of the hotel and relax a little before your pick up.

Today you will need to wear your swimming suit as once you arrive at the top of La Fortuna waterfall you will have the opportunity to walk down the 500 steps to the bottom of this spectacular waterfall, which is 70 metres high. On the way down your guide will point out the various species that will be found among birds and mammals, go easy, there is no rush as you take in the gorgeous views you have ahead of you. Once you get to the bottom, there is a lovely clear water pool for a refreshing dip.

Then you will have lunch with the Rodriguez Family: they will cook a traditional lunch that you will not forget! Enjoy lunch by the side of the river and experience Costa Rican culture, paired with a delicious and freshly brewed cup of Costa Rican coffee.

Lastly you will visit the amazing Arenal Volcano National Park where you will start a beautiful hike around its base, while learning everything about the eruptions and the old lava flows. You’ll experience the most extraordinary views of Arenal Volcano during the gentle hike along the lower slopes.  Although currently in a resting phase, Arenal has been Costa Rica’s most active volcano for the past 43 years and its eruptions have affected the region and the people who live here.

Accommodation

Arenal Paraiso Resort and Thermal Spa

Gallery image of this property

Meals

Breakfast, Lunch

 

Tenorio Volcano National Park

Your trip through Costa Rica continues as you drive to Tenorio Volcano National Park, best known for the beautiful Río Celeste.

The light blue waters along the Celeste River are truly amazing, and is what gives the Río Celeste it’s name. These blue waters are caused by a chemical reaction from the minerals the volcano precipitates, and are truly unique to the location. Primary cloud forests and rainforest cover the park, which are filled with flora and fauna species in multiple life zones.

You’ll see picturesque rivers, waterfalls and thermal hot springs.

 

Accommodation

Arenal Paraiso Resort and Thermal Spa

Meals 

Breakfast

 

Visit Juanilama: Cheese Tour and Waterfall Hike

After a delicious breakfast, you’ll visit Juanilama, a small rural town where you will the chance to live the daily life of a rural community. You will experience a tour of the village and activities designed to show true Costa Rican culture, the traditions of the people, and their respect for nature. This visit is led by a small group of empowered women who lead this incredible community project.

Your guide, a traditional dairy farmer, will take you on the first tour of the day. After a brief introduction to the area, you will visit the cows and help bring the cows from the yard pasture to prepare them for milking.You will learn how to make cheese and other dairy products like sour cream and yogurt, from the dairy farmers themselves.

You will then hike the Juanilama Reserve, two miles of nature trails that lead you to the beautiful La Leona Waterfall. Here you will have the opportunity to enjoy its scenic beauty and swim in the fresh pure water of the river. Throughout the walk your guide will tell you all about the plant and animal life of the area.

After your visit to Juanilama, you’ll then return to La Fortuna to continue your Costa Rican adventure.

Accommodation

Arenal Paraiso Resort and Thermal Spa

Meals 

Breakfast

Arenal Lake Crossing to Monteverde

Today you will travel between La Fortuna and Monteverde by crossing the Arenal Lake. You will be driven to the lake, where you will board a boat and sail for approximately one hour to take you across to Monteverde. This service is not only the fastest, but also the most scenic way to travel, where you can admire the beautiful views of all of the mountains, sky and the colossal Arenal volcano during the crossing. When you reach the other side of the lake, you will be picked up and driven to your hotel in Monteverde.

It will take you less than three hours to arrive at a height of 1440 m above sea level, on top of Costa Rica’s continental divide, and the much cooler weather of Monteverde and Santa Elena.

This afternoon, you have free time to visit the shops, ice cream parlours, cheese factories or coffee houses of Monteverde.

As sunset falls in the forest, you will have a night walk at Valle Escondido Preserve. You will be collected from your hotel for this amazing night walk in the Hidden Valley to discover the night time wonders there. As the nocturnal creatures emerge your guide will explain the unique sights and sounds of the night time forest, mammals, birds, reptiles and insects never seen during the day time can be spotted.

If you are lucky you may see snakes, spiders, armadillos and sloths.

Your accommodation for the next two nights will be in the Eco Lodge Koora, a luxury ecolodge in the heart of the cloud forest, with just 10 cosy suites and bungalows this boutique hotel is the perfect nature retreat.

With stunning treetop views only the natural beauty of Monteverde can provide, you will feel the magic of the cloud forest as you sip coffee or enjoy a late-night drink on your private balcony.

You will sleep in the treetops, literally! The suites and bungalows seamlessly integrate with the surroundings and you’ll be able to gaze at this natural oasis from the floor to ceiling windows with the chirping and singing of birds as the soundtrack. The rooms have handcrafted furniture made by local artisans, comfortable beds, and  hot showers and some have kitchenette.

After an action-packed day, you can dine at the Restaurant Kiré with its delicious fresh local produce and amazing views.

 

Accommodation

Koora Hotel, Monteverde

Meals

Breakfast

Explore Monteverde: Canopy and Coffee Tour

You will have the entire day to enjoy the area, including the small and quaint town of Santa Elena, filled with tasty restaurants and independent artisan shops. The nearby forest hosts a remarkable amount of biodiversity: a walk through a cloud forest in Monteverde reveals a lush garden of mosses, ferns, flowers and epiphytes growing thickly on every tree. Clouds drift in and settle among the slopes, providing the plants with the continuous moisture that they require. Dangling roots and vines sweep across the trails, while the sounds of birds and other creatures echo throughout the forest.

In the morning you will take part in an thrilling canopy tour where you’ll have the adrenaline rush of swinging from platform to platform attached to a harness as you zip line on the longest and highest cables to be found in the area. At the same time, you’ll be able to enjoy the awe inspiring panoramic views that can only to be seen from high above. If you’d rather take a more sedentary route you can walk the high hanging bridges above of the canopy of the forest.

In the afternoon, you’ll have a coffee, chocolate and sugar cane tour! The coffee tour begins with the wonderful history of coffee in the world, and importance in Costa Rica’s development. You will see all the stages of coffee growing and harvesting to the delicious final product, the cup of coffee. The second part of this tour is the delicious chocolate tour, which is not only the perfect complement for coffee, but has influenced the traditions and culture of Costa Rica through the ages. Then you will learn about the sugar cane, its history, plantations, different types of harvest, and processing. You’ll live the experience of creating refreshing sugar cane juice.

 

Accommodation

Koora Hotel, Monteverde

Gallery image of this property

Meals

Breakfast

Bioluminescence and Glamping

After breakfast, you’ll be taken to Puntarenas to catch the ferry boat that will take you across the Nicoya Gulf, so that you can reach your tropical island for the glamping adventure!

You will board the ferry boat that takes you across the Nicoya Gulf, and as you approach Isla Chiquita from the water, you will be struck by the lush foliage covering this tiny island. Once you’ve arrived and been shown to your high-quality glamping tent nestled amidst the trees, looking out to the Gulf, you’ll be  immersed in the nature surrounding you.

Children and adults alike will relish the chance to explore the island’s lush interior and spot some indigenous species, and you will have  ample opportunity to get out on the water with paddle boards, kayaks and on boat trips. There is delicious sea food served at the Tía Nora, a seaside restaurant and bar, and an on site spa.
The Glamping tents are very comfortable, each tent has a king-size bed and a daybed, so it can sleep up to three people and have private bathrooms with double sinks, ceiling fans and electric lights.
Each tent has a spacious decking area outside each tent with views through the trees and out to sea.

That evening, you’ll take a unique boating adventure to see the natural phenomenon that is the  magical bioluminescence in the dark waters surrounding Isla Chiquita. Produced by high concentrations of light-emitting plankton, bioluminescence imbues the waters with a starry night effect. This is a must-see when visiting Isla Chiquita, an immersion into the night time beauty of Costa Rica.

Accommodation

Isla Chiquita Glamping Costa Rica

Meals 

Breakfast

Artisanal Fishing Experience

Enjoy your first breakfast in the serenity of Isla Chiquita Glamping, ready for the day ahead.

Today a guide will take you on an artisanal fishing trip. Artisanal Fishing is a critical component of the region’s culture and economy, and traditions passed down through generations are essential to the lifestyles of many of the local communities. Your guide will take you on a small boat to the area’s best spots. Experience the thrills of fishing, closely tied to Jesusita Island, home to Isla Chiquita Glamping Hotel. For many years, this tiny island nook was a favourite resting spot for sport fishing enthusiasts, and the guides love to share this hidden spot with visitors to Isla Chiquita.

Accommodation

Isla Chiquita Glamping Costa Rica

Meals

Breakfast

Ferry to Puntarenas

Today you will take the ferry over to Puntarenas, a picturesque port town on Costa Rica’s Gulf of Nicoya.

Leaving the dry Forest of Nicoya, you’ll be driven through the transitional forest of the Central Pacific, arriving on Lowland Rainforest, and pass the Mangrove swamps of Sierpe before arriving at the Pacific coastline.

You take a boat through the Mangrove out to sea and sail down the Southern coastline to reach the bay. You’ll be met by your local guide and travel to one of the less visited areas of Costa Rica, and the hotel Aquila de Osa where you’ll stay for the the next three nights.

Nestled amid jungle covered hillside overlooking the tranquil waters of Drake Bay, Aguila de Osa is a jungle Eco Lodge close to  the beautiful Corcovado National Park and Caño Island Biological Marine Reserve.

There are amazing wildlife spotting opportunities and many water and land based activities on offer. The large thatched wooden cabins are simply furnished and very comfortable with views of the surrounding lush jungle.

There is an open air restaurant serving delicious local dishes and there is a bar on site. The hotel works closely with the local community and to protect the environment, using water from its on site well, and composting food waste to use in the organic gardens.

Drake Bay is famous for it’s lush rainforests and colourful sea life, and legend has it that it’s namesake, Sir Francis Drake, hid his treasures somewhere in the bay!

There are many great places to visit around the bay, and local shops where you can support the local community.

Accommodation

Aguila de Osa

Meals

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Corcovado National Park

 

Today you will visit the Osa Península and Corcovado National Park.

These are considered the most biologically diverse places on Earth and the jewel on the crown of Costa Rica’s national parks! A must see for wildlife and nature lovers, Corcovado is one of the less accessible parks in Costa Rica, and this means less tourists visit this area, making it all the more appealing.

This wild, untamed region is home to the only tropical primary lowland rainforest in the world and is a sanctuary for many endangered flora and fauna. It protects over 140 different mammal species, 400 bird species, 20 of which are endemic, 116 amphibian and reptile species, 40 species of fish and at least 500 species of trees in its amazing and diverse habitats of beaches, mangroves, swamps, forest and palm groves.

Your guide will show you some of the best spots to admire the abundant biodiversity of Corcovado, and see animals like the tamandua, the tapir or the peccary.

Accommodation

Aguila de Osa

Meals

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Sail to Cano Island

Today you’ll take a boat trip to the wonderful, untouched Caño Island, the gem of the South Pacific of Costa Rica! The waters around Cano island are renowned as one of the worlds best snorkelling and diving areas, with amazing coral reefs and some of the most abundant and varied marine life in the world.

The island itself has Pre Columbian architectural remains and it is believed to have once been a pirate hideout and some say it was the inspiration for Robert Stevenson’s book ”Treasure Island”

As you sail to the island you have the opportunity to see dolphins, whales, sea turtles, rays and other magnificent marine animals and take the chance to snorkel amongst them if you wish!

Accommodation

Aguila de Osa

Meals

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Sierpe River Mangrove cruise and on to Manuel Antonio

Today will start with a boat tour with your local guide through the Sierpe River and its mangrove, or if you prefer you can go by kayak. The Sierpe area is recognised by its canal system and is surrounded by a lush, mangrove forest.

After your boat or kayak trip you will head to the Central Pacific area of the country and Manuel Antonio: its beaches are beautiful and the National park is well known for its biodiversity in a small area you can easily spot monkeys, sloths, coatis and others, so there is an optional visit for those who want to explore its trails.  However, the white sand beach and the warm ocean will give you the opportunity to relax and enjoy the tropics at its fullest extent!

Your hotel for the next three nights is the Eco lodge Si Como No.

The Eco lodge is situated above Manuel Antonio National Park, on a jungle hilltop and has been awarded Costa Rica’s highest hotel sustainability rating.

There are 58 rooms, most with private balconies, during its construction only 1 tree was removed and energy efficient light and heating are used throughout.

There is an outdoor swimming pool with swim up bar and a spa. Guests can dine at Claro que Si elegant seafood restaurant or at the casual poolside Bar & Grill.

Sitting in 10 acres of gardens on the jungle hillside and striking the perfect balance between design and comfort, the lodge connects guests with the surrounding tropical forest of Manuel Antonio and the natural spirit of Costa Rica.

Afternoon free to enjoy the beach or relax at the hotel

Accommodation

Eco Lodge Si Como No.

Meals

Breakfast

White Water Rafting and 'Tico Style' Lunch

Today you will enjoy a white water river rafting trip.You and your fellow rafters, together with your guide, will work as a team and build your way up to a breathtaking yet manageable adventure – teamwork makes the dreamwork!  Starting with a 4×4 ride into the tropical rainforest, you will arrive at  the village of Silencio, and to a typical Tico restaurant, where you will pre-order the food you want for lunch. Then you will go to the starting point of your white water river rafting adventure in the Savegre River.

The River provides Class II, III, and IV rapids. On the way, you will make a stop by a magnificent and powerful waterfall, where you can have a quick dip in the cool refreshing water, and enjoy some delicious local fruit.After a steady 13 mile trip down the river, you will arrive at the finish line invigorated and ready for lunch. You’ll make your way back to Silencio Tico restaurant where your hot lunch “Tico Style” is waiting for you.

Take the afternoon to relax at your hotel in Manuel Antonio.

Accommodation

Eco Lodge Si Como No.

Meals

Breakfast

Today enjoy a leisurely morning at the eco lodge before your guide collects you to take you the Pez Vela Marina in Quepos, just 10 minutes away from your hotel.

Here you will board your catamaran for an afternoon whale and dolphin watching cruise on the pacific ocean. You will sail out to sea and if lucky will spot humpback whales, dolphins and also take the opportunity to snorkel and see the the beautiful marine wild life.

On board you can  enjoy snacks and natural juices and watch the sun set as you sail back into the marina.

Accommodation

Eco Lodge Si Como No.

Meals

Breakfast

Horse riding on the beach

Today you can relax and enjoy the hotel.

Either in the morning or the afternoon you will have the opportunity to horse ride along the beach in a two hour magical experience. You don’t need to be an experienced rider, the instructors and guides will tailor the activity to your experience level.

Your guide will collect you from the hotel and you’ll begin your beach horse ride on Esterillos beach. Depending on your experience, you will be able to trot, gallop and even swim with horses, water conditions permitting.

The day includes a safety briefing, all of the riding equipment, snacks and soft drinks.

Accommodation

Eco Lodge Si Como No.

Meals

Breakfast

Local Cooking Class

This morning you will take part in a Costa Rican Cooking class. At a local ranch you will take a tour of the garden to gather herbs and spices and learn about the recipes and techniques of Costa Rican cooking, and then enjoy the wonderful authentic lunch. Then you will learn the dripped coffee making technique to prepare your coffee the typical way.  And for those who prefer tea, you can pick the aromatic leaves of plants and trees within the garden to create the delicious refreshing tea of your preference. You’ll also have the chance to extract sugarcane juice using the Trapiche and mix a wonderful, refreshing drink with it.

After the cooking class it will be time to depart for the airport for your flight home.

You’ll take home amazing memories of the best of Costa Rica- its forests, volcanoes, rivers, waterfalls and beaches but most of all the warmth of the local people you have met here and friends you have made.

Meals

Breakfast, Lunch

Location Information

The tour begins in Alajuela, heading first north to La Fortuna, west towards Monteverde, Isla Chiquita on the central pacific coast and down to the remote and beautiful Drake Bay, you’ll then come back up the pacific coast and stay in picturesque Manuel Antonio.

All transport is provided, including all ferries and transfers from accommodation to accommodation, and all your guided activities are included so you can simply relax and enjoy the stunning scenery unfold before you.

On your final day, you will be driven back to the airport in San Jose.

1 Alajuela

2 La Fortuna

3 Monteverde

4 Isla Chiquita

5 Drake Bay

6 Manuel Antonio

  • All transfers from San Jose airport and ferries
  • 1 Night Villa San Ignacio BB
  • 4 Nights Arenal Paraiso Resort and Thermal Spa BB
  • 2 Nights Koora Hotel BB
  • 2 Nights Isla Chiquita Luxury Glamping BB
  • 3 Nights Eco Lodge Aguila de Osa FB
  • 4 Nights Si Como No hotel BB
  • Visit to Poas Volcano
  • La Paz Waterfall Gardens with lunch
  • Arenal Volcano & La Fortuna Waterfall with lunch
  • Tenorio Volcano National Park with lunch
  • Juanilama rural community project: organic farm, dairy tour, natural reserve hike
  • Monteverde Cloud Forest Night Tour
  • Selvatura Park hanging bridges and zip lining
  • Don Juan Coffee Farm Monteverde
  • Drake Bay Bioluminescence tour
  • Artisanal Fishing trip
  • Corcovado National Park with lunch
  • Isla del Caño with lunch
  • Rio Sierpe mangrove tour
  • Savegre River Rafting with lunch
  • Catamaran whale and dolphin watching with snacks
  • Horseback riding on the beach
  • Cooking Class in Manuel Antonio with lunch

FAQs

Lightweight cotton and linen clothing is recommended for most of the year, with warmer clothes for cooler evenings. Waterproofing is necessary during the rainy season. Loose-fitting clothing is best. Wear neutral browns and greens for bird and wildlife viewing. Always bring mosquito repellent for both day and night.