Costa Rica

Updated: Feb 23

Reserve through the month of November 2020 for $1!

My favorite travel partner has just announced this incredible sale on small group travel for 2021! Through November 2020, you can reserve your spot on a dream trip for only US$1; one dollar gives you something to look forward to in 2021. I’m highlighting sample itineraries in this blog, but won’t be able to cover the HUNDREDS of options. If you have a travel wish, contact me for details!

Why I love this travel operator …



SMALL GROUPS

Join a small group of like-minded travelers that, like you, are eager to safely and confidently experience all the things that make our world worth exploring.


SUPPORTING LOCAL COMMUNITIES

They have always created their tours by building meaningful relationships with local communities, directly benefiting the people and places they visit.


BOOK AND TRAVEL WITH CONFIDENCE

They have measures in place to help keep you safe from the moment you book to the moment you (reluctantly) head home, earning a badge from the World Travel and Tourism Council. WTTC’s Safe Travels Protocols



FLEXIBILITY, FREEDOM AND FUN

No matter the Travel Style, their tours balance well-planned itineraries with the flexibility to do your own thing and make the experience your own.


LOCALLY-BASED GUIDES

They don’t have tour guides — they have Chief Experience Officers. And they are all locally based, meaning they know the area you’re exploring like the back of their well-traveled hand.


REGENERATIVE TRAVEL

When you travel with them, you experience first-hand their commitment to making travel a force for good is in everything they do.

Starting at $999

DAY 1: SAN JOSE

Arrive at any time. There are no activities planned until an evening welcome meeting. Meet your trip leader and fellow travelers, and learn more about your tour. Opt to join the group for a local meal afterwards.

Accommodation: Autentico Hotel (or similar)

DAY 2: SAN JOSE/LA FORTUNA

Drive to Sarapiquí to visit the Mi Cafecito Community Coffee Plantation. Learn about the impact this project has had on the community and sample some of the products they sell. See shade-grown coffee plants, learn about everything from harvesting, to husking, drying, and roasting the beans before enjoying the best part – a fresh cup! Enjoy a typical lunch of plantains, beans, and freshly caught tilapia fish. Feel good about all this eating and drinking knowing that you are supporting a project that helps 200 farmers and their families.

Continue on to the Arenal region and take advantage of a free afternoon and a full free day tomorrow to experience the adventure activities and natural wonders of the area. Enjoy an included relaxing soak in the local hot springs. Relax in the shadow of the Arenal Volcano immersed in therapeutic waters heated by the earth’s magma and infused with healing minerals and salts. Rejuvenate your muscles, detox your cells, and stimulate all your senses in nature’s thermal spa. Breathe in the pure rainforest air and marvel at the mystic surroundings of these outdoor pools of paradise.

La Fortuna is an excellent base for adventure. Opt to hike the area’s nature trails, swim in chilly La Fortuna waterfall or go canyoning.

Optional Activities:

Whitewater Rafting, 61-86USD/person: Put on your bathing suit and water shoes, don a helmet and prepare to get wet and wild. Guided by expert leaders, paddle through Class II-IV rapids as you raft past spectacular scenery. Feel the burn, work up a sweat, then cool off in the pure river water. Experience the energy and excitement and enjoy!

Lost Canyon Adventures Canyoning, 90USD/person: Hold on tight and get ready to rappel down the face of rushing waterfalls. Fear and fun collide in the rainforest as you throw caution to the monkeys and launch yourself into nature. Get soaked and feel completely alive. Trek through rivers, wobble across a hanging bridge, and keep your eyes peeled for exotic birds and wildlife. Let the action begin!

Stand Up Paddle Lesson and Tour, 65USD/person: Grab a long wide board and show those surfer dudes how it’s done without waves on Lake Arenal with the volcano looming above. Tour picks up from the hotel and includes a tour of the west-end of the Lake while you’re getting the hang of the paddle board. Enjoy the amazing view, with chances to spot wild birds like Great Blue Herons or even Howler Monkeys. Learn more about the area while exploring the lake and snack on some tropical fruit before heading back to the hotel.

Accommodation: Hotel Eco Arenal (or similar)

DAY 3: LA FORTUNA

Free day in La Fortuna. Experience the outdoor adventures, amazing wildlife and natural wonders in this area. There are enough activities here to keep you busy all day long.

Feel free to relax or try optional activities like canyoneering, whitewater rafting, and paddleboarding. Spend the day getting your adrenaline pumping, viewing local wildlife, marveling at the Arenal Volcano and getting to know more about Costa Rica in La Fortuna. There are enough activities here to keep you busy all day long.

Optional Activities:

Gravity Falls Waterfall Jumping, 125USD/person: Hold on tight and get ready to rappel down the face of rushing waterfalls. Fear and fun collide in the rainforest as you throw caution to the monkeys and launch yourself into nature. Strapped securely in your harness, descend deep into the canyon, get soaked and feel completely alive. Trek through rivers, wobble across a hanging bridge and keep your eyes peeled for exotic birds and wildlife. Let the action begin!

Hanging Bridges, 66USD/person: Come join the monkeys and perhaps spot a sloth lazing in the treetops of this protected rainforest that’s set in the shadows of the Arenal Volcano. Trek 3km (2 mi) of winding trails up, down, across, and over 16 different bridges. One of higher suspended bridges overlooks a gorgeous gorge and 60m (37 mi) waterfall. Look up and down to spot birds, snakes, frogs, lizards, howler monkeys, and more. Don’t forget to bring binoculars, bug spray, and a long lens as you reach new heights in the canopy of Costa Rica.

Whitewater Rafting, 61-86USD/person: Put on your bathing suit and water shoes, don a helmet and prepare to get wet and wild. Guided by expert leaders, paddle through Class II-IV rapids as you raft past spectacular scenery. Feel the burn, work up a sweat, then cool off in the pure river water. Experience the energy and excitement and enjoy!

Lost Canyon Adventures Canyoning, 90USD/person: Hold on tight and get ready to rappel down the face of rushing waterfalls. Fear and fun collide in the rainforest as you throw caution to the monkeys and launch yourself into nature. Get soaked and feel completely alive. Trek through rivers, wobble across a hanging bridge, and keep your eyes peeled for exotic birds and wildlife. Let the action begin!

Stand Up Paddle Lesson and Tour, 65USD/person: Grab a long wide board and show those surfer dudes how it’s done without waves on Lake Arenal with the volcano looming above. Tour picks up from the hotel and includes a tour of the west-end of the Lake while you’re getting the hang of the paddle board. Enjoy the amazing view, with chances to spot wild birds like Great Blue Herons or even Howler Monkeys. Learn more about the area while exploring the lake and snack on some tropical fruit before heading back to the hotel.

Costa Rica Adrenaline Bundle: CANYONING (Half-day Arenal) Rappel, down-climb, river-trace, and descend huge waterfalls in the rugged mountains and lush rainforests around Costa Rica’s Arenal Volcano. ZIPLINING (Half-day Monteverde) Get a true bird’s-eye view of the rainforest canopy as you soar through the trees on a Tarzan swing, a giant rappel, and a 137-meter-high (450-foot) zipline. Please note that passengers must weigh between 45-100kg (100 – 220 lbs) and be at least 130cm (4’3 ft) tall to participate in these activities.

La Fortuna Waterfall Swim, 15USD/person: Take a walk, taxi, or horse just outside the town of La Fortuna to the nearby waterfall. Once at the gate, pay a fee then start the descent on rough steps (more than 500 of them!) to get to the base of the falls. The water cascades 65m (200 ft) down the side of the dormant Cerro Chato. Sit on the rocks, get sprayed, watch for iridescent blue morpho butterflies and then plunge into the cool waters.

Accommodation: Hotel Eco Arenal (or similar)

DAY 4: LA FORTUNA/MONTEVERDE

Travel by bus and boat through the stunning Costa Rican scenery up into the cloud forest. Take an included guided night walk to learn about nocturnal life in the jungle firsthand.

Travel across Lake Arenal into the mountains and on to Monteverde Cloud Forest.

Arrive to spend time enjoying this nature-lover’s paradise.

Guided Cloud Forest Night Walk, Join a naturalist guide for a 1.5-2 hour tour in the cloud forest after dark. Learn more about the habits of the area’s nocturnal wildlife including mammals, birds, insects, reptiles, and amphibians, and keep your eyes and ears open on this slow-paced walk. You never know what you might see – it depends on the day and your luck!

Accommodation: Hotel Historias Lodge (or similar)

DAY 5: MONTEVERDE

Enjoy a free day to explore the cloud forest region of Costa Rica. Opt to fly across canopy ziplines, walk across suspended bridges through the forest canopy, or go horseback riding in the hills.

There’s plenty to see and do in Monteverde, and we wanted to make sure that you had some time to take it all in. Feel free to relax or try optional activities like ziplining, visiting the hanging bridges, and horseback riding. Your trip leader has more ideas if you need them. Just ask!

Optional Activities:

Ziplining, 50USD/person: Buckle up your harness, don your helmet, and prepare to launch. Glide along cables suspended high above the cloud forest canopy. Dare to let go and reach top speeds as you zip past stunning scenery. Forget your fear as you spot a toucans or exotic orchids in this adrenaline-filled experience.

Monteverde Butterfly Garden Visit, 15USD/person: Get close to butterflies, bump into giant bugs, and make friends with hairy eight-legged spiders in this collection of gardens nestled in the mountains of Monteverde. Observe caterpillars, take prize-worthy photos of the iridescent blue morpho butterfly, and check out the leaf-cutter ant colony. The nature centre is home to 30 species of butterfly, a whole bunch of insects, as well as white-faced monkeys, coatis, motmots, and more.

Santa Elena Cloud Forest Guided Tour, 35USD/person: Pull on your poncho and boots. It’s time to head into the cloud-covered forest, past over-sized ferns and exotic orchids. Harness your inner Tarzan and Jane as you imagine swinging from the giant vines. Trudge along 12km (7 mi) of trails, watch for wildlife, and trek to the top of the observation tower. Be sure to stop and listen, too. Hear the haunting call of the bellbird and perhaps catch sight of the brilliant green and red resplendent quetzal. Feel good about protecting the forest and sustaining the quality of local schools through payment of your park fees.

Hanging Bridges Monteverde, 35USD/person: Get up high to see the tree tops of Monteverde’s Cloud Forest from a bird’s-eye view. Cross a series of hanging bridges to discover what biologists once required (ropes and pulleys) to glimpse the lush, green vista accented by bromeliads, vines, and orchids. Wonder at this wet canopy, home to 90% of all the organisms in the forest, including thousands of species of birds, small animals, amphibians, and insects.

Monteverde Horseback Riding, 45USD/person: Enjoy Monteverde’s breath-giving wilderness by horseback. Spot toucans, bellbirds, and parrots as you ride through private mountain trails along the primary and secondary forest. Meet monkeys, see sloths, and possibly glimpse the Gulf of Nicoya through the clouds. Take photos, inhale the pure air, and let your horse lead you on this memorable meander in misty Monteverde.

Tour, 33USD/person: Step back in time into El Trapiche (the sugar mill), home of three generations of Costa Rican farmers. Explore plantations of sugar cane, coffee, bananas and cacao. Start with a walk through the farm, learn about coffee and cocoa harvesting processes, ride a Costa Rican ox cart, and finally make artisanal sugar cane candy and liquor. Finish the tour with a fragrant cup of coffee made from beans grown right here on the farm!

Accommodation: Hotel Historias Lodge (or similar)

DAY 6: MONTEVERDE/QUEPOS

Travel to Quepos, just outside Manuel Antonio National Park. Opt to visit the park or relax on the beach in this fun surf town. Enjoy a night out and perhaps learn how to salsa.

Travel to the Pacific Coast. Enjoy Quepos or opt to visit Manuel Antonio National Park. The park offers excellent hiking, spectacular views, and abundant wildlife viewing. The park boasts beautiful white-sand beaches and the warm turquoise water. Opt to swim, fish, kayak, surf or take a sailing trip.

Enjoy free time to play in the waves, explore Manuel Antonio National Park, or dance the night away.

Optional Activities:

Fishing: Cast a line and (depending on the season) hope to hook a marlin, sailfish, tuna or dorado (mahi mahi). Fishing in Quepos, north of Manuel Antonio, is Costa Rica’s most popular spot for blue water sport fishing.

Sailing: Slap on some sunscreen and hop aboard as we set sail along the rugged Pacific Coast of Manuel Antonio National Park on a catamaran. Bask in the beauty of the white-sand beaches and small islands that accent the shoreline. Keep watch for dolphins, rays, and migrating whales. Hop into the warm water and snorkel with more than 50 species of colorful tropical fish.

Kayaking, 69USD/person: Choose to kayak the calm waters of the mangroves or paddle the waves of the Pacific. In the Damas Island estuary, the ocean meets fresh water rivers and creates a protected home for birds, snakes, crocodiles, and white face monkeys. For the more adventurous, opt for an open-seat ocean kayak and paddle along the shoreline and nearby islands, keeping an eye out for frigates, boobies, and jumping fish.

Manuel Antonia National Park Visit, 16USD/person: Pack your sunscreen, snack, beach shoes, and prepare for a great day in Costa Rica’s smallest yet no less stunning national park. Manual Antonio offers four white-sand beaches, separated by jagged rock outcrops and tidal pools. Swim, snorkel, surf, and sunbathe. When you’re all beached out, head to the shade of the nearby hiking trails to search for sloths, monkeys, and armadillos. Climb to the lookout to capture views of the pristine Pacific Ocean and the area’s off-shore islands.

Surfing, 55-75USD/person: Slather on the sunscreen, strap on a leash, pull on a rash guard, and get ready to hit the waves. Experience the surf at the beaches near Quepos and Manuel Antonio with their left, right, and well-shaped beach breaks. Take a lesson, learn tips and techniques, then hang ten like a local.

Accommodation: Hotel Mimos (or similar)

DAY 7: QUEPOS

Free day! There’s plenty to see and do in Quepos, and we wanted to make sure that you had some time to take it all in. Feel free to relax or try optional activities like visiting Manuel Antonio National Park, mangrove kayaking, and surfing. Your trip leader has more ideas if you need them. Just ask!

Manuel Antonio National Park Guided Hike, 45USD/person: Pack your sunscreen, camera, hiking shoes and bug repellent and prepare for a great day in Costa Rica’s smallest yet biodiverse national park. Manual Antonio offers four white sand beaches, separated by jagged rock outcrops and tidal pools. Head to the shade of the nearby tropical forest in search of sloths, monkeys, armadillos and iguanas. Climb to the lookout to capture views of the pristine Pacific Ocean and the area’s off-shore islands. Learn how the wildlife has adapted to their environment and enjoy your exotic experience.

Whitewater Rafting, 75-98USD/person: What better way to get from A to B then taking the natural route along a scenic and exciting river? Buckle up your life jacket, grab a paddle and head off to raft some Class II – IV rapids.

Manuel Antonio Catamaran Tour: Cruise along the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica aboard a 100ft catamaran, taking in the impressive scenery and lush jungle that has made Manuel Antonio famous. Keep your eyes peeled for playful dolphins who call these waters home before stopping to snorkel, swim, or ride one of the boat’s water slides into the ocean. If you’re wanting to relax and experience what the locals call Pura Vida (pure life), then look no further.

Kayaking, 69USD/person: Choose to kayak the calm waters of the mangroves or paddle the waves of the Pacific. In the Damas Island estuary, the ocean meets fresh water rivers and creates a protected home for birds, snakes, crocodiles, and white face monkeys. For the more adventurous, opt for an open-seat ocean kayak and paddle along the shoreline and nearby islands, keeping an eye out for frigates, boobies, and jumping fish.

Surfing, 55-75USD/person: Slather on the sunscreen, strap on a leash, pull on a rash guard, and get ready to hit the waves. Experience the surf at the beaches near Quepos and Manuel Antonio with their left, right, and well-shaped beach breaks. Take a lesson, learn tips and techniques, then hang ten like a local.

Accommodation: Hotel Mimos (or similar)

DAY 8: QUEPOS/SAN JOSE

Opt to chill at the beach in the morning before the journey by bus back to the capital. Do as much or as little as you’d like.

Accommodation: Autentico Hotel (or similar)

DAY 9: SAN JOSE

Depart any time.

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