Costa Rica might look small on a map, but don’t be fooled, you can’t see everything in just one week. With some careful planning, however, you can still have a vacation of a lifetime that showcases what Costa Rica is all about: nature, adventure, and pura vida. Sample a taste of Costa Rica’s volcanoes and beaches with a one week itinerary that is ideal for travelers that want to see the diverse environments that Costa Rica offers. You will visit scenic volcanoes and rainforests in Arenal / La Fortuna for 4 nights as well as a trip at the Guanacaste Beaches for 3 nights for fun in the sun and relaxation surrounded by vegetation. Check out my ideas of what to do and where to stay including travel tips, recommendations and how to make the most of your short trip!
InJoy Tip: The best time to visit Costa Rica is from mid-December to April (the dry season). This peak tourist season boasts plenty of sunshine making it an ideal time for exploring rainforests and lounging on beaches. That said, the dry season is the most popular (and expensive) time to visit. Luckily the U.S. dollar goes a long way in Costa Rica no matter the season. You’ll have to book your room and tour reservations three months in advance to secure a spot. If you don’t mind getting a little wet, visit between May and November when prices are at their lowest. During June and July, rain showers pause briefly, and Costa Rica’s forests burst with green foliage.
Day 1: Welcome to Liberia, Costa Rica
From Liberia International Airport, rent a car, take a shuttle/tour van, or bus it to the town of La Fortuna. Along the way you will traverse rolling green mountains of coffee plantations, cattle fields, and the occasional dense forest. The narrow road winds through small cities and quaint towns. Getting closer to La Fortuna of San Carlos, you’ll start to see the volcano looming in the distance. Once you arrive, settle into your accommodations and take in the view. La Fortuna has a very walkable downtown complete with a charming central park. Explore the streets and shops before you grab dinner at one of the many restaurants.
InJoy Hotel Tip: Arenal Manoa Hotel is a beautiful place to rest, relax, and enjoy the marvelous view of Arenal Volcano. Surrounded by gardens, pastures and animals, their rooms have been designed so that each one offers you a panoramic view of the volcano. The rooms at Arenal Manoa combine a modern and rustic architecture, with plenty space for your comfort, where you can enjoy the view of the Arenal Volcano from your own bed. There is also a balcony where you can delight with the panoramic view and the gardens that are around the rooms, while you rest in a rocking chair. Arenal Manoa is a destiny created for you to enjoy the combination of a high-quality service and an exuberant natural beauty. Check rates and availability here.
Day 2: Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge Nature Cruise
Set near the Nicaraguan border in a marshy, jungle-like area, the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge is considered to be one of the richest in biological diversity in Costa Rica and also is one of the most difficult places to visit. In order to visit Caño Negro, it’s necessary to join a day tour since it is set in a remote area that is often submerged in water from flooded rivers. We recommend [INSERT TOUR GUIDE RECOMMENDATION HERE].
Begin your journey to the northern village of Los Chiles for 90 minutes where you will drive through the San Carlos plains and beautiful scenery with a variety of agriculture products being cultivated such as sugar cane, cassava (yucca), pineapples, bananas, papayas, orange trees, legumes, and other fruits and vegetables. Board your expedition boat and enjoy a Nature Cruise in search of exotic fauna for four hours. The Canals of the River “Rio Frio” and its breathtaking surroundings are home to thousands of animals, and with some luck you will see howler monkeys, spider monkeys, white-faced monkeys, the three-toed sloth, reptiles like caimans, the Jesus Christ lizard, turtles, and an almost endless selection or birds. An experienced, bilingual guide leads the tour, teaching tour takers about the ecological history of the area. Once the tour is over, you head back to your hotel.
InJoy Tip: Bring copy of your passport as the tour begins near a checkpoint with the Nicaraguan border.
Day 3: Arenal Hanging Bridges Nature Walk & Arenal Volcano Guided Hike
Arenal Hanging Bridges extends 3.1 kilometers long, crossing fourteen bridges, 8 stationary and 6 in suspension, going from 8 to 98 meters length and getting till 60 meters height, where you can appreciate the admirable flora and fauna characteristic of the place. The view of Arenal Volcano is really nice from the bridges as well. The impressive vistas of the river canyons originating in the reserve provide a very entertaining way to appreciate the biological riches found in the reserve for persons of all ages and physical conditions. There are many different species of birds on the surroundings, such as the White Hawk, Great Curassow; reptiles like the Boa, Basiliscos Lizards, variety of species of monkeys and a great diversity of insects. The trails are designed with modern technology, making possible for everybody to enjoy them. They are also very secure, comfortable and do not alter the environment.
Go on a Arenal Volcano Guided Hike tour that begins with a 15-minute drive to the far west side of Arenal Volcano. At your arrival, your guide will explain the volcanoes formation, eruptions, and contributions to the Fortuna town development. Afterwards, continue to the primary tropical rain forest, where you will spend about 1 ½ hours exploring the trails facing the majestic Arenal Volcano. Also, your bilingual naturalist guide will point-out indigenous rain forest plants and tell you about their medicinal properties. Finally, continue to the observation point, which offers the closest and most direct vista of the volcano. If the cloud cover is high enough, expect to listen to a variety of frogs, toucans, and insects and watch thousands of fireflies.
InJoy Tip: You do not need to rent a car for this itinerary since you will need to book tours that include transportation since public transportation is not efficient for these activities.
Day 4: Sky Tram, Sky Trek Zip Line & Sky Walk Hanging Bridges
After breakfast at the hotel, meet your driver for a transfer to the attraction to begin your adventure. Zipping along nearly two miles (three kilometers) of cables, you will see the rain forest as well as get a panoramic view of the volcano and lake from a whole new perspective. There are currently ten zip line cables and they range in height from 30 meters to 200 meters and in length from 200 meters to 750 meters. This private reserve is near El Castillo, on the north-facing slopes of the Cordillera de Tilaran, and it offers phenomenal volcano views, to be enjoyed from an aerial Sky Tram that rises 236 meters in a 1250 meters ride, taking visitors up to a Mirador (lookout point) where starts the Sky Trek zip line circuit. Before leaving the main building to start your tour, you will be fitted with all of the necessary safety equipment (harness, helmet, gloves), which the guides will take care to properly adjust. Afterwards the guides will deliver a safety speech detailing proper form and the innovative braking system. Continue with your adventure with a close-up look at the rainforest as you enjoy a nature walk on the Sky Walk/ Hanging Bridges.
Late afternoon / early evening: Tabacon Hot Springs & Thermal Pools
Visit the world-famous Tabacon Hot Springs and Spa, the only hot springs in the Arenal Volcano area that is completely natural. Water flows by gravity throughout the property, forming in-river pools, waterfalls, and cascades and filling in the pools throughout the resort. As the underground Tabacon River flows through the magma in the volcano, the springs absorb minerals. Hot springs provide many benefits stemming from various chemical, physical and biological effects, the most notable is relaxing tense and tired muscles.
Day 5 & 6: Rainforest of the Highlands to the Beach in the Guanacaste Coast
At the appropriate time, meet your driver for a scenic ride to Conchal Beach for a 3-night stay at the beachfront Westin All Inclusive Resort. Enjoy the beach and the resort’s facilities. Considered to be one of the most exotic beaches on the Costa Rican Gold Coast, Playa Conchal is situated in the north of Guanacaste province on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. With some of the clearest waters on the Gold Coast, snorkeling is a must-indulge activity for anyone who knows how to swim. With a fantastic array of marine life on display, you can swim with the many tropical fish that dwell here, and even catch a glimpse of stingrays that swim in the area. For the more adventurous, deep seas fishing, scuba diving, and other water sports are offered as well.
InJoy Hotel Tip: The Westin Resort Playa Conchal Resort is located on Costa Rica’s magnificent North-Pacific Riviera and is set on 2,400 acres and offers everything you need to revitalize and thrive. Nestled between lush forests and the sparkling azure waters of the Pacific Ocean, the hotel offers a lagoon-style pool, gardens, tennis courts, 18-hole Reserva Conchal Golf Course and thatch-roofed bungalows. Work up a sweat at the Westin Fitness Studio or pamper yourself with a decadent treatment at The Westin Spa to start or finish your day. Check rates and availability here.
InJoy Tip: This area is extremely hot and dry and follows the typical tropical season pattern. You must bring tons of at least SPF 30 sunscreen, mosquito repellent, sunglasses, hat and after sun gel. Protect yourself from the sun. An insulated water bottle will be super useful so you can always have cold water.
Day 7: Back to Reality
Hopefully your trip was a success and you can reminisce about the wonderful sights, generous people, and extraordinary environment you experienced while you travel back home.
One of the main advantages of booking your trip through InJoy Travel and destination specialists at EcoAmerica Tours is that you do not have to spend countless hours looking online for hotels, point-to-point transportation, attractions, entrance fees, excursions, and much more. The second is that when traveling with us, you can be sure that we will be with you throughout your trip to assist and make sure that each one of the services included in your reservation are delivered. When traveling with us, you will be talking to a real person who will de-mystify the travel components and will provide you with information that makes you knowledgeable and informed. When traveling with us you will get real value, just like countless travelers before you.
Are you planning a trip to Costa Rica? Contact me today for more information!