Begin in Costa Rica’s capital San Jose, exploring its concrete architecture before travelling to Manuel Antonio National Park. Costa Rica’s smallest national park is also its most visited, combining pristine beaches with thick rainforests that are home to monkeys, macaws and many more. Continue your wildlife watching in the cloud forests of Monteverde, home to 5% of the planet’s bird species, before exploring the dormant Arenal Volcano, with its otherworldly landscapes. Next, head to the wetlands of Tortuguero for an encounter with its many turtles, who come to nest on its beaches before visiting the coastal town of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca for snorkelling and sea life. End your trip back in San Jose for your departure home.

Key information

Destinations Destinations Monteverde, Cerro Arenal Volcano, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Manuel Antonio National Park, San Jose, Tortuguero
Activity Activity Beach, Family, Nature & Wildlife, Responsible Travel
Physical Level Physical Level Easy
Season Season January - December

Suggested itinerary

Get cultural in San Jose

Get cultural in San Jose

Day 1 in San Jose

At first glance, San Jose might not seem like the prettiest of cities but delve a little deeper into the colonial mansions of Barrio Amon, the restaurants of Barrio Escalante and the many live music clubs, and you’ll soon uncover the beating cultural heart of Costa Rica’s capital.

Don't miss

Explore the slopes of Poás volcano

Explore the slopes of Poás volcano

The most popular of Costa Rica’s five active volcanoes, Poás volcano is within easy-driving distance of San José and is the largest open volcano in the world. Its crater is over a mile across and 1,050ft deep, with two small lakes at the bottom. Arrive early to beat the crowds and clouds.

Hit the beach in Manuel Antonio National Park

Hit the beach in Manuel Antonio National Park

Day 2–3 in Manuel Antonio National Park

If you imagine Costa Rica to be a paradise of pristine beaches, exotic flowers, thick rainforests, and crystal-clear waters, where monkeys and sloths and scarlet macaws frolic freely, then you have Manuel Antonio National Park in mind.

The smallest national park in the country, this is also the most visited — a true paradise for beach-goers and nature lovers, where emerald rainforest spills into the turquoise sea.

Don't miss

Visit Ballena National Marine Park

Visit Ballena National Marine Park

Named after the humpback whales that migrate to the region each year, Ballena National Marine Park is the perfect place to see sea birds, dolphins, turtles – and the afore-mentioned whales.

Lose your head in the clouds at Monteverde

Lose your head in the clouds at Monteverde

Day 4–5 in Monteverde

Boasting an incredible ecosystem and home to approximately 5% of the planet’s total bird species, 130 mammal species and more than 3,000 plants, the cloud forests of Monteverde are a nature lover’s dream. Visitors can explore an array of trails which wind through 13km of forest and enjoy bird’s-eye views from the many skywalks, hanging bridges and zip lines throughout the reserve.

Visit the (for now) dormant Cerro Arenal Volcano

Visit the (for now) dormant Cerro Arenal Volcano

Day 6–10 in Cerro Arenal Volcano

For several decades, the Cerro Arenal Volcano was the most active in Costa Rica, spewing molten lava and red hot boulders into the surrounding darkness. Since 2010, activity has been limited to puffs of smoke and the occasional rumble, but that hasn’t stopped visitors exploring the adjacent Arenal Volcano National Park.

Float down the canals of Tortuguero

Float down the canals of Tortuguero

Day 11–12 in Tortuguero

Impossible to reach by car, Tortuguero on the north east coast of Costa Rica can only be accessed by boat. Thanks to limited development, a journey down its waterways offers the chance to see manatees, crocodiles, caiman and monkeys.

Don't miss

Volunteer with with a sea turtle conservation project

Volunteer with with a sea turtle conservation project

Costa Rica is a sea turtle paradise, with turtle hatching occurring on various beaches on both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts throughout the year. There are dozens of small conservation projects and protected areas set up, with many containing a nursery where volunteers can help. Do your research and always be respectful of these beautiful and endangered animals.

Surf and snooze in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Surf and snooze in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Day 13–14 in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Once a sleepy backwater surfing town, Puerto Viejo has become a stop-off for travellers looking to party. While it can be raucous on the main strip, head a couple of blocks out of town and you’ll be able to stay with families in quiet houses with only the sounds of the rainforest for company.

Don't miss

Snorkelling in Cahuita

Snorkelling in Cahuita

The protected coral reef in Cahuita National Park is home to 35 species of live coral and hundreds of species of fish, including angelfish, parrotfish and stingray. You can also explore a protected area for nesting sea turtles.

Return to San Jose

Return to San Jose

Day 15–16 in San Jose

Transfer to San José for one final evening with the group before your return flight.

Book this itinerary

This route booked with one of our specialist tour operators would cost from £1,559pp. Pricing varies by accommodation class, and can be tailored to suit your budget.

Pricing is typically inclusive of hotels, transfers, meals, and all guided excursions and activities.

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