Action and Adventures in Costa Rica Vacation

A 10 day trip to Costa Rica 
4.95 out of 5 stars
223 reviews

Savor Pura Vida, the Pure Life, with an adventurous Costa Rica vacation tailored to your preferred taste for excitement. Listen to the low, intense wails of howler monkeys, paddle the whitewater along class IV rapids, traipse the forest trails on horseback, and soar through the sky on a scenic zip line. The blend of authentic beauty and captivating exploration creates timeless vacations captured in the waterfalls, volcanic peaks, singing birds, and restless monkeys. Whether a first-time visitor or returning vacationer, you can soak in hot springs, kayak through mangrove forests, and relish the action of Costa Rica. 

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Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

San Jose, Limon, Arenal, Perez Zeledon, Tirimbina Biological Reserve, Cahuita National Park, Manuel Antonio National Park 

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: San Jose – Arrive in the Marvels of Costa Rica with a Gold Museum Tour  

The beauty and charm of San Jose emanate from the mixture cosmopolitan ambiance and the daily cultural life typical of a Central American capital city. The colorful facades glow against the sporadic dense greenery, and the trees act as natural fences around homes with thick, large roots holding the sloped terraces in place. The scent of sweet mangos and tangy pineapple drift out of the open storefronts of the numerous markets. Booths and stalls in front of the National Museum around Avenida 2 showcase artisan crafts, from hand-woven hammocks to elegant bags.

Your flight lands at Juan Santamaria International Airport, where your private transfer greets you upon arrival. The warm, tropical air of the Central Valley meets you as you exit the airport, and the full scale of the capital city comes into view with a captivating pulse beating through the streets. The Gold Museum offers extensive insight into the rich history of Costa Rica through the priceless pieces of pre-Colombian artifacts. The galleries display historical currency, ornaments, and gold characters, including El Guerrero, a life-sized figure of a warrior adorned with golden accessories. The surrounding architecture resembles a bank vault, glittering with the gold of Costa Rica’s rich cultural history. You find an oasis on the luxurious grounds of your hotel, which offers exceptional views of the Central Valley. The lush hills roll to the bordering volcanic peaks, and sporadic colorful homes shine against the encompassing emerald trees.

What’s Included: airport transfer, accommodation, tour

Day 2: Limon – Discover the Thrill of Whitewater on a Guided Rafting Expedition

The modern shopping complex of Plaza Real Cariari embodies the cosmopolitan and contemporary culture of San Jose. The more than 100 luxury stores stretch beneath the arching glass rafters. At breakfast, the aroma of fresh coffee sourced from plantations around Costa Rica’s highly regarded coffee plantations fills the air and is accompanied by the vibrant aroma of fresh watermelon and juicy mango. Your private transfer greets you in the hotel lobby, eager to lead you to the banks of the Pacuare River. The high-altitude of the Central Valley, which ranges from about 2,600 to over 4,900 feet above sea-level, provides for a pleasant temperature all year.

The rolling hills around the city offer a visible, slightly blue haze through the trees where the coffee plants cease to grow. When you reach the camp on the riverbanks, don your life jacket, and step into the raft. You touch the water and feel the surprising warmth on your skin. The dense rainforest terrain borders these waters. This river runs for nearly 70 miles, beginning on the Atlantic Slope in the Talamanca Mountains, and reaching all the way to the Caribbean Sea. The rugged cliffs rise around you and lead to the dense emerald trees and dangling vines characteristic of the untamed terrain of the jungle.

The groans of howler monkeys echo through the gorge. Their calls can travel up to three miles and carry a distinctive, Jurassic sound. The jade water begins to ripple as Capuchin monkeys traipse through the trees. You start to paddle with the rushing water as it carries you down a class IV rapid, your heart pounding with excitement. Water splashes against your face and rocks and boulders poke out from the river bumping the edges of your raft. The water becomes calm once again and, in this peaceful moment, you notice the richness of your surroundings as wild parakeets flutter overhead.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 3: Limon – Explore the Caribbean Jungle and Sea at Cahuita National Park

At sunrise, the howler monkeys return to calling one another through the trees. Their deep, gravelly moan reminds you of a dinosaur’s roar. Howler monkeys can grow up to 36 inches tall, and they use their distinctive calls to protect their territory. At breakfast, you indulge in sweet pineapple and colorful papaya. After the meal, you venture into the depths of Cahuita National Park, which encompasses more than 2,700 terrestrial acres, and over 55,000 acres of protected marine area. White-headed capuchins wander through the trees along the beaches while keel-billed toucan perch on the tallest branches, their elaborate bills shining with radiant tropical colors.

You board a small boat to reach the coral reefs close to shore, and your guide offers an explanation of the type of marine life you are likely to see in the water. The crystal-clear sea shines indigo in the sunlight as you jump into the water for a thrilling look at the tropical life glowing beneath the sea, finding first the unique ridges of the yellow brain coral. Blue staghorn coral has branches that reach out like the horns of a deer, and sea fans wave in the gentle current. The water is warm and inviting on your skin. With good visibility, you can see up to 20 feet ahead, watching for the giant clams, ruby lobsters, and undulating coral. With their stunning hue, and a beak that helps them peel algae from the rocks, the blue parrot fish is unique to nature, and their impressive size at more than three feet long makes them all the more fascinating to view.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour breakfast

Day 4: Arenal – Visit the Tirimbina Biological Reserve en route to Arenal

The yellow and white breast of the White-collared Manakin stands out from the verdant leaves of the Caribbean rainforest. They use their wings to make loud snap that sounds like a twig breaking, while simultaneously calling to a mate. After breakfast, your private transfer escorts you to Arenal, a region set beneath the idyllic cone of the eponymous volcano. You take a small detour on the scenic drive to reach La Tirimbina Biological Reserve. You can hear the rivers coursing over the pebbled banks. Lush forest provides cover for nesting golden-winged warblers and royal flycatchers. The protected landscape comprises 750 acres and is used to help educate visitors and researchers in the magnificent biodiversity of the mid-elevation tropical forest.

Venture into the treetops to traverse the more than five miles of suspension bridges winding through the canopy. Old cacao plantations have grown into secondary forests. You can hear the river snaking along the underbrush as you cross a bridge measuring 860 feet long that passes over the Sarapiqui River. An opulent white adult snowy cotinga perches in the trees as ocelots hide in the branches and utilize their quick feet to spring from predators. Motmots twitter in the serene air. Their calls sound similar to their names. You find one lingering on a branch with its tail feather dangling and edged with a natural tassel. You continue to your luxurious accommodation in Arenal to find the comforts of fruits and vegetables growing amidst grazing cattle on the eco-friendly ranch.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 5: Arenal – Enjoy an Exciting 4x4 Rainforest Safari and Relax in Hot Springs

Excitement abounds today as you venture into the countryside after breakfast in search of hidden thrills. You step into a 4x4 to begin your rainforest safari. The craggy and rugged trails wind between the dense jungle. Sloths lounge in the trees and bask in the sunlight piercing the canopy, their claws allowing them to cling to the tree branches. Parakeets chirp in the canopy and flutter their wings as they fly away upon your arrival.

The car stops, and you can hear the thunderous crash of the nearby waterfall. Your instructor leads you through the mechanics of rappelling and fits you into the harness. You lean back over the edge where the waterfall spills over the cliff. Drops of cool water splash onto your cheeks as you crouch perpendicular to the rock wall and push yourself, descending closer to the canyon floor. Your heart beats strong and loud in your ears while the waterfall crashes into the pool below.  You reach the ground and disconnect from the rope noticing the distance you traveled from the top of the canyon plateau.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 6: Arenal – Indulge the Adventures of Arenal with a Day at Leisure

In the morning, the vibrant fruits harvested on the farm of your accommodation decorates the breakfast plates. The vivid red of watermelon and sun-yellow of pineapple offers a rainbow of color and naturally sweet flavors that perfectly complement the revitalizing aroma of freshly brewed coffee. The day is yours to indulge in the distinctive excursions around Arenal. Take a horseback ride along the rainforest and lower ridges of the volcano or bask in the naturally heated water of the hot springs. For an adventurous view of the forest canopy, you embark on a zip lining tour. The air gondola takes you into the mountains, offering a stunning view of the landscape, and leads to the observation deck at 4,100 feet above sea level.

The surrounding trees lend an herbaceous aroma to the warm air. You can see the shimmering cobalt waters of Lake Arenal through the trees as guide fits you with the harness and connects you to the line. You lean back, lift your legs, and soar over the treetops. The highest cable reaches more than 650 feet off of the forest floor with the longest cable traveling nearly 2,500 feet. The wind rushes against your cheeks as the greenery races past. You spot a sloth dangling in the crevice of the branches looking for the source of the buzzing sound emanating from the line. 

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 7: Perez Zeledon – Travel to the Central Pacific Coast for a Sea Kayaking Tour

The scent of fresh coffee helps liven the senses after a full day of excitement. The adventure continues today as you travel west to the Central Pacific coast, reaching your luxury lodge nestled into the mountain plateau. You have a remarkable view of the rainforest and hills, lush with flora and fauna. After settling into the comforts of the lodge, you step into a kayak to traverse the Savegre River. The quiet water leads less than two miles into the mangrove forest. Your heart will race with excitement as you find yourself in close proximity to the wildlife along the edges of the water.

Roseate spoonbills linger in the shallow waters along the riverbanks. Their wingspan can grow to 52 inches long, shimmering with pink and white feathers. They stretch their wings in the sunlight to dry after perching in the water in search of food. The osprey circles overhead and peers down into the mangroves in search of fish, the elegant patterns on the underside of their wings shining against the pale blue sky. A sloth slowly rustles the leaves as it eats, while hiding from the circling osprey. The estuary leads you to the beachfront where the sweet perfume of the Pacific overtakes the subtle scent of lemon juice coming from a traditional Costa Rican ceviche.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 8: Perez Zeledon – Hike the Tropical Forest and Relax with at your Leisure

The sounds of the jungle return to the trees in the morning. At breakfast, you sit on the open deck of the dining room looking out into the dense canopy, and listening to the calls of parakeets and capuchin monkeys. The sweet and sour aroma of passion fruit fills the air. After the meal, you meet your guide who is ready to lead you on a private hike along the trails that wind through the nearly 850 acres of the private reserve at the Savegre River. You venture to the village of Quebrada Arroyo in search of the magnificent waterfalls.

The trail passes giant ferns before reaching a long suspension bridge stretching 400 feet. The wooden planks bounce with every step. You hear the crashing water of the 120-foot waterfall as a rushing veil of water trundles down the far rocky cliff. The scent of sunbaked stone overtakes the musk of leaves. The cascade feeds a small pool waiting at the bottom of the precipice. A Basiliscus Lizard, often referred to as a Jesus Lizard, sprints across the surface of the water, and your guide points to a poison dart frog hiding in the rocks. You can dip into the pool and enjoy the refreshing cool of the water contrasting the jungle heat.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 9: San Jose – Relish the Uniqueness of Manuel Antonio en route to San Jose 

Toucans call to one another in the cool morning air as they perch on the trees and search for berries and nuts, crunching down on their meal with their strong beak. After breakfast, you begin the journey back to San Jose, stopping to explore the celebrated landscape and coastline of Manuel Antonio National Park. The turquoise Pacific laps against white-sand beaches. Evergreen forest lines the shores, and primary and secondary forest leads to mangroves and lagoons harboring 184 different bird species and more than 100 types of mammals across the nearly eight square miles of protected area.

You follow the sloth trail leading east from the information center. The lookout takes you to the headland near Playa Puerto Escondido. The vertical drop offers a spectacular view of the Pacific shoreline. The ocean breeze carries the fragrance of salt and sand. Tide pools swirl around the rocks where crabs and sponges linger. Iguanas, which can grow to an imposing length of six and a half feet, bathe in the sunlight. At low tide, pre-Colombian turtle traps are visible on the rocks around the beach, attributed to the Quepos people. After exploring the marvels of the national park, you return to the car and continue on your way to San Jose.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 10: San Jose – Depart for Home

At breakfast, you soak in the view from the dining room, basking in the brilliance of the Central Valley. Papaya decorates the plates, and the scent of fresh-squeezed passion fruit juice drifts beneath the canopy of the open-air restaurant. The historic neighborhood of Amon represents San Jose at the turn of the 20th century, with clusters of estates built to accommodate the wealthy coffee merchants. The historic buildings have been converted into restaurants, hotels, and cafes, set within the beauty of art deco and Victorian styles. The smell of fresh coffee continues to drift through the streets. Your private transfer greets you at the hotel after breakfast and escorts you to Juan Santamaria International Airport for your flight home, bringing an end to your adventurous Costa Rica vacation.

What’s Included: airport transfer, breakfast


Starting Price 

This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.