Amazing Costa Rica 8-Day Itinerary

A 8 day trip to Costa Rica 
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306 reviews

The vibrant feathers of scarlet macaws, the rumbling whitewater of enchanting cascades, the tranquil seclusion of a luxury hotel on the Pacific coast, your Costa Rica vacation embodies nature’s splendor and thrilling excursions personalized to your day-to-day desires. Search for dolphins, whales, sloths, and howler monkeys, dig your toes into the soft sand, and bask in pools heated by geothermal activity. On your Costa Rica tour, you will relish the intricacies of guided explorations in a carefree environment while experiencing the captivating culture of Pura Vida!    

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General Information

Arial view of Finca Exotica Ecolodge. Photo: Courtsey Finca Exotica Ecolodge
Cabina Rancho at Finca Exotica Ecolodge. Photo: Courtsey of Finca Ecotica Ecolodge
Hammock relaxation at Finca Exotica Ecolodge. Photo: Courtesy Finca Exotica Ecolodge
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Arenal, La Paz Waterfall Gardens, Bajos del Toro, Osa Peninsula, Corcovado National Park, Cano Island National Park

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Arenal – Arrive in San Jose and Transfer to Relaxing and Beautiful Arenal

The volcanic ranges form summits along the northern edges of the Central Valley, spreading across Costa Rica to create natural thermal springs amongst the lush rainforest landscape. Upon landing in Costa Rica, your private transfer greets you at Juan Santamaria International Airport. The climate of the capital city offers a cool, refreshing temperature year-round, differing from the tropical heat and cold of the highlands. Lush coffee plantations thrive long the encircling mountain ridges that range in height from nearly 4,000 feet and 5,575 feet above sea level.

Fruit stands populate the roadside along the way to Arenal, where vendors display gigantic watermelons and delicious coconuts chilled for a refreshingly cool drink. They drill holes into the center of the husk, popping a straw into the heart to enjoy the chilled, natural, and fresh coconut milk. You wind along the mountainous road leading through La Fortuna. The once sleepy agricultural village hides remnants of its past as spiny iguanas scramble through bushes, and sloths rest in the treetops above the creek.

The summit of Arenal Volcano rises above the town at an altitude of almost 5,480 feet and, while the crater has been dormant since 2010, it had erupted daily since the 1960s, causing a spectacular burst of fireworks against the night sky. The volcano crowns the eponymous national park, which encompasses nearly 30,000 acres. You reach the comforts of your luxury resort surrounded by the beauty of the rainforest canopy and settle into your room with a partial view of the nearby volcanic peak. The thermal activity of the region heats the waters rushing through the hills connected to your resort, and you take the time to visit the hot springs, lounging in the soothing water and its revitalizing minerals.

Consider reading some of our travelers' Costa Rica travel reviews to learn more about this exhilarating Costa Rica tour.

What’s Included: airport transfer, accommodation

Day 2: Arenal – Relish an Exploration of Arenal with an Excursion of your Choice

At breakfast, you find the scent of fresh coffee filling the dining room. Jesus Christ lizards perch on the sun-drenched rocks decorating the poolside. Sweet pineapple and juicy mango accompany delicious pancakes. After the meal, you meet your guide in the lobby eager to partake in your choice of the fabulous excursions for which Arenal is known. Visit the Sky Tram for an aerial view of Arenal or trek the trails leading through the remarkable flora and lava fields of Arenal Volcano National Park.

One of the most popular adventures to experience in Arenal is a zip line tour through the canopy. Your guide provides an in-depth safety demonstration to learn about the techniques and regulations helping to make your journey safer and more fun. You reach the first of 12 platforms, looking down over the rainforest treetops. The canopy is flush with wildlife throughout the day, from boa constrictors to sloths, white-tailed hawks to howler monkeys.

In the cooler hours of the morning, the howler monkeys call out to affirm their territory to nearby troops, their low, grumbling groan echoing clearly through the trees for up to three miles. Your guide straps you in and you glide more than 260 over the forest floor on cable lines, the longest of which reaches a length of nearly 1,150 feet. The wind brushes against your cheeks and carries the herbaceous scent of pine. A sloth awakens in the trees looking for the cause of the buzzing noise emanating from the cable, then slowly ambles out of his hide and across the branches to a safer distance from the zip line.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 3: Bajos del Toro – Visit La Paz Waterfall Gardens en route to Bajos del Toro

The warm light of the tropical rainforest pierces through the treetops bringing a familiar heat, and the lizards return to the rocks by the pool to enjoy the day’s warmth. You find the scent of coffee refreshing and rejuvenating. Birds of paradise blossom alongside the cobbled walkways and a Cherrie’s tanager bird twitters with a series of clear, flute-like notes as it lands on a small branch. Your private transfer greets you in the lobby and escorts you along the winding roads around the northern edges of the Central Valley to reach La Paz Waterfall Gardens, located along the slopes of the Poas Volcano.

The landscape varies between 4,000 and 5,000 feet above sea level, accounting for a cooler climate amongst cloud and rain forest. Nearly two miles of trails wind along the mountainside connecting an aviary, butterfly garden, and wildlife sanctuary to five stunning waterfalls that trundle down the cliffs. Exotic orchids blossom around, and a  historic hacienda offers insight into the life of ranchers in 19th century Costa Rica.

You follow the trail to the hummingbird garden, which attracts 26 of Costa Rica’s 50 different species of hummingbird. Giant hummingbirds flap their wings an average of 13 beats per second, with the fastest recorded speeds reaching up to 80 beats per second. The sound of pulsing and buzzing wings ebbs and flows with the activity of the birds eager to taste the nectar in the feeders. The natural light glints off the iridescent pink, purple, green, and bronze feathers of a shimmering volcano hummingbird.

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

Day 4: Bajos del Toro – Enjoy a Cultural Tour of Town and a Private Waterfall Hike

Mist drifts through the upper regions of the cloud forest in the returning morning light. Before the clouds dissipate, they leave dew glistening on the moss that drapes over the bark, branches, and forest floor. The moss collects the moisture and helps feed the trees, flowers, and underbrush to create the emerald hues and enticing ambiance surrounding your luxury lodge. After breakfast, your guide leads you into town for a cultural introduction to daily life in Costa Rica. You begin at a private orchid garden where a local man has planted and tended to a variety of exotic orchids to help keep the stunning petals thriving in their natural habitat.

There are over 1,300 known species of orchids growing in Costa Rica spreading across the diverse ecosystems. The flowers attach themselves to trees but are not parasitic. Instead they use the bark to help support their large petals. The magnificent colors shine in colors of pink, white, gold, and purple, but you are particularly drawn to the unique properties of the miniature orchid. From a distance, the flower looks like a small bud growing from a mossy branch, but your guide pulls out a magnifying glass to reveal the true splendor and intimate details of the high-altitude growing blossom.

You continue to the home of a local restaurateur who is eager to teach you how to make your own tortillas. You mix corn flour and water to form the dough, then tear small pieces away and shape them into balls before patting them flat. After grilling each tortilla for a less than two minutes, you have delicious, flaky homemade tortillas. After returning to the lodge, you reach the head of the waterfall trail, ready to view the distinctive cascades in the tranquil private reserve.     

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 5: Osa Peninsula – Unique Costa Rican Seclusion

At breakfast, you delight in the typical Costa Rican dish of gallo pinto, beans and rice, served with fried eggs and bacon. The scent of passion fruit juice accompanies the sweet citrus of fresh oranges. After breakfast your private transfer escorts you over the mountain ridges into the Central Valley. You stop to enjoy the view leading back towards San Jose where you board a quick flight to Puerto Jimenez Airport on the eastern seaboard of the Osa Peninsula. You travel to the west coast and stop in the gorgeous lobby of Finca Exotica Ecolodge nestled between the swaying palms along the tranquil beach in Carate.

The concierge offers you a refreshingly cool, damp towel, along with a drink made from blended strawberries, pineapple, and ice. The sweet taste of the drink accompanied with the scent of mint from the towel revitalizes your senses. Finca Exotica takes pride in cultivating the fresh produce from the permaculture farm on the property. They work with the neighboring community for delicious fresh ingredients producing a healthy blend of intense exotic flavors for a variety of celebrated national and international cuisine. The lodge participates in sustainable practices committed to preserving the land through organic food production, environmentally-friendly building, and community outreach.

Your serene and secluded accommodation touches the southern coast of the Puntarenas Province near the protected landscape of Corcovado National Park offering an enchanting ambiance connected to the heart of the jungle and the soothing sounds of the Pacific Ocean’s lapping waves. Primary forest borders the national park and draws unique wildlife to the unspoiled shoreline. Your opulent room provides a view to the water and access to the powdery sand, hiking trails, and relaxing ambiance of the remote location.

The water shimmers with indigo and turquoise hues against the towering coconut palms bordering the gold-sand beach. The remainder of the day is yours to listen to the playful white white-headed capuchin monkeys playing in the trees, ride horseback along the nearby meadow, spend time on the water in search of orca, dolphins and humpback whales, or indulge in a soothing pace with a refreshing yoga session in the lush tropical garden. You could also settle into the comforts of your luxury accommodation at Finca Exotica Ecolodge and relax by the pristine coastline of the Osa Peninsula. 

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

Day 6: Osa Peninsula – Discovering true Corcovado National Park

At breakfast you sip on your coffee and enjoy listening to the waves crashing against the rocks. The scents of pineapple and coconut mingle with the breeze. Your guide greets you in the lobby after breakfast eager to lead you on a remarkable tour through Corcovado National Park, which encompasses nearly 25 miles of coastline and 13 separate ecosystems. The protected landscape is also home to the last old-growth wet forest in Central America, which offers unique ecological feature due to its lack of significant disturbance from the outside world.

Leaves and branches create a multi-layered canopy amidst divers species. Corcovado is Costa Rica’s largest national park, overtaking nearly 110,000 acres and almost one third of Osa Peninsula. While on the trail your guide points to the fresh tracks of the endangered white-lipped peccary. The hog-like mammal makes its home in the dry forests and grasslands, living in herds up to 300. It can grow to nearly 90 pounds at a height of almost two feet tall from hoof to shoulder.

Your guide explains that Corcovado is the last natural habitat and breeding grounds for the endangered scarlet macaw. They tend to live high in the trees and call with a loud, resounding squawk. They are the largest parrots in the Americas and shimmer with vibrant red plumage flanked by bold blues and bright yellows on their lower back and wings. You hear one calling through the trees before your guide points to a streak of red gliding into the canopy.

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, dinner, accommodation

Day 7: Osa Peninsula – Close Proximity to the Sea

At breakfast you indulge in the creaminess of coconut syrup, which accentuates the richness of your coffee. The splendors of Corcovado National Park continue to run through your head before you meet your guide and set out to Cano Island Biological Reserve. The boat carries you across the Pacific more than 10 miles west of the coast. The island rose out of the water around 50 million years ago from activity of the tectonic plates. Cultural enthusiasts visit the island to view the pottery, stone spheres, and other stone artifacts from pre-Columbian tribes who once used the island as a cemetery.

Wildlife fans venture to the island to discover the tangles of coral beds and fascinating marine life. You don your snorkel gear and jump into the water. The Pacific can warm to nearly 80 degrees Fahrenheit along the southern coats of Costa Rica. Salt crystals form on your bare skin as you float in the calm water. You dip beneath the sea where manta rays swim along the soft, sandy seafloor. The ray has a wingspan reaching 18 feet wide and uses their unique shape to glide through the water the way a bird flies through the air.

Sea fans wave in the gentle current as coral head shimmer with pink and green hues in the sunlight piecing, allowing up to 50 feet of visibility. Before getting back on the boat your guide points to the horizon. A pod of spotted dolphins passes near the island shores. They move in groups reaching up to 1,000 in the open water, and as little as 50 when closer to land. You board the boat for a closer look. The dolphins show their curiosity and playfulness by following you and jumping in the boat’s wake, swimming up to 18 miles per hour.

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, dinner, tour, accommodation

Day 8: Osa Peninsula – Depart for Home

The sunlight washes over the surrounding greenery reaching into Corcovado National Park. At breakfast, you have a view to the glistening waters of the Pacific and the waves crashing against the rocky shoreline. Gold and white flecks of sand shimmer along the more than 1,500 feet of pristine private beach and the coconut palms rustle in the short bursts of the breeze in your secluded tropical paradise. You sip your coffee and enjoy the sweet and juicy flavor of a fresh pineapple before meeting your private transfer who is ready to escort you back to Sierpe. You make the short, scenic flight from Palmar Sur to reach Juan Santamaria International Airport where you check-in for your flight home.

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.