Best of Costa Rica Vacation: Relaxation & Adventure

A 7 day trip to Costa Rica 
4.95 out of 5 stars
223 reviews

Experience rugged jungles, pristine beaches, and the surprising luxuries found deep in nature during your custom tailored best-of Costa Rica tour. The idyllic destination combines fascinating adventure with relaxing comforts alongside access to spectacular adventures that send you deep into the untamed wilderness. Whether flying on a zip-line, kayaking a secluded estuary, or wandering through the cloud forest canopy on aerial bridges, your spectacular Costa Rica vacation will embrace discovery through the excellence of eco-tourism while you search for spider monkeys or lounge on powdery white sands.

Customize This Trip For Me
Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Arenal, La Fortuna, San Jose, Monteverde, Cloud Forest Reserve, Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge, Manuel Antonio National Park, Damas Island Estuary

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Arenal – Arrive in San Jose and Travel to Arenal to Enjoy Hot Springs

The city of San Jose holds hidden charms in historical neighborhoods that boast of elegant colonial mansions as well as delicious local gastronomy that celebrates the diversity of Costa Rica’s tropical, locally grown ingredients. The multidimensional capital city will welcome you to the country by way of Juan Santamaria International Airport, where your private transfer will greet you upon your arrival. The vibrant activity along the city streets brings art galleries and museums, parks and artisan studios.

Your driver will take you outside of the bustling capital en route to Arenal. You will soon reach the inviting comforts of your luxury hotel with a sensational view to the eponymous volcano that stands 5,479 feet above sea level. The region of Arenal is known for the unique volcano, the distinctive wildlife, the protected landscape, and the soothing waters of natural hot springs that are fed by the geothermal activity. Indulge in the natural heat that is connected to the grounds of your hotel, which hosts a variety of pools that reach up to 102 degrees Fahrenheit. The thermal waters contain a number of vitamins absorbed through volcanic soil offering stunning benefits including boosting blood circulation, reducing stress, relieving joint pain, and helping with skin ailments.

What’s Included: airport transfer, accommodation, tour

Day 2: Arenal – Discover Fascinating Wildlife on a Tour of Caño Negro Refuge

At breakfast, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee from locally sourced beans will fill the dining hall before fading beneath the sweet scent of fresh-squeezed orange and mango juices. Your guide will meet you in the hotel lobby eager to introduce you to the spectacular wildlife of the Caño Negro Refuge. Climb aboard a boat to float down the Rio Frio, which stretches across the northwest leading into Nicaragua. The mellow current winds through the wetlands and forms a lake during the torrential rains of the wet season.

The wildlife refuge overtakes 24,710 acres and offers glimpses of wildlife including the Jabiru Stork, the tallest flying bird in Central America with the second-largest wingspan after the Andean condor. They stand up to five feet tall with a wingspan reaching up to eight feet wide. Your guide can point out a brown-throated three-toed sloth clinging to a tree as the moss on their back allows them to blend in with the leaves and branches avoiding predators like the harpy eagles and jaguars. As you travel down the tranquil waterway, the boat disturbs the river causing a green basilisk lizard to scatter across the water. The lizard is also called a Jesus Christ lizard for its ability to run on the top of the water when scared.

In the afternoon, you can continue your exploration of the tropical jungle with a thrilling zip-line excursion. Traveling through the trees along two miles of zip lines brings the tree-line to life. Your guide will strap you onto the cable and you can soar up to 360 feet above the canyon floor in view of the trundling whitewater of La Fortuna Waterfall. The view during your solitary flight will provide a moment of quiet reflection as you feel the wind against your cheeks, hear the chirping of tropical birds, and watch the water spill 200 feet off the mountain in the waiting pool in the distance.

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

Day 3: Monteverde – Transfer by Taxi Boat to Monteverde for a Coffee Tour

The tropical scenery of Arenal gives way to the unique contours of the Cloud Forest in Monteverde, home to a distinctive ecosystem feeding off the daily mist. Your private transfer will escort you to the banks of Arenal Lake as you travel by taxi boat across the foot of the volcano. Boats venture onto the water filled with local fishers searching for common snook or rainbow bass. Jaguar and tapir often linger along the shoreline when thirsty, touching the secluded areas of the lake that spans 33 square miles. The area of Monteverde clings to the slopes of the Cordillera de Tilarán where farms, nature reserves, and a chain of villages hide among the blanket of jade canopy and winding trails.

Enjoy the beautiful tranquility of your luxury accommodations in Monteverde before your guide greets you in the lobby ready to introduce you to the coffee tradition of the province. A local farmer will lead you through his property along the slopes of La Trocha, a steep road overlooking the Gulf of Nicoya leading into the San Luis Valley. You can find ripe berries growing from the coffee plant, which are in fact the grains used to brew coffee once properly dried. When fresh from the bush, the berries have a tart flavor and sweet aroma.

The coffee plant also drops the scent of jasmine into the air with small white flowers growing along the edges. Wander through the cooperative learning area to learn about the proper harvest time, drying period, and the different levels for roasting the beans amid the drifting scents of oranges and bananas emanating from the plantation. At the end of the tour, your guide will teach you how to taste coffee to find the delicate flavors and vibrant aromas that the coffee has taken from the soils of specific terrain such as caramel or cocoa, or even hints of dried fig and lavender.

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

Day 4: Monteverde – Explore Monteverde Cloud Forest and Canopy Walkways

Your day will start early as the mist continues to roll across the floor of Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Your guide will lead you along the trails for insight into the unique flora and fauna that is thriving in the 25,946-acres of protected landscape. The isolated mountain peaks and varied slopes protect a variety of hummingbirds and orchids, as well as the strangler figs and leafy elephant ears. Sloths sleep in branches up to 20 feet above the forest floor, and orange-kneed tarantulas hide behind the protruding sinewy sprawl of fig roots.

You can hear the Jurassic call of howler monkeys, which often clearly echo through the trees for up to three miles. The monkeys grow up to 36 inches long excluding their tails and forage on fruits and nuts in addition to blooming flowers. Six out of the 12 species of cat in the Neotropics are found in Monteverde including the Jaguarundi, a small cat weighing up to 22 pounds with a long tail and short legs. It hunts birds, reptiles, and small mammals during the cooler hours of the day, allowing for a possible sighting during your exploration of the captivating mountainous terrain. You will continue into the canopy with a walk along the Hanging Bridges, and the connection of trails and aerial walkways extends for more than two miles over eight bridges reaching up to a 197-foot tall prominence.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 5: Manuel Antonio – Venture to the Coast at Manuel Antonio National Park

At breakfast, you can watch the mist roll through the dense canopy from the cozy comforts of your hotel dining room. The scent of rich Costa Rican coffee fills the air before your private transfer escorts you away from the mountainous forest to reach the treasured white-sand beaches and emerald tropical forests of Manuel Antonio National Park. The combination of wildlife, natural splendor, and luxurious accommodations make Manuel Antonio one of the most celebrated destinations in Costa Rica. Upon arriving at your exotic hotel, you will hear the birds twittering around the dense forest canopy. Capuchin monkeys rush through the branches in search of berries and nuts.

After check-in, the remainder of the day is at your leisure to relax in the comforts of your hotel and lounge on the soft sands of the beach. The scent of the water blends with the herbaceous aroma of the bordering forest as surfers take to the breaking waves along the shoreline at La Playita. If you prefer a more active afternoon, you can embark on a surf lesson to learn how to read and ride the spectacular Costa Rican waves. Your instructor will provide the essential tools for feeling comfortable on a surfboard before you take to Pacific and catch your first wave, finding the thrill of freedom and the excitement of a new skill explored beneath golden sunlight.

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

Day 6: Manuel Antonio – Traverse Damas Island Estuary and the Local Beaches

You will begin your tour in the morning as the wildlife along the Damas Island Estuary is at its most active. Take your time kayaking through the extensive network of canal created by the mangrove swamp. Root systems and gnarled branches rise out of the placed estuary, and the lush canopy filters the sunlight onto the reflective water. The sporadic sounds of bird-calls and the moans of howler monkeys shape the untamed ambiance of the tropical destination. Heron perch on the protruding roots resting in the growing warmth of the morning and long green iguanas rest on fallen logs.

Your guide will likely spot a boa constrictor looping its long, heavy body through skewering branches reaching an average of 13 feet long and weighing 60 pounds. From the kayak, the giant snake resembles one of the swollen, fallen trees scattered around the mangroves. You can also keep your eyes open for crab-eating raccoons and spectacled caiman. The large lowland reptile can grow to over six feet long with a bony ridge between its eyes resembling glasses. They rest in the refreshing mixture of salt and freshwater to cool their bodies down in the tropical heat. You can also search the trees for the elusive and endangered spider monkeys.

As one of the few places in the world protecting the species, the island estuary allows the distinctive New World monkey to wander through the canopy up to 98 feet above the water foraging on fruits, leaves, flowers, and insects. Their shy demeanor makes them more difficult to spot than the capuchin monkey in the area but also more exciting to discover with their disproportionately spindly limbs and prehensile tail reaching 35 inches long.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 7: Manuel Antonio – Depart for Home

In the morning, the wildlife around your eco-friendly luxury hotel becomes active once again before the tropical heat spreads from dense inland forest to the crashing waves along the Pacific shoreline. Locals and visitors venture to the soft white sands of Playa Manuel Antonio for a relaxing day along the turquoise water or resting in the shaded lounges in view of the perching brown pelicans. Your private transfer will meet you in your hotel lobby after one last morning to enjoy it all before escorting you to the nearby Manuel Antonio Airport for the brief journey back to San Jose, where you board 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.