Costa Rica’s Road Less Traveled: Touring the Pacific Coast Route

A 9 day trip to Costa Rica 
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An unusual path offers variety and uniqueness during your Costa Rica vacation, allowing you a personalized experience away from the familiarity of the beaten path. Follow the coastal road less traveled along the Pacific and see the splendors of the secluded and hidden beaches, national parks, and volcanic landscapes often overlooked by travelers. Lounge in natural thermal springs hidden under the jungle canopy and search for migrating whales and passing dolphins on a catamaran cruise. Find active wildlife abounding as you journey in eco-friendly luxury on a Costa Rica vacation perfect for those wishing to blend exploration, relaxation, adventure, and discovery. As you dream of your perfect time spent vacationing in Costa Rica, consider browsing some of our other itineraries as you refine your trip.

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General Information

Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Heredia, San Jose, Playa Uvita, Manuel Antonio National Park, Rio Perdido, Costa Ballena 

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Heredia – Arrival in Costa Rica

The bustling streets of San Jose set the stage of Costa Rica’s blend of exciting tropical destinations and hidden treasures found across the mountains and along the shores. The Gold Museum represents the grandeur of pre-Columbian design with displays of golden idols, jewelry, and coins while the mansions in Barrio Amón depict the prestige of 19th and 20th-century plantation owners around the first coffee boom. Your private transfer greets you upon arrival at Juan Santamaria International Airport as the movement of the city pulses around the historical city center and along the neoclassical architecture of National Theater and the aisles of the 19th-century Central Market.

You venture outside of the city and into a township edging the ridges of the Central Valley. Heredia was once home to the coffee growing aristocracy and continues to offer vast landscapes on which locals and corporations tend to their thriving crop. Spanish colonial architecture punctuates the historical grounds providing a unique ambiance far removed from San Jose, though less than seven miles away. Students from the Universidad Nacional linger in the cafes sipping coffee, and discussing pop culture or philosophies learned during class as mango trees shade the walkways along Central Park and frame the 18th-century façade of the nearby Basilica. You will soon reach the comforts of Cariari Bed & Breakfast where you will stay in their royal suite. The reception at this full service hotel warmly greets you with a welcome drink. The friendly staff escort to your room where you can relax and take in your first impressions of beautiful Costa Rica.

What’s Included: accommodation at Cariari Bed & Breakfast, airport transfer

Day 2: Playa Uvita – Enjoy a 4x4 Excursion to the Costa Ballena and Playa Uvita

In the morning, the sunlight washes over the greenery surrounding Heredia and your cozy accommodation, Cariari Bed & Breakfast. The clay-colored thrush perches on the trees outside the dining room and twitters with a delightful whistle as the scent of coffee drifts between the tables. You enjoy a large plate of colorful seasonal fruits before today's adventure begins. After breakfast, you take part in a coffee tour, following your guide on the trails weaving through the organic grounds. White petals blossom on the plants and contain the fragrance of jasmine, and your guide explains that coffee is part of the jasmine family. The plants do not grow in straight rows but have been raised naturally, shaping their sloped surroundings as opposed to the opposite.

The plants can grow up to 11.5 feet tall and produce red cherries, not the brown beans you expected to find. Rows of cherries dry in the natural heat of the sunlight, resting on elevated beds resembling hammocks. The scent of the drying cherries fills the air. Inside a small roasting room, your guide provides you with three different types of roasted beans, light, medium, and dark, in which you can find the aromas of the main varieties of coffee. At the end of the tour, you enter a dining room where three empty cups are arranged in front of your seat.

Your guide heats water to a perfect 195 degrees Fahrenheit and brews the two different coffees in front of you. You take a spoon a sample the first cup of coffee, finding a balance of bitter, sour, and sweet notes. The scent of cinnamon and tangerine accompany the delicious flavor, accounting for the distinctive properties of the coffee harvested around Costa Rica. Your private driver greets you after the tour and escorts you out of Heredia and the Central Valley for a 4x4 journey to reach Costa Ballena. The coast is named for the way two beaches reveal themselves during low tied to resemble a whale’s tail.

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

Day 3: Playa Uvita – Explore Playa Uvita with your Choice of Fascinating Excursion

The southern Pacific coast remains tranquil in its absence of crowds and enchanting in its natural beauty. In the morning, the sunlight shines through the windows of your private villa, and your quiet accommodations offer pristine luxury and seclusion with views to the breathtaking edges of Marino Ballena National Park. The protected landscape encompasses more than 13,600 acres of primary and secondary rainforest, swamp, mangrove, wetlands, and Pacific beaches. The toco toucan perches in the treetops and calls out in the cool breeze above the emerald canopy.

Their bills can grow longer than nine inches and glows yellow and orange. After breakfast, you can choose between your preferred excursions, ranging from a private surf lesson to whitewater rafting. For a touch of nature, you may choose to venture into Corcovado National Park on a guided hike. The park overtakes nearly 165 square miles and harbors 140 different species of mammals and 400 different bird species. Your guide points into the trees quickly after your arrival, where a duo of sloths clings to the tree.

Wild sloths sleep between eight and 10 hours a day, but move slowly and deliberately, causing people to think they are lazy and always napping. A troop of white-headed capuchin monkeys scramble through the long branches and leap between the trees. They use their prehensile tails to help balance as they forage for nuts or fruits. Seeing the active wildlife is enthralling, bringing to light Costa Rica’s natural majesty. The scent of pine lingers amidst the tropical heat settled beneath the rainforest canopy. Your guide leads you towards La Llorona Waterfall, where the 100-foot tall cascade spills over the cliff onto the thin beach dividing Sirena and San Pedrillo. Upon returning to the hotel, you can relax in the infinity pool or take to the white sands of Uvita Beach to enjoy the refreshingly warm Pacific water.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 4: Manuel Antonio – Transfer to the Central Pacific Coast at Manuel Antonio 

Before breakfast, you find an orange-collared manakin zipping through the trees outside of your villa. The orange neck contrasts with the black wings and crown and the males whistle with a clear, swift call while stretching their wings to produce a loud snap that sounds like a twig breaking in the trees. At breakfast, you bask in the beauty that is balancing the forest landscape and splashing waves of the Pacific. You sip your fresh coffee searching for similar notes you discovered during your coffee tour before your private transfer greets you in the hotel lobby.

You travel north to your stunning resort nestled into the opulence of Manuel Antonio National Park. Steep cliffs create a backdrop to your secluded resort offering views to the marvels of the tropical flora, fauna, and coastal scenery. The sea breeze rustles the palm trees that frames the golden sand. Rainforest carpets the bordering ridges while the scent of herbs emanates from the vegetable garden on the property. For a spectacular welcome to the multitudes of Manuel Antonio and your eco-luxury resort, you will board a catamaran to tour the Pacific coast.

Your skipper will cast the sails and quickly catches the wind. Sea spray mists from the hull of the boat and lands on your cheeks as pelicans glide over the water searching for active fish and snowy ibises perch on the banks of the estuary sifting in the soil for crabs and insects. The comfortable catamaran provides an elegant ride floating along the water before your skipper points to a pod of spotted dolphins swimming on the horizon.

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

Day 5: Manuel Antonio – Discover the Majestic Biodiversity of the National Park

The breeze carries the aroma of the sea through the open walls of the dining room at breakfast, and the sweet scent of pineapple accentuates the citrus notes drifting from your coffee. You step away from your time viewing the wildlife and into the exciting exploration of an adrenaline tour taking you through the treetops and in the company of waterfalls. Your guide leads you into the treetops with a zip-lining excursion, and you step onto the first of 14 tree platforms set between 10 cables.

Before gliding down the lines, your guide offers insight into the unique marvels of the scenery and Costa Rica, which contains five percent of the world’s biodiversity. A white-headed capuchin monkey races along the vines of the trees, resting on a bundle of ripening coconuts. Your guide clips you to the lines, and you soar through the sky while the breeze brushes against your cheeks and clothing. The tropical heat lessens with the refreshing wind, and you keep searching for toucans, sloths, or howler monkeys in the canopy to accompany you as you fly.

You continue to the edges of a cliff where the sounds of the waterfall echo through the trees. You look down to where the river turns into a cascade, reaching nearly 165 feet tall. The water splashes into the waiting pool and turns into a mist floating around the lower riverbanks. Your guide straps you in and you can take hold of the cable and begin to lower yourself down alongside the trundling whitewater, surrounded by the emerald rainforest.    

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 6: Rio Perdido – Venture to Guanacaste to Delight in Thermal Mineral Pools 

Juicy mango fills the dining room with vibrant yellow hues and delicious aromas before your coffee arrives at the table. The gorgeous indigo colors of the Pacific shine against the golden sands of the coastline. After breakfast, your private transfer greets you in the hotel lobby ready to drive you north into the beautiful forests of Guanacaste, located in Costa Rica’s northwestern territory. Your remarkable eco-lodge blends into nature, offering a distinctive beauty complimented by the surrounding rainforest and inherent luxury.

The grand resort encompasses 600 acres of private reserve and includes a thermal pool heated by the magma flowing deep beneath the earth’s surface. After taking the time to settle into the comforts of the resort, you venture into the gorge. Dwarf trees grow along the edges above the canyon while the canopy inside the gorge reaches heights of up to 160 feet. The natural water and heat offer moisture to the surrounding soil and fauna, creating an oasis in the otherwise arid climate of Guanacaste.

You cross a series of bridges, including a hanging bridge reaching 200 feet long that connect the hotel to the reserve. Eight separate springs fill the thermal pools, which blend with the natural river to create a variety of temperatures enriched by the natural minerals taken from the magma. You dip your toes into the first pool finding a hot, inviting temperature while a motmot sits in the trees around the quiet pool with its iridescent blue crown matching the small tassels dangling from its tail feathers.

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

Day 7: Rio Perdido – Relish a Private Hike in the Rainforest for Active Wildlife

In the morning, the sounds of the toucans in the trees fill the air, accompanying the aroma of pineapple at breakfast. You enjoy the exclusive and secluded ambiance of your resort, basking in the surrounding beauty of Costa Rica with ease. You set out onto the trails winding through the reserve once more, following your naturalist guide eager to introduce you to the flora and fauna of Guanacaste. You start early on the trail leading to the Las Tumbas lookout creating nearly a five to six-mile loop. Your guide becomes excited at the sight of yellow-naped parrots lounging in the bare branches at the top of the canopy.

They are uncommon due to their declining numbers caused by deforestation and the active pet trade. Their emerald plumage nearly blends into the surrounding leaves, and they readily and easily mimic sounds, from the human voice to the rustling leaves. Their green forehead and crown have a strand of bright yellow leading down the back of their neck. The ascent leads you up to 800 feet above sea level to a plateau, and the panoramic view overtakes the Guanacaste volcanoes whose bubbling activity heats the thermal pools around the gorge. Your guide points to the rugged peaks of Miravalles and the Tenorio volcanoes and the eroded volcanic rocks create spectacular formations rising out of the surrounding canopy for an unforgettable landscape.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 8: Rio Perdido – Revel in Luxury or Adventure with a Day at your Leisure

After breakfast, the day is yours to indulge in the splendors of your resort and the comforts of isolation off the beaten path. Take to the trails once more for a waterfall hike or relax in the luxurious spa of the resort to indulge in a rejuvenating massage. For a relaxing exploration of the landscape, you could take a guided tubing excursion through the canyon. After putting on a life-vest and helmet, sit in a tube and float down wading water.

Your body dips in and out of the refreshing temperate river as the banks turn from soft soil to smooth rock walls. Howler monkeys linger in the trees and watch as you pass below while the granite frames the banks with jagged boulders emerging from the forest shrubs and greenery. The whitewater splashes up along the rocks as the water begins to rush and the river carries you through the narrow ravine with the inflatable tube bouncing against the protruding stones.

The water splashes onto your cheeks offering a soothing contrast to the tropical jungle heat. You feel in your own little adventurous world separate from the familiar path of Costa Rica. Upon returning to the resort, you can choose to partake in a tranquil spa treatment celebrating the rich minerals in the volcanic soil around the gorge. The resort has harvested the mud before you left for your rafting trip, allowing you to relax in the comforts of the outdoor spa with the natural compounds coating your body and revitalizing your skin. 

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 9: Rio Perdido – Depart for Home

You have spent your time traversing the secluded splendors along the Pacific coast and reveled in the adventure and unparalleled spirit of Pura Vida, the pure life. While at breakfast, you search the trees for any signs of brilliant birdlife, finding parakeets fluttering in groups of six. You sip your coffee and absorb the decadent flavors before meeting your private transfer in the lobby, and then make your way to Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport in Liberia with plenty of time to 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.