Costa Rica for Second Timers

A 8 day trip to Costa Rica 
4.95 out of 5 stars
223 reviews

Those who have experienced the grace of Costa Rica understand the need to return, forever enthralled with the pace of life, lush scenery, and active wildlife. Search for toucanets and spoonbills with an experienced birder and learn to surf the rolling waves of the Pacific. Relish in the gorgeous setting and vibrant luxury of a premier eco-lodge and traverse a trail connecting hummingbird gardens with captivating waterfalls. Experience the brilliance of the rainforest, cloud forest, and Pacific Coast on a personalized expedition meant to revitalize your connection to flora and fauna and to introduce you to previously unexplored locations on your Costa Rica vacation. Your itinerary is entirely yours to handcraft, so consider browsing our other Costa Rica tours as you bring your return trip to perfection.

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Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

La Paz Waterfall Gardens. Photo Credit: Doug Weissman
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Bajos del Toro, Sarapiqui Rainforest, Nosara, San Jose 

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Bajos del Toro – Arrive in San Jose and Travel to Charming Bajos del Toro

San Jose retains the same active spirit and bustling nature you remember from your last Costa Rica vacation. The Central Market continues to bustle with the stunning colors of mango, pineapple, passion fruit, and papaya. The aroma of cherimoya soup drifts through the aisles, emanating from the sodas, small restaurants serving traditional dishes. The handmade crafts filling the lanes of the Outdoor Market at Museo Nacional still hold the charming allure connected to the customs of the Central Valley and greater Costa Rica.

Your flight lands at Juan Santamaria International Airport, where your private transfer greets you upon arrival. As you make your way out of the city, your driver points to the mountain ridges encircling the Central Valley. A slight blue haze dwindles over the verdant crops. Your driver calls the ridge the “Coffee Line,” the demarcation at around 5,575 feet above sea level where the coffee in the Central Valley ceases to grow. You are excited for this new experience visiting the area of Bajos del Toro, which offers the biodiversity of the cloud forest, along with luxurious amenities and wildlife, away from the crowds of Monteverde.

The roads take you around the bubbling activity of the Poas Volcano.  You travel over the steep mountain ridges where the air is noticeably crisper than that of the Central Valley. The cooler temperature overtakes the landscape as you reach the remote comforts of your eco-resort where you will take the time to relax surrounded by the serene sounds of nature. Your private suite offers a remarkable view over the canopy, while your Jacuzzi on the patio provides a soothing, private experience in which to indulge in the beginnings of your Costa Rica vacation.

What’s Included: accommodation, airport transfer

Day 2: Bajos del Toro – Enjoy a Cultural Tour and a Private Waterfall Hike

At breakfast, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee reminds you of the reasons you love Costa Rica. The sweet pineapple accentuates the flavors of the coffee and the scent of gallo pinto, a traditional dish of beans, rice, and eggs, drifts from your plate. After the meal, your guide leads you on a fabulous cultural tour of the neighboring rural town of Los Bajos del Toro Amarillo. A cow grazes on the thriving grass, and tropical colors enrich the facades of the homes, restaurants, and primary school.

You enter the home of a local shop owner who happily welcomes you into the kitchen. A wood burning stove sizzles with heat against the cool air outside. A subtle fragrance of roasting kindling fills the air before you sample a sweet fruit juice mixed with guaro, Costa Rican rum. Your host introduces you to the ways locals make tortillas, hand mixing corn flour and water. You dig your hands into the mixture to knead the dough, grabbing small pieces and rolling them to make miniature balls. You try your hand at flattening the dough before slapping it onto the heated griddle. The dough sticks to your skin making the seemingly easy task much harder.

Your host adds a springy homemade cheese to the griddle, melting the outside while keeping the interior texture secure. Sitting at the table, you share in tortillas, cheese, and cocktails, making for a fabulous local lunch. You return to the lodge with your guide to follow the trails that wind through 500 acres of preserved cloud forest. Your guide tells you that a quetzal has been spotted nesting in the trees, allowing you the unique opportunity to view the magnificent plumage and streaming tail of this rare bird.

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

Day 3: Sarapiqui – Explore the La Paz Waterfall Gardens and Sarapiqui Rain Forest

The wildlife in Costa Rica captivates visitors from around the world no matter how many times they have traveled through the landscape.  Viewing toucans and white-headed capuchin monkeys, hawksbill turtles, and scarlet macaws always excites you. After breakfast, your private transfer greets you at the lobby of your hotel and escorts you to La Paz Waterfall Gardens, which is located between 4,000 and 5,000 feet above sea level. The circular walkway traverses the remarkable landscape near the northern edges of the Poas Volcano, spanning nearly two miles. The marvels of the protected grounds begin in the aviary where birds that have been rescued from poachers, hunters, and pet owners around Central America can be found. A scarlet macaw squawks from its perch as you pass, drawing your attention to its gorgeous red plumage contrasting the blue and yellow feathers along its wings.

Smaller birds, such as the yellow-bellied seedeater, sit inside the feeder before twittering at encroaching birds. Inside the butterfly gardens, you follow the iridescent wings of the Blue Morpho, one of nearly 4,000 butterflies fluttering through the observatory. Your guide explains that 90 percent of all butterfly species in Central America exist in Costa Rica, accounting for nearly 20 percent of the world’s species. The gentle trickle of the waterfall in the butterfly garden reminds you of the five different striking cascades for which the protected landscape is named. To experience the true grandeur of the falls, you follow the pathways clinging to the side of the undulating mountain, finding the best views from the Magia Blanca platform.

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

Day 4: Sarapiqui – Choose your Preferred Adventure in the Sarapiqui Rain Forest

The rainforest opens along the 1,500 acres of your private resort, offering panoramas of lakes, mountains, forest, and farms all leading to the peaks of the nearby volcanoes. The trees hide rushing waterfalls and flourishing botanical gardens. Nearby, hummingbirds flutter their wings near the stamen of the flowers to feed on the pollen and the scent of passion fruit and pineapple filter through the dining room. After breakfast, the day is yours to choose how best to explore the fabulous landscape.

Wander along the trails on horseback or indulge in a soothing inner tube ride down the river, drifting past the gorgeous flora and fauna. For a more adventurous discovery of the surrounding rainforest, you can take to the treetops on a zip line excursion where you will travel along six cables connecting 12 platforms. The excitement makes your heart pound as you look down from the first station. The bark on the tree emanates a rich, spiced aroma. Your guide clips you to the trolley, and you lift your legs off the wooden platform and soar over the trees.

The wind enhances the exhilaration as it brushes your cheeks and rustles your sleeves. While in the canopy, your guide points out a sloth sleeping in the branches of a nearby tree. The lazing animal’s coat blends into the bark, and he moves his arms slowly between the limbs to resettle against the tree. A scarlet macaw, the largest parrot in the world, glides past with its impressive three-foot wingspan as it goes in search of ripe fruit.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 5: Nosara – Fly to Guanacaste to Relax in a Featured Luxury Eco-Lodge

At breakfast, you watch the sunlight wash over the pool on the property of your luxury resort and the scent of coffee returns to the dining room. Emerald leaves shimmer in the trees over the glinting pool. Your private transfer greets you at your hotel after the meal and escorts you Juan Santamaria Airport for a brief flight to Nosara. The area remains distinctly Costa Rican while recalling elements of desirable tropical destinations from around the world. Stunning beaches feel secluded and are accessed by the winding, narrow roads. Small towns overlook the crashing waves while gorgeous vegetation grows inland, allowing for both farmland and tropical rainforest.

Your private driver collects you from the airport and leads you to the remarkable grounds of the Lagarta Lodge, an environmentally friendly resort featured for its pristine suits, enchanting views, attentive staff, and captivating ambiance. Settle into the comforts of Lagarta at your own pace. Take a moment to drift in the refreshing waters of the infinity pool overlooking the blend of Pacific Coast and mangrove forest., or sip a cocktail on the upper level of the Gecko Lounge. If you prefer a more active introduction to the resort and its surroundings, you can take the stairway leading to the trails that meander through the 90 acres of hotel-owned nature reserve.

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

Day 6: Nosara – Discover Beach, Mangroves, and Rainforest on a Birding Hike

While exploring Costa Rica, even those unaccustomed or unfamiliar with the intricacies of the birding world become fanatics, eager to view circling cara cara or to discover a hiding tiger heron. After an early breakfast at the hanging restaurant overlooking the Pacific Coast, your guide greets you in the lobby eager to scour the trees, skies, and underbrush in search of the more than 270 different species of documented birds within the Nosara Biological Reserve.

Your guide is one of the preeminent birders in Costa Rica, helping to monitor and document the local species. Before you even reach the boarder of the protected lands, you spot a flock of five orange-chinned parakeets chirping in the trees. Their emerald plumage shines shades brighter than the surrounding leaves, while their beaks glow a vibrant orange. The trails lead beneath the canopy, active with the morning wildlife, including grazing spider monkeys and emerald toucanets. Snowy egrets dig into the marshlands in search of insects and small crabs.

Your guide leads you to a yellow-bellied elaenia.  The bird grows to six and a half inches long and calls with a nasal tweet and a song reminiscent of a kazoo. You return to Lagarta at the end of the tour, the wonders of the avifauna that inhabits the mangroves and rainforest filling you with a newfound love of birdwatching. The remainder of the day is yours to enjoy the comforts of the lodge, from indulging in a spa treatment to taking the complimentary shuttle to Playa Guiones.  

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 7: Nosara – Learn to Surf and Relish a Boat Ride in Search of Majestic Turtles

At breakfast, you bask in the gentle breeze washing over the patio of the hanging restaurant and take in the view over the crashing waves. The subtle aroma of the sea fades beneath the scent of freshly brewed coffee. You delight in a traditional breakfast of fried eggs and gallo pinto before meeting your guide in the lobby. You venture to Guiones Beach and admire the seemingly endless coastline offering a variety of points at which surfers of all skill levels can enjoy. At low tide, the waves barrel, while the gentler break of mid-tide is better for beginners to learn on. Your instructor introduces you to a long board which provides an easier way to balance on the undulating, inconsistent water. 

You lay on the flat on the board and practice jumping to your feet, also known as popping up. Once you feel comfortable on the board, you take to the water paddling along the rolling waves. At 70 degrees Fahrenheit, the ocean is a cool contrast to the hot sun. Your instructor tells you to stay perpendicular to the whitewater, and you paddle to catch a small wave, pop up, keeping your knees bent, and feel your heart pounding as the water splashes around you.  

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 8: Nosara – Depart for Home

At breakfast, you take your time enjoying the gentle breeze and fresh orange juice. An active flock of parakeets glides over the canopy of the mangroves below. A cara cara circles the treetops and the coastline in search of carrion or waiting to steal prey from an unsuspecting bird. Fishers take to the water at low tide and cast their lines near the edges of the rocky promontory. You have reveled in every minute of your re-exploration of Costa Rica, finding new thrills, more immersive beauty, and fascinating wildlife that keeps you wanting more. After the meal, your private transfer escorts you to Nosara Airport for your brief, scenic flight to Juan Santamaria International Airport, 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.