Adventures / Adventure Tapas

The Ultimate Costa Rica Adventure

Hike, raft and kayak pristine rivers, lush mangroves and looming volcanoes, then set sail and relax on the beaches of the Pacific Coast

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Trip Ref #10523

Adventures / Adventure Tapas

The Ultimate Costa Rica Adventure

Hike, raft and kayak pristine rivers, lush mangroves and looming volcanoes, then set sail and relax on the beaches of the Pacific Coast

DURATION

9 nights

LOCATION

Costa Rica

ANNUAL LEAVE

7 days off work

SEASON

Year round

GROUP SIZE

Up to 14 people

MEETING POINT

San José Airport

ACCOMMODATION

Boutique Hotel · Rainforest Lodge · Spa Hotel · Hotel

DIFFICULTY

Easy

This is an active trip filled with short hikes, paddles, rides or swims, but is manageable by anyone with a reasonable level of fitness.

Raft the remote Pacuare River's foaming rapids, flanked by steep gorges, cascading waterfalls and lush rainforest

Hike the rocky lava flows of the Arenal 1968 and El Silencio trails, around the towering cone of the active Arenal Volcano

Paddle through the mangrove forests of Isla Damas and spot nocturnal wildlife on a night hike into the jungle

Bed down in serene boutique hotels, relax in cool pools and kick back in hidden bungalows nestled among the trees

This trip is brand new

We’re still waiting to collect any reviews from other travellers on this trip. However, all our hosts go through an extensive vetting process to ensure that your adventure is awesome.

Included

Guides

Local, English-speaking tour leader throughout, plus specialist guides for each of the activities

Accommodation

Luxe boutique hotels and rainforest hideaways in the heart of Costa Rica's natural beauty

Meals

All breakfasts, 2 lunches and 4 dinners

Transfers

Airport transfers and everything in between

Equipment

All equipment for white water rafting, surfing, kayaking; bicycles for beach cycling.

Permits

All permits and entry fees are included

Not Included

Flights to and from the meeting point

Travel insurance

Personal expenses

Tips for your guides

Some meals as described

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

Juan Santamaría International Airport, San José

Any time on Day 1

Ends

Juan Santamaría International Airport, San José

Any time on Day 10

Transfers

Your host's transport provider will meet you on Day 1 at Juan Santamaría International Airport in San José, then transfer you to your hotel in a quiet suburb of the city with mountain views. On Day 10, your host's transport provider will transfer you to Juan Santamaría International Airport in time for your onward flight.

Airport transfers are included in the main price if you arrive on Day 1 and depart on Day 10. For those arriving early or wanting to stay on longer, extra nights at the hotels and airport transfers can be arranged with your host at an additional cost. Please see Optional Extras for more information.

Travel options

There are direct international flights to San José from the UK and various major hubs in Europe, as well as indirect international flights that transit via Frankfurt, Toronto, New York, Houston or Madrid. From the US, there are direct international flights to San José from major hubs, as well as indirect flights that transit via Orlando, Miami, Panama or Guatemala.

Day 1

Boutique Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2

Rainforest Lodge · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 3

Rainforest Lodge · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 4

Spa Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 5

Spa Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 6

Rainforest Lodge · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 7 – Day 8

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 9

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 10

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What is the food like?

Costa Rican cuisine is both hearty and fresh. A classic dish traditionally includes rice and beans, salad, fried plantains and fish or meat. Some will also have cheese, french fries or grilled vegetables. Gallo pinto is a Costa Rican staple: slow-cooked rice and beans with onions, peppers and coriander (cilantro). There'll be plenty of other Latin American dishes available, and incredible fresh tropical fruit. On the coast you’ll find pipa fría - chilled coconut water straight from the whole green coconut.

Vegetarians, vegans and other dietary requirements and allergies can be catered for - please just request this on your passenger info form.

What is the accommodation like?

San Jose

Your first night will be spent at the stylish Studio Hotel, a boutique 5-star property. Located in a suburb of San José, it has views of the Santa Ana mountains, but downtown is not far away. A haven of calm in the midst of the urban hustle and bustle, the Studio Hotel is also home to a unique collection of Costa Rican art - it has the largest display after the national gallery. You'll stay in twin-share rooms with en-suite bathrooms.

Please note that the stay at Studio Hotel is subject to availability. If the hotel is full on any given departure date, you'll stay at the Hilton Gran Hotel Costa Rica, which is of a similar style and quality.

Manzanillo

Perfectly placed on the Caribbean coastline, Almonds and Corals is a 3-star hotel nestled within the rainforest in front of a secluded, golden sand beach. This eco-conscious, lodge style hotel is family owned and designed, sharing the flora and fauna of the Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge right next door. It blends open concept spaces to provide a genuine feeling of being close to nature in boutique comfort. You'll stay in twin-share bungalow cabins with en-suite bathrooms.

Arenal

Situated on the fringes of Arenal National Park, Arenal Springs Hotel is a 4-star resort and spa. With its own natural hot spring pools as well as a swimming pool and restaurants, it also boasts one of the best views of the Arenal volcano in town. You'll stay in twin rooms with en-suite bathrooms.

Please note that the stay at Arenal Springs Resort is subject to availability. If the hotel is full on any given departure date, you'll stay at the Lost Iguana Resort and Spa, which is of a similar style and quality.

Rio Celeste

The stand-out sleep of your trip has to be the stunning, 4-star, Rio Celeste Hideaway. Situated in a secluded rainforest next to Tenorio Volcano National Park, you'll be staying in casitas - bungalows nestled into the tropical forest. This is truly a place to be at one with nature, where you can relax in the pool, jacuzzi or on your own private patio. You'll stay in a twin casita with an outdoor shower and en-suite bathroom.

Manuel Antonio

Sí Como No is a 4-star hotel in a truly special location. Perched on a jungle-swathed hill amid tropical, landscaped gardens, it offers panoramic views over the Pacific Ocean and Manuel Antonio National Park. Built to an award-winning eco-design, the property has its own wildlife refuge, outdoor pools and spa. You'll stay in twin-share rooms with en-suite bathrooms, where you can spot the local wildlife and take in the idyllic views from your balcony.

Upgrades

For solo travellers looking for their own space, an optional private room can be booked for an extra charge, see Optional Extras for the price. Please request this at the time of booking (this is subject to availability).

Day 1

Welcome to Costa Rica

Costa Rica is ranked as one of the most eco-friendly travel destinations worldwide and San José, its capital city, is compact but vibrant. Get in the 'pura vida' groove as you're collected by your host at the airport and transported to your hotel with views of the Santa Ana mountains. Spend the rest of the day at your leisure - maybe grab a cab and head into nearby downtown to explore. The Gold and Jade museums give a fascinating insight into pre-Colombian culture in this region.

Day 2

Rafting the Pacuare River

Rafting

3 hrs · 29km

Driving

4.5hrs · 217km

Take a road trip from San José to the Caribbean coast and splash straight into the action, rafting the foaming rapids of the Pacuare River. One of Costa Rica's most impressive, remote and pristine waterways, it carves through virgin rainforest, creating steep foliage-draped gorges and shimmering waterfalls. Back on dry land, it's time to swap white water exhilaration for laid-back Caribbean vibes in the small beach town of Manzanillo.

Day 3

Surf and cycle Caribbean beaches

Surfing

2hrs

Cycling

2hrs · 30km

Surf's up! Head to a nearby beach (which will be determined by the day's best swells) for a surf lesson. You'll be taken through the basics before hitting the waves and trying out your skills on the board. Later, grab a bike and pedal along the coast as much or little as you'd like: there are seven unique beaches stretching all the way to Puerto Viejo, or you can explore Cahuita National Park, with its winding forest paths and lush foliage (eyes peeled for sloths, monkeys and a cacophony of tropical birds).

Day 4

The road to Arenal

Hiking

1.5hrs · 3km · 50m up · 50m down

Driving

5.5hrs · 274km

Leaving the Caribbean coast behind, today's road trip takes you into the heart of Costa Rica. The first stop is the serene Las Golondrinas family eco-tourism project in the small town of Guacimo. Here, you can don your swimmers and hike through the rainforest to a pristine waterfall for a wild dip. The family are passionate about their project and the local wildlife, and will share their enthusiasm with you over a home-cooked lunch. Back on the road, you'll continue the journey to the town of La Fortuna - home to Arenal, one of the most iconic volcanoes in Costa Rica.

Day 5

Hike around the active Arenal Volcano

Hiking

2-3hrs · 5km · 237m up · 237m down

Lace up your boots and hike the Arenal 1968 trail and the El Silencio trail, which sit in the shadow of the active volcano's classic cone. Arenal 1968 is named after the volcano's eruption of that year, which saw three days of flowing lava, and provides an awesome and unobscured view of Arenal's west side. You'll hike through lush rainforest and moody lava fields to vistas of Lake Arenal and the extinct Cerro Chato volcano. Later, enjoy some downtime in the hotel's pools, or head out to explore nearby La Fortuna, which is famous for its natural hot springs and its waterfall - a 70 metre cascade into a turquoise pool.

Day 6

Explore the Rio Celeste

Hiking

2hrs · 2-3km · 10m up · 10m down

Back on the road, watch the landscape subtly change as you approach the mountains of the Tilaran range. Here, you'll hike through the Tenorio and Miravalles National Parks, which blend dry volcanic forest with pockets of luxuriant rainforest. These parks are home to the Rio Celeste, a thermal river with an incredible azure hue. The river's colour is due to a cocktail of volcanic minerals, and it culminates in a stunning, 30 metre waterfall fringed by jungle. Later, once the sun has set, you'll peek into the lives of nocturnal wildlife on a rainforest night hike. Spot a variety of amphibians, animals and insects as the forest ecosystem comes alive in all its symphonic glory.

Day 7

Hike Tenorio National Park

Hiking

2-3hrs · 5km · 100m up · 100m down

Driving

4.5hrs · 256km

Hike into Tenorio National Park, a magical mix of verdant rainforest, startlingly blue lagoons, bubbling volcanic pools and exotic wildlife. You'll head to El Teñidero, the spot where Buenavista River and Sour Creek meet and mix, to create the Rio Celeste. Following your hike, you'll hit the iconic Pan-American Highway south, to one of Costa Rica's most loved national parks, Manuel Antonio. Located in the Central Pacific Conservation Area, this small but perfectly formed park pops with biodiversity, lush forest, white sand beaches and volcanic rock formations.

Day 8

Manuel Antonio and the Isla Damas Mangroves

Kayaking

3hrs · 3-4km

Head into Manuel Antonio National Park and explore this gem at your own pace. Jam-packed with wildlife such as sloths, tropical birds, reptiles and butterflies, it is also one of the few places you can spot a grey-crowned squirrel monkey in the wild. In the afternoon, you'll head to the peaceful Isla Damas, a pristine mangrove rich in biodiversity. Grab a paddle and gently kayak through the knotty, forested waterways, immersing yourself in this fascinating ecosystem, before you head to the hills for a cooling waterfall dip.

Day 9

Sail into the sunset on the Pacific Coast

Sailing

4-5hrs

Enjoy the low-key pace of life on the sparkling beach, or take a dip in the clear, palm-fringed waters of the Pacific. Come afternoon, you'll board a sailing boat at the nearby Marina Pez Vela in Quepos. Cruise along the coastline's lush emerald cliffs and and sail past tropical islands, keeping your eyes peeled for dolphins. Anchor will be dropped at Biesanz Bay, where you can snorkel to your heart's content amidst parrotfish, angelfish and starfish. Tuck into a delicious dinner onboard as the sun sinks in the tropical sky.

Day 10

Adiós, Costa Rica!

After breakfast say your final goodbyes, and you'll be transferred to the airport in time for your flight home.

15% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 15% discount on us to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

What's included?

  • All equipment for white water rafting, surfing and kayaking
  • Bicycle

What do I need to bring?

BAGS

  • Soft overnight duffel bag or rucksack
  • Daypack (20-30 litres)
  • Waterproof liner for daypack

CLOTHES

  • Lightweight waterproof jacket
  • Lightweight waterproof trousers
  • Thin fleece jacket or similar
  • Lightweight trousers/shorts/skirts
  • T-shirts
  • Underwear and socks
  • Swimwear
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunhat
  • Something to sleep in
  • Hiking shoes/boots (worn-in)
  • Sandals

OTHER

  • Universal travel plug adapter
  • Power bank or solar charger
  • Passports (and visas)
  • Travel insurance documents
  • Ear plugs
  • Insect repellent
  • Suncream (reef friendly)
  • Personal first-aid kit (inc. blister treatment)
  • Personal items (biodegradable toiletries, sanitary wear etc)
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Alcohol hand-gel
  • Headtorch or torch
  • Reusable water bottle x1 litre
  • Biodegradable wet-wipes
  • Energy bars and snacks - read our article on Best Hiking Snacks

Single/Double/Twin Room in Manuel Antonio National Park

Payable Before Departure

Single/Double/Twin Room in Manuel Antonio National Park

Per Night

Single/Double/Twin Room in San Jose

Payable Before Departure

Single/Double/Twin Room in San Jose

Per Night

Optional private room upgrade

Payable Before Departure

Optional private room upgrade

La Mariposa Hotel to San José airport

Payable Before Departure

La Mariposa Hotel to San José airport

Per Person

San José airport to the Studio Hotel

Payable Before Departure

San José airport to the Studio Hotel

Per Person

We've crunched the numbers to work out the total carbon footprint of this trip, and plant enough trees to suck 2x as much back out the atmosphere.

What's the number?
It works out on average at 195kg of CO2 emissions per person, including all local transport, accommodation, food, activities, guides, staff and office operations.

The only thing it doesn’t include right now is flights and travel to the destination. We do make an overall estimate across all our customers separately, but as we don’t book flights, have customers from all corners of the world, and no way of reliably knowing their travel plans, we simply can’t include an individual number in the figure on display here. We’ve got a goal for 2022 to fix that, so that when you book, there is a way to measure and mitigate the carbon emitted by your flight too.

But what does the number mean?
Yep, hard to picture eh? To give you an idea:

  • Driving 1000miles/1609km would be approx. 281kg of CO2 in an average car (or 140.5kg per person if there was 2 of you in it).
  • A return economy class flight London - New York would be approx. 1,619kg (1.66 tonnes) per person.
  • 10 trees in a temperate forest are estimated to remove approx. 250kg of CO2 from the air in a period of 5-10 years.

What are we doing about it?
Our trips are relatively low-carbon by design, and we're working with all our hosts to develop long term carbon reduction plans. For every person booked with us since 2016 we’re planting enough trees to suck at least 2x more carbon out the atmosphere than is emitted by their trips. All native trees, as part of amazing projects that are re-foresting degraded land, tackling the biodiversity crisis and supporting local communities at the same time. We go further than that too, also funding re-wilding projects worldwide to help protect important keystone species from extinction. See the reforestation and re-wilding schemes we support. See our carbon action plan.

Want to know more?
Amazingly, no international travel company has ever publicly published their carbon measurements before, as far as we know. We believe that must change, quickly. So we’re openly sharing the method we used in the hope that other companies will be able to more easily follow suit and build on what we've done so far. You'll find it all here.

A reasonable level of general fitness is required as this is an active trip, but no previous experience of specific activities is necessary. With rafting, cycling, hiking, and kayaking at different points across the itinerary for between 1.5 and 4 hours in duration, you will be using different muscle groups.

White water rafting on the Pacuare River will be a blend of moderately strenuous activity and gentle paddling as you raft between grade 3 and 4 rapids and slow-flowing sections. The afternoon cycling in Puerto Viejo is as long or short as you’d like it to be, with distance and times provided as average guidance. Hiking within the itinerary will be through rainforest and tropical foliage, and although this is not at high altitude, for long periods of time or on difficult terrain, the heat, humidity and possible rain will mean you need to be prepared. Kayaking amid the mangroves in Isla Damas will be gentle, although tidal and estuarine, with plenty of stops to spot wildlife.

Sure can! Over 50% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

Tips for the trip leader not included in the trip cost. These are entirely at your discretion but there is an expectation to tip for good service. We suggest the below as a guideline per person:

Up to £8 / $10 per day.

Of course, you are free to tip more or less, and the amount should be reflective of your perception of service and quality - a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

The quality and safety of the tap water in Costa Rica varies depending on your location and whether it is pumped through the mains, a water tank or from a well. Water from the tap will be fine to drink across the majority of the itinerary, with the exception of Puerto Viejo, as the town is not connected to the national water piping system. Clean drinking water will be provided throughout. Please pack your own reusable bottle, it will be well used.

Costa Rica's tropical location means it's generally hot and humid. The rainy season is a great time to visit, with heavy showers mostly limited to a few hours, before the sun comes out again and the rainforest is at its most lush.

The Caribbean Coast is warm and humid with an equal chance of sun, rain or cloud year-round. Daytime temperatures are generally between 25°C / 77°F and 34 °C/ 93°F, and go down to a minimum of 21°C / 70°F at night.

The central region is drier between November and April, with the rainy season between May to October and peak rainfall between August and October. Daytime temperatures generally are between 18°C / 64°F and 24°C / 75°F, and down to a minimum of 12°C / 54°F at night.

The Pacific Coast is drier and hotter between December and March. Daytime temperatures generally are between 28°C / 82°F and 37°C / 99°F, and down to a minimum of 23°C / 73°F at night.

Your excess baggage can be securely stored at the hotel in San José. If you wish to store excess luggage in San José at the start of the trip, please submit a request to your host prior to travel.

We recommend checking out the country specific information here and also talking to a travel nurse.

No. You'll need to have a larger bag suitable for all your belongings which will be transported for you, and then a small daypack to carry personal items during each day of hiking.

The bicycles provided to beach hop along the Caribbean Coast are XDS Big Rider beach cruisers. These bicycles are one-size-fits-all and ideal for level terrain. They have a single speed, balloon tires, a comfy saddle and a wide, sweeping handlebar. Please note, cycle helmet is not included.

The kayaks used to paddle the Pacific Coast mangroves will be Marca Malibu, single, sit-on-top kayaks. Sit-on-top kayaks are very stable and easy to paddle for everyone, including new paddlers through to experienced paddlers. Sit-on-top kayaks can be used on the sea, estuaries, rivers, lakes and canals.

Marca Malibu single person kayaks are made of a single layer of polyethylene, 2.8m length, sit-on-top and with a maximum weight limit of 147kgs.

Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our adventures. Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure.

Your insurance policy should also include specific Covid-19 cover, including cancellation and curtailment cover if you, your travel companion or a close relative are diagnosed with Covid-19.

We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

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