4.7
| 3 reviews

The Ultimate Costa Rica Adventure

9 nights
Easy

Hike, raft and kayak among looming volcanoes, wild rivers and gnarled mangroves – from the Caribbean Coast to the Pacific Ocean

What's Included?

Activities & Certified Guides

All itinerary activities with a local, English-speaking tour leader plus specialist activity guides

Hotel & Rainforest Lodge

9 nights in boutique hotels

Meals

All your breakfasts, 2 lunches and 2 dinners

Transfers & Permits

Your airport and local transfers, permits and entry fees are included

Equipment

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

Small Like-minded Groups

Solo-friendly by design, join our small n’ sociable groups of up to 14 like-minded, active and outdoorsy people
From

excluding flights

What's it like?

4.7
| 3 reviews
Fantastic adventure
March 2024
Catherine J.
Fantastic adventure
March 2024
Catherine J.
Fantastic adventure
March 2024
Catherine J.
Fantastic adventure
March 2024
Catherine J.
Fantastic adventure
March 2024
Catherine J.
Fantastic adventure
March 2024
Catherine J.
Costa Rica
February 2024
Sally M.
Costa Rica
February 2024
Sally M.
Costa Rica
February 2024
Sally M.
Costa Rica
February 2024
Sally M.
Costa Rica
February 2024
Sally M.
Costa Rica
February 2024
Sally M.
Costa Rica
February 2024
Sally M.
Costa Rica
February 2024
Sally M.
Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica
GettyImages-639928590

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

Hike trails around the unmistakable Arenal volcano, and spot wildlife in the incredible Monteverde cloudforest

Hop on board a catamaran to explore lush islands off the Pacific Coast, snorkelling the clear turquoise waters

Explore Manuel Antonio National Park and relax into beach vibes with sundowners, sunsets and sandy toes galore

Key Information

Day 1

Welcome to Costa Rica

Your host will meet you at San Jose International Airport and whisk you downtown to your hotel. Get in the 'pura vida' groove as you spend the rest of the day at your leisure with bars, cafes and museum on your doorstep. Meet up with your guide and fellow adventurers in the evening for a welcome dinner and a chat through the adventures to come.

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 Playa Cocles.

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

Hike around the active Arenal Volcano

Hiking

2-3hrs · 5km · 237m up · 237m down

Leaving the Caribbean coast behind, today you'll head into the heart of Costa Rica. 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 5

Tenorio Volcano National Park

Hiking

3hrs · 6km · 100m up · 100m down

Explore the beautiful blue waters and spectacular waterfalls of Rio Celeste and hike through dense tropical rainforest on a trail within Tenorio Volcano National Park. Return to La Fortuna for a second night in your hotel.

Day 6

Monteverde

GettyImages-157438517

Hiking

2hrs · 2-3km · 125m up · 125m down

Wildlife Tracking

2hrs

Take a stunningly scenic journey by bus and boat this morning to reach Monteverde, admiring the views as you cross Lake Arenal by boat. Grab some lunch in town before heading into the cloud forest on a nature walk, looking out for hummingbirds, quetzals and even lazy sloths among the mist later in the day. Enjoy some downtime and then head back into the forest after dark for a night walk to seek out the animals and insects that are largely hidden in the day but come to life in the nocturnal forest.

Day 7

Manuel Antonio

Beach backed by verdant forest in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Driving

4.5hrs · 185km

Settle back into the van and watch the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica open up as you journey from Monteverde to Manuel Antonio, a laidback town within the famous national park of the same name. Make a stop in Quepos, a chilled town with a vibrant food and drink scene, before settling into your beach hotel and enjoying a sundowner over the Pacific Ocean.

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.

Day 1

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

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 5

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 6 – 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 Balmoral Hotel, a recently refurbished property in the historic centre of San José with plenty of bars, cafes and museums on your doorstep. The hotel is a lively spot with a bar, restaurant, cafe, pizzeria and even a wine shop. You'll stay in twin-share rooms with en-suite bathrooms.

Please note that the stay at Balmoral Hotel is subject to availability. If the hotel is full on any given departure date, you'll stay at a nearby alternative of a similar style and quality.

Puerto Viejo

On the Caribbean coastline you'll stay at Bambutel Cocles, a relaxed place nestled within the forest for a peaceful stay. There is a pool and a hot-tub for you to relax in after your rafting, surfing and cycling exploits in the day. You'll stay in twin-share rooms with en-suite bathrooms.

Arenal

Situated on the fringes of Arenal National Park on Fortuna, Hotel Secreto La Fortuna is a quaint hideaway boasting views over to Arenal volcano, a small pool to cool off in and a terrace patio. You'll stay in twin rooms with en-suite bathrooms.

Monteverde

In Monteverde you'll stay at Hotel Heliconia, one of the most well known and long established hotels in Monteverde. The property is chalet style, reminiscent of European alpine wooden houses with a touch of Costa Rican flavour and a warm, natural atmosphere throughout the hotel. You'll stay in twin-share rooms with en-suite bathrooms.

Manuel Antonio

Settle in for three special nights in a perfect location at Karahe Beach Hotel right on the beach in Manuel Antonio surrounded by tropical, landscaped gardens and direct beach access. There is a lush swimming pool and a very well regarded outdoor restaurant. You'll stay in twin-share rooms with en-suite bathrooms.

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).

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.

Enjoy 12.5% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 12.5% discount 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
*Requests for optional extras can be made after booking on your “My Bookings” page

Single/Double/Twin Room in San Jose

Payable Before Departure

Single/Double/Twin Room in San Jose

Per Night

Single/Double/Twin Room in Manuel Antonio National Park

Payable Before Departure

Single/Double/Twin Room in Manuel Antonio National Park

Per Night

Optional private room upgrade

Payable Before Departure

Optional private room upgrade

Quepos to San José Airport

Payable Before Departure

Quepos to San José Airport

Per Person

San José Airport Taxi

Payable Before Departure

San José Airport Taxi

Per Person

Catherine J.(March 2024)
Fantastic adventure
Fantastic adventure
Fantastic adventure
Fantastic adventure
Fantastic adventure
Fantastic adventure
Fantastic adventure

I booked this trip in search of an adventure and wow did it deliver! I had the time of my life. I spent a lot of time researching before booking this trip and chose this one because of the great itinerary and chance to see so much of what Costa Rica has to offer - I am so glad I did! Wonderful people, beautiful landscapes, incredible wildlife and so much adventure. Considering that February is high season, it didn’t feel too busy. The weather was perfect too! Our guide Luz was fantastic, so knowledgable and always ready to go the extra mile to help everyone get the most out of our trip. I highly recommend!

Sally M.(February 2024)
Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica

I had an excellent time in Costa Rica. The country is beautiful and our guide was really excellent. We visited both the carribean and pacific coast as well as cloud forrest and a Volcano. Whilst I really enjoyed the trip and we had a great group, this wasn't as good as other MBA trips that I have been on as it felt a lot more "on the beaten path." It was perhaps not yet perfected as it was the first time the trip ran. I managed to get away from the crowds by personally going alone for walks, bike rides and sunrise runs (see photos) but hope that MBA improve the trip in future years for other people. I would definitely recommend heading off on your own at sunrise if you do join this trip in future.

Claire C.(February 2024)
Brilliant trip

Fantastic trip, great bunch of people and I felt everything went very smoothly considering this was the first time that this particular trip had ran with much better adventures, credit to our guide Luz for her organization.

Particular positives: white water rafting was amazing, the abundance of wildlife, and our local guide, Luz who was incredibly knowledgeable about Costa Rica and all of the wildlife that we saw and highly skilled at finding it!

We partner with the World Land Trust to ensure this trip achieves Net-Zero emissions. We also support their Buy an Acre programme, helping local communities to buy and protect natural habitats in perpetuity.

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 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. We partner with the World Land Trust to ensure this trip achieves Net-Zero emissions. We also support their Buy an Acre programme, helping local communities to buy and protect natural habitats in perpetuity, ensuring the protection of the reserve and its wildlife.

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 70% 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 for all of our adventures and you are required to provide your policy information before departing.

Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure. We also strongly recommend it includes cancellation and curtailment insurance, should you be unable to join your trip for specific reasons such as illness.

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.

You're always in good company on one of our adventures.

Our trips are typically made up of a mixture of solo travellers and small groups of 2 or 3 friends, with most in their 30s-50s.

Our sociable adventures are solo-friendly by design and naturally attract outdoorsy people with a shared mindset; a love for adventure, a desire to push themselves and meet awesome, like-minded people along the way.

It’s this camaraderie that has so often turned a great adventure into a life-changing one.

Don't just take our word for it:

  • 95% of people rate the group dynamics on our trips 5/5
  • 90% of people recommend joining a trip to make new friends
  • 75% of people have met people on our trips that they would now consider friends

See here for more info about the Much Better Adventures tribe.

Interested in a more exclusive experience? Opt for a 'Private Group' through the dates and prices tab to book this adventure for just you and your chosen companions.

Our team of Adventure Hunters create exclusive adventures with highly vetted, specialist hosts. We only work with independent, local in-destination experts who know the very best places to explore and how to stay safe. See here for more info about the local teams we partner with.

We've got your back

Guaranteed to run

All our trips are now guaranteed to run. Once you’ve booked your spot you can immediately make your travel arrangements, no uncertainty, no hanging about (excludes 'request to book' departures). Full details

Flexible payments

Secure your spot with the minimum deposit and pay off the remaining balance in as many instalments as you like, with no interest or fees. Full details

Happiness Guarantee

We’re so confident you’ll have an amazing time we’ll put our money on it. Full details

Full financial protection

To give you complete peace of mind we’re backed by ABTOT, ABTA and ATOL memberships. Full details

Tried & Trusted

We’re rated ‘Excellent’ on Trustpilot with over 900 verified trip reviews averaging 4.8/5.

Connect before you go

You'll be invited to join a WhatsApp group to get to know each other before your big adventure together. Full details

DEPARTURE DATES

Private trip

Go private and split the bill with ease.

Forget complex logistics, we've taken care of all the details to ensure a hassle-free get together. All of the adventure, none of the faff.

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