11 Day Best of Activities
An exhilarating exploration of Costa Rica's most exciting, breathtaking and essential activities -- night hikes, canopy tours, horseback riding, hot springs, bird and wildlife watching, surfing, and more.read more close
Monteverde, Arenal, Manuel Antonio & the Osa Peninsula
Day 1: Arrival
Fly into San Jose’s Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO). Explore downtown San Jose and spend the evening relaxing at your hotel.
Day 2: A Scenic Train Ride & Night Hiking
An air-conditioned shuttle will ferry you to Monteverde , arriving just in time for a leisurely lunch. In the afternoon, visit the Trainforest Railroad, a scenic tourist train that winds its way through four miles of pristine cloud forest. The 90-minute ride will introduce you to Monteverde’s incredible biodiversity and take you past breathtaking lookout points. In the evening, explore the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve on a night hike. With your naturalist guide, investigate the cloud forest floor and canopied treetops for the telltale red eyes of mammals, birds and other hidden creatures.
Day 3: Cloud Forest Hike & Canopy Tour
Visit the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve this morning. Stare in awe as your guide points out hundreds of forest epiphytes, great green macaws, coatimundis, and, if you’re lucky, the elusive resplendent quetzal. After you’ve finished the tour, head back down the mountain for one of Costa Rica’s best canopy tours. You’ll fly through the air at speeds up to 40 mph, take on 2000-foot cables, and hurl yourself off a ledge on the popular Tarzan swing. In the evening, enjoy some of Monteverde’s delectable brick-oven pizza, and relax in a bubbling hot tub (it can get chilly in the mountains!).
Day 4: Horseback Riding & Hot Springs
Transfer to Arenal : begin your journey with a shuttle bus to Lake Arenal, where you’ll enjoy a peaceful boat tour across the lake. On the other side, jump into the waiting 4WD taxi and finish the trip to La Fortuna. After lunch, enjoy a horseback ride to Arenal Volcano – along the way, you’ll pass through new-growth rainforest, home to white-faced monkeys, howler monkeys, and sloths. After your long day of adventure, relax in the lushly landscaped volcano-fed hot springs.
Day 5: Rafting & Waterfall Rappelling
Begin the day with a heart-pounding whitewater rafting tour down the Class II-III Balsa River or Class III-IV Toro River rapids. After an exhilarating run, break for lunch with your fellow rafters. In the afternoon, discover the thrill of waterfall rappelling – belay backwards down a series of tropical waterfalls, ending at a 200-foot vertical cascade. Enjoy the beautiful surroundings as you traverse the lush rainforest canyon, from one gripping descent to the next.
Day 6: Surf Lessons & Sunset Sailing
Enjoy your morning in La Fortuna before a flight whisks you away to the sun-drenched beaches of Manuel Antonio . You’ll arrive just in time for your afternoon surf lesson, where you can learn some surfing basics or brush up on your wave skills. You’ll finish as dusk arrives, the ideal time for a romantic sunset sail. Keep your eyes trained on the horizon, since Manuel Antonio is known for excellent dolphin and whale watching – you may glimpse humpback whales, bottlenose and spotted dolphins, and even the occasional killer (orca) whale. In the evening, unwind at a day spa – try a slimming algae body wrap, a papaya facial, or a divine hot stone massage.
Day 7: Mangrove Tour & Relaxation
Take a morning boat tour to the Damas Island mangroves, where your guide may point out monkeys, herons, ibis and caimans along the estuary canals. Use the afternoon to explore Manuel Antonio, and do some beachside shopping. Or, have fun snorkeling in clear, turquoise waters, or swimming in protected coves. If you have the time and energy, don’t miss a Manuel Antonio National Park hike – your guide will help you spot white-faced monkeys, coatimundis, iguanas, and other forest dwellers.
Day 8: Corcovado National Park & Night Hike
A short flight will deliver you to Drake Bay at about 9:00 a.m. After getting settled, meet with your naturalist guide for a hike through Corcovado National Park, which National Geographic named the most biologically intense place on Earth. A boat will guide you on a 50-minute ride from Drake Bay to Corcovado’s Sirena Station, where you may spot Baird’s tapirs, anteaters, sloths, spider monkeys, ocelots and other forest creatures. Back in Drake, unwind at dinner before heading out on the area’s most popular night hike. From 7:30-10:00 p.m., you and your flashlight will illuminate tree frogs, bats, jumping spiders and other creepy crawlers. By the end of the day, we guarantee you’ll know why the Osa Peninsula is our pick for Costa Rica’s best bird and wildlife watching.
Day 9: Whale Watching & Surfing
Wake up to a world of possibilities – head out onto the blue, Pacific waves in search of one of the world’s largest mammals: the humpback whale. (Drake Bay has the longest humpback whale season in the world.) During the morning’s dolphin and whale watching tour, keep your eyes peeled for spotted and bottlenose dolphins, killer whales, and pseudo orcas. In the afternoon, take a boat out to the Rio Agujitas or Rio Claro estuaries, two surfing spots renowned for huge waves and sandy-bottom beach breaks.
Day 10: Sport Fishing & Bird Watching
Drake Bay lays claim to more than 40 fishing records, and today’s your chance to hook the next. In the early morning, head out on a half-day, sport fishing tour. Sailfish, marlin, yellowfin tuna, mackerel and wahoo are common catches. In the afternoon, rest in the shade or sunbathe on the beach before setting out on a late-afternoon birdwatching tour. Your eagle-eyed guide will be on the lookout for tanagers, hummingbirds, scarlet macaws, toucans and woodpeckers, among others.
Day 11: Departure
Take the 9:20 a.m. flight back to San Jose, where you can catch any flight departing after 1:00 p.m. If you need to stay the night in San Jose, we’d be happy to arrange an airport hotel for you.