Costa Rica - Tips for Exploring this Central American Gem


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Are you planning your next vacation, but having trouble figuring out where to go or what to do? Let us help you! Costa Rica is the perfect destination for anyone who wants to get away from it all. This Central American country is home to some of the most beautiful and unspoiled scenery in the world. With miles of pristine beaches, lush rainforests, stunning towns, and active volcanoes, there’s something for everyone in Costa Rica. You can find adventure or relaxation here – it’s up to you! This is the perfect place to unplug and unwind. And with our amazing deals, there’s no reason not to visit Costa Rica today. Book your free consultation now and let us show you why Costa Rica is an amazing spot for your next trip!


When to Visit

If you are traveling on a budget and don't mind a little rain, the best time to visit Costa Rica is during the rainy season (May-November). Although it does rain more during this time of year, the rains are typically short and they usually happen in the late afternoon or evening. The upside of visiting during the rainy season is that there are fewer tourists and you can often get discounts on hotels and tours.


If you're interested in seeing whales, the best time to visit Costa Rica is from December to April. This is when whales migrate to the country's Pacific coast to mate and give birth. This is also the time of year when the weather is the best - average temperatures are in the mid-80s and rain is rare.


Where to Stay

If you're looking for a budget-friendly option, check out hostels or rooms for rent. Hostels in Costa Rica are usually clean and comfortable, and they offer great value for your money. Hostels are generally found in the more popular tourist destinations, though there are some cheap eco-lodges that can be found in more out-of-the-way destinations. Rooms for rent can be found all over the country on websites like Airbnb or Couchsurfing. Budget options run from about $15-$80 per night.


For travelers that are beyond their hostel days, Costa Rica has some amazing hotels that do not cost an arm and a leg. These mid-range hotels are usually clean, comfortable, and offer great amenities like pools and restaurants. Some popular chains have locations throughout the country, and there are some smaller bed and breakfast style properties that give you a more local feel. The price range for mid-range lodgings varies from $80 to $200 per night.


For those who are looking for something more luxurious, we recommend checking out Costa Rica's resorts. Costa Rica has some truly incredible options available for $200-$500 per night, offering everything from basic bungalows to all-inclusive luxury packages with golf courses and spas. Make your stay even more luxurious by booking a Virtuoso property through Winkaffe Global Travel, and we can get you amazing amenities like room upgrades and resort credits.


For a truly opulent experience, check out Costa Rica's Ultra Luxe offerings. These resorts offer top-notch service, incredible views, and five-star amenities. Of course, all of this comes at a price - expect to pay $500+ per night for a room at one of these Ultra-Luxe destinations. Just like with our luxury properties, booking an Ultra Luxe Virtuoso property through Winkaffe Global Travel can get you access to some incredible perks.


Keep reading to learn about our favorite properties all over the country!


What to Do

Costa Rica provides the opportunity for boundless adventure, culinary delights, and blissful relaxation. Here are some ideas of things to do during your stay:

  • Scuba diving: Costa Rica is home to some of the best scuba diving in the world. There are a variety of dive sites to explore, with something for everyone from beginners to experienced divers.

  • Hiking: With its diverse landscape and abundance of national parks, Costa Rica is a hiker's paradise. There are trails for all levels, from easy walks to multi-day treks.

  • Spa day: If you're looking to relax and rejuvenate, consider spending a day at a spa. Costa Rica has a number of luxury spas that offer treatments like massages, facials, and body wraps.

  • Safari: Costa Rica is home to a variety of wildlife, including monkeys, sloths, and crocodiles. Take a safari tour to see these animals in their natural habitat.

  • Zip lining: This popular activity will have you flying through the trees like a monkey! There are zip lines located throughout Costa Rica for all levels of adventure seekers.

  • White water rafting: If you're looking for an adrenaline rush, white water rafting is the perfect activity for you. There are rivers throughout Costa Rica with Class III - V rapids, perfect for thrill seekers.

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This is just a taste of what Costa Rica has to offer! No matter what your interests are, you're sure to find something to enjoy in this amazing country. You can find some information about our favorite tour companies and activities below!




Our Recommendations

Below we will share our top recommendations for lodging, tour companies, and activities. When possible, we have provided links for you to book on your own, but we can also provide booking services for you. When we plan your trip, you get access to a lot of great deals as well as additional perks, emergency service, and concierge services during your trip. Interested in hearing more about how we can help you plan your trip to Costa Rica? Fill out our Free Consultation Request form today!


Hotels and tour companies marked with * are affiliated with Virtuoso. That means that they meet our standards for luxury providers, and are some of the best companies in the country. For tour companies, this means that they continue to provide clients with top service, and are always rated as excellent by returning travelers. We can also usually get discounts or special offers with these companies. For hotels, our special relationship with these properties means that we can usually provide upgrades and perks in addition to the great rates and service we can get you at other hotels. While the special Virtuoso amenities vary by property, by booking these properties through us you will usually receive:

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  • Upgrades on arrival

  • Daily breakfast for 2

  • Resort or spa credits (usually around $100 value)

  • Free tour or excursion

  • Early check-in/Late check-out

  • Complimentary wi-fi

Check out our suggestions below, and contact us if you want to learn more!


Tour Companies

For those looking for an organized excursion, we have partnership with some of the best tour companies in the world. You can check out all of the tour options by heading to our virtuoso booking site, where you can even filter by special offers or benefits, or learn about the different companies by reading on. Our partners offer all different sorts of trips at different price points, so you are sure to find a great fit. Even better, by booking with us we can often get you upgraded lodging and additional perks! Inquire today so we can help you find the best tour for your group.


Here are some of our favorite companies that offer tours in Costa Rica:

  • Abercrombie & Kent* : Abercrombie & Kent has over 55 offices in more than 30 countries, and a global family consisting of more than 2,500 dedicated travel experts. Chief among them are the Resident Tour Directors® who lead each group departure, providing unmatched on-the-ground expertise with A&K local guides contributing along the way. They offer everything from inspiring small-group journeys to Luxury Tailor Made Travel, Luxury Expedition Cruises and Private Jet journeys, and are consistently recognized as the gold standard for luxury travel by professionals and guests alike. Special Offers: Book with us and receive VIP status at hotels

  • Active Adventures* : Active Adventures sets the standard for inspiring, all-inclusive small group adventures in the most breathtaking regions of the world. Active Adventures specializes in New Zealand, Australia, Asia, Africa, South America and Europe programs. Hand-picked guides with a wealth of experience and local knowledge lead the way as guests enjoy exclusive accommodations, top-notch dining and unique activities showcasing the best of each region. Special Offers: Book with us and receive VIP status at hotels

  • Big Five Tours & Expeditions* : Since 1973, Big Five has created life-affirming journeys to nearly 50 destinations worldwide. Their Destination Specialists, award-winning adventures and premier 24-hour White Glove Service® guest assistance combine to present the journey of a lifetime to individuals, families and small groups. Sustainable travel is at the heart of Big Five. They have seen how the power of travel can change the world for the better. Sustainability benefits both the traveler and the places visited. Whether the focus is cultural, wildlife or adventure, they tailor each journey to the interests of guests traveling in Africa, Asia, Latin America and South Pacific. Special Offers: Book with us and receive VIP status at hotels

  • Blue Parallel* : Blue Parallel creates ultra-luxe private, tailor-made journeys designed around the themes of World Heritage destinations, outdoor adventures, gourmet cuisine, exclusive lodging, white glove service and insider access. They operate in Latin America, the Mediterranean, and the Polar regions. Special Offers: Book with us and receive VIP status at hotels

  • Collette* : A third-generation family-owned guided travel company established in 1918, Collette offers a portfolio of more than 160 tours across all seven continents. From culturally immersive small-group tours to single-city stays, river cruises to faith pilgrimages, and their signature line that balances iconic must-sees with enriching experiences; Collette offers a wide range of 4-star (and above) travel experiences for the discerning traveler. Driven by a mission to enhance lives by providing extraordinary travel experiences, they craft comprehensive guided travel experiences that feel elevated and personal for each guest. Special Offers: Book with us and receive VIP status at hotels

  • DuVine Cycling + Adventure Co* : DuVine’s luxury bike tours focus on exceptional food and wine experiences, thoughtfully designed itineraries, and top-quality gear and support. With cycling guides who understand each region deeply and offer up their personal community, DuVine is tapped into the family-run restaurants, less-traveled routes, and boutique accommodations—like farmhouses or live-aboard yachts. With destinations in Europe, the USA, Latin America, Asia, and Africa, the DuVine experience offers a deeper understanding of a region that transcends tourism, full of simple, genuine, and intimate moments that you can carry with you always. Special Offer: Book with Winkaffe Global Travel and receive a complimentary custom DuVine cycling jersey + a pair of DuVine Cycling shorts (value of shorts is $100 USD). Clients who do not want shorts may choose a $100 credit to our online gear store.

  • G Adventures* : G Adventures is an adventure travel company offering the widest selection of affordable small group tours, safaris, and expeditions to more than 100 countries across seven continents. Their tours are loaded with opportunities for shared experiences between you, your group, and the local people you meet during your journey. Not only that, G Adventures works with local businesses to help make our world a little bit better, one adventure at a time. Special Offers: Book with us and receive VIP status at hotels

  • Globus Journeys* : Globus family of brands is one of the largest travel companies in the world. Globus is focused on first-class escorted travel, Avalon Waterways specializes in river cruises and small-ship cruising and Monograms offers independent travel packages. The company has over 90 years of experience and offers more than 458 vacations in 70 countries. Special Offer: Book with Winkaffe Global Travel and receive free transfers on select 2022 Globus, Monograms and Avalon Europe vacations.

  • GOGO Vacations* : For over 65 years, GOGO Vacations has been a leading travel wholesaler, working exclusively with travel agents. Its in-depth product knowledge, expansive product line, and amazing offerings continually lead to top awards in the travel industry. Its focus on sustainability will impress even the most concientious traveler, and the tours will leave you in awe. GOGO Vacations also offers a suite of exclusive amenities in their global My Time product range all available at no additional cost to the traveler. The only way to book a GOGO vacations tour is through a Virtuoso Travel Advisor, like Winkaffe Global Travel! Special Offers: GOGO Vacations can offer discounts on some of the best properties and activities in the world. Inquire for more information!

  • Intrepid Travel* : Traveler by traveler, destination by destination, Intrepid Group strives to change the way people see the world though Intrepid Travel and Peregrine Adventures. They do this by offering an immersive style of adventure travel which benefits both their travelers and the people and places they visit. Today, they provide the world’s widest range of adventure tours – or sustainable experience-rich travel, as they prefer to call it. They are passionate about using local knowledge to take their travellers off-the-beaten-track. For them, it's all about delivering the most authentic experience possible. Special Offers: Book with us and receive VIP status at hotels

  • Ker & Downey* : With more than 25 years of success in the travel industry, Ker & Downey is an award-winning luxury travel provider dedicated to designing inspiring, custom-made journeys that allow you to experience the world in a new way. Their itineraries are curated by travel enthusiasts who are committed to the belief that travel should reflect who you are and enhance your life through experiencing the world’s unique culture and character in every destination. Ker & Downey’s featured regions include Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America, the Middle East, and South Pacific, with special arrangements all over the world also possible. Need after-hours tours when museums are closed to the public, specialist guides, or that coveted reservation at the world’s hottest restaurant? If you dream it, they can make it happen. Special Offers: Book with us and receive VIP status at hotels

  • Namu Travel* : The Namu Travel Group is a Central American travel company specializing in personalized, boutique vacations to Costa Rica, Belize, Panama, Guatemala, Nicaragua & Colombia. Their staff of globetrotters come from all corners of the world, and have explored every nook and cranny of Central America & Colombia. Travel is their passion and job, and they evaluate every hotel and tour with this two-fold approach. They know what it’s like to visit for the first time, and they also know every destination inside and out, as only locals can. They vet every experience, and only recommend the ones they love – the places they wish they could visit again and again. Special Offers: Book with us and receive VIP status at hotels

  • Tauck* : The Tauck Mission is to “create authentic, enriching travel experiences that enhance people’s lives by broadening their knowledge and fulfilling their dreams.” Each vacation is a refined mix of culture and entertainment, sightseeing and leisure, camaraderie and privacy. Guests’ expectations are routinely exceeded, creating a remarkably loyal clientele who are enriched, indulged and inspired by their travels with Tauck. Each year, Tauck brings guests to some 70 countries and all seven continents, and over 50% of Tauck travelers are repeat guests. Special Offers: Book with us and receive VIP status at hotels

  • Way to Go Tours* : Way to Go Tours specializes in crafted, custom journeys to Central and South America. Combining destination specialty with extraordinary service, each tour throughout Latin America is designed with first-hand knowledge and outstanding partners. From the rain forests of Costa Rica to the islands of the Galapagos, Way to Go Tours pairs the foremost experiences with your travel style. Whether you prefer luxury resorts or Eco-lodges, high adventure thrills or quiet, up close wildlife encounters, ancient cultures or modern cities, Way to Go Tours connects Central and South America to you. Way to Go Tours is only able to be booked through a Virtuoso Travel Advisor, like Winkaffe Global Travel. Special Offers: Book with us and receive VIP status at hotels and an exclusive welcome gift!

Lodging, Activities, and Restaurants by Province

Alajuela

Alajuela is a province in Costa Rica that is best known as the home to Arenal Volcano. This area is perfect for nature lovers, with hiking trails, waterfalls, and hot springs.

La Fortuna and Arenal: If you're looking for an adventure, check out the Arenal Volcano near La Fortuna. This active volcano offers amazing views and plenty of activities like hiking, rappelling, and zip lining. The surrounding area is also filled with hot springs, perfect for relaxing after a day of adventure!


Winkaffe Global Travel Favorites

Budget Lodging

Palacios (prices start at $14): Your home away from home in Arenal. This lovely property gives you the opportunity to stay with a local family and experience a piece of true Costa Rica. The family will help you make the most of the area, and welcome you into their lives through drinks and meals together.


Mid-Range Lodging

Sangregado Lodge (prices start at $130): Sangregado is a small lodge located just across the road from Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park. The property is 67 acres of rainforest, complete with stunning views of the Arenal Volcano. You will be surrounded by beautiful nature, and may even catch glimpses of some of the resident animals - coatis, sloths, wild pigs, peacocks, deers, anteaters, and wild birds have been spotted by guests! Sangregado has 2 villas and 8 privates rooms, all fantastically furnished in the local style, with beautiful terraces. All rooms have modern amenities including AC, luxurious bathroom, and mini-fridge. The villas also have full kitchens.


Luxury Lodging

The Springs Resort and Spa* (prices start at $446): This hot springs paradise perches 1,000 feet above the Arenal Valley, with an incomparable panorama of the powerhouse volcano and the surrounding villages, which sparkle at night. Sip a tropical cocktail while soaking in the nearly 30 natural mineral pools sprinkled about the 165-acre resort; some are located along a canyon trail lined with heliconia blooms. Each of the 75 warm, woody rooms features Arenal Volcano views; enjoy the cool mountain breeze while napping in your balcony hammock. There are five bars and restaurants to please every palate.


Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa* (prices start at $330): A stream from hot springs runs along the base of Arenal Volcano – and behind the entire health spa concept of Tabacón Thermal Resort & Spa. Few experiences are as healing as soaking in these mineral-rich waters, listening to the rain forest’s soundtrack play through an open-air spa bungalow. Indulge in a volcanic mud wrap or coffee exfoliation after hiking in the jungle, zip-lining through its canopy, kayaking, or white-water rafting. The 103 accommodations feature furnishings and handicrafts from local artisans; families find a variety of connecting rooms and suites with pint-size amenities.


El Silencio Lodge & Spa - Relais & Chateaux* (prices start at $465): Escape in eco-friendly fashion at El Silencio Lodge & Spa. Just 24 freestanding accommodations – built on stilts to minimize environmental impact – dot 500 acres of cloud forest (which is a mostly private reserve). By offsetting carbon and using premium, planet-friendly materials, the zero-harm lodge promotes a holistic concept of tourism. A guest’s well-being derives not just from experiencing the stunning environs and unique culture of the surrounding communities, but also from taking part in preserving them. Hike to hidden waterfalls, enjoy cultural experiences, savor organic specialties, and sleep in upscale “rustic Zen” suites.


Ultra-Luxe Lodging

Nayara Gardens and Nayara Springs - Relais & Chateaux* (prices start at $600): Sister properties Nayara Gardens and Nayara Springs offer luxurious accommodations in the heart of the 30,000-acre Arenal Volcano National Park. Each of the 50 rooms at Nayara Gardens is a single-bedroom villa with a private garden, outdoor shower, and a view of the active Arenal Volcano. At the adults-only Nayara Springs, each of the 35 villas features a hot spring plunge pool. The properties, connected by a footbridge, provide access to four unique restaurants and two open-air spas.


Nayara Tented Camp* (prices start at $1000): Nayara Tented Camp, one of the first luxury camps in Central America inspired by the luxury canvas lodges of Africa and Asia, is in the Arenal Volcano National Park. The luxurious and 1,700 square-feet spacious tents are built at a higher altitude on the hillside to provide unobstructed views of the Arenal Volcano. Multigenerational travelers and like-minded groups can opt for a set of two connecting identical tents while couples and privacy-seeking guests can book standalone units. The indoor/outdoor design of the Camp blends contemporary, barefoot-luxe touches and unique-to-location design. Suites, created in a traditional African safari style tents fused with a Costa Rican sense of place, feature canopy beds with a botanical headboard mural, private plunge pools fed by natural mineral hot springs, and double-head outdoor showers.


Activities

Two things you can't miss in Alajuela are the hot springs, and the Arenal Volcano. See below for our suggestions on some different ways to enjoy these spots!

Hot Springs

  • El Silencio Lodge & Spa - Relais & Chateaux Day Pass* : Set in Costa Rica’s lush northern plains, Arenal Volcano is one of Costa Rica’s most iconic landmarks. A magnificent towering volcano that’s surrounded by wild vegetation and an underground maze of steamy hot springs. Perfect for therapeutic relaxation.

  • The Springs Resort and Spa Day Pass* : Welcome to The Springs Resort & Spa where the word “Vacation” is truly defined. With a spectacular view of the Arenal Volcano, natural hot springs, five unique dining experiences, and an impressive full-service Spa, The Springs Resort & Spa at Arenal promises to overwhelm you in every aspect of quality, service and design. CNN Travel voted this five-star property one of the seven resorts with the most spectacular views in the world, and they have hosted “The Bachelor” and many other famous TV Programs.

  • Tabacon Day Pass* : A stream from hot springs runs along the base of Arenal Volcano – and behind the entire health spa concept of Tabacón Thermal Resort & Spa. Few experiences are as healing as soaking in these mineral-rich waters, listening to the rain forest’s soundtrack play through an open-air spa bungalow. Indulge in a volcanic mud wrap or coffee exfoliation after hiking in the jungle, zip-lining through its canopy, kayaking, or white-water rafting.

Hiking

  • Two Volcano Extreme Hike: Spend your day on a private hiking adventure through the Arenal Volcano National Park. Experience the natural beauty of La Fortuna as you navigate the trails and passes that wind through its stunning landscapes. When the day is done, relax and unwind with a dip in a natural hot water river before returning to your hotel.

Whitewater Rafting

  • Class 2-3 Balsa River: Experience the thrill of rafting down Costa Rica’s Rio Balsa on this white-water adventure! Following the lead of an experienced guide, you’ll navigate Class II and III rapids as you pass through a lush rain forest landscape. After working up an appetite paddling down the river, enjoy a traditional lunch at a local eatery. Round-trip transport from your La Fortuna hotel is included.

Zipline

  • Arenal Mundo Aventura Zipline: Zipline through Costa Rican rain forest on a canopy tour that goes over the spectacular La Fortuna Waterfall—an opportunity not offered on similar excursions. Between cables, take in views of Arenal Volcano and Cerro Chato and talk to your guides about the La Fortuna area. Your tour ends with a trip to the Maleku Cultural Resource Center for a chance to wind down before hotel drop-off.

Water Sports

  • Stand Up Paddleboard on Lake Arenal: Learn to paddleboard on the placid, scenic waters of Lake Arenal in Costa Rica! After an on-shore lesson from your expert guide, take a boat to the middle of the lake to try out your new skills. Stand up on the long board and paddle along the surface of the lake for a thrilling, athletic experience. Soak up the gorgeous scenery, including spectacular views of Arenal Volcano. This half-day tour includes a snack and hotel transport from La Fortuna.

Combo Tour

  • 3-in-1 Arenal Volcano Combo Tour: River Safari Float with La Fortuna Waterfall and Volcano Hike: This three-in-one tour highlights the best of Costa Rica, including a river safari float and volcano hike that's sure to make for a memorable journey. Kick off the day at Penas Blancas River and take off over rushing waters on a two or three hour water safari. You'll see wildlife up close and gain a deeper understanding of Cost Rica's unique biological and environmental resources. Next, visit La Fortuna Waterfall before heading to a picturesque volcano hike. This popular tour is ideal for outdoor adventurers and travelers who prefer to be active on vacation.

Extreme Adventure

  • Gravity Falls Canyoning and Waterfall Jumping Tour: Test your limits on an extreme canyoning expedition in Costa Rica! On this thrilling, half-day tour from La Fortuna, journey to a remote rain forest canyon where you rappel down cliffs, leap from waterfalls and trek through a jagged, slippery landscape. Prepare to get soaked as you splash into jungle pools and swim under ctascades in an extraordinary natural playground. Numbers are limited to 10 for a personalized small-group adventure. We did this tour in February 2022 and cannot say enough good things about it! Check out the video below of Kristin doing the first waterfall jump!


Cartago

Cartago is the oldest province in Costa Rica and is home to a number of historical sites. The most popular attraction is the Ruins of Cartago, which were once a grand cathedral.

Irazú Volcano National Park: Irazú Volcano National Park is a beautiful park located in the Central Valley. This park is best known for its active volcano, Irazú, which is the tallest volcano in Costa Rica. The park also offers hiking trails, lakes, and stunning views.

Orosi: Orosi is a quiet town located in the Central Valley that is home to some of Costa Rica's most beautiful scenery. This area is perfect for those seeking a more laid-back stay, with its quaint churches, rivers, and waterfalls.


Winkaffe Global Travel Favorites

Budget

Hostel Casa de Lis (prices start at $36): Nicely designed and super clean private rooms, and the opportunity to meet other wonderful travelers. Amenities include powerful showers with heated water, lounge areas, garden terrace, rooftop with volcano view, and a communal kitchen.


Mid-Range

Cabañas y Mirador Secret Garden (prices start at $130): Cabañas y Mirador Secret Garden is a relatively new property that has brought a great mid-range lodging option to the Central Valley. It offers beautiful private cabins and luscious grounds for exploration.


Ultra-Luxe

Pacuare Lodge* (prices start at $1,148):Disconnect from tech and tune into nature in all her jungle glory at the Pacuare Lodge. The adventure begins before you arrive, rafting the Pacuare River’s white waters to the lodge’s shores (or take the gondola!). You’ll find 20 enchanting suites, made of sustainably sourced lumber with thatched roofs built by local Cabécar people, tucked among the treetops. Solar panels and water turbines mean little impact on the environment – and a transformational experience for you while connecting with the rain forest from your private terrace and spring-fed pool. Jungle treks, canopy tours, and other leafy experiences await.


Activities

Cartago is not as popular of a tourist destination, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't have anything to offer. The beautiful scenery makes this the perfect place to just relax and enjoy yourself. If you are interested in some adventure, here are our suggestions:

Volcanoes

  • Irazú and Turrialba Volcanoes: With a local guide, you will visit two of the most impressive active volcanoes in Costa Rica and some amazing historic sites.

Whitewater Rafting

  • Pacuare River Rafting: The tour includes amazing rafting, lunch, fruit, a walk to the waterfall and transportation from your hotel in Turrialba. The Pacuare River is now in the top 10 of the most beautiful rivers in the world, and you will have the opportunity to enjoy the wildlife in a natural forest. You will enjoy a completely private tour with an excellent service.

Coffee

  • A taste of Aquiares: Learn about coffee production at Costa Rica's largest coffee farm on this guided tour. At the Aquiares Estate, you’ll see the process from seed to cup after visiting the local community and hearing about coffee agronomy and its importance to Costa Rica. Then, learn about coffee roasting and cupping and get a taste.

Guanacaste

The northwestern province of Guanacaste is home to some of the best beaches in Costa Rica. The province is also home to a number of resorts, making it a great spot for a luxury beach vacation.

Tamarindo: Tamarindo is a popular beach town located on the northwestern coast of Costa Rica. This town is perfect for surfers, with its beautiful beaches and great waves.

National Park Rincón de La Vieja: This national park is located in the northwest of Costa Rica and is home to a number of volcanoes, hot springs, and waterfalls.


Winkaffe Global Travel Favorites

Budget

Pipe House (prices start at $60 ): The Pipe House is a unique place to visit only steps from the beach. Located within a gated community the nine bedrooms that make the house are built entirely by hand within recycled concrete pipes, offering a cozy and artistic design. Complementing the six bedrooms there are four bathrooms divided in two separate areas . The ranch area hosts an open living room and a fully equipped kitchen. Sitting under two trees called "Matapalo" the ranch is always cool and shady even in the BBQ area. With outdoor living in mind, relaxing at The Pipe House is easy as the sound of the breaking waves and the singing birds tune in a non-stop natural melody. Monkeys, squirrels, iguanas, parrots and many other animals can be seen regularly either eating off our mango and guayaba trees or chewing into the coconuts on the property.


Mid-Range

Pura Vista Ocotal (prices start at $114): Pura Vista Hotel is a small 6 room hotel in Costa Rica. Enjoy the stunning view of Papagayo's Golf from your room, which is decorated with a modern touch and equipped for maximum comfort. Pura Vista also offers yoga classes.


Luxury

Hotel Punta Islita, Autograph Collection* (prices start at $309): Active travelers are drawn to Costa Rica’s natural playground; check in to Hotel Punta Islita, terraced into a hillside from summit to sea cove, on Guanacaste's Nicoya Peninsula. Return after a day of zip-lining in the tropical forest, horseback riding, hiking, monkey questing, or bird-watching – all are complimentary. Or lounge at the infinity-edge pool, oceanside family pool, or secluded beach. Choose a romantic junior suite with hypnotic ocean views and private whirlpool or plunge pool, a double room, or a spacious family villa. Don’t miss the Casa Spa, where treatments combine ancient healing traditions with natural ingredients.


Ultra-Luxe

Andaz Costa Rica Resort At Peninsula Papagayo* (prices start at $525): Andaz captures the magic of Costa Rica’s pristine natural beauty with breathtaking views of Culebra Bay and an immersive experience in the tropical forest. The resort offers four restaurants, three beaches, four pools, spa and wellness programs, extensive on-site activity options, including complimentary Cambi kids program. Guests also enjoy access to the amenities of exclusive Peninsula Papagayo, including golf, tennis, electric assist bike share, The Explorers activities, teen/tween programming and transportation to seven additional restaurants within the community.


Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo* (prices start at $1,300): From their hillside perch overlooking the Pacific Ocean, this expansive Costa Rican resort offers privacy while being your launching pad into boundless adventures. After a day of zip lining, surfing or hiking a volcano, return to the tropical retreat for farm- and -sea-to-table dining, refreshing swims in any of the four swimming pools, or relaxing spa treatments.


Activities

Guanacaste is known for its beaches and waterfalls, so make sure to see some of each during your stay! It also is full of adventure activities with something to suit every level of fitness and adrenaline-seeking! Below we have our top suggestions for how to make the most of this area. Make sure to also build in time to just relax by the ocean!


Combo Tours

  • Guachipelin Adventure Volcano Zipline Horseback River Tubing Combo: Enjoy the thrill of this all-day adventure that includes some of the best outdoor fun. Get your adrenaline pumping on an exciting zipline tour, horseback riding through epic landscapes, and tubing along a flowing river. This memorable tour includes a visit to natural hot springs, a volcanic mud bath, and a full buffet lunch. It's the best way to experience the natural wonder of Costa Rica!

  • Rio Celeste Hiking, Sloth Sanctuary & Llanos de Cortes Waterfall Tour: Get an up-close look at Costa Rica's hidden natural wonders on this Rio Celeste and Llanos de Cortes waterfall tour. Follow an expert local guide through breathtaking scenery, rugged trails, and truly beautiful attractions. This is the perfect way to explore outside the city and see what makes Costa Rica a top attraction for nature lovers

  • Volcano Hike, Waterfall Swim & Hot Springs Combo on Rincon de la Vieja: Immerse yourself in the wild volcanic landscapes of the Rincon de la Vieja National Park on this full-day trekking tour. Set out on a moderate 3-hour hike through the jungle and keep a lookout for Howler monkeys, Capuchin monkeys, Toucans, and Coatis along the way. Pass hissing fumaroles, volcanic craters, and bubbling mud pools, then cool off with a swim beneath the Oropendola Waterfall. After re-fueling with a delicious lunch of Costa Rican cuisine, enjoy a soothing soak in the hot springs and volcanic mud baths of Rio Negro.

  • Diamante Eco Adventure: Make the most of your time (and your money) with an all-day pass to Diamante Eco Adventure Park, which includes access to ziplines, hanging bridges, ocean activities, a native botanical garden, and the largest animal sanctuary in Guanacaste Province — all in one location near the region’s most popular cities. This pass also includes lunch, fruit drinks, and coffee so you can stay all day.

  • MEGA Adventure Combo: Horseback + Zip Lines + Hot Springs + Water Slide: Explore the foothills of Rincon de la Vieja National Park on an adventurous full-day tour from Tamarindo that combines horseback riding, ziplining and steaming thermal hot springs into the ultimate jungle experience. Ride scenic trails to a series of ten ziplines, strap in and soar above a river and through the forest canopy. Enjoy lunch on site, launch down a 1,706-foot (520-meter) waterslide, then finish your day by rolling in mineral-rich volcanic mud and soaking in a Vandara’s hot springs.

  • ATV and Snorkel from Playa Flamingo: Get your pulse racing on an exhilarating 5-hour ATV tour from Playa Flamingo, then cool off along the coast. Learn how to operate your ATV, then set off on a fun route, weaving through forest trails, juddering down rainforest tracks and squelching through muddy streams. Then, dive into the warm waters of Costa Rica’s Pacific coast to swim and snorkel among the colourful corals and tropical fish of Flamingo and Brasilito beaches.

Snorkeling

  • Kuna Vela Sailing Tours (Playas Del Coco) - Sunset Snorkel and Sailing Tour: Spend the afternoon sailing and snorkeling in a secluded cove on this off-the-beaten-path excursion. A sailboat takes you to otherwise inaccessible coves that are teeming with marine life and lined by pristine beaches, making this an ideal tour for snorkeling enthusiasts or anyone who wants to get away from the crowds and relax on the beach.

  • Tamarindo Snorkel & Sunset Cruise with Lunch: Set sail on the big blue Pacific with this deluxe catamaran cruise from Tamarindo or Playa del Coco. Sunbathe on the spacious deck and stop to swim and snorkel in the warm tropical waters. Enjoy lunch freshly prepared onboard by an attentive crew, and stay hydrated with unlimited drinks from an open bar. Cruise back into port just as the sun is setting for a memorable end to a another day in paradise.

Zipline

  • Adventure Park and Hotel Vista Golfo: Feel the adrenaline rush of soaring over 11 different waterfalls on this small-group canopy tour at Adventure Park Costa Rica. Enjoy breathtaking views over the ocean, mountains, and rainforest on 25 zipline cables, the longest in Costa Rica. Led by a professional guide, this tour emphasizes safety and provides all the necessary equipment. Lunch and bottled water are included.

Scuba Diving

  • PADI Discover Scuba Diving from Playa Flamingo: Have all the fun of scuba diving without investing the time and expense into a PADI certification with a Discover Scuba Diving experience from Playa Flamingo. Learn the basics of scuba diving in a pool the day before or morning of your trip, and then head out to the open ocean near Las Catalinas Islands to dive and swim alongside tropical fish, manta rays, sea horses, and more.

  • 2 Dive Tour at Las Catalinas Islands for Certified Divers: Las Catalinas Islands off Costa Rica’s Pacific coast are known for their giant manta rays, white tip reef sharks, sea turtles, dolphins, and more — with a little luck, you can even spot humpback whales in the summer months. Swim alongside this bounty of marine life on a 2-dive tour to the islands from Playa Flamingo with a PADI-certified instructor. This tour is only for certified scuba divers.

Hiking

  • Hiking to the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano National Park: Explore Rincon de la Vieja Volcano National Park during a private full-day tour led by a naturalist guide. The national park is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site with stunning natural features, including rain forest, wildlife, hot springs, and the volcano, which you see during a 2-mile (3-km) hike. Your tour includes a Costa Rican lunch, a stop at La Oropendola waterfall, and round-trip transportation.

  • Miravalles Volcano and Waterfalls from Playa Hermosa: Pamper yourself in a volcanic spa rife with mineral-rich mud baths and hot springs on a private or small-group tour of Miravalles Volcano. Depart from the coast for an adventure in a tropical rain forest full of opportunities to swim, hike, and relax in Costa Rica’s lush wilderness.

Whitewater Rafting

  • Whitewater Rafting Class III and IV: Experience the thrill of navigating class III and IV white waters on this incredible 2.5-hour tour of Tenorio River. Get an up close look at local wildlife as you paddle your way through raging rapids. Ideal for first-timers and experienced travelers alike. This popular tour is sure to be an adrenaline rush!

Jet Skiing

  • Jet Ski guided tour in Playa Conchal: This popular tour combines the adrenaline and rush of jet skiing with sight seeing of the breathtaking coast line and secluded beaches. The included snorkeling makes it the perfect combo. Very often you will be treated to the sight of turtles, manta rays, dolphins and whales in season. Perfect tour for couples, families or large groups.

Horseback Riding

  • Safari & Buenavista Beach Horse Riding Tour: Enjoy this tour between jungle, river, and beach to the rhythm of the horses’ hooves, calm and docile. The adventure starts as soon as the gate opens: you will cross the Buenavista river followed by the observation of animals and flora in the Guanacaste forest (typical from the region). At the end of the path before turning back is Buenavista Beach, deserted and preserved , where your horse will paddle in the waves of the Pacific Ocean coastline for a magic experience.

Surfing

  • Surf Lessons in Tamarindo: Experience Tamarindo’s perfect breaks with a 2-hour surf lesson at a legendary beachside shop. Get in the water for the first time and practice paddling, popping up and riding in a forgiving beach break. More experienced surfers can hone their skills by surfing alongside an expert instructor, learning to read the breaking surf while improving technique and form. Riders of all skill levels can soak up the sun on the Pacific Coast and enjoy the security of an experienced surf school that places the emphasis on safety and fun.

Sailing

  • Tropical Sailing Sunset Tour in Playa Flamingo: Watch the sun slip into the Pacific Ocean on a 4-hour sailing tour from the Guanacaste to a white sand beach with remarkable snorkeling. Enjoy unlimited beer, wine and soft drinks as you cast off, and watch for the dolphins, whales and turtles that thrive along the scenic coastline. Drop anchor to explore with a guide or at your own pace, swim alongside brilliant fish and bright coral, then watch the first stars appear as you steer back towards the shore.

  • Private Tropical Sunset Catamaran: Enjoy your private sailing sunset tour with the most respected sailing tour company in Costa Rica. They have a world wide reputation for the best Costa Rica sailing experience, just imagine yourself enjoying the amazing sunset the golden coast of Costa Rica provides.

  • Blue Dolphin Sailing Adventure: Part of what makes Costa Rica the world's premier destination for ecotourism is its extensive coastlines. Explore the waters off Guanacaste aboard the Blue Dolphin, a 40-foot catamaran that slices through the surf and offers a fully stocked bar, paddle boards and kayaks for your enjoyment. Breathe in the salt spray and keep a lookout for dolphins, turtles, whales, and spectacular coastal views.

ATV

  • ATV Tour Mountain & Beach: Explore Tamarindo’s beaches and dry forest on an off-road ATV tour with river crossings, mountain views, and stunning tropical scenery. Learn to maneuver your vehicle, then follow your guide along a rugged circuit. Take in the sights and sounds of the Costa Rican forest and watch for birds and monkeys as you steer beneath coastal trees. Upgrade your tour to include other activities such as snorkeling, driving a UTV, ziplining, or even exploring other areas by ATV.

Rum Tasting

  • Costour Rum Tasting Experience: Discover how this Costa Rican rum is produced here in Guanacaste and prepare your own rum infused bottle from a variety of fruits and spices.

Heredia

Heredia is a province in Costa Rica that is known as the City of Flowers. It is popular for its lush forests and coffee plantations, making this area perfect for hikers and nature lovers.

Poas Volcano: Poas Volcano is among the active volcanoes of Costa Rica and is constantly letting off pressure through fumaroles and steam cracks. It has the largest crater of any active volcano in the world. The crater can be observed first hand from an observation platform located within the national park. Within the crater there is a beautiful turquoise colored lagoon which is formed from rain water enriched with volcanic minerals. There is also another larger green colored lagoon within the park, which was the original crater of Poas before the current one was formed. Nature trails within the park are surrounded by tropical plants and flowers, which are prime habitat for many species of birds.

La Paz Waterfall Gardens: The gardens are a collection of tropical plants and flowers which are masterfully placed throughout the walkways and around the breathtaking waterfalls. To complement the experience they also offer the opportunity to get up close and personal with a variety of wildlife that they have saved from injuries and rehabilitated. Exhibits include numerous tropical birds such as toucans and parrots, reptiles and amphibians, monkeys and even jungle cats.

Sarapiqui River: The Sarapiqui river used to serve as a transportation route, and now serves as an awesome base for water adventures like white water rafting and boating.

Heredia Highlands Coffee Plantations: Heredia is famous for its coffee and there are a number of plantations in the area that offer tours and tastings.


Winkaffe Global Travel Favorites

Budget

Casa del Cafe-Familiar (prices start at $45): While Heredia doesn't have too many lodging options, this is a solid spot for the budget traveler. Clean, comfortable, and close to the coffee plantations, it is a great starting point for tours of the area.


Luxury

Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Farm and Inn (prices start at $300): A stay at Finca Rosa Blanca provides the opportunity to experience authentic Costa Rica. Finca Rosa Blanca combines luxury accommodations, a sustainable forested coffee farm, and cuisine that creatively honors the culinary traditions of the coffee highlands. Share the richness of the local culture, steaming volcanoes, cloud forests and the splendor of the abundant nature that surrounds the property.


Activities

Heredia is home to some of the most diverse nature and wildlife in the country. Do a tasting at a coffee or chocolate plantations, raft or kayak the Sarapiqui river, and hike the Poas Volcano. Make sure to also save time to just relax and enjoy the peacefulness of this area!


Whitewater Rafting

  • Whitewater Rafting Sarapiqui River, Class II-III: Appease your appetite for adventure during an exhilarating 3-hour rafting session on the Sarapiqui River from Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui . With an experienced guide, conquer the Class II and III rapids on the river’s most intense section and feel your adrenaline levels surge. During calmer periods, marvel at the abundance of exotic wildlife on the banks of the Sarapiqui River and listen to fascinating commentary from your guide. All rafting equipment and round-trip transportation from Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui is included on this tour.

Kayaking

  • Kayak Jungle Tour: Beginner kayakers are at ease on this Sarapiqui River kayaking tour. Roll over mild class I and II rapids on your way to wildlife watching zones along the river, which runs through a biodiverse section of the jungle. You might see tropical birds, wild orchids, and more as you follow your guide along the course.

Wine, Beer, and Mead

  • Costa Rica Meadery: Costa Rica Meadery is the only commercial meadery in Central America. On this tour you will learn how they are turning honey from local bee hives into mead - a delicious alcoholic beverage. You will also have an opportunity to stroll in the gardens of the Ark Herb Farm and see how ingredients used in the mead, like vanilla, cacao, berries, and herbs, are harvested and used in the fermentation, to create a farm-to-bottle product. Finally you will taste some delicious award-winning meads and see why mead is becoming popular around the world.

Chocolate

  • Chocolate Tour in the Rainforest: Learn about the chocolate industry in Costa Rica on this private 7-hour tour from San Jose. You'll visit Tirimbina, a private biological reserve in the rain forest and take a guided hike across a suspension bridge to a cacao plantation. Get an intimate look at the chocolate-making process, from fruit to chocolate bar. Lunch is included

Combo Tours

  • Coffee Experience, Poas Volcano and La Paz Waterfall Gardens: Departing from San Jose, visit 3 of Heredia's top spots in one day. You will visit the Doka Coffee Estate for a delicious breakfast, followed by a coffee tour in an actual coffee plantation where you will learn the ancient techniques used by the experts to produce some of the best coffee in Costa Rica and around the world. You then continue on to Poas Volcano National Park, and explore the active volcano. Finally, you will visit La Paz Waterfall Gardens where you will gexplore walking trails surrounded by the lush tropical rain forest.

  • Full day at Poas Volcano with coffee tour at Starbucks Farm: Departing from San Jose, visit the impressive crater of Poas Volcano and go behind-the-scenes at a large commercial coffee farm. A guide shares fun facts about one of Costa Rica's most-visited volcanos and biggest exports on a field-to-cup tour of the coffee farm. Plus, private transportation and included lunch make this tour a breeze.

Limon

Limon is a province in Costa Rica that is known for its rainforest and wildlife. This area is perfect for safari tours and those looking to see turtles, monkeys, sloths, and crocodiles in their natural habitat.

Tortuguero National Park: This national park is famous for its turtles - it's one of the only places in the world where you can see green turtles nesting on the beach. The park also has beautiful rainforest scenery and a variety of wildlife sightings, including monkeys, sloths, and tropical birds. You can explore the park by boat or on foot and even stay overnight in one of the many lodges.

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca: This laid-back beach town is the perfect place to relax and soak up the sun. The town has a number of beaches, as well as restaurants and bars. It's also close to a number of other interesting towns and attractions, like the jungle town of Cahuita and the Sloth Sanctuary.


Winkaffe Global Travel Favorites

Budget

Aracari Garden Hostel (prices start at $25): Situated in the center of Tortuguero and only 50 meters from the sea, Aracari Garden Hostel offers 11 comfortable rooms surrounded by a beautiful garden. Relax in the spacious common area with a communal kitchen, enjoy Tico food in the restaurant and look out for the toucans and other animals which frequently visit the garden.


Budda Home (prices start at $59): Budda Home offers Aparthotel lodging only 3 minutes from the beach. The property also has a garden, restaurant, and beautiful terrace. Enjoy the grounds or head to the nearby beach for a relaxing vacation.


Mid-Range

Umami Hotel (prices start at $193): Located 5 minutes from the beach, the adults only UMAMI Hotel Garden Spa offers a quality service with a fresh and minimalist decoration in white with coral and wood finishes. Enjoy the comfort of the rooms, refresh in the exclusive outdoor pool, and relax in the spa. Adults only.


Villas Piña (prices start at $150): Adult's only Villas Piña offers 6 villas in a beautiful garden setting. Each villa also comes with a large veranda with garden views. The Rancho (common area) has a swimming pool, book exchange, and a large roof top sun/moon deck for sunning and star gazing. Take a short walk to their private beach, relax by the pool and read a book, rent a bike for the day, or visit the surrounding areas.