Costa Rica Coast to Coast
Traverse this country from the laid-back Caribbean coast through its mountainous hinterland emerging on the beautiful north Pacific shore taking in scenery, culture and wildlife en-route.
Costa Rica Coast to Coast
12 days from £2,130 pp
(exc. international flights)
This holiday is a wonderful introduction to Costa Rica, showcasing its varied habitats and rich animal and bird life. As the name suggests you’ll travel across the country, from the Caribbean to the Pacific, journeying by road and water, and passing through villages where you witness scenes of daily life.
Highlights include snorkelling at the country’s largest coral reef with over 35 species of coral and 500 species of fish, cruising through the canals of Tortuguero as you watch animals and birds on the banks and touring the hanging bridges of Arenal as you walk high above the forest floor. From beach to rainforest to volcano, the scenery never fails to impress. As to the wildlife, it’s abundant. Brightly-coloured frogs and geckos, screaming monkeys, stealthy caimans, darting iguanas, dangling sloths and brilliant macaws are just for starters. You’ll soon realise why Costa Rica has a reputation as a nature lover’s paradise.
We’ve selected some of our favourite hotels and lodges. All offer warm hospitality, en-suite accommodation, tasty food, swimming pools and gardens and each is more than just a place to stay and will add an extra element to your holiday. And there’s ample time to relax: on the beaches of both coasts, soaking in natural thermal springs, indulging in spa pampering treatments, and sipping a chilled drink overlooking the Central Valley and glittering lights of San Jose.
- San Jose 1 night
- South Caribbean coast 2 nights
- Tortuguero 2 nights
- Arenal 2 nights
- Papagayo Gulf 3 nights
- San Jose 1 night
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Your flight arrives at Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose where a representative meets you and hands over your document pack. You’ll be shown to a car for the short drive to Studio Hotel for the start of your holiday. No activities have been planned for today, so you can simply relax after your flight, enjoying panoramic views over the Central Valley and city of San Jose. Refresh yourself with a swim in the pool, and when you’re feeling peckish head to the restaurant for a bite to eat.
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before setting off on the eastbound drive to the Caribbean coast. In total the journey will take around 4 hours, with stops en-route do you can stretch your legs and enjoy refreshments. Your destination is Namuwoki Lodge in Playa Chiquita. Set in its own tract of rainforest within walking distance of the Caribbean Ocean. You have the afternoon free to explore the hotel and environs. The restaurant serves tasty Caribbean and international cuisine should you wish to dine here tonight.
Cahuita National Park awaits! You have a boat trip to Punta Cahuita at which point you can don snorkelling gear to see the largest coral reefs in Southern Central America. This is followed by a guided hike in the rainforest which is home to many reptiles, frogs, monkeys, sloths and insects, as well as several species of birds including herons and toucans. On your return to the hotel you can relax by the pool, on the beach or explore the rainforest in search of more wildlife.
This morning you travel by road and boat up the coast and along coastal canals. This gives you time to enjoy your surroundings and keep your eyes open for birds and animals. You should reach Evergreen Lodge by lunchtime, where a guide will give a talk about the region and Tortuguero National Park before you eat. In the afternoon you have a visit to the local village, also called Tortuguero, to meet local people and to the Green Turtle Conservation Museum to find out about the efforts being made to protect these vulnerable turtles which use the nearby beach as a nesting site between the months of July and October.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner
An exciting day in Tortuguero National Park! You’ll be whisked by boat to the national park, just 5 minutes away, for a nature-filled day. Precise activities are weather dependent, but usually include a boat trip on the well-known Tortuguero canals to observe life on the banks and in the water, and a hike to see some of the park’s abundant amphibians, reptiles, mammals and birds, and experience life in the jungle. After a busy day you return to the lodge to wash and change before sitting down to the buffet dinner.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner
It’s time to head inland. Your trip begins with a short boat ride to the harbour where you continue by road. The journey takes you through cultivated land and villages and you’ll stop for lunch on the way. Later the perfect cone of Arenal Volcano comes into view and you’ll reach journey’s end at Nayara Hotel Spa and Gardens, a lovely resort at the foot of the volcano. You have the rest of the afternoon to unwind, sunbathe by the pool, enjoy a massage in the spa and ret some tasty tapas in the bar. With 2 restaurants on site you can choose where you dine this evening.
Having enjoyed breakfast at the hotel it’s time to set off for Arenal and the famous hanging bridges that make up a trail of just over 3kms. It’s exciting being so high off the ground, travelling deep into the forest and enjoying looking for the many birds, mammals, reptiles with the help of your guide. You’ll certainly want your camera to hand. This afternoon you can return to the hotel to enjoy its many facilities, or visit the national park (extra cost), exploring further and maybe finishing with a soak in the hot springs.
You’re back on the road today, travelling west past Arenal Lake and rural villages and on to dry forest as you descend towards the Pacific coast. The drive takes about 4 hours, ending at the Gulf of Papagayo, completing your coast-to-coast odyssey. This is one of Costa Rica’s most popular beach destinations, with beautiful golden sand flanked by green forest, and some of the country’s finest hotels and resorts. Settle in to your new hotel, sit back with a drink and take in the ocean views.
Enjoy a lie in and a lazy breakfast as you consider how to spend this day by the coast. You can take your pick of watersports, go swimming, scuba diving and sailing (extra cost) or simply lie back and soak up some sun on the beach. Back at the hotel sample fine cuisine at your preferred restaurant and treat yourself to a massage or body treatment at the spa. It’s all go!
Another day at leisure. You might want to explore on land today. Guanacaste has several national parks where you can go hiking in the tropical forest, experience the thrills of a zip line or the more sedate attractions of a round of golf. You might like to hire a bike and explore the area for yourself. Hotel staff are available to help you plan your day and make the most of your time.
Enjoy an unhurried breakfast and morning at the hotel before meeting your driver for the ride back to the Studio Hotel, a journey of about 5 hours. The rest of the day is free. Enjoy the fine views from the roof terrace, cool off in the pool, the choice is yours. This evening you can treat yourself to a meal and bottle of wine in the restaurant, as you look back on your Costa Rican holiday.
After breakfast your driver will collect you for the short drive back to the airport and your flight back home.
2022 guide price from (pp for two sharing, excluding international flights):
Travel not recommended in September and October
November to April: From £2175
May to August: from £2130
(Upgrade to private services is available)
Includes: Transfers, ground transport, 11 nights twin share accommodation, meals as specified Tours: full-day shared guided tour in Cahuita National Park inc. transport, entrance fee, snorkelling and lunch; shared tour to secondary Tortuguero canals; shared Tortuguero village visit; shared half-day guided Arenal hanging bridges tour inc. entrance fee
Excludes: International flights, departure taxes, visas, travel insurance, meals not specified, drinks, optional excursions and activities at Arenal and the Gulf of Papagayo, personal expenses, tips.
Getting there: This tour starts and ends in San Jose. Return flight prices from the UK start from around £600.
Departure dates: This is a private, tailor-made holiday and can begin on any day you chose, subject to availability.