Costa Rica Selfdrive Holiday

A 3-centre holiday combing nature, activity and adventure and spanning rainforest, cloudforest and coast – an excellent introduction to Costa Rica’s many attractions.

Costa Rica Self-Drive Holiday

8 days from £1,455pp

(exc. international flights)

This holiday will appeal to you if you like to set your own pace and be your own boss yet enjoy the benefits of a pre-arranged itinerary and planned activities to make the most of your time. You’ll have a 4×4 vehicle throughout the holiday, but with no single driving time exceeding 3.5 hours there is plenty of time to leave the car behind and explore.

We provide the basic framework of your holiday, with 14 nights pre-booked accommodation so you don’t need to worry about where you’re staying, and with a specially selected sightseeing or nature tour arranged for you in each location you won’t miss out on any of the highlights. Other than that your time is your own, whether driving between destinations or a full day blissfully at leisure.

Your destinations are Arenal with its soaring volcano, national park and swath of adventure activities, Monteverde Cloudforest where you follow trails to discover its special flora and fauna, and Tamarindo Beach on the Pacific Ocean, a 4km stretch of sand favoured by nesting turtles. Activities include a thrilling zipline descent of Arenal, a guided walking trail in the cloudforest and the chance to go surfing and kayaking. We’ve included plenty of free time, too, so you can choose between further exploration and relaxed downtime.

We’ve chosen smaller hotels, 2 of which are family-owned, all set in pretty gardens. Each offers a pool, spa services, bar and restaurant, so your creature comforts are well catered for. You have 2 nights at each location, so won’t be in the road every day and won’t feel rushed, but will come away with a deep impression of the rich variety of landscapes and activities that Costa Rica has to offer.


  • San Jose 1 night
  • Arenal 2 nights
  • Monteverde 2 nights
  • Tamarindo Beach 2 nights

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Day 1

Arrive at San Jose international airport where a representative is waiting to welcome you to Costa Rica. You’ll be handed all the necessary documentation for your holiday and then a private transfer will take you to your overnight accommodation in the city, Studio Hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure so you can rest after your flight and look forward to the holiday to come.

Studio Hotel

Day 2

After breakfast at the hotel you take delivery of the 4 wheel drive vehicle which is yours for the duration of your stay in Costa Rica. Your first destination is Arenal Springs Hotel, near the volcano of the same name. The drive takes just over 3 hours and you’ll soon be settling into your suite and enjoying views of the gardens and volcano. You might want to check out the spa, go for a swim in the pool or enjoy a therapeutic soak in the hot springs as you settle into your holiday.


Arenal Springs Hotel

Day 3

You have an exciting morning ahead! Start by boarding one of the Sky Tram gondolas for a gentle ascent of Arenal while your guide offers information about the rainforest and its wildlife. Once at the top you are kitted out with a harness, helmet and gloves, ready to start an exhilarating descent by means of 7 ziplines. It’s great fun and a wonderful way to get a bird’s eye of the forest and lake. The whole experience lasts about 2 and half hours. In the afternoon you could join a group for a guided hike in the foothills of the volcano (extra cost), which offers time to examine the different plants and see some of the animals and birds. You return to hotel in time to shower and change for dinner.

Breakfast, dinner   

Day 4

Your adventure continues as you drive south to Monteverde Cloudforest and your next hotel, Trapp Family Lodge, a drive of around 3 hours. It’s a scenic drive, passing Lake Arenal, then you will begin ascending through the Tilarán mountain range. The last section of the drive is on gravel roads, slowing down the pace and giving you more time to soak up the scenery. Your home for the next couple of nights, is a family owned and run hotel set within its own private reserve. You can spend the afternoon exploring walking trails. In the evening enjoy dinner in the restaurant and mingle with other guests in the lounge/bar.Breakfast

Trapp Family Lodge

Day 5

A hike is arranged for this morning, as you join a group and guide to explore the cloudforest. One of the distinguishing factors of cloudforest as opposed to rainforest is its higher elevation, and at this height the forest is more likely to be shrouded in mist and fog. Your guide will explain its composition and introduce you to the diverse wildlife which includes the flamboyantly colourful quetzal, dozens of species of hummingbirds, monkeys and sloths as well as the varied plants, among them many orchids. The afternoon is free, so enjoy the hotel’s views, stroll in the gardens and socialise with other guests.


Day 6

Your drive today takes you west to the north Pacific coast and Tamarindo Beach. As you near the coast after about 3 hours you should have some superb views, and you may want to stop to take photographs. You will be staying at Hotel Capitan Suizo situated at the southern end of the beach. Stretch your legs with a walk by the shore or in the garden, cool off with a swim in the pool and a drink at the ocean front bar.


Hotel Capitan Suizo

Day 7

This is a free day which can be as actioned packed as you wish. There are kayaks and surfboards you can hire, and diving and sailing can be arranged at the beach. You can walk the 1 kilometre into the village with its selection of shops, restaurants and cafes, and the hotel concierge can organise local excursions. You should allow time to visit the hotel’s spa, where you can have a hot stone massage or pampering beauty treatment, in the lovely garden setting.


Day 8

Enjoy breakfast on the beach before turning your thoughts to home. Drive to Liberia airport about an hour and a half away, where you drop off the hire car and check in for your flight home.


2024 guide price from (pp for two sharing, excluding international flights):

Travel not recommended in September and October

January to April from £1,650

May to June from £1,455

July to August from £1,535

November from £1,525


Includes: Arrival transfer from San Jose airport to Hotel Grano de Oro, 14 nights twin share accommodation, meals as specified; 14 days hire of an SUV compact manual vehicle including free mileage, car insurance and satnav – see ‘Driving notes’ below for more details Tours: full-day guided tour in Cahuita National Park inc. transport, entrance fee, snorkelling and lunch; half-day CATIE tour with bilingual guide inc. entrance fee; morning bird watching tour at Trogon Lodge with bilingual guide inc. transport; Marina Ballena National Park boat tour with bilingual guide inc. transport and entrance fee; half-day Manual Antonio National Park tour with bilingual guide inc. entrance fee.

Excludes: International flights, departure taxes, visas, travel insurance, meals not specified, drinks, optional excursions and activities, personal expenses, tips, fuel.

Driving notes: All drivers must be 21 years of age or over and must bring a valid driver’s license and passport, plus a personal credit card to cover the mandatory deposits of US$100 for the vehicle and $250 for the satnav; fuel not included; child seat(s) available at extra charge if requested in advance.

Getting there: This tour starts and ends in San Jose. Return flight prices from the UK start from around £900.

Departure dates: This is a private, tailor-made holiday and can begin on any day you choose, subject to availability.