Two of Costa Rica’s Best

Take your time to get to know two contrasting areas: Arenal in central Costa Rica with its mighty volcano, and the unspoilt Golfo Dulce on the southern Pacific coast.

Two of Costa Rica’s Best

10 days from £3,555 pp

(exc. international flights)

Many holidays to Costa Rica take in many destinations, allowing you to see a lot of the country but linger in none. This trip is different. In 10 days you only stay in 2 places, which means that once you arrive you can really make yourself at home, and you’ll have several days to enjoy all that each region has to offer. You have the luxury of time. This is Costa Rica unrushed.

Your first home is Nayara Hotel Spa and Gardens, set within sight of the magisterial Arenal Volcano. You have 3 full days to go deep into the rainforest on suspension bridges, experience the thrills of ziplining down the volcano, go for long hikes and guided wildlife in the national park, and sooth your body with a long soak in a hot spring.

From the mountainous centre to transfer to the southern Pacific coast, El Remanso is on the scenic Golfo Dulce, as you swap volcano views for sea views. Walk the trail down to the beach, visit the lagoon or languish in the cooling spray of a waterfall. There are walking trails through beautiful primary and secondary rainforest, suspension bridges and zip lines waiting to be visited, but you’ll have plenty of time.

At each hotel you’ll enjoy creature comforts and excellent facilities. Both have lovely outdoor swimming pools, lush gardens, spas where you can let yourself be pampered, and restaurants serving delicious Costa Rican cuisine. You’ll feel right at home!


  • Arenal 4 nights
  • Golfo Dulce 5 nights

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Day 1

On arrival at the international airport in San José you are met by a local representative who drives you to your first hotel near Arenal volcano. Driving time is about 3 hours, as you travel through plantations of sugar cane, coffee and fruit. In due course the symmetrical cone of Arenal comes into view, and soon you arrive at your hotel, Nayara Spa and Gardens. With nothing planned for the remainder of the day you’re free to make yourself at home, unpack your bags, get your bearings and relax.

Nayara Hotel Spa and Gardens

Day 2

Enjoy breakfast as you ponder the many activities available to you today. The lure of Arenal is undeniable and if you want to explore it up close you can take a tour of the hanging bridges. This is a network of suspension bridges and platforms that takes you right into the rainforest canopy, crossing deep canyons and giving you the chance to spot birds and animals in among the foliage. Alternatively you might prefer the Sky Tram and Trek, enjoying a smooth ride up the summit, then descending through the rainforest by way of a series of 7 zip-lines. After all that excitement you might want to spend the afternoon chilling by the pool and gazing up at Arenal.


Day 3

Another day of choices. You can return to Arenal National Park for a guided hike on the western flank taking in rainforest and a lava flow formed as recently as 1992. The trail culminates at a viewpoint where you can look down onto Lake Arenal. If you fancy a change of scene you can visit Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge for a boat trip on the river. Keep your eyes open for monkeys, caimans, sloths and a variety of birds. There are many other excursions available that hotel staff can book for you.


Day 4

You could begin the day with an early morning bird watching tour in Arenal, when birds are at their most active. You can expect to see parrots, toucans, tanagers, flycatchers and hummingbirds. Later you can treat yourself to a visit to the hot springs complex, with pools of varying temperatures, and a restaurant on site serving local food. After a relaxing afternoon you might like to chance to take a guided night walk to experience the forest after dark, when many animals emerge.



Day 5

Having had breakfast you’re driven back to San José airport where you board a flight down to Golfo Dulce on the far southern Pacific coast. You’re met on arrival and taken by 4 x 4 to your next hotel, El Remanso. You can take things easy this afternoon, enjoying the wonderful views and socialising with other guests. The lodge is family run, everyone here is local, learn about the region and whet your appetite for the days to come, and a stroll through the gardens will reveal birds, butterflies and mammals. Tonight you dine at the hotel, enjoying dishes made from locally sourced ingredients and your choice wine from the list.

Breakfast, dinner

El Remanso


Day 6

It’s time to explore! While at El Remanso you can take your pick and head out to the water on kayaks. Alternatively you can stay on dry land and follow a walking trail along the beach, go ziplining or enjoy a canopy tour.  Having worked up a hunger you’ll enjoy lunch back at the lodge, and might simply want to have a relaxing afternoon.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 7

A number of guided tours and trips are available for an extra charge, allowing you to enjoy the natural bounty of this area with its many thousands of species of plants, many mammals, reptiles and birds. You could take a specialist bird watching tour, hike to a waterfall and cool off with a swim, or head out into the bay on a dolphin spotting cruise, go horseriding in the rainforest, or a guided night tour. There’s certainly no shortage of activities.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner


Day 8

Take advantage of the beach and the waters of the Golfo Dulce. Later you can take to the kayak again, exploring the coast where you can see manta rays and turtles. If you want to head further afield, take a guided kayaking trip (extra fee) to the mangroves at the mouth of the Esquinas River which offer a completely different environment to the open waters of the bay.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 9

On your last full day at El Remanso you can opt for independent or guided tours, maybe revisiting one of your favourite haunts. Other options include a boat trip to Casa Orquideas Botanic Garden, a private collection of tropical plants and trees, with a magnificent display of orchids. Or you could visit the Osa Wildlife Sanctuary, a haven for injured and orphaned animals and birds. Both of these trips need to be booked in advance.  Round off your stay at El Remanso with a delicious dinner before heading to bed for your last night on the Osa Peninsula.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner

 Day 10

On your last morning at El Remanso you can enjoy a leisurely breakfast before you are driven back to the airstrip. Then climb aboard the light aircraft back to San José. Enjoy a birds eye view of Costa Rica before catching your onward international flight from San José International Airport. 


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

Travel not recommended in September and October
January to April from £4,385

May to August from £3,555

November from £3,770



Includes: Transfers as specified, 9 nights twin share accommodation, meals as specified, use of kayaks, paddleboards and snorkelling equipment at Playa Cativo, return flights from San José to Golfo Dulce Tours: 1 half-day guided tour at Playa Cativo

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

Getting there: This tour starts and ends in San José. 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 chose, subject to availability.