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Costa Rica tour

11-Day Independent Budget Costa Rica: Grand Explorer

Independent Budget Costa Rica: Grand Explorer -- Trip Photo of Costa Rica tour  Costa Rica map

Overview Itinerary Pricing

Itinerary

Day 1 : Arrive San Jose, Transfer, and Overnight

Visiting: Arrive San Jose

Upon arrival into San Jose (arrive anytime), you will be met by our local arrivals representative and offered assistance, including your welcome kit with vouchers and day to day itinerary. Departing from the airport, you are transferred to your central San Jose hotel where you overnight on a B&B basis.

Note: If you can arrive in the early afternoon, that would free up time for a nice, casual stroll of the downtown pedestrian mall, a wonderful experience!

  • Meals: None
  • Standard Lodging: Hotel El Presidente or Hotel Balmoral

Day 2 : Shuttle Transfer to Sarapiqui

Visiting: Sarapiqui

After breakfast, be ready in the hotel lobby for your scheduled shuttle transfer to the Sarapqui area located in the lush northern lowlands region of Costa Rica. This is a great place for a nature enthusiast with outdoor adventures nearly as plentiful as you find in the Arenal area.

  • Meals: B
  • Standard Lodging: El Bambu

Day 3 : Explore the Sarapiqui Region

Visiting: Sarapiqui

Today is yours free to explore as you wish. Optional activities include whitewater rafting on the Sarapiqui River, day hikes, night walks, chocolate tours, bird watching or enjoy a fun canopy zip line. Overnight in Sarapiqui.

  • Meals: B
  • Standard Lodging: El Bambu

Day 4 : Shuttle Transfer to Arenal Volcano

Visiting: Arenal Volcano

Enjoy breakfast then be ready in the hotel lobby at the prearranged time for your scheduled (approximately three hour) shuttle transfer from Sarapiqui to La Fortuna, your base to explore the Arenal Volcano area. Overnight in La Fortuna, where Arenal looms overhead in dramatic fashion. Generally, most travelers arrive around lunch-time.

You can book activities ahead of time or at your hotel: soaking in a local hot spring like Tabacon Hot Springs; a day rafting on the Balsa, Sarapiqui, or Toro Rivers; Cano Negro day trips; ziplines; canyoning; guided hikes; easy canoe safaris down Penas Blancas; farm tours; and more.

Arenal/La Fortuna hotels:

  • Volcano Lodge (***), Arenal Carmela (**), Arenal Paraiso (***), San Bosco (**), La Pradera (**), Las Colinas (**)

  • Meals: B
  • Standard Lodging: Volcano Lodge or Arenal Parasio

Day 5 : Day to Discover Arenal Volcano

Visiting: Arenal Volcano

Enjoy a day explore the Arenal area. This is an ideal day to have your zipline reserved. Because of variable weather throughout the year, we recommend you book a morning zip line experience to avoid disappointment. Overnight at the same hotel as the day before.

  • Meals: B
  • Standard Lodging: Volcano Lodge or Arenal Parasio

Day 6 : Shuttle Transfer to Monteverde

Visiting: Monteverde

This morning, board the van for your shuttle transfer to Montverde. For the same price, we can book an interesting transfer alternative where you take a van to the lake, then boat across scenic Lake Arenal, and finish the journey by van to Monteverde. Starting with a pick up at your hotel in Arenal, a mini-van will take you on a quick, nifty ride to the dock. You cross the lake by boat, which only takes about 30 minutes despite the fact that Lake Arenal is the second-largest in Central America. Another van waits on the other shore. Once onshore, you'll board the van and then ascend to mountainous Monteverde through peaceful farm country dotted with the region's famous dairy cows. The whole trip takes about 2.5 to 3 hours, versus 4 is you take the shuttle van. Let us know which is better for you!

Once in Monteverde, you can enjoy countless optional activities, including night hikes; guided reserve hikes to viewpoints of the Pacific or bird watching; visits to cheese factories or butterfly farms; horse rides to San Luis waterfall; zip lines, and more. Overnight in Monteverde.

  • Meals: B
  • Standard Lodging: Monteverde Country Lodge

Day 7 : Free Day in the Cloud Forest

Visiting: Monteverrde

The day is free to enjoy the fascinating cloud forest however you wish. Overnight Monteverde.

  • Meals: B
  • Standard Lodging: Monteverde Country Lodge

Day 8 : Shuttle to Manuel Antonio or Playa Samara or Playa Tamarindo

Visiting: Manuel Antonio / Samara / Tamarindo

Following breakfast, be ready in the hotel lobby for your scheduled shuttle and transfer from La Fortuna to Manuel Antonio or Samara, your choice of Costa Rica beach areas. Both possess fine beaches. Manuel Antonio is home to a national park with excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. Samara is home to some of Costa Rica's nicest, most swimmable beaches and has an emerging cafe and bar scene. Surfing, snorkeling, sea kayaking and horse riding can be found here. Tamarindo is another choice. Tamarindo is the scene of sea turtle nesting (generally best between October-February) and is one of the best places in Costa Rica for surfing and wind-surfing. In both locations, riding horses on the beach, sea kayaking, rafting (in season), and hiking are popular activities.

Hotel Options:

Manuel Antonio hotels:

  • Tres Banderas (***), California (***)

Nearby Manuel Antonio (Quepos):

  • Villa Lirio (***), La Foresta Rain Forest (***)

Samara:

  • Hotel Samara Inn (***), Hotel Samara Pacific Lodge (***)

Tamarindo Beach:

  • Best Western Camino a Tamarindo (***), Best Western Vista Villas (***)

  • Meals: B
  • Standard Lodging: Hotel California or similar

Day 9 : Beach R&R

Visiting: Manuel Antonio / Samara / Tamarindo

Enjoy the beach and surrounding rainforest as you please. Overnight at the same hotel as the night before.

For travelers wishing to add more time in Costa Rica (such as an extra night on the beach or in Arenal), you can for an additional US$95 per person per night.

  • Meals: B
  • Standard Lodging: Hotel California or similar

Day 10 : Shuttle to San Jose

Visiting: Beach / San Jose

Free morning, then mid-day hop on your scheduled shuttle and transfer back to San Josť for your overnight.

  • Meals: B
  • Standard Lodging: El Presidente or Hotel Balmoral

Day 11 : Transfer to San Jose Airport and Depart

Visiting: Depart Costa Rica

Today transfer to the airport in time for your flight. (Feel free to depart anytime.)

  • Meals: B

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