Travel ▻ Central America / Caribbean ▻ Costa Rica11-Day Independent Budget Costa Rica: Grand Explorer
11-Day Independent Budget Costa Rica: Grand Explorer

11-Day Independent Budget Costa Rica: Grand Explorer

11 days

11-Day Independent Budget Costa Rica: Grand Explorer
from $895 USD

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If you are an independent-minded traveler, who enjoys being spontaneous on a vacation, this Costa Rica trip is designed for you! This Costa Rica package features numerous free days while staying in comfortable 3-star hotels and getting around in reliable, scheduled air-conditioned shuttle vans with hotel door to hotel door service. This is a flexible trip: you pick when you want to go, where you want to go, and how many nights you'd like. Importantly, it offers an economical way to tour Costa Rica while allowing you to pick your own daily activities as you please. It also allows you to avoid the potential hassles and dangers of renting a car in Costa Rica yet allows you to see the country at your own pace.

We are happy to provide ideas and suggestions for activities such as hikes, rafting, zip lines, and more. In many cases, we can help you pre-book the excursions on request.

Alternative destinations you may want to visit as part of your trip include:

-- Samara Beach on the NW Pacific coast (great swimming and walking beach

-- Puerto Viejo and Cahuita National Park on the Caribbean coast

-- Rincon de la Vieja to experience the dry tropical forest of the Pacific NW

While the suggested itinerary is 11 days, you can add or remove nights and we can re-quote, your 2 options being 8 days or 15 days.

Please note you can start this package any day of the year except during the black out periods of December 15 to January 5 and Easter Week. However, we can help you during those periods with a similar but higher priced trip.

Full Itinerary expand all collapse all

Day 1: Arrive San Jose, Transfer, and Overnight

Welcome to Costa Rica! Upon arrival into San Jose (arrive anytime), head to our airport assistance counter, check-in and receive your welcome kit with vouchers and day to day itinerary. Transfer 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 included: n/a
Mid-Range Accommodations: Hotel Presidente or similar

Day 2: Transfer to Sarapiqui

After breakfast, be ready in the hotel lobby for your 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, including excellent rafting trips, chocolate tours, bat tours, night walks, and daytime rainforest walks. 

Meals included: Breakfast
Luxury Accommodations: El Bambu

Day 3: Explore the Sarapiqui Region

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 included: Breakfast
Luxury Accommodations: El Bambu

Day 4: Transfer to 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 Pacuare Rivers; Cano Negro day trips; ziplines; canyoning; guided hikes; easy canoe safaris down Rio Penas Blancas; farm tours; and more. 

Meals included: Breakfast
Mid-Range Accommodations: Arenal Paraiso or similar

Day 5: Day to Discover 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 included: Breakfast
Mid-Range Accommodations: Arenal Paraiso or similar

Day 6: Transfer to 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 included: Breakfast
Mid-Range Accommodations: Monteverde Country Lodge

Day 7: Free Day in the Cloud Forest

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

Meals included: Breakfast
Mid-Range Accommodations: Monteverde Country Lodge

Day 8: Transfer to Manuel Antonio or Playa Samara or Caribbean Coast

Following breakfast, be ready in the hotel lobby for your scheduled shuttle and transfer from La Fortuna to  your choice of Manuel Antonio, Samara, or another area of the northern Pacific coast.

Manuel Antonio is home to a conveniently located and popular national park well-known for it's excellent wildlife viewing and wildlife photography opportunities. Other ecursions here include snorkeling in Biesanz Bay, catamaran cruises, riding horses on the beach, sea kayaking, rafting (in season), zip lines, deep sea fishing, and hiking are all popular activities. 

Samara is home to long, beautiful, swimmable beaches and a pleasant, laid-back, small town cafe culture. Sea kayaking,long beach walks, kite-surfing, surfing classes, horse riding, and sport fishing.

*** Hotel Options:

Manuel Antonio hotels:

  • Tres Banderas (***)

Nearby Samara/Northern Pacific

  • Bahia del Sol (Potrero) (***), Colono Beach (Playa del Coco) (***)

Samara:

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

Caribbean Coast alternative:

  • Ciudad Perdido (***), Villas del Caribe (***)

Meals included: Breakfast
Mid-Range Accommodations: Tres Banderas or similar

Day 9: Beach R&R

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

Meals included: Breakfast
Mid-Range Accommodations: Tres Banderas or similar

Day 10: Free morning, afternoon transfer to San Jose

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

Meals included: Breakfast
Mid-Range Accommodations: Hotel Presidente or similar

Day 11: Transfer to San Jose Airport and Depart

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

Meals included: Breakfast

Pricing

11-Day Independent Budget Costa Rica: Grand Explorer
from $895 USD

NOTE: Prices are per person in U.S. dollars based on double/triple occupancy. All quotations are based on the current rates of park fees, VAT, other government taxes, and current exchange rates. Should any of these be increased or a new tax introduced, these increases will be added on even if your trip has already been paid for.

INCLUDES:
  • All accommodations per itinerary
  • All meals per itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
  • All tours and entrance fees per itinerary (unless listed as excluded)
  • All transportation and transfers per itinerary
  • Arrival greeting, brief orientation, and "welcome kit" with important information
  • One suitcase, one handbag per person
EXCLUDES:
  • International and domestic flights
  • Meals not listed
  • Beverages and alcohol
  • Tips for guides, drivers, hotel staff
  • Optional tours
  • Single room supplement
  • Personal expenses (visas, airport taxes, Internet, etc.)
  • Extra luggage other than what's allowed (1 suitcase, 1 handbag)
  • Blackout periods for this program, which are Dec 20-Jan 5 and March 29-April 5

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