Planning Your Trip to Costa Rica

Luxury Costa Rica

Read on to find out what you need to know to plan your trip to Costa Rica!

  1. Where To Go — Traveling for 1 Week or Less
  2. Where To Go –Traveling for More than 1 Week
  3. What To Do
  4. When To Go
  5. Driving Distances

Samara Zipline Costa Rica
Samara Zipline

1) Where To Go — Traveling for 1 Week or Less

On a short trip, most people visit 2 areas like one of these options.


  1. Fly into San Jose Airport
  2. Arenal Volcano
  3. Beach on the Pacific Coast


  1. Fly into Liberia Airport
  2. Rio Perdido
  3. Beach on the Pacific Coast

Where To Go in Costa Rica >>

Nighttime wildlife hike in Manuel Antonio
Nighttime wildlife hike in Manuel Antonio

2) Where To Go — Traveling for More Than 1 Week

If you 10 days, you can visit 3 areas. If you have 14 days, you can visit 4 areas. Start with one of the 2 options above and then add from there.

To pick the “other place”, it depends on what is most important to you, how much time you have, and when you want to travel. In particular:

  • River rafting or surfing or yoga
  • Wildlife or birding
  • Active adventures or more quiet
  • Whales in August-September (Osa Peninsula/Golfo Dulce)
  • Nesting sea turtles: July-October (Tortuguero)
  • August-November: Rainy on the Pacific side, but nice at Arenal on the Caribbean side

Where To Go in Costa Rica >>

3) What To Do

In particular, your trip or where you stay will defined if you want to do any of these activities:

  • River rafting
  • Surfing
  • Sea turtles
  • Whales

Other activities can fit into just about any itinerary.

What To Do in Costa Rica >>

Romantic dining in Costa Rica

4) When To Go

The main travel season in Costa Rica is mid-November to mid-April.

Mid-September to early November can be very rainy on the Pacific side, but Arenal and the Caribbean side will still have nice weather.

Mid-November to January is more rainy on the Caribbean side.

If you arrive in San Jose before 2:00pm, you can get a transfer to Arenal/La Fortuna that day (3.5 hour drive). If you depart San Jose after 4:00pm, you can get a transfer from the Nosara/Samara/Tamarindo area and fly out that day. Otherwise, you will need to spend the night in San Jose.

When To Go To Costa Rica >>

5) Driving Distances

Here are some driving distances to give you an idea:

  • San Jose-Manuel Antonio: 3.5-4 hours
  • Manuel Antonio-Tamarindo: 5.5-6 hours
  • Tamarindo-La Fortuna/Arenal: 2.5-5 hours
  • La Fortuna/Arenal-Monteverde: 5-6 hours (this is a drive + boat ride + drive)
  • Monteverde-San Jose: 4-4.5 hours
  • Monteverde-Manuel Antonio: 3.5 hours
  • Manuel Antonio-San Jose: 3 hours

See Also:

This entry was posted in Costa Rica and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *