Costa Rica National Parks
Costa Rica National Parks: In just over two weeks you’ll visit six of Costa Rica’s national parks and four additional reserves as you traverse from the Caribbean shores of Tortuguero down to the Pacific Coastline of the wild Osa Peninsula. Costa Rica is considered one of the most biodiverse places on the planet with an estimated 5% of the world’s biodiversity. These national parks and reserves safeguard irreplaceable wildlife treasures both on land and in the sea. On this trip you’ll have the rare opportunity to experience these untamed regions starting up in the far northeast canals of Tortuguero National Park and concluding in the spectacular Corcovado National Park, the gem of them all!
Destinations: San Jose, Tortuguero, La Fortuna, Monteverde, Manuel Antonio, Osa Peninsula
Duration: 16 days
*Price Range: $$$
*Rates inclusive of full vacation experience – hotels, tours, domestic transfers, and tax (excluding international airfare). Actual price based on length of travel, number of travelers/rooms, seasonal rates (high, low, peak), number of tour activities, and mode of domestic transportation.
$$$: At or under $1,200 per person
$$$: $1,200 – $1,800 per person
$$$: $1,800+ per person
Fly into Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) where one of our local airport representatives will meet you before immigration holding a sign with your name on it. They will guide you through an expedited immigration process and to baggage claim. Outside the airport you’ll find your private transfer that will be waiting to help you with your luggage. You’ll be driven just 20 minutes into the heart of San Jose and check into Hilton Garden Inn. Catch a few hours of sunshine in their rooftop pool before dinner at their on site Great Grill Restaurant.
Wake up early today in preparation for your journey up to Tortuguero located in the northeast corner of Costa Rica. Before reaching Tortuguero’s nature-intense canals, you’ll stop in route for a typical Costa Rican breakfast. Once you reach the canals and aboard your boat, keep a watchful eye out for monkeys, sloths, and birds. Upon arriving to the cozy Evergreen Lodge, check-in and refuel with a buffet lunch. In the evening during turtle season, sign up for a guided night walk along the Caribbean shores to see sea turtles lay their eggs in the sand or hundreds of baby turtles migrate out to sea.
After a buffet breakfast, navigate through Tortuguero National Park’s canalways in search of wildlife that call these forests and canalways home – hundreds of birds, monkeys, sloths, caimans, crocodiles, tree frogs, manatees, and wild cats to name a few. After you’ve had lunch back at Evergreen, visit the small town of Tortuguero for a glimpse at village life. In the evening, set out again to see the turtle nesting/hatching along the Caribbean beach.
After breakfast at Evergreen you’ll make your way back inland for your stay at Lost Iguana. Situated on the outskirts of Arenal Volcano National Park, Lost Iguana is a tropical oasis with access to 120-acres of primary rainforest. It has a charming, authentic feel that blends naturally with its surrounding. At Lost Iguana you’ll be up close with nature while still being within reach of all the adventure activities the Arenal Volcano region has to offer.
Today you’ll take a journey to the northern border of Costa Rica to visit Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge. Enjoy a peaceful ride in a covered motorboat along Caño Negro to appreciate beautiful nature and wildlife. You’ll have the opportunity to see a great variety of rare tropical birds, three different species of monkeys, as well as iguanas, Jesus Christ lizards, three-toed sloths, turtles, and caimans! These forests and marshes provide shelter to a number of endangered species such as jaguars, cougars, and tapirs as well as thousands of migratory birds in the dry season. Return to Lost Iguana for an afternoon swim in the cascading waterfall pool before heading out on a nature night walk along on site trails.
Take a slightly shorter journey north to Tenorio Volcano National Park to witness the vibrant blue waters of Rio Celeste. An hour’s hike into the park will take you to a picturesque waterfall. Continue along the turquoise river to find natural hot springs within the flowing blue waters. In the evening visit Costa Rica’s largest naturally flowing mineral hot springs at Tabacon, where five main underground springs are heated by Arenal Volcano’s magma. This thermal river flows through the resort thus creating private thermal pools of varying degrees for guests to enjoy.
Venture around Lake Arenal as you make your way from Arenal Volcano to the Monteverde Cloud Forest. Along your journey stop at Don Juan coffee farm to learn how the coffee bean is harvested and roasted. You’ll have the opportunity to sample various coffee roasts before moving onto the chocolate portion of the tour. See how the cacao fruit is converted into a chocolate bar and sample different chocolate flavors at the end of the demonstration. After your coffee and chocolate stop, continue to your final destination and check into the award-winning Hotel Belmar. Enjoy a farm-to-table, gourmet dinner and then garden-to-glass cocktails at Celajes Lounge Bar.
Wake up before the birds to see the cloud forest come alive right before your eyes. Visit the smaller, less crowded Curi Cancha Wildlife Refuge (187 acres) or the more popular Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve (26,000 acres) on a guided nature and birdwatching tour. Return to Hotel Belmar to refuel with a delicious, fresh lunch and spend the rest of the day exploring on site trails to waterfalls, streams, and panoramic views. For those wanting to unwind after a day of hiking, hang out in the jacuzzi located in the glass-walled gazebo or indulge in a pampering spa treatment.
Pick up the pace today as you enjoy a bird’s eye view of the cloud forest canopy. Start your adventure with a moderate walk along 6 hanging bridges through Santa Elena Cloud Forest. The hanging bridges (Sky Walk) through the cloud forest canopy allow unique nature viewing opportunities hundreds of feet above the ground. Next, for adventure seekers, fly along the cloud forest canopy on a canopy zip-line. Return to Hotel Belmar for an afternoon coffee or tropical smoothie from the Juice Bar.
Make your way down to the Central Pacific on a private ground transfer from Monteverde. Ask your driver to stop at his/her favorite local restaurant for lunch and to stop at Tarcoles River to see huge crocodiles from the bridge above. To stretch your legs, take a short hike along the self-guided, half-mile trail at Carara National Park, one of the best places to witness the endangered scarlet macaw. You’ll arrive to Manuel Antonio shortly after your stop at Carara and check into your room at Si Como No Resort and Wildlife Refuge. Watch the sunset from your room and then head to Claro Que Seafood Grill and Wine Bar and order the catch of the day!
An early morning start will allow for better wildlife viewing (and less crowds) at Manuel Antonio National Park. Over 200 species of birds and over 100 species of mammals call this diverse terrain home. With both primary and secondary forest as well as lagoons, mangrove swamps, and pristine beaches it’s no wonder the park has been voted by Forbes as “One of the World’s Most Beautiful National Parks”. After a guided nature walk, enjoy the rest of the afternoon inside the park swimming in the refreshing bay waters alongside white sandy beaches.
Enjoy a free day to lounge by the pool or walk along Playa Espadilla. At Si Como No, there are a number of nature activities to enjoy as a guest of the hotel such as the butterfly atrium, crocodile lagoon, and an amphibian garden jungle. In the evening, sign up for a nocturnal wildlife hike on Si Como No’s property.
A short drive along the Pacific coastline will take you to the wild Osa Peninsula. Hop on a boat transfer and keep an eye open for dolphins, turtles, and whales (seasonal). Once you arrive to the shallow shores in front of Copa de Arbol, you’ll be greeted with a welcome drink and check into your luxurious bungalow. Copa de Arbol is located among 70 acres of rainforest reserve between Drake Bay and Corcovado National Park, one of the world’s most biodiverse regions. At Copa de Arbol, you’ll enjoy wildlife encounters at every turn without sacrificing the finer comforts of a luxury hotel, including an infinity pool, heated jacuzzi, and gourmet dining.
Today you’ll visit one of the best marine life viewing locations in Costa Rica, Caño Island Biological Reserve. Caño Island sits just 10 nautical miles from Copa de Arbol and is an excellent dive or snorkel destination.
There’s no better way to end your national park journey through Costa Rica than a guided nature hike through Corcovado National Park. It is the best opportunity to spot some of Costa Rica’s most endangered species through 13 different ecosystems. After a full day of rainforest trekking, enjoy a tropical cocktail in the jacuzzi or pool in celebration of a successful national park vacation through Costa Rica!
Take a domestic flight back to San Jose for your international flight home.
- Watch giant sea turtles nest ashore or baby sea turtles journey to sea in Tortuguero National Park
- Boat through Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge along Costa Rica’s northern border of Nicaragua
- Hike along the enchanting blue rivers of Rio Celeste in Tenorio Volcano National Park
- Soak in Tabacon’s natural hot springs on the outskirts of Arenal Volcano National Park
- Walk through 26,000 acres of virgin forest in Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
- Witness a bird’s-eye-view of the cloud forest canopy as you walk along hanging suspension bridges in Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve
- Look for scarlet macaws at Carara National Park
- Swim in the beautiful bay waters of Manuel Antonio National park
- Snorkel or dive Caño Island Biological Reserve
- Explore the most biodiverse place on the planet in Corcovado National Park
Best for: Nature Lover, Family, Couple, Eco-Tourism
Bucket list experiences: turtle nesting, wildlife, nature, birding, waterfalls, volcano, hot springs, rainforest, cloud forest, national parks, snorkel, dive
Accommodations & Location:
- Hilton Garden Inn, San Jose
- Evergreen Lodge, Tortuguero
- Lost Iguana, La Fortuna
- Hotel Belmar, Monteverde
- Si Como No, Manuel Antonio
- Copa de Arbol, Osa Peninsula
Every Central America Vacation itinerary includes 24/7 in-country support. We’re here with you every step of the way to insure the best experience possible, from the initial planning stages to the moment you’re on your flight home!