Day 1 San José/Tortuguero National Park (B,L,D)
Meet your guide at your hotel early in the morning (between 5:30am and 6:30am, depending on your hotel location - ask your sales agent for estimated pickup time) and hit the road to Tortuguero National Park. We stop on the way for a delicious Costa Rican breakfast and visit a banana plantation (time and weather permitting) where we learn about banana processing and packaging. Once you get to the port, hop on board the comfortable lancha (boat) for your incredible journey through the remarkable Tortuguero canals to your jungle lodge. Tortuguero National Park was created in 1975 to protect the four species of sea turtles which nest along the beaches. Our three-hour boat ride along rivers and canals starts just outside the town of Limón and ends in the village of Tortuguero, near the park perimeter. We may see herons, egrets, spoonbills, as well as amphibians and reptiles like the “Jesus Lizard” (it walks on water) and caimans. The tropical rainforest gives way to prime beaches, ideal nesting grounds for Green, Loggerhead, Hawksbill and Leatherback Turtles. The latter nests from mid-March to June, the rest from July to September. The Caribbean Conservation Centre, just outside of town, is an excellent source of information about the turtles and their tropical habitat. After lunch take an optional visit to Tortuguero, a small village made up of Hispanic, Miskito Indian (Nicaragua) and Afro-Caribbean people. Enjoy dinner to the sounds of forest at the Turtle Beach Lodge (or similar.
Day 2 Tortuguero National Park (B,L,D)
Join an early guided canal tour and experience the awakening of the jungle surrounding the canals as the animals start their day before returning back to the lodge for breakfast. Later, take a walk through the jungle with your guide, learning about plants, insects, and medicinal uses of both. During nesting season (June-August), a night excursion to see the nesting of the giant turtles is optional and arranged locally. Please note that you will need to pay a 10USD Tortuguero National Park entrance fee while on tour.
Day 3 Tortuguero National Park/San José (B,L)
After an early morning breakfast it is time to make your return journey back to San José. Travel south, back through steamy jungle canals and natural rivers to the port. Have lunch on the road, returning to your San José hotel between 2 and 5pm, depending on weather and traffic.
Day 1 Arrive Tortuguero (B,L,D)
Early morning pick-up from your hotel in San Jose for the drive out of the central highlands and down to our river port, stopping for breakfast on the way. Pass from the high cloud forest of Braulio Carrillo National Park down to the flat agricultural lowlands, filled with pineapples, rice, cattle, and banana plantations. After driving through various banana plantations, hop on board a lancha (boat) for your journey through the remarkable Tortuguero canals to our comfortable jungle lodge. On the boat ride we may see herons, egrets, spoonbills, as well as amphibians and reptiles like the “Jesus Lizard” (it walks on water) and caimans. The tropical rainforest gives way to prime beaches, ideal nesting grounds for green, loggerhead, hawksbill and leatherback turtles. The latter nests from mid-March to May, the rest from July to September. Tortuguero National Park was created in 1975 to protect the four species of sea turtles which nest along these beaches. The Caribbean Conservation Centre, just outside of town, is an excellent source of information about the turtles and their tropical habitat. After lunch visit the sleepy Afro-Caribbean village of Tortuguero, take an optional hike or relax by the pool.
Days 2-3 Tortuguero (2B,2L,2D)
Wake early to the sounds and sights of the jungle as it comes alive. Enjoy guided hikes or an early morning canal tour to experience the jungle at its most active. Visit COTERC, the Canadian Biological research station to learn about the incredible biological diversity of the area. After lunch enjoy a relaxing afternoon at the lodge or sign up for optional guided tours such as kayaking, horseback riding, a canopy tour or a climb up muddy Cerro Tortuguero (Tortuguero Hill) for a great view over the park. Day 3 is a full day to enjoy Turtle Beach Lodge and its incredible surroundings. Take time to explore the gardens, beach and pool, or sign up for an additional tour (for a fee) with your guide. Speak with your guide for times and other options. During nesting season (June-August), a night excursion to see the nesting of the giant turtles is optional and arranged locally.
Day 4 Depart Tortuguero (B,L)
After an early morning breakfast it is time to make your return journey back to San José. Return south, back through steamy jungle canals and natural rivers to the port and transfer to the Turtle Bus. Have lunch on the road, returning to San José between 2 and 5pm, depending on weather and traffic.
Day 1 San José (D)
Morning transfer from San José to Playa Sámara. San José departure around 7:20am, depending on pickup location. You will be arriving to Playa Samara around 12.30pm. Enjoy your peaceful getaway from it all for the next 3 nights. If you want more time in San José or more time at the beach, you can organize pre- or post-accommodation at the time of booking. Just specify if you want your extra nights in SJ or at the beach and we can help you customize your trip to your liking!
Days 2-3 Sámara (2B)
Located on the coast of the Nicoya peninsula, Sámara is a cozy little beach village. Sámara is home to a long white-sand beach with shallow, calm waters perfect for swimming and is still a thriving fishing and farming community. Here you can fill your day with as much or as little as you like. Start off with an early yoga class or sleep in before setting off to explore nearby beaches in search of a perfect, tranquil spot for a day of relaxing along the beautiful Pacific coast. Carrillo beach is approximately 4 km from Playa Sámara, head there for a visit if you're looking for an even more calm and relaxed vibe. For those who prefer to stay active, try your hand at surfing, fishing, snorkelling or horseback riding along the beach. There is also a zip-line adventure tour through the tropical forest if you're looking to get a close-up view of monkeys, iguanas, and various other wildlife. If you’d like to strengthen some of the Spanish skills you’ve picked up during your time in Costa Rica, try out some classes at the local Spanish school. At night, enjoy a delicious seafood dinner at one of the beachside restaurants or sip a cocktail as you watch the town come alive.
Day 4 San José (B)
Morning transfer to San José, pick up 8:20 and arriving around 12:30pm. If you want extra nights in either San José or on the beach, we can add time to your Beach Break with pre- or post-accommodation.
Day 1 Liberia/Playa Hermosa
Welcome to Costa Rica! Fly into Liberia, the capital of Guanacaste province, and we’ll pick you up from the airport and take you to the charming beachside town of Playa Hermosa.
Days 2-3 Playa Hermosa
With its gorgeous long stretch of grey-sand beach, surrounding tropical forest and impressive volcanic rock ridges, it's no wonder that the name Playa Hermosa translates to ‘beautiful beach’. Idyllic weather conditions and deliciously warm waters all year round make it a popular swimming, snorkelling and kayaking spot. Stretch out on the sand and relax away from the crowds, take to the water or explore the stunning surrounds.
Day 4 Playa Hermosa/Liberia
Time for this sunny beach getaway to come to an end. Enjoy one last day in Playa Hermosa before heading back to the airport.
Day 1 Arrive San José
Arrive at any time. A G representative will meet you at the airport with your arrival information package and will remain just a phone call away for the duration of your stay. There are no planned activities, so enjoy the city. Located in the central highlands, San José enjoys a moderate climate. The heat and humidity of the coast and lowland areas may affect you, with a general sense of lethargy and/or loss of appetite. This is no cause for alarm; it is simply your body’s reaction to the heat. Be sure to drink plenty of water (bottled water is available everywhere) and do not attempt too much in any given day. We prefer fan-cooled rather than air conditioned rooms to avoid having to acclimatize to the heat and humidity every time you go outside. This is also a more eco-friendly approach. Like most cities, San José has its good and bad sides. It is the centre of government, theatre, and art, as well as of air pollution and congestion. It has beautiful parks and museums, and a few beggars on the streets. It is big and often noisy, but even from its crowded downtown streets, you’ll often enjoy a view of the surrounding lush mountains. Start your exploration of the city in the main plaza, a great place to people-watch. A mime, juggler, marimba band, magician, or storyteller may be performing for whatever is collected when the hat is passed. Artisan booths are common, creating a regular arts and crafts fair atmosphere. A source of pride for the ticos (as Costa Ricans are known) is the National Theatre. Inaugurated in 1897, the building was paid for by coffee growers through a voluntary tax on every bag of coffee exported. The National Museum, housed in the Bellavista Fortress, offers exhibits on pre-Columbian art, colonial art and furniture and religious art within a 19th Century building that was converted from a military fortress after the army was abolished. The Museum of Costa Rican Art, located in La Sabana Park, was once the international airport; the museum is now housed in the old terminal building. The Jade Museum is on the 11th floor of the Instituto Nacional de Seguros building. In addition to the marvellous collection of jade objects, there are pre-Columbian ceramic and stone works as well as displays with archaeological and ethnographic information. The Gold Museum is located underneath the Plaza de la Cultura. Its spectacular collection of indigenous gold art belongs to the Central Bank of Costa Rica. The best and least expensive places to buy souvenirs in San José are the markets. The two main ones are the ones in Plaza de la Demorcracia, which is an outdoor open market, and the Central Market, where handicrafts are sold along with boots, fish, flour, herbal remedies, shirts and everything else you can imagine. Always watch your belongings and be ready for crowds. If you plan on spending a few days in San José after your tour, there are a number of activities within the city and area that you can participate in, many of them outdoors. Probably the hardest thing you will do in San José, other than get safely across busy streets, is keep the street numbering systems straight. Street and avenue numbers are posted on buildings at the corners of some intersections. Keep looking as you walk, and you will eventually find one. NOTE: Like any city where tourism is on the increase, crime also tends to increase and while San José is not a noticeably dangerous city, there are certain precautions you should take. Make sure that you are aware of your things at all times and don't go out carrying expensive gear or jewellery.
Day 2-3 La Fortuna
Hop on the adventure bus at approximately 8am for your transfer to your hotel in the town of La Fortuna, located at the foot of the Arenal Volcano. La Fortuna is an excellent base for adventure. Hike the area’s nature trails, swim in chilly La Fortuna waterfall or join a canopy tour and catch a bird’s-eye view of the forest greenery. Other optional activities include full-day white water rafting on the Toro or Arenal Rivers, mountain biking, caving, horseback riding, or a tour of the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge. Like much of Costa Rica, the area is a birders’ paradise, with over 600 species as permanent residents. Finally, after a long day of exploring, take a relaxing soak in the lush, cascading hot springs of Tabacón Resort. Soak in one of the natural thermal baths and rivers under the shade of the surrounding canopy. Set on the northern plains of Costa Rica, Arenal Volcano sits on the southeast shore of artificial Lake Arenal (77 square kilometres, or 48 square miles). Separating the mountain ranges of Guanacaste and Tilarán, the lake was created by a hydroelectric dam. Winds sweeping off the Caribbean Sea reach speeds of 48 to 72 km/hr (30 to 45 mph), making Arenal one of the best windsurfing destinations in the world. The volcano, once quite active, has been in a dormant state since the beginning of 2011 but still is a dramatic backdrop to the town of La Fortuna. During the day, its reflection on Lake Arenal is truly enchanting.
Day 4-6 Manuel Antonio/Quepos Area
Hop on the Adventure Bus at approximately 9am for your transfer to your hotel on the beautiful beaches of the Pacific Coast. Manuel Antonio National Park offers excellent hiking, spectacular views and abundant wildlife viewing. There are beautiful white sand beaches and the warm turquoise water is ideal for swimming, fishing, kayaking, boogie boarding, sailing or surfing. Quepos sits on the outskirts of the Manuel Antonio National Park and is a great introduction to the laid-back “tico” lifestyle. This town is very popular with the younger set of international travellers, and the nightlife in the area is also some of the best in the country. If you have the jungle in mind, then we recommend that you head into the national park. Although this is Costa Rica’s smallest national park, it is also one of the most popular and it won’t take you long to see why. This park has fabulous beaches, abundant wildlife and a great trail system for those who want to spend the day hiking. Look for monkeys, armadillos, coatimundis, sloth and some of the over 350 species of birds that are present in the park. One of Costa Rica’s most popular beaches, Jacó Beach is North of Manuel Antonio on the Pacific Coast, and one of the biggest resort areas in the country. All of the traditional beach activities are available here including horseback riding, deep-sea fishing, kayaking and surfing. Hermosa Beach is the most popular surfing destination in the country. Nearby Carara Biological Reserve is a 4700 hectare reserve with abundant wildlife such as scarlet macaws, many species of monkey, crocodiles and countless species of plants. While the main beach is quite busy there are more secluded beaches nearby.
Day 7 San José
Hop on the adventure bus at approximately 2.30pm for your transfer back to your San José hotel. Enjoy one last night on the town.
Day 8 San José
Depart San José at any time. Departure shuttle included, with the last shuttle of the day departing San Jose downtown at 4pm. (Hotel check-out is at 12 noon.)