Exclusive Costa Rica Tour: An Active Eco-Friendly Expedition to Costa Rica

A 12 day trip to Costa Rica 
by
4.97
4.97 out of 5 stars
100 reviews

Your exclusive Costa Rica tour will take you beyond the familiar and into the spectacular landscape and the fascinating wildlife of a country known for its diversity with a custom exploration tailored to luxury, excitement, and seclusion. The tapestry created by the unique culture and distinctive microclimates support cloud forests, coffee-growing regions, scientific research stations, white-sand beaches, and enchanting national parks, including Corcovado, home to the largest number of scarlet macaws in Central America. Whether in search of the wonders of the Pacific Ocean, hidden waterfalls in lush greenery, or delectable organic cuisine, your exclusive Costa Rica vacation will introduce you to sustainable tourism in unforgettable style. 

Customize This Trip For Me
Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Photos
A room at Villa Blanca. Photo: Courtesy of Villa Blanca.
View Above Hotel Si Como No. Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Si Como No
Hammock relaxation at Santa Juana. Photo: Courtesy of Santa Juana.
A suite with jungle views at Aguila de Osa. Photo: Courtesy of Aguila de Osa
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

San Jose, San Ramon, Tarrazú, Rio Tarcoles, Manuel Antonio National Park, Drake Bay, Quepos, Corcovado National Park, Caño Island Biological Marine Park, Arenal   

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: San Ramon – Arrive in Remote the Cloud Forest Nature Reserve

The charms of San Ramon bring out the beauty of Costa Rica’s famous microclimate, ecosystems, and elements of colonial history. The town of “Presidents and Poets,” San Ramon has supported five men who have held the presidential office of Costa Rica since the 1940s. The rich heritage of the colonial structures in town link the agricultural communities to the north with the urban centers of the San Jose Metropolitan area. Your flight lands at Juan Santamaria International Airport, where your private transfer will greet you upon arrival.

You will soon make your way through the city of San Jose, passing colorful homes and commercial buildings painted with bright, tropical hues. The scent of coconut, guava, pineapple, and avocadoes emanate from the corner markets that showcase their produce along the open front wall. Your car will wind into the hillside and reach the town of San Ramon at nearly 3,500 feet above sea level. The endless greenery turns the surrounding hills into emeralds circling the opulent white façade of San Ramon Church.

A statue of the beloved past president, Jose Figueres Ferrer decorates the History and Cultural Center outside of San Ramon’s central park area. Your gorgeous accommodation in Villa Blanca welcomes you to the stunning and peaceful foothills of the central highlands. The pristine cloud forest and private biological reserve provide a tranquil ambiance that protects hundreds of bird species and countless blossoming fauna that are intricate to the survival of the remote biosphere of the cloud forest. The hotel is located on 2,000 acres of the private El Silencio de Los Angeles Reserve, which hosts private trails that are perfect for a tranquil walk through the trees or for a birding adventure.

Your luxurious boutique hotel provides attention to every detail and service in the re-creation of a 19th-century mountain farm village. Elegant handcrafted furniture decorates the grounds beneath vaulted cane ceilings while creating a cozy environment with soothing spa treatments. As a member of the Greentique Hotels, Villa Blanca has proven its dedication to a model of sustainable hospitality while focusing on the conservation of nature, culture, and the local community along with providing you with an unforgettable stay.

What’s Included: airport transfer, accommodation, dinner

Day 2: San Ramon – Half-Day Tour of the Cloud Forest

In the morning, the scent of Costa Rican coffee filters through the dining room and blends with the sweet aroma of fresh guava and papaya juice. The delicate aromas of the tropical fruits accentuate the herbaceous scent of the trees that carry fresh moisture from the drifting clouds within your view from the open-air dining room of the restaurant. After the meal, your guide will greet you in the hotel lobby eager to introduce you to the wonders of the Cloud Forest on the 2,000 acres of private Los Angeles Biological Reserve.

The unique biosphere comprises two percent of the world’s remaining woodlands and protects the lush colors, decadent aromas, and fascinating tropical life that is accessible by a network of easy to manage trails. You will soon reach captivating grounds of the Jose Miguel Alfaro Research Station, which supports the conservation of the forest through education and sustainable tourism. Continue through the forest in search of elusive wildlife to discover some of the country’s 906 different bird species before finding the slaty-tailed trogon.

The fascinating slaty-tailed trogon nests up to 50 feet above the ground in the dampness of the tropical forest. The male’s soft plumage contains colorful feathers that drape their entire body at approximately 12 inches long with a green back, red belly, and orange bill, and their nasal call echoes quickly and quietly through the trees. You will return to the hotel after a day spent exploring the wondrous sights, sounds, and aromas of the forest and indulged in a spa treatment sure to revitalize and refresh your body after a day trekking around the trails.  

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 3: San Ramon – Arenal Volcano and the Famous Hot Springs

You will rise early for a fantastic day spent exploring the treasures of Arenal, a region less than 50 miles from San Ramon and the most notable volcano in the country. The picturesque drive will take you along the lush hills of the Cloud Forest and over the verdant pasturelands on which cows lazily graze. The bounty of Arenal’s natural resources consist of rainforest, waterfalls, inspiring canyons, and gurgling hot springs all in view of the volcano’s perfectly shaped conical peak. Your tour will begin at the Hanging Bridges, a network of aerial bridges that span nearly two miles with nine fixed bridges and six suspension bridges that reach an altitude of almost 2,000 feet above sea level.

The trails highlight the marvels of nature’s diversity as it spans the mature trees of the highland and the lowland forests with more than 700 different species of flora. The scent of herbs and rich soil fills the air as the hanging bridge squeaks as you walk over the sky-path that connects two distinct ledges. Your guide will stop on the bridge to point out a troop of white-faced capuchin monkeys rambling through the trees as their versatile diet has them foraging from daybreak until night in search of nuts, fruits, insects, invertebrates, and available water.

After a short trek to view La Fortuna Waterfall and adventure to the viewing point to see the conical summit of Arenal Volcano, you will venture to the comforts of a private thermal spring to delight in the natural minerals of the waters known for treating stress, mental fatigue, anxiety, and skin conditions. You can plunge right into the water for a relaxing afternoon and allow the warmth to refresh your muscles after an active day. 

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 4: Quepos – Rio Tarcoles and a Grand Coffee Tour

At breakfast, you can sip a revitalizing cup of Costa Rican coffee and the notice an active hummingbird zipping around the flowers that blossom in the crisp morning air. Your private transfer will greet you in the hotel lobby and escort you to the quiet pleasures of your resort in Quepos. You can stop at the banks of the Tarcoles River and watch the crocodiles lingering in the slow current as the river travels over 60 miles between the southern slopes of the Cordillera Central volcanic range and the Gulf of Nicoya, covering an area of nearly 820 square miles.

Continue to the bustling district of Quepos on the Central Pacific and the cozy accommodations of Santa Juana Lodge and Nature Reserve. The gorgeous grounds have a panoramic view of Manuel Antonio National Park’s elaborate coastline, and the nature trails on the private grounds lead to magnificent waterfalls and secret natural pools less than 20 miles away from the gates of Costa Rica’s famous national park.

Your private terrace will provide a stunning view of the landscape, and you will quickly sense the commitment of the property to sustainable hospitality. The focus of the staff will be to shape your guest experience around nature-based themes, the regional conservancy of native biodiversity, and a deep connection with the rural community that are all in line with the mission statement of the Greentique Hotels. After taking your time to settle into the comforts of your accommodations at Santa Juana Lodge, you can continue over hills into the region of San Jose to experience the delights of Costa Rican coffee in the celebrated coffee-growing zone of Tarrazú.

Your guide will lead you to an organic plantation that allows the coffee beans to thrive in the cooler air of the tropical mountains. Your guide can provide examples of the different aromas the bean produces after heating between light, medium, and dark roasts. In the tasting room, your guide will provide insight into the importance of heating the water to 195 degrees Fahrenheit, which allows the brew to reflect the characteristics of the soil and reveals a fruity aroma that gives way to the flavors of chocolate and dry-lemon citrus. 

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, breakfast, dinner

Day 5: Quepos – Full Day Mountain Adventure Tour and Cooking Class

At breakfast, you can inhale the aromas of your coffee in search of a reflection of the notes you found in the stunning array of Tarrazú-grown beans you sampled during the previous day’s coffee tour. Your guide will greet you after your meal and introduce you to the splendors of the mountainous terrain of the Central Pacific region. Your early departure time will provide a cool and refreshing climate in which to explore the network of trails.

The lush grounds of the forest fill the air with the scent of herbaceous greenery that is peppered with blossoming orchids. The yellow petals with their crimson tips stand out against the surrounding verdant trees and underbrush. The rainfall on the slopes creates two natural rivers that weave between the jungle terrain to provide quiet swimming holes in the natural pools that are set beneath a secluded waterfall. In the distance, you can hear the working oxen snorting against the warm air as they churn the wheels powering the sugar mill.

You can take your time in the waters of the hidden pool fed by the Rodeo River and enjoy the calming rush of the trundling falls. The adventures of your day continue in the trees on a canopy tour as you soar down ten cables connected to 15 platforms that span 222 acres of untouched rainforest with two distinctive ecosystems. Your guide will hook you to the line, and you will fly through the trees high above the forest floor. The wind pushes against your cheek and will accentuate the best view in the wild, allowing you to see the landscape like a bird.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 6: Manuel Antonio – Cooking and Transfer to the Pacific Coast

It will be impossible to do anything other than reflect on the adventures of the day before over breakfast, and you will be ready to further explore the thrills and wonders of Costa Rica’s spectacular biodiversity. Before transferring to the unique coastal wilds of Manuel Antonio National Park, you can visit a small farm that recreates the traditional experience of Costa Rican farmers. Your guide will lead you around the grounds to learn the different ways the farmer collects eggs, harvests tubers, and milk the cow to make cheese.

The scent of dry grass fades beneath the aroma of freshly pressed sugar cane juice. The farm utilizes organic practices to protect the workers and environment, choosing instead to produce and use organic compost to fertilize the crops. After touring the grounds, you will return to the ranch for a hardy lunch and help to prepare a number of foods associated with a proper country meal in the form of olla de carne with a side of fresh tortillas. You learn how to mix the flour to make the dough, flatten it in your hand, and throw the dough onto a hot griddle to briefly cook before becoming a delicious tortilla you will feel proud of.

After lunch, your private transfer will escort you to the luxurious grounds of Si Como No, located along the idyllic hillside that overlooks Manuel Antonio with terraces hidden inside the vivid jungle gardens and blend views to the sparkling Pacific Ocean and emerald forest. The boutique property is located on 10 acres and well illustrates the spirit of Pura Vida with a commitment to eco-tourism and sustainability. The resort offers the comforts and attention of a luxury property with a commitment of respecting, honoring and protecting the beauty of nature.  

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, breakfast, dinner

Day 7: Manuel Antonio – Explore Fascinating Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio is the smallest of Costa Rica’s national parks but maintains a huge reputation. At breakfast, the loud call of howler monkeys echos through the trees, resembling the sounds of Jurassic beast, as opposed to the three-foot long mammal grazing in the trees. You will meet your guide in the lobby after your meal and venture onto the various trails of the national park in search of the fascinating wildlife and gorgeous panoramic views. The main trail is over one mile long, incorporating a sandy pathway linking the park’s famous beaches.

Your naturalist guide will lead you along the more challenging trail to Punta Catedral. The loop is less than a mile long but contains steep inclines, but the quiet morning air fills with mixture of aromas that derive from the ocean breeze and the rustling forest trees. Your guide will point to the twittering birds before you find a fiery-billed aracari cracking open nuts with its wide, long beak. The toucan grows over 16 inches long with a reddish collar near the neck, and their bright yellow underparts stand out from the black spot centered on their breast.

You will likely soon find a troop of squirrel monkeys trundling through the branches. Their short fur contains black and orange hues while their tail grows longer than their body to reach more than 17 inches in length. Manuel Antonio is only one of two national parks in Costa Rica in which the squirrel monkey survives. As you reach the top of the rocky islet for views that overlook the nesting browns boobies and roosting pelicans amidst the turquoise water and white sand, you will hardly know where to look as beauty surrounds.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 8: Manuel Antonio – Relish the Wildlife Refuge Night Tour

The day will be yours to spend in and around Si Como No resort to indulge in the pleasures of their spa for a relaxing treatment or bask on the white sands of the celebrated beaches of Manuel Antonio National Park. Search for sloths as they linger in the trees, or slice into a fresh coconut fallen from one of the palms that shade the coastline. Coral, sponges, and crabs, along with a variety of other crustaceans, populate the waters around a small collection of tide pools. In the evening, your guide will readily introduce you to the nocturnal animals of Costa Rica and Manuel Antonio National Park with a night tour. The rainforest comes to life during your hike as the emerald trees turn dark and give way to the sounds of frogs and toads, or the quiet steps of hunting jaguars.

The symphony of the night carries the loud chirp of dink frogs and the quick flutter of bat wings that reach up to 31 inches in length. Your guide will pull open a large leave to reveal a red-eyed tree frog. The image of a quintessential National Geographic magazine cover gazes back at you with bright, red eyes true to the frog’s name as it is bright with red eyes that contrast with their green skin with red toes and blue legs that create a unique, distinctive appearance. Near the rushing waters of the creek, a green and black poison dart frog rests on a wet stone, revealing more of nature’s natural tropical colors.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 9: Drake Bay – Fly from Quepos to Drake Bay

At breakfast, you can indulge in the flavors of a typical Costa Rican breakfast of fried eggs with a rice and bean mixture known as pinto gallo. The scent of fresh coffee will remind you of your time in Tarrazú as you learned about the delicious layers of flavors and aromas available in a single freshly brewed cup of Costa Rican coffee. After your meal, your private transfer will escort you to the Quepos la Managua Airport for your scenic flight to the Osa Peninsula, and you will land at Palmar Sur. Your flight will offer stunning views over the shimmering Pacific waters to the west, and the undulating forested mountains to the east.

You can hear the gentle current of the Sierpe River rushing nearby as you continue to the serene grounds of your luxury hotel of Aguila de Osa, which is nestled into the jungle-clad hills that overlook the gorgeous waters of Drake Bay. Your hotel provides remarkable access to both marine and rainforest adventures at Corcovado National Park and Caño Island Biological Marine Reserve. By blending the highest standards of comfort and quality with the remarkable natural setting of the tropics, Aguila de Osa offers an unforgettable experience steeped in luxury and connected to the mission of sustainability as they work closely with environmental and community associations in the area to stay relevant in the best practices of eco-friendly and community-conscious tourism.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, breakfast, dinner

Day 10: Drake Bay – Scenery and Wildlife at Corcovado National Park

The open-air restaurant at the heart of your hotel offers an intimate ambiance filled with the aroma of fresh coffee, sizzling bacon, and roasting vegetables. You can venture out into Corcovado National Park with your private guide for a tour of Costa Rica’s crowning jewel of the protected lands that features over 100,000 acres to encompass one-third of Osa Peninsula and 10 percent of the mammals found in all of the Americas. The sea breeze will carry a briny aroma through the dense foliage, and your guide will lead you along the trails to find signs of Baird’s tapir on land and spectacled caiman along the estuary shores.

A trail to the ranger station along the western edges of the beach covers nine miles and features the remarkable scenery of the rugged and lush coastline before the forest swallows the pathway. Your guide will lead you to a small flock of scarlet macaw, a feature of the Corcovado, which hosts the largest remaining collection of scarlet macaw in the world. Their loud and long squawk offers a distinctive call within the forest trees as their bright red plumage is adorned with streaks of yellow and blue stands out against the canopy. They can grow up to 32 inches long with a tail feather reaching 23 inches in length.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast, lunch

Day 11: Drake Bay – Snorkel Caño Island Biological Marine Reserve

The crystal-clear waters of the Pacific Ocean draw you in after an early breakfast. You will travel with your guide to Caño Island Biological Reserve, located 10 miles from the coast of Punta Llorona. The island has a steep ascent along its coastline to over 400 feet above sea level, and the protected marine park encompasses nearly 750 acres of pre-Columbian burial grounds while nearby the waters harbor sea turtles, dolphins, stingrays, and humpback whales. Evidence of the island’s past remains untouched on beaches in the form of hand-carved spheres, and the mysterious stones open to the evergreen forest, rubber trees, and wild cocoas.

The transparent waters highlight the colorful coral reefs that protect the shoreline of the island and offers fabulous views of sea fans, brain coral, and head coral with visibility of up to 100 feet. You can jump into the water with your snorkel gear and follow your guide into the warm and inviting temperature in search of fabulous marine life. The coral shimmers with grainy reflective textures that are highlighted in pink and green. A snapper rushes out of view, and your guide may point to a nearby blanket of seagrass. An olive ridley sea turtle searches the tendrils waving in the current for signs of sea urchins or snails. The turtle can grow to two feet long with a shell containing eight to nine plates on each side, and their immense size allows them to grow over 100 pounds.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 12: Drake Bay – The Relaxing Route Home

At breakfast, you will savor the aroma of freshly brewed coffee that accompanies the scent of pinto gallo, the traditional rice and bean dish of Costa Rica that may have become a favorite. Hummingbirds flutter their wings around the open-air restaurant and dig their beaks into the budding flowers, and you can hear the subtle sound of waves crashing against the nearby beach. You will have felt like a VIP as you have traveled between the luxurious hotels and experienced the welcoming measure of Costa Rica’s eco-friendly resorts and their commitment to sustainability, while also indulging in the country’s natural splendor. After breakfast, your private transfer will meet you in the lobby of Aguila de Osa and escort you to Palmar Sur Airport for your brief flight back to San Jose for your connecting flight home.

What’s Included: airport transfer, breakfast

Price

Price 

Please inquire for a custom quote. The price is customized based on final accommodation choices, travel dates, and other custom preferences.