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Grand Tour of...
 

Grand Tour of Costa Rica: From the Caribbean to the Pacific

13 days |  15 days with Rincón de la Vieja extension
13 days |  15 days with Rincón de la Vieja extension
Group size1222 travelers
Physical activity
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Cities and beaches, rainforests and volcanoes—experience Costa Rica from every conceivable angle.

Costa Rica’s centuries upon centuries of history? Grand. The country’s dedication to preserving its natural habitats? Grand. No matter how you look at it, Costa Rica smashes expectations—and now, we gave it a Grand Tour to match. For almost two weeks, you’ll zip across this Central American wonderland, stopping in the former capital of Cartago; exploring the pristine cloud forests of Turrialba; and supporting the eco-tourism efforts of organizations like the Toucan Rescue Ranch. You’ll meet Ticos (a nickname Costa Ricans go by) from Puerto Viejo de Talamanca on the Caribbean to the Guanacaste coast on the Pacific, and pick up their appreciation for la pura vida with each stop you make.

Your tour package includes

  • 12 nights in handpicked hotels
  • 12 breakfasts
  • 4 lunches
  • 4 dinners with beer or wine
  • 2 tastings
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Included highlights

  • Coffee plantation tour & tasting
  • Toucan Rescue Ranch
  • Irazú Volcano National Park
  • Tree planting project
  • Guayabo National Monument
Read more
Start planning today

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Day-by-day itinerary

Print itinerary
San José Region2 nights
Day 1: Arrival in San José
Included meal: Light dinner

Welcome to Costa Rica! Touch down in San José and transfer to your hotel. Settle in, then meet your group in the evening over a light dinner, served with your choice of beer or wine.

Please note: If you arrive after 9pm, dinner will be served in your hotel room.

Day 2: Coffee farm visit & Toucan Rescue Ranch
Included meals: Breakfast, Tasting, Welcome lunch

Make your way from your hotel to a local farm and discover one of Costa Rica’s finest exports—coffee. Regarded as some of the best in the world thanks to a Goldilocks combination of growing conditions, Costa Rican coffee accounts for close to 8% of the country’s gross domestic product.

  • Tour a family-owned estate to learn how coffee cherries yield coffee beans, and how those pips—after a multi-step process of cleaning and roasting—eventually become the flavorful drink in your mug each morning.
  • Learn how the estate protects and preserves the biodiversity of the area, and how it employs traditional methods to cultivate its crop.
  • Indulge in a tasting of some of the farm’s coffees, then sit down to a welcome lunch and continue getting to know your fellow travelers.

Afterward, continue on to the Toucan Rescue Ranch. Dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of native wildlife, this nonprofit organization looks after toucans, sloths, and other animals. Join a rancher for a guided walk of the grounds, hear the stories of the various creatures in their care, and come to a better understanding of the importance of conservation in Costa Rica.

What better way to get to know authentic Costa Rica than through its traditional food and dance? Kick up your heels with an optional excursion that highlights the local folklore. Or, if you’d prefer, use your free time this evening to explore some of San José’s modern and colonial architecture.

Costa Rican Folklore Dinner

From $129 per person

Turrialba Region2 nights
Day 3: Turrialba Region via Cartago & Irazú Volcano National Park
Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Today, journey to the 16th-century city of Cartago—the first colonial settlement successfully established on Costa Rican soil. Upon arrival, join your Tour Director for some guided sightseeing.

  • Visit the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles, a uniquely designed Roman Catholic basilica that combines both colonial and Byzantine elements. Built in 1639, it predates the founding of Costa Rica by almost 200 years.
  • Explore the Santiago Apóstol Parish Ruins—a half-completed, 150-year-old church that now anchors a public park—and end with a walk through the bustling Central Market.
  • Make your way through the Central Valley, Costa Rica’s stunning heartland, to Irazú Volcano National Park. Then, set off for a leisurely trail walk around its namesake attraction. Called “El Coloso,” or “The Colossus,” by the locals, Irazú towers over 11,000 feet above sea level, making it the tallest active volcano in the country.
  • Stop at viewing platforms to soak in the beauty of the volcano’s massive main crater and the brilliant green lagoon at its center.

Continue to your hotel in the Turrialba region, an area known for its pre-Columbian ruins, volcanic activity, and beautiful rural countryside. After settling into your hotel, sit down with your group for an included dinner, served with your choice of beer or wine.

Day 4: Tree planting reforestation project
Included meal: Breakfast

Costa Rica has tirelessly worked on reforestation projects and environmental conservation in an effort to reverse the mass deforestation activity from 1940 to 1989, which resulted in the loss of half of their mature forests. Today you’ll have the opportunity to take part in planting native species of trees in partnership with a local organization dedicated to revitalizing the country’s forests.

Please note: Travelers should wear clothes that they don’t mind getting dirty during today’s activity.

You don’t have to have a sweet tooth to join the optional excursion to a cacao-producing farm. You’ll tour the family-owned property to learn about the harvest, enjoy a fresh, farm-to-table lunch, and, of course, a hands-on opportunity to craft your own chocolate delights.

Alternatively, use your free afternoon to visit local markets to shop for handicrafts or pack a lunch and head toward one of the area’s manicured parks such as the CATIE Botanical Garden.

Turrialba Chocolate Workshop & Lunch

From $105 per person

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca2 nights
Day 5: Transfer to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

As you make your way to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, stop at the mysterious Guayabo National Monument—a significant archaeological site containing ancient ruins—to learn more about the area’s pre-Columbian history. (And there’s plenty of history to take in: First discovered in the 1800s as the land was cleared for coffee cultivation, the site dates back more than 3,000 years.)

  • Examine the remnants of an early Costa Rican civilization—petroglyphs, tombs, and impressively engineered infrastructure—only a fraction of the wonders that still lay hidden in the fertile rainforest soil.
  • Hear from your Tour Director how, once upon a time, this site may have been a key regional center. Founded in 1000 B.C., it abruptly fell in 1400 A.D., when its inhabitants abandoned it for reasons that remain unknown to modern archaeologists.

Continue to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, a town on the shores of the Caribbean Sea, where you’ll meet with locals who will introduce you to their culture and musical traditions.

  • Find out how salsa, Costa Rica’s most popular dance, was introduced to the country. Then, hit the dance floor to learn some basic steps and spins to the tune of traditional salsa music.
  • Trace the roots of Afro-Caribbean music back to West and Central Africa and discover how it arrived in Latin America via the transatlantic slave trade. Then, play some beats of your own during a hands-on drum lesson.

Tonight, gather with your group for an included dinner, served with your choice of beer or rum punch.

Day 6: Free day in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Included meal: Breakfast

Use your free day today to head to one of the nearby beaches like Playa Cocles or Punta Uva for surfing or snorkeling—you can always ask your Tour Director for a great recommendation—or join an immersive optional excursion to the Salamanca Mountains. Here, you’ll get to immerse yourself in the culture of one of Costa Rica’s indigenous peoples—the Bribri.

Bribri Indigenous Village & Lunch

From $119 per person

Sarapiquí Region2 nights
Day 7: Transfer to Sarapiquí Region & pineapple farm visit
Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Tasting

Head back north to the Sarapiquí Region, an important ecotourism destination replete with lush nature preserves, thriving wildlife, and flourishing farms. Upon arrival, savor an included lunch before visiting an organic pineapple plantation and learning about sustainable and eco-friendly practices unique to the area.

  • Climb aboard a tractor for a guided tour of the farm and its sprawling fields.
  • Learn how the farmers grow pineapples using eco-friendly methods, like compost fertilization and crop rotation, and why they use natural herbicides to protect their harvest.
  • Nibble on freshly sliced pineapple and sip fresh juice or a homemade piña colada. (You can enjoy yours virgin or with an added splash of rum.)

Transfer to your hotel and enjoy free time for the rest of the day to relax or explore the area.

Day 8: Caño Negro cruise
Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Today, head towards the Nicaraguan border and disembark at the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge. Encompassing an area of over 25,000 acres, this wetland preserve plays a key role in the annual migration of birds like storks, ibis, and cormorants.

  • Hop aboard a boat with an expert guide and set off through the wetlands, keeping an eye out for endangered species like the anhinga bird, the guapote fish, jaguars, and the emerald basilisk.
  • Cruise the peaceful Caño Negro wetlands as your guide points out some of the 200 bird species that call the refuge home, as well as the other flora and fauna that populate its rainforests and pastures.

Later, enjoy an included lunch at a local restaurant before enjoying free time in the Sarapiquí Region for the rest of the day.

Arenal Region2 nights
Day 9: Arenal Region via Tirimbina Biological Reserve
Included meal: Breakfast

Before departing the Sarapiquí Region, head to the 850-acre Tirimbina Biological Reserve for a morning walking tour. Classed by the Costa Rican government as a Private National Wildlife Refuge, this nonprofit organization conducts environmental research and stresses the importance of conservation.

  • With a naturalist guide, set out along part of Tirimbina’s nine-kilometer (5.6 mile) trail network. Learn how the reserve was specifically created as an eco-lodge and research station, and why it provides free environmental education to local communities.
  • Spot toucans, howler monkeys, sloths, and more wildlife as you walk. Then, cross over the longest suspension bridge in Costa Rica, spanning a 650-foot gap over the Sarapiquí River below for a heart-stopping view of the rainforest canopy.

Continue to the Arenal Region, a place known for its dazzling volcano, ample hiking trails, rushing waterfalls, and beautiful scenery.

Soak the day away in hot springs kept warm by the Arenal Volcano on an optional excursion that includes dinner with volcano views, naturally. Prefer to spend the free evening on your own? Ask your Tour Director about any local festivals or cultural events happening during your stay, or wait for nightfall and enjoy epic stargazing—the Arenal area is known for its dark skies and celestial views.

Arenal Hot Springs & Dinner

From $129 per person

Day 10: Free morning & farm visit
Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Enjoy a free morning to explore the Arenal Region at your own pace, or add an optional excursion to get even closer to the iconic Arenal Volcano, this time from Lake Arenal. Board a kayak and join your guide for a paddle through magical coves and lagoons as wildlife hums all around you.

This afternoon, visit an eco-friendly farm in La Fortuna, a picturesque town with a jaw-dropping view of the Arenal Volcano, for an included lunch.

  • Dig into a farm-to-table meal, created using fresh ingredients harvested onsite as well as local dairy products.
  • Explore the grounds with a guide and learn how it became the first carbon-negative community of its kind in Costa Rica.

Kayaking in Arenal Volcano National Park

From $65 per person

Guanacaste Coast2 nights
Day 11: Guanacaste Coast via Tenorio Volcano National Park
Included meal: Breakfast

Continue through the country’s volcano region and set out on a guided walk through Tenorio Volcano National Park. The nearly 5,000-square-mile park boasts astounding biodiversity within its rainforests, such as white-faced monkeys, pumas, orchids, palm trees, and other flora and fauna.

  • Join your Tour Director for a walk along the milky blue Rio Celeste, and see where two mineral-rich volcanic streams come together to give the river its distinctive turquoise color.
  • View the famous—and powerful—Rio Celeste waterfall from above, or walk down a series of stairs for a closer look from a dedicated viewpoint.

Settle into your hotel on the Guanacaste coast: a mecca for surfers, hikers, and sunbathers that’s home to some of Costa Rica’s most sought-after beaches and landscapes.

Day 12: Free day on the Guanacaste Coast
Included meals: Breakfast, Farewell dinner

Spend a free day relaxing along the Guanacaste coast or add an excursion to log some time on—and in—its gorgeous waters.

This evening, celebrate your trip with your fellow travelers at a farewell dinner, served with your choice of beer or wine.

Guanacaste Sailing & Snorkeling with Lunch

From $165 per person

Flight Home
Day 13: Departure
Included meal: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

Transfer to the Liberia airport for your flight home, or experience an unexpectedly different side of Costa Rica by extending your trip to Rincón de la Vieja where Costa Rica’s northeastern region can continue to enchant you with an unparalleled landscape, inviting hot springs, and a resort stay you won’t want to leave.

Extension to Rincón de la Vieja
Rincón de la Vieja draws its name from an old local story—and with a legendary landscape worthy of World Heritage Site status, it’s no wonder it does. Spend two rejuvenating days here, roaming its volcanic terrain and unwinding in its hot springs, before heading back to a resort each night. (It’ll be time to fly back home before you know it.)
Rincón de la Vieja2 nights
Day 13: Transfer to Rincón de la Vieja & walking tour
Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Nestled in the northeastern corner of the country, Rincón de la Vieja National Park makes up part of the UNESCO-protected Area de Conservación Guanacaste. Home to tropical dry forest, a pair of volcanoes, and plenty of rare plants and vulnerable animal species, it’s a natural haven unlike any other found in Costa Rica.

Travel to the park this morning, where you’ll embark on a guided walk. Follow your leader and keep a keen eye out for waterfalls, streams, and the wildlife they’ll point out—animals like kinkajous, pumas, and tapirs. Your hike will also take you past captivating volcanic landscapes that bubble and pulse with mud pots and fumaroles.

After exploring Rincón de la Vieja, transfer to your hotel and sit down for an included lunch and a chance to freshen up. Reconvene in the evening for an included dinner, served with your choice of beer or wine.

Please note: Today’s activities may take place on day 14, if need be.

Day 14: Rio Negro Hot Springs
Included meals: Breakfast, Farewell dinner

Ease into the day with a free morning before visiting the Rio Negro Hot Springs, a thermal pool complex warmed by the intense activity of Rincón de la Vieja’s volcanoes. Spend the afternoon relaxing, soaking in both mineral-rich waters and peaceful river views, before returning to your hotel.

This evening, enjoy a farewell dinner, served with your choice of beer or wine, as you celebrate your trip with your fellow group members.

Please note: Today’s activities may take place on day 13, if need be.

Flight Home
Day 15: Departure
Included meal: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

Transfer to the Liberia airport for your flight home.

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Hotels, flights & FAQ

Here's the nitty-gritty—where you’ll stay, how you’ll get there, and what to know about your destination before you go.

Hotels

We handpick every hotel to strike the balance of comfort, location, and local charm. Specific accommodations will vary based on your departure date, but these are frequently used hotels for this tour and we're confident you'll be satisfied.
Hilton Garden Inn San José La Sabana
Hilton Garden Inn San José La Sabana

This modern hotel is centrally located in San José’s Sabana Park area. Guests enjoy the rooftop pool, spacious rooms, and fitness center. Nearby, you’...

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Hotel Casa Turire
Hotel Casa Turire

This charming hotel is located in Turrialba. Guests enjoy the outdoor pool, antique decor, and on-site restaurant. The hotel also offers yoga classes,...

Read more +
Le Cameleon Hotel Puerto Viejo
Le Cameleon Hotel Puerto Viejo

This boutique hotel is located in Puerto Viejo. Guest enjoy the tropical forest setting, private beach area, and multiple swimming pools. Nearby you’l...

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La Quinta Sarapiqui Lodge
La Quinta Sarapiqui Lodge

This charming hotel is located in the rainforests of Sarapiqui. Guests enjoy the private balconies, complimentary bikes, and on-site coffee house. Nea...

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Volcano Lodge Hotel & Thermal Experience
Volcano Lodge Hotel & Thermal Experience

This tropical paradise hotel is located in La Fortuna, Costa Rica, near Arenal Volcano. Guests enjoy the amazing grounds featuring private, mineral-ri...

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Wyndham Tamarindo
Wyndham Tamarindo

This serene hotel is located perched on a hillside of Tamarindo on the Guanacaste coast. Guests enjoy sweeping ocean views, outdoor infinity pool, a l...

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Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin & Adventure Center
Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin & Adventure Center

This welcoming hotel is located at the base of the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano. Guest enjoy the volcanic mud pool, manicured gardens, and yoga experie...

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Flights

Round-trip flights are one more thing we handle to make your journey as smooth as possible. Our team of travel experts will find the best flight itinerary for you at a competitive rate, thanks to our partnerships with top airlines.
Add our airfare package and you'll get:
  • Round-trip flight for your tour
  • Airport transfers at your destination
  • A great price locked in today
  • 24/7 support from our dedicated service team
  • Options for arriving early, staying longer, or requesting an upgrade
  • Flexible rebooking options if your tour itinerary changes
  • Find out more about flights

FAQ

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