Rainforest meets the beach
Hike through tropical rainforests marvelling at the incredible wildlife found here, bathe in cool, refreshing waterfalls, snorkel amongst tropical fish and spot whales and dolphins migrating along the coast.
This 11-day Costa Rica adventure combined rainforest walks and waterfall hikes, with whale watching and snorkelling. Perfect for switching off and connecting with nature.
Spend time in the cloud forest in the Talamanca Mountains surrounded by tall oaks, lush green fields and orchids galore, before heading to Dominical where rainforests meet the sea providing a unique combination of picturesque surfer towns and whale watching, with dense forests where you can trek to refreshing waterfalls. Dominical is famed for it whale-shaped tale and plethora of activities available.
Finally, head off the grid to the Corcovado in the South Pacific where remote, pristine beaches meet wild mountain forests. The incredible biodiversity found here makes this spot ideal for rainforest hikes in Corcovado National Park and snorkelling near Cano Island.
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Day 1: Arrive in Costa Rica
On arrival, you will be transported from Juan Santamaria International Airport to San Jose to your hotel which is approximately 40 minutes away.
Spend one night at the Bougainvillea Hotel in the hills of historic Heredia, a small suburban city in the Central Valley 15 minutes north of the capital city of San José. Stretch your legs in the 10 acres of exquisite gardens or enjoy a swim in the solar-heated swimming pool.
Day 2: Valleys & Mountains
Today you will travel around 3 hours to San Gerardo de Dota Valley, part of the Talamanca Mountain range. At 2,200 metres (7,000 feet) above sea level, this unique highland cloud forest is characterized by tall, stately oaks laden with huge bromeliads and orchids. Steep, forest-covered hills and lush green pastures and fruit orchards provide a rich habitat for a wide variety of animals and birds, including the famous Resplendent Quetzal.
Spend two nights staying at the charming Trogon Lodge, perched on a picturesque hillside with Savegre River running through its grounds, nature trails that you can follow and trout ponds which supply fresh fish to the kitchen as part of the restaurant farm-to-table concept.
Day 3: Cloud forest walks & relaxation
A day of leisure in the cloud forest with the chance to visit the trails on Trogon with a private guide, giving you a chance to learn about the local fauna and wildlife.
Day 4: Rainforests & beaches at Dominical
Travelling around 3 hours south along Costa Rica's beautiful Pacific coast, Dominical appears amidst deep vegetation, deserted beaches, a cool blue ocean, and fantastic waves. The rainforest, whales, waterfalls, and tranquillity of the area have become the recognized characteristics of this beach town in Costa Ballena. On arrival, the afternoon is yours to relax and explore.
Spend 3 nights at La Cusinga Ecolodge which borders the Ballena Marine National Park and has breathtaking views over the pristine beaches and blue ocean below.
Day 5: Nauyaca Waterfalls
Take a tour by 4x4 to the breathtaking Nauyaca Waterfalls where you will have the chance to spend 2 hours at these incredible waterfalls, swimming in their pools and marvelling at the water. On route in your 4x4, you will also have the opportunity to spot White Face monkeys, Peacocks, Guatusas and other animals that are in the vicinity. After visiting the falls, you will enjoy a traditional Costa Rica lunch at the ranch before returning to your hotel.
Day 6: Whale and dolphin watching
Take a boat tour through the magnificent Ballena Marine National Park where you can enjoy amazing views of Costa Ballena while searching for dolphins, whales, turtles and birds.
There are two whale migrations to calve in the warm waters of Marino Ballena; antarctic families arrive in July and depart in November while their northern cousins from California and Canada come in December and leave in April, meaning there is a good chance of spotting whales most of the year.
You will also have the chance to snorkel in the warm waters and visit the beautiful Caverns of Playa Ventanas.
Day 7: Remote mountain forests & beaches
Head from Dominical to Sierpe on the South Pacific; a place of wild mountain forests that spill down onto pristine beaches. Further off the beaten path than most places in Costa Rica, Sierpe is filled with incredible biodiversity with outstanding, plus outstanding rainforest hikes through Corcovado National Park.
Spend 3 nights at La Paloma Lodge with sweeping views of the wildly beautiful Drake Bay and Osa Peninsula. This luxury ecolodge sits on 14 acres of lush tropical jungle on a hilltop overlooking the Pacific Ocean and is accessed by a boat that docks at the mouth of the Agujas River, before a tractor-pulled cart carries your luggage (and you if you'd like) up the steep trail to this hilltop retreat. If you are dreaming of relaxing, disconnecting and renewing, this is the spot for you.
Day 8: Waterfall hikes in Corcovado National Park
Travel by boat for 30 minutes from Drake Bay to San Pedrillo, the western, closest part of Corcovado National Park for your tour.
From San Pedrillo, the trails will lead you through an impressive primary forest to the Park Ranger Station for a little break. Once refreshed, there is a shorter, second hike to a beautiful waterful where you can bathe in the refreshing cool clear water. Your tours naturalist guide will teach you about the forest fauna and wildlife as you follow the trails through the forest.
This is a full-day excursion and will include lunch.
Day 9: Cano Island & Snorkelling
After a leisurely breakfast, you will meet your guide to choose your flippers and mask, and your tour begins. It’s then a 40-minute boat ride to the ‘Coral Garden’. Located within a marine reserve, this is a fantastic spot for snorkelling with a plethora of beautifully coloured fish to marvel at and – if you are lucky – manta rays, turtles, and small, white-tipped sharks.
On your boat journey, you might also be lucky enough to see pilot or humpback whales (depending on the time of year).
Day 10: Fly to San Jose
Take a short, internal flight from Drake to San Jose ahead of your international flight home tomorrow.
Spend your afternoon and evening at Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Hotel and Spa, only one hour drive from San Jose's International Airport, this enchanting spa hotel is set in the mountains, surrounded by cloudforest and rainforests making it the perfect spot to relax ahead of returning home.
Day 11: Fly Home
After breakfast, take a private transfer from Villa Blanca to Juan Santamaria International Airport to fly home.
Duration: 11 days
Location: Costa Rica Holidays, South and Central America Holidays
From £4,819pp excluding international flights.
The trip includes all accommodations and activities specified above. Meals are as below.
- 1 night at Bougainvillea Hotel: Breakfast
- 2 nights at Trogon Lodge: Breakfast
- 3 nights at La Cusinga Ecolodge: Breakfast & Lunch
- 3 nights at La Paloma Lodge: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
- 1 night at Villa Blanca Hotel: Breakfast
Rainforests, waterfalls and whales
- San Gerardo de Dota Valle
- 10 Days
- £4819 PP
- View Trip
Adventure highlights of Costa Rica
- Pacuare River
- Arenal Volcano
- 7 Days
- £3320 PP
- View Trip
Volcanos, hot springs and turtles
- Poas Volcano
- Arenal National Park
- Tenorio National Park (Rio Celeste)
- 8 Days
- £3443 PP
- View Trip
When to go to Costa Rica
Discover the best time to visit Costa Rica with our helpful guide.
January is the dry season in Costa Rica (although you can still expect the odd tropical shower) and so a fantastic time to visit, the only downside is it is peak season and so you can expect some crowds and peak season prices.
The dry season is ideal if you want to walk through the jungles of Manuel Antonio National Park. It is also an excellent time to visit the soft sandy beaches as you can see humpback whales, as well as green and leatherback sea turtles in the Pacific Ocean.
The dry season continues in February with hot, dry conditions but fewer visitor numbers than in January making it a wonderful time to visit Costa Rica.
If you're hoping to see turtles or humpback whales you want to head to the Pacific Coast, or if you are looking to surf, both the Atlantic and Pacific Coast are great this time of year.
March is still the dry season in Costa Rica, and with fewer crowds, it is a fantastic time of year to visit. March kicks off with Monteverde Music Fest where National and international musicians gather in the cloudforest town for a month of song and dance.
You can see Loggerhead turtles at Parque Nacionale Tortuguero and Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Reserve from March to May.
April is the final month of the dry season, and also one of the hottest meaning many visitors prefer the breezy Pacific coast or visit higher mountainous areas. Easter holidays mean that Costa Rica does get busy, but it quietens after Easter.
Every two years (even numbers), San José plays host to the International Arts Festival where you can expect ten days of theatre shows, concerts, dance performances and art exhibitions.
May is the start of the rainy season, but with it, you benefit from fewer visitors, lower prices and still plenty of good weather. Although there are rain showers, these tend to be in the afternoon, meaning you've bright, sunny mornings to explore - watch wildlife for longer, uninterrupted by other tourists.
Surfers will love this time of year with an increasing swell on the Pacific coast and empty beaches.
June is still part of the rainy or green season, meaning there are tropical showers, but also plenty of lush, vivid vegetation. June is when surfing is at its peak on the Pacific coast.
Whilst July is still part of the rainy season, there is a letup in the volume of rain making it a fantastic time to spot wildlife without the crowds and with amazing plush vegetation.
July is also when green turtles return to their favoured nesting grounds in Tortuguero, with some turtles travelling 2000km to reach their breeding beaches. More turtles can be found at Playa Nancite in Santa Rosa and Ostional Wildlife Reserve, where olive ridleys lay millions of eggs in the black sand, often in the middle of the day.
August still forms part of the wet season, but this doesn't put off families visiting Costa Rica who bring children during the school holidays for the plethora of activities available.
It is a good month to see both green and Hawksbill turtles nesting around Tortuguero. Further up the Pacific coast, olive ridley turtles storm the sands in a synchronized mass nesting event known as arribada which will continue until November. The northern part of the Pacific coast receives the least rain so is ideal for those hunting sunshine.
If you're looking to party, the Virgin of the Seas Fiesta takes place in the Gulf of Nicoya to remember a time when the desperate prayers of storm-shocked sailors were answered.
September and October are the wettest months of the green season meaning that remote areas of Costa Rica can become inaccessible due to the roads and spotting wildlife can be more challenging. The East of the country is the driest so visitors willing to brave the rain head to Tortuguero National Park.
Independence Day occurs on the 15th September which is a big fiesta - across the country, you can expect big patriotic parades celebrating the country’s independence from Spain in 1821.
October is another very wet month in Costa Rica, especially on the west coast which is the best place to see whales and turtles at this time of year.
October is an important month for festivals with Limón Carnival happening. Expect week-long celebrations to mark Christopher Columbus’s landing at Isla Uvita, but be aware these can have an impact on local services.
November marks the end of the wet season - although the exact end date can be difficult to pinpoint, so travel this month can be a gamble, with the upside being lower prices and fewer crowds, plus the potential for glorious sunshine! If you get lucky, November can be the best month to visit.
The Caribbean Coast on the East gets the dry weather first, and if there is rain, it tends to fall in the afternoon so you can easily plan your day around it.
December marks the return of the dry season with visitors flocking to the beaches of sea, sun and sand.
It also means wetter areas of the country reopen with Arenal National Park being one of the most popular for its volcano, hanging bridges and zipwire through the forest, and its magnificent waterfalls.
On the 27th December, there is San José Carnival where you can see huge parades with colourful floats, vibrant music and lots of dancing.
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