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Are you ready to get your adrenaline pumping with fun activities such as surfing, white water rafting, zip lining, and repelling down waterfalls?
If your answer was a resounding ” yes” than this is the itinerary for you!
Also, don’t worry, we included plenty of relaxing activities as well. You’ve got to do a little chilling out while soaking up life in paradise.
Airport Area (day 1) → La Fortuna (day 2, 3, 4) → Monteverde (day 5,6) → Samara (day 7, 8, 9) → Nosara (day 10) → Tamarindo (day 11, 12, 13) → Airport area (day 14) → Leave paradise (day 15)
Route Map from Liberia
Route Map from San Jose
DAY ONE – Land in Liberia / Relax on a Nearby Beach
DAY TWO – Drive to La Fortuna / Waterfall swimming / Hot Springs Chilling
DAY THREE – Rafting Tour/ Relax in a Hot Spring
DAY FOUR – Caving / Jump off a Rope Swing
DAY FIVE – Drive to Monteverde / Climb ficus tree / Wildlife night tour
DAY SIX – Zip lining / Hiking
DAY SEVEN – Drive to Samara / Arrange surfing
DAY EIGHT – Surfing / SUP / Kayaking / Massage
DAY NINE – Surfing / SUP / Kayaking / Massage
DAY TEN – Drive to Nosara / Surfing / Try to see sea turtles
DAY ELEVEN – Drive to Tamarindo / Stop at beaches along the way
DAY TWELVE – Diving or snorkeling tour / Playa Grande
DAY THIRTEEN – ATV tour / Relax on Playa Avellanas
DAY FOURTEEN – Drive back to the airport area
DAY FIFTEEN – Leave Paradise….for now
We suggest fling in and out of the Liberia International Airport for this itinerary. It will save you several hours of driving time.
This itinerary is definitely possible from the San Jose International Airport, but you will have a five hour drive from Tamarindo back to San Jose at the end of your trip.
This Costa Rica tour needs to be done by rental car. Unlike our other itineraries, this itinerary does have some activities which will include transportation. Despite that, you will be traveling to multiple locations throughout the country. Having a car makes transportation a whole lot easier and more affordable.
For this itinerary, we suggest renting a car with 4 wheel drive. The roads around Monteverde, Samara, and Nosara are not paved. If you opt to not get four-wheel drive, at least rent an SUV so you have some clearance. You will especially need this in Monteverde.
We have partnered with our favorite rental car company in Costa Rica, Adobe, to give you a 10% discount, free extra drivers, a free cell phone to use, free roof racks, and more! We love how honest and transparent Adobe is in a country where other rental car companies can not always be trusted.
You can find out more and grab your discount here.
If you need more info about directions we have a full post about how to get around.
Land in Liberia / Relax on a Nearby Beach
As we mentioned above, this itinerary is best done with flying into Liberia International Airport.
We suggest spending your first night in the quiet beach village of Playa Hermosa. It is only about a 25 minute drive from the Liberia International Airport.
This is the perfect place to relax on the beach after a long travel day.
If you are feeling adventurous, you can always book a snorkeling catamaran tour. Make it a sunset tour for an extra fun time.
Hotel Suggestions in Plata Hermosa
Drive to La Fortuna / Waterfall Swimming / Hot Spring Chilling
After breakfast, it’s time to pack up your stuff and get ready for a long drive to La Fortuna. In total, the drive will take you about four hours.
It may seem long, but the second half of this drive is the most beautiful drive in Costa Rica (at least in my opinion).
Just a warning, the roads are in decent condition but it can get pretty curvy in places for all of you who tend to get car sick.
Once you arrive in La Fortuna, you will need to check in to your hotel and get changed into swimwear. It’s time to check out the amazing La Fortuna waterfall! We have a full guide to visiting the La Fortuna waterfall.
After the waterfall, stop at Rainforest Chocolate tour. It is located right down the street from the waterfall. This is a great activity to do on your last morning before heading back to the airport area, but it fills up fast. It is best to stop in and see if you can reserve a spot for the morning tour two days away.
Now it’s time to relax at a hot spring!
We suggest contacting the hotel you are planning to stay at in La Fortuna and ask if they have any discounts with local hot spring companies. Sometimes they can get you a great deal.
If not, check out our Arenal hot spring guide. We have suggestions for all budgets and interests.
Some of the hot springs have restaurants on site, but if you are looking for something different, check out our guide to La Fortuna restaurants.
After a nice evening at the hot springs, head back to your hotel and get some sleep. Tomorrow is going to be filled with action!
Rafting tour/ Relax in a Hot Spring
Eat an early breakfast and then it’s time for some serious white water rafting.
We have rafted with Arenal Rafting and loved it. However, most local hotels partner with various rafting companies and may be able to get you a good discount. We suggest asking at your hotel when you check if they can recommend a rafting company to you. If they aren’t much help, definitely book with Arenal Rafting. You’ll 100% love it.
I wouldn’t stress too much about booking this ahead of time. often it is fine to arrange this the day before (and usually it’s cheaper). However, if you are planning to visit Costa Rica during the busiest months (December through April) it is probably a good idea to set up your rafting tour before visiting. You can always contact your hotel by email and ask if they have any discounts.
When you return from your adventure you will likely be exhausted. Grab some dinner at one of the places we suggest in the restaurant section of the La Fortuna guide (we like the vibe at Lava Lounge) and then either relax your muscles at the hot springs or head to bed.
Caving / Jump off a rope swing
Get up early and grab breakfast before heading out for some caving.
Caving is done at Venado Caves about 45 minutes from La Fortuna. We recently did this activity and it was such a unique experience. You will literally be slithering through tiny crevices in water while in these caves. I thought my anxiety would kick in, but I absolutely loved it and was extremely proud of myself for tackling this activity.
We suggest calling the day before to set up a time to visit the caves. They tend to not get very filled, but it is a tour and they can only take one group at a time. If you show up and another tour is already in the caves you will have to wait until they finish before you can go in.
Things to know: Venado Caves is located about 45 minutes from La Fortuna. They are open every day from 8:00 to 3:00 pm. The caves are really tight at some points but there is always an alternative route if this freaks you out. It costs $25 for a guided tour and you are welcome to swim at their nice pool after for free. There are restrooms, changing rooms, showers, and a snack bar on site. We suggest asking your hotel to call them in the morning just to see if they have a suggested time for you to visit. When we visited there was only one guide so other guests had to wait for our group to return before they could go out. You will likely spend about two to three hours here.
What to bring/ wear: Rubber boots are provided and you should wear clothes you don’t mind getting wet (you’ll be soaked by the end). I wore my bathing suit under gym shorts and a t-shirt. Also, sometimes things get caught on rocks (I ripped my shorts) so don’t wear anything you want to preserve.
After your adventure, you can head back to La Fortuna and grab some lunch in town (you can try out one of the places we suggest in the La Fortuna guide).
If you are not too tired from your caving adventure we suggest heading to El Salto for jumping off a rope swing into a cool river. Just type in “El Salto” into your GPS and it will come up.
When you arrive at the river you can pull your car off to the side of the road. Just don’t leave anything valuable inside. To access the river, walk down the path. You will likely see other people in the water as well.
At the river, there is a rope swing you can use to jump into the water below. It is not for the faint of heart, but hey, you are on the Costa Rica adventure itinerary after all! Please be careful though. The rocks can be slippery.
In the evening we suggest grabbing some dinner in town and then relaxing at your hotel. We suggest not making it too crazy of a night. You’ve got a bit of a drive in front of you for tomorrow morning!
Drive to Monteverde / Climb ficus tree / Wildlife night tour
Good morning! Monteverde is the next stop on your Costa Rica adventure! Although Monteverde and La Fortuna are close in distance it takes about three hours to drive between the two. The reason for that is big Lake Arenal. It’s a really nice drive though. We definitely suggest stopping along the way to take pictures. The view of Lake Arenal is really nice in spots.
Once you arrive in Monteverde you can check in to your hotel and grab some lunch if you haven’t already eaten. We have tons of good food suggestions in our Monteverde Guide.
After grabbing some food we suggest checking out the ficus tree. This is a large ficus tree in the woods that you can climb to the top of. It’s pretty cool and it’s free!
The easiest way to get here is by entering “Cloud Forest Lodge” into your GPS. When you arrive at the Cloud Forest Lodge just park your car on the side of the road. As always, don’t leave anything valuable in the car. Across from the lodge you will see dirt pathways going into the woods. Follow these paths and you will pass a few other ficus trees before finding the tree you really want. You’ll know you are in the correct spot when you see a tree that you can stand inside of and climb like a beautiful ladder from nature. Eventually, you will get to the top where you will have a really nice view.
Just be careful though. There is nobody around out there and you are climbing a tree. It is, of course, possible to slip.
After your ficus tree adventure, we suggest relaxing a bit before the evening. If you need a good dinner spot just check out our Monteverde guide.
In the evening you will be going on a wildlife night tour. You can read our complete post about it here.
Zip lining / Hiking
Today is action packed! After eating some breakfast (there are some great little coffee shops in downtown Monteverde) it is time to head over to Selvatura Adventure Park.
This is something you could arrange ahead of time, but we don’t like to. On their website you, unfortunately, cannot just save a spot. You actually have to pay ahead of time. For us, we don’t like doing that because you never know if your plans will change.
Instead, we suggest going there in the morning and seeing when they have space for zip lining. They have all sorts of different packages you can choose from such as combo packages of zip lining, hanging bridges, and the butterfly garden. We have only done the zip lining but have heard the hanging bridges are nice as well.
Anyway, for the rest of the morning, you will be zip lining and hiking. It really depends on what time you were able to arrange the zip lining for, but up the street from Selvatura is the Santa Elena Reserve. This is the perfect cloud forest hiking spot. We have a full post about visiting here.
In the afternoon you will likely be tired. We suggest relaxing and grabbing a few early evening cocktails at Tree House restaurant. For dinner check out one of our suggested places in the Monteverde guide.
Drive to Samara / Arrange surfing
Wake up semi-early, eat breakfast, pack up your stuff and get ready for a four-hour drive to Samara.
Once you arrive in Samara it’s time to check into your hotel and grab some lunch. We suggest trying Bouticafe Bohemia if you want a filling but healthy meal.
After lunch head over to our favorite surf school. Pato’s Surf School is our top pick for surf schools in this whole country because they are a great company and have amazing package deals.
We suggest purchasing the Pura Vida package. It costs $130 per person, but that’s all you will pay for activities for the rest of the time you are in Samara.
This package includes a 60-minute massage, a 90-minute surf lesson, a three-hour kayak or SUP tour, and free usage of their surfboards for five days. You can divide this package up between the next few days.
Ask at Pato’s which part of the package you can begin now. It really all depends on the tides and availability.
After your fun at Pato’s, we suggest grabbing a few beers from the little store near the beach and watching the sunset while relaxing on the beach.
We suggest getting dinner at Soda La Perla for a tasty meal of typical Costa Rican food at an affordable price.
Surfing / SUP / Kayaking / Massage
Today is going to be a full day of fun with Pato’s Surf School!
Hopefully, you set up a nice schedule of fun with Pato’s yesterday. Don’t forget that Pato’s will let you take out a surf board for free when you are not busy with your lesson, kayaking or SUP tour, and massage.
For lunch, we suggest heading to the Falafel Cafe. It is a short walk from Pato’s Surf School and they serve up some really amazing Mediterranean food!
Continue with your fun at Pato’s surf school in the afternoon.
For dinner with a sunset view, we suggest heading to LuvBurger. They provide high-quality food and you can enjoy your meal with a table on the beach for a great sunset view.
In the evening after dinner head to Microbar Samara for some amazing craft beers.
Surfing / SUP / Kayaking / Massage
Last day of enjoying Patos surf school! Make the most of your surfing practice because tomorrow you will be heading to Nosara where the waves are bigger and a bit more crazy.
If you need some food suggestions for today check out our Samara guide for some more great options.
Drive to Nosara / Surfing / Try to see sea turtles
The drive from Samara to Nosara is an easy one so take your time leaving Samara. Once you leave you will be in Nosara in less than an hour.
We suggest staying in Nosara for a night just to get the feel for another spot and to break up your drive, but you could easily skip this stop and head straight to Tamarindo. Nosara is a super cute town though.
Also, throughout the year there are several times when a beach just north of Nosara called Ostional completely fills with sea turtles. You can see if these turtles will be there when you are visiting by staying up to date with the Ostional turtle Facebook page.
Just be warned, on your drive to Nosara, the road is unpaved. There are a few parts which can get flooded after heavy rains. You’ll just have to drive through them. After all, this is a Costa Rica Adventure Lovers Itinerary!
After checking into your hotel in Nosara, grab some lunch. We liked the places Burgers and Beers when we were there. It was a bit pricey, but with fresh organic ingredients, I felt like it was worth it.
After lunch, we suggest renting a surfboard at one of the many surf shops or just walking the beach. You can rent a board for the day for $10. There are several places that rent boards but we suggest walking as close to the beach as you can before renting a board so you don’t have to carry it as far to the beach.
If it looks as though there are sea turtles at Ostional, skip the surfing and head up there. It will take you about thirty minutes to drive to Ostional beach. Again, be warned that sometimes the roads can flood a bit.
In the evening, grab dinner at one of our suggested places in our Nosara guide and just enjoy the pura vida life you’re currently living.
DRIVE TO TAMARINDO / STOP AT BEACHES ALONG THE WAY
After breakfast, say goodbye to Nosara and start heading north towards Tamarindo. The drive to Tamarindo will usually only take you about 1.5 hours, but there are plenty of nice beaches to stop at along the way. Most are not marked but just look for side roads heading to the ocean. It is perfectly OK to just pull your car off at the end of these roads to check out the beaches. Just keep in mind that these beaches are fairly remote so don’t go too far from your car since all of your luggage will be in the car.
When you arrive in Tamarindo, check into your hotel and explore the downtown area. There are tons of restaurants, bars, and cute stores to explore. I’d suggest keeping this as a relaxing day to explore the downtown area and chill on the beach. If you feel like you need to do something you can rent a surfboard all along the beach.
Check out our Tamarindo guide for food suggestions.
Diving or snorkeling tour / Playa Grande
Today you’re going diving or snorkeling! Yeay! We have not personally gone on a diving or snorkeling tour in Tamarindo so I, unfortunately, can’t give you the insight on the best companies. Instead, I did a lot of searching online and narrowed it down to a list of a few companies that have really good reputations and are fair priced. All of these companies do combined tours. So, if one person in your group would like to go diving and another would like to snorkel you can both go on the same tour.
I’d suggest arranging this ahead of time so you can have it all set.
In the afternoon we suggest driving to nearby Playa Grande to relax on the beach. We like this beach because there are far less people than Tamarindo beach. It is a nice place to walk and just relax.
In the evening grab dinner at one of our suggested places. The nightlife goes strong in Tamarindo if you’d like to go out after.
ATV tour / Relax on Playa Avellanas
As with snorkeling, we have not actually rented ATV’s in Tamarindo, but we have done a lot of research into this for you. So, in Tamarindo, you will see ATV and UTV rental places everywhere! As always, it is best to ask at your hotel if they have a company they can recommend. They may be able to get you a discount.
If not, there are a two companies that sounded really good to us. Let’s go through each one….
ATV Tamarindo: They are a really reputable company and if you book your tour through their website you will get a $10 discount per person. They offer ATV and UTV tours from two hours up to six hours. Their website is great and has detailed info about where each tour would go.
Tamarindo Active: Tamarindo Active is great because they allow you to actually rent an ATV or UTV and do your own thing. They are of course happy to give you suggestions on where to go. If you opt to do this, I suggest using at least part of your time to go Playa Avellana (the afternoon activity for today). The road to get there is unpaved and could be fun with your ATV.
In the afternoon we suggest heading to Playa Avellana for some afternoon beach chilling. You can grab lunch at Lola’s (the beach bar there) and just relax. We have a full guide to Playa Avellana for you.
In the evening grab dinner at one of our suggested places and prepare yourself for the drive back to the airport area tomorrow.
Drive Back to the Airport Area
If you are heading to Liberia Airport:
If you are heading to San Jose International Airport:
The drive from Tamarindo back to San Jose airport area will take you about five hours. It’s not a bad drive. The roads are well-paved roads the whole way. Just don’t start too late because reaching the San Jose area during rush hour can be a nightmare.
We suggest returning your car tonight if you have a semi-early flight. This will save you from paying for an extra day of car rentals. If you stay within 12 miles of the airport, Adobe will pick the car up from you there free of charge. We suggest staying at a place with a free airport shuttle so you can easily get to the airport in the morning.
Hotel Suggestions in San Jose
Leave Paradise….For Now
We hope you had an amazing trip and hope you will be back soon!
Our Advice for This Itinerary
– If you plan on booking a hotel, we’d appreciate it if you booked by clicking this link to booking.com. It doesn’t cost you anything but we get a percentage of their profits which allows us to keep making these Costa Rica trip plans available to you for free.
– Costa Rica is a restaurant paradise. You can find our favorite places to eat for every budget in our destination guide.
– If you would like some alternative activity ideas, check out our destinations guides for the places you are visiting.
– This itinerary does involve a lot of driving, but we tried to space it enough that it becomes doable.
– Check out our Must Know page for more tips for preparing for your travel including packing lists, gear suggestions, using your cell phone here etc.
– We made this one week Costa Rica itinerary with the idea that you would be flying into San Jose instead of Liberia. For this itinerary, San Jose is a much better airport to fly in to. Driving from Liberia down to Manuel Antonio is just too much driving.
– Keep in mind that Manuel Antonio National Park is closed on Tuesdays. If it would line up that you would be visiting the park on Tuesday you could always opt to do this itinerary in reverse instead and start in La Fortuna.
– Please take into consideration that we created this guide from our personal experience. We try to always give you the best and most updated info possible, but that is not always possible.
For example, even in writing this I discovered three restaurants I planned on including here are now closed.
Things change fast in this country!
Costa Rica Travel Details: What You Need to Know
🚗 Should I rent a car in Costa Rica?
Having a rental car will give you the most flexibility when traveling in Costa Rica. This will allow you to visit more off-the-beaten-path destinations and will allow you to take fun day trips on your own.
☀️ Should I buy travel insurance for Costa Rica?
Yes, travel insurance is always a good idea. It is not just for illness or injury, but also lost luggage, delayed trips, and more!
We like Heymondo for Costa Rica travel insurance.
✈️ What is the best way to book a flight?
Usually, we have the best luck finding great prices with Skyscanner. Check for flights to both San Jose Airport (SJO) and Liberia Airport (LIR).
🛏️ What is the best way to book my Costa Rica hotels?
🗣️What is the main language in Costa Rica?
The main language in Costa Rica is Spanish. Most people working in tourism speak at least some English.
💰 What is the currency in Costa Rica?
The currency used in Costa Rica is the Costa Rican colón (CRC). However, the US dollar is widely accepted in most tourist areas
🌴 Is Costa Rica safe?
Generally, Costa Rica is considered safe for tourists. However, like any travel destination, it’s best to use caution and be aware of your surroundings.
🛂 Do you need a passport to go to Costa Rica?
Yes, Costa Rica is its own country. You will need a passport to visit.