COSTA RICA HIGHLIGHTS ITINERARY

This itinerary is for all of you that want a nice mix of action/ relaxation and mountains/ beaches. This itinerary will give you the perfect insight into some great Costa Rica highlights. Get ready for cloud forests, swimming under waterfalls, secret beaches, perfect sunsets, and insane amounts of fun.

Schedule:

14 nights total

Airport area (1 night) -> La Fortuna (3 nights) -> Monteverde (2 nights) -> Playa del Coco (2 nights) -> Tamarindo (2 nights) -> Nosara (2 nights) -> Airport area (2 nights)

This itinerary needs to be done by rental car. Unfortunately, most public buses in this country run through San Jose. For example, to get from La Fortuna to Monteverde by public bus would require you to go all the way back to San Jose, switch buses, and then go to Monteverde. You wouldn’t be able to do this in one day because the buses run so infrequently.

The other reason for this is that most of the activities listed in this itinerary are off the beaten path activities. What I mean is that we have selected activities for you which will give you a totally unique experience on a budget.

There are several companies offering day tours from these destinations, but they are all expensive. When we calculated it out it is cheaper to rent a car and drive to destinations on your own than to participate in pre-packaged tours which include transportation.

We suggest renting a 4×4 for this itinerary. Some of the roads around most of these areas are not paved and very hilly.

If you are flying into San Jose and do not feel comfortable driving to and from Playas del Coco you can take the public bus up to Coco and rent a car once there. Our favorite company Adobe will happily deliver your car to your hotel in Playas del Coco free of charge if you are with twelve miles of their office.

To save you more money we have partnered with our favorite rental car company in Costa Rica, Adobe, to give you a 10% discount on your car rental.

The reason we chose to partner with Adobe is that they are the only company in Costa Rica that we trust fully. We always try to give you guys the best info possible on budget travel in Costa Rica and I can ensure you that Adobe is the best of the best.

We have had some nightmare car rental experiences in this country and we don’t want you to go through the same thing.

In Costa Rica there is a mandatory Liability Protection insurance. This means that every single person who drives in Costa Rica needs to purchase this insurance. Even if your bank or credit card company from home covers certain damages, it doesn’t matter. You need this insurance.

The problem with most rental car companies in Costa Rica is that they do not include this insurance in their online quote. This means that you are quoted a price, think it’s a good price so you book the car, and then arrive and are told it will actually be a lot more expensive because you need to add on this insurance.

I have no idea why companies do it this way because it means that they are left with very unsatisfied customers. I guess in their minds they have you hooked at that point. It is too late for you to search for another rental car company so you’re going to go ahead and pay the extra insurance fees.

The reason we love Adobe is because they are completely upfront about their costs. The price you are quoted online is with the Liability Protection included.

If you book your rental car with Adobe through our site you get:
-A second driver for free (it’s usually $4 per day)
-0% deductible as part of the Liability Protection (it’s usually 20%)
-A free cell phone to use
-10% discount applied to your reservation

We also love Adobe because they are a local company who believes strongly in customer satisfaction.

For example, my dad and sister came to visit a few months ago and we rented a car from Adobe. I put in the online rental car registration form that we would need to be picked up from the airport along with their flight number. Their flight ended up being delayed and got in at 10:30pm instead of 8:00pm.

I checked online and the Adobe rental car office closes at 10:00pm. I figured since my dad and sister would be getting in too late there wouldn’t be anyone from Adobe waiting to greet us and we would have to pick up the car the next day. I was so wrong! There was someone waiting for us at the airport with an Adobe sign and they then took us free of charge to the Adobe office which had stayed open to allow delayed passengers to pick up their cars.

How great is that?!

It’s this kind of local businesses that we are all about here at Costa Rica Vibes.

If you still have some questions about renting a car you can read our complete page on renting a car here and feel free to email us! We’re happy to help you out. It can be a bit nerve wracking to rent a car in another country. We totally get it!
[email protected]

Once you book your car head on over to the maps section of this itinerary to see how to drive this itinerary and our suggestions for GPS usage.

AIRPORT AREA

Casa Maki: This hotel is a 5-minute drive from the airport. It also has a shared kitchen for your use and free breakfast. You can expect to pay about $50 for a double room.

Hotel II Millenium: For about $50 you can get a basic double room with breakfast included. This hotel is about 3 minutes from the airport.

Hotel Cortez Azul: For about $25 you can find a room for two people with a shared bathroom. Breakfast is included as well as a free airport shuttle. This hotel is about a 5-minute drive from the airport.

La Villa Rio SegundoFor about $40 a night you can get a room for two people with a shared bathroom. Breakfast is included and there is also a nice pool on site. This hotel is an 8-minute drive from the airport. There is an airport shuttle, but you have to pay for it.

Note: When looking for hotels near the airport search for “Alajuela” as your location rather than San Jose.

LA FORTUNA

Hotel Faro Arenal: Super cute cabins with a swimming pool and a really beautiful view of Arenal Volcano. This spot is great because it’s out of the downtown area and really nature-y. You can get a double room (cabin) for around $50 a night here.
Tifakara Boutique Lodge: A bit more expensive than the other places we suggest. You can expect to pay about $65 a night for a double room with breakfast included, but it’s worth it. The rooms and grounds are amazing. The volcano view is on point and there is a pool.
Hotel Secreto La Fortuna: This place just opened in 2016 so everything is super new and nice. It is located closer to the downtown area than the two previous places, but still far enough away that you aren’t in the middle of the craziness. For about $40 you can get a double room with free breakfast. Oh, and there is a pool!
Hotel Las Flores Fortuna: Very good basic rooms with breakfast included. Request a room on the second floor for a really nice volcano view from the balcony. You can expect to pay about $45 a night for a double room here.
Hotel Roco Negra del Arenal: This place is great because it is close enough to the action of downtown but still has a natural peaceful feel to it. Also, all the rooms have a fridge! There is a pool and a hot tub on the property as well. This will cost you about $55 a night for a double room.

MONTEVERDE

Camino Verde Bed and Breakfast: This place is newly done and looks beautiful. You can expect to pay about $47 a night for a double room. Breakfast is included and there is a communal kitchen which you can use.

Manakin Lodge: Nice basic rooms. Some have amazing views of Monteverde. Breakfast is included. You can expect to pay about $35 a night for a double room here.

Casa Campo Verde: This place is amazing. The owners are the sweetest people ever and will help you out with whatever they can. For about $40 a night you can stay in a basic triple room.

Sarita’s Family Home: Perfect place if you want a whole house. Everything is nicely designed and you will have your own private kitchen. This place is a bit higher on the price scale. You can expect to pay about $60 a night.

Greemount Hotel: This place is the best. The owners are amazing people who are just trying to make their dreams come true (and we’re all about that). They are still working on making this place exactly how they want it (and are doing an amazing job at it). You can expect to pay about $35 a night here for a double room with breakfast included.

PLAYA DEL COCO

Villa del Sueno: Super great hotel on Playa Hermosa (amazing beach near Coco). This is a bit more pricey than the other options (approximately $60 a night) but it is really nice. Breakfast is included and there is a pool on site.

Aparthotel Toro Blanco: Apartment hotel with a pool. This place is pretty basic, but it is close to the beach and every apartment has a kitchen.

Hotel M&M Beach HotelBasic hotel located across from the beach. Breakfast is included and there is a kitchen that all the guests can use. There isn’t air conditioning, but they have plenty of fans in every room which you can point at your bed while sleeping.

TAMARINDO

Les Voiles Blanches: This place is paradise. It is located a bit out of the downtown area, so don’t stay here if you want to be in the middle of the action. For about $50 you can stay in a really nice room with a view of their beautiful pool.

Hotel Pueblo Dorado: This place is basic but super well maintained. or about $45 you can get a double room with breakfast included. There is also a nice pool on site.

Hostel Pura Vida: One of the nicest hostels ever! The vibe here is amazing. For about $45 a night you can stay in a double room with a shared bathroom. The rooms all have cool paint jobs and there is a shared kitchen on site.

Hotel Mahayana: This place is basic, but has a really nice vibe. For about $45 a night you can stay in a double room with a terrace. There is also a shared kitchen which guests can use.

NOSARA

There are unfortunately not a lot of cheap accommodation options in Nosara. Definitely, check out Airbnb before booking something here. You can usually get a better deal at a nice place that way. Here are a few hotels we like, but they are not necessarily budget friendly options.

Villa Mango: You can expect to pay about $70 a night for a double room with breakfast included. There is also a nice pool with an amazing view on site.

Bella Vista Mar: For about $60 a night you can get a triple room with breakfast included. The view here is ridiculous and there is a nice pool on site for guests.

Living Hotel: For about $50 a night you can stay in a nice double room near the beach. Breakfast is not included, but there is a really nice pool.

Want an even more unique experience? Check out Airbnb. You can sometimes find some really unique accommodations at crazy good prices. Just make sure to read the reviews before you book anything. If this is your first time using Airbnb we have a $35 credit for you. Woot!AIRBNB

Want to look at more hotels? We like Hotels Combined because they compare the prices on all hotel booking sites which makes it easy to guarantee you get the best deals.

 

AIRPORT AREA

El Chante Vegano: This place doesn’t look like much from the outside, but get ready for super tasty vegan food. This is the perfect lunch spot.

Yellow Cafe: Great for lunch or dinner. They have good drinks, sandwiches, pasta and more. It has a nice cafe vibe.

La Calle-Beer & Street Food: Go here! This is basically a food truck with outside tables and it is the coolest. They have some great beers and good burgers. It’s not the cheapest (burgers are about $10) but it’s a fun spot to chill.

Pesqueria Qlity Fish: Totally unexpected amazingness. If you like seafood or fish, this is your spot. We suggest going here for dinner.

Jalapenos Central: Quality TexMex style food at super reasonable prices. This place is owned by a guy from the US (Norman) who likes to make his rounds through the restaurant to make sure everyone is happy. Perfect for lunch or dinner.

Denny’s: OK usually we wouldn’t suggest Denny’s as dining option, but it is open 24 hours a day and is close to the airport. If your flight gets in really late or you have an early departure, this is your best bet for a meal.

LA FORTUNA

I’m Hungry Crepes: Perfect afternoon snack or dessert spot. For about $7 you can get a HUGE crepe. As in, it’s almost impossible to finish these big guys. They are seriously good though. If you are not extremely hungry I strongly suggest sharing one with your dining buddy.

Red Frog Coffee Roasters: These guys know coffee. If you’re looking for a good cup, this is the place to go. They also have a good selection of food. It’s a good breakfast spot, but just note they don’t open until 8 am.

Lava Lounge: The food here is not amazing. It’s definitely good, we’ve never had a bad meal, but it’s not the kind of place you rave about. However, we like the atmosphere here a lot. Also, it is located right on the main road in La Fortuna and is a great spot to do some serious people watching.

Organico Fortuna: Go here for lunch! you won’t be disappointed. They serve up super fresh organic food which tastes amazing! They also have plenty of vegetarian and vegan options.

Rain Forest Cafe: Good food at reasonable prices. This is a good spot for a large lunch or dinner.

Restaurante Mi Casa: The vibe here is the best. We look this spot because the food is consistently excellent and they are open from 6 am until 10 pm.

MONTEVERDE

Orchid Coffee: Great place for an afternoon coffee and cake or dessert. Their baked goods are ridiculously good!

Beso Espresso: This is coffee snob heaven. I’ve never been to a place which is more knowledgeable about coffee than Beso Espresso. They have a few sandwiches and baked goods, but this is mostly just a coffee place (and it is perfect).

Taco Taco: Super tasty Tex-Mex style tacos at a good price. Go here!

Sabor Tico: Great typical Costa Rican food at an affordable price.

The Green Room: This is a great dinner spot. It’s definitely not the cheapest (you’ll pay about $20 for dinner) but it’s really tasty.

Tree House Restaurant: This is one of those tourist destinations that I think you should go to just for the experience. The food isn’t the cheapest or the best, but we suggest going just for a drink. After all, when else can you went to a treehouse restaurant?

PLAYA DEL COCO

Soda La Teresita: Super good typical Costa Rican food at a great price.

Ticoffia: The best coffee shop in Coco. This place is super cute and a great breakfast spot for when you need a break from Costa Rican food.

Soda Oasis: Doesn’t look like much from the outside, but the food is great! They make a seriously good burger.

Le COQ Lebanese: Awesome Lebanese food at a great price.

Chorotacos: Doesn’t look like much but the tacos are amazing (and cheap).

TAMARINDO

Honestly, pretty much every restaurant in Tamarindo is amazing. This town is foodie paradise, but here are our eight faves.

Green Papaya Taco Bar: Super casual and laid back taco/ burrito bar which is crazy tasty!

Falafel Bar: If you like Mediterranean food, you’ll love this place. It’s soooo good.

Lola’s: Not the cheapest, but a great place for an afternoon cocktail outside on the beach. Super cool vibe here.

Shrimp Hole: I can’t really tell you how good this place is because I’m allergic to seafood (yea my life is hard), but I know tons of people who love this place. Their menu is small (they stick to what they do best, shrimp) and it is totally affordable.

Santa Rita Cafe: The vibe here is perfect. I highly recommend this place for breakfast or lunch.

Surf Shack Burgers: This doesn’t look like much from the outside, but the burgers are cheap and great. It’s perfect for when you need a break from Costa Rican food.

La Bodega: Go here for breakfast. I promise you’ll love it!

El Sapo Ristopizza: This place does amazing wood fire pizza. I’m a bit of a pizza snob and I loved it.

NOSARA

It’s hard to find cheap restaurants in Nosara, which is why we suggest getting a place to stay where you can cook. Here are our fave spots (but they are not necessarily cheap).

Burgers and Beers:  Definitely not the cheapest (a burger will run you around $16) but really tasty. Plus they have quality beer, which is always important. 🙂

Rosi’s Soda Tica: Great typical Costa Rican food at a good price. This place is super cozy and cute.

10Pies: Really good quality food. It’s not the cheapest, but the quality is worth it. A great lunch or dinner spot.

AIRPORT AREA

Check out the city park: In downtown Alajuela, there is a cute city park which is the happening spot on the weekends. You probably won’t spend more than an hour there, but there is a nice church there that you can go in. There are also plenty of vendors selling snacks. Grab a bunch, get a snack, and do some people watching.

Watch the planes take off: If you want a fun/ unique evening experience, check when the next planes are taking off and head on over to the airport. If you are coming from the downtown area of Alajuela, drive past the airport on the highway and you’ll see parking spots on the side of the road. You can pull off here or turn right on the street at the end of the runway. There aren’t any parking spot there, but you can just pull your car off the side of the road. You’ll probably see many families with picnics set up in the grass. This is (in my opinion) the best spot to watch the planes, but I’ll warn you, it’s absolutely terrifying to have planes flying literally right above your head. We like to go out night to get the full effect. There are also usually vendors here selling food.

Do some shopping: If you’re coming from the US, the prices in Costa Rica will be a bit higher than what you are used to, but if you are coming from Europe they are pretty comparable to what you are used to. In Alajuela, there is a city mall, which has a ton of stores which you’ll love. If you want an even crazier experience, head to MultiPlaza. MultiPlaza is not in Alajuela, but it’s still close by in Escazu. That mall is crazy even by US standards. It is the largest mall in Central America and is super modern.

Catch a film: Not really the optimal thing to do on your vacation, but if you are visiting during rainy season, you might be out of luck finding something else to do on a rainy afternoon. Both malls that I listed above have nice movie theaters in them which show films in English with Spanish subtitles. If you’d like to see what is showing, you can check that out here. Just click MultiPlaza Escazu or City Mall, depending on where you’d like to go.

Take a drive through the Central Valley: From the city of Alajuela, head north and check out the amazing views of the valley. I always feel like I’m in Switzerland while driving through here. There are tons of little places selling fresh strawberries and cheese along the way. If you would like to see a nice waterfall, type in “Catarata de la Paz” into your GPS. This waterfall is free (just on the side of the road) and it’s a beautiful drive to this spot. It is really close to Poas Volcano, but unfortunately, Poas is currently closed indefinitely due to eruptions 🙁

Catch your lunch: From downtown Alajuela, you can take a 40-minute drive to a trucha called Los Arroyos. Now, I’m sure you have no idea what I’m talking about, but this is a super popular activity with locals. It’s a totally unique experience that most tourists aren’t lucky enough to have. At this place, they will give you a piece of fishing line with bait on the end and send you over to their little pond. It doesn’t look like much, but it is stocked with trout. Catch a trout for each person in your group and then they will cook it up for you on site with great side dishes. For about $10 you can have a fun half day activity and a really tasty meal. It’s one of our absolute favorite things to do with visitors.

Play with hundreds of dogs: You may have seen a video of this place that has been going viral recently. Territorio de Zaguates (land of the strays) is located in the valley in Alajuela and is home to hundreds of stray dogs. It is possible to visit this beautiful place and play with the dogs, but only on certain days. They usually do one open day a month on a Saturday or Sunday. Check out their Facebook page to stay up to date on their next open day.

LA FORTUNA

Swim under a waterfall: Check out La Fortuna waterfall if you want a nice half day trip that is not too expensive. It costs $15 for entry. This waterfall is seriously impressive and if there hasn’t been too much rain recently you can swim under it. If not, there is a nice stream you can swim in next to the waterfall. Just as a warning, be prepared to walk down over 400 steps to get there, which means walking back up 400 steps after. 😉 There is free parking, a bathroom with changing rooms, and a cafe on site.

Go caving: About 45 minutes from downtown La Fortuna there is a place called Venado Caves. It’s $25 per person for a tour of the caves which lasts about 1.5 hours. It’s seriously intense and if you don’t do well with tight spaces this is not an activity for you. I thought I would freak out, but once the adrenaline kicked in I was good to go.

Relax in a hot spring: There are tons of hot springs in La Fortuna, but most are expensive and really touristy. We like to go to the places the locals go to. Our faves are Termales Los Laureles and Termalitas del Arenal.

If you want a free hot springs experience drive to the bridge ear Tabacon resort. You can pull your car over to the side of the road and walk to the river below the bridge. It’s crazy warm and a fun experience.

Learn how chocolate is made: I did a chocolate tour with my mom at Rainforest Chocolate Tours and we both loved it! Plus it includes all the chocolate you can eat! ) This is something you should book ahead of time because the tours tend to fill up. You can just email them and they’ll reserve a spot for you. This place is located down the street from La Fortuna and you could easily combine both activities for a fun day.

Go kayaking: There are many tour companies who will offer to take you kayaking on Lake Arenal, but these tend to be expensive. Instead, just drive to the lake and see if you can find some locals renting kayaks. They are not always there, but when they are they will give you a much more reasonable rate and you can paddle around for an hour or so.

Go hiking: There are a few hiking spots in La Fortuna, but we’ve only done the Arenal 1968 trail. It costs about $12 for entry and will take you a few hours. It’s somewhat strenuous in places, but doable. I wasn’t overly impressed with this hike because you are never rewarded with great views, but if you just want to get some hiking in, go for it!

Visit a butterfly sanctuary: The Butterfly Conservatory near Lake Arenal is a really nice place to spend a couple of hours. You’ll see some really cool butterflies and reptiles, take a nice nature walk and meet some very knowledgeable people who work there. You could combine this with a hike on the Arenal 1968 trail or a kayak trip around the lake. They are all located close together.

Go swimming: A bit out of the downtown (like 5 minutes) you will find a bridge. Walk down the embankment (it can be a bit slippery) and you will come to a pool with a rope swing. Now, all you have to do is jump! It’s definitely not for kids or the faint of heart. In fact, it’s a bit terrifying. Make sure you have travel insurance. No, it’s not that scary and you don’t HAVE to try the rope swing. You can just enjoy swimming. If you need to search for it on your GPS just type in “El Salto”

 

MONTEVERDE

Go to the butterfly garden: For $15 this place is totally worth it. You get to see so many cool butterflies and the guides are extremely knowledgeable. Find out more here.

Take a coffee tour: There are several great coffee tours in Monteverde, but we suggest going to Cafe de Monteverde. Their tour is the most detailed and interesting, in our opinion. We like this place because they are very eco-friendly and we love supporting small local businesses which are amazing.

Visit some art galleries: There are a ton of really cool art galleries in the Monteverde area. To start you off we suggest visiting Sarah’s Gallery. Sarah is absolutely the cutest and her art is amazing. It is a bit of a jjourney to get here, but you can walk the access road to her house from the Monteverde Cheese Factory. Ignore the map on TripAdvisor to Sarah’s Gallery. It’s completely wrong.

Take an archery lesson: Total off the beaten path fun activity. Still Water Journeys is a retreat center that also provides archery lessons. For $20 per person, you can take a 1.5-hour archery lesson which goes through the proper techniques of shooting. The property here is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. I highly recommend this activity. It’s unique, relaxing, and not filled with tourists.

Go hiking in the cloud forest: There are several reserves you can hike at in Monteverde. We have only visited Reserve Bosque Nuboso Sante Elena, and we loved it. We paid $14 per person, which is a lot for a hike, but we took the time to hike pretty much every trail (we were there for about three hours) and I don’t regret paying the steep price. The cloud forest is seriously beautiful and something I think you’ll all enjoy experiencing.

SAMARA

Go surfing: There are plenty of places which offer surfing lessons rentals in Samara, but our personal fave is Pato’s Surfing because they offer a good rate for lessons and with each lesson you get five days of board rentals for FREE! Plus, they are just an all around wonderful company. They also offer amazing rates on SUP boards and kayaks.

Explore nearby beaches: There are several beaches nearby you can check out. Our personal favorite is Playa Carillo because we love how it is lined with palm trees and it is almost always empty.

Check out a waterfall: Near Samara is a waterfall called Belen. It is pretty difficult to find and you will need a 4×4 to get there, but it is a fun off the beaten path adventure. If you want more info check out the TripAdvisor page here.

Take a yoga class: We are big fans of yoga classes at Samara Massage because they are well done and are taught in the shade on the beach! Classes are only $10 for a drop in and include use of a yoga mat. You can find out the class schedule and other details here.

Walk the beach: Playa Samara is really long. It’s the perfect beach for a long relaxing walk to clear your head.

TAMARINDO

Walk the downtown: There are tons of nice shops lining the streets of downtown Tamarindo. We usually don’t buy much because it can be expensive, but there are some really cute shops that are definitely worth checking out.

Go surfing: There are tons of surf shops in Tamarindo that offer lessons and board rentals. We have not personally tried out any of these shops so we can not suggest any to you. Instead, we think you should ask at your hotel if they have a place they suggest. Sometimes they partner with local surf shops and can get you a discount.

Visit Playa Avellana: A little bit south of Tamarindo is this quiet gem of a beach. It’s best to have a car that can handle some dirt roads if you plan to visit. It’s the perfect spot to spend a relaxing afternoon. If you’re looking for a good meal or cocktails definitely check out Lola’s restaurant on the beach.

Besides Playa Avellana there are plenty of quiet beaches nearby. If you have a car which can handle some unpaved road driving, just pick a few beaches from Google maps that you’d like to check out and go for it!

Visit the farmers market: Every Saturday morning from 8:00 am until 1:00 pm there is a nice farmers market located next to Restaurant Pescador. Definitely check this out if you are interested in trying unusual exotic fruits that you probably have never seen before.

Go partying: Tamarindo has a serious nightlife scene. If you are into partying, just walk the downtown area and you will find plenty of cool bars and clubs.

Rent a SUP board: If you’d like to do some stand-up paddle boarding, Kelly’s Surf Shop has boards for rent at $25 for two hours or $40 for a full day. If you are new to SUP you can also take lessons (but I think you can figure it out on your own without paying the extra money).

Visit Marino Las Baulas National Park: This national park is located slightly north of Tamarindo. The beach here is absolutely beautiful and undisturbed. People may tell you that you need to go there with a tour, but that is simply not true. You are welcome to walk the beach on your own. However, it is a turtle nesting site (so if you are lucky you’ll see some little babies hatching or mommas laying their eggs) and if you disturb the turtles you may get in some trouble. Although, I know none of you would do that anyway.

PLAYAS DEL COCO

Visit Playa Penca: Playa Penca is a seriously beautiful “secret” beach. Just look it up on Google maps to see exactly where it’s located. As you drive there you might think you are in the wrong spot because you’ll drive higher and higher into a residential neighborhood. Just keep going. When the road ends you’ll see other cars parked. Park your car (make sure you don’t leave anything of value) and walk down the path to the beach. It is a little steep so wear sturdy shoes. You’ll be rewarded by an absolutely amazing beach.

Check out Playa Hermosa: Close to Coco is a nice expansive beach called Playa Hermosa. We like this beach because t is much cleaner than Coco. It is also nice and long, which makes it a great place to walk.

Enjoy the nightlife: Playas de Coco may seem calm enough during the day, but at night you can walk the main strip and enjoy lots of bars and clubs.

Visit an amazing waterfall: About 45 minutes from Playas del Coco is a waterfall called Catarata Llanos del Cortez. Last time we were there we only paid about $2 for parking. The waterfall is seriously amazing and definitely worth a visit. You can swim under it and if you are feeling really adventurous you can hike up behind the waterfall for an overhead view.

Visit Rincon de la Vieja:  Rincon de la Vieja national park is located close to Coco and is a great place to spend a day hiking. You can go with a guide, but you are also able to pay to enter the park and hike on your own.