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Costa Rica Tours, Adventures & Vacations

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Costa Rica
Kevin Wells
Explore beautiful Costa Rica
Osa Peninsula - Golfo Dulce
Tiskita Jungle Lodge
Explore the jungles of Costa Rica.
Pacuare River
Adam & Hannah Lukaszewicz
Costa Rica rafting at its best!
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A tour of Costa Rica offers a breathtaking array of sights and adventures with lush rain forests, pristine beaches, and a plethora of wildlife like sea turtles and howler monkeys. Your Costa Rica vacation might include adventures like whitewater rafting, a rainforest canopy tour, relaxing at the beach, or exploring the rainforest from one of Costa Rica's ecolodges. Vacation hotspots include Manuel Antonio National Park, Tortuguero, Monteverde Cloud forest, and Arenal VolcanoCosta Rica has a long, proud history of ecotourism and adventure travel, with one of the most developed conservation programs in the Americas and friendly Costa Ricans, "Ticos," who enthusiastically invite travelers to experience Pura Vida —"Pure Life." Contact one of our Costa Rica vacation experts for a free, custom-made Costa Rica trip plan.
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Top 6 Costa Rica Adventure Cruises for 2023-2024

Trip NameFromDaysNext DepartureSummary
San Diego to San Jose (Puerto Caldera)$635915Oct 3, 2023Explore some of the most biodiverse places on earth on this 15-day Pacific Paradise expedition cruise from San Diego to San Jose aboard Ocean Victory
Costa Rica & the Panama Canal$68208Dec 7, 2023Discover Costa Rica & Panama on this wonderful 8-day expedition cruise aboard the National Geographic Quest. Venture into remote wilderness: hike …
Costa Rica & Nicaragua$16008Dec 9, 2023Discover the natural beauty and history of Costa Rica and Nicaragua on an 8-day voyage aboard Star Clipper. Enjoy relaxing days at sea before …
Costa Rica & Panama$16008Dec 16, 2023Embark on an 8-day cruise exploring Costa Rica and Panama's natural beauty and rich history. Land at Puerto Caldera and discover the tropical …
Wild Guanacaste & Monteverde: Costa Rica’s Mangroves, Mists & Mountains$65809Nov 24, 2023Combine time inland with time on the coast to see the best of Costa Rica. Spend a few days exploring the lush green cloud forest at Monteverde, then …
Costa Rica to Panama$16008Mar 16, 2024Embark on this 8-day cruise to explore Costa Rica and Panama's natural beauty and rich history. Sail from Puerto Caldera to Balboa. Explore deserted …
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Costa Rica Travel Tips & Vacation Guide

Costa Rica National Parks and Natural Reserves worth visiting

These national parks and natural reserves are more well-known due to their exceptional natural features and attractions.
  • Manuel Antonio National Park: This is the quintessential Costa Rica natural paradise where the beach seamlessly meets the rainforest, offering encounters with boisterous monkeys, adorable sloths, and exotic tropical birds.
  • Arenal Volcano National Park: Located to the north of San Jose, Arenal Volcano presents a tropical paradise complete with soothing hot springs, dense rainforests, and the awe-inspiring presence of Volcan Arenal, a towering, billowing giant that defines the region.
  • Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve: As one of Costa Rica's original eco-tourism hotspots, Monteverde Cloudforest offers enchanting cloud forest walks, exhilarating canopy ziplines, immersive visits to local farms, and the chance to stay in ecologically friendly lodges.
  • Corcovado National Park: Often referred to as "the most biologically intense place on Earth," Corcovado is a remote and pristine park where you can find diverse wildlife, including jaguars and tapirs.
  • Tortuguero National Park: Nestled on Costa Rica's lesser-visited Caribbean coast, Tortuguero, meaning "sea turtle breeding spot" in Spanish, provides a unique opportunity to witness green turtles in their natural environment.
  • Palo Verde National Park: This park is popular among birdwatchers, especially during the dry season when migratory birds congregate in large numbers.
  • Irazu Volcano National Park: Its proximity to San Jose makes it a popular destination for those seeking a glimpse of an active volcano and its crater lakes.
  • Poas Volcano National Park: Another accessible volcano park near San Jose, Poas is known for its active crater and stunning vistas.
Costa Rica, the Original Eco-Tourism Destination

In the 1990's a movement began in tourism that brought a greater level of awareness of the impacts that travelers can have on their travel destinations.

Costa Rica was an early innovator in eco-tourism, a style of travel that gives back to the local environment and community by minimizing negative impacts of travelers. Numerous eco-lodges opened and offered tours of the rain forest with local guides that not only explain the value of the rainforest to travelers, but instill value of the rainforest in the minds of locals to avoid further deforestation by local populations. Over 25% of Costa Rica's land is protected, mostly by their excellent system of National Parks.

Adventure Life uses only the most ecologically-friendly lodges and tour guides so you can rest assured that your trip has a positive impact on the people and environment of Costa Rica.

Contact one of our Costa Rica specialists for help designing your dream eco-tour.    
Getting to Costa Rica & Back - Transportation Guide

Most people travel to tiny Costa Rica by flying to either San Jose or Liberia Airports. San Jose's Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) is the country's most trafficked and located in the center of the country.

Those traveling to the northern Pacific beaches of Guanacaste may fly into Liberia's Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (LIR). 

Once in Costa Rica, distances traveled are relatively short in this small Central American country. In a few hours from the capital of San Jose by car, van or bus, one can get to both the Caribbean coast and the Pacific coast. The Panamerican highway runs from Nicaragua in the north to Panama in the south where you'll find the remote Osa Peninsula & Corcovado National park.

Contact one of our Costa Rica vacation planning specialists to plan your flights and transportation.

Best Time to Visit Costa Rica

The best time to visit Costa Rica is between December and April when the weather is at its driest and brightest, making it ideal for outdoor activities and exploration. However, for a unique experience amidst lush landscapes and fewer crowds, consider traveling during the green season from May to June or in November. Costa Rica's varied topography and climate influenced by the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea offer a diverse range of weather patterns, so understanding these seasonal shifts is essential to plan your trip effectively. 
  • Dry Season (December to April): Also referred to as the "high season" for tourism, extends from December to April. During this period, most of the country experiences lower rainfall and clear skies, making it the ideal time for outdoor activities and exploring the nation's national parks and pristine beaches. The Central Valley and Pacific coast regions offer pleasant, sunny weather during these months. If you're planning a trip to Costa Rica for activities like hiking, birdwatching, or beach relaxation, this is the prime time to visit.
  • Green Season (May to November): During Costa Rica’s wet season or “green season”, the country receives higher rainfall, especially on the Caribbean coast and in the northern regions. While the weather can be unpredictable, the lush green landscapes and lower number of tourists can make this a rewarding time to visit. It's important to note that some remote areas may be less accessible during heavy rains. If you want to experience the rainforests at their lushest and take advantage of lower accommodation prices, the wet season could be a suitable choice.
Best Family Vacation Ever!

There's never a dull moment for anyone in the family when you're on one of our Top Costa Rica Trips & Vacations for Families.

Costa Rica Family Vacation Highlights 
  1. Hiking through the rain forest looking for monkeys, sloths and tropical birds as your guide tells you about the medicinal plants his family uses.
  2. Getting "just close enough" to Arenal Volcano as you see glowing red lava flow down its slopes at night, and a billowing cloud of ash during the day.
  3. Learning a little Spanish and making friends with some locals.
See our Top Costa Rica Family Vacations
Top Costa Rica Adventure Activities

Costa Rica has long been the top adventure travel destination in Central America, and Adventure Life will take you from the highest peaks, to the wildest rivers and even into the rainforest canopy on one of our Costa Rica adventure tours. Here are our picks for the top adventure tours in Costa Rica.
Birding in Costa Rica
Costa Rica's tropical climate and dense jungles create an ideal habitat for over 600 native species of birds. These are some of the most sought-after species:
  • Hummingbirds: Marvel at dozens of hummingbird species, each with a unique iridescent plumage and behavior. Keep an eye out for them in lush rainforests and gardens throughout the country.
  • Resplendent Quetzal: This magnificent bird, known for its vibrant green and red plumage, calls the cloud forests of Monteverde and other highland regions home. 
  • Rufous Motmot: Found in the dense undergrowth of rainforests and along riverbanks, the Rufous Motmot is known for its distinctive racket-shaped tail and vibrant plumage.
  • Kingfishers: Keep an eye on riverbanks and mangroves, especially in the Pacific and Caribbean coastal regions, for a chance to spot various kingfisher species.
  • Toucans & Aracaris: These iconic birds with large, colorful bills are often seen in the canopy of tropical rainforests, particularly in Tortuguero and Corcovado National Parks.
  • White-collared Manakin: Look for this striking bird in lowland rainforests, where males perform elaborate courtship dances to impress potential mates.
Costa Rica's Top Museums
  • Gold Museum: Located in San Jose, this museum houses an extensive collection of pre-Columbian gold artifacts, providing insights into the indigenous cultures that inhabited Costa Rica before the arrival of Europeans.
  • Costa Rican Art Museum: Situated in the eastern part of San Jose, this museum showcases a diverse range of Costa Rican art, including paintings, sculptures, and contemporary pieces.
  • Children's Museum: Housed in a striking yellow, castle-like building in San Jose, this museum offers interactive exhibits and educational activities designed for children, making it a family-friendly attraction.
  • Contemporary Art and Design Museum: Located in San Jose, this museum focuses on contemporary art and design, featuring exhibitions of both national and international artists.
  • National Theater: While not a traditional museum, the National Theater in San Jose is an architectural masterpiece worth visiting. Explore its opulent interior and learn about its history and cultural significance.
What towns and cities to visit in Costa Rica
  • San Jose: As the capital and largest city, San Jose is the cultural, political, and economic hub of Costa Rica. It's home to numerous museums, theaters, and historical landmarks, including the National Theater and the Gold Museum. San Jose also serves as a transportation hub, making it a common starting point for exploring the country.
  • Alajuela: Located near the Juan Santamaría International Airport, Alajuela is known for its welcoming atmosphere, coffee plantations, and the Poas Volcano National Park. It's a convenient base for travelers arriving in or departing from Costa Rica.
  • Heredia: Often referred to as the "City of Flowers," Heredia is known for its beautiful parks and colonial architecture. It's a quieter alternative to San Jose, offering a more relaxed atmosphere.
  • Liberia: The capital of the Guanacaste Province, Liberia is often called the "Gateway to the Pacific." It's a significant transportation hub for travelers heading to the Pacific coast or exploring nearby national parks like Rincon de la Vieja.
  • Manuel Antonio: Home to the famous Manuel Antonio National Park, this town on the Pacific coast is known for its stunning beaches, rich biodiversity, and opportunities for wildlife viewing and hiking.
  • Quepos: Located near Manuel Antonio, Quepos serves as the gateway to the national park and offers fishing, water sports, and a bustling market.
  • Puerto Limón: As the main port on the Caribbean coast, Puerto Limón provides access to beautiful beaches and cultural experiences, including the Afro-Caribbean culture of the region.
  • Puntarenas: This port town on the Pacific coast is a gateway to the Nicoya Peninsula and serves as a departure point for cruises to the Pacific islands.
  • Puerto Viejo: Located on the Caribbean coast, Puerto Viejo is known for its Afro-Caribbean culture, beautiful beaches, and opportunities for surfing, snorkeling, and exploring the lush rainforest.
Costa Rica’s Favorite Attractions
  • La Fortuna: Located near the Arenal Volcano, La Fortuna is famous for its hot springs, lush rainforests, and outdoor adventures like hiking, zip-lining, and wildlife watching.
  • Santa Teresa: A laid-back beach town on the Nicoya Peninsula, Santa Teresa is known for its excellent surfing conditions, stunning sunsets, and vibrant local scene.
  • Nicoya Peninsula: This beautiful peninsula is a haven for nature lovers, offering pristine beaches, diverse wildlife, and opportunities for hiking, snorkeling, and exploring charming coastal towns.
  • Playa Conchal: Known for its unique crushed-shell beach, this is a popular destination for sunbathing, swimming, and snorkeling in crystal-clear waters.
  • Lake Arenal: Costa Rica's largest lake, Lake Arenal, offers water activities such as windsurfing and boat tours with the Arenal Volcano as a stunning backdrop.
  • Playa Samara: A tranquil beach town on the Nicoya Peninsula, Playa Samara is a great spot for swimming, kayaking, and enjoying a relaxed atmosphere.
Travel Tips for Exploring Costa Rica
  • Learn Some Spanish: While many Costa Ricans speak English, learning some basic Spanish phrases can enhance your experience and interactions. Spanish is the official language, and using polite greetings like "hola" (hello) and "gracias" (thank you) can go a long way in fostering positive connections with locals.
  • Pack Accordingly: Bring lightweight, breathable clothing, comfortable walking shoes, and don't forget insect repellent and sunscreen. The tropical climate can vary, so it's wise to have layers for different elevations and activities.
  • Currency and Payments: Costa Rican colón (CRC) is the local currency, but U.S. dollars are widely accepted. Carry some cash, but credit cards are commonly used. However, smaller establishments may prefer cash, so having some colones on hand is advisable.
  • Respect Nature: Help preserve Costa Rica's natural beauty by following eco-friendly practices like recycling and avoiding single-use plastics. Costa Rica is a leader in sustainable tourism, and respecting the environment is a shared responsibility.
  • Local Cuisine: Don't miss out on trying traditional dishes like gallo pinto (rice and beans), casado (a typical lunch), and tropical fruits. Costa Rican cuisine reflects the country's rich cultural heritage and is a delightful culinary experience.
  • Explore National Parks: Visit Costa Rica's incredible national parks and reserves to experience the country's diverse ecosystems and wildlife. 
  • Enjoy "Pura Vida": Embrace the "pura vida" lifestyle, which translates to pure life and represents a laid-back, positive attitude. It's a way of life in Costa Rica and embodies the friendly and welcoming spirit of the people.
  • Respect Wildlife: Keep a safe distance from animals in the wild and never feed them. Wildlife encounters are best enjoyed from a distance. This not only ensures your safety but also protects the animals and their natural behaviors.
  • Tipping: Tipping is customary in Costa Rica, with 10% being a common practice in restaurants. In addition to restaurants, it's also customary to tip tour guides, drivers, and hotel staff for exceptional service.
Our Favorite Eco-Lodges in Costa Rica

Your trip to Costa Rica can, and will, have a positive impact on the environment and local Costa Ricans by staying in an ecologically friendly lodge such as:

Selva Bananito Lodge & Reserve - is situated in a pristine and natural setting, located at the foot of Mochila mountain in the eastern outcropping of the Talamanca Mountain Range in the province of Limon, Costa Rica. They ake an active stand in conservation by supporting  the Limon Watershed Foundation with logistic and financial support provided by your stay.  Visit on our "Beaches & Rainforest", or "Turtles & Rainforest" vacation packages.

The Pacuare Nature Reserve - was established by the Endangered Wildlife Trust and protects 800 hectares of  rainforest and deserted beach on Costa Rica's Caribbean coast between the sea and the Tortuguero canal. The mission of the reserve is to protect Leatherback Turtles and it's one of the most important nesting sites in Central America for this critically endangered species. Visit on our Costa Rica Quest or Turtles & Rainforest Pacuare Reserve tours.

Rios Tropicales Lodge - is located riverfront on the Pacuare River and ideal for rafting and adventure activities offers a haven for relaxation and immersion in tropical sights and sounds while running on sustainable clean energy. Visit on our Wild Costa Rica Corcovado or Pura Vida itineraries.

Lapa Rios Ecolodge - is located in a private nature reserve of over 1,000 acres of tropical rainforest near Corcovado National Park and overlooks the point where the Pacific Ocean meets the Golfo Dulce. Made from local materials, each bungalow has an intricately woven thatched roof. Guests can experience hiking, birdwatching, boating trips, dolphin and whale watching. Visit on our Wild Costa Rica tour.
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Costa Rica Travel FAQs

Do I need a visa to visit Costa Rica?
You will need a passport that's valid for at least 6 months in order to travel to Costa Rica, but a visa is not required for tourism.

When is the best time for a trip to Costa Rica?
The most popular time to visit Costa Rica is during the dry season from December to April, but many people enjoy the less crowded months of the green season from May to November, when daily showers might be possible. Overall, there's never a bad time to visit and the temperatures are relatively consistently warm year-round.

Is tipping customary in Costa Rica?
Tipping is, of course, not required on any of our trips, however it is always appreciated. If you'd like to tip, budget $2-10/person/day for the guides and $1-3/person/day for the drivers.

Will I need power adapters or converters in Costa Rica?
Costa Rica uses 110 volt, 60 cycle electricity, with two flat prongs. This is the same as the United States, so you will not need a power converter unless you are traveling from another country.

What is internet access like in Costa Rica?
Internet access in the developed parts of Costa Rica is pretty strong and high speed. In public areas you might find a WiFi hotspot, and most restaurants and hotels will also have high speed internet. You could also easily find a cyber cafe with a good connection.

Will I have access to WiFi during my cruise?
Maybe, but don't count on it. Some ships or yachts do offer free WiFi, but more often than not these boats focus more on the experience and comfort rather than connectivity to internet.

What are the bathrooms like in Costa Rica?
Costa Rica has standard western flush toilets, but per local tradition, you should throw your toilet paper in the waste basket next to the toilet to avoid clogging the pipes.

Can I use my cell phone while in Costa Rica?
If you have a GSM phone, you can use international roaming, or to avoid roaming charges, use an unlocked smartphone and simply replace the SIM chip with a local chip from Kolbi, Claro, or Movistar and then charge it with a balance based on how much you plan to use it. This can usually most easily be done in the airport upon entry at various kiosks.

Can I drink the tap water in Costa Rica?
In general, yes - unless otherwise told - it is safe to drink the tap water and eat any foods washed with it; however, if your cruise visits other neighboring countries, like Colombia, Panama, or Cuba, it is not safe to assume that you can drink the tap water there too.

Are credit cards generally accepted? Are ATMs accessible?
In the more developed parts, you can use your credit card and find ATMs fairly commonly, but smaller stores and more remote destinations will likely be cash-only. Fortunately, most of our tours are are all-inclusive, so all of the meals and activities from the beginning to end of your itinerary are included in the price, unless you decide to depart from the itinerary or add on extra activities. 

Should I purchase travel insurance?
Absolutely! Having travel insurance is very important just to make sure that you're covered no matter what happens - a small investment now can save you thousands if something doesn't go as you expect it to. Our Once You're Booked page has more details on this, including discounts through one of our partner companies.

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