Costa Rica Pass - Route 2 Self Drive
San José, La Fortuna, Arenal Volcano, Manuel Antonio/Quepos Area
Tour description provided by G Adventures
See two sides of Costa Rica's incredible natural playground: get your fill of outdoor adventure around active Arenal Volcano, famous for everything from world-class rafting to rivers of volcano-heated hot springs. Next point your rental car down the Pacific coast to Manuel Antonio Park, the country's most popular. With pristine, protected beaches, wildlife that practically dances for you (monkeys!) and some of the best nightlife in the country, it's easy to see why.
- Our popular 8-day itinerary
- Our G Adventures Pass Costa Rica is the best way to explore Costa Rica. A G representative will meet you at the airport with your arrival information package and will remain just a phone call away for the duration of your stay.
- Day 1 Arrive San José
- Arrive in San José at any time, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. There are no planned activities, so enjoy the city. Located in the central highlands, San José enjoys a moderate climate. The heat and humidity of the coast and lowland areas may affect you, with a general sense of lethargy and/or loss of appetite. This is no cause for alarm; it is simply your body’s reaction to the heat. Be sure to drink plenty of water (bottled water is available everywhere) and do not attempt too much in any given day. We prefer fan-cooled rather than air conditioned rooms to avoid having to acclimatize to the heat and humidity every time you go outside. This is also a more eco-friendly approach. Like most cities, San José has its good and bad sides. It is the centre of government, theatre, and art, as well as of air pollution and congestion. It has beautiful parks and museums, and a few beggars on the streets. It is big and often noisy, but even from its crowded downtown streets, you’ll often enjoy a view of the surrounding lush mountains. Start your exploration of the city in the main plaza, a great place to people-watch. A mime, juggler, marimba band, magician, or storyteller may be performing for whatever is collected when the hat is passed. Artisan booths are common, creating a regular arts and crafts fair atmosphere. A source of pride for the ticos (as Costa Ricans are known) is the National Theatre. Inaugurated in 1897, the building was paid for by coffee growers through a voluntary tax on every bag of coffee exported. The National Museum, housed in the Bellavista Fortress, offers exhibits on pre-Columbian art, colonial art and furniture and religious art within a 19th Century building that was converted from a military fortress after the army was abolished. The Museum of Costa Rican Art, located in La Sabana Park, was once the international airport; the museum is now housed in the old terminal building. The Jade Museum is on the 11th floor of the Instituto Nacional de Seguros building. In addition to the marvellous collection of jade objects, there are pre-Columbian ceramic and stone works as well as displays with archaeological and ethnographic information. The Gold Museum is located underneath the Plaza de la Cultura. Its spectacular collection of indigenous gold art belongs to the Central Bank of Costa Rica. The best and least expensive places to buy souvenirs in San José are the markets. The two main ones are the ones in Plaza de la Demorcracia, which is an outdoor open market, and the Central Market, where handicrafts are sold along with boots, fish, flour, herbal remedies, shirts and everything else you can imagine. Always watch your belongings and be ready for crowds. If you plan on spending a few days in San José after your tour, there are a number of activities within the city and area that you can participate in, many of them outdoors. Probably the hardest thing you will do in San José, other than get safely across busy streets, is keep the street numbering systems straight. Street and avenue numbers are posted on buildings at the corners of some intersections. Keep looking as you walk, and you will eventually find one. NOTE: Like any city where tourism is on the increase, crime also tends to increase and while San José is not a noticeably dangerous city, there are certain precautions you should take. Make sure that you are aware of your things at all times and don't go out carrying expensive gear or jewellery.
- Day 2-3 La Fortuna
- Drive to your hotel in the town of La Fortuna, located at the foot of the Arenal Volcano. La Fortuna is an excellent base for adventure. Hike the area’s nature trails, swim in chilly La Fortuna waterfall or join a canopy tour and catch a bird’s-eye view of the forest greenery. Other optional activities include full-day white water rafting on the Toro or Arenal Rivers, mountain biking, caving, horseback riding, or a tour of the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge. Like much of Costa Rica, the area is a birders’ paradise, with over 600 species as permanent residents. Finally, after a long day of exploring, take a relaxing soak in the lush, cascading hot springs of Tabacón Resort. Soak in one of the natural thermal baths and rivers under the shade of the surrounding canopy. Set on the northern plains of Costa Rica, Arenal Volcano sits on the southeast shore of artificial Lake Arenal (77 square kilometres, or 48 square miles). Separating the mountain ranges of Guanacaste and Tilarán, the lake was created by a hydroelectric dam. Winds sweeping off the Caribbean Sea reach speeds of 48 to 72 km/hr (30 to 45 mph), making Arenal one of the best windsurfing destinations in the world. The volcano, once quite active, has been in a dormant state since the beginning of 2011 but still is a dramatic backdrop to the town of La Fortuna. During the day, its reflection on Lake Arenal is truly enchanting.
- Day 4-6 Manuel Antonio/Quepos Area
- Make your way to your hotel situated on one of the most beautiful beaches of the Pacific coast. Manuel Antonio National Park offers excellent hiking, spectacular views, and abundant wildlife viewing. The beautiful white sand beaches and the warm turquoise water are ideal for swimming, fishing, kayaking, boogie boarding, sailing or surfing. Quepos sits on the outskirts of the Manuel Antonio National Park and is a great introduction to the laid-back “Tico” lifestyle. This town is very popular with the younger set of international travellers, and the nightlife in the area is also some of the best in the country. If you have the jungle in mind, then we recommend that you head into the National Park. Although this is Costa Rica’s smallest National Park, it is also one of the most popular and it won’t take you long to see why. This park has fabulous beaches, abundant wildlife, and a great trail system for those who want to spend the day hiking. Look for monkeys, armadillos, coatimundis, sloth and some of the over 350 species of birds that are present in the park! One of Costa Rica’s most popular beaches, Jacó Beach is North of Manuel Antonio on the Pacific Coast, and one of the biggest resort areas in the country. All of the traditional beach activities are available here including horseback riding, deep-sea fishing, kayaking and surfing. Hermosa Beach is the most popular surfing destination in the country. Nearby Carara Biological Reserve is a 4700-hectare reserve with abundant wildlife such as Scarlet Macaws, many species of monkey, crocodiles and countless species of plants. While the main beach is quite busy there are more secluded beaches nearby.
- Day 7 San José
- Return to San José and enjoy one last night on the town.
- Day 8 San José
- Depart San José at any time. Departure shuttle included, with the last shuttle of the day departing San Jose downtown at 4pm. (Hotel check-out is at 12 noon.)