8 DAY TRIP TO COSTA RICA: WHERE TO STAY AND WHAT TO SEE Ultimate Guide
Costa Rica is one of the most fascinating countries in the world. From beautiful beaches to wild jungles and some delicious coffee along the way! Follow along as we outline how we made the most of a week in paradise.
Costa Rica has become a hot spot for adventure lovers and ecotourists alike. This tropical island is not only a beautiful destination, it also boasts a rich culture, epic scenery, and laid-back vibes. The hospitality of Costa Ricans is unmatched, you'll never want to leave! Allow yourself to be drawn in by Costa Rica's wide range of outdoor activities and attractions. Its National Parks are teeming with biological diversity just waiting for you to explore.
#1 | Hit Up A Beach Club
Pacific Ocean side.
First stop - Quepos -3.5 hours from San Jose International Airport.
Quepos is a quaint beachside town with plenty of cafes, restaurants, resorts and of course, beaches.
Stay : Guest House Pura Vida
My favourite places to grab a bite in Quepos :
Coffee place you can't skip:
Cafe Milagro roasts their own coffee on-site, and trust us - their coffee is a must-try while in Quepos. We brought several packs of coffee home with us!
Tentación Smoothies y Café - Delicious breakfast, great service.
El Avion - This is no hidden secret - this is a famous place to eat well-known to tourists. When you walk in the door you can see why! The views are amazing and the plane is very cool. It's worth just coming in for their nachos and cocktails.
While we snacked there a cute sloth made his way down the trees and spent some time hanging out, giving a nice show to all the people at the restaurant.
The food is delicious and the staff is very friendly.
De La Finca -With a very casual vibe you might think, are you sure the food is good here?
Well - the answer is YES. We couldn't stop talking about the dinner we had there. It blew my mind! We went to a to of places to eat, but nothing was as good as our dinner at De La Finca.
Ronny's Place - This restaurant came recommended by our jungle guide, and it was did not disappoint!
Live music, delicious food, and great service. Ronny's place is just plain fun.
Bonus tip - If you go for breakfast or lunch you will get to experience the view from the cliff.
I strongly recommend the sea food platter. Just look at me trying to appreciate it before eating it.
Also they say the Sangria is famous in Costa Rica. Now I know why, it's delicious!
Tip: Visit one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica - Manuel Antonio Beach. To get to the Beach you might want to book a tour with guide through the jungle.
Booking a guide was definitely worth it, as they know the terrain and have a keen eye for pointing out wildlife! You probably won't see much of the wildlife if you go on your own. We spotted 4 sloths, snakes, lizards, and howler monkeys.
At the end of the tour, you will reach the Manuel Antonio Beach. Here you will have the beach almost to yourself, and it's absolutely beautiful.
#2 Have it all
On your way to La Fiesta resort, stop by Crocodile Bridge and check out the crocodiles.
Quick stop but totally worth it!
Be sure to stop at the Hidden Ocean Lookout, Mirador Escondido El Peñon. This is a great scenic stop to take some photos of the coast!
If you're looking to get some serious rest and relaxation - look no further. La Fiesta Resort has 4 restaurants and 7 bars. Included in the price are unlimited alcoholic beverages, access to a beautiful beach, and of course lots of sun!
If you are looking for some fun, there are also a huge assortment of activities from dawn to dusk. There are games, sports and cultural activities, pool aerobics, dancing, cocktail classes and much more.
We enjoyed cocktails all day long, hung out by the pool, watched a night show and sunset on the open beach.
Day 4-5 Drive to La Fortuna
#2 | Arenal Volcano
It's a pretty smooth ride, road conditions are in good shape. It's a 116 km drive, and took us around 2 hours and 15 min to get there. We met some cute wildlife too!
We arrived at Nephente in the evening, just in time to see the most amazing sunset. There were no clouds even though it was so high up and La Fortuna tends to get cloudy.
TIP: It's absolutely worth to check out Phoenix Restaurant at Nepenthe. It is located on the grounds of Nepenthe and they serve a daily dinner menu with handmade food and fresh local ingredients. The owners are super friendly.
We tried their famous pizza and it was delicious!
Day 6 Volcano and Hot Springs
Start your day by visiting Arenal Volcano & Místico Arenal Hanging Bridges.
Everything is close by, so you can do both destinations in a day if you want.
Make sure to leave some time to enjoy thermal pools in the area too!
I saw photos of Tabacon Resort all over Pinterest before I booked our stay there.
It was phenomenal, is deservedly famous not just for its extensive hot springs, but for its role in spearheading the tourism development of the entire Arenal region. It has on-site natural hot springs and pools that zigzag through one of the most exotic gardens in the world.
Also, I have to mention their food and cocktails are to die for!
Day 7 Drive back to San Jose
The Radisson included breakfast, and is centrally located in a good area to explore the city of San Jose.
To be honest the city was not our favourite part of the trip. Traffic was a nightmare and the capital really didn't offer much to see.
We did enjoy our last day shopping for souvenirs and taking it easy before the trip back home.
Top TIPS for traveling to Costa Rica:
- You will be able to use your American dollars almost anywhere, but make sure to have CRC for tipping and road fees as there are so many! They were never above 1000CRC, but having cash really helps!
- Tour guide for Manuel Antonio National park is highly recommended. If you want to see more and learn more from a local, it is worth it. The groups are small so it goes pretty fast!
- Try some local sodas and a Casado which is an authentic Costa Rican meal!
- Costa Rican coffee is to die for. Stop by a local coffee brewer or go on coffee farm tour if you're a fan!
- Have binoculars if you want to experience more! There is wildlife everywhere, I wished I had a pair of binoculars with me, most of the tourists we'd met had them!
- Raincoats and ponchos are a MUST. It's not just rainy in Costa Rica, it really pours! It doesn't last long, sometimes just an hour of heavy rains, but believe me - you want to stay dry. Clothes don't dry easily, with the constant humidity (even in the hotel rooms).
Costa Rica is a wonderful country to visit. I would definitely want to go back and explore it more. I hope you find some of our tips helpful!