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Costa Rica Adventure For Families

Action-packed, 2 week self-drive holiday for independent families with an unabashed spirit of adventure. Experience the thrill of white-water rafting, cable canyoning and ziplining through rainforest tree canopies. Enjoy world-class surfing in laid-back Nosara and bathe in Rio Perdido’s hot springs. Witness Arenal’s volcanic terrain and spectacular wildlife in Manuel Antonio National Park. Smart accommodation in rainforest retreats and beachside surfing paradise.

Tailor-made Luxury 2 weeks

'From Price' is the average price per person for ground arrangements for two people sharing.

Flights are typically an additional $1,008 per person economy class from London

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Itinerary

Overview


  • 2 week self-drive holiday for independent, go-getting families

  • White-water rafting, ziplining, canyoning

  • Waterfall swims, hot springs, mountain biking

  • Hikes around Arenal jungle and volcano

  • World-class surfing in chilled-out Nosara

  • Superb wildlife in Manuel Antonio National Park

Day-by-day

DAY 1: ARRIVE SAN JOSE
You will be met at the airport and transferred to the colonial-style hotel, Grano de Oro. Spend the rest of the afternoon at leisure either exploring San Jose or relaxing at the hotel.
Accommodation: Grano de Oro

DAY 2: WHITE-WATER RAFTING IN PACUARE AND TRANSFER TO ARENAL
Boasting 18 miles of class III and class IV rapids and some of the most beautiful scenery in Costa Rica, the Pacuare River is ranked as one of the top five rivers in the world for white-water rafting. Cascading waterfalls and tropical flora and fauna provide a stunning backdrop to the adrenaline thrill of the rapids. You will be driven about 2 1/2 hours east of San Jose to the town of Tres Equis where the excursion begins. Following a fully comprehensive safety briefing, the excitement then kicks up a notch as you experience the rush of your first rapid! There’s a stop for lunch in a lovely spot with wonderful river views and the adventure then continues downriver through more rapids and striking surroundings. Arrival at the bridge in the town of Siquirres indicates the end of the excursion, and from here there’s a 2 1/2 hour transfer on to the Casa Luna Hotel and Spa in Arenal. Nestled in the rainforest and with fabulous views of the Arenal Volcano, this charming hotel is a superb base for the next three nights.
Accommodation: Casa Luna

DAY 3: PICK 'N’ MIX OF ACTIVITIES IN ARENAL
Today your 4X4 vehicle will be delivered to Casa Luna so you are free to explore the local area independently and take your pick of the various activities and attractions. Highlights include wallowing in hot springs, traversing hanging bridges and ziplining through the emerald tree canopy at 'Skytrek', an expansive complex where seven zipwires are suspended over a vertiginous canyon (not recommended for those afraid of heights or for children who don’t like being out of their comfort zone). A visit to the remarkable Fortuna Waterfall which cascades down about 75 metres from the tropical rainforest into a swimmable pool is a must – it’s best to get there early and make the steep but short hike to and from the waterfalls in the relative cool.

Guided or independent hikes on marked trails in the Arenal Volcano National Park are also superb; weather permitting, there will be stunning views of the volcano and the opportunity to walk on the now-dry lava fields. This rainforest-clad area teems with wildlife from jaguars to tree frogs, and although the volcano hasn’t erupted since the 1960’s, it can occasionally be heard rumbling and small clouds of vapour might be seen emerging from the cone. We recommend a morning’s activity followed by a visit to the hot pools – with two full days to explore Arenal, there's plenty of time to try a few things.
Accommodation: Casa Luna

DAY 4: SECOND DAY AT LEISURE IN ARENAL
Another day free to explore Arenal.
Accommodation: Casa Luna

DAY 5: DRIVE TO RIO PERDIDO AND EXPLORE
This morning, drive the 3 hours to Rio Perdido, a beautiful spot tucked away in Costa Rica's Guanacast province. Swim in the abundant and completely natural hot springs which are dotted along a mile of thermal gorge that cuts right through a spectacular, 600-acre reserve. Activities include ziplining, mountain biking, yoga classes and exploring the reserve's hiking trails.
Accommodation: Rio Perdido

DAY 6: RIO PERDIDO – CHOICE OF RIVER TUBING OR CANYONING
Today, opt for either white-water tubing or a canyoning adventure. The canyoning is a unique and relatively challenging trail which is reliant on a series of cables which criss-cross the stunning Rio Blanco Canyon. The route includes 15 platforms; 6 of them are rock-based, 9 are suspended on the canyon walls. There’s a pendulum cable, a 15-metre 'Tarzan swing', a 27-metre challenge bridge, 4 via ferratas with lengths varying from 5 to 15 metres, and 5 zip lines of various lengths from 73 to 80 metres.

Alternatively, give white water tubing a go (minimum age 12). This water-based challenge will enable you to safely traverse the river and get a real sense of the vast canyon in all its glory. Note that there are parts of the canyon where the rock walls narrow and daylight is scarce. This activity is great fun, but not suitable for everyone since while it’s a slow float for most of the journey, there are several intense rapids along the way. There’s always a chance of making contact with some of the exposed rocks, which can result in bruising and even minor cuts; however, this is more likely to occur in the dry season, when the current slows and the water level drops.
Accommodation: Rio Perdido

DAY 7: SCENIC DRIVE TO NOSARA, A WORLD-CLASS SURFING HOT-SPOT
Enjoy a picturesque 3 ½ hour drive to Nosara through Guanacaste Province. Note that the last hour's drive into Nosara is on rough dirt roads, and although the roads are regularly repaired, they can be uneven, especially after heavy rains. While the 4x4 is well equipped to deal with the terrain, we do recommend taking it slow.
Accommodation: Gilded Iguana

DAY 8: NOSARA – SURFING, MOUNTAIN BIKING, YOGA, LAID-BACK NIGHTLIFE
Nosara combines superb beaches with a laid-back atmosphere and its unique offering of world class surf, yoga expertise, great food, coffee and craft beer is hard to beat. Playa Pelada is best for swimming, restaurants and enjoying the sunsets, while Playa Guiones is the main surf beach with miles of golden sands lapped by consistent and clean 3-5 foot waves, ideal for beginner and intermediate surfers. There are a handful of surf hire shops in town and lessons are easy to arrange. The Gilded Iguana has an excellent surf school of its own, with a wide range of boards available and there’s also a mountain biking centre on site. Surf lessons for beginners and children last approximately 90 minutes, and elite training is also on offer.
Accommodation: Gilded Iguana

DAY 9: NOSARA – SURFING, MOUNTAIN BIKING, YOGA, LAID-BACK NIGHTLIFE
If surfing’s not for you, then it’s possible to rent a body-board and play around in the waves. Nosara also has miles of mountain biking trails to explore, plus it’s known for being Costa Rica's premiere yoga location. Yoga is on offer not only at the hotel but also at the renowned Bodhi Tree Yoga Resort which offers daily classes to anyone who wishes to sign up. The nearby Ostional Beach offers some of the best turtle viewing in Costa Rica (seasonal). Turtles return to land to nest in the evenings, particularly during full moons. Ask at your hotel and they will let you know the best time to visit and arrange a tour for you. If self driving to the beach, please note the road involves a river crossing which may invalidate the insurance on your rental car.
Accommodation: Gilded Iguana

DAY 10: NOSARA – SURFING, MOUNTAIN BIKING, YOGA, LAID-BACK NIGHTLIFE
Another full day at leisure. Eating out in Nosara is fantastic fun, with half a dozen good restaurants to choose from, each with a buzzing atmosphere. 10 Pies (pizzas and swing chairs), Burgers & Beer (craft beer and burgers), El Chivo Cantina (tex mex & live music), La Luna (beachfront fine dining & sunsets) and Beach Dog Cafe (live music, tacos and cocktails) are all great options.
Accommodation: Gilded Iguana

DAY 11: NOSARA – SURFING, MOUNTAIN BIKING, YOGA, LAID-BACK NIGHTLIFE
Enjoy this final day in Nosara.
Accommodation: Gilded Iguana

DAY 12: DRIVE TO MANUEL ANTONIO
It’s a long, 5-hour drive to Manuel Antonio today so we recommend starting early to arrive in good time at the Hotel Si Como No, a smart property set in pretty gardens on a rainforest hillside overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Accommodation: Hotel Si Como No

DAY 13: VISIT THE MANUEL ANTONIO NATIONAL PARK
The Manuel Antonio National Park is a small and incredibly picturesque National Park with a fantastic density of wildlife that pretty much guarantees sightings of monkeys and sloth bears. The park occupies a superb location around a point fringed on both sides by golden sandy beaches. Its small size, coupled with its huge popularity, means that it does get busy, so it’s best to arrive either early or late in a day to avoid the crowds. Pack a picnic, take a cooling swim in the sea and keep your eyes peeled for sloth bears, toucans, macaws and white-faced monkeys. We recommend a guided hike to provide the best chance of spotting the resident wildlife, but it’s also possible to explore independently on the well-marked trails.
Accommodation: Hotel Si Como No

DAY 14: DRIVE TO THE AIRPORT AND DEPART
Make the 2 to 3-hour drive to San Jose, return the hire car and fly home.

Accommodation


Guide price is based on recommended accommodations. Alternative accommodations and upgrades are available. Please get in touch or click on 'alternatives' below for alternatives and upgrade options.

Our rating

7/10

Price guide

Price rating 4

- Historic hotel
- Near airport and attractions
- 35 bespoke colonial-style rooms
- Rooftop garden with twin jacuzzis

Our rating

7/10

Price guide

Price rating 3

- Eco-friendly hotel
- 40 simple, well-presented rooms
- White-water rafting, caving, hot springs
- Night hikes, boat trips, farm visits

Rio Perdido

Miravelles

Our rating

9/10

Price guide

Price rating 4

- Contemporary lodge with activities
- Secluded setting in private reserve
- Thermal river and natural hot springs
- Ziplining, hiking, yoga, mountain biking

Our rating

9/10

Price guide

Price rating 3

- Top beachside surfing destination
- Laid back atmosphere
- Surf school, yoga
- Mountain biking centre

Hotel Si Como No

Manuel Antonio

Our rating

7/10

Price guide

Price rating 3

- Wonderful hillside location
- Near Manuel Antonio National Park
- Spa, pool with water slide, cinema
- Forest hikes, snorkelling, parasailing, surfing

Details

Getting there

From the UK: Direct Flights with a flight time of approximately 11 hours from the UK to Costa Rica San Jose airport are offered by BA (Twice or thrice per week depending on season), TUI (once per week to Liberia, seasonal) and Thomas Cook (once per week to San Jose, seasonal). Direct flights tend to be considerably more expensive than indirect flights to Costa Rica. Indirect flights involving one stop in Europe, USA or Panama are available with BA, American Airlines, KLM , Norwegian, TAP Portugal, Air Canada, Delta, United, and Iberia offering overall flight times of between 14 – 22 hours. Competitive deals are often available with BA and American Airlines flying via Miami, with the option of combining your Costa Rica holiday with a stay on South Beach, Miami. Return flights range from £720 to upwards of £2,000, depending on seasonality and demand. Please get in touch for a detailed quote, including international flights from the UK.
From the US:
From the East Coast, United offer direct flights to San Jose, taking approximately 5 ½ hours, with prices from $515 return. Avianca fly with one stop and a 7 - 8 hour flight time, with prices starting at $370 return. From the West Coast, American Airlines, United, and Avianca offer a flight time of between 8 - 10 hours involving one stop. Prices range from $450 to $610 return. Please get in touch for a detailed quote, including international flights from the US.

Price includes

Price for this sample itinerary is based on 2 people travelling together (or a family of 4 travelling together for the family price). Price includes all accommodation, AWD SUV Car hire and guided activities where mentioned. Accommodation is on a Bed and Breakfast basis. The price includes white water rafting, Canyon Cable Adventure or tubing in Rio Perdido and guided nature hike in Manuel Antonio. Price is given as a guide and does not include International Flights, actual quote will vary depending on the number and age of your children, your travel dates and accommodation availability. Please call or enquire for a tailor-made quote including International flights.

When is best?

Costa Rica’s densely verdant terrain and sweeping rainforest owe much to its tropical climate. Generally, the country experiences its peak dry season from December to April, with May to November heralding the rainy or ‘green’ season. Rainfall can occur year round, although showers during the dry season tend to be short lived.
December to April: Peak visitor season: beaches and national parks are busy, and accommodation is in high demand. Most of the country enjoys plenty of sun and high temperatures, with minimal rainfall. The Caribbean Coast is usually at its driest during March. Wildlife viewing is generally excellent, including whale watching at Uvita from December to March.
May to August: The green season begins, bringing frequent showers to most regions. National parks see a slowdown in visitors, allowing crowd-free wildlife viewing, and surfing conditions can be good on key beaches. May and June can be good months to visit Arenal, when good visibility permits great views of the volcano. There are sunny periods in the Central Valley areas of San Jose and Manual Antonio National Park, and on the Caribbean Coast, where green sea turtle nesting along Tortuguero’s coastline is at its peak during July and August. July heralds the start of whale watching season at Uvita on the Southern Pacific Coast. The Northern Pacific coastline, including the Nicoya Peninsula, receives less rainfall year-round than the country as a whole, and often basks in sunny spells during July and August.
September to November: The height of the rainy season, with prolonged heavy rain showers and storms sweeping most of the country, and resultant sea swells bringing great surfing conditions along the Pacific Coast. Tourist accommodation may be closed, and roads in rural areas can be off limits, due to flooding. The Caribbean Coast, hot and humid for most of year, is usually at its driest during September and October, coinciding with the end of turtle nesting season. The Uvita whale watching season reaches its peak during October. In November the rains begin to abate, allowing low-season uninterrupted wildlife watching for nature lovers who don’t mind the odd shower. By the end of the month, visitor numbers are on the increase again.
Note the seasonality of turtle viewing in Nosara: Wet season is best in September and October, but it's also possible to view them in July and August if lucky.

Is it for me?

This holiday has a strong focus on the adventure highlights of Costa Rica and would suit those looking for a relatively independent and adventurous trip. It is a self-drive itinerary - we find driving in Costa Rica fine, but if you are nervous we can arrange transfers instead.
If you are not interested in surfing we may recommend a shorter time in Nosara, maybe 3-4 nights. Accommodation proposed for this sample itinerary is in a mix of good quality 3 star and lovely 4 star properties.
If you are tight on budget, please get in touch and we will be happy to suggest lower cost alternative accommodation in Nosara and Manuel Antonio.

Safety

For the latest travel advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth office check www.gov.uk/travelaware

What customers are saying after travelling with Tourdust

Average Rating

based on 496 reviews

(4.96/5)

  • Everything was fab, I especially loved Tuningi such a special place and my son got to see his favourite animal the cheetah (after a bit of time hunting about on foot!). Mauritius is lovely we saw quite a bit of the island in the end.

    MissingLaura L reviewing South Africa Safari and Mauritius on 12 December 2018

  • We had a wonderful trip to Morocco. What a fascinating country. Thank you so much for all of your help making things smooth and less stressful!

    Here are a few things we wanted to pass on:

    Dar Housnia was absolutely delightful. It was like an entire wing of a house to ourselves with perfect Moroccan decor. The private area where we ate was so cute, the riad staff so accommodating. I loved waking in the cozy space with our family and hearing both call to prayer as well as roosters. Just perfect.

    I was a little unclear how to ask what time we were being picked up etc, but your office promptly replied to my emails - even on weekends- when we had these questions about transport times. Once, we met our guide in Imlil these details we not problematic as our guide “Abraham” totally took care of us. Abraham was awesome. You should definitely request him again in the future. He was young (29)and energetic. He had a ton of hiking experience in Imlil as he was from there. He also seemed to know everything else about morocco, the desert, the culture, etc, etc. He was approachable, kind, patient, great with our kids and answered SO MANY of our questions.

    The hike was lovely - after rain the day prior in Marrakech - there was snow in the mountains. It was gorgeous. We may have been up for a longer hike up Mt Taboukel if I had known this was a realistic option for families ( I thought from reading that it was too technical for us). Yet not sure we had enough days for all these things always since getting in the desert was a priority.

    The mountain house, Dar adar, was just as described… very basic. The wifi was broken (which was a nice break when you have pre-teens addicted to phones, plus my husband called no wifi an amenity to not be available by email for his work!)). There was no heat and the fireplace helped a tad - but was so very cold in the rooms. My husband loved the rustic space, I may have gone up one step in niceness of mountain accommodation if I had to do it over again. Yet, meeting the other families in this Dar Adar (including another Tourdust family from England) made this house very memorable.

    We were then joined by our driver for the next several days, Jamal. What a fun guy and a perfect driver. He could joke with my kids, he had a fun smile, and he had worked with Abraham before so they were a great team. The drive to desert was long as I knew it would be. It was nice to have the stop on way there near Ait Ben Haddu. The drive back from desert was long. It was more near 10 hours of driving (plus 1 hour at lunch = 11 hours) but I wouldn’t have made any different choices.

    The luxury desert camp was far and away the highlight of our trip. The tents were adorable, I was sufficiently warm even at night inside the tent. We loved the camel riding, the ATV vehicles at a nearby camp, sunsets on the dunes, music around the camp fire, meals with others at the camp and more.

    The last night was at Riad Jona. This was so very very lovely. The food was amazing - such a good idea to eat here after our long drive back to Marrakech. They had a small dining pool plus a hot tub which was delightful. It was almost more of a boutique hotel as it had several rooms.

    MissingGwyneth R reviewing Luxury Family Desert Holiday on 11 December 2018

  • The trip was amazing everything was better than we could have imagined.
    There was a moment climbing the mount Kenya where my wife accused me of tricking her into doing this (half kidding) as some of the nights got pretty cold, but we were dressed well and the sunrise at the peak was astonishing.
    Safari was spectacular, Ben who was our main guide and driver was awesome! We saw everything excepts rhinos which were more of a hope than a reality. We also were able to watch a rock python eat a Thompson gazel live. It was one of the most interesting and unsettling things I have ever seen.
    Just overall, so many moments that make you think wow or I can't believe I am here. Thank you for your help in getting everything set up. I don't believe I could have booked the trip without your help and guidance. It was an amazing way to start our marriage and truly the trip of a lifetime!

    MissingWilliam Kearns reviewing 11 Day Mount Kenya Trek and Masai Mara Safari Combined on 29 October 2018

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Alternative Itineraries

Our itineraries are carefully designed by our experienced travel designers based on years of experience and customer feedback. For a custom itinerary tailored to you, please enquire giving as much detail as possible on your brief.

Two week holiday in Costa Rica with a focus on the wildlife. Includes Tortuguero, Arenal, Monteverde, Osa Peninsula and Uvita

Tailor-made Classic 2 weeks

Adults from $3,669 pp plus flights

'From Price' is the average per person price for ground arrangements for two people sharing.

Flights are typically an additional $1,022 per person economy class from London

Families from $3,250 pp plus flights

'From Price' is the average price per person for ground arrangements for a family of four (two adults + two children under 12).

Flights are typically an additional $1,022 per person economy class from London

Two week self-drive Costa Rica family holiday covering all the highlights including Tortugeuro, Arenal, Monteverde Rain Forest, Tamarindo Beach and Manuel Antonio National Park.

Tailor-made Classic 15 days

Adults from $3,684 pp plus flights

'From Price' is the average per person price for ground arrangements for two people sharing.

Flights are typically an additional $1,022 per person economy class from London

Families from $2,726 pp plus flights

'From Price' is the average price per person for ground arrangements for a family of four (two adults + two children under 12).

Flights are typically an additional $1,022 per person economy class from London

Two week luxury holiday celebrating the best of Costa Rica. Includes Arenal Volcano, Pacuare River, Gulfo Dulce and Manuel Antonio

Tailor-made Luxury 2 weeks

Adults from $6,740 pp plus flights

'From Price' is the average per person price for ground arrangements for two people sharing.

Flights are typically an additional $1,022 per person economy class from London

Families from $6,289 pp plus flights

'From Price' is the average price per person for ground arrangements for a family of four (two adults + two children under 12).

Flights are typically an additional $1,022 per person economy class from London

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