The Rookie

Beaches, Volcanoes and Culture for the First Time Visitor to Costa Rica

New to Costa Rica? Don’t know where to start? Or maybe you have a week and want a nice variety of what Costa Rica offers: beaches, nature, volcanoes, culture… Try this one-week tour that shows you a bit of everything, without too much driving.

Day 1: Take a day to explore Costa Rica’s capital city, San José. Beautiful parks, eclectic architecture and a bustle unlike anywhere else on earth make a daytime stroll a great experience. At night, check out El Pueblo for an energetic, youth-propelled evening. If you’re looking for something a bit more subdued, San José is full of excellent restaurants that run the gamut from Argentine steak houses to vegetarian wonderlands.

If you have time, check out one of the city’s excellent museums. The Jade Museum boasts a brand-new building that houses over 7,000 jade pieces. You’ll find it on Avenida Central and Calle 13, next to the artisan market. Another great option is the Gold Museum, locatedbeneatht the Plaza de la Democracia.

Day 2: Leave the city early to avoid traffic (before 6am) and stop in San Ramon at any little soda for some gallo pinto and eggs. You’ll continue down the mountain into La Fortuna before 10am, leaving the entire day for you to explore this famous region.

Spend the afternoon at the Catarata La Fortuna ($11 tourists, $6.20 residents www.arenaladifort.com. The hike to the falls from the parking area isn’t all that long, but it is steep. Once at the falls’ base, you can take a refreshing dip in the cold pool – just don’t get too close to the cascade itself. Bring a picnic and make an event.

In the evening, check out one of the area’s hot springs, such as Baldi (www.baldicostarica.com) or the luxurious Tabacon (www.tabacon.com).

Day 3: La Fortuna. Book a tour with Desafio Adventure Company. They are local pioneers in rafting and canyoneering trips, and offer a wide range of excellent tours that take advantage of the area’s rich nature and landscapes. For an extreme experience, try the unique Gravity Falls tour. Take our word for it.

Day 4: Grab the famous Jeep-boat-Jeep transfer across Lake Arenal to get to Monteverde. Check out Selvatura Park (www.selvatura.com) for a mixture of nature and adventure. Enjoy cool, misty surroundings of this peaceful region.

Day 5: Monteverde. Try to catch a coffee tour in Monteverde before heading down the central Pacific coast to Quepos and Manuel Antonio National Park. Splash around in the surf outside of the park before catching the sunset from one of the many bars and restaurants on the hill between the park and town. (www.monteverdetours.com)

Day 6: Manuel Antonio. You’ll want to head to the park early in the morning and score a great spot on the beach. If you’re itching to explore the countryside, check with any of the many tour operators in town to book a tour, or go through us.

Day 7: Today you’ll realize that a week is great for wetting your appetite for travel in Costa Rica. Unfortunately, it’s time to head back to San José and back home, where you’ll likely start planning your return trip.

Want to explore Costa Rica with travel experts? Let us know!