Best of Costa Rica Trip Notes
From beautiful turquoise coastline fringed in rainforests to small villages teeming with culture and scenic surroundings, you’ll never be run out of things to do in Costa Rica. Get set to zipline through Costa Rica’s most beautiful rainforests. Chase flowing waterfalls and bathe in the natural hot springs of nearby volcanoes. Swim amongst the dazzling coral reefs on the idyllic coastline and embrace the colourful history of small villages caught in time. Uncover the real and authentic beauty of Costa Rica with Travel Talk Tours.
Duration : 12 Days
Destination : Costa Rica
Start/Ends in : San Jose / San Jose
Group Size : 13-35 People
Age Req. : 18+
Trip Theme : In-Depth Explorer, Overland
Hotels : 5 & 4 Star
Departs : All Year Round
Why you will love this tour
- * Discover breath-taking volcanoes, waterfalls, rainforests, coastlines and historic cities on this 12-day adventure through the best of Costa Rica!
- * Stay in carefully selected 5 & 4-star accommodation with all breakfasts, 3 lunches and 2 dinners included. Plus, complimentary airport transfers on the first and last day of tour.
- * Spend two nights at our secluded rainforest lodge in Tortuguero – the perfect based for exploring the surrounding river canals, stunning beaches and pristine jungle with your local guide!
- * Get set for the ultimate adrenaline fix in Rincón de la Vieja with tube-rafting, rainforest hiking, and volcano exploring! Don’t forget your swimsuits because there’ll be plenty of hot springs and unspoiled waterfalls to check out along the way.
- * Explore Costa Rica’s most stunning, active volcano, Arenal! Bathe in natural hot springs, hike the famous 1968 Arenal Volcano Trail, explore the hanging bridges hidden amongst the rainforest canopies and take a dip in the famous La Fortuna waterfall.
- * Uncover the pristine beaches, dazzling coral reefs and lush rainforests of Manuel Antonio. Relax by the beach, swim and snorkel, or explore the fringing rainforests at your own pace.
- * Shape your adventure with optional activities including a night walk through the famous Cloud Forest or zipline above its canopies, visit the Butterflies Gardens or take a coffee tour in Monteverde or hop onboard a boat tour through the mangroves of Damas Island.
The group welcome meeting with your guide and other travelers is held around 18:30 at the hotel lobby on Day 1 of your tour unless otherwise notified.
Meeting and Finishing Point:
The meeting and finishing point for the tour is :
Park Inn San Jose by Radisson Hotel – 5 Star
Address : Av 6, San Bosco, CR-P, San José, 10103, Costa Rica
Phone : +506 4110 1100
Emergency Number: +44 (0) 208 099 75 36
Making Your Own Way to the Starting Point
If you wish to make your own way to the hotel, we recommend using airport taxis. Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) is just 18 kilometers from the hotel. Tobías Bolaños International Airport (SYQ) is only seven kilometers away.
It costs between 20-30 USD from Juan Santamaría International Airport to the hotel and takes approximately 30 minutes.
Red taxis with a yellow triangle are the official taxis. They all have taxi metres and many accept cards as well, however paying by cash may be more favorable.
Arenal Volcano: An active andesitic stratovolcano in north-western Costa Rica around 90 km northwest of San José, in the province of Alajuela, canton of San Carlos, and district of La Fortuna.
La Fortuna de San Carlos: La Fortuna is a small town in Costa Rica, northwest of the capital, San José. It’s known as a gateway to Arenal Volcano National Park, comprising 2 volcanoes
Manuel Antonio: A small Oceanside village with plenty of great places to stay tucked into nature. Famous for its national park, this tiny yet bustling town is located off Costa Rica’s Pacific coast.
Monteverde: A magical place in the province of Puntarenas is located 1,600 meters above sea level. The elevation adds a mystical feel to this place as it creates a mystery.
Rincón de la Vieja: Rincón de la Vieja is an active andesitic complex volcano in north-western Costa Rica, about 23 km from Liberia, in the province of Guanacaste.
Rio Negro: Beautiful and relaxing, the volcanic hot springs at Hacienda Guachipelin bubble up on the Rio Negro, naturally heated by the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano.
San Jose: San José is the capital and largest city of Costa Rica, and the capital of the province of the same name. It is in the center of the country, in the mid-west of the Central Valley.
Sarapiqui: Sarapiqui is a unique town and river area in the Heredia Province of Costa Rica, close to Puerto Viejo. The incredible adventure you can find in Sarapiqui is unbeatable
Tortuguero National Park: The high rainfall, and rich environment where the freshwater meets the sea makes the beaches, canals, lagoons and wetlands of Tortuguero areas for nature lovers.
Please note that the itinerary may be subject to small changes depending on the conditions during the tour. Alternative accommodation of similar standards may be used depending on the group size and hotel availability.
Inclusions & Exclusions
The tour price covers the following services:
Accomodation : 5 & 4 Star Hotels and Lodge
Airport Transfer: Arrival transfer on Day 1. Departure shuttle to the airport on Day 12
Meals : 11 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Transportation : Air-conditioned modern non-smoking coach or mini-bus
Guide : Services of experienced Travel Talk local guides licenced by the Ministry of Tourism
Sightseeing : Tortuguero National Park, Arenal Volcano, Manuel Antonio Beach
Manuel Antonio National Park, The Third Beach, Sarchí Village & San José
What is NOT included in the tour price?
- Any flights not mentioned above
- Travel insurance
- Meals not stated above
- Items of a personal nature
- Tips & gestures
- Entrance fees to the sights and museums
- Optional activities
- Other services not stated in the itinerary
Hotels & Accommodation
Solo travellers will be roomed with another solo traveller of the same gender in a twin or triple room, or can upgrade to a solo room by paying the single supplement. You may choose the solo room option when booking online or contact us to arrange a private room. Your tour leader will allocate rooms upon arrival at the starting hotel in accordance with the rooming lists, last minute changes may not be guaranteed.
PARK INN HOTEL BY RADISSON – SAN JOSE – 5 Star
The Hotel is not far from San Jose’s main avenue, close to downtown. The hotel features a restaurant bar, a gym, and an outdoor pool.
PACHIRA LODGE – TORTUGUERO – 4 Star
Located only a 5-minute boat trip from the entrance to the lush Tortuguero National Par, Pachira Lodge is one of the most reputable lodges in Tortuguero.
ARA AMBIGUA LODGE – SARAPIQUI
Offering its guests an outdoor pool and an à la carte restaurant, Ara Ambigua Lodge is located in La Guaría, Costa Rica. Offers entertainments such as hiking.
MONTANA DE FUEGO MOUNTAIN RESORT & SPA – ARENAL – 4 Star
Offers spectacular views of volcanic landscapes, and features an outdoor pool, spa, and beautiful garden surroundings.
POCO A POCO HOTEL – MONTEVERDE – 4 Star
Offering a picturesque setting, Hotel & Spa Poco a Poco is located in Monteverde, It features a spa, a covered heated pool, and charming rooms with garden views.
HACIENDA GUACHIPELIN VOLCANO RANCH HOTEL – RINCON DE LA VIEJA – 5 Star
This hotel offers lovely views of the surrounding dry tropical forests and the volcano of Rincon de la Vieja.
SHANA HOTEL – MANUEL ANTONIO – 4 Star
Tucked in on the edge of the rainforest, and overlooking the expanse of the Pacific Ocean, Shana Hotel is the ideal hotel boutique escape in Manuel Antonio.
Please find below the approximate driving times between the destinations visited in Costa Rica. We will always strive to take a short break every few hours to enable passengers to stretch their legs, purchase snacks and use wash facilities during long drives.
• San Jose to Tortuguero: 120km, 2 hr 40 min
• Tortuguero to Sarapiqui: 100km, 2 hr 10 min
• Sarapiqui to Arenal: 85km, 1 hr 30 min
• Arenal to Monteverde: 122km, 3 hr 20 min
• Monteverde to Manuel Antonio: 180km, 3 hr 20 min
• Rincon De La Vieja to Manuel Antonio: 315km, 5 hr 30 min
Please note that entrance fees to sights and optional activities are not included in the tour price. Optional activities are not operated by Travel Talk and may require a certain number of attendees to run. Your guide will be happy to inform you further about the available optional activities at the start of your tour. Optional activities are also listed under each day in your tour itinerary.
• Monteverde Coffee Tour — USD 36
• Monteverde Butterflies Garden — USD 17
• Monteverde Curi Cancha Biological Reserve — USD 23
• Manuel Antonio Isla Damas Mangrove Boat Tour — USD 56
• Tortuguero National Park — USD 15
• Arenal Hanging Bridges — USD 21
• Arenal La Fortuna Waterfall Hike — USD 21
• Arenal Volcano Trekking at 1968 Park — USD 15
• Monteverde Cloud Forest Walking Tour at Night — USD 21
• Monteverde Selvatura Zipline Adventure — USD 45
• Las Pailas and Oropendola Waterfall Hike — USD 15
• Manuel Antonio National Park — USD 16
Shopping for souvenirs is most affordable in places like local markets, where you can buy artisan goods straight from the craftsmen to support local communities and their families. Haggling for prices is also acceptable in these marketplaces. If you are looking for the perfect gift to buy while in Costa Rica, Coffee from this region is considered some of the best in the world!
Tipping is not mandatory in Costa Rica, but restaurants add a 10 percent gratuity service charge to the final bill. This is considered a sufficient amount for a tip when dining out.
Essential Information: Costa Rica
Passport & Visas
Most travellers, including passport holders from Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Unites States of America, and Canada, are not required to apply for visas to Costa Rica for touristic stays for up to 90 days. Please ensure that you check with the Costa Rican Embassy or Consulate of your country for up-to-date visa.
Passport validity entry requirements: Travellers entering Costa Rica must also carry a passport or travel document with a minimum of 6 months validity remaining.
This information is provided only as a guidance, we strongly advise that you check with the consulate or embassy as this information can change at any time and with little notice. It is your responsibility to make sure that all the required travel documents are ready when traveling.
We are closely monitoring the latest travel updates to Costa Rica and follow the advice of the UK Foreign Office. For the latest travel advice from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, please visit
We recommend all travellers to check their Government National Travel Advisory prior to their departure:
Australia – https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/
Canada – https://travel.gc.ca/
New Zealand – https://www.safetravel.govt.nz/
All passengers travelling with Travel Talk are required to have personal travel insurance before participating in any of our tours. Your guide will collect your travel insurance details on the first day of your trip. It is your responsibility to make sure you have an adequate and suitable travel insurance for you in place, you may read more at https://www.traveltalktours.com/travel-insurance
Health & Safety
The health and safety of our passengers, staff and communities visited is of utmost priority. As we monitor and comply with the official advice from the UK Foreign Office, as well as World Health Organization and government authorities regularly, we have implemented several policies and precautions on our tours for your wellbeing. You may find our Safe Travels Protocols at https://www.traveltalktours.com/safe-travels
Travel Talk Adventures has received the Safe Travels stamp by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), which allows travellers to recognise companies around the world that have adopted health and hygiene global standardised protocols – so consumers can experience ‘Safe Travels’.
Please make sure to regularly check your Government’s travel advice before travelling and be well-informed of any requirements. Your tour guide will also notify you of the regulations and protocols to follow throughout your trip with us.
Please note that if any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary or possess a potential risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, we reserve the right to remove them from all or part of a trip.
Please consult with your doctor for the latest medical travel information and any vaccinations you may need. We recommend that you bring any personal medical requirements and medications with you as these may be difficult to obtain while on tour.
The best time to visit Costa Rica depends upon what you are looking to get out of your holiday, however a warm weather is almost always guaranteed! If beach days and outdoor activities are your priority, visiting between December and April is best. During these months you can expect warm temperatures, minimal rainfall and clear days. May to mid-November is referred to as Costa Rica’s green season with rain falling heaviest in September and October. If visiting Costa Rica’s famous jungle region is important to you, then visiting during the green season could reap rewards. The months of November, April and May are also ideal as the rains have either just stopped or are about to start. This means the country looks refreshed, green, warm and relatively unpopulated from tourist crowds.
For more, check out our Costa Rica weather guide.
The official currency of Costa Rica is the Costa Rican Colón (CRC). Credit and debit cards are accepted at major hotels and tourist attractions but are not accepted for small payments such as meals or snacks. ATMs (known as cajeros automáticos) are widely available in Costa Rica but some banks charge a fee for using an ATM abroad, so check with your bank before traveling. US Dollars are widely accepted, especially at upscale hotels and restaurants. For smaller services (including local meals or public transportation), be prepared to pay with colónes. Travel Talk recommends you do not exchange bulk sums of money at the airport, as the exchange rates are usually more favourable in the major cities.
Please remember that everyone has different spending habits, some prefer to spend more on souvenirs, some on experiences and others on a night out! Make sure to budget your trip to your spending habits for shopping, drinking, and tipping
Tipping is not compulsory in Costa Rica though some services such as restaurants add a ‘service charge’ on the final bill that includes 10% gratuity. If a ‘service charge’ is not already added to a bill, 10% is considered a sufficient amount to tip in appreciation of good service. You may also tip service staff such as maids and
bartender. Leaving a few extra colons if the service exceeds your expectations, is also appreciated. Tips for such services usually range within 1-5 USD per day. You may also consider tipping your leader and driver for outstanding service at the end of your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference.
Eating & Drinking
Heavily influenced by Spanish, South American, Caribbean and Central American flavours, there are so many delicious dishes you must try while visiting Costa Rica. Here are a couple of our favourites to get you started:
Casado: A typical plate of Costa Rican food, the dish traditionally includes rice and beans, a salad, fried sweet plantains and either fish, chicken, pork or beef.
Gallo Pinto: The nation’s signature dish, Gallo Pinto is a slowly cooked dish of rice, beans, onions, red peppers, and cilantro. The dish is served with eggs, fried cheese, sweet plantains, bread or corn tortillas.
Chifrijo: Typically served in bars, Chifrijo is a compact dish of rice and beans topped with fried pork meat, avocado, pico de gallo, chimichurri, and lime. The dish is usually accompanied by tortilla chips and is best enjoyed with an ice-cold Pilsen in hand.
Sopa Mariscos: A tomato-based soup usually served on the coastline and packed with fresh seafood including squid, shrimp, clams, mussels, white fish, and vegetables.
Tres Leches: This dessert gained its name for the ‘three milks’ used to create the delicious treat including milk, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk – topped with a heavy whipping of cream.
Arroz con leche: Sweet tooths will love this Central American desert staple! Made from spiced, sweet rice pudding made with cinnamon, cloves and raisins. Try it as a warming snack or a special dessert.
While drinking a lot of water is crucial when adventuring around Costa Rica, don’t forget to unwind and try some of the country’s delicious traditional beverages. From sweet and creamy to buzz-provoking, these seven drinks are a delightful way to wet your whistle. Thanks to an extraordinary selection of exotic fruit within the country, Costa Rica is home to a delicious range of tropical Batidos (smoothies) and fresh juices. While Costa Rica is famous for its coffee, agua dulce is the traditional breakfast drink of choice. The hot beverage is made by boiling water and adding a piece of tapa de dulce – made from the liquid extracted from sugarcane. There are three go-to beers in Costa Rica which that are worth a try if you wish to taste the local drop – Pilsen, Bavaria and Imperial.
Essentials to Bring & Internet
-Face mask/cover and hand sanitiser enough for your personal use throughout the trip – See more at https://www.traveltalktours.com/safe-travels/
-Travel Documents: Passport, Visa (if required), flight or transport ticket (and photocopies)
-Travel Talk Tour Voucher (printed or digital)Travel Insurance Policy (and photocopy)
-Personal medical kit and medicine
-Money (cash, credit card, travellers’ cheques)
-Reusable water bottle
-Ear plugs and eye mask
-Sun protection – hat, sunglasses, sunscreen
-Comfortable, closed walking shoes
-Wind/water proof jacket
-Warm clothes, hat, and gloves for cold weather
-Sandals, swimwear, shorts for warm weather
Wi-fi is readily available throughout Costa Rica. In many locations, including inside Costa Rica’s two international airports, restaurants, cafes, hotels, and some cities’ central parks, Wi-Fi access is free, however, the connection quality may differ. If you wish to use your own 3G/4G Data, be sure to enable data roaming
on your mobile. Purchasing a Costa Rican SIM card for the duration of your tour may be a cost-effective alternative. Make sure that your phone is unlocked before you leave home so a local SIM will be compatible.
Your local guide will be able to provide advice on where to purchase SIMs.
Culture, Religion, and Traditions
Costa Rica is a cultural melting pot, heavily influenced by Spanish settlement as well as immigrant cultures including Jamaican and Chinese. The official language is Spanish, and the population is considered remarkably warm and friendly with no one considered an outsider here! Like most Latin Americans, ‘Ticos’ generally take a laid-back, relaxed approach to life. The spirit of mañana — putting things off for another day — is a constant theme, and personal warmth is generally given higher priority than personal achievement. Fiestas and Topes (horse shows) are a major component of the country’s culture, explaining the vivacity of its people. Catholicism came to Costa Rica with the Spaniards in the 19th century, and the vast majority of Costa Rica’s population are Christian with approximately 70% identifying as Roman Catholic.
Etiquette and How to Dress
In general, Costa Ricans are easy-going, friendly, and informal people. This being said, they tend to be somewhat conservative, and treating everyone with respect is paramount. Ticos typically dress casual and practical, and most locals will not make a fuss about what tourists wear. However, it is important to dress appropriately for the occasion. For example, flip-flops and shorts are fine for a beach day, but clothing that covers both your shoulders and knees is expected while visiting religious sites. If you are unsure what to wear, your local guide will be more than happy to make suggestions on appropriate attire throughout the tour.
We have many solo travellers joining our tours. Solo travellers will be roomed with another traveller of the same gender. If you would like a private solo room, please contact us. You may see out solo travels page for more details.
Rules to Follow
We are committed to ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone. We do not tolerate any form of violence (physical or verbal), bullying or harassment involving customers, partners, Travel Talk staff or locals. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a passenger are forbidden.
We will not tolerate any illegal activity, including but not limited to: use and possession of illegal drugs, trespassing, and disrupting public order. If you consume alcohol, please ensure that you drink responsibly and follow the local laws and regulations.
You must follow the advice of your tour leader and local officials regarding health and safety measures. We operate all tours under Safe Travels protocols for the wellbeing of our passengers, staff and communities visited. Please ensure that you have read the https://www.traveltalktours.com/safe-travels/ and are fully prepared for your trip.
If someone is acting inappropriately regarding these matters, please notify your tour leader immediately or contact us on the emergency contact number provided below.
Your tour leader has the right to remove from the group anyone not abiding by these rules, with no right of compensation or refund. See more at https://www.traveltalktours.com/booking-terms/
Please remember that our travellers come from different parts of the world and will have various needs and preferences. Be understanding and patient with your fellow travellers, and always strive to be on time.
We believe that travel is a force for good and show our support through various initiatives and charity organizations, as well as keeping the principals of responsible and sustainable travel at the core of our ethos. These values are engrained in our business culture and the design of our trips just the same. Together with you, we strive to make a positive impact on local people and economies, respecting the local culture, environment, social fabric and customs; encouraging respectful and meaningful cross-cultural exchange. Read more at https://www.traveltalktours.com/responsible-travel/