Grand Tour of Costa Rica

Grand Tour of Costa Rica

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17 Days
From

$7468

Grand Tour of Costa Rica

17 Days

Visiting: Costa Rica

Tour operator:

Riviera Travel

Tour code:

RIC6

From:
$7468 (USD) including Flights from the UK

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Tour Overview

In Costa Rica - a country whose motto is pura vida (pure life) - every road seems to lead to another waterfall, a volcano, a lush rainforest or a palm-fringed tropical beach.

Our Grand Tour takes us across the country visiting several national parks and collecting unique experiences as we go. We'll spot wildlife on a safari down the Rio Frio, walk through the tree canopy within Arenal Volcano National Park on hanging bridges, visit the coffee, cocoa and pineapple plantations Costa Rica is famous for and enjoy two days relaxing on the sandy beaches of the Pacific coast. 5% of the entire world's plant and animal species can be found here in this perfectly petite country, so there are plenty of opportunities to see some of its most well-known inhabitants, like the three-toed sloth, as well as iguanas, brightly coloured tree frogs, monkeys, crocodiles, leatherback turtles and breathtaking birdlife (like the quetzal) - maybe even the elusive jaguar! - to name just a few of our favourites.

This Grand Tour is ideal for nature lovers and animal lovers who want to explore the impressive landscapes of Costa Rica on an immersive journey from the capital San Jose into the rugged countryside. 

Highlights

  • See Emperor butterflies, toucans, unique three-toed sloths and much more in one of the most scenic and bio-diverse counties on the planet, including the unique eco-system along the Caribbean coastline in Tortuguero National Park 

  • Explore the area around the perfect cone of the still-active Arenal Volcano and the extraordinary Cloud Forest from above on superb hanging bridges 

  • Travel to the remote Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge, renowned for its incredible birdlife 

  •  

  • Enjoy a fascinating tour of a coffee and cocoa plantation 

  • Stay for three nights at a five-star resort overlooking the Pacific Ocean 

  • Experience an unforgettable evening of star gazing in the company of knowledgeable guides who will help you identify the shining constellations 

  • Discover the fresh ingredients of Costa Rica and learn how to cook like a local before dining on more delicious dishes prepared by the chef 

  • Meet the team at a remarkable rescue centre and animal sanctuary. Get to know some of the injured creatures they care for, including endangered jaguars and pumas 

  • Please note: For 2024, this tour is Signature as standard. Learn more.

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Itinerary

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Day 1

Our journey starts with a flight to San Jose so, today, you'll head to the airport for your flight.

Day 2

Passing coffee and banana plantations and small farming communities, we'll head to Costa Rica's Caribbean coast. Boarding a small, motorised boat, we’ll enjoy an adventure through the rainforest's canals - it's the only way to reach the eco-lodge, where we'll stay for two nights. After we've settled in, we'll visit the nearby town of Tortuguero and the Caribbean Conservations Corporation Museum, dedicated to studying Atlantic green, hawksbill and leatherback turtles who come to lay their eggs on the protected beaches here between July to October. Many species of turtles which lay their eggs on these beaches came close to extinction until the area was declared a national park.

 

Signature experience:

Our natural surroundings, away from the bright lights, offer the perfect backdrop for star gazing and with its unique location, close to the equator, Costa Rica is one of the world’s best locations to view the northern and southern hemisphere for star gazing. This evening, we'll relax under the beautiful night sky and listen to the peaceful sounds of nature.   

Day 3

We'll work off our breakfast this morning with a fascinating walk along one of the nature trails around our lodge before relaxing by the pool during the hottest part of the day.  

This afternoon, we'll travel along the lush green waterways of this unique eco-system – you could see caimans (a relative of the crocodile), several types of monkeys and a huge number of endemic and migratory bird species, including toucans, macaws and raptors.

Day 4

This morning we’ll set off early, westwards through the centre of the country towards Arenal Volcano National Park, famous for the perfect symmetrical cone of the Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica’s youngest volcano. After a stop for lunch, we’ll arrive in the area of Arenal in the afternoon.

 

Signature experience:

We’ll visit a Pejibaye Plantation, where one of Costa Rica's must-try ingredients is grown. Pejibaye is the fruit of the peach fruit palm tree, native to the tropical forests of Central and South America. They taste like an interesting mix of cashew, chestnut and potato and are full of vitamins and high in energy. We’ll learn about this ancient staple food source of traditional cuisine, how the fruit is incorporated into modern cooking and sit down to enjoy a local lunch.

Day 5

Arenal Volcano National Park 

Today, we’ll have the opportunity to admire the forest’s beauty close up. Our day starts with a short walk along the Arenal 1968 Lava Trails towards the historic lava fields that buried much of the surrounding jungle during the dramatic eruptions of 1968. As we walk, the dense jungle opens, revealing magnificent views of the volcano. 

After our walk, we'll head to the tree canopy heights as we roam the Hanging Bridges for a unique view of the jungle from up to 145 feet above the forest floor. You'll be able to see several species that inhabit the forest canopy, undergrowth and floor - so don't forget your camera and binoculars! 

Coffee and chocolate farms in La Fortuna 

En route to our hotel, we'll stop in La Fortuna to tour a Costa Rican coffee and chocolate farm. We'll get to see a side of Arenal that most visitors miss, the coffee and cacao crops, and taste the final products - it's as fresh as it gets.

Day 6

Today we’ll head north, close to the Nicaraguan border, to the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge for an adventure along the Frio River. We'll stay quiet as we float along while our expert local guide points out the native birds and wildlife that make their home in the wetlands and tropical forests - there's so much to see you won't know where to look first. More than 300 bird species have been identified here, including kingfisher, ibis, toucans, storks and even vultures - plus you're likely to spot iguanas, caimans and monkeys along the riverbanks.

Day 7

Continuing north, we'll stop at the bustling town of Liberia before ascending into Rincon De La Vieja National Park, where we'll stay in a secluded location within the boundaries of the park for two nights. In the early evening, before dinner, you can join an optional night walk in search of amphibian and small mammal nocturnal activity.

 

Signature experience:

You can spend the morning meeting the extraordinary team at Las Pumas Wildlife Rescue Centre and Sanctuary - and the remarkable creatures they look after. Here, injured animals are cared for, rehabilitated, and released back into their natural habitat. If they cannot be released, they stay in a naturalized enclosure in the centre's sanctuary, where we'll meet five of the six species of wildcat found in Costa Rica, including the jaguar and the puma, in the company of a local naturalist and hear more about the wildlife that call the centre home. 

 

 

Day 8

Spend the day within Rincon De Vieja National Park. You could choose adventure with a hike through the jungle on the lookout for howler monkeys, capuchin monkeys, toucans and coatis as you pass hissing fumaroles, volcanic craters and bubbling mud pools. The hotel offers a range of activities that allow you to explore the area from walking tours through the forest to horseback riding and ziplines over the canopy. You can expect panoramic views, dazzling waterfalls and moments that will have your heart pounding in your chest.  

Or, if relaxation is on the agenda, sink into the volcanic mud baths and thermal hot springs to take advantage of the wellness properties of the mineral-rich waters and mud - it's enough to rejuvenate any weary traveller. For the full pamper experience, book in a treatment at The Anahuac Wellness Thermal and Spa (you can pre-book on arrival in Costa Rica).

Day 9

Costa Rica’s real riches come from its immensely fertile volcanic soils which have created a biodiversity of incredible range, variety and complexity – it's a natural paradise! More than 25% of the country is designated as protected reserves or national parks. 

Today, we'll take a guided tour to Palo Verde National Park, one of Costa Rica’s most popular conservation areas. Its wide range of land and marine biodiversity makes this one of Central America’s most impressive natural habitats. Our local guide will lead us by boat through the waterways of this tropical paradise to discover a unique combination of thick coastal forest, rivers and mangrove lagoons which are home to more than 109 species of mammals and 184 species of birds.

One of its most well-known and likeable inhabitants is the three-toed sloth, but this is not even close to the tip of the iceberg. You’ll also see monkeys, green iguanas, hundreds of varieties of brightly coloured tree frogs, hummingbirds a-plenty, scarlet macaws, blue-winged teal – maybe even a Jesus Christ lizard (so named for its ability to run across the water). 

Later, we'll embrace the local culture and cuisine with a country-style lunch before driving towards the Pacific coast, where a combination of exquisite beaches and tropical forests await. Our five-star hotel is within the secluded location of the quiet beach Playa Mansita, one of the four beaches within Hacienda Pinilla, where you might see iguanas and monkeys on the beach!

Day 10

Surrounded by a natural reserve where the tropical gardens meet the Pacific Ocean, enjoy a luxurious stay in Guanacaste. After an exciting adventure across Costa Rica, now is the time to kick back and relax. Spend your free day taking advantage of the hotel facilities, including a private beach, outdoor pool and fitness centre. You could book into the spa and replenish your spirit with a treatment to the sound of falling water, fragrant incense and the passing ocean breeze or take part in hotel activities like aqua aerobics or golf. 

If you're not the sit-still-and-relax type, there are plenty of unique outdoor activities to enjoy. From walks and bicycle tours through the nearby trails to horseback riding with true Costa Rican cowboys - or as they call them Sabaneros - you still have the opportunity to explore the spectacular beaches, cattle ranches and forests that encompass Guanacaste. (Book/ pay local)

Day 11

Today, you can take advantage of the hotel's facilities with another day at leisure or join our optional coastal catamaran boat tour. We'll breathe in the salty sea air - and keep a lookout for dolphins, turtles, whales and, of course, spectacular views of the coast - as the catamaran slices through the surf. As we sail, we'll drop anchor for a swim alongside a brilliant array of fish and bright coral before heading back towards land. 

Tonight, gather for a dinner with your fellow explorers at a local restaurant in Tamarindo Beach and enjoy freshly cooked local cuisine as the sun sets on your last full day in Costa Rica.

Day 12

Pineapple Plantation 

Our adventure continues as we travel inland to the Turrialba Valley on the Caribbean slopes of Turrialba Volcano National Park. As part of Costa Rica's central mountain range, the lofty views are quite unique with small towns and villages scattered amongst the mountainsides and onto the Caribbean coastline. We'll pass through Sarapiqui, La Virgen, Rio Frio and La Alegría on our way to today's final destination Turrialba.  

En route, we'll visit a family-run pineapple plantation in the northwest province of Heredia, known for its picturesque nature and rich soil - a must for the juiciest pineapples. Thanks to Costa Rica's rainy, humid climate, the country is the largest producer and exporter of pineapples in the world - pretty impressive for a country with a population of just over 5 million. In fact, the country has seen a 700% growth in pineapple production in the last 15 years and the industry is worth US$1.3 billion to the national economy. Needless to say, these guys know their pineapples, so we'll soak up all that knowledge with a tour of the rural plantation to find out how the sweet tropical fruit is grown and harvested, and why the mountains of Costa Rica are the perfect place to grow this delectable fruit.  

Turrialba Valley 

After we arrive in Turrialba, we'll check into our hotel and enjoy a delicious dinner.

Day 13

Guayabo National Monument and National Park 

Any early risers this morning could take advantage of the natural beauty of the area with a morning walk around the grounds of our hotel, you may even spot some wildlife! Native to this area are some impressive bird life - violet-crowned woodnymph, white-necked jacobin, green hermit, green thorntail, violet sabrewing, bronze-tailed plumeleteer and green-crowned Brilliant - which will excite any budding ornithologists. 

After a country-style breakfast, we'll head off the beaten track to Guayabo National Monument and National Park. Set on the jungle-covered slopes of Turrialba Volcano is Costa Rica's mythical lost city - one of the country's largest and most important archaeological finds. Spread across 540 acres are the ruins of an indigenous, pre-Columbian city that was first inhabited 3,000 years ago. It's thought to have been home to 10,000 people in its heyday.

Aquiares Coffee Estate 

If you're flagging this afternoon, we’ve got you covered with a visit to the largest coffee estate in Costa Rica. Nestled in 600 hectares of lush-shaded coffee plantations and 200 hectares of protected rainforest, the farm is a vibrant community of coffee enthusiasts with a focus on sustainable farming. With over a century of experience, the farm is now a model of ecological and sustainable operation.  Not only do we see the process from seed to cup on our tour, but we'll also get to savour some of the best coffee in the world. This is a coffee lover's paradise!

Day 14

Today, we'll visit a natural garden area and conservation centre, the Botanical Gardens of CATIE (Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Centre). Its invaluable collection of over 4,400 genetic samples covers around 400 species of plants from all over the world, preserving and protecting rare plants for future generations. As you enjoy a leisurely stroll along the many garden trails, you will find plant life ranging from minuscule parasites to exquisite orchids, bromeliads and walls of bamboo. Stumble on the towering trees of the Peace Garden and marvel at the many different species of cacti in the Cactus Garden. See more of the indigenous flora of Central America in the traditional garden and find rare blooms in the Orchid Garden. It's the perfect place to relax and escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. 

Later, our journey continues on to the South Caribbean coast near Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge in the area of Puerto Viejo for a two-night stay.

Day 15

The day is yours at leisure to explore Costa Rica’s local Caribbean Community.  You could stroll along the beach of Puerto Viejo nestled amongst palm trees, less visited area of Costa Rica - and take a paddle in the shallow waters. Alternatively, take a short journey (your tour manager is on hand to assist with transport) to visit the village of Manzanillo and take a walk in the local beach reserve. For dinner tonight, why not try some fresh seafood or vegetarian Creole Caribbean cuisine?

Day 16

Travel back to San José for your overnight flight home.

Day 17

We arrive home this morning with memories of lush rainforests filled with wildlife, sill-simmering volcanos and palm-fringed tropical beaches.

What's Included

  • The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a twin room. 11 nights’ accommodation in three-star, four-star and five-star hotels; daily breakfast and five meals; scheduled flights to/from San Jose; all transfers; guided tours of Tortuguero, Caño Negro, walking tour at Arenal, Monteverde hanging bridges, coffee farm, Palo Verde national park; all local transport as described; hotel porterage of one item of luggage per person; the services of a Riviera Travel tour manager.;

  • The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a twin room.;; 15 nights’ accommodation in three-star, four-star and five-star hotels; daily breakfast and five meals; scheduled flights to/from San Jose; all transfers;;; All tours and visits as described; All local transport as described;;; Hotel porterage of one item of luggage per person; The services of a Riviera Travel Tour Manager.;Please Note: We are guests in these animals' home, but that’s no guarantee they’ll say hello as such, we cannot promise any wildlife sightings, but our guides aim to give you the best chance possible.

Check out our Q&As

  • How long has the tour company been trading?

    For almost 40 years

  • I have reduced mobility; can I still travel?

    We want to ensure you make the correct choice before you book your holiday with us. If you have any concerns regarding the suitability of the holiday due to reduced mobility we would encourage you to contact us to discuss these concerns

  • Do I require travel insurance?

    It is a condition of booking that you carry suitable travel insurance.

  • What is my luggage allowance?

    You will receive details of your luggage allowance with your final travel documents, which are sent approximately 10 days prior to your date of departure.

Reviews of this Operator

David Clarke (Google Reviewer)  

This review is for the...

08-Aug-2023

This review is for the italian Lake Como trip Aug 1-8 Wow what a trip. Riviera from start to finish were excellent the booking and help line answering questions were very good and clear. The travel booklet you get is laid out that it is simple to read and follow with step by step info from booking in to flights to meeting the guides. Our guide Matt Purse was just the best guide and real credit to Riviera with his knowledge and straight forward approach to running the trips. Matt kept us informed and told us all the sort of info you want to know without going over the top....This chap should teach other reps ..thank you so much. The coaches they use are all clean and well equipped with usb chargers and have aircon. The places chosen to visit were well researched even down to where coaches park or drop you off. The Bernina Express was the highlight for our family and matts photo tip was welcomed. The only down point was the hotel,a little dated and evening meal in main restuarant was a bit of a let down. I think we were lucky with our room on level 7 and with balcony as the walls are very thin and noise travels. We would book again with riviera

Barbara Shillaker (Google Reviewer)  

I have been on three...

11-Jan-2024

I have been on three trips with Riviera Travel so far, with two more booked during 2024. Highly recommended. Excellent tour guides. Great program of visits. Great hotels used.

Valerie Pascoe  

We would go again in a heartbeat

22-Jan-2022

Oh my goodness, what a relief it was to actually get away! Full marks to all at Riviera for keeping us up to date before our trip and for the help so cheerfully and patiently given with the extra admin that Covid brought our way. We felt totally safe with the measures taken on board, thank you very much for this. Without exception, Staff were fantastic and our every need was attended to. The additional Covid testing ran smoothly, organised by our Riviera Reps. The guided tours were most interesting: the guides very knowledgeable and more importantly, interesting to listen to. We loved this trip and would do it again in a heartbeat. Thank you again Riviera, you were FAB!

Chris Wilson (Google Reviewer)  

Second escorted tour with this...

25-Jul-2022

Second escorted tour with this company. Did 5 days in Iceland tour. Everything went smoothly, excellent tour guide, Per. Extremely knowledgeable and interesting guy. Very friendly too. Highly recommend. Just let down by the room given at the hotel, but I guess the travel company doesn't have control over this.

Kathryn Jurin, GB  

Riviera South Africa tour - awesome

21-May-2021

Riviera have amazing holidays and tours to choose from. The one we chose was South Africa and wow! It turned out to be our best trip ever - incredible memories we will never forget. We’ve been all over the world which was because of all our experiences, this one was awesome. The organisation of the holiday, the guide and the travel was e cells that. The choice of hotels, meals, restaurants, trips was absolutely fantastic - very good quality and character - nothing bland or boring! The Riviera guide was permanently with us along with a South Africa guide and they were both extremely friendly, professional, informative and you could ask any questions you want! I would massively recommend this holiday/trip and when you’ve experienced it, you realise how reasonable the price is. We reflect on this trip a lot and thank you Riviera for giving us such a wonderful experience.

Trustpilot
Barry, GB  

Rhine Christmas markets cruise

09-Dec-2019

Just completed a 5 day trip on the Rhine. Our first river cruise and a tester for future cruises. The boat was well appointed and the cabin and public areas were spotlessly clean. The staff were attentive and contributed to the very relaxed atmosphere on the boat. The quality of the food surpassed that which we have experiened on sea cruises in recent years. I have written little because it was a faultless experience. We have booked a further cruise (in France) on the basis of our experience.

Trustpilot
Nigel Stewart (Google Reviewer)  

Cruise ship William Wordsworth: A...

15-Apr-2024

Cruise ship William Wordsworth: A cruise ship of excellence, very well appointed, comfortable & indulgent. We departed Budapest and cruised the Blue Danube heading to Vienna. The top deck offers sun loungers, a heated pool, golf and a place to just sit & relax. The cabins have everything you could want for but above all incredible comfortable. The staff are professional, courteous, and attentive and do everything to make your stay a pure pleasure. This is an experience you will remember for many years.

Christine Hardy (Google Reviewer)  

Although most people seem to...

10-Mar-2024

Although most people seem to book and pay for their holidays online, because we live close by we prefer to make a personal visit. In my opinion if they are offering this as an option they should be better equipped to accommodate visits in person. We have not been on our river cruise yet, so can't comment on that yet.

Rob Steele (Google Reviewer)  

My 3rd Riviera trip within...

16-Feb-2024

My 3rd Riviera trip within a year and I wasn't disappointed 😁 This time it was https://www.rivieratravel.co.uk/escorted-tours/southern-india-coastal-route-solo-travellers This trip, although not cheap, it really offers exceptional value for money as you see a lot of Tamil Nadu and Kerela, stay in fantastic hotels, excellent breakfasts every day as well as some lunches and dinners also included. George Bareham, our "Tour Manager" was brilliant, very professional, but also friendly and diligent. Satheeshan, our local guide was helpful and picked me up antibiotics when I got ill, he was a nice chap, if (for my taste) went on a bit and used 20 words when 1 would suffice. Mr Sweeny, our coach driver was fantastic,really professional and an exceptionally good driver. His assistant, Murgon wad a delight, always smiling and attentive. This is a full on trip, early morning starts and quite a packed itinerary, but still leaving time to laze around some brilliant hotel swimming pools. Only a couple of suggestions to improve the holiday. More shopping time in Cochin and change carriers from Etihad who, unfortunately aren't the excellent airline they used to be. But, will I use Riviera Travel again - Yes 😁

Barbara Parkes (Google Reviewer)  

Presently in Croatia staying at...

22-Sep-2023

Presently in Croatia staying at Arauana Hotel, supposedly a 4 star property, but wouldn't give it any star rating. Rooms are small and dirty. Wallpaper blistering. Meals served in a shed like lean-to. Food like warm, greasy and always self service. Second holiday with Riviera this year and neither at standard advertised. Have travelled with them previously and everything was fine, but standards have really dropped. Have booked a holiday with them next year and now dreading it. Certainly don't provide the standard advertised. We have never stayed in such a hovel and have visited youngsters in back packers accommodation which was far better than this supposedly 4 star accommodation. There are no indoor bars or lounges only a shed as a so called restaurant. Absolutely disgusting. Won't be boking with them again

Dates & Availability

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Tuesday - Thursday

Jan 07, 2025 - Jan 23, 2025
$7468 (USD)

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Tuesday - Thursday

Mar 04, 2025 - Mar 20, 2025
$7717 (USD)

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Tuesday - Thursday

Oct 14, 2025 - Oct 30, 2025
$7717 (USD)

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Tuesday - Thursday

Nov 18, 2025 - Dec 04, 2025
$7593 (USD)

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Book with Confidence

  • Low Deposit

    Riviera Travel requires a minimum deposit of 500 GBP per person or the full booking value, whichever is less, with the final balance not due until 75 days before departure.

  • Cancellation Policy

    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of riviera travel charges.

    Up to 75 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of deposit.

    At 74 days before tour starts: Forfeit 50% of booking price.

    At 60 days before tour starts: Forfeit 70% of booking price.

    At 30 days before tour starts: Forfeit 90% of booking price.

    At 14 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of booking price.

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