Pura vida (the pure life) is a term you'll hear everywhere in Costa Rica—and it’s more of a lifestyle than a passing phrase. Simply put, pura vida is all about embracing life and living in the moment.
In the “rich coast,” living the pura vida lifestyle is easy. You’ll see why on this 12-day tour that takes you through incredibly biodiverse rainforests and on ziplining adventures high above the jungle. You’ll feel the pura vida on the pristine beaches, while boating downriver amidst a lush rainforest, and while hiking in the cloud forest of a simmering volcano. You might even feel pura vida from the keel-billed toucans eyeing you from the treetops. That said, Costa Rica is also a world leader in wildlife conservation—so let’s go.
Spend three luxurious nights in the shadow of the ominous Arenal Volcano where you’ll hike over lava fields, go ziplining and on crocodile safari, and soak in the natural hot springs.
Explorations by Collette
Explorations by Collette, a small group travel experience, sets you out on a transformative odyssey. With an average size of just 15 travelers, this is your chance to learn, discover, and seek out new things. With Explorations, you’ll find extraordinary travel moments already planned for you paired with opportunities to let your sense of adventure lead the way. The best is yet to come.
Arrive in San José
You’ll catch your first glimpse of Costa Rica’s active volcanoes as you land—Poás to the north, Irazú to the east—and this is just a teaser for the adventures ahead. The moment you step off the plane in San José, you’ll notice that people are smiling. The pura vida is palpable.
The capital of Costa Rica is a hilly, green city and home to over one-third of the country’s population. This first day, you’ll soak up the vibrant city. San José is the perfect launchpad for exploring the nearby volcanoes and cloud forests, which you’ll be doing soon.
Tortuguero National Park
Wake up early and head to Tortuguero National Park on Costa Rica’s northern Caribbean coast. Here, you’ll find sweeping mountain horizons, dense jungle forests—and green sea turtles galore.
Tortuguero is a 120-square-mile coastal park that serves as the most important breeding ground of the endangered green sea turtle. It’s also one of the wettest areas in the country, so get ready for a boat adventure. You’ll take an expedition down rivers and through an extensive network of freshwater channels, and then you’ll visit the world’s first green-turtle research station. Later, retreat back to your luxury lodge, a beautiful sanctuary in the middle of the jungle.
Jaguars and Green Macaws
Wake up to the sounds of the jungle and head back out for day two in Tortuguero National Park. This morning, you’ll go on a guided excursion to spot the elusive green macaw and other unique winged creatures that flock to Tortuguero. Next, set out on a special nature cruise through the park. Get ready to spot even more wildlife, maybe even jaguars.
Sarapiquí and Tirimbina Rainforest Centers
Today, you’ll set out on a languid boat ride towards Sarapiquí and Tirimbina Rainforest Centers to meet the monkeys, parrots, and tropical birds that call it home. Learn about the area’s status as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and about the groundbreaking research and conservation that’s spearheaded here.
After your up-close-and-personal encounters in the tropical rainforest, you’ll be whisked away to a cacao plantation. See for yourself how this magical plant is converted from bean to bar. Later, relax at your secluded nature resort nestled on the edge of the San Carlos River. Stroll through butterfly and botanical gardens lined with lemon soursop, guava, and mango trees.
Peñas Blancas River Safari
On day five, you’ll take a motor-free paddle down the Peñas Blancas River and your naturalist guide will point out the abundant wildlife all around you. Look for river otters, howler monkeys, lizards, and even small crocodiles.
Next, you’ll visit a local farm and enjoy delicious snacks such as fresh banana bread and Costa Rican coffee, and then—it’s up to you. Either continue your adventure on horseback, or lace up for a guided walking tour through a private forest reserve.
You’ll trade the rainforest for volcanoes today, as you head toward the town of La Fortuna and the family-owned farm of Finca Don Juan. Go on an educational tour of the farm’s vegetable and fruit gardens, and after a cooking demo, enjoy a farm-to-table lunch and a sip of homemade cane liquor.
After lunch, you’ll go on a guided tour of the area’s hanging bridges for a birds-eye view of the rainforest, and later—settle into your luxury resort nestled in the shadow of the 5,358-foot Arenal Volcano.
Ziplining and Lava Fields
Wake up and look out your window at Arenal Volcano—there’s no better way to start the day. Today you can decide what you feel like doing. Fun fact: Costa Rica is the birthplace of ziplining, and adrenaline junkies can spend the morning gliding high above the rainforest canopy. If heights aren’t your thing, take a hike across the lava fields for a closer look at the volcano.
No matter which activity you choose, the afternoon is yours to wander around the charming town of La Fortuna and/or take a soak in the resort’s natural hot springs.
Wake up and have a leisurely morning, if you like. Today you’re free to do whatever you wish.
If you’re feeling semi-adventurous, daytrip to Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge and go on a river cruise. You might catch a glimpse of the Jabiru stork, the tallest flying bird in Central and South America. If you’re feeling even more adventurous, a white-water rafting trip might be on the day’s agenda—or just hang back at the resort and indulge in a spa treatment and the springs.
Tarcoles Rio Grande Crocodile Safari
Bid farewell to the volcano and head toward the lush mangroves of Tarcoles Rio Grande. You’re going on a jungle crocodile safari! Don’t worry, it’s perfectly safe—you’ll float along with a guide, but keep your eyes peeled for the incredible creatures below the surface.
Later in the afternoon, check in at your luxury resort located just outside the breathtaking Manuel Antonio National Park on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. Take in the pristine beaches and coral reefs. Before digging into a delicious dinner, watch as the sun sets over the glorious Pacific.
Manuel Antonio National Park
Day 10 is all about exploring the remarkable Manuel Antonio National Park. The park is famous for its diversity of tropical plants and wildlife—from three-toed sloths and endangered white-faced capuchin monkeys to hundreds of bird species. The park is also riddled with hiking trails, which means you have plenty of exploring to do.
If you’d rather not explore on foot, head to the beach for a swim and spend the day lounging on the sand. Just be sure to keep your snacks close. The monkeys like banana bread, too.
Wake up this morning and get ready for a jolt—you’re visiting a coffee farm that produces some of Costa Rica’s most delicious beans. Even if you’re not a coffee-lover, after learning about the bean-to-cup process and sampling the different brews, you will be.
After getting your buzz on, it’s time to say goodbye to the beaches of the Pacific and circle back to where your trip began–the bustling San José. Sit down to a delicious farewell dinner with your new friends and reminisce on the highlights of your trip.
Bring the Pura Vida Home
Whatever the favorite part of your Costa Rica trip—the monkeys, river safaris, and green turtles; or the volcano, the zipline, and beaches—take a moment before your plane departs to pay homage to the incredibly diverse natural wonders of Costa Rica. Keep the memories close and, most importantly, keep the pura vida in your heart.