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Top Trip Memories

  • Exploring miles of off-the-beaten-track beaches on both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, and perhaps chancing upon nesting sea turtles.
  • Glimpsing rare tropical birds and butterflies on a tramp through the rainforests.
  • Viewing both coasts from atop 11,200-foot Irazu volcano while gazing into massive craters that look like they were scooped out for some gargantuan ice cream cone.
  • Cooling off in the mountainous cloud forests while in search of monkeys, sloths, and other wildlife.
  • Revelling in the colors of wildflowers and trees: orchids, bougainvillea, jacaranda, and flame and poro trees, which paint the landscape with purples, oranges and scarlets.
  • Coming upon a forest waterfall and taking a dip in the waters below; or relaxing in a secluded hot springs at Arenal Volcano National Park.
  • Riding a zipline high over a forest canopy, rappelling down a waterfall canyon, kayaking on a clear mountain lake -- or all three in one day.
  • Reeling in a big catch on a sport fishing cruise in a quest for tuna, wahoo and marlin.
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Tour Tips

  • Allow at least seven to ten days for a tour that will hit many of the highlights.
  • Costa Rica tour operators cater to a wide variety of travelers, including couples, singles, and families; whether you’re looking for hard or soft adventure, Stride can help you find the right tours.
  • If you have a special interest -- birding or fishing, for instance -- look for tours that emphasize those activities; you’ll be able to find them.
  • Don’t be put off by reports of civil strife elsewhere in Central America; Costa Rica has been safe and peaceful for decades.
  • The dry season runs from December to April or May in San Jose (the capital) and the Pacific Coast and from January to April along the Caribbean.
  • Some parts of the country can get rain year-round, and temperature is swayed more by altitude than season, so pack an umbrella and visit any time of year.
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Costa Rica Travel Reviews & Ratings

4.7 out of 5



948 Reviews

  • Excellent 766
  • Great 239
  • Average 12
  • Disappointing 1
  • Terrible 3

Rating Details

  • Value
  • Guide
  • Activities
  • Lodging
  • Transportation
  • Meals

Tour Reviews

Fantastic tour of costa rica

Discover Costa Rica

February 2017
Exodus Travels
Recommend: Yes
Lovely tour of a beautiful country
We loved all of it but especially esquinas rainforest lodge, so fantastic to stay in rainforest with all the wildlife. The food is good and plentiful everywhere, most of the accommodation is great. Lots of wildlife to see.

Very knowledgeable about wildlife and ecosystems, clearly loved his country and was keen to share all aspects of costa rica

Some journeys are long , audiobook and headphones would be worth taking. Do take binoculars even if you are not a bitd watcher, those without missed out. Lots of wildlife to be seen just sitting still in hotel grounds.

No reservations in recommending

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Discover Costa Rica

Discover Costa Rica

February 2017
Exodus Travels
Recommend: Yes
A brilliant "taster" trip to Costa Rica, which our Guide (Jorge Diaz) skilfully adapted to the group preference for wildlife discovery with several early morning starts to capture the best viewing.
I really enjoyed the hot springs near Arenal (and the Pina Colada's!)


Temperatures and humidity vary with elevation and location. If you are travelling in the Winter (peak) season you will need a sweater or fleece for early morning Quetzal hunting in Savegre

Generally the accommodation was good; one exception was the hotel in Manuel Antonio which, although convenient for the National Park and the beach, was rather noisy at night

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Discover Costa Rica

Discover Costa Rica

February 2017
Exodus Travels
Recommend: Yes
Probably the best holiday I have ever had. Excellent wildlife and well thought out locations to ensure we saw the maximum amount of the various landscapes Costa Rica has to offer. Excellent tour leader and driver. I thoroughly enjoyed this holiday.
There were so many - when I spotted my first wildlife - a toucan I was so excited I was almost hyper-ventilating!
Seeing the first sloth, the first monkey, otter, ant-eater etc
Boat journey into Tortaguera
Seeing the volcano at Turrialba erupting

He was excellent - very knowledgeable about the country and wildlife - he was still excited at seeing the birds and animals which he had probably seen hundreds of times before but made it seem special as indeed it was to us. He helped my husband and other group members with their cameras and photography which he was very knowledgeable about. He was a character who was great with our group.

If you like wildlife, birds, flowers/trees, and seeing different types of scenery, this is the holiday for you. The people were friendly and the food was great too!

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Discovering Costa Rica

Discover Costa Rica

February 2017
Exodus Travels
Recommend: Yes
A wonderful holiday! Well organised and varied . We were fortunate to have an especially nice group who all interacted well together.
Seeing how much effort is being put into protecting the environment, and restoring some of the logged rainforests- especially in the last 2 lodges.

Antonio was an excellent leader and frequently added extra walks and made special arrangements to ensure we all had a wonderful time. His had a wide knowledge of all aspects about Costa Rica and communicated really well with us as a group and individually. His sense of humour was appreciated adn added to the happy atmosphere.

Take a disposable poncho or buy one there. Have walking sandals.

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A fabulous tour

Discover Costa Rica

February 2017
Exodus Travels
Recommend: Yes
A packed itinerary, a great tour of the country- experiencing micro climates- differing landscapes- wonderful national parks and wildlife.
Each of the national parks were unique!!

Antonio was a fabulous leader - with vast knowledge of the wildlife and country.

Rainforest is what it says!! Take your poncho!
A great variety of micro climates - from fleece to bathing costume in one day!! Camera is a must!

This tour was a great over view ofCosta Rica. I do believe we covered about 1000 miles.

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Top Tour Operators and Travel Companies

Classic Itineraries

Natural Costa Rica in 1 Week

Day 1-2, San Jose: Braulio Carrillo National Park, Atlantic Forest Zipline

Day 3-4, La Fortuna: Tour fruit plantations, bird watching, Arenal Volcano National Park, Monteverde Cloud Forest, La Fortuna Waterfall

Day 5-6, Tortuguero National Park: observe incredible wildlife, in particular the Green Sea Turtles in their natural egg laying habitat.

Trips that follow this itinerary:

Costa Rica Volcanos & Cloud Forest with G Adventures - 6 Days, premium trip

Family Costa Rica with Abercrombie & Kent - 7 Days, luxury trip

Nature & Adventure Package with Project Expedition - 7 Days, basic trip

Or see All Costa Rica in One Week Trips

Highlights of Costa Rica in 2 Weeks

Day 1-2, San Jose: Puerto Viejo de Talamanca village, zipline in Atlantic forest, Braulio Carrillo National Park

Day 3-5, La Fortuna: Arenal Volcano, La Fortuna Waterfall, whitewater rafting, Baldi Hot Springs, Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge

Day 6-7, Monteverde Cloud Forest: stunning views of the Gulf of Nicoya, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve & National Park, catch a glimpse of a Quetzel, zip line through the canopy

Day 8-10, Tortuguero National Park: Sea Turtle Museum, observe the famous Green Sea Turtles who live here, wildlife walks

Day 11-13, Manuel Antonio: Pan-Am Coastal Highway, see multiple species of monkeys through the trees, horseback riding on the beach

Trips that follow this itinerary:

Explore Costa Rica with G Adventures - 14 Days, premium trip

Classic Costa Rica with Intrepid - 15 Days, value trip

Costa Rica Encompassed with Tucan Travel - 14 Days, basic trip

Or see All Costa Rica in Two Weeks Trips 

Adventure Tour in Costa Rica

Day 1, San Jose: Braulio Carrillo National Park, Atlantic Forest Zipline, birdwatching cruise

Day 2-4, Pacuare River: whitewater rafting, wildlife viewing, hiking in Pacuare Nature Reserve among dense forest and to waterfalls. Zip line among the canopy

Day 5-6, Tortuguero National Park: Kayak through the many canals and lagoons in the park. Observe the famous Green Sea Turtles who live here, take a guided wildlife walk

Day 7-8, Manuel Antonio: Sky tram, hike to Cathedral Point for spectacular views of the ocean

Trips that follow this itinerary:

Costa Rica Kayaking Adventure with G Adventures - 9 Days, value trip

Costa Rica Adventure with National Geographic Expeditions - 9 Days, premium trip

Costa Rica Summer Getaway with Adventures Within Reach - 8 Days, premium trip

Or see All Costa Rica Adventure Trips

Costa Rica Trips & Tour Advice

Few adventure travel destinations are as hot as Costa Rica, one of the most stable countries in Central America and home to mountains, cloud forests, beaches (on two coasts -- the Pacific and Caribbean), wildlife, and some great eco-lodges as well. While small, Costa Rica packs a punch for travelers, and is family friendly with plenty of “soft adventure” opportunities. 

Costa Rica is a leading contender for the title of eco-tourism capital of the Americas, and for good reason: not only does it have mountains, forests, rivers, coastlines, wildlife, and more, but it has adopted sustainable development as its ruling principle. Costa Rica is set to become the world’s first carbon neutral country, with virtually all of its energy derived from geothermal, hydroelectric, and wind power.

Costa Rica is a natural wonderland that in its own way is as unusual as the Galapagos or Madagascar. Though smaller than the U.S. state of West Virginia, Costa Rica harbors enormous biological diversity. The country contains nearly four percent of all the species on the planet -- more than 500,000 different plants and animals -- well over 100 times what its land mass would normally be expected to hold.

Switzerland of Central America

A full quarter of Costa Rico’s land is devoted to national parks, and it’s long been known as the Switzerland of Central America because of its peaceful, democratic, politically neutral government (not to mention its often dramatic scenery). Compared to much of the Americas, it has a high literacy rate, a high standard of living, and a high life expectancy for its people (health care is free). The country doesn’t even have a military.

That doesn’t mean everything is Swiss-neat and efficient: the roads are often in disrepair and government and private corruption are periodic threats. Nor are things as neat or on-time here as they are in Switzerland; ticos and ticas (Costa Rican men and women) can be quite casual about tidiness and punctuality.

Friendly, Eco-Minded People

But the people are incredibly friendly, so much so that saying “no” to anything is considered the height of rudeness (though they have developed dozens of ways of couching their “no’s” in various shades of “si.”)

Meanwhile, the prevailing eco-mindedness of the government and people has resulted in significant reforestation projects on once depleted lands, and the benefits of a thriving eco-tourism business to the economy have largely trumped the old practices of illegal logging, burning, and poaching.

From Coast to Coast

Costa Rica features two separate coastlines -- the Caribbean and the Pacific -- that are just 185 miles away at its widest point, making it possible to swim on both coasts in the same day.The regional terrain and climate can differ dramatically, and throughout the country you’ll find a remarkable mix of lush jungle rainforests; cool, verdant cloud forests; volcanic mountains and deep valleys; wild rivers; and arid, flat desert-like sections as well. All have their own separate kind of beauty and appeal, making it a one-country atlas. A good tour guide can help you turn the pages efficiently.

Attractions include visiting coastal beaches, surfing, whitewater rafting, hiking through rain- and cloud forests, birding trips and other wildlife viewing, driving up volcanoes and coastal cliffs for memorable scenic views, gazing at wildlflowers, touring towns and cities (such as the capital, San Jose), and staying in eco-lodges or taking a break from all the action at posh resorts.

Things Not to Miss

Among must-see’s and do’s are the Monteverde cloud forests, situated in the central part of the country amidst a number of volcanoes; it’s said to contain nearly as many animal and plant species as the United States and Canada combined. Besides waterfalls, panoramic views of both coasts and little mountain towns, you’ll have the opportunity (albeit chancy) of spotting the elusive red-and-green resplendent Quetzal, which tops many a birder’s life list.

The Arenal volcano is the dramatic centerpiece of a national park where you can go hiking or kayaking on a lake, visit hot springs and waterfalls, or go ziplining over the forest canopy (keeping in mind that the volcano is active). Whitewater rafting on one of several rivers is another priority for adventurous travelers -- try the class III-IV Pacuare River in the central part of the country.

All these and much more are best seen on guided tours, so let Stride be your guide through the maze of activities in the Switzerland of Central America.

Related Guides


Central America & the Caribbean

Local Attraction:

Arenal Volcano, Manuel Antonio National Park, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Rincon de la Vieja, Santa Teresa and Many More

Top Acitivities:   

Nature Sightseeing, Wildlife Viewing, Birding & Wilderness walk 

Similar Destinations:                       

Ecuador, Belize


More Costa Rica Guided Tours

View All Costa Rica Trips

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Brian Gillis

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