4 DAYS FROM $1,649
Fly to San José, Costa Rica
Your Costa Rican adventure begins today with a flight to San José, the capital of one of the happiest countries on Earth. After checking into your sprawling resort, featuring two pools in a tropical garden setting, you’ll convene this evening for a Welcome Briefing and Dinner at the hotel. Rest up tonight — tomorrow holds an early day of adventure as we head to Tortuguero.
Cloud forests and rainforests: The scenic journey to Tortuguero
We’ll leave city life behind as we set off this morning for the province of Limón on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast, home to Tortuguero National Park. Our drive will be a scenic one, too — as we near Braulio Carrillo National Park, we’ll witness transitional cloud forests give way to tropical rainforests. And, if conditions permit, your family may be able to view waterfalls and the Barva Volcano peaks that mark the continental divide, and where, on a clear day, you can look in both directions and see Costa Rica’s Pacific and Caribbean coasts. We’ll also stop for breakfast in Guápiles, a town at the heart of the country’s banana-growing region and get an inside look at both banana and coffee plantations as we make our way to the La Suerte River. Tortuguero is reachable only by airplane or boat, so we’ll embark a boat into the heart of Tortuguero and check into our hotel.
After lunch, a tour of Tortuguero village leads us to the Sea Turtle Conservancy, which oversees the care and preservation of the largest green turtle rookery in the Western Hemisphere, before a stop at Casa Cecropia offers a look at Costa Rica’s cacao production (and a taste of it, too!).
No day in the Caribbean is complete without fresh coconut milk sipped directly from the coconut itself. This refreshing delight is a staple throughout Latin America, and a nutritious and delicious way to stay hydrated on our adventure, and something kids will love! Enjoy dinner at the hotel this evening, then rest up for tomorrow’s Tortuguero National Park explorations.
Tour Tortuguero National Park and Caribbean flora
Spend the morning touring Tortuguero National Park, home to seven species of turtles, manatees, crocodiles, caimans, sloths, four monkey species, exotic birds, and countless other wildlife. Tortuguero’s location is unique, as it’s situated right on the beach and features a network of rivers and winding canals similar to the Amazon. "Tortuguero" might mean "turtle catcher" in Spanish, but today's sea turtles are highly protected from poaching, and from March through October, you can wander the park's shores at night and perhaps catch a glimpse of these slow and noble creatures dragging themselves ashore to lay their eggs in the sand. You may even see the baby sea turtles hatching, too!
We’ll have lunch at a local restaurant before returning to the hotel, where a guided walk through the on-site botanical gardens showcases the complexity, beauty, and even the medicinal usage of Caribbean flora.
Taste some Costa Rican sunshine at a local pineapple farm
An early breakfast at the hotel fuels us for the return journey ahead. We’ll leave Tortuguero in the same fashion we arrived — by boat — only this time our destination is Arenal, the area home to Costa Rica’s titular volcano.
As we head toward Arenal, we’ll stop for lunch at a local restaurant, then visit a pineapple plantation to taste the multiple varieties of this tropical staple and learn about the organic growing techniques and climate that make Costa Rica the world’s leading pineapple producer. By evening, we’ll reach our hotel, nestled into the heart of the rainforest on the San Carlos River, beneath the shadow of the towering Arenal Volcano.
Peñas Blancas float trip and wildlife viewing, farmhouse visit, “flying” over Arenal
Grab your camera, binoculars, and sunblock for this morning’s scenic float trip down the Peñas Blancas River. Family Feature: Kids and parents alike will love this scenic 9-mile roll down the river, and your naturalist guide will make sure you catch any special appearances by herons, egrets, Kingfishers, crocodiles, monkeys, and the other myriad wildlife that inhabit this region.
Just before lunch, we’ll visit an 80-year-old farmhouse for refreshments provided by generous local hosts. Then it’s on to our next adventure: A sky tram ride!
First we’ll ascend by gondola into the rainforest canopy, and then zoom off on zip lines for the unsurpassed feeling of freedom, adrenaline, and unbelievable views of the giant Arenal Volcano!
Scenic hike to Arenal hanging bridges, symphonic wildlife, historic lava trail walk
Suspend your disbelief this morning when we embark on an easy 1.5-mile hike from our hotel to the Arenal’s hanging bridges. Along the way, we’ll be on the lookout for wildlife and learn about the vegetation in this “transitional zone,” a unique ecotone between dry and moist forests that features a wider diversity of plants, trees, and animals than nearly any other region. Family Feature: Arenal’s hanging bridges offer another great way to experience the regional wildlife and nature, not to mention the spectacular views of the volcano as you make your way through the park. High up in the trees, you’ll get a bird’s-eye point of view of other animals and plants, while birdsongs and wildlife in motion create an exotic symphony like you’ve never heard before.
We’ll discuss our amazing sightseeing over lunch at a local restaurant before our next thrilling excursion — a lava trail walk. Our last adventure in Arenal takes us across forested areas and lava fields created by the volcano’s historic inaugural eruption in 1968, while our naturalist guide explains the very different terrain and the flora and fauna unique to the area. Back at the hotel this evening, enjoy an evening at leisure with dinner on your own.
La Paz waterfalls, animal rescue center, home-hosted dinner in San José
On our way back to San José, discover the La Paz Waterfall Gardens, located on the Pois Volcano. Kids will absolutely love the variety of wildlife inside this nature park, which features the largest butterfly observatory in the world, hummingbird and bromeliad gardens, a serpentarium, frog pond, and an array of waterfalls.
Visit an animal rescue center to view jungle cats and other species that were either injured or exposed to humans too long to be safely released back into the wild and are now cared for by the trained staff at La Paz Waterfall Gardens.
We’ll have lunch before checking into our hotel in San José, with some time to relax and freshen up before a special home-hosted dinner with a local family. This is a great way for children to meet other children, and to experience first-hand the culture, cuisine (kid-friendly dining options!), and way of life in Costa Rica. This home-hosted dinner is truly the ultimate finale to a grand week of adventure.
Sad, but true — today you’ll board your return flight home from San José’s airport.
Important Notice: The above day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Vantage Adventure Leader or regional expert.
Please Note: The hotels listed are preliminary and subject to change. Although we contract our hotels a year in advance, unforeseen situations do occasionally occur. Should it be necessary to change a hotel, one of equal quality and value will be substituted. You will receive verified hotel information with your final itinerary. The hotel ratings are based on the hotel and a leading travel industry authority on hotels throughout the world.