12-Days Travel Trip Plan to Costa Rica

Costa Rica is an ideal destination for a family holiday. It is diverse, safe and friendly. It is easy to combine a trip to Costa Rica with a trip to the U.S. thanks to the relatively cheap flights readily available from many destinations in the US, including New York. Costa Rica has everything: Natural attractions like rainforests, volcanoes, hot springs, exotic beaches, and animal encounters in nature, as well as adventure rides and attractions for every age – from the young and the restless to families with young children.


  hanging bridge costa rica hotel pool


Here is an example itinerary for 12 Days tour in beautiful Costa Rica:

The general plan: San Jose – Tortuguero - Lands in love – Arenal – Monteverde – Manuel Antonio


Day One – Arrival in San Jose:

Rent a car or take a pre ordered shuttle/Taxi to your hotel in San Jose.
Overnight at Hotel in San Jose.

san jose


Recommended Hotels in San Jose: 

Park Inn

4 Star new modern Hotel. Centrally located. Outdoor pool, hot tub, snack bar and a fitness centre. Air conditioned rooms, mini bar, coffee maker and a flat-screen cable TV. Free Parkink and very good free WiFi.
Presidente Hotel

4 Star Hotel. Located in the heart of San José. Free breakfast buffet and free WiFi access.
Gym, Spa and  2 large hot tubs. Free Parking.


B&B - In San Jose from Booking.com

Luxury hotel near San Jose Airport:

Marriott Hotel

5 Star Luxury Hotel.  2 Outdoor swimming pools, a golf driving range,  spa, restaurants. 

Downtown San Jose is about 15 minutes’ drive away.


marriot hotel

Day Two – San Jose – Tortuguero:

Depart from San Jose to Tortuguero early in the morning.

Take a tour to Tortuguero National Park (pre order the tour + book there an accommodation). From port of Matina / Caño Blanco, the tour start by boat (maximum load allowed on the boat per person is ~13kg), sailing in the river and through the canals parallel to the coast until Tortuguero National Park. On the way you will have an excellent chance to take a close look at the wildlife.


passengers boat to tortuguero  passengers boat to tortuguero


Sign up at your  accommodation. 

In the afternoon, visit the Tortuguero village, at the northeastern corner of the park, on a thin strip of land between the sea and the main canal where the laid-back style, the reggae roots music and the local people combines in this colorful village.

Late at night go to special night turtle sightseeing (July—September only).


baby turtle  turtle  crocodile


Day Three – Tortuguero:

After breakfast take a guided jungle walk to the forest or a boat tour through the Tortuguero Canals.

In the afternoon enjoy a walk along the hotels' private trails, or ride a boat through secondary canals. Tortuguero is one of the most important nesting sites in the western half of the Caribbean for the green turtle from June to September each year. The park is formed by a navigable network of lakes and canals with a large variety of wildlife, including monkeys, crocodiles, iguanas, sloths, turtles and more than 300 species of birds.




 Day Four – Tortuguero – Lands in Love:

Early in the morning go on a boat ride through the canals to see flora and fauna in the forest swamp.

After breakfast take transportation (around 6 hour drive) to Lands in Love Resort and Adventure Centre, which is right in the centre of a cloud forest.

Overnight at Lands in Love Hotel & Resort.


lands in love hotel

Day Five – Lands in Love – Canopy + Adventure Cables:

After breakfast take a combo trip: Canopy + Adventure Cables.
Canopy: Gaze down on the forest from the treetops. 9 cables, 10 platforms, 3 trails, 2 hanging bridges, and one tarzan swing.
Adventure Cables: Ziplining down cables (150 metres high) stretched over the valley between steel towers. Three double-cables for an experience for two, a super-long cable (750 metres), slide down at 80 km per hour.




Overnight at Lands in Love Hotel & Resort.


Day Six – Lands in Love – Arenal:

Start Early in the morning, head out towards Caño Negro. This reserve is considered to be one of the greatest bird-viewing sites in the continent and is home to countless animals, such as monkeys, lizards, alligators and bats.

Los Chiles is a town 5 km from the border with Nicaragua, from there take a boat down the Rio Frio river with a professional guide who will explain about the local flora and fauna.


river canoeing


At the end of the tour head to the your next hotel in Arenal area (in La fortuna) which has beautiful green scenery (kept fresh year-round by tropical rains), roaring rivers, hot springs, lagoons, natural parks, and wild animals.



Recommended hotels in La Fortuna near Arenal Volcano:

Nayara Springs Spa and Gardens

4 Star luxury boutique Hotel and spa with panoramic view of the Arenal Volcano and surrounded by Costa Rican Rainforest. Private bungalows have a private terrace with a 2-person hot tub. Outdoor pool and wet bar. Free parking. Free WiFi in public area. 

Nayara Springs Adults only

5 Star adults-only boutique Hotel surrounded by tropical rainforest. Located just 7 km from La Fortuna Town Centre. Spa and a large outdoor pool, Free breakfast, fitness centre, restaurant and bar. Free WiFi and free parking. Laundry services are included.
Each luxurious suite have a private thermal pool, a seating area, a flat-screen TV and a free minibar. 

Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort

5 Star Spa and Thermal Resort  Featuring hot spring baths with unlimited access to it. Sauna, massages services, luxury spa treatments and 5 swimming pools. Restaurants and bars.
The rooms and suites offer garden views, air conditioning, flat-screen cable TV, coffee maker and minibar.

Free WiFi and free valet parking. 

Hotel Arenal Kioro Suites & Spa

5 Star Hotel Suites & Spa. Featuring an on-site hot spring bath, a swimming pool. 2 on-site restaurants. Game room, business center and a gym. Free Wi-Fi, free parking.
The suites feature a hot tub, air conditioning, flat-screen cable TV and a balcony with Arenal Volcano views.

Mountain Paradise

4 Star Hotel. Outdoor pool, spa centre and terraces amid the gardens. 2 restaurants.

The suites are spacious and air conditioned. They also include a safety box and a balcony offering panoramic views of the Arenal Volcano. Free WiFi, free parking and Free breakfast.

Arenal Springs Resort & Spa

4 Star Hotel. Outdoor pool and a restaurant, and views of Arenal Volcano and the garden from all rooms. The property has free parking, a yoga deck, hot springs and On-site restaurant. Free Wi-Fi. 

Montana De Fuego

4 Star Hotel. Offering great views of Arenal Volcano, luxurious accommodation set amongst attractive gardens and lakes. Indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a restaurant, its own adventure park and a spring bath. Contemporary suites and bungalows, each has a balcony or terrace, air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, a minibar and a bathroom. Free parking.


Day Seven – Arenal:

Take a hike in Arenal National Park. Climb up the Toucan Trail up to the breathtaking viewpoint overlooking the active Arenal volcano, the lake, and the hot springs.

Afterwards, head to the Baldi hot springs for swimming and relaxation.

arenal volcano


Day Eight – Arenal – Monteverde:

After breakfast leave towards Santa Elena & Monteverde area. A gorgeous view of the bay and the nearby islands will accompany you on your way to Monteverde.

Since 1951 an isolated group of North Americans has lived there, 1400 metres high, protecting the area through private organisations. They have turned it into a plentiful nature reserve where visitors can encounter the many animals living in this protected area.

butterfly  green and black frog

On your arrival go on a tour to a frog pond and a butterfly exhibit and learn about the animals unique to the tropical region of Costa Rica. You will see more than 40 species of butterflies and 30 species of frogs including unique ones such as the colourful poison arrow frog and the red-eyed tree frog.

Afterwards go on a night tour in the trails of a cloud forest and see tarantulas, grasshoppers, crickets, sleeping birds, lizards, hedgehogs, snakes, and more.

  green and blue frog  yellow frog

Overnight in hotel in Monteverde.


Day Nine – Monteverde:

Start the day with a 1.9-mile trail in the forest, in which you will cross 8 different bridges, varying in length from 170-560 feet and 12-80 feet in height. Afterwards go on a guided tour to see over 30 kinds of snakes , insects and lizards.
Overnight in Monteverde hotel.

  hanging bridge

Recommended hotels in Monteverde:

El Establo

3 Star Hotel. Rooms with balconies and views of Monteverde Cloud Forest. 2 Restaurants, a spa and an outdoor swimming pool. Free parking. Free Wi-Fi in public area. 

Los Pinos - Cabanas & Jardines

Eco-friendly property with lush gardens and well-equipped cottages with free Wi-Fi and mountain views. Each cottage features a private terrace, a flat-screen TV and a full kitchen with a microwave and fridge. Free on-site parking.


Or more selection from Booking.com:

Monte Verde Hotels - From Booking.com



Day Ten – Monteverde – Manuel Antonio:

After breakfast head out to Manuel Antonio, one of the best national parks in Costa Rica, with beautiful white beaches surrounded by green forest hills.

manuel antonio

Some of the available activities: Rafting in the rivers, a tour of the park, kayaking at sea, horseback riding, cycling along the beaches and nature hikes through the forest.

atv trip  kayak

Recommended hotels in Manuel Antonio

Parador Resort & Spa

4 Star Hotel. Surrounded by rainforest, and with ocean views. Spa, 2 Swimming pools, 4 restaurants and 2 bars. There is also a beauty salon, a hot tub and plunge pool. Each room have air-condition, a balcony, cable TV, a minibar and coffee maker. Some rooms have free Wi-Fi. Free parking. Free shuttle service to the beaches.

Hotel La Mariposa

4 Star Hotel. Swimming pool. Located one kilometer from Manuel Antonio Beach with panoramic views of the ocean and park. The rooms has air conditioning, a desk, fridge, telephone and flat-screen cable TV. Free parking and free Wi-Fi. 

Gaia Hotel & Reserve

5 Star luxury Hotel surrounded by rainforest and wildlife and is 5-minute drive from the coast. Provides transportation to beach area and the national park. Adults-only and family-only areas, each with their own pools. Spa area with a steam bath, sauna and beauty salon. Free parking and free Wi-Fi.


Day Eleven – Manuel Antonio:

Take a boat tour for an adventure at sea. Sail along the picturesque shores of Manuel Antonio. You can see dolphins at the bow of the ship, whales, sea turtles, monkeys and plenty of birds. Discover mysterious islands, cliffs, and rocks in unique shapes which look close enough to touch and serve as a home to many kinds of water fowl. Some tours include snorkelling.

Jet ski  Jet ski in manuel antonio beach 


Day Twelve – Manuel Antonio – Airport:

Back to the airport in San Jose according to your flight time.

Hammock on palm beach

More articles:
Travel Attractions in Costa Rica Vacation
Star Trips in Costa Rica for Families
Star Trips plan for Families in Costa Rica and Orlando Florida
General information on Costa Rica

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