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Costa Rica: 2-week itinerary

Costa Rica, the rugged, rainforest covered Central American gem with stunning beaches and teeming with wildlife. This 2-week itinerary only scrapes the surface, but the scrape offers diverse landscapes and fun locations. 

Click on each hotel name to be taken to the GoodBooker result. All of the accommodation has been booked with a target price of £60 p.n, travelling as a couple (👍on or below budget,👎 above budget).

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San Jose - La Fortuna – Tamarindo –
Nosara - Monteverde – Manuel Antonio - 

San Jose

After a late arrival into Costa Rica & San Jose airport we picked up our rental car and stopped at La Riviera Hotel, close to the airport and easy to get on the road tomorrow.

Driving is a fantastic way to get around Costa Rica and we found Alamo to be great. They had an office near or in every location we stayed, proving very helpful for punctures (we had 2 slow punctures that were fixed within minutes). The roads were really straightforward to navigate and really quiet; the only challenge in some places (mainly in the mountains or down by the coast) is the poor quality of roads but our 4x4 had no issues and what is the fun getting around on tarmacked roads.

La Fortuna & Monteverede

La Fortuna is a small town at the foot of the Arenal volcano with some amazing volcanic hot springs and a relaxed traveler vibe. Our base was San Bosco Inn that was a great location in the center of town and partners with another hotel closer to the volcano so you can use their hot springs for free!

Monteverde, home to the cloud forest reserve was a brilliant location for high altitude jungle walks. We stayed in the tourist hub of Santa Elena (Camino Verde Bed & Breakfast) with a few bars and restaurants.

Tamarindo & Nasara

We spent a few days in Tamarindo on the beach here to take a break from the jungles. We stayed at the Occidental Tamarindo, an all inclusive hotel on the beach for a few days of luxury. In sharp contrast the next stop, an hour or so down the road we stayed in a yurt tent (Driftwood Glamping and Boutique Hotel). This beautifully spot was very quiet, a short walk along the beach we stumbled across a brilliant restaurant & bar, La Luna. (take a torch to walk back!!) Although we stayed in a glamping tent they do have normal rooms if that is a little too close to nature.

Manuel Antonio

We stayed a kilometre or so, from the Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio entrance at Selina Manuel Antonio. Everyone is here for the national park that provided a great opportunity to see sloths toucans and monkeys. Food recommendations – Agua Azul, Samui Thai and Manuel Antonio Falafel bar.


Next stop, Uvita with an early morning drive down the coast to go an see Humpback whales. We did a morning tour with Bahia Adventuras that I would highly recommend. We saw 3 whales including one that breached a few feet from the boat. We treated ourselves to an amazing stay at Oxygen Jungle Villas a few kilometers from the coast with great views and a number of trails through the forest.

San Jose

Our final day in Costa Rica so we chose to explore the capital city on our return to San Jose, we stopped centrally at Hotel Presidente

Top overall trip tips:

  • Rent a good 4x4, the roads in Costa Rica can be challenging, with a few river crossings and steep climbs on what resembles a road
  • Download the Google map of Costa Rica offline before you start the trip, I normally rely on my phone satnav but the signal across the country was often poor or non-existent
  • Stop frequently on journeys, we found some of the best beaches, often deserted, on the way to other places





To budget?

San Jose La Riviera Hotel 1 👎
La Fortuna San Bosco Inn 2 👍
Monteverde Camino Verde Bed & Breakfast 2 👍
Tamarindo Occidental Tamarindo 3 👎
Nosara Driftwood Glamping and Boutique Hotel 1 👍
Manuel Antonio Selina Manuel Antonio 3 👍
Uvita / Ballena Oxygen Jungle Villas 2 👎
San Jose Hotel Presidente 1 👍


✈ London (LHR)  to San Jose (SJC)

🚙 4x4 rental car with Alamo

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All photographs courtesy of James Daly

Costa Rica Manuel Antonio National park
Humpback whale Uvita
Humpback whale
Hire car
Our transport for 2 weeks
Costa Rice beach footprints