Costa Rica Itinerary: Bubbling Mud, Resplendent Quetzals and Rafting Safaris

9 September, 2012 (11:34) | Budget Travel, Costa Rica, Recommended Digs, Travel Itineraries | By: darngooddigs

Playa Carillo

Benjamin building castles in the sand on Playa Carillo near Samara on the Nicoya Peninsula.

Costa Rica is a Darn Good Digs paradise. Virtually every inn or lodge we stayed at during our recent three week trip was spectacular. Granted, we spent a long time putting together this itinerary, as we always do – scouring guidebooks and the web for the best places to stay. We also tried to build in enough relaxation into our vacation, so even though we had nineteen nights to explore the country we tried to keep a relatively compact itinerary: the Central Valley, Monteverde and Lake Arenal, the Nicoya Peninsula, and the Rincon de la Vieja region. Here’s how we did it:

We flew into San Jose international airport, rented our 4WD, and drove an hour up to Poas Volcano:
Poas Lodge and Restaurant (2 nights – Darn Good Digs!)

Then we headed back down into the Central Valley to the San Jose region:
Casa Bella Rita (3 nights – Darn Good Digs!)

We were surprised the drive was only three hours using the new highway for half the journey up to the cloud forests of Monteverde:
Arco Iris Lodge (3 nights – Darn Good Digs!)

After we spotted the resplendent quetzal, a family of coati, and the impressively loud “Bonk Bird”, we worked our way to Lake Arenal:
Lucky Bug Bed and Breakfast (2 nights – Darn Good Digs!)

A relaxing day in the thermal hot springs at The Springs Resort and a delicious dinner at Gingerbread gave us the energy to coast to the Nicoya Peninsula and Samara Beach – though not without stopping for a wildlife extravaganza in our rafting safari on the Tenorio River:
Samara Palm Lodge (3 nights – Darn Good Digs!)

Surfing, swimming, and building castles in the sand. Other than a little sunburn, beach life suited us well before moving up the coast to Ostional:
Hotel Luna Azul (3 nights – Darn Good Digs!)

We weren’t lucky enough to see the Arribada, when thousands of turtles land on the beach to lay their eggs simultaneously, but we did get to see a few stragglers during our guided night tour – and that was mighty cool too. Time to spend the night in a small city of Liberia:
El Punto Bed and Breakfast (1 night)

The town had just celebrated Guanacaste Day so we enjoyed a free concert with the National Orchestra of Costa Rica, before heading out early the next morning to hike at Rincon de la Vieja National Park:
Blue River Resort (3 nights)

We spent a day swimming in the thermal springs and lathering up with mud, before we got antsy – and left to explore Santa Rosa National Park along the coast.

After nineteen days and nights of Pura Vida, we flew out of Liberia International Airport and headed back to NYC. We loved our trip to Costa Rica, and we can’t wait to go back.

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Comment from Nomadic Samuel
Time September 26, 2012 at 5:37 am

I’m very keen on travelling in Costa Rica in the near future. It’s good to hear you mention it as a accommodation paradise :)

Comment from Katie
Time November 27, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Costa Rica is great for outdoor activities. We used ATVs, ziplines, and went waterfall repelling. All great experiences. It’s a beautiful country.

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