10 days from £2495pp plus international flights.
This 2-centre holiday gives you time to get beneath the skin of this country, exploring two contrasting areas and enjoying the scenery and wildlife to the full without having to be on the move the whole time. Costa Rica is regarded as a wonder of nature, one of the most biodiverse countries on earth, and this is your chance to discover that richness for yourself. There's also time to enjoy some action and adventure along the way, in the form of zip lines, canopy tours, hiking, snorkelling and paddle boarding.
The adventure begins at the much-photographed Arenal Volcano. The national park of the same name harbours populations of deer, white-faced and howler monkeys, and many species of birds. Spending time here with a guide is the perfect introduction to the flora and fauna of the country, and you have 3 full days to experience Arenal to the full.
Your second destination is on the southern Pacific region, overlooking the calm waters of the Golfo Dulce. This is a remote and little visited area, and the journey to your hotel is an adventure in itself, involving a boat ride of about an hour with dolphin spotting opportunities on the way! During your time here you can explore by land and water, experiencing the richness of both environments.
We've chosen your hotels with care, as they're an important part of your holiday. Nayara Hotel Spa & Gardens is an award-winning resort with a lovely outdoor pool, choice of restaurants and bars, and a top quality spa. Accommodation is spacious and air conditioned and you'll have a large terrace complete with a hammock and jacuzzi. Your other hotel, Playa Cativo, is a small privately-owned property that opened in 2014. The gardens are full of birds and rooms are open-sided so you experience the sights, sounds and smells of nature to the full. The personal touch is evident from the outset, with handmade products throughout, from the furniture to the beautifully painted pottery hand basins. The service and the food are impeccable. There are plenty of activities if you want them, but don't plan to do too much here as the pace of life will make you just want to chill and enjoy!
If you love nature in all its aspects and relish time to explore both with a guide and on your own, like good food, good service and time to relax, this is a perfect holiday for you.
A local representative will greet you at the international airport in San Jose and show you to the waiting car for the drive through the northern lowlands to Arenal. The route passes coffee and sugar cane plantations and fields full of banana palms and pineapple plants. After about 3 hours the volcano of Arenal will come into sight, a perfect cone, and one of the best known sights in Costa Rica. Your hotel is nearby, and depending on your flight timings, you may have time to enjoy a refreshing swim in the pool or a soak in one of the jacuzzis, to help you relax after your long journey, then you can enjoy dinner in one of the hotel's two restaurants.
There's a wide choice of activities to choose from at Nayara Hotel. One of the best, and most exciting, ways to explore the rainforest around Arenal is the Sky Tram and Sky Trek tour. An aerial tram whisks you up to the top of Arenal as you enjoy views down to sparkling Arenal Lake. Having enjoyed the views from the top you descend the Sky Trek, a circuit of zip lines traversing canyons and strung between trees. It's pure exhilaration! Later at the hotel you can relax by the pool or enjoy the privacy of your own balcony. Breakfast
You might want a more relaxed day today, in which case a visit Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge will be perfect. The reserve is best explored by boat, travelling along the Rio Frio as you look out for caimans, turtles, monkeys, sloths and some of the 300 or so species of birds found here. This is a great introduction to the rich and varied wildlife of Costa Rica. Back at your hotel you can treat yourself to a visit to the spa, relaxing with a therapeutic massage. Breakfast
On your last full day at Arenal you could go for a bike ride by Arenal Lake enjoying some gentle exercise as well as taking in fine views. Afterwards you can visit the hot springs for a long, relaxing soak the the thermal waters. If you'd prefer something to set your pulse racing you could opt for a white water rafting adventure or try a canyoning or canopy tour. Other options include horse riding and guided nature walks. Breakfast
After breakfast you'll be driven to the airport in San Jose for the one hour flight down to Golfo Dulce. Staff from Playa Cativo will meet you for the boat ride to the hotel, approximately another hour. Once you reach the hotel you can make yourself at home. You'll be here for the next 5 nights. Settle back and enjoy views of the rainforest as you listen to birdsong, or wander down to the shore and look across the still waters of Golfo Dulce. Tonight dinner is served at the hotel's El Gavilan Restaurant. Breakfast, dinner
Today you have a choice of complimentary guided activities. You can opt for a rainforest hike, learning about the flora and fauna, identifying different species and finding out about the ecosystem. Alternatively you can explore the underwater world as you go snorkelling in the bay, a deep tropical fjord, marvelling at the bright colours and quick movements of the fish. This is a true natural paradise and however you explore you'll be enchanted. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
From Playa Cativo there are walking trails you can explore independently, following the shoreline to Buenavista Pier or heading inland past farmland and through rainforest. Kayaks, snorkelling equipment and paddleboards are provided free of charge to help you explore by water. You are welcome to relax at the hotel, watching birds and butterflies in the garden, cooling off with a swim in the pool or browsing through books in the library. Take the day at your own pace. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Two more days to enjoy life at Playa Cativo. Staff can arrange guided hikes in Piedras Blancas National Park with its abundant plants and trees and rich animal and bird life, or you could accompany a guide along a rainforest trail to a waterfall where you can enjoy a wonderfully refreshing swim. You might want to take a boat trip out into the gulf to look for dolphins, rays and whale sharks. Between June and September you might also spot humpback whales. There's plenty to keep you busy! Breakfast, lunch, dinner
If you wake early you may witness a lovely sunrise this morning before breakfast. It's then time to head for home, as you travel by boat to the local airport, a final chance for some dolphin spotting. A 60-minute flight will take you back to San Jose in time for your onward travel arrangements. Breakfast
Guide price from (pp sharing): £2495 (ex. international flights)
Price notes: 2017 guide price pp sharing: Jan-April £2895. May-Oct £24958. Nov-10 Dec £2820. Please note that holiday periods such as Easter will attract a supplement on the above prices.
Accommodation on a twin-share basis; transfers as per the itinerary; meals as indicated; one half-day guided activity at Playa Cativo; use of kayaks, paddle boards and snorkelling equipment at Playa Cativo; return domestic flights San Jose to Golfo Dulce
International flights and taxes; meals not shown; drinks; optional excursions and activities in both locations; tips; items of a personal nature; travel insurance
Getting there: This holiday starts and ends in San Jose. International return flights from the UK will cost from around £600 per person, depending on season, route and availability. We will be happy to book flights for you.
Departure dates: This is a tailor-made holiday that can begin on the day of your choice, subject to availability.
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Time: GMT -6
Flight time: The flying time is about 12 hours from the UK. There are now direct flights from the UK using British Airways. We work with all the major airlines and can offer flights from the UK or via the USA, Panama or a European hub. With the connection times you are looking at around 15 or 16 hours.
Language: Spanish is the official language. English is widely spoken throughout Costa Rica
Visas: Not required for British travellers. Other nationalities should obtain advice from their embassy.
Health: There are no compulsory vaccinations.