Costa Rica highlights vacation & beach

“A two week, tailor made vacation in Costa Rica, taking in volcanoes, cloud forest, turtle beaches and totally deserted ones too. Staying at a lovely mix of accommodation. ”

Highlights

San Jose | Tortuguero National Park | Arenal Volcano - Monteverde cloud forest | Samara Beach, Nicoya Peninsula | Isla Chora | Sea kayaking | Ecolodge accommodation | Mix of public and private transport

Travel Team

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Departure information

Everything is tweak-able, giving you the freedom to build a unique and personal trip for your chosen date. Upgrade your accommodation for all - or just part - of your trip, slow down the pace with few extra nights here and there or add a few more active adventures along the way.
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Responsible tourism

Costa Rica highlights vacation & beach

Carbon reduction

Your vacation will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this vacation and how to reduce them.

Environment

In Costa Rica we work with a local partner who are committed to sustainability and have achieved the highest sustainability accreditation possible in Costa Rica of 5 leaves as part of the Certification for Sustainable Tourism Program, this is based on the degree to which they comply with a sustainable model of natural, cultural and social resource management. Our small lodge accommodation in Samara, where our customers will stay during this trip, also has this accreditation and are 100% carbon neutral. They have a sustainability manual outlining their aims to reduce their negative impact on the local environment through their own practices.

The eco-lodge we use in La Fortuna are committed to protecting the natural resources. This covers wildlife protection through recycling, environmental education for the local community, energy saving light bulbs and using biodegradable products at the eco-lodge.

Community

Throughout our trips we use guides and drivers local to each area so you can take advantage of their local knowledge of the areas you are visiting. This is benefiting not only for our customers but also for the guides and drivers by helping put money directly into the pockets of the local people. We encourage our customers to stop along the way at local restaurants, shops and stalls to buy food, drinks and souvenirs, whether using a driver or self-driving. In Tortuguero we use three guides throughout the trip who are local to the area. One is from a small village where you will learn about day to day lives of the villagers and turtle conservation in the area. For the forest walk we use a guide who is training his son and often accompanies him with group tours. This benefits the community through income from tourism and training of future generations to ensure this is sustainable.

We use small locally-run accommodation throughout Costa Rica from simple lodges with indigenous communities to traditional haciendas near to National Parks. During this itinerary your accommodation in Samara on the Pacific coast is one such place. There are no large hotels in this area and instead you'll stay in a small family lodge just behind the beach. In Monteverde during our Cloudforest trip you will stay in an eco-lodge run by a local couple who employ local staff with lots of knowledge.

11 Reviews of Costa Rica highlights vacation & beach

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Reviewed on 02 Aug 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Most memorable was seeing a sloth in the wild, moving and really close up which was a main aim of the whole party. Most exciting was the return boat trip from Tortuguera after heavy rain, when the river was in flood. The boat handling was excellent.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Try to learn a little Spanish. Although most people speak English, being able to speak some Spanish is a help. Generally smart clothes are not required. Pack what you really need and can carry as some transfers are not easy with really large cases!!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes. All the guides etc were local and the hotels were smaller and privately run. The overall feel was that the trip helped both the continuing conservation and the local people.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


The vacation overall was excellent. It was tailored to our own requirements and altered when required to meet a change in circumstance of one of the party. The hotels were just where we wanted and were all small, well run and comfortable. The trips, planned activities and transfers were as described and well organised. The guides for all the activities were very informative, enthusiastic and helpful. It was a fantastic trip and enjoyed by the whole party.

Reviewed on 20 Feb 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


The whole vacation experience was excellent: well organised, interesting
locations, first-class guides, good accomodation.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Don't hesitate to book up. Choose the full-tour transport as it is well organised and takes away any stress.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


This vacation fully supports the tremendous forward strides Costa Rica is making environmentally and definitely benefits the local people.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


A truly wonderful vacation that surpassed our expectations. Highly recommended.

Reviewed on 08 Aug 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Lots of memorable and exciting parts but seeing a turtle laying eggs at Tortuguero felt very special. We also greatly enjoyed a sunset horse ride in
Monteverde overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Allow a minimum of 3 hours for connecting flights in Miami. It should mean you
make the flight and reduce the stress! US immigration and security can take a long time.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Generally yes. The trips organised by Ecole all seemed to have lots of local
involvement. Although tap water is drinkable I felt the hotels could have had more water coolers to encourage using water bottles.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Excellent.
I would have given 5 stars below but there was a problem with our connection in Miami (which the company dealt with).

Reviewed on 28 Mar 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


It was all very good.
Seeing sloths and a Resplendent Questral were very exciting.
There are such a variety of habitats, it is difficult to pick one out.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


It can be cool in the evenings in the more mountainous areas, so take a few warm clothes.
If you visit Manuel Antonio National Park, try to get the tickets in advance (I think you can only get them from the park) and get there by 7am.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Using inter bus between hotels for transport worked well and was carbon neutral.
All the guides were local and the hotels/lodges were small and run by local people.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Overall very good.

Reviewed on 27 Dec 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


The abundance of nature living in harmony to humans was touching. The whole country has a culture of respect and tolerance for the environment and nature understanding the need to manage today for the benefit of tomorrow.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Take a Poncho.....everywhere. If itís sunny and there isnít a cloud in the sky - that pretty much means itíll rain in about 45 mins :-) Keep moving every few days - the country is small but very diverse and thereís lots to see.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


A bit - hard to say. Locals benefited but traipsing tourists everywhere isnt ideal for conservation?

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Amazing country, amazing animals and nature and fabulous people.

Reviewed on 29 Aug 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


It is hard to choose between the many amazing experiences we had in Costa Rica. Our dawn kayak in Tourtuga National park spotting monkeys, sloths and caymen possibly stands out. Wiht our very own guide we were able to leave everyone else behind and truely experience this magical place at its best.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Bring plenty of clothes because it is wet and it can be hard to keep dry!
Knowing Spanish also helps and is really appreciated by the locals.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes - Costa Rica is all about the ecological environment- its protection is real to everyone and everyone strives to care for their environment and all that lives within it. The attitude and enthusiasm of all our young guides was inspiring.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


We had an amazing time- of course there were things we could do differently however we had such a wonderful and inspiring time that we will give it 10/10.

Reviewed on 29 Jun 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Where to start? The riverboat ride in Tortuguero seeing sloths and howler monkeys? The hike on Arenal volcano learning about the 1968 eruption or the visit to the hot springs in Arenal? The night walk in Monteverde seeing the jungle night wildlife or the zip line rides at Aventura in Monteveede? The horseback ride in Manuel Antonio or the visit to the Kids Saving the Rainforest wildlife rescue center in Manuel Antonio? I choose them all!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?




3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes. The UK operator and the local partner ensured that the providers adhered to sustainable ecotourism precepts. The providers provided information to guests confirming these practices.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Fantastic! A most memorable and enjoyable adventure. The planning and logistics were wonderful. All transports and accommodations were exceptional. The activities pre-booked and available at each destination were diverse and fun. Highly recommend to all.

Reviewed on 01 Jun 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Traveling to the next place - Costa Rica is so diverse and awesome!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Take a rain jacket and plenty of sunscreen also - small dollar bills!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Absolutely, some of the local guides were really diligent about it.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


It was awesome - thank you for the great planning RT, we covered six areas
in 12 days and your planning made that seamless.

Read the operator's response here:

Hi Daisy,

Thanks so much for your positive feedback about your trip.

There is so much to see in Costa Rica so its really nice to hear that you felt like you got to experience so much of what the country has to offer without feeling rushed. I'm glad you needed the sunscreen and hope you didn't need the rain jacket too much - but without the rain the country wouldn't be so beautiful and green so I'm sure it was worth it!

It's really important to us to know that everyone we work with sticks to the high standards we set so it is great to hear your comments on the local guides. I will make sure to pass your comments on to our local partners as well.

Welcome home and I look forward to helping you with your next adventure!!

Kind Regards,

Rob

Reviewed on 05 Jan 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Tortuguero National Park early morning canoe trip was the most memorable.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Go a long as you possibly can as there is so much to see and do.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes. Tourism is definitely benefiting the local people and economy. The tours raise awareness of the conservation initiatives.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Absolutely amazing!

Reviewed on 01 Jan 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


The wildlife all around us, if you stood still it came past you. Amazingly beautiful birds, stunning scenery and beautiful beaches. The accommodation, though on the basic side was right in the thick of it. You could wake with humming birds outside your door, monkeys swinging across your roof or frogs croaking and singing you to sleep. Most exciting was discovering animals and other creatures on our hikes and seeing Arenal volcano at close range as the clouds moved away in the evening sunlight. Most exciting but scary was the ziplining, especially the 1 km run. The hot springs at La Fortuna was a wonderful experience at night. Visiting the BriBri Tribe was a real insight into the culture and they were such wonderfully welcoming and friendly people. Visiting the Sloth Sanctuary is a must!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Do your research, there are so many regions of Costa Rica with so many different things to see. Be prepared with clothing, torches, footwear, binoculars etc. Enjoy the wildlife and have a real interest in the nature around you. Spend time to look and listen for yourself, don't rely on a guide all the time, in fact don't
use a guide at Manuel Antonio.Just enjoy discovering animals yourself. Be wary of going out in San Jose, don't wear jewellery, carry handbags or cameras.
Muggings happen in broad daylight too! Check on the type of accommodation you need to be comfortable with, the Eco-lodges can be very basic though
clean.


3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, we were so impressed that Costa Ricans really care what happens to their country. They are so eco-aware. You need to follow their rules about litter, their
environment and the impact tourism can have. The trip to visit the BriBri was a way to put money directly into their pockets by buying handcrafted souvenirs
and chocolate. Their ethics about their country invoked respect and you take some of that knowledge away with you.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


An amazing adventure. We loved the variety, the range of different regions each offering something new. We were never bored couldn't wait to get up each day and have a new experience. Th tours were all good and the guides knowledgeable. We learnt so much about the animals and the environment alongside finding out about Costa Rica as a country. The wildlife was second to none. The only downside was that the accommodation was probably a bit too basic to even be comfortable but the trade in was the fantastic location.

Reviewed on 27 Feb 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


The night walk was a wonderful wildlife experience.
Meeting the Ticos and feeling their pride in their country and how welcome they made us feel as tourists/guests was really special

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Book in advance
Learn some basic Spanish
Take waterproof and warmer clothing than you think you may need for the volcanic area and cloud forest
Use a rucksack rather than a wheeled suitcase!
Use the Lonely Planet Guide

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes to all of those - certainly hope so
We travelled on the tourist buses which I guess was better than a hire car, but the latter would have been an advantage in some areas. We accept that flying to destination is not good from an environmental point of view, however.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


A wonderful experience that makes us want to visit Costa Rica again (for longer)

Read the operator's response here:

Dear John,

Thank you so much for taking the time to review your vacation for us.

We're thrilled to hear that you're experience of traveling to Costa Rica with us was so incredible and that it has wetted your appetite for all things Costa Rican. Itís wonderful that you could see that our trips indeed benefit local people and that by traveling in small groups we do see to reduce the environmental impacts of tourism.

It really is a gem of a country isn't it with such diverse ecology and incredibly friendly locals. We've certainly found this ourselves on our own travels and adventures over there.

We hope you'll keep us in mind if you do plan to head over there again as we would love to help you plan another adventure meeting more Ticos and seeing more incredible wildlife!

Kind regards
Jo Ramsey


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