We decided to visit Costa Rica in February-March 2020 for a short workation and we dedicated several days to decide our final itinerary.
Our mains criteria for our itinerary in Costa rica were :
- 6 days of work to spend along the 3 weeks of holidays :
- Good working Wifi, in Costa Rica this ended up being our biggest issue : we only had a couple of places with acceptable wifi.
- Lots of activities – Costa Rica is a very fun country and we have been a bit sick of the cold winter in Paris. Our focus were rafting and hiking
- Some relaxing times, with Yoga and around nice beaches
- See as much nature as possible, Costa Rica is well-known for its amazing wildlife (25% of its superficie is protected as Natural Parks)
- Arriving and leaving from San Jose as we had a direct-flight from Paris to San Jose.
About the bus and its schedule
We did not add in this article the schedule for the bus as they vary regularly. All the buses schedule in Costa Rica are available on : https://horariodebuses.com. This website will be key in preparing your itinerary in Costa rica.
Buses (nearly) always leave on time in Costa Rica.
Our Video – 3 weeks in Costa Rica
While in Costa Rica, we brought our newly bought DJI Osmo Pocket and both of our Iphone. Unfortunately the drone was broken so we made a video without aerial shot! You can find the full youtube video here and enjoy the gorgeous natural wonders of Costa Rica!
San Jose – 1st step of our itinerary in Costa Rica
We arrived on San Jose late Wednesday, so we thought it was convenient to spend a couple of days working there even though we knew the city was not amazing. San Jose was the first stop of our itinerary in Costa rica
In San Jose, we stayed in a very nice Airbnb in the outskirt of the city. The location was a bit shady and we could definitely not walk at night but Uber made it easy to travel around and the flat we were staying in was in a secure building including a swimming pool.
On our stay in San Jose – our main activities were :
- Work – daily from 5am to 2pm
- El Museo Del Orro (The museum of Gold)
- Relaxing by the pool after the long working hours and catching up with the jet-lag
Tortuguero – 2nd step of our itinerary in Costa rica
Brief summary of our visit to Tortuguero
We decided to go to Tortuguero as it is one of the main national park of Costa Rica and we wanted to discover the Caraibean side of Costa Rica.
It is a very beautiful and watery park, only reachable by boat (Or plane as it has a very small airport) and getting there is already part of the adventure . When we went there, was had constant rain which is actually pretty common in Tortuguero, if you choose to get there be sure to bring appropriate clothing! It is definitely one of the most beautiful place of Costa Rica, unfortunately now crowded with tourists.
How to get to Tortuguero from San Jose
By public transportation (bus and boat)
- Uber from the Airbnb located in San Jose to San Jose Bus Central Station (If you take the first bus in San Jose Bus Station, it is not safe to walk in the night)
- From San Jose bus station, take the bus to Cariari bus station
- In Cariari, take a second bus to La Pavona (the bus to La Pavona should always be there – it waits for the bus from San Jose to pick up tourists on the way to Tortuguero)
- La Pavona is a small « port » which serve as the main boat station for boats on the way to Tortuguero, they will carry your bagages to the boat and you can sit comfortably and enjoy an amazing boat ride through the park.
- When you arrive in Tortuguero, someone from your hotel or a local agency will welcome you and guide you directly to where you stay
There is a very small airport in Tortuguero with direct flight daily from San Jose and other places in Costa Rica. While less adventurous it is a very quick way to arrive in Tortuguero and will save you precious time to visit the park.
By car, you can drive to La Pavona and leave you car in the parking there and take the boat to Tortuguero. It is not possible to bring a car on Tortuguero island.
Our activities in Tortuguero
In Tortuguero, the main purpose of our visit was the Tortuguero National Park. We planned the following activities during our stay there :
- Early canoe ride in the Tortuguero National park – it is a must-do in Tortuguero and this tour would allow you to view a lots of the animals of the park (crocodiles, monkeys, birds, iguanas, …)
- Night walk in Tortuguero island
- A walk in the park (without guide) – we chose to do it without a guide as the 2 other tours described above were already quite expensive and very guided.
Discover the second stop of our itinerary in Costa Rica in more details in our article about Tortuguero National Park.
Arenal, La Fortuna – 3rd step of our itinerary in Costa rica
Brief summary of our visit to La Fortuna and Arenal
We went to Costa Rica not only to enjoy its incredible nature and wilderness but also for its fun and very diverse set of activities and naturally, our researches quickly found Arenal as one of the best place for adventurous rides.
Eventually, this ended up being our most disappointing stop : we had a lot of rains and the place is more a Disneyland for tourists than anything, filled with extremely expensive tours and it is almost impossible to do anything by yourself even with a car. If we had to re-work an itinerary to Costa Rica, this is a stop we would make shorter or skip altogether.
How to get to Arenal from Tortuguero
By public transport
- From Tortuguero, take the boat to la Pavona
- In La Pavona, a bus or a collectivo will be waiting for you to take you to Cariari
- Then, in Cariari, take the bus to Sarapiqui
- From Sarapiqui, another bus to San Carlos (also known as Ciudad Quesada)
- Finally from Ciudad Quesada, one last bus to La Fortuna (the bus station is in the center of la Fortuna)
From Tortuguero, it is possible to rent a car and have it delivered to La Pavona, or just take by your car from La Pavona parking. The road to La Fortuna is quite easy as the roads are in good conditions
Our activities in Arenal and La Fortuna
- A visit of Arenal Volcano, hot spring and La Fortuna waterfall
- One day of rafting
- One day of work
Discover the third stop of our itinerary in Costa Rica in more details in our article about Arenal Volcano and La Fortuna.
Monteverde – 4th step of our itinerary in Costa rica
Brief summary of our visit to Monteverde
Monteverde is one of the most famous and visited park in Costa Rica, featuring a very unique landscape : the Cloud Forest. We were afraid that it would be again an extremely touristic stop but by going to the park as early as it opens (7am), we were able to enjoy the park for several hours without being blended in the mass of tourists and really loved the park.
Monteverde was one of favorite spot in Costa Rica.
How to get to Monteverde from La Fortuna
By public transport
We did not chose the option of public transport as it relied on many buses and detours but we know it is possible to organize it.
We advice to take the next option described – jeep boat jeep
The most popular way to go from La Fortuna to Monteverde is by taking a Jeep-Boat-Jeep tour from La Fortuna.
The tour operator Bus will take you from your hotel in La Fortuna, drive you to a boat to cross Arenal Lake where another bus will be waiting for you to take you to your hotel in Monteverde.
The jeeps have for long being replaced by bus now but the name still remain. Do not be surprised if the nice promised jeep is a standard tourist van. The Arenal lake crossing is quite scenic and we found this transfer very enjoyable.
The price is overall quite reasonable for Costa Rica : 20 USD for the whole trip (3 to 4 hours).
If you are driving, you will not be able to cross the lake as there is no ferry but only small boats. You will need to drive around the lake in a relatively dangerous road for around 6 or 7 hours.
Our activities in Monteverde
- Visit of the Monteverde National Park (must-do in Monteverde)
- One half day in Extremo Adventure park
Discover the fourth stop of our itinerary in Costa Rica in more details in our article about Monteverde.
Santa Teresa – 5th step of our itinerary in Costa rica)
Brief summary of our visit to Santa Teresa
As we spent already several days vacationing, we needed to stop for a few days and get back to work!
We had read many nice articles on other blogs about the Nicoya Peninsula and Santa Teresa in particular and we thought : can something be better than an amazing beach on the Pacific side to work ? The answer, as we found out, was nothing can be better than that.
How to get to Santa Teresa from Monteverde
By public transport
- Take a bus from Monteverde bus station to Pontarenas
- In Pontarenas bus terminal, take a taxi to the ferry port departing to Paquera
- In Paquera, if you are lucky you can catch a direct bus to Santa Teresa
- If you are not lucky, take the bus to Montezuma via Cobano and stop in Cobano (the driver will also let you know you need to stop there if you go to Santa Teresa)
- From Cobano, wait for the bus to Santa Teresa where you got dropped
- Drive from Monteverde to Pontarenas
- Take a ferry to Paquera (10 USD)
- From Paquera, drive to Santa Teresa
Our activities in Santa Teresa
- Work for 3 days
- Relaxation on the beach
Discover the fifth stop of our itinerary in Costa Rica in more details in our article about Santa Teresa Costa Rica.
Manuel Antonio – 6th step of our itinerary in Costa rica
Brief summary of our visit to Manuel Antonio
We decided to continue to visit National Park and our next stop was Manuel Antonio, the most visited park of Costa Rica.
We enjoyed visiting the park, using the same strategy we used in Monteverde : being the first to enter the park upon its opening in the morning.
How to get to Manuel Antonio from Santa Teresa
By public transport
- Take the bus from Santa Teresa to Cobano
- In Cobano, take the bus to Paquena
- From Paquena, take a ferry to Pontarenas
- In Pontarenas, get the bus to Quepos
- From Quepos, you can chose between a taxi to Manuel Antonio or another bus
We did not use this option for this transfer – we decided to take a taxi-boat.
By taxi boat
There are taxi boat going to Manuel Antonio, Jako and Dominical leaving from Montezuma beach or picking you up directly at your hotel. The local company organising those transfer is https://www.zumatours.net/.
The cost for the transfer to Manuel Antonio was 79 USD and 3 hours.
- Drive to Paquena
- From Paquena, take the ferry to Pontarenas
- From Puntarenas, drive to Manuel Antonio
Our activities in Manuel Antonio
- Visit of the Manuel Antonio National Park
- Rafting at El Chorro
- A quick visit to the beach in Manuel Antonio
Discover the seventh stop of our itinerary in Costa Rica in more details in our article about Manuel Antonio National Park.
Dominical – 7th step of our itinerary in Costa rica
Brief summary of our visit to Dominical
We decided to stop to Dominical as a stop on our way to Corcovado national park to relax for a couple of days at the beach after the hiking and the rafting we did at Manuel Antonio. The place is not very special but enjoyable, with nice beaches and waterfalls nearby.
If we had to write again our itinerary in Costa rica, we would probably skip Dominical except if we wanted to surf for a few days.
How to get to Dominical from Manuel Antonio
By public transport
- Take a bus to Quepos
- Take a bus to Dominical
For this transfer, we decided to go Rafting on our last day in Manuel Antonio and to get dropped back in Quepos.
Manuel Antonio to Dominical is a quick one hour drive on a good road.
Our activities in Dominical
- Yoga classes
- Relaxing on the beach
Discover our stop in Dominical in our itinerary in Costa Rica in more details in our article about Manuel Antonio National Park and Dominical.
Corcovado National Park / Carate – last step of our itinerary in Costa rica
Brief summary of our visit to Corcovado National Park
After visiting some of the most touristic place in Costa Rica, we wanted to discover more authentic and less crowded area of the country and we decided to visit the Corcovado National Park.
We were not disappointed as it proved to be the highlight of our trip : a very unspoiled and beautiful park which seemed dedicated only to true nature lovers.
Corcovado was our last step in our itinerary in Costa rica and definitely the best stop.
How to get from Dominical to Carate
By public transport
It may be possible to go from Dominical to Carate by public transport but we never found out – we read that it is possible to take a taxi to get dropped on the way to the bus driving between San Jose and Porto Jimenez; and then to take a collectivo from Porto Jimenez to Carate (but they do not run on Sunday except at 6am).
If you found how to do this route easily please leave us a comment and we will update this section! We relied for that transfer on a private driver booked through our lodge.
The road between Dominical and Porto Jiménez is easy, but the road between Porto Jiménez and Carate can only be done with a 4W as you need to cross small rivers several times during the trip.
Our activities in Carate – Corcovado National Park
- One day visit to the Corcovado National Park
- Kayaking in the Carate lagoon
- Yoga class and massages
Discover our last stop and highligh of our itinerary in Costa Rica in more details in our article about Corcovado National Park.
Ready to travel to Costa Rica? check our article on how to prepare your bag for Costa Rica !