Coasts, Clouds and Craters, a Costa Rican Enchanting Itinerary

Southern Pacific Coast of Costa Rica

You have decided to come to Costa Rica! The next question is where to go, and Enchanting Hotels would like to show you some great places to visit with a suggested itinerary for your travels through Costa Rica. With some beautiful boutique, sustainable hotels in the best destinations in Costa Rica, Enchanting Hotels will guide you and show you where to stay and what you can do in these fantastic places. Come prepared for an unforgettable vacation where nature, biodiversity, luxury, and unique experiences will fill your days with coasts, clouds, and craters, a Costa Rican Enchanting Itinerary!

This series of suggested itineraries include some city, coast, clouds, and craters that will take you from the highlands to the lowlands and from inland to the sea. The four areas you will travel through in this itinerary are diverse, dynamic, and very beautiful, each in their own way, so ensure a vacation of contrasts that Costa Rica does so well.

This Enchanting itinerary will also include some fantastic hotels that will guarantee a vacation full of well-being, great food, fun activities, and superior service. The Enchanting Hotels are also examples of how sustainable tourism can be done without foregoing customer comforts. By staying at these hotels, you are part of this movement that supports the local community, the environment, and the local culture.


First Stop: Central Valley

The Central Valley of Costa Rica is where all the hustle and bustle is. San Jose, its capital and largest city, and the next three most important cities are located. The four have really merged into one big metropolis nowadays, although each retains its identity and reasons to feel unique. This also means the Central Valley is where four provinces converge, San Jose, Alajuela, Heredia, and Cartago.

The Central Valley is also where the Juan Santamaria International Airport is located, so you will fly right into the country’s vibrant center. While located in the province and city of Alajuela, it is not far from Heredia and San Jose, the country’s principal cultural and historical centers.

We recommend staying at Studio Boutique Hotel, which is an Art Hotel with one of the most important private Costa Rican art collections in the country and the world. It is also located just 15 km from the airport and is close to the country’s best shopping and corporate centers.

During your stay in the Central Valley, enjoy a visit to the very walkable downtown of San Jose with its historical buildings, including the iconic National Theater, the Gold, Jade, and National Museums, and a visit to some of the inner-city parks. For architectural enthusiasts, a walk through the old, inner-city suburbs of Amon, Otoya, and Aranjuez is a must!

During your time in the Central Valley, a visit to a working coffee plantation and a volcano or two are also recommended. The Poas Volcano and the Irazu Volcano are just a few hours away, and you can look right down into their craters. During a visit to a coffee farm, learn all about the golden bean and its path from the bush to the brew.

Peace in paradise at Nicuesa Lodge on Golfo Dulce in Costa Rica.

Second Stop: South Pacific

The Osa Peninsula and the Golfo Dulce are located on the far southern Pacific coast, and National Geographic says that it is the most bio-diverse place in the world. So, come prepared for some real close-to-nature experiences while enjoying the comforts of one of Costa Rica´s best eco-lodges, Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge.

Whether you decide on flying down or driving down, both journeys are scenic, and you will observe the intense beauty of this rugged coastline where the mountains sweep into the sea.  Flying into Golfito or Puerto Jimenez from the Central Valley is a 45-minute ride; driving will take around 5 hours.

Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge is only reachable by boat, so the hotel will pick you up from either town, and this is where the Nicuesa Experience begins. The 30-minute ride around the Golfo Dulce coastline is spectacular and the chances of spotting dolphins, birds, and other marine life are the perfect introduction to your stay in nature. During Humpback Whale season, you will most likely see them during your transfer in too. Amazing!

Nestled into the rainforest with the Golfo Dulce as its front garden, Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge is a nature-lovers dream come true. Explore the mangrove forests in a kayak, take a dolphin or whale watching tour, cross over to explore the world-renowned Corcovado National Park, explore the rainforest on one of the many nature trails or just sit back and relax on the beach or your private terrace. You decide how to spend your days in nature.


Third Stop: Monteverde Clouds

From the coast to the clouds! Monteverde is located on a mountaintop that is home to the magical cloud forest.  This 6-hour road trip from Golfito will take you along the Pacific Ocean coastal roadway up into the mountains with spectacular views of the Gulf of Nicoya for an unforgettable stay in the clouds.  Your Enchanting stay is at El Establo Mountain Hotel during your time in Monteverde, where hiking, adventure, and birdwatching are part of the fun.

Take some time to explore the cloud forest at the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve, walk about the small town with some great cafes and art centers, and enjoy your stay at El Establo Mountain Hotel. It has a covered pool and great dining and boasts some of the best sunset views in the area.  Don´t miss the Night Walk on the property, as this is when you will see many of the nocturnal cloud forest animals.

Arenal Volcano National Park never disappoints

Fourth Stop: Arenal Adventure

It is time to leave the mountaintop to explore the Northern Lowlands of Costa Rica and what could be Costa Rica´s most iconic natural wonder, the Arenal Volcano. The journey from Monteverde could include the Arenal Lake crossing and then onto your home away from home for the next few days, Tilajari Hotel Resort and Conference Center. This great hotel sits on the banks of the San Carlos River and has spacious rooms and several on-property amenities, including a pool and tennis courts.

The Arenal Volcano area is home to thermal springs, adventure activities in nature, and relaxation. The Enchanting Experiences, Volcano Travel is a local tour operator with some great tours showing you the best of the region. Have you ever tried Pedal Boarding? This signature tour is a twist on the traditional SUP with amazing views of the Arenal Volcano while you explore the lake.

As your visit to Costa Rica begins to wind down, enjoy the numerous adventure activities the region offers, including hanging bridges, rafting, and ziplining, before making your way back to the Central Valley and then back home.

This Coast, Clouds, and Craters of Costa Rica Itinerary show you the contrasts of this small yet beautiful corner of the world. Would you like more information about Costa Rica or our Enchanting Hotels Collection? Let´s work out a perfect itinerary for you! See you in Costa Rica!

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