Pura Vida. The unofficial motto of Costa Rica translates to “the simple life.” But it’s less about going off the grid, and more about living a life jam-packed with rainforest hiking, whitewater rafting, ziplining above the clouds, and splashing around coral reefs under the waves. Pura vida is an always optimistic outlook fueled by delicious Mesoamerican-inspired cuisine, the freshest coffee, and the occasional guaro sour cocktail. If you’re looking for all that and a little quality face time with sloths, monkeys, and dolphins, this is the trip for you.
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What are the top highlights?
- Explore the biodiversity and wildlife of Costa Rica
- Zipline high up in the rainforest canopy at speeds of almost 60 MPH
- Lounge on one of the world’s most beautiful beaches at Manuel Antonio State Park
- Walk high above the clouds in Santa Elena Cloud Forest
- See the crocodiles of the Tarcoles up close
- Ride the rapids of the Sarapiqui River
- Enjoy the freshest coffee of your life at a plantation tour and sampling
Your trip includes
- Round-trip flights & airport transfers
- Multilingual Tour Director & local guides
- Private motorcoach
- Transportation between cities
- 9 nights in hand-picked accommodations
- Daily breakfast, Welcome Mixer & Farewell Dinner
- Entrances to Manuel Antonio State Park, Santa Elena Cloud Forest & other select attractions
You’ll stay at accommodations hand-picked by our team of local experts, in rooms only for EF Ultimate Break travelers. Each property is located in a safe, convenient area. You’ll receive your exact accommodations 30 days before your trip departs.
Click **here **for examples of where you'll stay.
Admit it, booking flights is the worst. Here's why you should let us do it for you:
- Flight costs are included in your monthly payment plan, so you can pay over time
- Airport transfers are included, so we’ll be waiting, sign in hand
- Flights are booked with major airlines
- 24/7 support no matter what time zone you’re in
- One checked bag included on most flights
- Option to make changes to your trip up to 99 days before departure
Booking with a friend? Let us know and we’ll do our best to make sure you’re on the same flight. Still want to book your own flights? That’s cool, simply select ‘No flights included’ instead of your departure city in the ‘Flights from’ dropdown.
Day 1: Fly to San José
Welcome to San José, Costa Rica, the cultural and political capital of this vibrant, thriving nation. Crack open a coconut and crank up the calypso music, you’re about to get tropical for the next 10 days.
- Land at the airport and meet a waiting EF representative.
- Transfer to your hotel to check in and check out your room.
- Explore the area as you meet up with your fellow travelers, arriving one-by-one.
Day 2: Explore the Arenal Region
Wake up and smell the extremely high quality Costa Rican coffee. Once you’re nicely caffeinated you’ll get to explore and enjoy the stunning volcanoes and hot springs of inner-Costa Rica.
- Stop at a coffee plantation to watch as the little red berries become morning buzz brew right before your eyes, then sample the freshest coffee of your life.
- Stand back as the geothermal forces under your feet shoot geysers up to 800-feet in the air around you in Arenal.
In the evening, it’s time for your Welcome Mixer. Enjoy some appetizers over drinks with fellow travelers at an authentic local spot. Then it’s on to wherever your new friends and the party takes you.
Day 3: Explore the Arenal Region Rainforest
The rainforest is filled with secrets and today you get to be its closest confidant as it spills the beans on all of its mysterious landforms, wildlife, and people. Keep an open ear and open eyes as you hike, swim, and kayak around the Arenal Region.
- Hike to the base of La Fortuna Waterfall, one of the most spectacular sights in Central America.
- Cool off with a swim in the waterfall’s plunge pool, then heat back up in the nearby hot springs.
- Kayak the pristine waters of Lake Arenal and take in volcanic views of the surrounding dormant magma-makers.
Day 4: Travel to Monteverde + Optional Night Hike
Monteverde is the jumping off point for Costa Rica’s surreal cloud forests, AKA unique rainforests that seem to exist entirely in the clouds. After a morning bus ride from Arenal, the day is yours to explore village life, but remember to stay limber for tomorrow’s ziplining.
- Board your bus bound for the village of Monteverde—founded as a Quaker farming settlement, now the go-to hub for Costa Rican adventure seekers.
- Take some free time in the village to explore its quaint amenities.
Monteverde Night Hike(extra cost)
Hit the trails when the sun goes down. Follow your guide to see Monteverde after-dark, and listen up as they point out nocturnal critters like armadillos, silky anteaters, and even cute little kinkajous.
Why wait? Save money by booking this optional excursion before your trip departs.
Day 5: Ziplining & Hiking in the Santa Elena Cloud Forest
Today, you’ll experience a whole different rainforest habitat: the Santa Elena Cloud Forest. High altitude and moisture (12 feet of rain per year) combine to make this a one-of-a-kind ecosystem—oh, and did we mention there’s ziplining?
- Find out what clouds are really made of as you walk through them—yes, through them— in the densely vegetated, misty trails of the Costa Rican rainforest.
- Soar high above the rainforest canopy, zooming from one platform to the next at speeds of up to 60 mph on a zipline.
- Return to Monteverde as the town turns up for the night.
Day 6: Travel to Puntarenas Region
Question: what’s the difference between alligators and crocodiles? Answer: you’re not going on an alligator boat tour today. Board a private boat today and cruise the Tarcoles River in search of some Costa Rican crocs.
- See wild crocodiles in their natural habitat as you navigate the Tarcoles River with a local guide.
- Explore the Pacific port town of Puntarenas with your new BFFs upon arrival.
Day 7: Explore Manuel Antonio National Park + Beach Time
There’s two kinds of people in the world: beach people and mountain people. Oh, and swamp people—but we won’t get into that now. The breathtaking Manuel Antonio National Park somehow has both mountains and beaches. See Costa Rica’s most beautiful, most visited national park today up close and personal.
- Trek through cliff-side rainforest and soak up the sun at the two main immaculate white-sand beaches of the park: Espadilla Sur Beach and Playa Manuel Antonio.
- Keep an ear out for howler monkeys, the only land animal louder than your 8am Calculus professor.
- Spot other amazing animals like capuchins, coati, iguanas, and dolphins.
Day 8: Travel to San José via Sarchi
On your way back to San José stop in Sarchí for a look at the crafts capital of Costa Rica. Woodworking dominates the economy here, so if you’re looking to stock up on matching trinkets for the friend group back home, now’s the time.
- Return to San José via your private bus—no need to daydream, perfection is right out your window.
- Disembark in Sarchí for a look into authentic Mesoamerican craft-making, and learn about the art of ox cart construction.
Day 9: Whitewater Raft the Sarapiqui River + Farewell Dinner
On your last day in Costa Rica, you’re going out with a splash—white water rafting the Sarapiqui River. At night, toast your trip goodbye with your Farewell Dinner, then time for dancing, drinks, or heck, maybe even creating a detailed scrapbook to commemorate your time in paradise.
- Give your legs a break during an adrenaline-pumping river adventure on the Sarapiqui River rapids.
- Work with your fellow travelers, with the help of a local river guide, to navigate several classes of rapids—oh, and splashing your pals is highly encouraged.
- Return to San José and swap phone numbers, Instagram follows, email addresses or AIM screen-names with your Costa Rican travel BFFs.
Share some last laughs and revisit the best moments of the trip at this included farewell dinner with the group.
Day 10: Fly Home
Your next destination awaits—home. Before you head to the airport, make sure to take one more group photo and grab that final drink. But this isn’t goodbye because you can always get the gang back together for another trip soon. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, we have a couple ways to keep your vacation going.
EXTEND YOUR TRIP 2 WAYS
1. Double the fun
A lot of our trips line up back to back! Give us a call—we can help you add another and save big while you're at it.
2. Go ahead or stay behind
Extending your trip is easy! During checkout, you'll have the option to fly to (or from) the gateway of your choice for an additional fee. We'll adjust your flights accordingly, but you'll be responsible to take care of your transportation, hotels, and other logistics outside of tour.
Note: Depending on your desired gateways, additional fees may apply.