'Day Walks in Costa Rica'

What makes this trip special?

San Gerardo de Dota & Cerro de la Muerte

San Gerardo de Dota & Cerro de la Muerte

Southern Highlands

The tranquil cloudforest of San Gerardo de Dota is the most reliable place in Costa Rica for sighting the Resplendent Quetzal. Between 1,500–2,500m there are oak forests and above the tree line (at 3,000m) lies the páramo vegetation of Cerro de la Muerte.

Wild, lush coast and marine reserve

Wild, lush coast and marine reserve


Sparsley populated and until recently difficult to access, Dominical's forest-backed beaches are most popular with surfers. Further south, you can swim and snorkel at Ballena National Marine Park, where whales and dolphins can be seen in season.

Rural ranch and nearby wetlands

Rural ranch and nearby wetlands

Guanacaste (La Ensenada)

Guanacaste's dusty tropical dry forest is home to Costa Rica's cowboy ranch lands. Here you can experience a slice of authentic rural life staying at a homely ranch - join the cowboys on horseback to round up cattle, hike through the forest or bird-watch at the nearby Palo Verde wetlands

Laid-back, off-beat beaches

Laid-back, off-beat beaches

Southern Nicoya Peninsula

At the southernmost tip of the Nicoya Peninsula at the end of various bumpy roads lie a handful of wild, forest-backed beaches popular with expats, surfers and those looking to get away from it all. Chose Tambor for comfort right on the beach, Montezuma for a laid-back alternative feel and Santa Teresa/Mal Pais for hip surf-dude cool

Costa Rica's most active volcano

Costa Rica's most active volcano


Arenal's perfect cone rises above lowlands, spewing smoke and steam, lava and boulders in its active phases. Make sure you visit the hot springs and explore the 'hanging bridges' through the forest. The area has good options for walkers and there's lots to do for adventurous families.

Itinerary map for Costa Rica 'Day Walks in Costa Rica' holiday


  • Day      Overnight
  • 1 San José
  • 2 San Gerardo de Dota
  • 3 Copey de Dota
  • 4 Copey de Dota
  • 5 Dominical
  • 6 Dominical
  • 7 ranch
  • 8 ranch
  • 9 Montezuma
  • 10 Montezuma
  • 11 Montezuma
  • 12 Montezuma
  • 13 Arenal
  • 13 Punta Arenas ferry dock
  • 14 Arenal
  • For the detail of each day click the ‘Day-by-day’ tab above.

Day-by-day itinerary for 'Day Walks in Costa Rica'


San José

You are met on arrival and taken to your hotel in San José.


Southern highlands

This morning travel south into the highlands to the cloud forests of the San Gerardo de Dota valley to stay the night.


You walk with a guide descending, sometimes steeply, through pristine cloud forest into the beautiful Copey de Dota valley (14km/6h), for 2 nights at a family-run mid-range lodge.


A day of country walks on quiet village lanes in this picturesque fruit-filled valley.



By road to Dominical beside the Pacific, for 2 nights at a hacienda close to the ocean with a wildlife reserve extending from beach, wetlands and lowland forest up to primary forest on a high ridge. The hacienda has 7km of trails, 3km of beach and an orchid and butterfly garden.


A morning’s guided hike through primary and secondary forest. Afternoon free to explore the hacienda’s self-guided trails.


Gulf of Nicoya

Travel up the Pacific coast to the Gulf of Nicoya. Stay 2 nights at a working ranch with extensive nature trails in dry forest and ranchlands, and views over the Gulf.


Free day based at the Gulf of Nicoya.



By road and ferry to the laid-back village of Montezuma. Beyond rocky coves lie long beaches backed by forest, perfect for long walks. Stay 4 nights at a beach front lodge outside the village.

DAY 10

Free day to enjoy walking along the beaches backed by rainforest to waterfalls and secluded coves

DAY 11

Second free day to enjoy walking along beaches or for relaxing at your hotel

DAY 12

Third free day to enjoy walking along beaches or for relaxing at your hotel

DAY 13


Inland to Arenal for 2 nights at a hotel with volcano views.

DAY 14

This morning you join a shared guided walk of about 5km over a mixed terrain from open plains to lakeshore, lava and mountain trails, with some areas very good for wildlife and birds.

DAY 15

Travel to San José and depart Costa Rica.

Guide prices for 'Day Walks in Costa Rica'

options based on all year low season mid season high season peak season other season
Mid-range hotels, selfdrive (ASX) 2 people sharing £2,745 £2,950
Mid-range hotels, private transfers 2 people sharing £3,045 £3,185
Prices are per person and include:
  • all transport in Costa Rica
  • all accommodation
  • meals as indicated (B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner)
  • all excursions as described
Prices do not include:
  • international flights
  • travel insurance
  • airport and departure taxes
  • items of a personal nature such as drinks, tips, laundry, etc
  • any optional excursions you may buy locally

Customer reviews for 'Day Walks in Costa Rica'

Recent reviews are shown here from holidays based on this initial design. In each case the itinerary may have been modified (a little or a lot) to suit the individual traveller.


Seasonal information for 'Day Walks in Costa Rica'

Along this route in January

Day Location Max °C Monthly rainfall
1 San José 24°C rainfall 28mm
2 San Gerardo de Dota 16°C rainfall 85mm
3 Copey de Dota 16°C rainfall 74mm
4 Copey de Dota 16°C rainfall 74mm
5 Dominical 32°C rainfall 64mm
6 Dominical 32°C rainfall 64mm
7 ranch 32°C rainfall 2mm
8 ranch 32°C rainfall 2mm
9 Montezuma 32°C rainfall 6mm
10 Montezuma 32°C rainfall 6mm
11 Montezuma 32°C rainfall 6mm
12 Montezuma 32°C rainfall 6mm
13 Arenal 30°C rainfall 194mm
13 Punta Arenas ferry dock 33°C rainfall 3mm
14 Arenal 30°C rainfall 194mm

Typical weather for January


Max °C figures are the average daily maximum temperatures for the month. Rainfall is the average precipitation for the month.

Hotels for 'Day Walks in Costa Rica'

Day 1

Fleur de Lys

downtown San Jose

Average rating 4.1 (9 ratings)

Located in the cultural district of San José, near the National Museum, this restored Victorian house offers 30 individually quirkily decorated rooms in mis-matching style, each is named after a species of flower native to Costa Rica. All rooms have bath or shower, fan, hair dryer, cable TV, coffee maker, telephone. Some have a balcony. There are lots of plant filled nooks and crannies and a central atrium with water fountain. The hotel has a restaurant specialising in Costa Rican cuisine, and cosy bar. Creaky wooden construction. Lots of character.

N.B a commuter tram passes behind the hotel from dawn to early evening Monday to Friday - as a consequence some rooms can suffer from noise on these days as the tram passes.

Fleur de Lys
Day 2

Paraiso Quetzal Lodge

Nr San Gerardo de Dota

Paraiso de Quetzal is a good choice for birders and people interested in natural history wishing to see the Resplendent Quetzal.

The lodge is set in extensive grounds at an altitude of 2,650m. Accommodation at this family run lodge is in independent pine-wood cabins dotted around the hillside. Each of the 14 cabins have a private bathroom with hot water, coffee maker and forest views. Standard rooms have queen-sized beds and bunkbeds. Superior cabins have king-sized beds, jacuzzi bathtub, plasma T.V. Heaters and additional blankets are available as it gets cold at night.

Facilities include a cosy restaurant serving homecooked food using local produce, lounge area with fireplace, gift shop. There are a variety of on-site trails of differing lengths, a 6m observation platform, hummingbird deck.

Note: Make sure you have a torch to walk the trails to your cabin at night.

Paraiso Quetzal Lodge
Day 3

Toucanet Lodge

Copey de Dota

Toucanet Lodge is located at 1,950m in the heart of Los Santos reserve in the scenic Copey de Dota valley in Costa Rica's southern highlands.

Copey de Dota is a small rural town with approximately 500 inhabitants. This is an area of tumbling trout filled streams and fertile verdant countryside producing some of Costa Rica's best coffee and a wide range of fruits including peaches, apples and avocados.

The lodge has 6 standard bungalows with private bathrooms, large picture windows with mountain views, private terrace and wifi. The 2 junior suites are more private, spacious rooms with a hydro-massage bathtub and fireplace.

The lodge's "Bulat" restaurant, serves fine-dining "mountain cuisine with influences from the old continent"

Activities possible from the lodge include resplendent quetzal spotting and highlands birding tours, Talamanca trekking hike and coffee tours.

A great base from which to enjoy birding, hiking and a slice of rural mountain life.

Toucanet Lodge
Days 5 - 6

Hacienda Baru


Average rating 4.3 (26 ratings)

Hacienda Baru is a 300ha National Wildlife Refuge with a broad range of habitats for nature viewing: pristine beach, wetland, secondary forest and up on the highland coastal ridge primary rainforest. There are two types of accommodation all with private bathrooms. There is a swimming pool and open-air restaurant serving typical Costa Rican cuisine.  There is also a canopy observation platform, zip line and tree climbing and escorted birding hikes, night walk and mangrove walk all available locally.

Hacienda Baru
Days 7 - 8

La Ensenada Lodge

Gulf of Nicoya

Average rating 4.4 (23 ratings)

La Ensenada is a family run 1000 acre farm set beside the Gulf of Nicoya near Palo Verde, sharing a similar wetland habitat. Accommodation is in simple, functional, clean wooden cabins, each with a private bathroom and veranda. There is a swimming pool and lawns down to the Gulf which create a beautiful, tranquil location in which to relax. Guests can join in with the daily activities of the working farm, which raises cattle and horses as well as producing salt and fruit. They offer horse back riding, mangrove tours and trails through the jungle. There are great bird watching opportunities here (Dec - Apr) particularly when the migrant species are passing through. On your way over to dinner you will need a torch - watch out for the huge toads!

La Ensenada Lodge
Days 9 - 12

Ylang Ylang Beach Resort


Average rating 4.7 (22 ratings)

Ylang Ylang Beach Resort is something special for those in search of an alternative beachfront retreat.  A ten-minute walk from the village of Montezuma along the sands, there is no direct road access to the resort.  

Each of it's 8 small private "igloo" like bungalows are simply furnished with their own terrace and glass-free windows plus a private bathroom and carefully screened outdoor shower. There are 6 more conventional rooms with views of the beach and fully enclosed private bathrooms available in the main accommodation block. There are also 8 more basic tented 'cabinas' with external private bathrooms and a "Tree Top Canopy" tented suite set with a king-sized bed surrounded by forest in a more secluded part of the property. All rooms/bungalows/tented cabinas have A/C, safe, minifridge. The hotel's two "Garden Bungalows" are located in a more secluded part of the resort a few steps away from the swimming pool and 50yrds from they beach. They have a queen size bed, AC, ceiling fan, screens, safety deposit box, mini-fridge, coffee maker, indoor hot water shower and sliding glass doors that open to a large terrace and lush surroundings. These domes are the best for viewing wildlife as they are situated directly in the biological corridor amidst a plethora of fruit trees. Guests stay on a half board basis with romantic candle lit dinners served in the thatched dining area beside the sea. It is worth noting that dinner includes one main course from the dinner, vegan or raw food menu and one natural juice per person. No red meat is served at the hotel.

Additional facilities include a swimming pool and sun deck, forest spa offering a range of treatments and massages, daily shared yoga classes at the hotel's yoga open-air yoga studio (at a current cost of $14pp), small gift shop.

Ylang Ylang Beach Resort
Days 13 - 14

Arenal Observatory Lodge


Average rating 4.6 (98 ratings)

The reward for a little bone-shaking along a stony track which winds up through pine forest to reach this hotel is its proximity to Arenal volcano and its beautiful views down upon Arenal Lake. Originally a Smithsonian Institute research station its location was chosen by scientists who needed a close but safe vantage point from which to study the volcano. Although you are close enough to hear the near constant rumbles inside the volcano you are separated from it by a deep gorge. The gardens are planted with native species to attract hummingbirds and butterflies.  A seismograph records the volcano's activity from the lodge.

Arenal Observatory Lodge