'Route 2: South Pacific Explorer'

What makes this trip special?

Vistas, volcanoes and villages

Vistas, volcanoes and villages

Central Valley

Keen to avoid the city during your trip? Costa Rica's Central Valley is great place to start or end a holiday - hotels tend to have gardens and/or swimming pools and are within close range of the international airport. There are also a variety of things to see and do in the area.

Stunning wild beach

Stunning wild beach

Playa Esterillos del Este

A stunning, undeveloped stretch of beach with a scattering of beachfront hotels and little else. Popular with surfers but too rough for swimming. Within proximity of the Carara reserve a good base from which to visit the beautiful but busy Manuel Antonio National Park.

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 from a selection of hotels and lodges dotted high on the hillside

Astounding biodiversity

Astounding biodiversity

Osa Peninsula

Mostly undeveloped and natural, this remote corner of Costa Rica's South Pacific has been called "the most biologically intense place of earth" by the National Geographic, and there are a couple of very special lodges that help guests experience it.

Quiet "Garden of Eden" cloud forest

Quiet "Garden of Eden" cloud forest

San Gerardo de Dota

Tranquil forested valley alive with trout-filled streams close to the highest pass in Costa Rica. Experience 'paramos' habitat above the tree line and keep your eyes peeled - this is the most reliable place in the country to spot the Resplendent quetzal

Agriculture, archeology and an active volcano

Agriculture, archeology and an active volcano


Watched over by the Turrialba volcano, this quiet farming region is an interesting place to spend a few days. Nearby Guayabo National Park is home to 3,000 year old ruins. For adventure-seekers, hike the flanks of the volcano or raft some of the best white-water in the country. There is also a world-renowned centre for research into tropical crops, good for a spot of birding

Itinerary map for Costa Rica 'Route 2: South Pacific Explorer' holiday


  • Day      Overnight
  • 1 San José
  • 2 San José
  • 3 Esterillos Este
  • 4 Esterillos Este
  • 5 Dominical
  • 6 Dominical
  • 7 Osa Peninsula
  • 8 Osa Peninsula
  • 9 Osa Peninsula
  • 10 San Gerardo de Dota
  • 11 San Gerardo de Dota
  • 12 Turrialba
  • 13 Turrialba
  • 14 San José
  • For the detail of each day click the ‘Day-by-day’ tab above.

Day-by-day itinerary for 'Route 2: South Pacific Explorer'


arrive San José, 2 nights


explore Central Valley


to mid-Pacific coast stay in e.g Carara/Jaco/Esterillos Este, 2 nights


e.g. visit Carara reserve or relax at beach


Visit Manuel Antonio NP then to Dominical 2 nights


relax or e.g visit Hacienda Baru, whale watch (seasonal), Cano Island or Corcovado NP


to Osa Peninsula (e.g Danta Corcovado/ Villas Corcovado) or Golfo Dulce (Esquinas) 3 nights


exploring locally


exploring locally

DAY 10

to San Gerardo de Dota, 2 nights

DAY 11

e.g quetzal tour, forest walk, paramo

DAY 12

to Turrialba region via Lankester Botanical Garden, 2 nights

DAY 13

e.g. Guayabo Monumnet, Irazu region, CAITE, rafting

DAY 14

Orosi Valley, return San Jose

DAY 15

Drop car at airport, fly home

Guide prices for 'Route 2: South Pacific Explorer'

options based on all year low season mid season high season peak season other season
Guide Price (Danta Corcovado option) 2 people sharing £1,655 £1,735
Prices are per person and include:
  • all other travel in Costa Rica
  • all accommodation
  • meals as indicated B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner
  • rental car with unlimited mileage and fully comprehensive insurance (details on request)
Prices do not include:
  • international flights
  • travel insurance
  • airport and departure taxes
  • items of a personal nature such as drinks, tips, laundry, etc
  • car-hire: petrol
  • car-hire: additional driver insurance
  • car-hire: refundable deposit

Customer reviews for 'Route 2: South Pacific Explorer'

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.

Average customer rating 97%


The birds


The fact the whole trip was stress free. The private transfers were excellent


Tortuguero boat trips, the danta corcovado lodge, wildlife everywhere - especially the squirrel monkeys a few feet from our balcony at Danta Corcovado Lodge, the Costa Rican friendliness


We would happily have spent more time everywhere, except San Jose


Wildlife, botony + the great people we met and Panama Transit


La selva, San Gerardo de Dota, Carara, Tortuguero was extremely wet for all 2.5 days.


Tortuguero water excursions, Corcovado general area, the general profusion of wildlife around, Villas Gaia and beautiful Poas Volcano Lodge.


Tortuguero and Osa Peninsula


The variety of environments. We also went to north and south Caribbean coasts and to Arenal.

Seasonal information for 'Route 2: South Pacific Explorer'

Along this route in January

Day Location Max °C Monthly rainfall
1 San José 24°C rainfall 28mm
2 San José 24°C rainfall 28mm
3 Esterillos Este 32°C rainfall 30mm
4 Esterillos Este 32°C rainfall 30mm
5 Dominical 32°C rainfall 64mm
6 Dominical 32°C rainfall 64mm
7 Osa Peninsula 32°C rainfall 75mm
8 Osa Peninsula 32°C rainfall 75mm
9 Osa Peninsula 32°C rainfall 75mm
10 San Gerardo de Dota 16°C rainfall 85mm
11 San Gerardo de Dota 16°C rainfall 85mm
12 Turrialba 25°C rainfall 178mm
13 Turrialba 25°C rainfall 178mm
14 San José 24°C rainfall 28mm

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 'Route 2: South Pacific Explorer'

Days 1 - 2



Average rating 4.8 (249 ratings)

Hotel Bougainvillea is a very nice 3-4 star hotel set among ten acres of lush flower filled gardens and surrounded by coffee plantations and citrus orchards. Situated in Heredia it provides a quiet first/last night hideaway just 15 minutes from the international airport and from downtown San José. Bedrooms are rather bland, but spacious with two double beds, a sitting area and the full range of facilities. Most of the rooms have free wi-fi internet access. Every room has a balcony offering marvelous views of the mountains on one side and the San José skyline on the other. There is a light and pleasant dining room, a large inviting swimming pool and 2 tennis courts. This is a good option for gardeners, birdwatchers and those who prefer to stay out of the city centre.  It is not ideal if you intend travelling around Costa Rica by shuttle bus transfers.

Days 3 - 4

Monterrey del Mar

Esterillos Este

Situated right on the wild undeveloped Playa Esterillos Este, midway between Carara Reserve and Manuel Antonio National park (45 mins drive from each). This is a conventional mid-range, beach front hotel with pool and restaurant. The 27 rooms have private bathrooms (hot water), satelite TV, private terrace. Note: dangerous to swim here - rip tides.

Monterrey del Mar
Days 5 - 6

Villas Gaia

nr Playa Tortuga

Average rating 4.2 (9 ratings)

The hotel offers 14 simple good sized wooden cabins scattered around a garden forest.  One room is specially designed for disabled guests. The hotel has a hilltop swimming pool with sun deck which overlooks Playa Tortuga. Bedrooms are on the landward terraced hillside. There is a children’s pool, a poolside cocktail bar with ocean sunset view. Their open-sided restaurant specializing in Caribbean and Latin American cuisine is at the front of the property near the road and therefore rather spoilt by noise of traffic rumbling by.

Villas Gaia
Pool and distant sea view
Days 7 - 9

Danta Corcovado Lodge

Osa Peninsula

Average rating 4.6 (19 ratings)

Danta Corcovado is a family run lodge set on a 35 hectare farm in Guadalupe. Sustainability is the ethos here as the lodge strives to involve the local community by using local food products, building trails to support farmers and the conservation of their forests, supporting local artisans and using local nature guides.

Accommodation is either in standard rooms or more isolated bungalows.  They are all simply yet artily furnished from local woods with polished teak floors, ceiling fans and screened windows.  

The remote bungalows are set amid the forest, 200m walk away from the main lodge building. They have three walls made only of hanging nets and alfresco private bathrooms.

Note: this is a place for natural history lovers. Not for the bug phobic.

Over 200 species of birds have been spotted in the area (inv Black-cheeked Ant-Tanager, Fiery-billed Aracari, Yellow-billed Cotinga) and there have also been sightings of Jaguaroundis, Northern Tamanduas (Anteater), Three-toed Sloths, as well as regular appearances made by Squirrel, Howler, and White-faced Capuchin Monkeys.

Danta Corcovado Lodge
Days 10 - 11

Trogon Lodge

San Gerardo de Dota

Average rating 4.7 (12 ratings)

A family farm in the mountains at 7000 ft, a fresh water river also runs through the property. Guest accommodations include 10 rustic cabins, each one with 2 private bedrooms, private bathroom, hot water and heating. Home-cooked meals are served in a family style restaurant.  Optional Quetzal spotting tours and horse riding are available in this enchanted valley.

Trogon Lodge
Days 12 - 13

Casa Turire


Average rating 5.0 (5 ratings)

Casa Turire resembles a colonial plantation home.  It offers guests 12 deluxe rooms and 4 suites as well as a range of baisc facilities.  It is situated at the edge of a reservoir in the Turrialba valley.

Casa Turire
Day 14

El Rodeo Country Inn


El Rodeo Country Inn is a good, mid-range hotel set back from a main road in a quiet suburban area, located just 10 minutes from San Jose airport and 15 minutes from downtown San Jose. The 29 well appointed rooms have hardwood floors and wood furnishings and are fully-equipped with cable TV, A/C, direct dial telephone, safe private bathrooms with hot water and bathtub, coffee maker and hair-dryer. Some rooms have a balcony and all have a garden view. Facilities include a swimming pool and jacuzzi, tennis court, wireless internet. The hotel is connected to a steak house, which is very popular with the locals (please note there are very limited vegetarian options at the steak house). The steakhouse closes at 4pm on Sundays but the hotel bar can prepare snacks or help you call out for a pizza.

El Rodeo Country Inn