Exploring Costa Rica (Self Drive)

Exploring Costa Rica (Self Drive)

Purpose: Ecology & Adventure
No. of days: 8 days - 7 nights
First & Last Cities: San Jose, Liberia
Other cities: Poas Volcano, Arenal Volcano, Celeste River, Tamarindo Beach
Starting cost: $865
Discover the real Costa Rica on your own during this 7-night self-drive vacation – as you travel the scenic roads, experiencing the small villages, local culture and abounding natural beauty along the way. 
  • Explore Costa Rica at your pace
  • Learn about the rural life style of the Costa Ricans as you ride through the volcanic mountain range
  • Admire the beautiful scenery of the San José Central Valley.  
  • Visit the impressive Arenal Volcano
  • Travel to the amazing Celeste River considered the most beautiful in Costa Rica
  • Explore the exotic Tamarindo Beach with its many natural attractions
Day 1: San Jose, Poas Volvano (31 miles – 1 hour, 3 hours with stops)
Welcome to Costa Rica! Upon arrival meet with our representative, who will provide you with your full itinerary, recommendations, maps, contact information and assistance with picking up your car rental.  Now you are ready to set out on your own to explore the real Costa Rica, with its abounding natural beauty. You’ll travel the scenic roads and experience the country’s small villages and rural way of life, with the freedom to stop along the way, walk around the little towns’ squares, and fully immerse yourself in the local culture.  Your destination today will be the central volcanic mountain range, specifically the cloud forest of the Poas Volcano and Vara Blanca village. From the airport, you’ll find many attractions en route starting with the historic city of Alajuela, home of many different monuments.  Your next stop is at the world-famous coffee plantations of the Doka Estate, or the Souvenir Museum Verdes & Colores, a project that teaches visitors about sustainability while shopping for the colorful, locally made goods. Continue on the Hydrangeas Touristic Route, which takes you through dairy farms and small roadside markets amidst a scenery that grows more beautiful as you approach the top of the mountain. At the top you will reach your accommodations for the night. This stunning mountain lodge is located on the edge of the cloud forest, with breathtaking views of the Poas Volcano and northern Caribbean plains. 
Note: When choosing your flights, please be sure to select one that arrives in San Jose by early afternoon, in order to accommodate driving time from San Jose Int’l Airport to the Poas Volcano area. Otherwise, please add one night at San Jose at the beginning.
Day 2: Poas Volcano, Arenal Volcano (78 miles – 2:45 hours, 5 with stops)
Your morning will be at leisure to enjoy the resort and explore the nearby attractions.  We recommended a visit to the Poas Volcano National Park (10 minutes from your hotel) to see the crater, trails and lagoon. By 12:00 pm, depart for your next destination: the Arenal Volcano. We suggest a stop at the La Paz Waterfalls Gardens - an ecological theme park with beautiful waterfalls, a hummingbird garden and Costa Rica’s largest butterfly garden! (Admission is not included). Then, set out towards the northern lowlands, passing through towns like San Miguel, Venecia and Aguas Zarcas. Along the way you’ll enjoy the amazing views of the mountains and spot one of the major sources of revenue of this area: the agriculture. Arrive in La Fortuna Village late in the afternoon, where the mighty Arenal Volcano will welcome you with its impressive perfect conic shape. This volcano has been active since 1969, and since then it has become one of the world’s most active volcanoes, and one of Costa Rica’s main highlights. Check in at your hotel, where you will be staying the next two nights. [B]
Day 3: Arenal Volcano
Day at leisure to explore this area.  We recommend a visit to Arenal Volcano National Park. The park protects an active volcano with constant moderate explosions accompanied by roar, gases and ash emissions that raise high in the air. In addition, there are many other options to see in the area: The Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge, the Venado Caves, La Fortuna Waterfall, and other activities such as river floating, nature walks, hot springs, zip-lines, cultural activities, cannoning, rafting, hiking and horseback riding. [B]
Day 4: Arenal Volcano, Celeste River (48 miles – 2 hours)
Start your day with an early ride to the Celeste River, located near the Tenorio Volcano National Park. The Celeste River (sky blue River) is a natural wonder of Costa Rica. This river obtains its spectacular color from different volcanic minerals. Local legend says that when God finished painting heaven, he washed the brush in the Rio Celeste! Arrive at mid-morning. In the next 2 hours admire the imposing waterfall and the blue lagoon. Explore the trails that take you to the “Teñideros,” where the river takes its blue color from merging with a small creek. Then, head to your hotel for lunch. Dinner and overnight at the lodge. [B/L/D]
Day 5: Celeste River, Tamarindo Beach (97 miles – 2:30 hours, 4:30 hours)
Morning at leisure to discover this beautiful area, and observe different species of birds and mammals and the exuberant flora that surrounds the forest. Take a hike to Celeste River, or visit Bijagua Village to immerse in the true Costa Rican rural life with its plantation fields and cheese factories. As you set out you will be driving on peaceful gravel and dirt roads that connect some isolated small villages, inhabited by friendly people who you will love to meet. In the afternoon drive to Tamarindo Beach on the North Pacific Coast. We suggest a stop at the Hanging Bridges (20 minutes from your hotel). This panoramic route provides you with views of Miravalles Volcano until you reach the Pan-American Highway. Here you will notice the change of the rainforest into the tropical dry forest that characterizes the entire Guanacaste Province. Appreciate the beautiful beaches of Costa Rica, set amidst jungle landscape, as well as the magnificent sunsets. Arrive at Tamarindo Beach where are staying the next 3 nights. [B]
Days 6 & 7: Tamarindo Beach                                                                                           
Enjoy two days at leisure; relax on the beach, or explore the surrounding area. This region is known for its extensive natural reserves with a plethora of flora, fauna and natural beauty. Some of the many attractions found here include Rincon de la Vieja National Park, with its active volcano, thermal mud baths, and variety of forests; canopy/zip line tours, river rafting, horseback riding, forest hiking, fishing and much more! [B]
Day 8: Tamarindo Beach, Liberia, USA (40 miles – 1 hour)
Your self-guided Costa Rican adventure ends today. Return your rental car at Liberia International Airport, before boarding your flight home. Please allow extra time for your rental car drop-off. [B]
[B] = Breakfast | [B/L/D] = Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner






Tour includes
  • Assistance on arrival at Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO).
  • Seven (7) days car rental including:
    • Free mileage
    • Drop-off charges
  • Seven (7) nights accommodation
    • Poas Volcano – 1 night
    • Lomas del Volcan (Arenal) – 2 nights
    • Celeste River – 1 night
    • Tamarindo Beach – 3 nights
  • Meals
    • Daily breakfast
    • 1 lunch
    • 1 dinner
  • English speaking guides and entrance fees for the tours
  • All hotel taxes
Not included in tour
  • Air transportation to/from Costa Rica
  • Travel insurance
  • Meals not specified in the program
  • Car rental:
  • Mandatory insurance is not included, cost vary from $19 - $25 per day, depending on the selected car. 
  • Additional full cover insurance is also available, at a cost of $18.00 per day.
  • Optional activities or tours
  • Tips to guides and/or drivers
  • Local and/or international phone calls
  • Personal and/or medical expenses
  • Airport departure tax

Hotels in your Tour

Location Hotel Name Category Room Type Tripadvisor
Vara Blanca area Poas Volcano Lodge First Class Garden 4.5
Arenal Volcano area Lomas del Volcán Superior Tourist Standard 4.5
Celeste River area Celeste Mountain Lodge Superior Tourist Standard 4
Tamarindo Beach Esplendor Hotel Superior Tourist Ocean View 4

Hotels will be confirmed at time of booking

Tour Pricing

Season From
January - April $1,035
May - June $865
July - December 10 $889
Rates are minimum per person sharing a room and may change without notice.
Rates may change depending on the date of travel
Prices for single room or for 3 passengers sharing a room are available on request
Valid through December 10th 2020. Not valid for Holidays and big Conventions.
Other blackout dates may apply.
Tour Code: CR12SJO20ST