Costa Rica – 10 Day Itinerary

I have been asked for this itinerary so many times in the past year that I felt the need to share it!

Costa Rica was an AMAZING trip. I planned this for 7 of us friends, rented two cars, and it couldn’t have gone better! Highly recommend renting vehicles here as you can see so much of the country this way. Roads were well kept other than on the peninsula, and it was fairly easy to navigate. Go for a 4×4 because if you do end up going a little off-road, which is very likely, you’ll be happy you did!

Day 1 – YYZ to LIR & Tamarindo

5 out of the 7 of us landed in Liberia and grabbed both of our 4×4 SUVs. We drove 1 hour to Tamarindo and stayed at Hotel Pasatiempo. Great beach town to start the trip off. Get a taste of the ocean, culture and laid back Pura Vida lifestyle.

Adventure Trip Adventure Trip

Day 2 – Llanos de Cortes Waterfall

We had to drive back to the Liberia airport to grab our other two friends. The plan was to drive to La Fortuna from here, a good 3 hours from Tamarindo. On the way we stopped at Llanos de Cortes Waterfall. The road to the waterfall was extremely bumpy that it was pretty much off-roading. Thank goodness for our SUVs! This stop was absolutely worth the detour. Secluded with only a handful of locals, it was a great place for an afternoon dip.

Adventure Trip

We booked an Air Bnb in La Fortuna called Cabinas La Catarata and had an entire cabin for the 7 of us. Clean, spacious with a big, beautiful front porch to enjoy the weather. Some would say these accommodations are basic, but it provided us with all of our needs. In the main house, Felix and his wife cooked delicious Costa Rican breakfasts. We dined amongst their lush garden and was entertained by Felix feeding the hummingbirds. Fortuna River was just at the end of the street (about a 10 minute walk) where you could try some backflips off a Tarzan swing with the locals. We loved the location of our cabin as it felt a little more secluded, but still in the midst of action.

Day 3 to 5 – La Fortuna

We originally planned to stay here for 2 days, but really fell in love with the area. As a bonus of booking the Air Bnb above, we met Jonny and his beautiful family Sofia and Valentina. Jonny is a Canadian himself who now lives in Costa Rica. He owns Paradise Adventures Costa Rica (PACR) and we were able to book the adventure excursions we were interested in, as well as an unexpected hot springs outing! Can’t recommend his services enough.

During our stay at La Fortuna we went white water rafting and zip-lining. Both these activities were booked with Jonny at PACR.

Aaron and I had gone white water rafting probably 3 times now, so we wanted a higher level of rafting, thinking we were obviously pros at this point. If I can remember correctly, we did a river with class 3 rapids. So, somewhere in between. More exciting than beginner. Since we begged for more difficult rapids, our guide spiced things up a bit by putting us in situations (all safe), where our raft could tip. We tipped twice! It was SO fun. Not so sure the other group in our raft were too happy about it though, haha! We were like “a cockroach in a toilet bowl”, a saying our guide used in abundance throughout our ride with his think Spanish accent.

Zip-lining here was incredible! There were really long lines, some that you couldn’t make the entire way, and the views were incomparable.


With the zip-lining came an option to abseil down a waterfall, so we took them up on that sweet offer!

The scariest part was having to climb back up the slick side of the mountain on a rope ladder with metal rungs. Definitely had to hold on tight!

Lastly, this excursion ended with a horseback ride to your starting point with a mini-break to learn more about the indigenous people of Costa Rica and their wood art pieces.

Cerro Chato

During our stay, we also made a point to hike up to Cerro Chato. Cerro Chato is the lesser known volcano in the area, compared to Arenal. It’s dormant and has a beautiful green crater lake at the top. Elevation at the top is 3,740 feet. It’s a challenging hike, lots of boulders to clamber over. I felt like I was using my hands and feet for some parts of it, clinging onto tree roots as sometimes I couldn’t find my footing. If you have knee issues, this is not the hike for you. Hiking boots are highly recommended.

The hike up is mostly through lush rainforest with random openings on lava rocks. It started to rain about halfway into the hike which made the terrain muddy and pretty slick.

Once we reached the lake, we jumped in and the fog began to clear. Perfect timing!

Day 6 – Monteverde

Driving through Monteverde is worth it for the views alone. We stayed for one night at a hotel with friendly monkeys who try to grab a piece of your breakfast! During the day we visited a local coffee farm who also taught us a lot about sustainable farming. I can’t quite remember the name of the hotel, but if I do I’ll be sure to update the blog here. There are also a bunch of coffee plantations to choose from, most boasting about their eco-friendliness. I say, choose one and have a delicious morning!

Day 7 to 9 – Santa Teresa

All that adventure meant it was time for some R&R. We welcomed the beautiful beaches of Santa Teresa and couldn’t wait to catch some waves. This is a town where you NEED a 4×4. You can actually rent ATVs here! Surf boards are easy to rent from shops in the town as well. We could’ve stayed here for a week!

Getting here from Monteverde required going on a ferry from Puntarenas to Paquera. It was an hour and a half drive from Monteverde to the ferry, so check the departure times and plan ahead. Once on the peninsula, we drove to Montezuma but felt their beaches were filled with litter and a lot of people. Santa Teresa was clean with less crowds. Probably has something to do with the crazy drive in. We followed the GPS but ended up having to clear a small stream! The drive from Paquera to Santa Teresa was about an hour and a half if you didn’t make any stops, but I suggest that you do! Lots of great beaches lines this stretch of the country.

Santa Teresa is where I found my most favourite Air Bnb to date! Villa Icculus was PERFECT. High on a cliff with an infinity pool overlooking the beautiful views of the ocean, it was comfortable for all 7 of us. The house was even good enough to host a surprise birthday party for our friend! Again, you need a 4×4 to get up to this house. The road was steep and unpaved.

Day 9 – Jaco

For our last couple of nights we stayed in Jaco as I felt we needed to get back to a bigger town where we could get our souvenir shopping on. There’s also a great beach to soak in all that beautiful ocean water before going back home.

On the drive to Jaco, we stopped over Costa Rica’s “Croc Bridge” and it did not disappoint!

Day 10 – Manuel Antonio

Head over to the national park because you have to see the sloths and the monkeys!

Let me know if you end up using this itinerary and let me know what you think!



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