Alright, here it is!!

The full travel guide + itinerary to help you have a smooth & amazing trip to Costa Rica!!!
Below you will find information on:

La Fortuna

Airbnb

The Airbnb we stayed at was called “Tropical Forest Bungalow at Tifakara”. The one we stayed in was for 2 guests, 1bd, 1bth, no kitchen but restaurant nearby, and free breakfast included. The pool & hot tubs were amazing!! The shower was so cool because it was inside but had no ceiling. So we showered in a rain shower in the rain! Haha That was one of our favorite parts of the airbnb.

Good thing to know - With Tifakara, you can reschedule your reservations totally free, always!

Technically, this is a Boutique Hotel, but you can book through Airbnb as well. The boutique hotel is called Tifakara. The links for both the hotel & the airbnb listing(s) are below. It’s just barely cheaper on Airbnb. They clean your room every day, they have a front desk with all the info of tours and things to do nearby, and they have a restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. While we were staying there (June 2021), the restaurant was only serving breakfast, as it was just barely opening back up because of Covid 19. The breakfast was more limited than normal, but still very good! Not a lot of options in general, and little to no options for vegetarians/vegans. But their omelettes were amazing, and so was their fresh fruit! They also provide constant complimentary coffee, tea, and hot chocolate & little cookies. Every night, we went down to the restaurant and had a cup of creamy hot chocolate with cookies as a free little dessert - which was fun!

Things to Do in La Fortuna

La Fortuna Waterfall :

  • $18/person entry fee
  • 500 stairs, takes around 1-2 hrs depending on how much time you take at the waterfall

Absolutely beautiful! Definitely a must see, and it’s only a 3 minute walk from where we stayed (Tifakara).

Arenal Volcano Hike:

  • $15/person for Arenal National Park
  • Easy/moderate hike
  • Plan for around 2 hours
  • Bring shoes for hiking & mud
  • Bring water
  • They have a parking lot, so you can drive & park, or have your uber drop you off right at the parking lot.

Arenal Volcano Hot Springs River

  • Free admission (comes w/ Arenal National Park $15 entry)
  • Short 100yd walk from the road
  • Plan for around 2 hours
  • Bring shoes for hiking/mud, bathing suit, towels, dry clothes to change into, & water
  • It’s better to have an uber/taxi drop you off & ask them to pick you back up in 2 hours. It’s possible for you to park your rental car on the side of the road, but the locals told us you’d risk getting a ticket.

Volcano Mud

  • Free admission (comes w/ Arenal National Park $15 entry)
  • Bring shoes for hiking/mud, water, and towels

River Rafting :

  • $85/person - We heard if you go in person & negotiate, you can get it cheaper (someone got it for $50/person) So I would suggest trying that if you can rather than booking it online!
  • The company we went through is called Arenal Rafting Company | @arenalrafting.
  • An amazing lunch is provided (vegetarian options included), along with a wonderful layout of fresh cut fruit halfway through the river rafting trip.
  • They provide transportation to and from your hotel
  • You can spot several different animals on your trip
  • They have easy, moderate, & advanced options for your rafting trip
  • Guides are hilarious and give you all the info you need before hand
  • They provide professional photos for $40. They allow the option of one person in each raft to buy the photos and the others can split it with them (which would be $6.70 each person if everyone wants to pitch in to get the pictures). Then you just share the link with each other to download them.

This was the best choice we could have made for an excursion in La Fortuna! It was my first time river rafting and we did the Moderate/Intermediate option. Our guide’s name was Juan - he was hilarious & seriously just the best! The rapids were crazy and so fun! It honestly felt so safe but wild at the same time! We capsized twice, which was actually so fun haha. If you don’t fall out while rafting, you haven’t really experienced river rafting lol. Our guide let one person at a time go and sit on the front of the raft to “ride the rapids like a bull” hahaha. Tyler and I both did it, and it was a blast! The whole entire trip, everyone on our raft was dying laughing. When we stopped halfway through to have freshly cut mangos, pineapples, watermelon, and papaya, we also got to go cliff jumping off a little cliff. This was overall the best experience!!! We highly recommend you go river rafting with Arenal Rafting!!!

The Mistico Hanging Bridges Park

  • General admission $24/person. With a tour guide it’s $60/person (NOT WORTH IT. Do it w/o a guide).
  • Short 15 min drive from downtown La Fortuna
  • They close early at 3:30pm! The best views are in the morning between 6am-10am
  • 2 mile trail
  • Bring hiking shoes, rain jacket, and water

Places to Eat

  • Organico Fortuna **vegetarian options
  • El Chante Verde**

Monteverde

Airbnb

The Airbnb we stayed at was called “Chira Glamping Honeymoon Tent”. The one we stayed in was for 2 guests, 1bd, 1bth, outdoor half kitchen, restaurants nearby, and free breakfast food included in the fridge to make yourself. The bathroom had a waterfall shower - which was clean & beautiful! Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and hair dryer were included. We had our own personal balcony, with a look out to a cloud forest. In the trees above us, I saw some type of possum jumping through the trees. Plus we found a stick bug!

The glamping tent/dome had a large portion of it see-through, so you can see the view from inside as well. All the while having privacy. Everything was modern and so clean! It included a smart tv w/ Netflix, games, snacks, yoga mats, etc. They also had AC and wifi.

Technically, this is a Boutique Hotel, but you can book through Airbnb as well. The boutique hotel is called Chira Glamping. The links for both the hotel & the airbnb listing(s) are below. It’s just cheaper on Airbnb after all the fees since they charge a large tax fee on the hotel’s website. They clean your room every day and they have a front desk with all the info of tours and things to do nearby. Plus, they have an unbelievable Treehouse restaurant that serves a 7 course meal right next to it.

This was the coolest experience!! We only stayed one night because it’s a bit pricey, but I would have loved to stay a few more nights because of how awesome it was. We definitely plan to stay in more glamping tents/pods like this in future trips!!

Things to Do in Monteverde

Night Hike:

  • $25/person (ask for student discount, no proof needed)
  • Very muddy & might rain. Bring closed toed shoes that can get muddy, a rain jacket, and a water bottle. Have your camera w/ flash ready!

Sky Adventures - Hanging Bridges

  • $25/person. It’s cheaper to purchase it in person rather than online, and they’ll give you a discount if you say you’re a student (no proof).
  • Requires hiking uphill for the first half, and downhill for the second half. Takes around 2hrs (mild hike). Wear closed toed shoes, and bring water. 
  • Zip-line $75/person
  • SkyTram $70/person (idk)

Sky Trek Ziplining :

  • $84/adult 
  • $58/child  
  • $70/student (no proof needed)
  • $50/nationals
  • Begins with the Aerial Tram with beautiful views

Sky Limit Adventure Course

  • $84/adult
  • $70/students (no proof needed)
  • $50/nationals
  • Includes 10+ activities (4 ziplines, tight ropes, mesh bridge, ladder crossing, rappel, bridges, swing, canyoning, superman, and more.
  • Begins with the Aerial Tram with beautiful views

Arboreal Tree Climbing Park

  • $42/adult
  • $29/child
  • $34/students
  • $24/nationals
  • Tour consists of a climbing circuit in cloud forest - 4 trees that go from 33ft (10m) and up to 66ft (20m) high and with various levels of difficulty
  • Family friendly

Places to Eat

  • The Green Restaurant 
  • San Lucas Treehouse Dining Experience (7 course meal, around $90/person, plan for it to last couple hours)
  • Acachete Pizza (dine in/delivery & texts through WhatsApp. fast delivery)

APP - Order food directly to your Glamping tent! called “MonteverdeEnCasa” on App Store

Nosara

Airbnb

This airbnb is called “Colibri Studio Walking Distance to Beach”. It’s a beautiful, modern studio apartment with only a 3 min walk to the beach. It’s 1bd, 1bth, half kitchen, & private balcony. It also has private parking, wifi, AC, shared bbq hang out space, shared pool, and shared laundry room (detergent included). We loved this airbnb! We could honestly see ourselves living there. I think Nosara might be my favorite stop on our trip. We decided to take it easy here and didn’t do any excursions. The food in Nosara is THE BEST FOOD I’VE EVER HAD. It had many Americans, but also many locals. Kind of the perfect in between when it comes to Americanized and cultured. Our airbnb made it so easy to walk to restaurants & the beach. Downtown Nosara is only a 3 min drive away and has so many restaurants. Some places do delivery, but we’d recommend going out & eating at the restaurants. It’s just so fun! Even though we didn’t do any excursions in Nosara, I’ll give some ideas of things you can do below.

Overall this airbnb was AMAZING! Given, we arrived at night, driving a small car, and we quickly realized the road was not paved, muddy & flooded from the storm, and filled with potholes hahaha This airbnb is soooooo hard to find at night because there are no street lights and you don’t know what the gate looks like. So I would suggest getting there during the day time, or messaging the airbnb host and letting them know that you’ll be getting there at night & will need specific directions. I would also ask her to wait outside for you once you're 5 minutes away. The airbnb doesn’t exactly have it’s own address (nothing really does in Costa Rica). So to help, it is literally diagonal to El Chivo (a restaurant), which comes up if you look it up on the map. So once you’re in front of El Chivo, you’ll see a couple airbnb’s across the street from it. When you find the white walls against that same street, you’ll find the nice brown gates that close off the airbnb from the street, making it a private entrance. That’s where you’ll meet the host outside, and she’ll open the gate for you to park in the driveway.

Anyways, we LOVED this airbnb and highly recommend it. This exact one is linked below. I’ve also linked other airbnb options in the area in case this one is booked out for the dates of your trip.

Things to Do in Nosara

La Luna Beach & Hike

  • South side of the beach, there is a 5 minute hike to a gorgeous lookout.
  • Requires mild-moderate climbing. I did it barefoot.

ATV's

Rent ATV’s & drive around to all the beaches & restaurants!

Baby Turtle Beach

  • $6/person 
  • About a 19 minute drive from downtown Nosara
  • Best time of year to go see tens of thousands of turtles laying eggs on the beach is between July & December. (The largest recorded so far in Ostional happened in Nov 1995, when close to 500,000 turtles came ashore!)

Yoga

Surfing

  • Book a surfing lesson
  • Best beaches to surf at are Bocas del Nosara (aka the Nosara Rivermouth), Playa Pelada, Playa Guiones (known for best surfing). 
  • For beginner surfers, good beaches are Playa Samara, Playa Tamarindo, and more.
  • Best time of year for surfing is between May & November

Places to Eat

  • LuvBurger **almost all vegan
  • Cafe Social Nosara **veggie options
  • El Jardín (look up if veggie)
  • La Luna Restaurant (make a reservation for a table on the beach. Or don’t & eat inside)
  • Il Pepperoni **(by beach)

Tamarindo

Airbnb

This airbnb is called “Guesthouse Tamarindo. Brand new with a private pool” hosted by Lu. 

2 guests, studio, 1bd, outside separate bathtub and rain shower. Includes coffee machine (we used for hot chocolate), microwave, yoga mat, etc. 

Our review : The aesthetic of this entire stay is a dream!! AC works perfectly! Everything was very clean and ready when we got there. Bathtub takes 1.5 hours to fill (drain stopper doesn’t work completely, so we used one of the glass cups to go on top of the drain to create a secure air pocket preventing any water from going down the drain.) The bath was AMAZING!! Way more hot water than I thought it would provide. Pool was dirty from the storm when we arrived, but they came and cleaned it - it was perfect & so fun to swim in! Owners/hosts of this airbnb were sweethearts! They’re building another one right now and they’re so excited. I can’t wait to see what the next one will look like!

Really the only downside to this airbnb is the bugs. Every place in Costa Rica has tons of bugs everywhere haha This one just wasn’t the greatest at keeping the bugs out, but that’s because it’s a little guest house and we constantly kept leaving the doors open haha

Things to Do in Tamarindo

Sunset Cruise w/ Lunch (available in Tamarindo, Playa Flamingo, and Playas del Coco):

  • If you go into their location, you can negotiate a lower price for the adult price if you don’t drink alcohol, since the price online includes an open bar. Let them know you were recommended by Brit L’Amour and they might give you a small discount!
  • Morning Cruise (ages 12+) : $75/person
  • Morning Cruise (ages 6-11) $65/person
  • Afternoon (ages 12+) $95/person
  • Afternoon (ages 6-11) $65/person
  • Morning or Afternoon (ages 5 & under) Free
  • Full refund granted if canceled with at least 24 hours notice. 
  • 4 hours, One at 8am, and one at 1pm  (****Go on a day with good weather!! Ask the owner, Jeff, or someone else that works there what day has the best weather before you book! If you’re prone to seasickness, bring dramamine or other medicine just in case so you can fully enjoy it. The captain is amazing, so if there’s good weather, the boat ride is pretty smooth! If you forget medicine and need it, ask the crew and they can give you some)
  • Lunch is provided on the catamaran once you arrive at the island. Lunch was so yummy! Works for vegetarians too. For our sailing trip, they served chicken, beans, rice, fresh fruit, lots of different kinds of chips, and amazing homemade salsa! They also provide free drinks throughout the whole cruise, including yummy pina coladas! 
  • Once you arrive at the island, they provide snorkeling gear, kayaks, paddle boards, etc. Everyone gets to jump off the catamaran to swim and do whatever they want. The island is BEAUTIFUL!!!!! 
  • Along the way, we saw a pod of dolphins chasing the boat! It was so cool!! We also saw flying fish!
  • Since we were only there for one day, it was the day after a big storm and was super choppy! We knew that before booking and decided to do it anyway. The owner, Jeff, is so nice! He warned us that the boat will be rocky and the snorkeling won’t be as good because of the weather. But all the other reviews say that the snorkeling was amazing, and they saw turtles, sting rays, and whales during whale season!
  • After lunch & the island, you go back while the sun is setting. It’s gorgeous.
  • BY FAR THE BEST CATAMARAN TRIP I’VE EVER BEEN ON!!! It’s a must while in Tamarindo.

Private Sunset Cruise -

Half Day

  • 4 hour duration
  • AM Private Tour (Up to 25 passengers) : $2,225  ($89/person)
  • PM Private Tour (Up to 30 passengers) : $3,100  ($103.33/person)
  • Provides a Private Tour Menu for meal
  • Includes gear for snorkeling, kayaking, paddleboarding, etc. You can find secluded beaches and gorgeous islands
  • People often see pods of dolphins, turtles, whales, flying fish, & stingrays.

Full Day

  • 8 hour duration
  • 8am Private Tour (40-75 passengers) : $5,400  ($72/person with 75 passengers)
  • Provides a Private Tour Menu for meal
  • Includes gear for snorkeling, kayaking, paddleboarding, etc. You can find secluded beaches and gorgeous islands
  • People often see pods of dolphins, turtles, whales, flying fish, & stingrays

Tamarindo Helicopter Tour :

These are super unique 2 seater helicopters (1 passenger), without ceiling or walls! You can take your phone & camera but make sure you have a strap on it. You can purchase go pro photos of your flight from the company. Bring sunglasses & sunscreen.

Short Tour

  • $130/person for 20 min
  • Flies over Flamingo Beach, Conchal, Playa Grande
  • Views of beaches & jungle from above
  • Chance to see wild animals (such as crocodiles, brids, and more!)

30 Min Tour

  • $170/person
  • Flies over Flamingo Beach, Conchal, Playa Grande
  • Views of beaches & jungle from above
  • Chance to see wild animals (such as crocodiles, brids, and more!)

1 Hour Tour

    $260/person

  • Flies over Flamingo Beach, Conchal, Playa Grande
  • Views of beaches & jungle from above
  • Chance to see wild animals (such as crocodiles, brids, and more!)

Places to Eat

  • Waffle Monkey **vegan option
  • Food Court “El Mercadito de Tamarindo Gourmet” (Lots of options!)

All You Need To Know

COVID-19 Requirements

** Restrictions & requirements vary depending on what country you are flying in & out of. For our trip, we flew from the United States to Costa Rica, and then went straight back.

The following suggestions are based on flights from the U.S.A. to Costa Rica, and returning flights from Costa Rica to the U.S.A. Research and double check

  • NO Covid test is required in order to ENTER Costa Rica from USA (as of 06/21)
  • The rapid Antigen Test is $65/person. It can be scheduled up until the day before departure and is taken at the airport. The other options are PCR Next Day ($99/person) and PCR 3 Hours ($240/person). So in conclusion, the rapid Antigen Test is the best option for flights returning to USA. They recommend scheduling your covid test at least 4hrs before your flight, but the line at the Liberia Airport moved quickly when we were there, and we got our results within 1hr. You never know though, so I would plan to get there early and expect it to take longer (which is what we did). After that, they sent us a QR code to our email, which is required in order to get your boarding pass.

Here is the link to register for your Covid test & Purchase your required insurance :

Car Rental

** If you don’t get a rental car, use UBER - it is more cost efficient than using a Taxi!

  • Car Rental - Link gives 10-20% off + free additional driver + offers minimum age 23, not 25. Check in & check out was simple with Adobe (they do put a $1,000 hold on your card). Our car rental total for 10 days was $528 from Adobe Car Rental.
  • CDW, Collision Damage Waiver is required - check your credit card company & see if they include this as one of your credit card benefits, it could save a lot of money. If so, you’ll simply call your credit card and request a CDW letter saying that you are covered. If not, we recommend getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred card which has the most travel benefits out of any other card - LINK BELOW. This card includes the CDW insurance. Without a credit card that provides this, you will be required to buy the CDW insurance from the car rental company you decide to go with, which can be around $17/day. 
  • In addition to the CDW, there’s a standard insurance called Liability Protection Insurance that is also required. This is around $12/day and must be purchased through the car rental company.
  • When first picking up your rental car at the beginning of your trip, take pictures of any and all tiny dents or damage. This proves that those things happened prior to your time with the vehicle, which means they can’t charge you for any damage.

Money Exchange

  • DO NOT exchange money at the airport! Or if you have to, only exchange a small amount until you can get more exchanged somewhere else. 
  • Google the current exchange rate (which right now in Costa Rica, it is 620 colones), and try to get your US dollars exchanged for as close to 620 as possible. Hotels & Banks are the best places to go for a decent exchange rate. 
  • When using money, some places in Costa Rica take both US dollars & colones, so keep a safe amount of both on you at all times. It is smart to make sure that each person traveling with you has enough cash on them for a taxi in case they get lost. ALWAYS bring cash. It’s up to you how much. I usually bring enough for about $50/ day and keep half in my wallet (or a secret hidden money belt) and half with my passport. Our credit cards may get us anywhere in the U.S. but some places internationally won’t take a credit card. This might include negotiating a good deal for a local excursion, national park entry fee or even a massage on the beach. You don’t want to miss out on that so make sure to bring cash!!
  • Make sure you have 0% international transaction fees when using your credit card. You can check by calling your credit card company. Our card (The Chase Sapphire) has 0% international fees.

Phone Service/Data

  • Prior to your trip, make sure your phone is completely unlocked by your service provider. This usually takes one phone call. Doing this allows you to buy a SIM card when you arrive in your international destination. KEEP YOUR ORIGINAL SIM CARD IN A SAFE PLACE, DO NOT LOSE IT. You will put your original back in when you are back in the United States. Upon your arrival to Costa Rica (or other country), you can purchase a SIM card with 10GB for as little as $5. However, you will either need to speak Spanish/the native language or have help from a local to set it up. Depending on the length of your trip & how often you are using data, you may need buy more GB, which can be recharged onto the same SIM card, using your new local phone number, at most local convenience stores.

Cost for Our Trip

Flights

Paid in Points

Covid 19 Costs

$65/person for Rapid Antigen Test

Insurance with Blue-Cross, Blue-Shield : $11/day per person

If you end up testing positive with covid, the insurance covers a place to stay

 

Total: $220

Rental Car

$528.44 for 10 days - Level 3 car

Gas

$105 for 10 days (for 10-12 hours of driving)

 

Airbnb’s/Hotel

Hotels by airport that we stayed in for 1 night after arrival, and 1 night before :

Holliday Inn (San Jose) - Covered by IHG points

Hilton Garden Inn (Liberia) - Covered by points

Airbnb #1 “Tifakara” : $360 total (including all fees) for 3 nights

Airbnb #2 “Chira Glamping” : $330 total for 1 night

Airbnb #3 “Calibri Studio/Nosara” : $291 total for 2 nights

Airbnb #4 “Guesthouse /Tamarindo” : $319.53 total for 2 nights

Total for Stays: $1300.53 for 10 nights

Food & Grocery

$60/day for nice, sit down, vegetarian restaurants

 

Total: $600 for 10 days

Heading: “Airbnb’s/Hotel”

  • Arenal Rafting - $170 total
  • Massage - $90.40 total 
  • Night Hike - $25/person (student discount)
  • SkyBridges - $23/person
  • La Fortuna Waterfall - $18/person 
  • Catamaran Sunset Cruise w/ Lunch - $95/person (before paying, we went in to their store front when we got to Tamarindo and negotiated for $75/person since we don’t drink alcohol - since open bar was included in the $95 price).

Total : $582.40 

Overall Cost of entire trip - 10 Days in Costa Rica, including 6 cities, for 2 people :

$3,336.37

A list of Other Amazing Airbnb's

List of Essentials to bring/pack on for your trip

Sunscreen!! It's literally ridiculous how

expensive it is in Costa Rica.
Sunglasses

Phone chargers (Their outlets are the same as the U.S., so no need to worry there).

Lots of pairs of socks

Hiking shoes/shoes that can get muddy

Plastic Bags/trash bags to carry wet clothes/shoes in

All bathroom essentials (don't wait to buy them there. they are so expensive)

Airpods/earphones & airpod charger

Decent amount of cash for money exchange & emergencies

Waterproof bag for phones

Aloe vera for sunburns

Lots of swimsuits

Clothes appropriate for humid weather

Rain coats

Hydroflasks/water bottles that are refillable

2 pairs of sandals (in case one breaks)

Camera & camera charger

Traveler backpack that can hold an extra outfit, water bottle, snacks, sunscreen, wallet, etc.

Dryer sheets (if you want) to place in between clothes in your suitcase (keeps clothes from stinking from the humidity)

Proof of insurance for rental car, and Covid 19, all printed out

Photocopy of your passport in case you lose it

Thank you for visiting!

We hope this was helpful for you! Costa Rica is beautiful and there is so much to do & see! We highly recommend you taking a trip! Feel free to comment & ask any questions you have. And please leave us a review below based on your experience on our page. Thank you so much!

With Love,

Brit & Ty