A Nature-Lover’s Week in Costa Rica

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  • Hiking

  • Mountains

  • Relaxation

Advisor - A Nature-Lover’s Week in Costa Rica
Fora’s Take

Costa Rica is an amazing destination because it packs so much nature and adventure into a very small territory. In one day, you can easily go from hiking in the shadow of an active volcano in the morning to bathing in the warm, clear blue waters of the Caribbean in the afternoon. Home to cloud forests, waterfalls and thermal hot springs, it is very common to spot toucans, monkeys and sloths while enjoying an al fresco breakfast. Costa Rica is an ideal destination for nature lovers, thrill-seekers and families. With a myriad of exclusive and unique hotel options, Costa Rica also caters to the luxury set and attracts visitors with its world-renowned customer service and hospitality.

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Where to stay

Springs Resort & Spa

A sprawling rainforest resort with almost 30 hot spring pools, 10 bars and restaurants, and volcano views.

Fora Perks
  • A $125 Spa Credit per accommodation, per stay. Applicable only to treatments, excludes Las Hojas Forest Spa Experience, excludes retail products.

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability

  • Daily Breakfast for two guests per bedroom, served in the restaurant (not available via room service)

Hotel Belmar

An eco trailblazer in the Monteverde cloud forest, beloved for its homegrown organic cuisine and horseback riding adventures.

Parador Resort & Spa

Knockout location on 12 acres of rainforest overlooking the Pacific, guests are a mix of families and spa lovers.

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Day 1: Arriving in the town of La Fortuna

A Nature-Lover’s Week in Costa Rica - Day 1: Arriving in the town of La Fortuna

There are two main international airports that serve Costa Rica, and these include San José International Airport (SJO) and Liberia International Airport (LIR). Both airports are about 2.5 hours away from La Fortuna, a destination where you’ll want to go on your first night in the country. 

Known as the gateway to Arenal Volcano National Park, La Fortuna is a small town just northwest of the capital city of San José. Whether it’s hiking rainforest trails that lead to the La Fortuna Waterfall, swimming in natural hot springs or trekking to the breathtaking Chato Volcano crater lake, it’s here that travelers can immerse themselves in Costa Rica’s arresting natural beauty. 

Check into the The Springs Resort & Spa, a great hotel that puts you close to the hiking trails of the Mirador el Silencio Reserve. This tropical resort boasts hot springs and lush gardens along with numerous on-site restaurants and a sanctuary spa that harnesses the energy and minerals of the jungle. A travel day is perfect for relaxing, so ditch the suitcase and head down to one of the mineral hot springs for a soak.

A note from Fora

La Fortuna is an absolute must when visiting Costa Rica. Just picture this: an active volcano sitting next to a large, beautiful lake where you can go hiking, whitewater rafting, paddleboarding, ziplining, walking across hanging bridges or soaking in thermal hot springs.

Day 2-3: Hiking Arenal National Park

A Nature-Lover’s Week in Costa Rica - Day 2-3: Hiking Arenal National Park

The star attraction of La Fortuna is undoubtedly the Arenal Volcano, which is more than 5,000 feet high. This active stratovolcano is a popular attraction and, for 30+ years, has been the main draw for the hotels in the area that boast views of its lava flows. While it’s not legal (or safe) to climb the actual Arenal Volcano, the surrounding Arenal Volcano National Park is full of hiking trails that are worth visiting. 

In the morning, head toward the Cerro Chato volcano, a spot which is the dormant neighbor of Arenal. The hike takes about 1.5 to 2 hours both ways and offers gorgeous views and a verdant green crater lake whose emerald waters you can swim in. 

With its narrow and steep trails, be fair warned that a hike up Cerro Chato is strenuous. For a different (and equally memorable) hike, check out an Arenal Hanging Bridges hiking tour. On this nearly two mile trek, you’ll cross 15 bridges suspended over the rainforest. Offering an aerial view of Costa Rica’s jungles, you’ll spot monkeys, birds, wild boats and colorful flora.  

Afterward, relax those muscles with a soak in one of the many hot springs on offer in La Fortuna. If you stay at The Springs Resort & Spa, you’ll already have access to some of the best (and most luxurious) hot springs in town. Another great (and slightly more expensive) option are the hot springs at the Tabacón Thermal Resort & Spa.

A note from Fora

Because Arenal is an active volcano, our recommendation is to hire a local guide to take you into the park and ensure a safe experience.

Day 3-4: Exploring the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

A Nature-Lover’s Week in Costa Rica - Day 3-4: Exploring the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

Monteverde may be a three hour drive from La Fortuna, but it is worlds away from Costa Rica’s tourist-riddled beach destinations and all-inclusive resorts. Located in the Cordillera de Tilaran mountain range, Monteverde is a prime destination for ecotourism and nature. Home to lush rainforests and a vast array of flora and fauna, travelers come to Monteverde for one thing specifically: the cloud forest. 

Home to roughly 50 percent of Costa Rica’s wildlife and plants, the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is a protected sanctuary with eight different microclimates and acres of forest. Here, you’ll find monkeys, sloths, jaguars, pumas, amphibians, orchids and jungle plants that have uniquely adapted to their environment. 

Check into Hotel Belmar, accommodations which offer a world-renowned stay in the lush cloud forest. This is the perfect homebase for all the adventures you’ll have, including jungle zip lining, hiking beneath the tree’s canopies and walking along the suspension bridges. In the morning, head to the Sendero Camino, an area which is the most popular hike and leads to the reserve’s suspension bridges offering aerial views of the cloud forest. 

After hiking through and above the Costa Rican jungle, treat yourself to one of the many unique experiences on offer at the Hotel Belmar. Through the Belmar, you can book a country horseback ride, a garden-to-glass cocktail class, a visit to a local farm and more.

Day 4-6: Beachtime in the town of Manuel Antonio

A Nature-Lover’s Week in Costa Rica - Day 4-6: Beachtime in the town of Manuel Antonio

After spending time in the rainforests of Costa Rica, it’s time to head to the beach. Take the three hour drive to Manuel Antonio by way of Quepos. Manuel Antonio is a popular resort town flanked by sugary sand beaches and coastal jungle.

Check in to the Parador Resort and Spa, a hotel which is a six minute walk from Biesanz Beach and a short drive from Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio. The resort overlooks the Pacific Ocean and is surrounded by rainforest that’s home to wildlife, including some resident monkeys and sloths that live right on the resort’s grounds! With bright rooms that come with a balcony or terrace, guests can soak in the oceanic views and be steps away from the beach.

While in Manuel Antonio, your Costa Rican adventures can continue with activities like whitewater rafting, ziplining and jungle hikes. Experiences can be easily booked through the Parador Resort, including a walking tour of the Manuel Antonio National Park, birdwatching in the jungle, and ocean-focused trips like snorkeling and catamaran rides. 

If you have time, consider a day trip to the Santa Juana mountain village, a location which is about an hour outside Quepos. Nestled in the Central Pacific Mountains, a visit to the village shows you what life is like for rural Costa Ricans and includes activities like horseback riding, fishing and cooking classes. Or, if you want more beach time, head to Guanacaste, on the Pacific coast, and sample some of the fabulous Las Catalinas restaurants.

A note from Fora

For us, Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Its white-sand beaches, covered in lush tropical forest, are some of the most beautiful in the world, and it is common to see howler monkeys, coatis, iguanas and toucans as you walk along the various trails. If you are lucky, you can also spot sloths, deer and scarlet macaws.

Need to Know

Getting around Costa Rica is easy enough with the option to either rent a car or travel by bus. Costa Rica’s bus system is reliable and inexpensive, with frequent departures from the capital city. Traveling by bus is considered the best way to get around the country, but if traveling with a group or family, you can arrange private shuttles to take you between destinations.

Looking for more inspiration on adventures in Costa Rica? Find more guides about traveling to Costa Rica written by your favorite travel experts (aka Fora Advisors).

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