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The Ultimate 7 Day Jungle Adventure: Costa Rica Road Trip Itinerary

March 07, 20246 min read

Best Road Trip Itinerary in Costa Rica for Adventure Lovers

Costa Rica is one of the most biodiverse countries on the planet. I love this country so much that I have now been here 7 different times. During my trip here, my friend and I rented a car and road tripped the country to be able to see waterfalls, beaches, volcanos, and more. I had the trip of a lifetime. If you are into tropical adventures this itinerary is for you. 

Remember: When driving in Costa Rica the roads can be a bit windy, bumpy and small so just be careful and drive slowly. 

Rather than spending loads of money by purchasing an international phone plan with your home country's carrier, I would recommend getting an eSIM Card on the Airalo app so you have data on your phone throughout your stay. 

Costa Rica’s main form of payment is cash. Make sure you have a debit card that reimburses your ATM fees when needing to withdraw cash. The Charles Schwab debit card is my favorite. There are no annual fees either. You can sign up here. 

Day 1: Arrive at SJO (San Jose) Airport

We arrived at around 9:30 pm and customs was very easy. After cutoms, go right to your car rental and pick up your vehicle.

Interested in learning all about renting a car in Costa Rica?

Read my article that outlines everything you need to know here!

Drive to your accommodation in La Fortuna

The hotel that I stayed in was only $60/night for two people ($30 per person). It was in the perfect location, had free parking, had a great breakfast included and was clean/well kept. 

Other Hotel Recommendations in La Fortuna(click for more)

Hotel Las Colinas  

Tabacon Resort and Spa

Arenal Paraiso Resort & Spa

Paradise Hot Springs

Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa

Selina (great for remote workers!) 

Day 2 La Fortuna: Enjoy a relaxing day at one of the hot spring resorts

You can either book a stay here, or opt for a day pass at the Tabacon Hot Springs Resort. it was such a relaxing way to go into our trip considering all the fun adventures we had ahead of us. A great buffet-style meal was included and we got to enjoy the hot springs all day. 

girl laying in tabacon hot springs in la fortuna, costa rica


Baldi Hot Springs is another option if you want a luxury experience at the hot springs

There is also a completely free option to enjoy the hot springs as well. Here is how!

  • Park your car across the street from the Tabacon resort

  • Walk down the road a little bit 

  • You’ll see plenty of people and it was very easy to find

  • There is a bridge is the free hot springs are located under that

  • Many people hang out here and enjoy the springs. I went here too during my time in La Fortuna and loved it. 

Day 3: La Fortuna Waterfall, Arenal Volcano Hike 

La Fortuna Waterfall 

This is of the most popular sites to see. Tickets are $18 cash at the entrance or you can purchase one right here in advance with credit card for the same price. There is free parking as well. You can even swim in the beautiful falls. The hike is moderate. It’s basically a lot of stairs, but not too bad. I would plan on spending about an hour to two hours here. 

girl with long blonde hair sitting in front of la fortuna waterfall in costa rica


Arenal Volcano 1982 Hike

This is a stunning hike where you can see the volcano from many perspectives. The hike is pretty easy and there is free parking. The entrance fee is $17 cash. If you’re interested in a guided tour you can book one here.The hike takes about 2-3 hours. 

girl doing a handstand in front of arenal volcano in la fortuna costa rica

End your day with the El Salto Rope Swing! 

This rope swing is incredible and Perfect for the adrenaline junky. Swing into the river with many tourists and locals. I made tons of friends here and went almost every day during my time in La Fortuna. Here is the exact link to the location. You can park at the bridge for free and walk down to the rope swing from there.  

girl swinging into a waterfall river in la fortuna costa rica

Day 4: Zipline and ATV 

Book a morning zipline tour! I did mine with Sky Adventures and enjoyed every minute of it. To see the Costa Rican jungle from above was incredible.

two girls at a zipline lookout point in la fortuna, costa rica

After zip lining, grab some lunch in the town of La Fortuna at one of the Soda’s 

Sodas are local restaurants that have incredible meals! 

Book an ATV Tour for your afternoon adventure. You can either do this in advance or go to any of the local companies in La Fortuna town to inquire. I wish I could remember which company I booked mine with, but I liked a similar tour to the one I did. 

Other things to do in La Fortuna that I did not have time to do would include: 

Sloth Sanctuary and Animal Tour

Hanging Bridges 

How Chocolate is Made Tour 

Day 5: Road Trip Day/ Waterfall 

Say your goodbyes to La Fortuna and leave around 7 am to head to Rio Celeste waterfall at Tenorio Volcano National Park. This is an easy hour and 20-minute drive to the bluest, unreal waterfall I’ve ever seen in my life. If you are interested in doing the Rio Celeste Day Trip with a tour, I have linked some here.  

The entrance fee is $5 per car for parking and $12 per person.  

The hike is an easy walk to Rio Celeste. Plan to spend around 2 hours here. There are other hikes throughout the National park, but I didn’t get to do those since I wanted to get to the next destination in time! 

After Rio Celeste, plug in your phone to your aux cord and get ready for a road trip to Jaco Beach. 

girl with long blonde hair and floral bikini posing at rio celeste waterfall in costa rica

The drive to Jaco Beach will take approximately 3-4 hours 

Check into your accommodation in Jaco

Hotel recommendations in Jaco (click for more)

Selina Jaco (good for remote workers!)

Hotel Mar De Luz

Hotel Terraza del Pacifico

If you have time, enjoy one of the most breathtaking sunsets. Costa Rican Sunsets are unreal and I suggest you watch the sunset at the beach every night while you're here 

sunset in Nosara, Costa Rica

Day 6: Manuel Antonio National Park and El Miro Hike for Insane Views

Pristine blue ocean water, wildlife, unique terrain, and more are what make Manuel Antonio National park so special. The entrance fee for adults is $18. 

If you choose to do a guided tour, I have linked one here.

Things I would recommend you see here include

  • Sur Beach 

  • Playa Espadilla Sur.

  • Punta Catedral Hike, a beautiful 0.9-mile loop trail of moderate difficulty and some steep inclines. The trail is accessible from both Manuel Antonio Beach and Espadilla Sur Beach

  • Manuel Antonio Beach (not actually located in the park, but still recommend) 

views of manual Antonio beach in Costa Rica


After your adventure at the National park, Head to El Miro Hike

  • This is a free hike up an old mansion that overlooks Jaco Town, the views are super dope! 

The Mansion location is across from Puddle Fish Brewery 

End your last day in Costa Rica by watching the sunset at Jaco Beach 


Day 7: Make sure to wake up early enough to drive back to the San Jose Airport and drop off your rental car in time for your flight

I hope this itinerary was helpful! Please feel free to comment or ask me any questions regarding your upcoming trip. For more information about traveling to Costa Rica, you can book a consultation call with me or request a custom itinerary by heading to this page. Happy traveling!

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Ari Travels

Ari is a world traveler and digital nomad passionate about sharing hidden gems and bucket list hotels to inspire others to travel.

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