The Ultimate 7 Day Jungle Adventure: Costa Rica Road Trip Itinerary
- by Ari Travels
Costa Rica is one of the most biodiverse countries on the planet. 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.
For more tips on how to travel Costa Rica on a budget, you can access my post here.
Day 1: Arrive at SJO (San Jose) Airport
We arrived at around 9:30 pm. Customs was easy. After customs, they took us on a shuttle so the security could check that we had all of our proper COVID19 documents.
Interested in learning all about renting a car in Costa Rica?
Read my article that outlines everything you need to know and how much to budget 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.
Hostels in La Fortuna (click for more)
The Selina dorm or private rooms
Arenal Hostel Resort offers dorm beds all the way to four-person private rooms
Arenal Backpackers Resort offers dorm or private rooms
Hotel Recommendations in La Fortuna (click for more)
Day 2 La Fortuna: Enjoy a relaxing day at one of the hot spring resorts
To save money, I opted for doing a day pass at the Tabacon Hot Springs Resort instead of spending the night. This was a splurge for me, although 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.
Baldi Hot Springs is a cheaper option if you still want a luxury experience at the hot springs
Are you not wanting to pay for a hot springs pass? There is 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 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.
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. I opted not to do a guided tour because I wanted to save money, but if you’re interested in a guided tour you can book one here for a reasonable price. The hike takes about 2-3 hours.
End your day with the El Salto Rope Swing!
This rope swing is INCREDIBLE and did I mention it’s free? 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.
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.
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 for low cost.
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:
Day 5: BIG 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, I have linked some here.
If you choose to Rio Celeste on a budget and road trip like I did, 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.
The drive to Jaco Beach will take approximately 3-4 hours
Check into your accommodation in Jaco
Hostel recommendations in Jaco (click for more)
Hotel recommendations in Jaco (click for more)
Selina Jaco can sleep up to 4 people
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
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. Again, since I was on a budget, I chose to explore the national park on my own.
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)
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!