We run lots of luxury adventure tour stories on Luxury Latin America because the whole region offers so many options for getting outside and doing something epic. It’s hard to top Costa Rica adventures though since they’re so accessible to the two main airports and you can pack a lot into one vacation in this relatively small Central American nation.

adventure travel trends

The first time I went to Costa Rica on vacation, I was amazed at how much we did soon after arrival. A volcano hike on lava rocks, a jungle wildlife tour, ziplining through a canopy, a boat ride across a big lake, soaking in hot springs, and white-water rafting. Then came Day 4…

Though there are some good hotels that are all-inclusive, this is not a country where you want to just take a shuttle from the airport and then kick back on a beach for a week. There are plenty of other better places to do that. We’ve got nothing against de-stressing beach vacations, but at least combine that with some exploration of Costa Rica’s main draw: it’s natural attributes. There are few other nations that have worked as hard to protect their wild areas and many of the private sector players have taken it even further. About 20% of the land area is natural parks and reserves, while another 5% or so is privately owned but designated as off-limits for development.

You’ve got a high chance of seeing wildlife here, plus you can explore jungles, wild rivers, cloudforests, and volcanoes.

Osa Peninsula macaw

Planning Your First Costa Rica Vacation

I’ve been to Costa Rica four times now and am heading back for a fifth trip next month. I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface though. I could take five more trips and still not experience more than a fraction of what’s available. Don’t let the map size fool you: a lot of the topography is quite wild and the capital city is the only real metropolis. This next trip I’m spending a week in just the Nicoya Peninsula and I’ll still have hours on the road between the places where I’m staying.

Costa Rica adventuresBecause there’s so much to choose from, it can be paralyzing when you start looking at Costa Rica vacation packages. Which area do you want to visit? Which hotels are you going to choose? Which activities from a menu of 100 of them?

It’s even worse if you try to plan it all on your own. I’d be hesitant to do that myself on a vacation with my wife or whole family, despite my experience traveling around the country. There are just too many options. It’s a whole lot easier to use a local expert agency like Costa Rica Dream Adventures. They’re setting up trips for clients every week and know which resorts and local adventure tour operators are going to deliver.

If you want them to customize a luxury vacation, they can easily do that for you. Or one that’s totally focused on wildlife viewing, or adventure. They’ve got a great plug-and-play tour offering going right now though that’s a great introduction to the country if you’ve never been there. This Escape to the Tropics tour hits three popular areas and a lot of extra goodies are in the mix.

Starting at less than a grand per person after airfare, it includes hotels, transfers, and breakfasts for six nights. It visits the Arenal Volcano area, Tamarindo on the Pacific Coast, and San Jose. You also get to choose your own tour in the Arenal area, however: a waterfall hike, a zip line activity, or a sloth spotting tour.

wildlife costa rica

Exploring Different Areas Your Second Time

Along with the areas mentioned on that tour, most first-time visitors end up going to Monteverde Cloudforest and/or the Manuel Antonio National Park area. As a result, those spots can get rather mobbed with visitors and you won’t exactly feel like you’re in a wild and natural place.

If you want to explore parts of the country that feel more exclusive, while staying in upgraded lodging, it’s probably best to work out a custom luxury tour. You can give the agency an idea of what you’re looking to do and experience and they can set you up with the perfect itinerary. They can provide transfers with a driver, or you can rent a car through them and have everything set up in advance.

See the Costa Rica Dream Adventures luxury section to get an idea of possibilities, then call them up to set up your dream trip. If you book your whole vacation through them, they’ll probably be able to throw in some extra adventure tours and excursions for you. In the end, you won’t spend any more than if you had spent weeks trying to plan it all yourself.

Meanwhile, get more of a feel for what’s available with our coverage of Costa Rica luxury travel.