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The Ideal Costa Rica Itinerary: 10 Days

Costa Rica is a country that had been on our bucket list for a long time.

With what we knew about the place, and feedback from friends that had visited, we had some very high hopes!

We were especially excited when we started planning our 10 day Costa Rica itinerary.

Costa Rica boasts the highest density of biodiversity worldwide. Despite being such a small country, almost 5 percent of all animal and plant species are found here.

It also offers some of the best adventure activities, such as hiking, ziplining, or white-water rafting. Or if you simply want to relax, it has both Pacific and Caribbean beaches.

We also found the destination to be great for LGBTQ travellers (full Costa Rica LGBTQ travel guide here).

10 day itinerary costa rica
You are almost guaranteed to see a sloth in Costa Rica!

10 Day Costa Rica Itinerary

Day 1 – Sunset Cruise, Manuel Antonio

This was a half-day activity, including pick up and drop off at our hotel.

The cruise worked on an all-inclusive basis. 8 alcoholic drinks per person were included, unlimited soft drinks, and a delicious meal. Snorkelling equipment is included, and on-board there were Jacuzzis, water slides and sunbathing areas.

This was a fantastic activity, and we were even lucky enough to spot dolphins on our way back to Quepos. 

Check out our full gay guide to Manuel Antonio.

10 day itinerary costa rica
Thoroughly enjoying the cruise!

Day 2 – La Fortuna (Arenal Volcano)

On day 2 we left Manual Antonio and travelled by shared shuttle to the activity hotspot of La Fortuna. 

We arrived to the beautiful Hotel Arenal Country Inn, where we were to stay for the next 4 nights.

This property is made up of bungalow style rooms all set in tropical gardens offering views of the Arenal Volcano. The hotel has a large pool area, and a delicious breakfast is included.

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The pool at Arenal Country Inn.

Day 3 – La Fortuna, Pedal Boarding and Night Tours

Time for our second excursion, and something new for both of us – pedal boarding!

This is a pretty new activity to Costa Rica, but it was a great way to see the stunning Lake Arenal and volcano in a completely different way than just regular paddle boarding or kayaking.

The guide was very knowledgeable about the area and the wildlife we saw. He was also super friendly and his instructions were so clear. We had a great time and would love to do this activity again!

10 day itinerary costa rica
Pedal boarding was so much fun regardless of the weather!

In the evening, we took a guided night-tour out to La Tigra.

This was a great location, in the grounds of a large family home. The family were all so accommodating, and the included dinner was excellent. This was prepared locally, on a traditional wood burning stove – it was nice to have such a local touch! We also saw plenty of wildlife including the famous red eyed tree frog!

Day 4 – La Fortuna, Chocolate tours and white water rafting!

On day 4 we did a chocolate tour!

This was really educational, but in a very fun way, taking you through the whole process from tree to bar. The guide was so enthusiastic, and clearly very passionate about his job!

What we particularly enjoyed was how interactive it was, as we were able to make our own creations.

Travel Costa Rica
Who does not like chocolate?

After spending the morning eating lots of chocolate, it was time to burn it all off with some white-water rafting with Wave Expeditions– an activity we had been super keen to do!

This was really well organised, and led by fun, knowledgeable guides. We spent between 2 – 2.5 hours on the water, which was the perfect length of time.

Lunch was also included on this trip, again served in a very local place. This was also some of the best food we had yet in Costa Rica.

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Casually white water rafting!

Day 5 – La Fortuna, Ziplining

Our last day in La Fortuna and we got to do something we had wanted to do in Costa Rica since we arrived – ziplining! We were so glad we had opted to do it here, rather than Monteverde, as the views of the Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal were just incredible!

There are multiple ziplines and you really do feel like you are flying through the jungle!

Again, this was a really well run activity, with hotel pickup and drop off included, and all the staff were very friendly.

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Flying through the jungle!

Day 6 – San Jose

Today we were travelling back to San Jose, where we already had a hotel organized. 

Day 7 – Exploring San Jose

Today we spent time exploring downtown San Jose and all the little parks within the city. In the evening we experienced San Jose’s vibrant LGBT nightlife.

If you want to know more about what to do in San Jose, take a look at this guide from a fellow travel blogger ‘Things to do in San Jose Costa Rica ‘.

gay friendly hotel san jose

Day 8 – Britt Coffee Tour, San Jose

Feeling slightly fragile this morning, it was only fitting that we go on a coffee tour to Britt Coffee Plantations!

This was a really fun experience, and very interactive with videos, tasters throughout and audience participation.

A delicious buffet lunch was included, after which we wandered around the onsite Butterfly Gardens, before our hotel drop-off.

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Can you tell we had been drinking the night before?!

Days 9 & 10 – Tortuguero

Time to leave San Jose, and head up to the Northern Caribbean jungle paradise of Tortuguero National Park.

Upon reaching the coast, we boarded our shuttle boat to cruise along the canals until we reached our beautiful hotel, Hotel & Spa Aninga. The hotel was in a jungle setting, with a stunning pool area from where you can see lots of local wildlife.

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Aniga Hotel was beautiful!

This was a fully inclusive package. This included round trip transfers from San Jose, all meals, accommodation and three different trips.

The first trip was an exploration of the national park by boat, the second a guided walking tour through the jungle, and finally a visit to the local village to explore.

Day 11 – Back to San Jose

Today we travelled back to San Jose for our last night of our tour, where we stayed at the Palma Real Hotel and Casino. The hotel is located near a large city park, and only 5-10 minutes from downtown San Jose.

This was a good base to get a great breakfast for those that would then be flying home. 

Pura Vida!

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10 day itinerary costa rica

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Monday 28th of May 2018

its like a dream come true, very soon me too going there and would enjoy like you. Thanks for sharing informative travel experience with us.

The Globetrotter Guys

Sunday 10th of June 2018

Ah we are glad to hear it! We will definitely be going back one day!


Thursday 24th of May 2018

Costa Rica is on my bucket list. It looks like you two had a fun-filled holiday.

Becca Talbot

Thursday 24th of May 2018

I'd love to visit Costa Rica one day - it's been on my bucket list for agessss! I want to cross the Arenal Hanging Bridges, and Pedal Boarding looks fun x

Amrita Sen

Thursday 24th of May 2018

Enjoyed reading your experiences and adventure in Costa Rica. And I really loved the pics of the sloth and the frogs.

Anjali w

Wednesday 23rd of May 2018

Costa Rica seems like a very beautiful destination. I love your pictures. You guys seem to have a great time. I will put that in my bucket list! Thanks for all the information :)