All posts by Alexandria

Lonely Planet Names Costa Rica BEST in Travel for 2020

Lonely Planet has just released its much anticipated ‘Best in Travel’ list for 2020, naming Costa Rica among the world’s top 10 countries to visit. Aside from its impressive and unrivaled biodiversity, the country’s commitment to environmental protection is what cinched the deal for the respected travel-guide publication. As the global tourism industry comes under increased scrutiny, eco-friendly destinations are swiftly becoming the most sought-after by travelers and it’s unsurprising that Lonely Planet names Costa Rica as the leading ‘pioneer’ in this regard. Sustainability is nowadays of the utmost importance within the travel sector, with people making very informed decisions about where they wish to spend their hard-earned travel money. Costa Rica, being the recognized birthplace of eco-tourism, is surely the most deserving of this nod.

costa rica

Here are just some of the fantastic reasons Costa Rica should be right at the top of YOUR vacation list for 2020.

  1. Costa Rica Is Insanely Easy To Get To

The ease of Costa Rica travel is undoubtedly a huge deal for many travelers – especially those with barely a week (or long weekend) of vacation time. Aside from the many direct flights connecting our sweet lil’ nation with the rest of the world, there’s the fact that Costa Rica’s two primary international airports, San Jose and Liberia, can get you within just a few hours’ drive of major highlights, maximizing the fun and minimizing time-sucking transfers. Should you happen to live close to one of the many US airports with non-stop flights to Costa Rica, you could leave home in the early morning and be catching waves, in the country’s resplendent Pacific coast, by lunchtime. And that’s just magic

Check out our Guide to Costa Rica Airports to have a better idea of how to plan your trip



  1. Costa Rica Is The Safest Country in Central America

Costa Rica usually rubs shoulders with Chile when it comes to competing for ‘safest’ hub in Latin America, yet when it comes to its own compact region (Central America) it reigns supreme. This is especially surprising given the sheer array of adrenaline activities most visitors partake in – although you may think that ‘safety’ only refers to crime, it actually encompasses everything that could cause harm, including traffic or adventure-sport accidents. The country’s political stability, relatively high quality of life (ibn its region) and impressive score on the Happy Planet Index, translate to a laid-back, friendly and safe destination to visit. Take precautions as far as your adventure-filled Costa Rica vacations are concerned and make sure you’re in the best hands possible when you visit.

Read our Safety Guide to Costa Rica to know where most dangers lie



  1. Happy Locals = Happy Visitors

There’s no denying that happiness is contagious and the general contentment with life, in Costa Rica, is one of the country’s most enticing aspects. The warmth and friendliness of the locals are legendary (especially endearing for families with children) and that adds to the overall enjoyment of a visit. Widespread happiness in Costa Rica is attributed to several things but the main point is that locals feel listened to, for the most part, by their government. Impressive spending on health-care and education is achieved primarily because the country did away with its armed forces over 70 years ago, so it has a huge surplus to spend on citizen-based services (rather than a military) every year. Costa Rica also invests heavily in renewable energy – almost the entire electricity needs of the entire population are met exclusively with hydro, geothermal, solar and wind power. All of this makes Costa Rica one of the world’s most progressive regions and, despite the obvious level of poverty in even the most rural areas, is a huge source of pride among locals. Ticos love their country and their government’s commitment to protecting it and they showcase a huge desire to share their corner of paradise with visitors.

Isn’t that just delightful?!



  1. Tourism Plays a Direct Role in the Wellbeing of Costa Rica’s Inhabitants – It’s Wonderful to be Apart of That!

Tourism also plays a huge role in Costa Rica’s economy and it’s no wonder visitors are treated with so much graciousness. Alongside electronics and agriculture exports, tourism is the biggest earner in the country and it’s wonderful to know our tourist spending is funding such an admirable nation. It should be noted, however, that the tourism ‘glow’ is not felt equally, all over the country. Obviously, there are still many rural communities all over the country that see only a fraction of the tourist income that more prominent regions, like Arenal and Monteverde, receive. You can directly help the government bridge the gap, however, by actively choosing to take your adventure vacation in a lesser-visited but equally spellbinding region. We’ve helped plan many off-the-beaten-path Costa Rica vacations and usually find our guests to be completely blown away by the country’s hidden gems. Want to step off the gringo trail in Costa Rica? Let us know and we’ll make it so!



  1. There is SO Much to See and Do in Costa Rica – You’d Need a Whole Lifetime to Tick All The Boxes

When all is said and done, Costa Rica’s single biggest enticement is its nearly infinite array of exceptional adventures. Here, you can swing from trees in pristine rain-forests brimming with toucans, sloths and monkeys. You can snorkel among unspoiled reefs teeming with tropical fish, hike along the base of semi-active volcanoes and explore bio-diverse reserves that look like they’re come straight out of a National Geographic documentary. You can meet an abundance of unique and curious wildlife, up close and personal, sometimes whilst having breakfast at some ridiculously charming eco-lodge immersed in a national park. And, more than anything, you can have bundles of fun in Costa Rica. The country’s most revered for its offering of adrenaline-packed adventures, so you can count zip-lining, rafting, kayaking, surfing, snorkeling, hiking, canyoning, mountain-biking and horseback riding among the very best things to do here. You can also enjoy a romantic active honeymoon, a fun-filled family reunion or simply come discover the country on your own. Many countries may claim to offer ‘something for everyone’ but we don’t know any that hit the spot like Costa Rica.

At Costa Rica Rios, we offer award-winning adventure tours and specialize in vacations for:

See all our Costa Rica Adventure Vacation packages and contact us for bespoke, tailor-made itineraries. If you want to experience the best adventure destination in the world with the best adventure company, just leave your question and contact details right at the bottom of this page


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Safety Guide for Costa Rica Adventures

Safety is usually a huge priority for anyone planning an adventure vacation in Costa Rica. And if it isn’t then it definitely should be. The country of a million adventure sports is an active traveler’s dream with such exciting activities as zip-lining, whitewater rafting, abseiling, horseback riding and mountain biking appearing on the daily itinerary of all adventure seekers heading our way. Yet as exciting as all this may be, it’s easy to often overlook the safety aspect of such endeavors.


To this end, here are a few recommendations to help you plan your unforgettable (and safe!) adventure vacation in Costa Rica:


  1. Do Your Research Before…So You Don’t Have To Worry During Your Vacation

The main reason so many people overlook the safety aspect of adventure-filled vacation is because it’s a totally boring subject to contemplate, especially at a time when one is fantasizing about swinging between jungle treetops and rappelling down raging waterfalls. Yet although the chances of something going awry is minuscule, endeavoring to ensure your utmost safety before you even get on the plane means you need not worry about DURING your trip. This is what everyone should be aiming for: make safety a priority during the planning stage (ensuring you are able to actually partake in some extreme sports and choosing the right adventure travel company) and you need not question yourself during the trip.


  1. Choose An Adventure Company You Know You Can Trust. Once You Do, Listen To Them and TELL Them of Any Health Issues

The adventure travel company you choose should be well-renowned and boast an excellent safety record and plenty of client reviews. Once you’ve made your pick, trust them wholeheartedly. These are the guys that know best.

There are certain health issues that may prevent you from partaking in some of Costa Rica’s most coveted activities. You may not know what they are but your tour company definitely should, so disclose any issues you may have (including medication you may be taking) and let them guide you towards the right activities for you. Moreover, trust that your guides know their job and have your safety (and that of your travelling group) as their top priority, above and beyond anything else. Sometimes, they’ll ask you to wear specific shoes for certain activities or remover jewelry and leave your camera behind. Some activities have age restrictions. All of this is done purely for safety reasons so, please, listen to the recommendations of your guide and, even if you don’t understand the reasons behind certain restrictions, always follow them. By all means, do ask for explanations if you so wish and if you’re not in a situation of immediate danger (in which case follow directions first and ask questions later) as guides do appreciate explaining their safety protocols. The best agencies will have top-notch equipment of the highest standard and experienced and well-trained guides that know their chosen pocket of wilderness like the back of their hands. They’ll know to continually check the weather forecast and have contingency plans in place should anything negatively impact the day’s intended activity.


  1. Make Sure You’ve Had No Alcohol and Are Well Rested Before Attempting Any Outdoor Activity in Costa Rica

When having a blast in Costa Rica’s wilderness, it’s imperative that you – just like your guides – be at the top of your game and that means you should be well rested and not suffering under the influence of alcohol or drugs of any kind. You’d be surprised at just how uncoordinated you can be being only a little bit tired, let alone a little bit hungover. Your reaction times are delayed and your overall physical performance will suffer greatly if you aren’t feeling 100%. If in doubt, speak to your guide about what’s required of you on the day and take a rain check to rest instead. This way, your safety will never be compromised.


  1. Make Sure You Have Comprehensive Health Insurance That Covers All The Activities You Want To Do

No matter how many precautions you may take when travelling to Costa Rica, something can always happen and for that reason it is imperative you arrive with a fully comprehensive travel insurance policy to cover you for all eventualities. Should you suffer an injury during your adventure tour of Costa Rica (rare but not impossible), the last thing you’ll want to worry about is whether or not your travel insurance will cover all of your expenses. As we love to say: if you can’t afford insurance, you can’t afford to travel! Make sure your insurance policy will cover your intended activities specifically. Many standard travel policies will not cover for adventure sports, for example, so make sure you have a policy that does.


At Costa Rica Rios, we take your safety seriously and that’s part of the reason National Geographic voted us one of the Best Adventure Travel Companies (on Earth). We’ve been running fully-guided adventure tours in Costa Rica for over two decades, using world-class equipment and employing the best guides in the business. For your unparalleled safety and peace of mind, we are your safety guides for Costa Rica adventures. When only the best will do!

See our full collection of Costa Rica adventure vacations and contact us to know more.

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15 Amazing Things To Do in Arenal

Alrighty –  you’ve booked your Costa Rica adventure tour, you KNOW there’s no way you’re missing the Arenal Volcano National Park and now it’s just a matter of figuring out what to actually DO once you get there.

We’ve got you covered, thrill-seeker!

Here are 15 of the most amazing things to do in Arenal!

  1. Walk Over Ancient Lava Fields

Walking trails in and around the Arenal Volcano National Park abound, with choices for leisurely strolls and hard-core hikes suiting various levels of fitness. Out of all of these, the La Coladas Walking Trail is undoubtedly the most iconic and comprehensive because it meanders through large sections of the pristine rain-forest and guides you over fascinating cooled lava fields. The trail is moderately easy and takes merely an hour or so but it does reward you with the most unobstructed views of Arenal Volcano. If you’d love a longer walk then take La Coladas and extend it to join Los Tucanes Walking Trail (2.5hrs), which takes you deeper into the rain-forest, all the way to the Arenal Observatory Lodge. This trail offers even more chances of spotting birds and other wildlife, especially if crowds (and noise) are minimal.



  1. Swim Under The Overwhelming Spray of La Fortuna Waterfall

La Fortuna Waterfall is one of Arenal’s most celebrated sights and heading here with a picnic brunch and your swimmers is a great way to start your day. This has got to be the very best swim you can have in Costa Rica, especially on a blisteringly hot day. We offer a wonderful horseback ride to these waterfalls which adds a whole other element to the excursion – more on that at the end of the article.



  1. Soar Like a Bird Above The Forest Canopy

Zip-lining and canopy walking over hanging bridges is the bees’ knees of Arenal and the one activity that’s offered in several places. Zipping at what feels like a million-miles-an-hour is the enticement for the fastest courses whilst slightly more demure options, that can be even more enjoyable, will also suit adventurous children. If it’s your first array into the adventure Costa Rica adventure vacation scene, do note that zip-lining, scary though it may seem, isn’t nearly as (arguably) daunting as rafting Class IV rapids and even canyoning, so it’s a great way to wet your adrenaline-feet in Costa Rica.



  1. Visit a Turquoise River & Waterfall Right Nearby

The Rio Celeste Waterfall is the fervently protected jewel in the crown of the Tenorio Volcano National Park, right next door to Arenal. A 2/3-hr hike in the park dishes up superb nature-infused adventures and although you cannot swim here, like you can at La Fortuna, the visual spectacle alone is utterly worth your while. Do note that the ethereal colour of the Rio Celeste is due to a very unique mix of minerals which means if you visit during rainy season, it will not seem as bright, since the strong current and rainfall will disturb the sediment on the riverbed. The park is about an hour’s drive out of La Fortuna.



  1. Take a Paddle to Lake Arenal and Enjoy Magnificent Volcano Views

On a crystal-clear day in Arenal, you simply can’t paddle past Lake Arenal, provider of startling volcano views. Take a kayak or a SUP board and spend as much time as you like frolicking about. The lake itself is expansive so you can be out here for hours on end yet given the sheer array of other phenomenal things to do, we usually find that a 2-hour outing is plenty for most people.



  1. Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa

This place offers hands-down the best views of Arenal Volcano and boasts several hiking trails within its private reserve. The best part of the AOL is that although staying here is a bit of a dream, you don’t have to in order to hike here: just can pay the day-entry fee and off you go. The Observatory Lodge is revered for offering some of the best bird-watching trails in all of Arenal. This is also one of our favorite honeymoon sundowner spots in the country!

arena; observatory


  1. Soak In a Natural Thermal Pool

As you disembark your plane in Costa Rica and experience the at-times overwhelming heat and humidity, you’ll think everyone crazy for insisting you soak in a hot thermal pool in Arenal. But, trust everyone on this, it is one of the most exquisite experiences in the country. The volcanic region of Arenal boasts the best natural hot springs in Costa Rica in the country and, after a full-day out exploring, hiking, rafting and what-not, you will LOVE to soak your bones and muscles in the mineral-rich waters.  This is seriously the best way to end each and every day in Arenal. To this end, consider staying in one of Arenal’s best hot-spring hotels: having private pools all to yourself is an unforgettable treat!



  1. Catch Your Heart In Your Throat on a Raging River

White-water rafting in Arenal dishes up gorgeous Class II rapids (perfect for families) as well as Class IV drops, the kind that’ll have your heart firmly in your throat the entire ride. We’re particularly fond of the Balsa River because it offers the best family-friendly rafting experience with relaxing-enough rapids that allow you to take it easy and really soak up the surrounding wilderness. Riverside wildlife spotting in remote areas is ideal because animals are a lot more prone to come out of the thick foliage when they’re away from roads and inhabited areas and that’s what makes a ‘slower and tamer’ rafting excursion all the more rewarding. Arenal and La Fortuna is only one of several world-class whitewater rafting destinations in Costa Rica.



  1. Boop Noses with Monkeys & Aid in Their Recovery

Very little compares to seeing monkeys, sloths, toucans and all other Costa Rican creatures in the wild (where they belong) yet the undeniable truth is that visiting one of Arenal’s wildlife refuges is a wonderful way to help local projects rescue and rehabilitate injured wildlife. Proyecto Asis is one such oasis and a place where you can volunteer a few hours of your day to help prep and feed for the menageries of animals that are living their best convalescence. Not only will you get to feed and boop noses with at-risk monkeys (the kids go bananas over this) but you’ll also fill your heart, knowing your entry fee contribution has gone to helping this amazing place. Read about 3 Brilliant Wildlife Refuges in Costa Rica.

squirrel monkey


  1. Get Your Chocolate Fix

Just between us, the chocolate feasting to be had in Arenal is probably reason enough to book a Costa Rica adventure vacation. After all, every endurance athlete knows that chocolate is the best refueling snack of them all! Given the wonderful organic chocolate produced in the region, you should probably go a little beyond a simple feast here: take an interactive chocolate workshop and you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at how chocolate is processed AND get to feast at the end. A win-win! Farm experiences are among the most eco-conscious activities you can partake in when visiting Costa Rica.

There are plenty of tours to choose from but we are kinda addicted to the Rainforest Chocolate Tour. Something about ‘eat all the chocolate you want’ suggestion at the end…



  1. Saddle Up, Cowboys and Girls!

Horseback riding is very much part of Tico culture so, rather than being a ‘tourist gimmick’ created specifically for foreigners, it can be considered an authentic cultural experience. Aside from simply swapping your motorized (or foot-drawn) transport for a 4-hoofed beast (like at La Fortuna Waterfall) you can also take sensational tours through remote trails. You can ride your steed to the Rio Celeste, you can combine a half-ride, half-whatever else you fancy (like zip-lining, whitewater rafting and hot-springs) or take a whole day out on a customized itinerary that is perfect for experienced riders. If you’re a particularly avid and experienced rider, you can also ask us about multi-day horse treks, among the most unique and exceptional activities to do in all of Costa Rica, not only Arenal.

horseback riding


  1. Take a Cooking Class

There’s no better way to eat like a local in Arenal than by learning to cook like one. Authentic cooking classes are very popular here and we’re finding more and more guests want to include a half-day immersive class to really get the comprehensive Tico experience here. There are a ton of hands-on culinary options here, including tortilla-making, chocolate workshops and everything from traditional appetizer to 3-course-meal creations. The great thing about Costa Rica cooking classes and that they showcase the most organic produce grown locally so you get an insight into the health-giving properties of the food, the culinary culture of the county and end up feasting your tastebuds like nothing else!

Check out these four totally unique cooking classes in Costa Rica.



  1. Go Canyoneering For a Day…and DO.IT.ALL.

Can’t decide which of the amazing Arenal adventure activities you want to do? How about doing them ALL?! A full-day canyoneering excursion in Arenal will get your heart pumping like nothing else and, as long as you can manage to take your eyes off the stunning canyon, you’ll also soak up outstanding landscape views. The ultimate adrenaline-junkie fix, canyoning combines hiking, rappelling, cliff jumping and even some rock scrambling to create a 4-in-1 adventure sport that is out of this world. Much like the rafting choices, canyoning options are also numerous so you can all Rambo on extreme tours, or opt for a beginner’s course, depending on your skill levels and thrill-addiction.



  1. Enjoy a Relaxing Swim and Rope-Jump, FREE OF CHARGE!

Sometimes, even an adventure-filled vacation needs to include a little down-time but rest assured that in a place like Costa Rica, that ALWAYS comes with some kind of action. Just a 15-min walk out of La Fortuna Town is where you’ll find Salto, a glorious section of river you can access free of charge. Locals head here to freshen up and rope-swing on a hot day and it makes for a beautiful way to pass a few relaxing hours. It Isn’t quite as magical an experience as swimming under the La Fortuna waterfall but hey, it’s convenient and free of charge so what’s not to love about that? Plus, you can go totally lazy-bum for the afternoon and take a taxi out here (all the drivers know it). Simply nominate a pick-up time (1.5hrs should be enough) and you don’t even have to walk. A great ‘last day in Arenal’ activity! Just a word of caution, though, as this stretch of river is set in a canyon: do not head here if it is or has been raining and, if it starts to rain, leave immediately, as the river level can rise incredibly fast. Just use common sense and enjoy.

tropical rainforest


  1. Take a 4X4 Tour to El Castillo (and stay the night)

El Castillo is one of the quaintest villages in the Arenal region but often gets overlooked because you need a 4WD to reach it. For those willing to go that extra mile, though, the experience is very rewarding and is a stunning way to get well off the tourist trail (and away from the crowds). A handful of beautiful eco-lodges means you can head up here (only 11 miles away from La Fortuna) for a couple of days if you wish, and explore this lesser-known area. A butterfly conservatory and ‘eco-zoo’, where you’ll find a great collection of amphibians and reptiles, provide plenty of distraction if you don’t want to tackle any of the (many) hikes on offer. The best reason to come to El Castillo, however, is that the charming town offers arguably the most jaw-dropping and unobstructed views of Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal.



Here at Costa Rica Rios, we offer an amazing array of adventure sin Arenal, all of which can be customized and tailor-made to suit your wishes. Check out the best Arenal Activities we have on offer and the wonderful Arenal Hotels we recommend staying in – various options means budget travelers, families and honeymooners will also find something to suit them.

Contact us to know more.

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What to Do With Kids on Family Vacations in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica rates among the world’s best family vacation destinations and that’s because this country is bursting at the seams with an array of outdoor pursuits that enthrall kids and adults alike. Families love holidaying here and that’s hardly surprising when you consider the inherent love of children and family-life the Tico culture boasts. Unlike other destinations that place an emphasis on separating adult-fun and children-fun, Costa Rica brings it all together, offering immersive and rewarding experiences to families who actually love spending time together and sharing unforgettable memories.

So why not plan a family adventure vacation with a difference for 2019?

Come and see what magical adventures await you all in wonderful Costa Rica.


Wildlife & Wilderness in Costa Rica

What makes Costa Rica so ideal for family vacations is the fact that parents don’t really need to do too much to entertain the kids: the country’s wildlife-enriched wilderness does a great job of grabbing everybody’s attention. A nature lover’s dream, this compact country is enriched with a host of eco-tourism projects that offer educational and totally fun activities for kids of all ages. In Costa Rica, kids learn about the importance of environmental protection by discovering rare and endangered species, by walking on hanging bridges in virgin forests and by exploring national parks full of creatures, sounds and smells. You’ll be amazed how fascinated children can be in unspoiled nature and even if you think your child is not the nature-lover you’d hoped he/she would be, just wait until you see them here, locking eyes with a sloth, spotting colorful toucans and giggling at the piercing call of howler monkeys. Jungle experiences are the #1 attraction for families visiting Costa Rica and rest assured that there are plenty of eco-lodges that offer comfortable stays for even the most creepy-crawly-phobic child (or parent). See our selection of the Best National Parks in Costa Rica that make for superb family vacations.



Family-friendly Hiking Trails in Costa Rica

Families heading to Costa Rica for the first time can be anxious about the country’s extensive maze of hiking trails, thinking that the options for young families are limited. Not so! The most popular destinations, in fact, are tailor-made for family vacations, offering a wide array of options for parents with young kids in tow. Visiting Manuel Antonio and La Paz Waterfall Gardens to enjoying leisurely walks is a no-brainer for first-time visitors, especially those with very young kids or those who don’t normally hike very much in the great outdoors. If your family is a bit more adventurous and used to hiking then the whole country really is your oyster: Costa Rica boasts a multitude of hikes to waterfalls, mountain peaks, temperate and cloud forests, as well as endless miles of glorious beaches that can be walked for hours on end. You can read more about our favorite family vacation hiking trails.


Family-Friendly Resorts in Costa Rica

Family-centered resorts are very popular here, especially along the north-western Pacific coastline, where you’ll find a bevy of excellent choices along some of the most celebrated beaches in the country. Yet if you’re looking for some quality time away from the maddening distractions of everyday life, then you might want to look into some of Costa Rica’s most unplugged eco-tourism lodges instead, where jungle activities, surfing, swimming, snorkeling and night wildlife-watching tours ensure the kids not even notice the Wi-Fi is missing. Read more about some truly special Family-friendly Resorts in Costa Rica.



The Best Amusement Parks in Costa Rica

It may surprise you to learn that Costa Rica isn’t replete with amusement parks and that’s because the whole country is considered a nature-filled family playground – the need for dedicated play parks is not as pronounced here as in other countries. Nevertheless, there are a few great options if you have children of varying ages and just wish to treat them to a different kind of day out. Costa Rica’s best amusement parks are much more organic and less commercial than those back home and most visitors love them precisely for this reason. In Costa Rica, kids can slide down thrilling water rides created with thermal springs, fly through tree-tops in pristine tropical rain-forests and even indulge in a multi-sport adventure outing where horseback riding, zip-lining and kayaking provide all the thrills.


Mountain Biking Adventures

If exploring mountainous wilderness on two wheels is your family’s idea of a great vacation, then you’ll be excited to know that Costa Rica is traversed by hundreds of miles of exceptional mountain biking trails and is considered one of the world’s prime destinations for bikers. The country’s diversity means that no matter what time of year you visit, you’ll find one region at its absolute prime: perfect temps to hit the trails, a kaleidoscope of destinations and fantastic scenery, no matter where you go. Obviously, mountain biking adventures in Costa Rica are primarily suited to families who bike together regularly although there are plenty of short and sweet trails if your kids are just starting off and you’d like to test the waters. We offer tailor-made mountain-biking itineraries that will ensure your family has a fantastic, safe and unforgettable time.


Family Multi-Adventure Tours

At Costa Rica Rios, we combine everything that makes this incredible country so ideal for families and create multi-adventure vacations that captivate the hearts and souls of young and young-at-heart alike. Our most popular tours combine whitewater rafting, canopy zip-line, horseback riding, hiking, hot spring soaking, surfing and wildlife-watching in a week (or more) of exceptionally fun adventures. We offer soft adventures for families with younger kids and more active experiences for those with fearless teenagers on their hands. We can take you to the most popular sites if it’s your first visit or more remote locations if you crave an off-the-beaten-trail journey. Our adventure tours are not only fun and varied but they’re also safe, affordable and planned to suit your needs. We take the hassle of planning every detail of your adventure vacation in Costa Rica so you can rest easy, knowing your vacation, and your family, are in capable and experienced hands.

Above all, we combine the best aspects of Costa Rica’s nature and culture to offer truly immersive experiences – these are the family adventure vacations no family will readily forget.

Contact us to know more.

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Flying to Costa Rica Airports – Your Guide to Hassle-Free Travels

You know that Costa Rica is one of the most popular travel destinations for North Americans; you know flights times are short, transfers swift and the sheer easiness of travel here inducive to relaxing and invigorating vacations. That doesn’t mean that figuring out where in Costa Rica you should be flying to, is a piece of cake. Don’t stress! We take all the hassle out of your Costa Rica vacation planning with this comprehensive airport guide, aimed at helping you navigate the many options for flights to Costa Rica and all the logistical issues you’ll be facing.

Whether it’s your first time abroad or you’re an old-hat at this jetting-about business, we hope you’ll find this guide helpful.

Costa Rica’s International Airports – The Main Entry Points

Costa Rica boasts several airports, most of which only operate domestic flights: super convenient if you wish to visit many regions in a short amount of time, once you set foot in the country. The two main entry points if hailing from abroad, however, are the San Jose International Airport (in the Central Valley), and the Liberia International Airport, in the northwest.


San Jose International Airport (or Juan Santamaria Airport – code SJO) – Nearby the capital of San Jose, Costa Rica’s largest and busiest hub is the primary entry point into the country for most visitors. It services the Central Valley and the entire southern region of Costa Rica, as well as the eastern Caribbean coast. If you’re heading to the Central Pacific region and want to visit the most famous hubs of all, like Manuel Antonio, Arenal, Monteverde, the Osa Peninsula and the Limon Province, San Jose’s main airport is by far your best choice.

Multi-adventure vacations with itineraries that include several destinations are best started from the capital – there isn’t a corner of the country that can’t be reached from here and, besides that, 99% of all the domestic flights to more remote regions also originate here, so you’ll undoubtedly be ‘passing through’ San Jose at some point during your journey.

Where: The Airport is in the town of Alajuela, about a 20-min drive from downtown San Jose

Best for: the central and southern regions of Costa Rica, including the remote Osa Peninsula, the amazing Tortuguero National Park and the Limon Province on the eastern Caribbean coastline, as well as the eastern and southern coasts of the Nicoya Peninsula

What: The second most prominent airport in all of Central America, SJO is well set out, with plenty of shopping and dining options and servicing the highest number of both international and domestic flights in the country


The Rincon de la Vieja National Park is in the far north of Costa Rica, best reached by flying into Liberia

Liberia International Airport (Daniel Oduber Quiros Airport – code LIR) – The Liberia International Airport is perfect if your itinerary primarily consists of beach-bumming in stunning Guanacaste or exploring the western coast of the Nicoya Peninsula. This is the preferred airport of return visitors who may have already seen and done the country’s most famous hubs and now wish to mainly explore the north.

You can still get to Monteverde and Arenal from here, of course, considering the central region of Costa Rica is compact and road-travel here relatively easy. Moreover, there is a lot less traffic congestion out of Liberia so although distances are about equal, it usually takes less time to reach these famous hubs from Liberia. The main downside is that domestic flights originating from here are limited so if you want to travel far and wide, you will have to head to San Jose.

Where: The town of Liberia is much smaller than San Jose so your accommodation options in town aren’t nearly as extensive. Whilst you’d find plenty to see and do on a 2-day layover of San Jose, Liberia isn’t a town you’ll want to spend too much time exploring. The airport’s proximity to the coast, however, means you can reach your chosen Guanacaste destination in no time at all.

Best for: The north-western coast of Guanacaste is resplendent and much less visited and, to discover this phenomenal stretch of coast, the Liberia Airport is ideal. This is also true if you wish to explore the western highlights of the Nicoya Peninsula, namely the beaches around Flamingo, Tamarindo and Nosara.

What: Liberia is a much smaller airport than San Jose and although its recent upgrade did include a fair amount of shopping and dining options, it still doesn’t offer as much as the capital’s main hub. And that’s ok: most people simply wish to check in and out of the country with minimal fuss and, in this case, the Liberia Airport is even more convenient.


Flying to Costa Rica From Nicaragua or Panama?

If you’re planning a multi-country jaunt through Central America and flying to Costa Rica from Nicaragua or Panama, you may fly into San Jose’s Tobías Bolaños International Airport (code SYQ), which is nearby its main international airport. It mostly services only domestic flights but does offer connections to Panama and Nicaragua, so don’t be alarmed if you’re booking flights and notice an airport name you don’t recognize. It’s likely to be this one.

Which Airport is Cheaper?

Traditionally, it was always more expensive to fly into the Liberia airport – however, given the extensive upgrade in recent years and the rise in the airport’s standing, there are now some fantastic deals to be scored, due to sheer volume of passengers and flights. By and large, San Jose still offers the best-value flights into Costa Rica yet the disparity has now become so minimal that the choice really only comes down to convenience. San Jose is actually a lovely city that’s worth a look but many return visitors are happy to skip the big metropolis and head straight to the beach or, alternatively, squeeze every moment of ‘fun in the sun’ in Guanacaste at the end of their trip, and fly home from Liberia.

So, Does It Really Matter Where You Fly To?

Yes, it does: choose the wrong airport and you could easily waste an entire day of your vacation (if not two) and, if that time could be better spent sipping cocktails overlooking a dreamy beach, you’ll be kicking yourself. More importantly, it pays to plan the wisely, in a way that allows for no backtracking and the shortest transfer times of all on both arrival and departure day.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • If you’re planning a whirlwind itinerary, note that you don’t need to fly in and out of the same airport. You could, for example, fly into SJO, spend a week meandering towards the north and then fly out of LIR. This is, by far, the most popular option to squeeze the most out of your itinerary
  • Don’t be fooled by Goggle Map driving-time suggestions as the app doesn’t take into account real-time traffic (especially around major hubs) and road conditions. It takes longer to cover distances here than back home so when Google suggests it would take two hours to get from A to B in Costa Rica, do trust that will most likely take four. This is why choosing the right airport for arrival and/or departure is quite important

Are There Any Non-Stop Flights to Costa Rica?

Yes, plenty – not only from the USA but also from Europe. Here’s a list of the most popular cities offering non-stop flights into Costa Rica:

From the USA

  • New York
  • Miami
  • Los Angeles
  • Houston
  • Atlanta
  • Fort Lauderdale
  • Orlando
  • Denver

From Latin America

  • Mexico City
  • Bogota
  • Lima
  • Panama City

From Canada

  • Toronto
  • Montreal

From Europe

  • London
  • Madrid

NB: this list is far from exhaustive as airlines are continuously adding more non-stop flights to Costa Rica due to increasing demand. Moreover, do note that the number of direct flights (with a short stop along the way) connect the country with at least 50 destinations, worldwide.

What About Domestic Flights in Costa Rica?

Travel to Costa Rica to visit the Osa Peninsula during the wet season and the only way you’ll reach it is via a short domestic flight. Domestic flights in Costa Rica are a godsend if you want to travel far in a short period of time or if you’re travelling outside the dry season and face some road travel disruptions. The most popular domestic connections, therefore, are those that will get you to the remotest hubs which would likely take you an entire day to reach by road from San Jose.

They are:

Tortuguero Airport – The easiest way to reach the remote turtle haven of Tortuguero, on the north-eastern Caribbean coast, is to fly there directly

Drake Bay Airport – For access to the remote and unspoiled north-western corner of the Osa Peninsula

Nosara Airport – Waste no time reaching the breathtaking beaches of the northern Nicoya Peninsula by flying directly into Nosara

Puerto Jimenez – The springboard for trips to Corcovado National Park, in the Osa Peninsula, Puerto Jimenez sits on the border of the Golfo Dulce Nature Reserve

Liberia – Unsurprisingly, the most popular domestic flights in the country are between the capital and the Liberia Airport

Insider Tip: domestic flights in Costa Rica restrict the amount of luggage you can take so you must have all your flights organised before you leave home, to ensure you don’t pack more than you can take on board. This is especially crucial if you’re planning a one-way itinerary between San Jose and Liberia and must take all your luggage along on any side-trip.


When is The Cheapest Time to Fly to Costa Rica?

Travelling outside of the high tourist season (June to August and December to March) has many benefits, cheaper flights among the most coveted. Visiting Costa Rica during the Green Season, as it’s known in these parts, offers some of the best value-for-money experiences around: not only will you save on flights but also accommodation, activities and organised tours. You’ll also enjoy the most famous highlights with fewer tourists for company and, even though it is true that some activities/roads/hiking routes will not be accessible due to flooding, there will still be SO much you can see and do.

Here are our Top 10 Reasons to Visit Costa Rica in the Rian Season

Traditionally, the cheapest month to fly to Costa Rica is September.

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