The Costa Rica Caribbean Coast boasts everything that the country is famous for. There’s lush rainforest, unique animals, and beaches galore! And interestingly, completely different weather than the Pacific side.
Go ziplining, scuba diving and mountain trekking before relaxing on the beach. On this tour we will take you on a round trip from San Jose. You’ll encounter wildlife, enjoy some of the country’s best waterfalls, and experience all the thriving rainforest has to offer.
When you book with Daytrip, your private driver will collect you from your accommodation and take you to your destination. No more packed public buses! And we already found the best sights along the way. It’s the ideal way to travel the country and see attractions you might otherwise miss!
Your Costa Rica Caribbean Coast Itinerary
- Day 1: San José to Tortuguero
- Day 2: Tortuguero to Limon
- Day 3: Limon to Puerto Viejo
- Day 4: Puerto Viejo to San Jose
San José to Tortuguero
San Jose, Costa Rica’s vibrant capital, is a good place to get acquainted with Tico life. Relax in the Parque Metropolitano La Sabana before grabbing some local grub. While you’re in town, stop at some of the city’s museums. The Museo del Oro Precolombino (Pre-Columbian Gold Museum) is especially interesting since people often overlook the country’s past.
When you’re ready, head from San Jose to Tortuga.
Britt Coffee Tour
Ever wonder why Costa Rican coffee is so good? One reason is that it’s illegal to produce anything other than 100% Arabica. Join a 90 or 120 minute tour at Britt Coffee to see how coffee is grown, harvested, and roasted. Then see how to make a perfect cup.
Los Chorros Waterfalls
Costa Rica is packed with waterfalls, and the small but might Los Chorros (“The Jets”) a perfect starter for a 90-minute excursion. Just a short walk through the jungle leads to the powerful, 40-meter-high cascade. For a bit more adventure, follow the riverbed into a moss-covered canyon to find an even larger waterfall!
Arrival in Tortuguero
Tortuguero roughly translates to “Land of Turtles”, and this national park lives up to its name. Every year thousands of sea turtles return to the beaches here to lay their eggs. And a few months later, tiny sea turtles make their way back to the sea.
The most popular way to explore Tortuguero is by boat, but canoes and kayaks can be also rented. Cruising through the extensive network of canals and lagoons is one of the best rainforest experiences in Costa Rica. With 60 species of mammal, over 100 species of reptile and more than 300 species of birds residing here, you’re bound to be spoiled with the sights and sounds of the rainforest!
Tortuguero itself is a small village, so we’d recommend making sure you have your accommodation booked well in advance.
Duration: 7 hours 30 min
Book a car from San Jose to Tortuguero
Tortuguero to Limon
From a lush National Park to a lush beach city, today you’re heading to Limon, the largest city along Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast.
From a family backyard conservation project, Frogs Heaven has become a fascinating eco-tourism experience. Stop for 90 minutes for a guided tour through the lush jungle where you’re likely to see Costa Rica’s iconic red-eyed tree frog, poison-dart frogs, and any number of the 28 other species of frog that call the forest home. Birds, sloths and reptiles also reside here; we recommend the twilight tour if you want to see some nocturnal species!
Even in a country famous for its rainforests and National Parks, Veragua stands out. Part research station, and part adventure park, on your 3 hour visit you’ll discover the world’s largest nocturnal frog exhibit, a hummingbird garden and a spectacular display of butterflies amongst other wildlife. Take a sky tram through the forest canopy, hike one of the available trails, and walk the hanging bridges high in the treetops.
Arrival in Limon
Limon is a lush paradise, said to be one of the most pristine regions in Costa Rica. And the surroundings are nothing short of stunning. The Talamanca Mountains at the southern end are a highlight of any visit with plenty of hiking trails if you want to get off the beach.
A place where rainforests meet the sandy white beaches, we recommend heading to Playa Bonita. Just breathe in the fresh sea air, take a dip in the crystal blue waters and simply enjoy life at the seaside. It’s the ideal place to experience the laid back Costa Rica Caribbean Coast life.
Adventurous beach lovers will enjoy the plethora of water activities on offer, including scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking and more.
The center of Limon is a bustling port town, and is packed with great dining options. The region produces fresh fruit and vegetables. And given its location on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast, there’s seafood aplenty. Expect fresh, vibrant dishes with an Afro-Caribbean influence.
Duration: 9 hours and 30 minutes
Book a car from Tortuguero to Limon
Limon to Puerto Viejo
Today you’re traveling south to Puerto Viejo, one of Costa Rica’s most frequented beach destinations. First, we’ll take you to see some sleepy sloths and a beautiful botanical garden.
Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica
The Sloth Sanctuary cares for over 200 of these adorable slowpokes. The star of the show is Buttercup, the very first resident who inspired the founding of the sanctuary when she was rescued as a baby after her Mother was killed by a car. Join the 3-hour “Buttercup Tour” to meet her and her roommates, and learn about these strange creatures, their struggles and rehabilitation.
Finca La Isla
Set in the lush rainforest, Finca La Isla is part botanical garden, part organic farm. Stop for an hour to explore the grounds to see a variety of edible tropical plants. And then sample some of the farm’s produce!
Arrival in Puerto Viejo
Puerto Viejo is a quintessential Costa Rica Caribbean coast town. Meaning its laid-back cafe’s, restaurants and bars are the perfect place to unwind and dig into fresh produce or the catch of the day. The main draw are the amazing beaches lined with palm trees. Whether you want to relax, or try surfing, this stretch of coast has you covered. Puerto Viejo is the ultimate destination for beach lovers. Playa Cocles is one of the best surfing beaches, as is the nearby Playa Chiquita.
Chocolate lovers should visit a cacao plantation for an indulgent and educational experience. Farmers will show you the process from planting and harvesting cacao beans to producing high quality local chocolate. Of course, no tour would be complete without a tasting session!
Duration: 5 hours and 10 minutes
Book a car from Limon to Puerto Viejo
Puerto Viejo to San Jose
When you’ve thoroughly unwound (or you’ve run out of time on your vacation), head back from Puerto Viejo to San Jose.
Take 90 minutes to experience the rich heritage of Costa Rica’s colonial capital. Surrounded by coffee plantations and mountain views, Cartago is packed with history. Pay a visit to the ruins of the 16th century Santiago Apóstol Parish before heading to the Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels. On the altar inside is a miraculous Black Madonna that’s become the object of pilgrimage. Just outside the city, the Lankaster Botanical Gardens is a must-see for plant lovers.
La Paz Waterfall Gardens
The La Paz Waterfall Gardens are the perfect place to immerse yourself in Rica’s natural splendor! Take two hours to hike through the cloud forest, admire the stunning waterfalls, and meet over 100 species of indigenous animals in the wildlife sanctuary!
Arrival in San Jose
Back in the capital of San Jose, there are plenty of activities and attractions to enjoy after you’ve experienced the rainforests and beaches of Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast. Most tourists think of the city as just a transit point. But we think there’s plenty worth seeing!
If you didn’t when you first touched down, you really should pay a visit to some of San Jose’s museums and theaters. The Teatro Nacional, home to Costa Rica’s national ballet and opera companies, is worth seeking out for its architecture even if you can’t catch a show.
The Museo Nacional is Costa Rica’s national museum, a bright yellow building with intriguing sculptures in the front. Thematically organized, the museum exhibits pre-Columbian artifacts, and artifacts relating to Costa Rica’s archaeology, geology and religious history. The Museo del Oro Precolombino (Pre-Columbian Gold Museum) is also great, and especially interesting since people often overlook the country’s past.
Paseo Colon is the city’s main avenue. Lined with cherry blossoms, set out in any direction to discover the city. Barrio Amon is a historic district that’s somewhat a hidden gem for intrepid tourists. It’s packed with independent eateries, hip hotels, and boutique stores. Whenever you get hungry, pop into a “soda” for some cheap traditional food.
Duration: 10 hours and 33 minutes
Book a car from Puerto Viejo to San Jose
Ready for your tour of the Costa Rica Caribbean Coast?
Here’s each leg of the trip!
- Book a car from San Jose to Tortuguero
- Book a car from Tortuguero to Limon
- Book a car from Limon to Puerto Viejo
- Book a car from Puerto Viejo to San Jose
Want to see how the Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast compares? Check out our Natural Wonders of Costa Rica: Pacific Coast itinerary.