If you only have two weeks in Costa Rica, I recommend you to focus your trip on either the east or the west coast. Last week, I shared a possible east coast itinerary with you, today it’s time to get to know the west coast a little better.
The first part of the itinerary is the same, as in my opinion, La Fortuna should always be part of your trip. If you combine both itineraries, do La Fortuna during the west coast part of your trip. Why? Because that’s the most logical way to do it regarding getting to these destinations.
Day 1 & 2: San Jose
You will arrive in San Jose (SJO airport) on your first day. Most people get out of Costa Rica’s capital as soon as they get there. Sure, it doesn’t offer the things you’ve come to Costa Rica for in the first place which is probably nature and wildlife.
Anyway, San Jose has a lot of small parks, pretty churches, architecture and street art. So, give it a chance before leaving asap and try my self-guided walking tour to explore the city.
You can also get my self-guided walking tour around San Jose right on your phone to find all the places without using your mobile data.
Download the GPSMyCity App and get the article here.
Day 3-6: La Fortuna
La Fortuna is the adventure capital of Costa Rica. You can do zip lining, walk around hanging bridges, do canyoning, rafting and explore waterfalls. Give yourself at least three days here in order to be a little adventurous.
La Fortuna is also home of the famous Arenal volcano where you can go on different hikes. After a hike or your adventurous activity, you can visit one of the thermal baths to relax.
As I said in my previous post, the best way to get around Costa Rica is by rental car, which is especially true when you want to explore the west coast. If you do not want to or cannot drive, you can choose between shared shuttle services (Interbus) or public busses which is the cheapest options. To use the public busses, you have to catch a bus of Autotransportes San Jose – Venecia to get to La Fortuna.
Option 1: Day 7-9: Tamarindo
Tamarindo is located on the Nicoya Peninsula on the Northern Pacific Coast of the country. It belongs to the province of Guanacaste and is a true backpacker town.
The main thing why people come here is surfing, if you want to learn it, take a class here and you can continue practicing in your next destination Jaco. Tamarindo is an ideal place for beginners.
If you’re not into surfing, there are still plenty of other things you can do. You can go diving or snorkeling at the Catalina Islands, go sailing, fishing or do more or less adventurous activities such as zip lining, ATV or horseback riding.
Right next to the beach, you can find mangroves where you can kayak and get to see monkeys, crocodiles and birds among others. While you’re here, you should also head to the beach at least one evening to watch the sunset.
To get to Tamarindo, you can take the Caribe Shuttle which is 50 USD for a 5 hours ride. Anyway, the bus ride from Tamarindo to Jaco is a bit complicated, so I’d recommend you to go there by car if you don’t want to sit in a bus for that long.
Option 2: Day 7-9 Monteverde
If you travel around Costa Rica by bus, I’d recommend you to go to Monteverde instead of Tamarindo. The problem is that there is no direct connection between Tamarindo and Jaco and you’d have to either go to Monteverde by shuttle or change busses twice with public transportation.
From La Fortuna to Monteverde, you can either go by public transportation (you have to change busses) or by shuttle. Monteverde is the home of the cloud forest and a paradise for hikers and outdoor lovers. There are several hiking trails around the park where you can admire the huge trees and understand why this national park is called cloud forest. Keep your eyes open to spot some wildlife.
Day 10-13: Jaco
From Tamarindo or Monteverde, you now head south to another backpacker town: Jaco. If you do not want to stay in another backpacker town and have a rental car, you can opt for one of the boutique place right at the beach between Puntarenas and Jaco, for example in Esterillos Este.
If you did a surfing class in Tamarindo, you can continue taking classes here or just rent a board. Jaco is another great place to improve your surfing skills here in Costa Rica.
Apart from that, you should do one or two day trips from here. Visit at least Manuel Antonio National Park close to Quepos where you are able to see a lot of monkeys, sloths and other animals. If you have a rental car, just drive there and hire a guide or walk on your own.
Another trip we took was to Tortuga Island, it’s a very touristy tour as you have entertainment on the ship all the time but the island is a paradise island. During the trip, you can decide whether you want to go snorkeling or kayaking.
Again, if you have a car and want to get a bit off the tourist path, you can visit Carara National Park. Hike there and pay attention to wildlife. When going there, you will also pass the famous bridge over Rio Tarcoles. Get out of the car to see the giant crocodiles sitting on the river bank.
Coming from Tamarindo, it’s best to come down here by car. If that’s not the case, you can take public transportation but you will have to change busses at least twice to get here. If you chose option 2 and stayed in Monteverde, you can travel to Jaco with the shuttle company Marvelus Travel.
Day 14: San Jose, Departure
Jaco is only 2.5 hours away from San Jose, so depending on your flight schedule, you can decide whether you want to go back to San Jose in the evening of Day 13 or in the morning of day 14. If you’re without a car, from here it’s easy to go to San Jose by public transportation.
I hope you had a great time in Costa Rica and as I said in the beginning, you are able to combine both itineraries if you are staying longer than two weeks. You could do the west coast itinerary first and then head from San Jose to Tortuguero on the east coast.
Which place are you dying to visit in Costa Rica?
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