Unleashing Pura Vida: Costa Rica Itinerary 5 Days

Sloths, Waterfalls, Hot Springs, and more!

Costa Rica is a delight for travelers who appreciate variety. From the magical Monteverde Cloud Forest, to the hot springs surrounding the Arenal volcano, to the surf-trip worthy beaches on the west coast, to the tasty plantain treats and wild monkeys and sloths, Costa Rica is a real treat to visit. Here’s a map to get your bearings.

Arenal Volcano

If you’re feeling brave, spend a night or two at the Arenal Observatory Lodge, a mere 1.7 miles from the active volcano. We enjoyed our stay at the lodge but unfortunately the cloud cover was so great while we were that that we didn’t get to see the volcano. On clear days the view is apparently spectacular.

Baldi Hot Springs

Picture pool after pool of piping hot water heated by the volcano Arenal next door. While commercial, Baldi hot springs feel delightful when you sink into the steaming hot pools.

We went at night – which was amazing – but if you go during the day you get to see the volcano looming on the horizon.

Monteverde Cloud Forest

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The cloud forest is like walking through a dream. The rain forest is constantly covered by clouds and filled with lush and strange vegetation. I highly recommend hiring a local guide to walk you through the forest. Otherwise you’ll likely miss the many splendid birds, like the famed quetzal. (The pictures don’t remotely do it justice.)

Be sure to save some time to visit the hummingbird garden at the end of the day.

Manuel Antonio

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Manuel Antonio is a beautiful beach within a national park filled with monkeys and sloths. Plan to spend at least a few days here.

We stayed up the road in Quepos at Hostel Plinio, which was fantastic. The tree house hostel is laid back and set amidst the trees. The evening air is filled with the sounds of chirping frogs – it’s a lovely way to fall asleep. Our room was three floors with a balcony on the second and a hammock on the third.

Consider flying back from Quepos to Liberia. The view is stunning!

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Other Activities?

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There are so many fun things to do in Costa Rica. It’s like an outdoor wonderland! Ziplining, rappelling, horseback riding, and more. We did the zipline and it was amazing soaring over the trees!

Best mode of transport?

My friends and I did this trip via hired cars, small buses, and planes. It worked well enough but next time I’m going to rent a car for the increased flexibility.

Any questions? Leave a comment!



  1. I love the detail in the proven itineraries which are checked for reality/transit/distance! I wish there was a good way to publish these such other than TripIt or TripAdvisor articles, but I enjoy the generous photography & associated commentary this blog format offers!

    • Thanks Richard! I’m so glad to hear that. One of my biggest challenges planning an itinerary is trying to maximize the time but also actually see and experience things, not just do a mad dash through a country. I wanted to share itineraries that have worked for me so that hopefully they’ll be beneficial for others.

    • Thanks Jewel! Those were just some of my favorite spots in CR. What were some of yours?

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