So many amazing experiences await you in Costa Rica that deciding what to see and do during your 7 day vacation can be overwhelming. Luckily you have us, the local Costa Rica experts, to make practical suggestions and give you an idea what to expect.
The first thing to decide, in planning your 7 day vacation, is which airport you’ll be flying into and out of. Costa Rica, although it is a small country, isn’t known for its speedy road travel. Roads are generally small and congested in urban areas, and often unpaved in rural areas. If you want to experience all that Costa Rica has to offer, you’ll either have to stay longer than 7 days or come back!
We’re die-hard fans of Guanacaste, so the perfect 7 day Costa Rica vacation itinerary, in our opinion, begins at the LIR airport in Liberia.
The big excitement today is landing in Costa Rica and getting that beautiful stamp in your passport, so we don’t recommend trying to add more travel to what you’ve already done. You’ll be landing in Liberia in the afternoon or evening, so on a perfect vacation, you wouldn’t spend any more time on the road than you have to.
We recommend taking a taxi, a shuttle or a rental car from LIR to Playa del Coco for your first night. Playa del Coco is a beautiful beach with a lively town that is located about 30 minutes from the airport. Before you know it, you’ll be strolling barefoot on the warm sand, watching the sunset, and exploring the restaurants in search of your first Costa Rican dinner. Enjoy a little Costa Rican nightlife before you turn in, but make sure to get plenty of rest because tomorrow is a busy day of fun in the sun!
A Day in Playa del Coco and surrounding areas
You have lots of options of how to spend the day in Playa del Coco. One choice is to do nothing but enjoy the beach: walk, swim, bask, and enjoy some meals in complete relaxation with no schedule and no obligations. Not a bad way to start a vacation!
Another choice is to book a sportfishing excursion or take a surf trip to Witch’s Rock and Ollies Point on Day 2. Both of these things begin in the early morning, so you‘ll want to contact our concierge ahead of time to make sure your boat is booked for you before arrival.
If none of these ideas move you, let’s get you booked in for an adventure day at the nearby Diamante Eco Adventure Park. This amazing adventure center is about 30 minutes from Playa del Coco and has an enormous activity menu for you to choose from. Take zip-line canopy tour, visit the animal sanctuary, go horseback riding, take an ATV trek, try out a stand-up paddleboard or a sea kayak… You’ll have so much fun you won’t want to leave.
At the end of your second day, no matter how you’ve spent it, get out and see the town of Playa del Coco because tomorrow you’re going to hit the road again.
Travel to Second Destination: Arenal Volcano
You can’t come to Costa Rica and not visit the Arenal Volcano. Arenal, located near the town of La Fortuna, is Costa Rica’s most active volcano and one of our most-visited spots. It will take you a few hours to get there, so you should plan to leave Playa del Coco either in the morning or in the early afternoon. Take your time, enjoy the scenery, stop for snacks and to take pictures. You’re on vacation, so please don’t stress out about getting there as fast as you can. The journey is part of adventure.
There are lots of hotels and vacation rentals in the Arenal area, and we recommend you choose one that has a view of the volcano. You might pay more, but there is a very good reason for this, and it’s worth it. The volcano’s cone, being as it spouts steam into the cool air xxx feet above sea level, is often surrounded by clouds. Your best chance of seeing Arenal’s stunning cone is in the wee hours of the morning before dawn (hint: set your alarm. seriously.) or soon after sunrise. Get a room with a view and prepare to be amazed.
Because of the neighboring active volcano, natural thermal mineral pools and baths are everywhere in Arenal. Your hotel may have hot springs on the premises, our you may pay an entrance fee at one of the dozens of thermal spas you’ll find. The one thing you don’t want to do is miss them! When you get to Arenal, check into your hotel, explore the area a bit, find some dinner, and slip into a natural thermal pool in the cool mountain air of the tropical night. It rains a lot in Arenal, and the hot springs are even more spectacular in the rain!
A Day in Arenal
Costa Rica, although it’s known for its beautiful beaches, is a very mountainous country with diverse microclimates and a strong cattle farming culture. This is your day in the mountains, so take advantage of it in every possible way. The area is packed with Arenal tour and adventure options. You can hike the volcano, take a guided jungle horseback ride through the foothills, visit animal sanctuaries and butterfly gardens, visit orchid farms, hike to waterfalls for a chilly swim (sorry, no thermal waterfalls), take zipline canopy tours…
The day will go by faster than you can imagine and before you know it, the night will be falling over the volcano again.
Try a new spot for dinner and try a different thermal spa, because no two are the same, and after one night in the deliciously warm waters, the only thing you’re going to want to do is to go back.
Travel to the Third Destination: Tamarindo
Time flies when you’re having fun. It’s already Day 5 of your 7 day vacation, and today the best part starts: you’re coming to Tamarindo! Get up, have some coffee, and get on the road early because the beach is calling and your Tamarindo vacation rental is waiting.
You’ll be in Tamarindo by lunchtime, so you have the whole afternoon to check out the town, walk the beach, go for a swim, catch some afternoon waves if you’re a surfer, maybe grab a Tamarindo surf lesson if you aren’t, and be ready to chill by the time you see the sun sinking close to the horizon. Sunset in Tamarindo is a daily event that no one misses. Join the locals on the beach or enjoy it from the privacy of your vacation rental if you’ve got a view like the one at our home Villa Atardecer.
Every night is Saturday night in Tamarindo, so whether you like late nights or early nights, walk around town after dark and check out the fire dancers, catch some live music, and listen to the mix of languages in one of Costa Rica’s most vibrant melting pots.
A day in Tamarindo
Hope you didn’t stay up too late last night because Day 6 is your day in Tamarindo! What do you want to do? Surf? Ride a zip line? Take an ATV tour of the beautiful backcountry? Go sportfishing? Be lazy all morning and then take an afternoon sailing cruise with snorkeling, food and drinks included? Try stand up paddleboarding? Kayak to the Captain Island in Tamarindo Bay and explore its desolate marine beauty?
We know, we know–it’s hard to decide! Our concierge is the expert at vacation planning and can help you determine the best picks for your group, family, or personal interests.
The important thing is, as always, not to miss the sunset. Because Costa Rica is so close to the equator, the sunset happens quickly. When you see the sun near the horizon, this is not the time to grab a quick shower or make a cocktail if you don’t want to miss the moment the orb sinks below the horizon. The most beautiful sunsets happen during the rainy season when the sky is full of clouds that act as screens, prisms, and reflectors, creating a kaleidoscope show that can go on for almost an hour after the sun itself is gone.
Hasta Luego, Costa Rica!
Day 7 is departure day. Depending on what time your flight leaves Liberia and what time the tide is high, you might be able to squeeze in an early surf or an early boat tour of the Las Baulas Estuary National Marine Park that creates Tamarindo’s north border. You could also go for a morning swim in the ocean, a beach walk, or a hike up one of Tamarindo’s hills to a lookout point.
As you’ve done some traveling this week, you now understand why you want to make sure to leave for the airport in plenty of time. Make sure you’ve gotten everything out of the safe in your Tamarindo hotel or vacation rental before you hit the road, and remember not to pack that bottle of Guaro in your carry-on.
We hate to see you go, but now that you know where we are and how much of Costa Rica you still would like to see and experience, we’re pretty sure we’ll see you again.