San José, Costa Rica
Ecotourism

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Our most recommended San José, Costa Rica Ecotourism

Poás Volcano, Coffee Plantation & La Paz Waterfall Gardens

1. Poás Volcano, Coffee Plantation & La Paz Waterfall Gardens

Experience Costa Rica's nature and culture on this full-day tour San José. Your first destination is the Doka Estate coffee plantation, where you'll learn all about the ancient techniques of producing some of the best coffee in Costa Rica and around the world. Experience the careful process involved in the cultivation, harvesting and roasting of the Golden Bean before tasting the delectable product. After your coffee tour, continue to Poás Volcano National Park, where there is a noticeable change in temperature and beautiful scenery in a cloud forest. Climb up Poás Volcano, an active stratovolcano that most recently erupted in 2017. The crater of the volcano is over a mile across and 1,050 feet deep, making for breathtaking views. Hike on a trail to the beautiful Botos Lagoon as you learn about the different ecosystems in the park. Then, continue to La Paz Waterfall Gardens and enjoy a buffet lunch of traditional Costa Rican dishes. After lunch, explore the lush tropical rainforest. See the flowing white rivers, spectacular waterfalls, birds, butterflies, monkeys, and hummingbirds before returning to San José.

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San José: Arenal Volcano, Hot Springs, & Zip Lining w/ Meals

2. San José: Arenal Volcano, Hot Springs, & Zip Lining w/ Meals

Tour the best locations in Costa Rica and learn about local life and culture from those who live there. Visit a coffee plantation, zip line, and soak in the hot springs at the base of the Adrenal Volcano. Take the scenic route to the Arenal Volcano and visit a coffee plantation along the way. Gain an insight into the world of Costa Rican coffee and taste one of the best coffees in the world. Arrive at the "La Paz" and "San Fernando" waterfalls and admire the exotic tropical birds of Costa Rica, including many species of hummingbirds and rare emerald toucanets. Take in the views at the San Fernando Waterfall observation point before heading to the "Iguana Bridge", where you will have the chance to spot iguanas, sloths, monkeys, and toucans. Stop for an authentic Costa Rican lunch in a restaurant located in "La Fortuna." Then, prepare for a zip-lining adventure in the local rainforest jungles with 9 canopy cables and a 50 meter (150 feet) rappel on the Arenal River. Learn about the culture while listening to a "Maleku" Indigenous tribe presentation from locals. Relax for a couple of hours in the Paradise Hot Springs at the base of Arenal Volcano, surrounded by tropical gardens followed by dinner.

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San Jose: Guided Nature Walk With Biologists Seeking Sloths

3. San Jose: Guided Nature Walk With Biologists Seeking Sloths

Departing from the nearby meeting point, visit the University of Costa Rica campus, home to some of the largest patches of forest in San Jose. Guided by young biologists, discover the nature hiding in the middle of Costa Rica's largest city. Experience wildlife you wouldn't have imagined existed minutes away from downtown.   On the first stop, you’ll look for resident and migratory birds, lots of incredible insects and amazing flowers. Then, see the largest indigenous stone sphere in San Jose, thought to derive from the extinct Diquis culture. Lastly, visit the main campus to seek out the friendly sloths climbing freely. The goal of this tour is to change the way tourism is done in Costa Rica, while supporting young scientists, researchers, and local entrepreneurs.

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San Jose: Tortuguero Park Day Tour with Breakfast & Lunch

4. San Jose: Tortuguero Park Day Tour with Breakfast & Lunch

The day begins with pickup from your accommodation in San Jose, Heredia, or Alajuela at 6:00 AM. On your way to breakfast, drive past rolling coffee plantations and admire the mountains of Braulio Carrillo National Park. At around 7:15 AM, stop for a traditional Costa Rican breakfast to set you up for the day's adventure. Enjoy fresh fruit juice, coffee, eggs, and the popular gallo pinto (a typical Central American rice and bean dish.) After breakfast visit a local banana plantation and learn about the process of growing and exporting fruit. At around 10:00 AM, leave the bus behind and hop onboard a boat as you cruise into the jungle of Tortuguero National Park. Surrounded by tropical rainforest, which covers over 29,000 hectares, soak up the magic of this luscious green landscape. As you sail along the jungle canals, see native green sea turtles, as well as other endangered animals such as sloths, monkeys, and manatees. There’s also countless colorful butterflies, toucans, herons, crocodiles, and more. Learn about each of the animals and their habitat in the jungle, as well as about local conservation efforts to protect them. Once you’ve worked up a bit of an appetite, enjoy a hearty buffet lunch. After lunch, take a relaxing stroll through Tortuguero Village where you’ll discover local life and learn about the history of the town and its residents. At the end of an unforgettable day, get back on the bus at around 3:30 PM and begin the return journey back to San Jose.

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From San Jose: 3-Day Tortuguero National Park Excursion

5. From San Jose: 3-Day Tortuguero National Park Excursion

Explore the protected Tortuguero National Park in the Limón Province, reachable only by airplane or boat. Take in the wealth of biodiversity in its eleven different habitats, including rainforest, mangrove forests, swamps, beaches, and lagoons. Trip itinerary: Day 1: After an early morning hotel pickup, admire the biodiversity of a primary forest through the window as you drive past Braulio Carrillo National Park. Sample a delicious Costa Rican breakfast during the drive. Mid-morning, board a comfortable boat and travel along the Tortuguero Canals. Be enchanted by the surrounding paradise and its varied flora and fauna. Then, enjoy a refreshing cocktail and a delicious lunch at the hotel. After lunch, tour the canals and take incredible photos for the rest of the afternoon. Arrive at Pachira Lodge (or similar) for a delightful dinner and a restful night's sleep. Day 2: Discover the flavors of Costa Rica with breakfast at the Lodge. Then, hike along the Lodge's private trail and work up an appetite for lunch. After lunch at the Lodge, visit the Sea Turtle Museum, the beach, and the picturesque village of Tortuguero. In the evening, enjoy dinner at the Lodge again. Day 3: After breakfast at the Lodge, head back to San José, stopping for lunch at El Ceibo in Guápiles on the way. Arrive back in San José in the afternoon.

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From San José: Monteverde Hanging Bridges Day Trip

6. From San José: Monteverde Hanging Bridges Day Trip

Your tour begins in the morning with pickup in the San José area. Then travel towards the northern part of the country on a very scenic drive, with great views of beautiful mountain ranges, local towns and farms, and the Pacific coast. On the way to Monteverde, enjoy multiple stops. Learn about local fruits at the largest fruit stand of the country. Explore a place where several monkeys are normally observed in the wild at a very close range. Photograph amazing landscapes from a lookout point. Once in Monteverde, savor a delicious lunch and then proceed to do the amazing hanging bridges tour in the cloud forest. Hike with your guide for two to three hours, admiring the beauties of this rare ecosystem and searching for the local wildlife, including monkeys, emerald toucans, coatimundis, and the rare resplendent quetzal, the most beautiful bird of Costa Rica. This hike is approximately 3km (1.9 miles) long and is mostly on flat terrain with a few mild climbs.  Late in the afternoon, return to your accommodation in San José or to your accommodation in central Monteverde. 

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San Jose: Monteverde Sky Tram & Hanging Bridges Day Tour

7. San Jose: Monteverde Sky Tram & Hanging Bridges Day Tour

Discover the lush Cloud Forests of Monteverde on this Sky Tram and Hanging Bridges trip from San Jose. Travel to the Northern Highlands of Costa Rica on a very scenic ride where you will get great views of mountains, farms, local towns and the Coast of the Puntarenas Province. See the largest fruit stand of the country, where you will see a large variety of tropical fruits. Visit the “Monkey Lady House” and several white-faced monkeys at very close range. Once in Monteverde, savor a delicious lunch and then proceed to ride on the Sky Tram, with great views of the whole Monteverde-Santa Elena area. Spend about 15-20 minutes at the highest look-out point, and then ride the Tram down for about 15 minutes.  Then, walk on the amazing Sky Walk Hanging Bridges in the Cloud Forest, where you will hike with your expert naturalist guide for about 2-3 hours, learning interesting aspects of the flora and fauna of this rare and endangered ecosystem.

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Manuel Antonio National Park Combo Tour from San Jose

8. Manuel Antonio National Park Combo Tour from San Jose

On your way to Manuel Antonio, stop to have breakfast in a local restaurant located next to the biggest fruit market in the country where you'll be able to observe the large variety of tropical fruits in Costa Rica. Continue your journey with a stop at the popular crocodile bridge where you will have the chance to observe one of Costa Rica’s biggest crocodile’s populations.    Search for scarlet macaws in their natural habitat on Tarcoles Beach, a common sight in the area. Then, stop at the Jaco Bay lookout point and take pictures of Costa Rica’s most popular coastal town. Once in Manuel Antonio, hike the rainforest trails of the national park with your guide for about 1 hour and search for local wild animals commonly observed here, including monkeys, sloths, toucans, agoutis, and more.   After hiking, enjoy free time to relax on the pristine beaches of the Manuel Antonio National Park, swim in the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean, or continue hiking on the longer rainforest trails in the park. The longer trails are a little challenging, but they provide amazing lookout points with views of islands and coves along the beautiful coastline, as well as further opportunities to observe more of the local wildlife.   Next, savor a delicious typical lunch in a restaurant that provides great jungle and ocean views, the perfect environment to enjoy your meal. Lunch will be served in the early afternoon around 2 PM, after which you will be taken back to your hotel in San Jose.

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San Jose: Sloth and Wildlife Rescue Center Tour

9. San Jose: Sloth and Wildlife Rescue Center Tour

This private tour is rich with the individual stories of rescued wildlife, including those of a large variety of parrots, macaws, owls, sloths, spider monkeys, and more. The experience offers guests insight into the significance of conservation, as well as facts about rainforest wildlife and what it means to run a wildlife rescue center. Departing from San Jose or nearby provinces, visit an animal rescue center that specializes in rehabilitating injured sloths and learn everything about these amazing animals. The Toucan Rescue Ranch’s (TRR) mission is to rescue, rehabilitate, and then release Costa Rican wildlife. TRR works with a model that focuses on conservation, education, and research to ensure a brighter tomorrow for native wildlife.

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San José: La Paz Waterfall Gardens Private Day Tour

10. San José: La Paz Waterfall Gardens Private Day Tour

Embark on a full-day private tour of the La Paz Waterfall Gardens, the top nature park and wildlife refuge attraction in Costa Rica. Take in the fresh air of the mountain rainforest. Hike through its beautiful waterfalls and spot rare animals on this day trip. The tour begins at your hotel where your guide will meet you. Hop on a luxury air-conditioned vehicle for a 1-hour drive along scenic roads. Pass quaint villages on your way to the beautiful complex of La Paz Waterfall Gardens. La Paz Waterfall Gardens is the most-visited private ecological attraction in Costa Rica. It features the best hiking trails near San José. The eco-park houses a rescued wildlife preserve with over 100 animal species. Enjoy 5 waterfalls, cloud and rain forests, and hiking trails accompanied by your naturalist tour guide. Make the most of their environmental education program. Spot numerous species of birds in the aviary. Partake in toucan feeding, insect exhibit, butterfly observatory, and hummingbird hand-feeding. You can also visit the serpentarium and a traditional house with a petting zoo and ox cart. Give your feet a break by stopping for a delicious buffet lunch. Feast on traditional Costa Rican dishes, complete with a salad bar, pizza, garlic bread, French fries, fresh fruits, and rice pudding. Make this food experience perfect with an unlimited serving of fresh fruit juice, coffee, and tea. After exploring all the unique attractions of the eco-park, return to your hotel in San José by the middle of the afternoon.

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Other Sightseeing Options in San José, Costa Rica

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What people are saying about San José, Costa Rica

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 40 reviews

Animal lovers rejoice! Oscar was an outstanding guide. Our small group saw all three kinds of monkeys, countless reptiles, SLOTHS galore, and some of the coolest spiders, butterflies, and other insects I've ever seen. That's just the wildlife. The meals included with the trip are perfect. Begins with a desayuna tipica, then after you work up a real appetite in the national park, a protein-of-choice lunch, also in typical style, but served on the top floor of a gorgeous resort overlooking the beaches and the park you just enjoyed. Lovely to revisit all the animals from above while enjoying a hearty meal. Frequent stops along the way to see crocodiles and macaws and whenever the guide notices something worth checking out. Great way to see the central West Coast of Costa Rica and still make it back to your hotel by sunset.

highly recommended day trip! a fantastic tour of a coffee plantation, poas volcano & la paz waterfalls. the volcano crater was super cool to see and the series of waterfalls were beautiful. always great to do this type of tour in a small group to have the opportunity to interact with others in the group...and especially the tour leader. in our case, Erick had a great interactive personality, was super knowledgeable and shared info about Costa Rica and the sites we visited. what a great experience!

This was a relaxing yet highly informative tour! Our guide Luis graduated from the University of Costa Rica and was very knowledgeable and passionate about the biodiversity in the area. He explained so many cool facts about fungi, flowers and birds with unmatched enthusiasm. We were all surprised at just how much wildlife we were able to see in the middle of the city. We had such a wonderful time and would love to visit again!

Wonderful experience our guide was sensational great personality great attitude great knowledge of the ecological environment around us. She was amazing and I enjoyed our group very much. There’s no way I could see it going any better than it did. Thank you

Our tour guide Gladys was excellent!! Her. Enthusiasm and happiness is contagious. We had the opportunity to see four sloths and many birds. I recomend i