San José, Costa Rica
Outdoor Activities

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Our most recommended San José, Costa Rica Outdoor Activities

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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From San José: Monteverde Hanging Bridges Day Trip

3. 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: Irazú Volcano, Cartago City & Orosi Valley Tour

4. San Jose: Irazú Volcano, Cartago City & Orosi Valley Tour

Start with pickup from your hotel and travel by minibus along the Panamerican Highway until you reach the base of the Irazú Volcano. Travel up the winding road through fertile farmlands where many types of fruit and vegetables are cultivated. Enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding hills and valleys. At the summit of the volcano, on a clear day, marvel at the spectacular view of both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Next, descend to the city of Cartago and stop at the Virgin of the Angels Basilica. Discover this local pilgrimage site which has large vaulted ceilings and exquisite examples of stained glass windows.  Continue the tour through the Orosi Valley, an area of magnificent natural beauty. Visit one of the few remaining colonial churches in the region and stop for a tasty typical lunch at one of the local restaurants. Finally, be returned to your hotel to complete the tour.

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Manuel Antonio National Park Combo Tour from San Jose

5. 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 José: La Paz Waterfall Gardens Private Day Tour

6. 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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San Jose: Cartago Highlights, Irazu Volcano & Hot Springs

7. San Jose: Cartago Highlights, Irazu Volcano & Hot Springs

Ascend to the top of the Irazu Volcano at 11,260 ft, learn about the history of Costa Rica at the Ujarras Ruins, Orosi Valley, church & museum. Relax and Explore the beautiful gardens at the Rio Perlas Hotel, and enjoy the thermal pool. Begin your tour with a one-hour minivan transfer to the summit of Irazu, which is still an active volcano. Don't worry though, the volcano has only experienced occasional minor eruptions and some small lava flows in the last 50 years. Gaze at the Main Crater lake which has an unusual greenish yellow coloring caused by rainfall dissolving the minerals along the walls of the crater. Visit the four other craters including the Diego de la Haya crater. Admire panoramic views from the top, which on a rare clear day looks out onto both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Explore the national park which is home to local wildlife including armadillos, owls, rabbits, foxes, woodpeckers, and hummingbirds. After, head to the beautiful Orosi Valley and town. See the iconic Orosi Church and some of the country's most historic landmarks, including the Iglesia de San Jose de Orosi, the oldest church in the country. Get an insight into the rich culture and history of classic Spanish-colonial architecture and the area from your expert local guide. Finally, complete your journey by traveling to Rio Perlas, a beautiful hotel and hot springs complex where you can have a tasty lunch and enjoy the thermal pool, gardens, and rainforest.

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Braulio Carrillo: Rainforest Tram & Nature Walk Private Tour

8. Braulio Carrillo: Rainforest Tram & Nature Walk Private Tour

Visit Costa Rica’s most adventurous and nature-rich spots on this private guided trip, including lunch. Get a unique perspective of the local flora and fauna on a guided walking tour and tram ride through the rainforest at the Braulio Carrillo National Park.  Begin your adventure with pickup followed by a drive through the Costa Rican countryside. Head to the Caribbean Slope, crossing the Braulio Carrillo National Park. Arrive at a private property in the Guapiles Region, about a 75-minute drive from San José. Enjoy some free time before boarding a gondola (traditional rowing boat) for your rainforest exploration. Hop on open-sided vehicles from the parking area to the Visitor's Center while getting an introduction to the forest. Pass a small river and numerous tree snags. After a quick briefing on canopy exploration and the construction of the tram, take a short nature walk with a trained naturalist guide. Walk along trails that are well-groomed and provide an excellent introduction to the rainforest. Next, board the aerial tram for an approximately 1 hour and 15 minute ride. During your ride, listen as your guide points out orchids and different species of trees and identifies the calls of the birds that inhabit this unique environment.  Skim over hilltops and in and out of the sub-canopy, a dark world of overburdened tree limbs dripping with mosses, ferns, and orchids. See lianas and vines draped over branches and across forest spaces acting as highways for birds and insects. On the return route, witness the most dramatic portion of the trip as the cars glide on a breath-taking journey through and above the airy canopy. After the ride, enjoy a Costa Rican lunch before drop-off back at your hotel.

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San Jose: Crocodile Safari Expedition and Nature Walk

9. San Jose: Crocodile Safari Expedition and Nature Walk

Head out into the river on an exclusive and unique boat tour in the river with a naturalist guide. Get up close to American crocodiles and observe a variety of exotic birds. Take a walk in the Carara National Park, see the rich wildlife, and learn more about biodiversity in this fascinating region of the Central Pacific Coast. Your breathtaking adventure begins with a relaxing 90-minute private drive from San Jose, through the wonderful Costa Rican countryside with air-conditioned transportation. Arrive at Tarcoles River, home to one of the world’s largest crocodile populations in the wild. Get up-close with American crocodiles of all sizes, and observe an abundance of beautiful exotic birds on a 90-minute boat tour. Enjoy spectacular rainforest scenery and cruise through dense mangrove forest canals. Spot jungle wildlife such as iguanas, lizards, and monkeys. Tuck into a delicious lunch and explore the souvenir store, before continuing to the Carara National Park. Go deep inside the rainforest in this rich and unique ecosystem, where many beautiful wildlife species are common to see such as the Scarlet macaw, monkeys, snakes, armadillos, and over 1,400 species of plants. After this great safari, return to your hotel in San Jose.

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San Jose: Doka Estate Coffee & La Paz Waterfalls Garden Tour

10. San Jose: Doka Estate Coffee & La Paz Waterfalls Garden Tour

Immerse yourself in Costa Rican coffee, nature, and wildlife on a guided tour to Doka Estate coffee plantation and La Paz Waterfall Gardens. Begin your adventure with a hotel pickup and a relaxing private drive through the Costa Rican countryside. Pass by coffee plantations, sugar cane and citrus plantations, diverse fruit stands, and rural farming communities. Your guide will point out these sights of interest to you. After a 45-minute drive to Alajuela Province, enter the grand Doka Estate. Explore the lush surroundings before commencing the coffee tour. Learn about the step-by-step development process of plants up to the final point of grain collection. Find out about the estate’s history, its owners, the plant varieties, and the area’s geography. Get an insight into the ancient techniques used by the experts to produce some of the best-tasting coffee. Continue to your next destination, the La Paz Waterfall Gardens, which is a short drive away. This scenic nature park is home to more than 100 species of animals. Your naturalist tour guide will take you through trails that lead to 5 waterfalls. Appreciate the flowing white rivers, birds, butterflies, monkeys, and hummingbirds. Stop at educational animal exhibits. Visit a traditional house with a petting zoo and ox cart. Admire the flora and fauna of the tropical rainforest, complete with an orchid and heliconia exhibit. After building up an appetite in the ecological park, make a stop for a delicious buffet lunch. The spread includes multiple selections of traditional Costa Rican dishes, salad bar, pizza, french fries, fresh fruits, rice pudding. Enjoy this gastronomic experience with unlimited fresh fruit juice, coffee, and tea. Conclude your trip by mid-afternoon with a full belly. Take in the picturesque landscape before heading back to your hotel in San José.

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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

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!

Fernando Moos was a wonderful and excellent guide, full of heart and passion for the nature of the country, simply highly recommended

It was amazing. My wife and I really enjoyed ourselves. We're looking forward to coming back. Yordan was an awesome guide.

Wonderful nature, unique and fantastically beautiful, highly recommended