Planning a Trip to Costa Rica: Our Itinerary

Costa Rica has been on our list of places to visit for so long, especially after having to cancel planned trips several times in the past few years. We finally made it to this country known for “Pura Vida!”! During our trip, we spent time touring Guanacaste and the Nicoya Peninsula. In this post, we share our itinerary to help you plan your trip to Costa Rica. Also check out our related post “Planning a trip to Costa Rica: 10 tips“!

Our Itinerary:

  • Inbound Flight: We flew from YVR – Vancouver to YYC – Calgary and then onwards to LIR – Daniel Oduber Liberia International Airport on WestJet using a companion fare. We accessed the Plaza Premium Lounge at YVR and the WestJet elevation Lounge in Calgary.
Taking off from Liberia
  • Liberia: We spent one night in Liberia at the Hilton Garden Inn and had dinner in Liberia. The Hilton Garden Inn is a standard airport hotel but has a nice pool and outdoor space but the rooms do not have balconies and are a little outdated; we would stay again but not for more than a few nights. There is not much to see and do in Liberia but we decided to stay and check it out nonetheless and enjoyed dinner at a local outdoor grill restaurant, Parrilladas Cordero and visited a couple of the craft breweries located by the airport (Numu Brewing and Papagayo Brewing). Another option is the Liberia Social Club but it was temporarily closed when we visited. Adobe Rent a Car Liberia dropped off our rental car at the Hilton for us, which was nice!
  • W Reserva Conchal: We spent 5 nights at the W Reserva Conchal using Marriott Bonvoy points. We spent lots of time relaxing at the W Reserva Conchal and enjoying the beach here in addition to using our rental car to explore the surrounding areas (Brasilito, Potrero, Flamingo, Las Colinas, Tamarindo).

Here are some food/drink recommendations if you are staying in the area:

  1. Little Lucha in Tamarindo: Decent tacos and margaritas.
  2. Las Olas Brewing Brasilito: Nice beer garden, good beers, and food like barbecue and patacones.
  3. Shrimp Hole in Tamarindo: Seafood meals like poke and grilled shrimp, and amazing passionfruit cheesecake.
  4. Handle Bar in Tamarindo: Fun spot for beer, bikes and snacks.
  5. El Jardin Tamarindo Food Truck Park: A food truck park with lots of food and drink options.
  6. Chop It in Tamarindo: Really good empanadas to enjoy on the beach.
  7. BOA Brewing: Brothers of Ale Brewing has beer and some decent food.
  8. Gracia La Vid: A cute wood fired pizza restaurant with outdoor seating.
  9. Gracia At Mar Vista: A tapas focused menu and offers nice views. Not sure about the tour busses that show up to use the pool though.
  10. AutoMercado: One of the better grocery store chains in Costa Rica.
  • Santa Teresa: We drove to Santa Teresa in the Nicoya Peninsula. It took us about 5 hours due to traffic and stopping for gas. There is no gas in Santa Teresa so fuel up in Cobano if you need gas. Overall, it was a pleasant drive and it was easy to deal with the gas station as they accepted credit card and we tipped with cash. Beyond Cobano, the drive is best done with a 4X4. We spent 5 nights at Mint Santa Teresa, a small boutique hotel. We spent lots of time enjoying the beach and Santa Teresa’s dining scene. We also rented an ATV and went to Montezuma for the day. The beach with the calmest waves to swim and learn to surf is Playa Hermosa.

Here are a few food/drink recommendations in the Santa Teresa/Montezuma are:

  1. Chori Not Dead: a super fun place to enjoy choripan, cocktails and music. There is also a pizza place attached that looks good.
  2. Chicken Joe’s: Homestyle Peruvian food, like rotisserie chicken with sides and ceviche.
  3. La Cevicheria: The best ceviche! You can choose your seafood, style and spice level.
  4. Kook’s Smokehouse and Bar: Good spot for drinks and barbecue food.
  5. Rocamar: Nice spot for drinks (non-alcoholic and alcoholic), and some snacks like yucca fries and tacos.
  6. Koji’s: A casual spot for sushi using fresh local fish but a little pricey.
  7. Playa de los Artistas in Montezuma: A lovely place to have lunch by the sea. The menu is Mediterranean-inspired with local ingredients.
  • Andaz Papagayo: We drove to the Papagayo Peninsula from Santa Teresa and it took us about 4.5 hours. The best spot to make a pit stop is Nicoya for food is at the small service centre, Plaza Amara with a few businesses and clean restroom facilities: Arepas Nicoya for arepas and ice cream from Pops are better options than KFC and Burger King. We spent 3 nights at the Andaz Papagayo using Hyatt Rewards points. We spent most of our time exploring the Papagayo Peninsula and the Andaz property but made a trip to Playa Coco which we were not very impressed by due to how “tacky touristy” it was in general but we did enjoy lunch at Numu Brewing and dinner at Buzzed Monkey BBQ and Grill, and did some shopping at AutoMercado.
  • Rio Perdido Thermal River and Hotel: It took us about 1.5 hours to drive to Rio Perdido from Bagaces. The last 5 kilometers of the road are rough and best suited for a 4X4 but you have to drive super slow due to the massive potholes regardless of what vehicle you are driving. We picked up some supplies, water, snacks, and beer on our way as there isn’t anything close by. We spent two night at Rio Perdido in Bagaces enjoying being in the jungle, swimming in the thermal river and pool, walking around the resort grounds, and the delicious food and beverages at the resort (they actually had craft beer on tap!). It took us about 1 hour to drive back to the Liberia area to catch our fight home.
  • Outbound Flight: We flew from LIR – Daniel Oduber Liberia International Airport to YUL – Montreal and then onwards to YVR – Vancouver on Air Canada using Aeroplan points. We accessed the VIP Lounge Liberia using Priority Pass.

Summary:

Overall, we are very happy with our itinerary and all the things we got to experience. We look forward to visiting Costa Rica again in the future to explore more and find new favorites!

Do you have any questions about our itinerary?

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