Planning a honeymoon while you’re in the midst of wedding planning can be exhausting, and these one-in-a-lifetime trips aren’t getting any cheaper. But, you’re supposed to enjoy your honeymoon, not stress over it! It’s the first exotic adventure you’ll embark on as a married couple, and the perfect kick-off to oodles of wedded bliss. All you need is a solid plan, a few expert tips, and maybe the guidance of a professional honeymoon planner, if that feels right.
Blissfully beachy and romantic in a wild and exotic sort of way, Costa Rica’s an ideal choice for honeymooners looking for something just a little bit different.
Costa Rica is immensely beautiful and packed with breathtaking landscapes – two beautiful coastlines, majestic volcanoes, misty cloud forests, and pristine jungles teeming with exotic wildlife. There’s so much to do and see, and with a seemingly endless selection of luxury boutique hotels and resorts, it’s hard to know where to start. That’s where we come in!
Best Costa Rica Honeymoon Packages
If the planning process isn’t for you, and you’d rather hand all the details off to a professional, there are a multitude of options. You could go bespoke, and let a honeymoon expert craft a trip tailored to you and your partner’s budget and wish list, or pick an off-the-shelf private itinerary that looks like a good fit. Here are some of our favorites:
Planning the Perfect Honeymoon in Costa Rica
Unless you’re booking a group trip, our top piece of honeymoon planning advice is to start early!
Whether or not you engage a travel agency to help you out, an early start on things – 6 to 8 months before your planned departure – can mean the difference between getting the room you want and being forced to book a sub-standard room at whichever hotel is still available.
There are a number of specialized boutique resorts in Costa Rica that cater specifically to honeymooners and couples. It’s not unusual for these types of hotels to book up months in advance, particularly during the high season, between December and March.
If you’re open to going the group trip route, the waiting game might pay off. Similar to all-inclusive resorts, it’s not unusual for group tour operators to offer unbelievable last-minute deals on package trips, and you might be able to get between 30-50% off, providing your trip dates are flexible.
When to Go
The best time to visit Costa Rica is just after the rainy season (December through January). The Pacific coast is lush, green and not too hot. As the dry season progresses, it can become uncomfortably hot in the lowlands and along coastal regions, waterfalls and rivers dry up, and vegetation in the northwestern region begins to die off. This is the best time for bird watching in the rainforests, and snorkeling along the Caribbean, where the waters are calmer and clearer.
For the right traveler, the rainy season (May to November) is also a great time to visit. Hotels often offer reduced rates during the low season, the landscape becomes super lush and green, and the rains are not as bad as they sound, with showers normally occurring in the afternoon and at night. In our opinion, the best time to honeymoon in Costa Rica is during shoulder season, in either May or November. You’ll likely get to benefit from reduced hotel rates and fewer crowds, yet still enjoy great weather most days.
Christmas, New Years and Easter (called Semana Santa in Latin America) are the biggest holidays in Costa Rica, and during these times, locals flock to the beaches, meaning hotels are at capacity and charge premium rates. Many local stores and businesses close down during these periods, and tourist attractions become busy and overcrowded.
Getting to Costa Rica
From North America: several airlines offer direct and connecting flights to Costa Rica’s two international airports: Juan Santamaría International Airport in San José (airport code: SJO) and Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport in Liberia (airport code: LIR). Including connection time, flights from the USA typically range from 3 to 9 hours in duration. Most flights from Canada range from 9 to 15 hours in duration. Recently, Canadian air carrier WestJet began offering direct flights between Liberia and Toronto and Calgary, providing the first non-stop flights between to Costa Rica from Canada, which range in flight time from roughly 5 to 7 hours.
From the UK: there are currently no direct flights to Costa Rica from the UK, but there are several flight options connecting in the United States and/or Canada. Including connection time, flights from the UK typically range from 12 to 18 hours in duration.
Most international flights land in San José, though the number and frequency of direct international flights arriving to Liberia – the gateway to the beaches of Guanacaste and the Nicoya Peninsula – is increasing. If you’re planning to spend all, or most of your honeymoon exploring Guanacaste, it makes sense to fly into Liberia. It will save you the cost of a separate flight to and from San José, or around 5 hours in a car or bus.
San José is a better option if you plan to visit Manuel Antonio, the Central Pacific coast, the Caribbean lowlands and coast, or the Osa Peninsula.
How to Get Around
While it may be true that sometimes, “it’s the journey, not the destination”, most honeymooners don’t want to deal with long layovers, multiple stops, bus changes, and hours on bumpy dirt roads to get where they’re going. Luckily, Costa Rica has a well-developed tourism framework, and it’s easy to get around, with several methods of transportation to take you from Point A to Point B.
The country’s major touristic sites are spread out, spanning coast to coast and top to bottom, so it’s not unusual for honeymooners to use a few different methods to get around over the course of their trip.
Domestic flights: domestic airline Sansa Airlines operates out of San José's Juan Santamaría International Airport, offering flights on “puddle jumper” propeller planes to destinations throughout Costa Rica. It’s an ideal way to avoid long driving days required for longer journeys (say, to the Osa Peninsula or Tortuguero), but there are a couple of things to watch out for. You’ll be weighed with your luggage, and the baggage rules are generally very strict, meaning hefty fees for excess baggage if you overpack. Flight schedules also change frequently and without notice. Delays are common due to inclement weather, so don’t book a domestic flight that will make a tight connection with your international flight.
Public buses: local buses operate throughout Costa Rica, mainly in urban centers including San José, Puntarenas, San Isidro de El General, Golfito and Limón. There is also an extensive bus network that runs throughout the country to remote destinations, though many routes may only have one or two departures per day. Local buses will get you to where you need to go, at the expense of comfort and convenience, with most routes picking up passengers on the street along main roads, and allowing as many people to pile on as can fit. The ride can get hot, crowded and uncomfortable on long journeys, so arrive early and try to get a seat. Bus terminals and stations are often busy and chaotic, the perfect place for pickpocketing and purse snatching. Always mind your belongings.
Rent a car: In general, the roads in Costa Rica are poor, and it is recommended that you spring for a four-wheel-drive, particularly if you are exploring areas not along the main tourist trail. The Pacific Coast is the most beautiful area to travel by car, and the highways along the coast are well-maintained. Gasoline (petrol) is widely available, and you can find 24-hour stations along the Interamericana. In more remote areas, fuel may be sold out of homes or at neighborhood corner stores.
Car rentals are generally inexpensive, but shop around. The international airport in San José has several rental car facilities onsite, and Liberia also has a few. Lots of agencies have small satellite offices dispersed throughout Costa Rica, but there is often a fee to drop a car off at a different location than where you picked it up. Get unlimited mileage, carefully inspect rental cars for minor damage and ensure any damage is noted on the agreement. Costa Rican rental car insurance is required by law, even if you have other insurance, through credit cards or auto policies at home, and usually costs somewhere in the range of $15 to $25 per day. Most insurance policies do not cover damage caused by flooding or driving through rivers, so verify the extent of your policy before doing any off-roading.
Though the road system in Costa Rica is uncomplicated and easy to navigate outside of San José, GPS is helpful. You may have coverage on your cell phone, or can download the Costa Rica roadmap from Google Maps before your trip. Alternatively, most car rental agencies will have GPS units that can be rented on a daily or weekly basis.
Taxis and shuttles: Hiring taxis or arranging shuttle buses ahead of time is an increasingly popular way of navigating Costa Rica. Small, private companies will pick you up at your airport or hotel and transfer you to your next destination. There are several shuttles per day from destinations all over Costa Rica, and the rides are reliable, comfortable and usually air-conditioned. Some even have WiFi!
In San José, taxis are metered, and it is illegal for drivers not to use them. Outside the capital, most taxis do not have meters and fares should be agreed upon in advance. Bartering is common. Taxi drivers are not normally tipped unless they assist with luggage or have provided exceptional service.
Private drivers: similar to the shuttle companies, private drivers are available throughout Costa Rica. They’re also usually small, private companies, and will pick you up and offer door-to-door service to your next destination. Significantly more expensive than shuttle companies, these are most appropriate for guests who want to be able to dictate where they stop along the way, or for groups of five or more traveling together.
Costa Rica Honeymoon budget & Average Costs
Though located in Central America, Costa Rica is significantly more expensive than neighboring Nicaragua, and a honeymoon here requires a budget more in line with that of a trip to a Central European country than other countries in Central America.
Still, Costa Rica honeymoon costs can vary, depending on your travel style, length of stay, the number of destinations you visit, and the activities you choose to include.
If you’ve been daydreaming about a luxury getaway with five-star hotels, private drivers, and three gourmet meals per day, your budget will be much higher than if you book an out-of-the-way Airbnb, or a private room in a guesthouse and eat most of your meals at small local restaurants, called sodas. Make the most of your budget by saving where you can – food, shuttles, and shared tours – and splurge on a couple of nights of luxury at an upscale hotel. It is your honeymoon, after all!
Ten days in Costa Rica is long enough to visit most of the major tourist areas without feeling rushed, but you can easily spend two weeks or longer here without getting bored. With so much to see and do in a place like Costa Rica, most honeymooners visit at least two destinations, often splitting their time between jungle and beach. It’s tempting to try to fit as much as you can in, but more than three destinations over the span of a week might turn out to be more than you bargain for. Distances can be deceptive here – even when destinations look close on a map, the poor road conditions in some areas may turn a 20-kilometer drive into an hour-long ordeal. Add travel time, and the process of unpacking and re-packing at each hotel, and you may spend more time doing that than actually exploring.
Flights to Costa Rica: USD $500 - $2,000 for two people
Where you depart from and the time of year has a big impact on the cost of flights. Prices from the northern US states and Canada will typically cost between $500 and $700, though there are occasionally amazing deals (like $350 round trip from Canada). Flights from the southern US states generally cost between $250 and $500, though low-cost carriers might have cheaper flights available. During holiday periods including Christmas, Easter and spring break, flight prices often double.
For the best prices on flights, book three months to six weeks before your departure.
Hotel Cost for a One Week Costa Rica Honeymoon: USD $1,200- $8,500+
Accommodation is usually the biggest honeymoon expense, but if you’re flexible with where you stay, there are a wide range of options that will fit nearly any budget – anything from hostels to Airbnb to high-end luxury eco-lodges. If you plan to spend most of your days exploring, a mid-range or budget option makes sense. A hotel pool with a swim-up bar and a view sounds nice, but don’t waste money on amenities and add-ons if you won’t be using them anyway.
Still, it’s nice to be pampered, and if you’ve got room in your budget, it’s worth a splurge on an upscale stay in a unique location. Book a stay in a hotel with a private in-suite plunge pool, a great spa, or an expansive ocean-view deck. You won’t regret it, we promise.
Food & Drink Costs in Costa Rica: USD $400 - $1,000 for two people for a week
Most hotels in Costa Rica include breakfast – usually an option of American fare or a tasty Tica breakfast with gallo pinto, plantains, and eggs to your liking – and remote lodges like Copa del Arbol, Lapa Rios and Pacuare Lodge, will include meal packages with your stay, but for the most part, you’ll be on your own for lunch and dinner.
Local restaurants or sodas offer cheap typical meals (called casados) that consist of rice and beans, cheese, plantain, your choice of meat, and a small side salad with lettuce or cabbage, for as low as $5 to $7 per plate. In more upscale restaurants that cater to tourists, expect to pay between $18 and $25 per person per meal, including a drink.
Transportation Costs in Costa Rica: USD $200 - $1,000+ for two people for a week
If you rent a car, limit your trip to one destination, or use public buses to get around, transportation is cheap. Car rentals cost roughly $10 to $25 per day, plus daily insurance of around $25. Public buses are the most economical option, and you can get around most of the country for less than $10 each way.
Shared tourist shuttles are the next cheapest option, ranging in price from $20 to $125 per person depending on the destination and how far you have to go. In some cases, particularly for travel to and from the capital, domestic flights may be cheaper than tourist shuttles, so take the time to check out all of your options before you book.
For a once-in-a-lifetime splurge, chartered helicopter and plane flights can also be arranged, starting at $1,000 and ranging up to $6,500 per leg.
Average Budget for a Week Long Honeymoon in Costa Rica
Budget: $2,000 ($1,000 per person)
Mid-Range: $3,800+ ($1,900 per person)
Luxury: $8,000+ ($4,000 per person)
Ultra-Luxury: $25,000 ($12,500 per person)
Best Luxury Costa Rica Honeymoon Resorts & Hotels
1. Arenas del Mar, Manuel Antonio
Perched high on a ridge overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Costa Rica’s famed Manuel Antonio National Park, the exquisitely luxurious Arenas del Mar is a 38-room beachfront resort surrounded by 11 acres of private rainforest reserve. With direct access to the beach, two swimming pools, two onsite restaurants and a full-service spa, Arenas del Mar is the ideal location for rest and relaxation.
2. Kurà Design Villas, Uvita
Designed to make the most of its breathtaking surroundings, overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Uvita’s fabled Whale’s Tail sandbar, Kurà Design Villas consists of open-air spaces and walls and windows which fold away to open out to the expanse of blue, where ocean and sky merge. Each spacious, air-conditioned suite features a shaded deck with a hammock and seating area, open-concept design, and iconic glass showers so you can bathe while looking out at the ocean. The hotel’s salt-water infinity pool is a highlight; with 180° views over the rainforest and Pacific, it is the perfect spot to watch a dynamic show of fiery colors come dusk.
3. Lapa Rios, Cabo Matapalo, Osa Peninsula
Lapa Rios is one of the few places in the world that truly manages to marry luxury and remoteness on a grand scale. After arrival, you will find yourself looking out over the wild and wonderful rainforests of the Osa Peninsula, to the Pacific Ocean, in a place of quiet beauty. Called the “most biologically intense place on earth” by National Geographic, this remarkable location offers some of the best wildlife viewing in the Americas, with monkeys, scarlet macaws, toucans, and sloths making daily appearances on the grounds.
4. Nayara & Nayara Springs, La Fortuna
An intimate adults-only luxury boutique hotel, Nayara Hotel is located just minutes from downtown La Fortuna, but feels a world away from civilization. Sink into the total comfort of meticulously designed suites defined by a blend of luscious textures and contemporary details. Each suite boasts an unparalleled volcano view and private terrace complete with a plunge pool, seamlessly integrating the grandeur of nature with the hotel’s luxurious, elegant décor.
5. Pacuare Lodge, Pacuare River
Tucked deep within 25,000 acres of pristine, protected rainforest on the banks of the Pacuare River, this intimate luxury lodge is a picturesque base ideally located for exploring some of Costa Rica’s best and wildest terrain. Dense vegetation frames the lodge, providing shelter to a slew of wildlife, including jaguars, monkeys, sloths and hundreds of species of birds. Elevated, thatched-roof bungalows blend harmoniously with the lush surroundings, and provide luxury in the wilderness, alongside its farm-to-table restaurant and luxe Jawa Juü Spa.
The Top Costa Rica Honeymoon Destinations
It may seem daunting to put together a Costa Rica honeymoon itinerary that makes sense. Generally, we recommend splitting your time between jungle and beach, adventure and relaxation. Most of our clients, visit two to three destinations on a 10 day Costa Rica honeymoon, giving them sufficient time to unpack and relax at each location before they need to move on to the next one.
1. La Fortuna and Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica
For most of La Fortuna’s history, it has been a quiet agricultural town, situated six kilometers (3.7 miles) from the base of the majestic Arenal Volcano. In 1968, after nearly 400 years of dormancy, Arenal erupted violently, burying the small villages of Pueblo Nuevo, San Luís and Tabacón. Overnight, tourists from around the globe descended en masse to see the fiery eruptions by night, and though the volcano stopped spewing lava in 2010, La Fortuna remains one of the top destinations in Costa Rica to this day.
Centered around a small park with a church and manicured gardens, the town itself is unremarkable, apart from phenomenal views of the volcano, but the essentials are easy to find – restaurants and bars, supermarkets, souvenir shops, and a gas station. There is little in the way of nightlife with most people opting for a night at the hot springs instead of a night at the bar, but don’t despair! A small but vibrant nightlife scene in La Fortuna includes a couple of reggae bars and one of Costa Rica’s biggest dance clubs.
As Costa Rica’s adventure capital, the word romantic may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you arrive to this enchanting area, but you’ll soon change your mind. After days spent hiking, horseback riding, waterfall rappelling, zip lining, and whitewater rafting, there’s nothing quite like indulging in a passionfruit smoothie (or a cocktail – it’s your honeymoon after all), as the sky turns pink, and the sun sets beyond the volcano. Then, after dark, while your evening away in one of many steamy volcanic hot springs before you retire to a perfect honeymoon suite in one of the area’s beautiful hotels.
Where to Stay in Arenal
Mid-Range: Arenal Observatory Lodge from $121/night
Mid-Range: Hotel Silencio del Campo from $182/night
Luxury: Leaves and Lizards Arenal Volcano Retreat from $285/night
Luxury: Nayara Resort Spa & Gardens from $475/night
Luxury: Nayara Springs from $600/night
Luxury: Tabacón Thermal Resort & Spa from $310/night
Best known for its waves, the quirky little beach town of Dominical on Costa Rica’s Central Pacific has long been a favorite destination for those looking for an off-the-beaten-path experience, attracting a motley crew of surfers, backpackers, and sun worshippers. For a long time, the only way to get to town was to travel dusty, pitted stretch of dirt road south of Manuel Antonio, keeping the less adventurous travelers at bay. Though the development of the Costanera Sur highway has brought a buzz of development and with it, hordes of fresh faces to the area, Dominical has maintained its laid-back, beachy vibe, with unpaved roads and free from big chain resorts and fast food restaurants.
The beach fronting Dominical is one of the best surfing beaches in Costa Rica, offering consistent waves, great for both beginner and experienced surfers. The dark rocky stretch of sand meanders along the coastline for 4 kilometers (2.5 miles), with deep blue water lining one side, and jungle-covered hills sloping up the other, and the further you walk, the quieter the beach becomes – you won’t be sharing the sand with more than a handful of bathers at any given time. Though this isn’t the prettiest beach in Costa Rica, sunsets here are spectacular, and as twilight comes calling, locals and tourists alike congregate on the beach, beer in hand, to watch the sun dip below the horizon.
Where to Stay in Dominical
3. Manuel Antonio
The small seaside village of Manuel Antonio is famous for its national park, and though it is tiny, the village is bustling with packs of tourists, street vendors, and guides hunting for clients to take into the park. The best time to visit the town is during low season or on a Monday when the park is closed – the town transforms into a quiet, sedate, relaxing place, with waves lapping at the white sands of Playa Espadilla and La Playita, both open to the public even when the park is closed.
Do not miss Manuel Antonio National Park, even if you have to fight the crowds. The payoff is worth it! Inside the gates, a short walk down a service road, the park contains some of the most perfect white sand beaches in the entire country, protected coves with turquoise water and powdery sand lined with palm trees filled with white-faced monkeys and backed by thick, lush jungle. It really is paradise.
Where to Stay in Manuel Antonio
Mid-Range: Buena Vista Beach Villas from $185/night
Mid-Range: Hotel Plaza Yara from $110/night
Luxury: Arenas del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort from $240/night
Luxury: Gaia Hotel & Reserve from $265/night
Luxury: Tulemar Bungalows & Villas from $385/night
Nestled atop the spine of Costa Rica’s continental divide, Monteverde is a mystical place of cloud forest and coffee plantations at an altitude of 1,440 meters (4,662 feet) above sea level – what sounds more romantic than that? It’s a place of astonishing, otherworldly beauty, where everything drips and every surface is damp, slippery, and green, coated in thick moss and gnarled roots centuries in the making. A cool, heavy mist hangs close to the ground, and the forest fades in an out of focus as the thick fog ebbs and flows. The reserve, which stretches over 10,500 hectares (26,000 acres), supports a complex ecosystem that harbors over 100 species of mammals, 400 species of birds, tens of thousands of insects, and over 2 500 plant varieties, 420 of which are orchids alone.
The reserve offers 13 kilometers (8 miles) of well-marked, well-maintained trails, zip lines and hanging bridges, which stretch across canyons and disappear into the mist, giving visitors the unique feeling of floating above a swirling white abyss. To skip the crowds and really feel like you and your partner are the only ones in the reserve, the best time to visit Monteverde is at the end of the dry season in the last two weeks of April, when weather is balmy and pleasant enough for a stroll, but all of the tourists have gone home.
Where to Stay in Monteverde
Mid-Range: Casa Batsu from $120/night
Mid-Range: Monteverde Lodge & Gardens from $136/night
Mid-Range: Hidden Canopy Treehouse Boutique Hotel from $239/night
Luxury: Hotel Belmar from $199/night
Luxury: Senda Monteverde Hotel from $220/night
5. The Osa Peninsula
On Costa Rica’s wild, lush Osa Peninsula, Puerto Jiménez (or simply Jiménez, as its known to locals) is the primary gateway to the beautiful rainforests of the Osa, flanked on one side by the emerald waters of the Golfo Dulce, and on the other, an expanse of jungle and farmland that stretches to the crowned jewel of the Costa Rica parks system, Corcovado National Park. Though it’s one of Costa Rica’s most popular destinations, the region remains free of high-rises and large-scale developments, instead favoring small boutique eco-lodges surrounded by vast private nature reserves.
Corcovado National Park is the largest national park in Costa Rica, and the largest primary forest on the American Pacific coast, known worldwide for its stunning array of wildlife and pristine jungle terrain. The park protects a diverse collection of ecosystems – 13 in total – from montane forest to cloud forest to mangrove swamps and coastal marine habitats, and is home to a dizzying variety of species, including 700 tree species, 1,000 orchids, 10,000 insects, 367 birds, 140 mammals, and 117 amphibian and reptiles. Called “the most biologically intense place on Earth”, in fewer than 42,000 hectares (104,000 acres) of land, Corcovado houses 3% of global biodiversity, and visitors have a good chance of spotting some of Costa Rica’s most endangered inhabitants here – Corcovado boasts a sizable population of the Baird’s tapir, harpy eagle, jaguar, puma, scarlet macaw, and four monkey species.
A few kilometers out of the park, on the southernmost point of the Osa Peninsula where the Golfo Dulce meets the Pacific Ocean, the remote and romantic Cabo Matapalo is a perfect locale for honeymooners looking to experience something extraordinary. A sublime escape, Cabo Matapalo is spectacularly wild, characterized by deserted beaches, lush rainforest and an eco-friendly way of life. For adventurous honeymooners, there is no better place – the Osa Peninsula offers an immersive, all-encompassing jungle experience that can’t be beat. It’s Costa Rica’s last frontier, and hard as it is to get to, it’s well worth the long and arduous trek to get here.
Where to Stay on the Osa Peninsula
Mid-Range: Finca Exotica Ecolodge, Carate; all-inclusive packages from $140 per person, per night. Includes taxes and three meals per day.
Mid-Range: Ojo del Mar, Cabo Matapalo; bed & breakfast packages from $105/night. Includes taxes and breakfast for two.
Luxury: Bosque del Cabo Rainforest Lodge, Cabo Matapalo; all-inclusive packages from $225 per person, per night. Includes taxes and three meals per day.
Luxury: El Remanso Rainforest Lodge, Cabo Matapalo;, Cabo Matapalo; all-inclusive packages from $245 per person, per night. Includes taxes and three meals per day.
Luxury: Lapa Rios Ecolodge, Cabo Matapalo; from $340 per person, per night. Includes three meals per day.
6. Santa Teresa
On the western edge of the Nicoya Peninsula, Santa Teresa is an idyllic beach village that sprawls parallel to the coast, along miles of dusty dirt road. Despite its small size, the last several years have seen this laid-back town blossom into a booming travel destination, with luxury hotels springing up to accommodate the surfers and foreigners coming from far and wide to visit the powdery white beaches and constant, reliable swells fueled by offshore tropical winds.
A broad strip of forest frames Santa Teresa’s beach, and one of the town’s best features is its absence of high-rise buildings, allowing the town to maintain its paradisiacal pristine allure – the unblemished coastline with its long sweep of white sand, backed by jungle-covered hills. With year-round sunshine, consistent tropical temperatures and four spectacular beach areas, it is no secret why adventure-seekers find themselves in Santa Teresa, but despite the constant flow of foreigner traffic through these parts, the quiet town still evokes an end-of-the-world vibe that allows you to feel like one of very few lucky souls able to visit this beautiful, unspoiled place.
Where to Stay in Santa Teresa
Mid-Range: Cainama Chill House from $80/night
Mid-Range: Nautilus Boutique Hotel from $110/night
Luxury: Florblanca Resort from $400/night
Luxury: Hotel Nantipa from $325/night
Luxury: Latitude 10 Resort from $280/night
7. South Caribbean and Puerto Viejo
On the shores of the turquoise Caribbean Sea in the southeastern corner of Costa Rica, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is a laid-back beach town with a distinctly Caribbean vibe. This vibrant seaside town has an easy charm and a unique culture with strong Afro-Caribbean and indigenous influences, making dining in Puerto Viejo a dream. On the main drag, there is lots of tasty, stylish eateries that serve global fusion, or international cuisine, but the real gems can be found when you stray off the beaten track by a couple of blocks and find yourself savoring flavorful coconut rice and spicy Caribbean stews.
The region is also a beach lover’s paradise, nestled between some of the most spectacular beaches in the country – white and black sand beauties with warm water in hues from turquoise to cobalt blue, lined by coconut palms. Rent a bicycle and trek up or down the coast to find an unoccupied stretch that you can call your own for the day. For surf-loving honeymooners, beaches near Puerto Viejo have great surfing year-round, and the party scene here is legendary, with an array of bars and discoes pumping dancehall, calypso and reggaetón day and night.
Where to Stay in Puerto Viejo
Tucked away in the northeastern corner of the country where jungle meets sea, Tortuguero National Park is a labyrinth of waterways, lagoons and channels that are home to a vast diversity of wildlife. Accessible by only boat or plane, this region is cut off from the rest of the country, flanked by the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and Barra del Colorado Reserve to the north. Tortuguero protects over 19,000 hectares (46,960 acres) of rainforest, including 35 kilometers (22 miles) of beach, and is among the most important nesting sites in the Western Hemisphere for endangered green sea turtles, and a key nesting area for leatherback, hawksbill and loggerhead sea turtles.
The exceptionally high level of rainfall and rich environment where freshwater meets the ocean makes the beaches, canals, lagoons and wetlands of Tortuguero an area of extreme biodiversity, home to around 170 species of reptiles and amphibians, 60 species of mammals, including monkeys, jaguars and tapirs, and more than 300 bird species. Along the zig-zagging canals, visitors can find everything from monkeys and turtles to caimans and wading birds. The most popular way to traverse the canals is on a boat, canoe, or kayak tour. For honeymooners, we recommend canoe or kayak. There’s something magical about paddling out into the canals together, and spending the day enjoying the sun and exploring the rainforest surrounds for monkeys and toucans.
Where to Stay in Tortuguero
Mid-Range: Laguna Lodge from $297 per person for a two night all-inclusive package. Includes taxes, round-trip transportation between San José and Tortuguero, guided wildlife expeditions, and three meals per day.
Mid-Range: Mawamba Lodge from $338 per person for a two night all-inclusive package. Includes taxes, round-trip transportation between San José and Tortuguero, guided wildlife expeditions, and three meals per day.
Luxury: Tortuga Lodge & Gardens from $698 per person for a two night all-inclusive package. Includes taxes, round-trip transportation between San José and Tortuguero, guided wildlife expeditions, and three meals per day.
South of Dominical, Uvita is a quiet beach town with a gentle pace of life and a thriving expat community. The town is small and set into the jungle hillside overlooking the vast Pacific Ocean, with a scattering of hotels and lodges nestled into the greenery-covered cliffs that offer a luxurious retreat from the hectic (or mundane) day-to-day.
The area’s main attraction is Marino Ballena National Park, famous for its migrating pods of humpback whales, wild, deserted beaches, and the whale’s tail-shaped sandbar that stretches out into the ocean, best seen with a bird’s eye view from high up in the hills.
Where to Stay in Uvita
Mid-Range: Eden Tica Lodge from $105/night
Mid-Range: TikiVillas Rainforest Lodge from $161/night
Luxury: Kurà Design Villas from $450/night
Luxury: Rancho Pacifico from $335/night
Luxury: Vista Celestial Boutique Hotel from $650/night
Things to Do on a Honeymoon in Costa Rica
There’s a whole heap of unforgettable things to do, and beautiful things to see in Costa Rica. Despite it’s size, it’s a country with no shortage of things to explore – tropical rainforests, rugged mountains, serene beaches. It’s the perfect spot to experience the unspoiled nature of Central America! So how should you fill your days to up the honeymoon ante? We’ve got some suggestions.
Catch a Wave in Santa Teresa
Catch a wave in one of the world’s best surfing destinations. Santa Teresa has waves for all levels of surfers. If you’re experienced, rent a board for the day and enjoy the ride, and if you’re brand new to the sport, take a class with a surf coach to get you started. From $45 per person.
Explore Beach & Jungle on Horseback
Watch the sunset over the ocean from the comfort of your saddle on the late afternoon ride or see the early morning sun glisten through the jungle, while you enjoy the freshness of a new day, riding along pristine, untouched Manzanillo beach, as you soak up the magnificence and beauty in complete peace, as there is no road access. Continue through rivers and jungle to a farm to experience life on a cattle farm before making your way back to Santa Teresa. From $65 per person.
Spot Wild Sloths in Cahuita
Along with stunning scenery and pristine turquoise seas, Cahuita National Park is home to a visible population of sloths, so your chances of seeing one of these furry, smiley creatures is excellent here. For your best chance at spotting a sloth, hire a naturalist guide – they are trained to see sloths and have binoculars and telescopes to find them. From $49 per person.
If you’re keen to try to find one on your own, start your adventure from the Kelly Creek station in the town of Cahuita, and walk along the 8-kilometer trail around Punta Cahuita toward Puerto Vargas Beach. Watch high in the treetops as you walk, paying special attention the sloths’ favorite trees, cecropias. Entrance to Cahuita National Park is $5 per person. The park is open from 8 AM to 4 PM daily.
Savor a Sunset in Dominical
Grab a drink and stroll the beach as the sun goes down in the small surfer town of Dominical. Imagine this: the serene sounds of waves crashing on the beach, and the sensation of your toes in the sand as the sky turns technicolor – a dramatic showing of magnificent golds, fiery oranges, deep fuchsias and cotton candy pinks. It doesn’t get much better than this.
Road Trip the Central Pacific
From Puntarenas to Uvita, drive an unforgettable scenic route along the Costanera Sur highway, hugging seaside cliffs, winding through palm plantations and thick jungle as you blast your favorite 80s tunes.
Witness Unearthly Blues at Río Celeste
A place that must be seen to be believed, the Río Celeste (Blue River) and waterfall is a breathtaking natural wonder, with brilliant blue water whose show-stopping hue comes from a chemical reaction between volcanic minerals. Hike through Tenorio National Park’s dense, lush tropical rainforest to the banks of the riverbed, where you’ll witness the stunning change in the water’s color. Local indigenous legend tells that the color comes from God’s paintbrush – as he painted the sky a celestial blue color, he reached won to dip his brush into the river, turning the waters of the Río Celeste into the magical blue color they are today. Guided tours from $115 per person.
Whitewater Raft the Pacuare River
Get a dose of adrenaline with a white water rafting trip down the Pacuare River, rated one of the top rivers in the world. Paddle through one of the most scenic rivers in Costa Rica as it cuts through lush, wild rainforest on 30 kilometers of Class III-IV whitewater, passing by cascading waterfalls, and spotting exotic birds and animals as you go. From $129 per person.
Zip Line along the Base of a Volcano
Get your heart pounding on a zipline ride through the Costa Rican forest canopy; whizz along cables slung between canyons, admire incredible views, fly over and in between trees to feel an adrenaline rush like no other. Located in the magical forests near the base of Arenal Volcano, you’ll ride in an open-air gondola to the top of the mountain to begin a zipline circuit that stretches across canyons and in between treetops, sending you flying through the forest canopy at speeds up to 70 km/h (43.5 mph). From $84 per person.
Hike to Hidden Waterfalls
Bajos del Toro Waterfall is a little-known waterfall in the remote mountains north of the Central Valley. This stunning jungle gem is one of the largest in Costa Rica with a 90-meter (300 foot) cascade that falls into an extinct volcanic crater. Remote rainforest surroundings and few visitors up the romance factor, providing a lost-in-paradise feeling in the unspoiled valley of Bajos del Toro. Park entrance $14 per person.
Taste Coffee from Bean to Brew
Explore your passion for coffee with a guided tour through the lifecycle of gourmet coffee in Costa Rica’s Central Valley. Begin in the nursery, following beans through their growing cycle. Next, let your nose be enchanted by the rich aromas in the roastery, and learn how different roasting techniques affect the beans and the brew, before you indulge in a cupping and tasting session of some of the finest gourmet coffee produced in Costa Rica. With round-trip transportation from San José from $43 per person.
Soak in Volcanic Hot Springs
After a busy day in the Arenal area hiking, canyoning and whitewater rafting, nothing sounds better to us than soaking sore muscles in a natural hot spring. Read more about our favorite Arenal hot springs for couples.
Rappel a Waterfall in the Heart of the Rainforest
Take advantage of Arenal, the adventure capital of Costa Rica with an excursion into the heart of the rainforest to hike jungle trails, rappel down waterfalls, jump into river pools, zip down guided rappels, and climb canyon walls. You’ll get more thrills in the course of the day than you’ll know what to do with. From $99 per person.
Kayak Jungle Canals in Tortuguero
Set out into the canals and waterways of Tortuguero, exploring the lowland rainforest by kayak. Travers far off-the-beaten path into amazing jungle depths, to admire stunning views and spot exotic wildlife including monkeys, toucans, caimans, river turtles, and more. From $40 per person.
Spot Quetzals in the Cloud Forest
Head out into the swirling mists of Monteverde’s cloud forests in search of the Resplendent Quetzal, one of the most elusive birds in the world. A startling vision of emerald green with a vibrant red breast, birders come from all over the world for a chance at seeing one of these beautiful birds. The best time to spot them is during breeding season, from February to June. Private birding tours from $120 per person.
Play a Part in Sea Turtle Conservation
Take a night tour along the wild black beaches of Tortuguero, where endangered green turtles, leatherback, hawksbill and loggerhead turtles come to nest. Nesting season stretches from June through early October, with the peak season occurring between July and September.
Turtles nest in the evening, to avoid predators. Guided nesting tours are available during this time and all tours are regulated by Tortuguero National Park. From $35 per person.
Go Where the Wild Things Are
The world-famous Corcovado National Park is one of the most biologically rich places on Earth. Spanning It’s home to some of the world’s rarest wildlife including jaguars, peccaries, tapirs and 450 bird species. To take best advantage of this magical place, head into the forest accompanied by a naturalist guide. Take a boat along the coast to Sirena Ranger Station, soaking in the stunning scenery and spotting marine wildlife as you go, and then once you reach land, embark on a rainforest trek you’ll never forget. From $90 per person.
Snorkel Caño Island
Spend a day exploring Caño Island, a beautiful island and marine sanctuary off Costa Rica’s South Pacific coast. The island’s surrounding waters contain some of the most varied and abundant marine life on the planet. Snorkel through cobalt waters and explore the underwater landscape of caves, cliffs, canyons and 19 species of corals including brain, head and sea fans, home to a vastly diverse array of creatures, including lobsters, sea turtles, rays, sea urchins, octopus, starfish, and many species of brightly-colored tropical fish.
Spot Humback Whales at Uvita
Embark on a search for humpback whales, who convene in Ballena Marine National Park off the coast of Uvita from mid-July to late-October, and then again from mid-December through late-February. Here, in one of the best whale watching places in the world, you’ll watch these gentle giants as they breach and play, and listen to their love songs, calling out to one another as they migrate to and from feeding and mating grounds. From $90 per person.
Dance until the Sun Comes Up in Tamarindo
Tamarindo is one of the most popular party and surf destinations in Costa Rica, with hordes of visitors coming to enjoy sun, sand and surf by day and a vibrant nightlife once the sun goes down. There’s no shortage of music options – beach bars pumping reggaeton, live salsa and calypso bands, and discoes featuring house and electronic beats – will have you dancing with your love until your legs give out, or the sun comes back up again. Whichever happens first.
Relax on Pristine Beaches in Manuel Antonio
With three stunning beaches within the park, this is the place to spend the day in the sun, sand and surf. The park is closed on Mondays, and entrance is $16 per person.