Costa Rica - build your own excursion
The Costa Rica excursion are exclusively for our guests who stay in our condos in beautiful Grecia (located in Costa Rica's Central Valley, about 45 minutes from the airport at San Jose), nestled in the mountains with a view of Poas Volcano. Enjoy relaxing in this fine location with breath-taking views of the central valley below and WI-FI internet access.
You get to determine everything about your stay! The possibilities are endless! Ideas for optional excursions are listed below.
Enjoy comfort and relaxation with a 2 or 3 bedroom condo (the penthouse has 3 bedrooms, other condos have 2). Each condo also has two full bathrooms, sofa, full kitchen with refrigerator, oven, microwave, four stove electric cooktop, utensils, dining table with chairs. These condos offer stunning panoramic views of the Central Valley, mountains, and San Jose 40 miles away. Each unit has a private balcony too! Parking is available on site and the property is gated.
Optional excursion ideas
Zarcero church and topiaries
Grecia and Surrounding Areas
This excursion takes you to several areas in and around Grecia for an overview of the area. You will visit the city of Grecia itself, as well as Sarchi, Zarcero, and Naranjo (though not necessarily in this order).
Zarcero is known for it's unusually sculpted topiaries. There is also a lovely church at the town's square. You can also buy some of the most delicious cheese here, called Queso Palmito; the Queso Palmito you find in grocery stores throughout Costa Rica will not taste the same as the original variety in Zarcero.
Sarchi is famous for it's painted oxcarts. Sarchi is a quaint little artists' town where one can find a variety of unique souvenirs for low prices. You can visit several shops and perhaps even an artist's studio (with better prices than the shops).
On this journey, you will also be able to explore the town square of Grecia, including the unique metal church shipped here by mistake in the 1950's from Belgium (or so the rumor goes)! If you happen to be in town on a Friday or Saturday, be sure to stop by the weekend feria, or farmer's market. You can buy a myriad of different fruits and vegetables directly from the farms at amazing prices. This is an unforgettable experience!
Naranjo has a charming town square. If you are a coffee lover, be sure to request a stop at the main shop in town to pick up some delicious Naranjo coffee at rock bottom prices. Coffee plantation tours are also available in the area if you are interested.
Oxcart in Sarchi
Irazu Volcano and a crater lake
Irazu Volcano & Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Los Ángeles
Irazu is one of the highest altitude volcanoes in Costa Rica at 11,260 feet (3,432 meters), and it is a beautiful 2 hour drive to get there. Cross through San Jose and other areas of the central valley before slowly and steadily climbing in altitude to get there. More often than not at Irazu, you will have lovely views of the crater lakes if you take a moderately easy walk. Feel like you're in another world!
On the way back toward the Central Valley, take in the spectacular mountain views along the way down. You will likely want to stop in a couple of places to really enjoy the views.
After touring this lovely volcanic area, make a stop in the city of Cartago for lunch and to see the amazing Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Los Ángeles church.
This lovely church dates from the 1630's and holds an important religious relic: La Negrita (the Black Virgin), which is a small black statue of the Virgin Mary. This relic was found by a young girl in the location where the church now stands. As the story goes, the girl tried to bring the statue home, but each time, it disappeared and went back to this location. She told her local priest about the statue and occurrences. It was decided to build this church to house this statue.
Since the church was erected, many people from Costa Rica and beyond make a yearly pilgrimage to this church every August 2nd, the anniversary of the discovery of this miraculous statue.
Famous church of Cartago
La Fortuna, Hot Springs, Suspension Bridges
On this excursion, you will drive several hours to the city of La Fortuna, where you will get your first amazing glimpse of Arenal Volcano. Take break to enjoy the town square and explore the church in this quaint town.
Drive for about 20 minutes and see Arenal from multiple vantage points as you slowly get closer to this massive volcano. As you approach the park with suspension bridges, you will also see Lake Arenal, which was created when a dam was built on the river flowing through this area. On the suspension bridge tour, you will cross 16 bridges, some of which are short and not very high, and others which are true suspension bridges, leave you towering many stories above the forest canopy; all bridges are constructed with galvanized steel and aluminum. Though they sway, they are very safe, secure, and offer stunning views. This tour generally takes 2-3 hours; be sure to go slowly enough to enjoy all the scenery, and you will have a very good chance of glimpsing interesting animal species as well. Most of the walk is easy though there are a few brief hill climbs that can be a bit more tiring.
After the nice hike, you will have time to relax at one of the nearby hot springs, which are heated naturally by Arenal Volcano. The hot springs that you will visit are actually shaped a lot like traditional swimming pools, with each one heated to a different temperature. There is a perfect pool for everyone (including a couple that are not heated by the volcano and are cool like typical swimming pools). Most hot springs have a terrific view of the volcano. After relaxing for some time, you will depart for Grecia, and make it back in time for dinner.
Volcanically heated hot springs
Crocodiles in the Tarcoles River
Jaco, Quepos, Manuel Antonio National Park, 1+ days
Visit Manuel Antonio National Park! Along the way, you will see gorgeous coastline and will have several opportunities to stop and take photographs. If the crocodiles are particularly playful, you will have an opportunity to see them en route as you drive over the Tarcoles River.
Once at Manuel Antonio, you will be able to spend a few hours at the beautiful beaches there, and optionally hike through the park on one of the designated trails, or take a fully guided tour. You can spend several hours here, enjoying the beaches and trails at your own pace.
On the way back to Grecia, stop at the beach in Jaco (with any luck, you will catch a gorgeous sunset) and enjoy dinner at one of many soda restaurants (where "soda" means a restaurant that serves typical Costa Rican food). There are also a few US chain restaurants along the main route, plus some excellent places to enjoy ice cream!
Because there is so much to see and do on this day tour, it is often recommended to break this tour into 2 or more days so that you can see more at a slower pace.
Beach at Manuel Antonio National Park
Sloth Sanctuary and Puerto Viejo, 2+ day tour
The journey today will take you to the Caribbean coastal port town of Limon. The Sloth Sanctuary is located about 30 minutes beyond Limon, almost on the coast. The goal of the sanctuary is to rehabilitate injured and orphaned sloths, and return as many as possible to the wild. Those that cannot return to the wild have a permanent home at the sanctuary. Included in the admission price, you will enjoy a canoe ride along the river and have the opportunity to see amazing wildlife, and will also have the opportunity to photograph and pet some of the adult and baby sloths currently in residence.
After enjoying the sanctuary, you can explore the beach at Puerto Viejo, and this is where we recommend spending the night as there are many hotels, restaurants, and a nice shopping district. Here, you will enjoy the sounds of the Caribbean, as this is one of the places that has been settled by people from nearby Caribbean islands.
On the following day, before heading back to Grecia, you have the opportunity to take an optional excursion in the area, including snorkel dives, a partial day trip to Panama, and more, depending on conditions.
One of the beaches at Puerto Viejo
Tempermental Poas Volcano
Poas Volcano, La Paz Waterfall Gardens, more
Start the day with a drive to lovely Poas Volcano. While Poas itself is only about 7 miles "as the bird flies" from your accommodations, it takes approximately 45 minutes to drive there by car. You will see gorgeous mountain scenery on the way up to the crater. At the crater, you will be able to see the central lake which has other- worldly blue water. Afer marveling at this view, be sure to hike another 10 minutes up the path to the second crater lake (called Botos), which is at a slightly higher altitude. Even on days when the main Poas crater is foggy, the Botos crater lake is usually clear.
Once finished, you will drive to La Paz Waterfall Gardens. The gardens have lush landscaping and also are home to many of the species that are native to Costa Rica. Most of the animals that live here would not be able to thrive successfully in the wild. Many of them are also relatively elusive in the wild. They also have an educational butterfly house where you can see the full lifecycle of several species of butterflies that are found throughout Costa Rica. Don't be surprised if one lands on you! After enjoying the animals and landscaping, hike to three of the lovely waterfalls that are on premise. There is minor stair climbing involved but the overall walk is not too difficult for the average traveler.
** Depending on your adventure level, you may or may not want to include a third stop. If you do, the final stop of the day will take you to Catarata del Toro, a beautiful waterfall in a secluded setting. The hike to and from the waterfall requires climbing down, then up, over 350 stairs. The climb is worthwhile so long as you enjoy climbing. It is on private property and you'll also see a lot of hummingbirds on site.