10 Days in Costa Rica From Liberia
10 days in Costa Rica, starting in Liberia is highly recommended. My dad and I left the snow, ice and wind of Canada to immerse ourselves into the rain forest and sunny pacific coast of Costa Rica. Learn the best way to get around in Costa Rica to make the most of out your experience. Landing in Liberia is beneficial to visit these places; tenorio volcano national parka nd Rio Celeste, La Fortuna, Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges and Tamarindo. What to do in Tamarindo Costa Rica? You’ll soon find out!
Liberia, Costa Rica
Start off 10 days in Costa Rica in Liberia, our plan was to visit the rainforest for hiking, then we would go relax on the beach in Tamarindo. Arriving at the Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport take time to look out the window at Costa Rica’s green rainforest and gigantic volcanos. Welcome to Paradise! Take time to explore the many beauties of Costa Rican landscape and people. Experience Pura Vida with 10 days in Costa Rica!
What is the Best Way to Get Around in Costa Rica?
The best way to get around in Costa Rica for 10 days is by renting a 4X4 vehicle. If your goal is to visit National Parks, to go camping or hiking, then renting a 4×4 vehicle is essential. However, if you’d like to do a few hikes, but lounge out at beach towns, than a car is not essential! Renting a car is a luxury that I didn’t do while traveling in South America for 6 months. Not having a car allows you to connect more with other tourists and locals. Riding public transportation gives the traveller a real glimpse into the real Rico lifestyle. So, if you’re a solo traveller, ditch the car rental and get ready to meet people 🙂 What to do in Tamarindo Costa Rica? If your goal is just to hit up the surf town of Tamarindo, then save money and don’t rent a car.
The Roads in Costa Rica are Safe and Secure
I was impressed to see how safe and secure the roads are in Costa Rica. The infrastructure is well maintained, therefore making driving easy and stress-free. The roads in Costa Rica are clean, but sometimes in the National Parks, the roads can be wet and rocky. For this reason, you’ll need a 4×4 vehicle. For 10 days in Costa Rica, starting in Liberia I recommend renting your car directing from the airport.
Be Open Minded
Regardless if you’re renting a car or not, be open minded. Be open to meeting new people, learning thing things, and be aware that things will not always go according to plan. Just like in life, with travel, things might not go as you planned! Just sit back, breath and enjoy the journey.
Day 1 Playa Hermosa or Jacó
After landing in Liberia, head to Playa Hermosa or Jacó. Jacó and Playa Hermosa are both laid-back, fishing towns with lots of accommodations and restaurants. From Liberia, Playa Hermosa is approximately 30 minutes by car.
If your flight is arriving late, and you’ve arranged a car rental, than you’ll need to book a hotel near Liberia airport. This way, the next morning you can easily pick up the car, and start your adventure. Alternatively, if your flight is arriving during the day, you can head straight for the coast. If your able to pick up your car rental right away, or are going to be using public transportation in Costa Rica, head straight for Playa Hermosa or Jacó.
In Playa Hermosa, I’d recommend the hotel Terraza Del Pacifico. Alternatively, stay in Jacó, Costa Rica to save a little bit of money. I recommend Selina Jaco as it is cost efficient and perfect for solo travellers.
Day 2 Tenorio Volcano National Park: Rio Celeste
After sleeping one night in Liberia, the next day, we climbed into the clouds with our 4×4 vehicle. The drive was easy to reach Tenorio Volcano National Park, where we would go hiking to Rio Celeste. Alongside the National Park, flows Rio Celeste, a crystal blue river. Tenorio Volcano National Park is a conservation area. Keep in mind that for most national parks, there is an entrance fee. We paid to enter the Tenorio Volcano National Park, and they had rain boots to rent.
Hiking Boots and Ponchos
I was thankful to have my own hiking boots as it was raining, wet and muddy everywhere on the way to Rio Celeste. You can see the steps in the picture below, they were incredibly slippery. So, flip flops and even running shoes should not be worn here! Be sure to have hiking boots with good stable grip. In addition to hiking boots, don’t forget a rain poncho. Click here to buy poncho’s on Amazon that are inexpensive and exactly what you need. We were happy to have our ponchos as we hiked through the misty rainforest during our 10 day Costa Rican Adventure. To save room in your carry-on luggage, buy a portable poncho from Amazon that folds into a small bag, and wear your hiking boots on the plane. We hiked through a groomed, but muddy trail to eventually make it to this beautiful waterfall, in Rio Celeste.
Eat Local: Costa Rican Soda’s
After all this hiking and driving, we were hungry, so we pulled out Google Maps and searched for a nearby Soda. A soda is a small restaurant where locals (tico’s) eat. Soda’s will offer mainly rice, beans, some sort of protein and salad. They will also offer fresh seafood, stews, delicious soups and other Costa Rican speciality food. For 10 days in Costa Rica, we did not eat anywhere, but in Soda’s. To save money, and eat well in Costa Rica, visit a local Soda! We loved the fresh Ceviche and Red Snapper. As a general rule, avoid restaurants with American dollars in Costa Rica as you’ll pay more just to get an ordinary burger and fries. Instead, live the Tico way and visit Soda’s.
Day 3 La Fortuna, Costa Rica
For Day 3, Day 4 and Day 5 we rented an apartment in La Fortuna, Costa Rica. La Fortuna is a small city, and a hot spot for tourists as it provides a perfect base for tourists to explore the surrounding excursions. From La Fortuna, we visited the Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park, Catarata Río Fortuna and Arenal Volcano National Park. The streets are lined with fresh fruit stands, restaurants, souvenir shops with local arts and tour operators. Anyone traveling alone, would have no problem making friends in La Fortuna as everyone is also traveling! Click here to book a hostel in La Fortuna, Costa Rica.
10 days in Costa Rica would not be complete with a visit to the Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park. The park is located outside of the city, but there is ample parking. We paid to enter the park, and were given a map to go through a series of well groomed trails, to reach hanging suspension bridges!
It was terrifying having two people on the bridge at once, especially if the other person was overweight. The entire bridge just moves, and you have to trust in the engineering. It’s a surreal feeling being 50 meters in the middle of the Rain Forest. Even though it was scary, visiting the mistico arenal hanging bridges park is a must when visiting Costa Rica! Do something every day that scares you! Right?!
Arenal Volcano National Park
There is no bus access to the Arenal Volcano National Park, but you can hire a taxi, or drive. Hiking the Arenal 1968 trail is highly recommended due to the views of the Arenal Volcano, and because of the bamboo and lava rock formations along the way. Unfortunately, it was cloudy the day we hiked the Arenal 1968 trail, but it was still totally worth it.
Hiking Arenal 1968
The hiking trail got it’s name Arenal 1968 after a devastating volcanic eruption in 1968 that killed several people. Now, the Arenal Volcano National Park is open for tourists to hike. The entire loop is approximately 7 KM. Depending on where you start, the first half will either be walking above black volcanic rock, and the second half will be walking amongst tall bamboo trees. Walking amongst these lava fields is captivating.
Day 6 Drive to the Beach Tamarindo
We loved the rainforest, but it was cold and wet. We were happy to drive to the beach of Tamarindo. The drive from La Fortuna to Tamarindo is approximately 4 hours. Driving in Costa Rica’s countryside, observing agriculture, gardening, and small villages was a nice experience. On the way, we saw wild monkeys playing in trees by the road. We quickly stopped the car, and we went out to see the monkeys. Costa Rica’s diversity just continued to amaze me.
We stayed at Hotel Marielos which was right beside the Supermarket, and across the street from the beach. We choose Hotel Marielos because it’s more like a hostel, with private apartments and access to a communal kitchen. We would make our breakfasts in the communal kitchen, and eat in Soda’s for Lunch and Dinner. We spent Day 6, 7, and day 8 in Tamarindo. On Day 6 and Day 7 we stayed along the beach in our flip flops and bathing suits on the beach. We took a break from ponchos and biking boots, for sun and salt water.
What to do in Tamarindo Costa Rica?
What to do in Tamarindo Costa Rica? What isn’t there to do in Tamarindo?! A surf town, lined with excellent restaurants, vibrant culture, warm people and so much to discover. Here is what we did in Tamarindo Costa Rica. What to do in Tamarindo Costa Rica? Check this out!
Beach Hikes in Tamarindo
Beach hikes in Tamarindo are a must. To the left is endless beach and lava rock on the beach to walk on. To the right, is the Parque Nacional Marino Las Baulas which I will explain in just a moment.
During low tide we were able to walk down the beach. The lava rocks along the beach made me wish I had sandals to protect my feet from the rocks, but it was nice to feel the sand beneath my toes as we hiked on the beach.
Parque Nacional Marino Las Baulas
To the right of Tamarindo beach, there’s a river that separates Tamarindo from the Parque Nacional Marino Las Baulas. It’s a reserve for turtle nesting, but the turtles are only noticeable in the evening, and only during a specific time of the year.
Make sure to pay a river taxi boat to take you across the river. It’s really unsafe to cross the river by foot. Apparently, an American tourist walked across the river, and he got his leg eaten off by a crocodile. It costs $1 to take the water taxi, and save your leg! Once we made it to the other side, we were completely alone. Just a few private properties, and nothing but sand and ocean. There’s just so many things to do in Tamarindo.
Happy Hour & Sunsets in Tamarindo
What to do in Tarmarindo Costa Rica? Happy hour! The best part about Tamarindo are happy hour celebrations and sunsets. At 4 PM everyday, El Be! Tamarindo Beach Club was the place to be! It was the only place with live music, cold beer and picnic tables to sit down and watch the sunset.
Whatever you do in Costa Rica, don’t forget to try a chiliguaro! I loved these refreshing shots of tomato, hot sauce and some kind of alcohol. Chiliguaros are the secret to NO hang-overs in Costa Rica 😉 No hang-overs means, more hiking!
Day 8 Diria Refuge National Forest
On day 8 of our 10 day Costa Rican Adventure we were burnt from spending too much time in the Sun at Tamarindo beach. I researched online and found a hiking trail not too far away, in the Diria Refuge National Forest. I followed the directions on Google Maps until we reached the park, and there were simple arrows guiding us. Thankfully we had a 4×4 vehicle as the road became very dangerous. At one point, we were driving right beside a steep cliff. Eventually, a cabin in the woods appeared. It seemed that the trailhead began in the Search and Rescue basecamp. The ranger came to greet us and gave me a map. I had to sign into the log book to access the trail, so when I looked at the log book, no one had visited the trail for over 3 months. We were literally in the middle of no where. As my dad and I walked through the forest, he sang songs to hopefully scare away snakes. We were happy when that hike was over!
After hiking, we stopped in the town of Santa Cruz. Here, we walked around exploring foreign streets. We walked into a beautiful church, and found a Soda restaurant close by. The food in this Soda was the best in all of Costa Rica! The soup was delicious. Anyone in Santa Cruz, must stop at this Soda.
Day 9 Parque Nacional Rincon De La Vieja
For our final hike in Costa Rica, we left Tamarindo for the Parque Nacional Rincon De La Vieja. It was a 2 hour drive, before we could stretch our legs on the mountain. The weather in Tamarindo was +30 degree weather, and now it felt like 5 degrees. We took out our hiking boots and ponchos to go into the rainforest. There was no one with us, again. This gave time to reflect on our Costa Rican Adventure, while still embracing every moment of being in the rainforest.
That evening, we booked a hotel in Liberia at Hotel Villa Hermosa. This way we would be close to the Liberia Airport to return our car rental and catch our flight, the next day. The hotel was very clean, affordable, and included breakfast! There was ample parking, so we were free to explore Liberia by foot. On our last night in Costa Rica, we walked to the best Seafood restaurant in Liberia, Restaurante Tierra Mar. We had Sea-bass stuffed with Seafood to fulfill our seafood quota for a while.
Day 10 Good-Bye Liberia
Just like that, 10 days in Costa Rica was over. From the Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park to driving our 4×4 all over Costa Rica, it was an amazing trip. There was nothing I would have changed about our Costa Rican adventure. It was a blessing to visit such a beautiful place with my favourite travel partner, my father.
However, Costa Rica is suitable for solo travellers, and families with young children. Costa Rica has something for everyone, and what is more calming than the Costa Rican Manta, Pura Vida?!
I’m Kathleen Parisien. Citizen of the World, Author, Wife and Entrepreneur. Do you have questions about what to do in Tamarindo Costa Rica? Or how to visit Tenorio Volcano National Park, Rio Celeste, Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges, La Fortuna or any other place I mentioned? Contact me! Leave a comment below, or e-mail me directly at [email protected]
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