Cerro Chirripo Preparation & Planning Guide 2025

Chirripó National Park is home to the tallest mountain in Costa Rica, known as “Cerro Chirripó,” which shares its name with the park. As the highest point in Costa Rica, Cerro Chirripó stands at an impressive 3,820 meters (12,533 feet). This protected area features regions of stunning scenic beauty and significant geological and biological importance. Highlights include Sabana de los Leones, Valle de las Morrenas, Cerro Ventisqueros, Valle de los Conejos, and Valle de los Lagos, which includes Lake Chirripó and Los Crestones.

Hiking the highest mountain in Costa Rica requires thorough preparation to ensure a successful and enjoyable experience. This guide will cover the essential information every hiker needs to know before, during, and after the hike. We’ll dive into the logistics for two main sectors: the San Gerardo Sector and the San Jerónimo Sector, as these are the routes I have personally experienced.

Table of Contents

Getting There

As you probably know, there are several routes for hiking to the summit of Cerro Chirripó in Chirripó National Park. The most popular route is through San Gerardo de Rivas, followed by San Jerónimo of Pérez Zeledón, and the third option is through Herradura. Here, we’ll explain how to get to the first two towns:

Getting to San Gerardo de Rivas:

By Car Rental:

The drive from San José to San Gerardo de Rivas is quite manageable, typically taking around 3.5 hours without traffic. We took a scenic route through Cerro Buenavista, also known as “Cerro de la Muerte.” Depending on the weather, this route can range from foggy and rainy to sunny with clear blue skies, changing drastically within a short time. After passing Cerro de la Muerte, you will reach Valle del General in Pérez Zeledón. From here, it’s approximately a 40-minute drive to San Gerardo de Rivas. For the final stretch, we recommend using Google Maps or Waze.

Note: If you’re looking to rent a car in Costa Rica, check out our partnership with Adobe Car Rental. We offer our readers a 5% discount on their reservations. CLICK HERE to read more about it.

By Bus:

MUSOC provides various schedules from San José to Valle del General in Pérez Zeledón, with buses running from 4:45 am to 6:30 pm. You can purchase your ticket online at their website. The ticket costs ₡4777.10 colones (approximately $10 USD). After arriving in Pérez Zeledón, you’ll need to take a bus operated by Hernández Solís. Their bus station is about 500 meters from the MUSOC bus station, located in the Central Market (Mercado Central) of Pérez Zeledón. The Hernández Solís buses run from 6:30 am to 6:15 pm. You can find more details about their schedule on their website. The ticket costs around ₡515 colones (approximately $1 USD). This bus will drop you off in front of the Catholic Church in San Gerardo de Rivas, from where you can easily reach your accommodation.

Mercado Municipal de Perez Zeledon

By Private Transportation:

This transfer can cost around $350 USD total, depending on the season and the number of people. Contact us to get a quotation!

Getting to San Jerónimo of Pérez Zeledón:

By Car Rental:

The drive from San José to San Jerónimo is longer, taking around 5 hours without traffic at a reasonable speed. The route is similar to getting to San Gerardo de Rivas. You’ll need to take the road through Cerro Buenavista, also known as “Cerro de la Muerte.” As mentioned before, the weather conditions here can vary greatly, ranging from foggy and rainy to sunny with clear skies. Once you reach Valle del General in Pérez Zeledón, it’s approximately a 1-hour drive to San Jerónimo. For the final part, we recommend using Google Maps or Waze. Make sure to search for ATURENA, as they manage access through this sector.

Note: If you’re looking to rent a car in Costa Rica, check out our partnership with Adobe Car Rental. We offer our readers a 5% discount on reservations. CLICK HERE to read more about it.

By Bus:

This part is the same as mentioned for San Gerardo de Rivas. The company MUSOC provides different schedules from San José to Valle del General in Pérez Zeledón, with buses running from 4:45 am to 6:30 pm. You can purchase your ticket online at their website. The bus ticket costs ₡4777.10 colones (approximately $10 USD). From Pérez Zeledón, you need to take a bus operated by Gafeso. Their bus station is about 700 meters from the MUSOC bus station. However, their schedules are more limited compared to those going to San Gerardo de Rivas, with buses departing at 11:00 am and 4:00 pm, taking around 1 hour and 15 minutes to get to San Jerónimo. The return bus schedules from San Jerónimo to Pérez Zeledón are at 5:30 am and 12:30 pm. The ticket costs ₡2200 colones (approximately $5 USD).

By Private Transportation:

This transfer can cost around $450 USD total, depending on the season and the number of people. Contact us to get a quotation!

Who’s Who?

Before starting, let’s clarify who’s who:

SINAC: This is the governmental institution responsible for handling permits for all national parks in Costa Rica.

CRC Chirripo: This association manages essential services such as lodging at Crestones Base Camp, meal services at the base camp, and porter services through the San Gerardo Sector.

ATURENA: This is a local association in the San Jeronimo Sector. They manage the first-night lodging in San Jeronimo, meals for the first night, porter services through the San Jeronimo sector, and provide tour guides for this sector.

If you choose to go through the San Gerardo Sector, you will need to be in contact with SINAC and CRC Chirripo. (A tour guide is not required for this sector.)

If you choose to go through the San Jeronimo Sector, you will need to be in contact with SINAC, CRC Chirripo, and ATURENA. (A tour guide is mandatory for this sector.)

Chirripó National Park Permits

Note: Right now, SINAC is in the process of hiring the essential services for people staying at Crestones Base Camp. For this reason, it is not possible to make reservations after October 12th, 2024. Hopefully, this can be resolved ASAP so travelers can make their arrangements properly. More info on their Facebook page

It is highly recommended to make reservations for Cerro Chirripó in Chirripó National Park at least 6 months in advance, especially if you plan to visit during January, February, March, April, or May. These summer months are the most popular, and the national park often reaches full capacity.

Permits for weekends and holidays often sell out months in advance, with Easter Week (Semana Santa) being especially popular for hiking Cerro Chirripó. If your schedule is flexible, try planning your hike mid-week when permits are generally easier to reserve.

All visitors to Chirripó National Park must purchase entrance permits in advance through the park’s website: SINAC Online Services. The cost is $18 per person plus 13% VAT per day.

Important Notes:

  • You can make reservations up to six months in advance.
  • Each group can include up to four people.
  • Separate reservations are needed for Crestones Base Camp (details below).
  • The park is closed for trail maintenance during the last two weeks of May and for the annual Chirripó footrace on the last weekend in February.
  • Same-day permits for Chirripó are no longer available.

For a detailed process on obtaining your permits for Cerro Chirripó National Park through the San Gerardo Sector and San Jerónimo Sector, check our following blog post CLICK HERE.

SINAC Office in San Gerardo de Rivas

Quick Steps for Reserving Your Permits:

Create a Username and Password:

Go to SINAC Online Services and create a username and password using your basic information such as first name, last name, and email. Accept the Terms & Conditions and click “To Register.” On the login page, enter your username and password. Next, click the “Buy” dropdown menu in the upper right, then select “Online Reservation.”

Buying Permits for San Gerardo Sector and San Jerónimo Sector:

This process is fairly intuitive, but here are some important notes:

a. Selecting the Park and Entry Sector: Go to Parque Nacional Chirripo and click on “Make Reservation.”For the entry sector, “San Gerardo” is the most popular starting point for hiking Chirripó and does not require a tour guide. “San Jerónimo” is less visited and requires a tour guide.

b. Checking Availability: Click on “Availability” to bring up a calendar in Spanish with four columns. Note that the calendar’s functionality may vary:

  • Día (“Day”) – The day you will enter the park.
  • Fecha (“Date”) – The date you will enter the park (same as Day).
  • Disponibilidad (“Availability”) – The number of beds available at Crestones Base Camp.
  • Visita Diaria (“Day Visits”) – Permits for day visitors who won’t spend the night.

Dates are available up to six months in advance. Be patient when navigating the calendar.

c. Entering Dates:

After finding an available date, enter it into “Entry Date.” The pop-up calendar ensures the correct DD/MM/YYYY format.

Enter your “Departure Date,” which can be no more than two days after your entry date.

Note: If you select the San Jerónimo Sector, you need to book 2 nights at Crestones Base Camp. Entry dates through this sector are usually on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. For example, if your entry day is Monday, your departure day will be Wednesday, and a tour guide is mandatory through this sector.The San Gerardo Sector offers more flexibility: you can select your preferred entry and departure days, stay for only one night if desired, and purchase day pass permits.

d. Admissions and Terms:

  • Go to the “Foreigners Admissions” section.
  • Under “Admissions Type,” select “Adulto(a) No Residente.”
  • Enter the number of people hiking (up to 4).
  • Scroll down to read and accept the Terms and Conditions. Click on the blue letters for the English translation if needed.
  • Don’t forget to accept the terms before proceeding.

e. Finalizing the Reservation:

Click “Continue” at the bottom left. You’ll see a message indicating that your spaces have been pre-reserved, and you have 12 minutes to complete your purchase.

f. Payment Page:

Make sure you have the following information handy, especially if buying permits for others:

  • Complete Name: Enter your full name.
  • Identification: Enter your passport number.
  • Country: Select your country of residence.
  • Credit Card Details:
    • Cardholder Name: Enter your full name.
    • Credit Card Number
    • Expiration Date
    • CCV (Security Code)
    • Payment Currency: Choose either Dollars or Colones (local currency).

Click the “I am not a robot” box and then continue to proceed with the payment.

Once the payment is completed, you will be redirected to a confirmation page, and a confirmation number will be sent to your email.

After completing these steps, your permits are guaranteed.

Reservation Process for Lodging and Food at Crestones Base Camp

Note: CRC Chirripo is the current administrator of lodging and food services at Crestones Base Camp until October 12th, 2024. Reservations beyond this date are not open as there’s no guarantee that CRC Chirripo will continue after this period. Therefore, no page or tour operator can guarantee a reservation beyond this date.

Once you purchase your permits, you need to make a reservation for Crestones Base Camp. Lodging and food services are currently handled by CRC Chirripo.

Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Permit Confirmation: After your permits are confirmed, CRC Chirripo will email you within 5 days to confirm your permits. However, your lodging and food reservation will still be pending.
  2. Payment Method: When you contact CRC Chirripo, clarify the payment method. The process has changed over time. Previously, a payment link was provided, but now, for non-Costa Rican residents, payment is required upon arrival and registration.

Crestones Base Camp Cost and Basic Food Package Cost:

Note: Prices are based in colones (local currency) using the exchange rate of July 2024.

Lodging Cost:

Number of NightsPrice per Person with VAT ($1US = ₡534)
1₡ 21,811.19 = $40.91US
2₡ 43,622.38 = $81.69US

Food cost:

Service1 Night / Price per Person with VAT ($1US = ₡534)2 Nights / Price per Person with VAT ($1US = ₡534)
Luch₡ 7051.35 = $13.20US₡ 14102.70 = $26.41US
Dinner₡ 6653.08 = $12.46US₡ 13306.16 = $24.92US
Breakfast₡ 6209.01 = $11.63US₡ 12418.02 = $23.25US
Total₡ 19913.44 = $37.29US₡ 39826.88 = $74.58US

In case you need to pay for someone to carry your bag up to the top with horses through the San Gerardo Sector, it costs ₡2,713.15 ($5.08 USD) per kilogram for one way. For example, if you have a bag weighing 5 kilograms, it will cost $25.40 USD to take your bag all the way up to the base camp. If you decide that you want horses to carry your bag all the way down, you will need to pay $25.40 USD again. This means that your total spend for this service will be $50.80 USD.

Important Notes

  • Bedding: Crestones Base Camp provides sheets and 2 blankets per bed. Each room has a locker for storing personal items.
  • Meal Schedules:
    • Breakfast: 5:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.
    • Lunch: 12:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
    • Dinner: 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
    • Meals must be purchased as part of your package in advance; you cannot buy meals on-site.
  • Electricity: There is no electricity available to charge phones or camera batteries. Bring a battery bank.
  • Shower Facilities: The water for showers is very cold, so consider this if you plan to shower.
  • Room Arrangements: Rooms have bunk beds and are shared with other guests. If traveling alone, you will likely share a room and may need to sleep in either the top or bottom bunk.
  • Wi-Fi Access: Wi-Fi access is occasionally available but not guaranteed.
  • Snacks and Drinks: The camp sells snacks and soft drinks, such as Coca-Cola, empanadas, and tortillas with cheese. Bring cash, as payment options may vary depending on internet availability.
  • Lights Out: Lights are turned off at 8:00 p.m., but you can stay in the common areas as long as you like.

By following these guidelines, you’ll be well-prepared for your stay at Crestones Base Camp. Enjoy your adventure!

Booking Guide: First Night, Transportation, and Meals with ATURENA (San Jeronimo Sector Only)

This guide is applicable exclusively for those booking permits through the San Jeronimo Sector.

Why Contact ATURENA?

When you book your permits through the San Jeronimo Sector, it’s essential to contact ATURENA. They manage the crucial services required for this sector, supplementing the CRC Chirripo offerings. By booking with ATURENA, you’ll secure:

  • Lodging and Meals for Your First Night in San Jeronimo
  • Transportation Between Your Lodging and Kilometer 0
  • Tour Guide Services

Important Notes:

Price Variations: The cost of ATURENA’s partial package depends on the group size. For instance, if you’re a couple planning to hike Cerro Chirripo through this sector, hiring a tour guide solely for you two may be more expensive. However, joining another group can significantly reduce the cost of the tour guide. We highly recommend asking ATURENA about the possibility of joining an existing group that will be hiking Cerro Chirripo on the same dates as you.

ATURENA Office in San Jeronimo de Perez Zeledon

Partial Package prices:

Note: Prices are based in colones (local currency) using the exchange rate of July 2024.

Number of PeoplePrice per Person with VAT ($1US = ₡534)
1₡ 269520.54 = $504.72US
2₡ 155438.41 = $291.08US
3₡ 117411.03 = $219.87US
4₡ 98397.34 = $184.26US
5₡ 86989.13 = $162.90US
6₡ 79383.65 = $148.66US
7₡ 80414.79 = $150.59US
8₡ 75532.48 = $141.45US

In case you need to pay for someone to carry your bag up to the top, please note that they don’t use horses through the San Jeronimo Sector. There is a minimum of 9 kilograms. If the total amount of kilograms for the group is less than 9 kilograms, the group will still need to pay for the minimum, which is 9 kilograms. The cost is ₡3,000 ($5.62 USD) per kilogram for one way.

For example, if you have a bag weighing 5 kilograms and someone else has a bag weighing 4 kilograms for a total of 9 kilograms, it will cost $50.58 USD to take your bags all the way up to the base camp. If you decide to hire this service for the descent, the same porter will carry all your bags back down, and if the same 9 kilograms are carried down, you will need to pay $50.58 USD again. This means that your total spend for this service will be $101.16 USD. The cost should be split among all the participants who use the porter service.

Expenses for San Gerardo Sector vs. San Jeronimo Sector

Here’s a quick recap of all the expenses you need to consider depending on the sector you choose. This will provide you with a better perspective of the costs involved when planning your visit to Cerro Chirripo. These prices assume you will be traveling with a companion, which is highly recommended for this hike.

Note: Prices are based in colones (local currency) using the exchange rate of July 2024.

Cerro Chirripo through San Gerardo Sector – 1 night at San Gerardo and 1 night at Crestones Base Camp

Service Price per Person with VAT ($1US = ₡534)
1 night at Hotel Uran or similar (Double ocupancy)₡ 20000.00 = $37.45US
Permits for 2 days into the park₡ 21173.94 = $40.68US
1 night at Crestones Base Camp₡ 21,811.19 = $40.91US
Basic Package Meals Service (1 lunch, 1 dinner & 1 breakfast)₡ 19913.44 = $37.29US
Total₡ 82898.57 = $156.33US

Cerro Chirripo through San Gerardo Sector – 1 night at San Gerardo and 2 nights at Crestones Base Camp

Service Price per Person with VAT ($1US = ₡534)
1 night at Hotel Uran or similar (Double ocupancy)₡ 20000.00 = $37.45US
Permits for 3 days into the park₡ 31760.91 = $61.02US
2 nights at Crestones Base Camp₡ 43,622.38 = $81.69US
Basic Package Meals Service (2 lunch, 2 dinner & 2 breakfast)₡ 39826.88 = $74.58US
Total₡ 135210.17 = $254.74US

Cerro Chirripo through San Jeronimo Sector – 1 night at San Jeronimo and 2 nights at Crestones Base Camp

Service Price per Person with VAT ($1US = ₡534)
1 night at San Jeronimo, meals, transportation from loging to kilometer 0 and tour guide (Double ocupancy)₡ 155438.41 = $291.08US
Permits for 3 days into the park₡ 31760.91 = $61.02US
2 nights at Crestones Base Camp₡ 43,622.38 = $81.69US
Basic Package Meals Service (2 lunch, 2 dinner & 2 breakfast)₡ 39826.88 = $74.58US
Total₡ 270648.58 = $508.37US

By comparing these costs, you can decide which sector best fits your budget and preferences for your Cerro Chirripo adventure.

Registration Process: San Gerardo Sector vs. San Jeronimo Sector

When planning your hike to Cerro Chirripo, the registration process varies depending on whether you go through the San Gerardo Sector or the San Jeronimo Sector.

Through San Gerardo de Rivas Sector

  • After arriving in San Gerardo de Rivas, your first stop will be the SINAC office. You must register here the day before your hike, as SINAC does not allow same-day registrations. The office closes at 4:00 PM, so make sure you arrive before then. Don’t forget to bring your ID or passport for registration.
  • Next, head to the CRC Chirripo office, which is conveniently located just across the street from the SINAC office. This office also closes at 4:00 PM. Here, you can pay for your lodging at Crestones Base Camp and your meals if you haven’t already done so. If you need porter services, bring your bag to be weighed and charged accordingly. You’ll leave the bag there, and it will be sent up the next day with the horses.
  • For your first night’s lodging in San Gerardo de Rivas, there are several options close to Kilometer 0, such as Hotel Uran, Casa Mariposa, and Cabaña Rústica Nasua. Prices may vary. Note that Hotel Uran has a restaurant, and there are other dining options around San Gerardo as well.
  • Note: A tour guide is not mandatory for this sector.
CRC Chirripo Office in San Gerardo de Rivas

Through San Jeronimo de Perez Zeledon Sector

  • You must arrive at San Jeronimo the day before your hike, before 4:00 PM, and register at the ATURENA office. ATURENA handles all the registration for permits and other services. Currently, ATURENA does not offer online payment, so you will need to pay upon arrival. Ensure that you have paid for CRC Chirripo services before registering with ATURENA.
  • During registration at ATURENA, decide how much weight you need the porters to carry for you.
  • After registering at ATURENA and meeting your tour guide, you will be transported to your lodging, organized by ATURENA. They will inform you of your accommodation details. You will receive dinner that night and coordinate with your guide on the start time for your hike the next day. The next morning, you will receive breakfast to take with you, which you can eat at Kilometer 5, a common rest stop.
  • Note: A tour guide is mandatory for this sector.

Final Comments

Hiking Cerro Chirripo requires physical preparation and careful logistical planning. This is not one of those touristy spots where everything is conveniently packaged. Make sure to make all the arrangements well in advance, at least six months before your visit.

If you’d like to read about my experience hiking Cerro Chirripo through the San Gerardo Sector or the San Jeronimo Sector, be sure to click on the links below.

Additionally, if you plan to stay longer in the area and want to learn more about activities in San Gerardo de Rivas, San Jeronimo, and the surrounding areas near San Isidro del General, be sure to purchase our City Guides. They have everything you need for a memorable trip!

Read More About:

Make sure to click on the links to read detailed accounts of my hiking experiences through both sectors!

Exploring Gandoca Manzanillo Refuge with Kids

Costa Rica, renowned for its lush landscapes, is home to numerous national parks that showcase the country’s dedication to conservation.

Among these treasures is the Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge. It’s a must-visit for every type of traveler, whether they are solo adventurers, families, wildlife aficionados, or hiking enthusiasts.

Situated in Manzanillo, Limón, on the southern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, this refuge is a perennial family favorite, drawing us back year after year.

General information

When discussing the Gandoca-Manzanillo Refuge, it is important to mention that this refuge was established in 1985.

It spans 3,833 hectares (9,471 acres) of land and 4,436 hectares (10,961 acres) of marine territory on the Caribbean coast, near the Panamanian border.

However, most visitors only explore the Manzanillo sector, renowned for its picturesque Manzanillo Point, white-sand beaches, and excellent hiking opportunities.

Additionally, the Gandoca sector can be accessed from Puerto Viejo de Limón but is not as frequently visited as the Manzanillo sector.

Geography and Climate

The Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge plays a crucial role in preserving the lowlands of Costa Rica’s southern Caribbean region and protecting birds like the Green Macaw.

The refuge extends between the Rio Cocles and the Rio Sixaola, with the latter marking the border with Panama.

A prominent feature here is the stunning coral reef that stretches from Punta Uva to Manzanillo, attracting divers from around the world.

This refuge stands out as one of the most visually appealing areas in Costa Rica.

Weather in the region can vary, but the best months to visit the Limón area are from August through October. While the Pacific side experiences rain during these months, the Caribbean side enjoys its best weather.

However, during other months, the weather can be unpredictable. Days might start warm and humid but could end with afternoon rains or even continue raining throughout the night.

Wildlife and Biodiversity

The South Caribbean offers the opportunity to observe various mammals, birds, and reptiles.

Additionally, the coral reefs in this region provide a chance to encounter vibrant fish species, including the queen angelfish and blue parrotfish.

The region, characterized by lowlands and hills that do not exceed 115 meters (377 feet) in elevation, is covered by tropical rainforests, which make up approximately 60% of the area, with the remainder consisting of pasture and farmland.

To the south, Manzanillo Point and Mona Point host a vast 400-hectare (988-acre) swamp teeming with aquatic birds.

In the refuge’s southeastern area, you can find the mouth of the Gandoca River, which is home to an extensive mangrove swamp dominated by red mangroves.

Schedule, Parking & Entrace fee

The Manzanillo Sector is accessible daily from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

While there’s no official entry fee, visitors have the option to make a voluntary donation at Manzanillo. This contribution supports the park’s administration.

Upon arriving at the Manzanillo sector, you may not find formal parking. However, local attendants often assist with parking and ensure the safety of vehicles. They typically request a fee of around 2,000 colones (approximately $4 US).

Things to do in Gandoca Manzanillo

The park offers an array of trails suitable for both casual strolls and longer treks.

For a richer experience, consider hiring a local guide. This allows visitors to gain insights into the refuge’s heritage, observe local wildlife, and immerse themselves in its diverse ecosystem.

For those dreaming of a tranquil beach day, especially with children, this park is a top choice, as is the nearby Playa Chiquita. A standout feature of these beaches is the tide pools.

These natural pockets of water are perfect for all ages, from toddlers to adults.

During a recent family visit, we enjoyed exploring these tide pools and taking a short hike to the Manzanillo viewpoint.

Bringing along snorkeling gear or even simple swimming goggles can enhance the experience, allowing you to observe the tiny fish within the coral reef.

The path doesn’t end at the viewpoint; it continues to reveal untouched beaches and even extends into a challenging 12 km (8 mi) route to the Punta Mona/Gandoca sector.

For adventure enthusiasts, here’s a curated list of other thrilling activities to explore:

Bird Watching

Bird watching and wildlife photography are two fun activities that can be enjoyed both inside and outside the wildlife refuge.

Wherever you go in the area, you might have the chance to spot toucans, macaws, woodpeckers, tanagers, or other types of birds.

Even while you are looking for birds, you may also encounter other animals like monkeys, sloths, or reptiles.

For wildlife photographers, we definitely recommend visiting the Ara Manzanillo project, which is a great spot for observing and photographing the Green Macaw.

Alternatively, you can experience a diverse abundance of animals at Cahuita National Park.

Snorkeling and Surf

There are various tour operators in the area that offer different tours for snorkeling, surfing, and various other activities. However, be sure to use a trusted tour operator.

Tours like these can be enjoyed in the Manzanillo area, Puerto Viejo, or even in Cahuita.

Hiking

Hiking is definitely one of our favorite activities.

We have visited Manzanillo several times and have thoroughly enjoyed the trails around the Manzanillo sector.

However, as far as we know, there is a trail that can take you from the Manzanillo sector to the Gandoca Sector.

This trail is apparently well-marked and covers a distance of 12 km (8 miles) one way, starting from the Manzanillo sector, crossing through Punta Mona, and ending at Gandoca.

Although we personally haven’t done it, you can check the app called Wikiloc, which is perfect for finding trails in Costa Rica and around the world. You will notice that several people have registered this hike on the app, making it easier for you to track and follow.

In addition to this hike, we highly recommend other options such as hiking to the Punta Uva viewpoint or hiking from Cahuita to Puerto Vargas.

There are certainly several options for hiking enthusiasts.

Kayaking

We took a kayaking tour with a local guide at Quebrada Ernesto.

However, we’ve noticed that other locals offer kayaking tours at the entrance of the Manzanillo sector, or people even kayak at the larger Gandoca lagoon.

No matter where you go kayaking, it’s definitely a great way to spot animals.

Tip: If you don’t want to do a guided kayak tour, you can rent a kayak at Sloth Point in Punta Uva.

Getting There and Around

By Car Rental: ​​​​​​​Getting to Manzanillo by car from Puerto Viejo could take around 20 minutes, covering approximately 13 km (8.2 miles).

A 4WD vehicle is not necessary since the main route is completely paved. However, it’s important to drive carefully because there are lots of pedestrians and cyclists, so please take your time.

If you are considering renting a car and driving in Puerto Viejo, you can check for discounts with Adobe Rent a Car, which is one of our trusted providers and actually has an office in the center of Puerto Viejo.

Note: There are no gas stations in Puerto Viejo or Manzanillo. However, about 5 km before Puerto Viejo, you can find a gas station in Hone Creek.

By Bus: Transportes MEPE is the local bus company, so you can visit their website for more information.

By Bike: Many locals and foreigners prefer to rent bikes for transportation around Puerto Viejo, Manzanillo, and the surrounding beaches. Hotels rent their own bicycles, or you can find other options in the area. Note that almost all the bikes have no gears and pedal brakes. Make sure you always lock your bike. Prices are very reasonable, generally ranging from $5 to $10 per day for basic bikes.

By Taxi and Tuk Tuks: Taxis (red-colored cars) are the official cabs around the country; however, you can find alternative options such as Uber and unmarked taxis. Puerto Viejo and the surrounding areas are no exception. It’s quite common to see tuk-tuks as another transportation option.

By Scooter or Motorcycle: There are places where you can rent small motorcycles like the Honda Navi or scooters, so these are definitely another option.

Staying in Gandoca Manzanillo

As Manzanillo village is located at the end of the road, this little town remains a vibrant outpost of Afro-Caribbean culture and has also remained pristine, thanks to the establishment of the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge in 1985.

This refuge includes the village and imposes strict regulations on regional development.However, lodging options vary and include hotels, vacation rentals like Airbnb, and more. Some of the options are:

  • Almonds and Corals
  • Cabinas Yamann
  • Colores Seafront
  • El Colibri Lodge
  • Faith Glamping Dome

Practical Tips and Recommendations

Definitely, the Caribbean is not for everyone, as there are no international chain restaurants, luxury resorts with poolside drinks, and golf courses.

So, make sure you have the right vibe. This is the most important tip for visiting the South Caribbean area. Instead, you can hear reggae music playing around the town and even while you are sitting at the beach.

Now, here are some important recommendations:

  • Don’t be a victim of crime: Some years ago, locals talked about the Caribbean being dangerous and having a lot of crime. However, things have changed over the last few years, and even though crime can happen anywhere in Costa Rica, the reality is that taking safety precautions is important anywhere in the country. This includes taking care of your belongings, staying in groups if possible, or having the sense that locals could be friendly but not necessarily trustworthy if you don’t know them well.
  • Water Safety: Beaches can be tricky, so ask locals or the hotel about the conditions of the ocean. Not all beaches are patrolled by lifeguards​​​​​​​.
  • Travel Insurance: In case of any accident, make sure to have travel medical coverage.​​​​​​​
  • Take care of tropical diseases, like Dengue fever (Use mosquito repellent).
  • Drinkable Water: Ask the hotel receptionist or vacation rental owner if the water is drinkable. Otherwise, we recommend buying a 5L bottle of water at the supermarket

Conclusion

Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge is a must-add to your Costa Rican bucket list! With kid-friendly tide pools and serene, uncrowded beaches, it’s the perfect spot to create those unforgettable family memories.

And the fun doesn’t stop there! Nearby locales like Puerto Viejo and Cahuita are buzzing with adventures that the whole family will adore.

Need some guidance? Dive into our detailed guides. And hey, if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed about kickstarting your Costa Rican journey, give us a shout! We’re here to help craft the perfect itinerary – and guess what? It’s on the house. Let’s make those family vacation dreams come true! 🌊🌳🦜🏖️👣

Irazu Volcano National Park: Things to do, see and eat

Irazu Volcano is the highest volcano in Costa Rica, but it actually doesn’t take a lot of time or effort to visit. It´s an ideal option for families and elders.

Easily accessible and close to the city, it’s one of the favorite destinations for one-day tours that leave from San Jose. It’s also a popular spot for locals to visit over the weekends.

Usually, when we are driving to San Jose, we see a lot of mountains that surround the beautiful landscape of the central valley. We always try to figure out which mountains are one of the 3 volcanoes: Poas, Barva, or Irazu because they are next to each other.

The ones that are the most popular with the tourists are Poas Volcano and Irazu volcano, which are currently actives volcanoes. 

If you are planning to a volcano during your time in Costa Rica, we’ve got you covered with these travel guide tips to help you plan your own visit.

General information

Entrance fee and schedule:

Make sure you buy your ticket online before you get there at Sinac’s Website.

You will have to create a username and password and then inside the website choose the wildlife area Parque Nacional Irazu – Sector Crater because also there is another area that you can visit that it´s called: Sector Prusia but here you can´t see the volcano.

Select the schedule that you prefer and payment. You will have to present this at the entrance.

  • $15 per person for foreigners 
  • $5 per child (2-12) 
  • Open every day from 8:00 am until 3:30 pm. Try to get there by 2:00 pm at the latest.

COVID Regulations: Basically the same as the rest of the country, wear your mask and wash your hands. The place is wide open so we saw people without masks inside the crater.

Entrance at Irazu Volcano

Parking Lot:

  • They charge 1100 colones per car, which is around $2, and you pay at the souvenir shop inside the park. You can pay with card.
Parking lot

Weather:

  • The weather is much cooler than other parts of Costa Rica because of the elevation. When we visited in June, it was around 8 ℃ (around 46 ℉). That day was sunny in the morning and rained in the afternoon. For that reason we recommend to visit as early as you can.

Altitude:

Type of forest:

  • Cloud Forest
Irazu Volcano National Park

How to get to Irazu Volcano from San Jose

If you are in San Jose, you will have to drive to the east side to Cartago providence. From there, it will be 32 kilometers (19 miles) to the volcano entrance.

Depending on the traffic, it will take 1.5 or 2 hours from San Jose. You can find directions on Waze.

What to do in Irazu Volcano National Park

The Irazu Volcano is divided into two sections where the craters are located and also the Prusia sector, which is more popular for locals to go hiking. 

The last period of strong volcanic activity took place between 1963 and 1965 with a lot of ash and volcanic dust that reached the Caribbean and Pacific Ocean.

In the main area of the National Park, there are three main craters on the top.

After you park the car, there are restrooms and a coffee shop with some picnic tables. Then you can start walking on a 300-foot paved trail and see the craters. 

The park is not too big, so the map at the main entrance will be enough to understand where you need to walk.

Diego de la Haya crater: To your right this is the first crater that you will see. It’s an inactive circular crater, 690 meters in diameter and 80 meters deep. 

Not much to see, honestly. 

Main Crater: “El principal” is active and almost circular. It’s 1050 meters in diameter and 250 to 300 meters deep. 

There is where you will see a temporary lagoon that used to be greenish yellow and now is a green-turquoise color. 

The new color of the lagoon made me want to swim in the 230 meters across and 14-20 meters deep of beautiful turquoise pool on that sunny day at the volcano. 

Of course, that will only happen in my imagination! But I love the new color of the volcano lagoon that changed few years ago.     

Walking to the main crater
Main crater. However, during our last visit in December 2021 the crater was dry.
The lagoon. Depending during the season can´t be seen.
Another shot of the lagoon

Playa Hermosa: After you walk the craters, you can explore walking on the opposite side of the craters. This area, called “Hermosa beach,” is very flat, and if it’s rainy it will be a little muddy. It’s surrounded by beautiful vegetation typical of the cloud forest.

Rodrigo walking at Playa Hermosa

Highest viewpoint: You can walk or drive to this area.

We drove from the parking lot and it’s on your right. You can park there, and if it’s sunny like the day we went, you can see the volcano lagoon and also there is a building that looks abandoned but we saw some people taking pictures from the top.

If the day is cloudy, it might not be worth it to go.

View from the highest point

Things to do around Irazu Volcano area

Stop in one of the restaurants on the way to the Irazu Volcano

After our visit to the volcano, we were hungry. Right outside the National Park entrance, you will see some locals that sell coffee and empanadas in some sort of food truck. 

There are also some souvenirs and fresh products that they produce in the area. 

Tip: If you don’t want to carry food, buying inside the park is quite expensive. You might want to buy something here and take a snack to eat later in the picnic area inside the park. 

We stopped for lunch in one of the restaurants that are on the way to the volcano that is popular because of all the papers they have on the walls. It’s called: Linda Vista.

Los sueños del Irazu restaurant is another option just down the route from the main entrance.

There are several options along the way. Wherever you see tourist buses will be a good sign that the tour guides trust that place. We also visited Mi Tierra Restaurant one — it is very popular in the area.

So take the chance to try the local food, because this area produces vegetables with a good quality of volcanic soil.

Visit Sanatorio Duran

This is a popular place for locals to visit during the weekends, especially youth that are looking for pictures in this “haunted” looking place with an interesting vibe.

When you are going down the volcano, you will see to your right infrastructure with space to park the cars and a view of what looks like a huge old mansion. Well, if you keep driving and take a right at the next turn, you will get to Sanatorio Duran Farm, a historical building with a lot of myths that locals love to visit.

Visit Prusia Sector

Here is another popular place that locals love to visit to take pictures, run trails, or just hike. 

Unfortunately, this area is part of the National Park, but with a different administrative office, so they will charge the entrance fee again. 

Remember to book online at Sinac entrance as we mentioned before.

They have 10 trails (around 16 kilometers). 

There is a camping area, picnic areas and a forest with a lot of pine trees. For Costa Ricans, this is very different than the rest of the tropical forest. 

You can enjoy hiking here, and if you like photography, I think you would like it. 

If you are looking for animals, this might not be the place for you.

Enjoy the Landscape

The drive to the top of the volcano is gorgeous. You can stop and take pictures on the way. 

Some people go to the flower fields if they are accessible to take pictures. However, technically you are on private property, so it may not be the best idea. At least you should pay the entrance fee — some of these places offer access for $2. 

If not, you will still get nice spots with beautiful landscapes to enjoy and take pictures!

Other recommendations

  • What to wear: Dress warmly and bring a rain jacket, umbrella or poncho in case it starts raining. Wear long pants, for sure.
  • The best time to visit is in March and April.
  • Sunscreen will be a good option. Even when there is high elevation, the sun rays are more perpendicular and we got burned that day. 
  • Try to get there as soon as the park opens. Around 9:30 most of the tourist buses arrive, and also if you get early you can enjoy your time around the area and visit other places.

If you are interested to learn more about other National Parks that we have visited similar to Irazu Volcano, check the links below:

Cahuita National Park – 2021 What to know before you go

So ready for Post-Covid travel? If you are looking to visit this exotic side of Costa Rica that will let you relax in those white sand beaches surrounded by nature and the unique vibe of our Caribbean side.

Back in January 2021, after our Christmas trip to the United States, we were so ready to go to the beach plus Eithan’s first birthday was the perfect excuse to be celebrated at the beach.

However, we were lucky to find the sunny, palm tree with the white sand beach that we were hoping for, we learned few tricks from locals to take advantage of for future trips since COVID things are a little bit different (even though when you get there, you will forget that COVID exist).

We want to share them with you on this blog so you can learn what you need to know to be prepared if you decide to visit the area in this.

How do you get to Cahuita?

Cahuita is the first town in the South Caribbean area.

Located at 201 kilometers from San Jose around 125 miles.

If you are traveling to Costa Rica and are thinking to visit the Caribbean side, Cahuita is the first town.

Where to stay in Cahuita, Costa Rica?

In our case, we decided to stay in Cahuita town as our base to explore the area. From there we drove to Puerto Viejo and Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge.

Many people decide to visit the Cahuita National Park as a day trip and they stay in Puerto Viejo or Manzanillo since both towns are accessible by bus and takes around 30 minutes ride.

We stayed at Bungalows Ache and it was a very nice place to stay since we could use an equipped kitchen that they have available for their guest away from the privacy of the bungalows.

Cahuita town

Visiting Cahuita National Park

The name Cahuita comes from the words “Kawe” which means “Sangrillo” (a tree from the area) and “Ta” which means “Punta” (Sandpit) a coastline formation, so “Punta Sangrillo”.

Park territory size: 1102 ha Marine protected area: 23290 h

Parking Lot

We got into the park through the Playa Blanca area and we saw a restaurant with a Parking lot where most of the cars were parked.

Entrance to Cahuita National Park

There are two entrances to access the park:

  • Playa Blanca area: Due to COVID-19 regulations they are opening every day from 8 a.m. m. to 4 p. m.

Entrance Fee: voluntary cash contribution.

As an important fact to know Cahuita National Park is an example of joint efforts between the community and the National System of Conservation Areas working together.

If you visit other National Parks in Costa Rica the cost for a tourist it’s around $15 per person and this topic has been a never-ending story of discussion.

As you can see here you give a voluntary contribution and the income goes to the National Park management that it’s a duty done between the community and the rangers to protect in order to preserve nature while the community benefits from tourism.

  • Puerto Vargas area: Every day from 8 a.m. m. to 4 p. m.

Entrance Fee: foreigners pay $5 and resident nationals ¢ 1,000.

Credit card payments are accepted.

Cahuita National Park Entrance

Trails

On the maps, you will see the name of different trails however it’s mainly one trail split in different tracks.

Here is the distance of the trails so you can have an idea and plan your time inside the park.

  • Trail Playa Blanca (White Beach): The distance of this trail is 1.5 kilometers (almost a mile).
  • Trail Perezoso (Sloth): 1.6 Kilometer (almost a mile).
  • Trail Los Corales (Reefs): 3.1 Kilometer (almost 2 miles)
  • Punta Cahuita: 3.5 Kilometers (2 miles)
  • Punta Vargas

In the Puerto Vargas area, it’s an internal trail that you will see a wetland.

For keen hikers tip: There are some people that trek from Cahuita to Puerto Viejo and they can cross the park north to south. Crossing the park will be around 11 kilometers and this can take around 4- 5 hours. If you are returning to Cahuita might have to take a bus back.

Trails

Showers

We saw some showers next to the main entrance of the National Park where you can take the sand off before you go to the car/bus.

Swimming at the Park

We asked locals the safe areas for swimmers where they can practice beach activities and relax.

  • Playa Blanca (1 km walk from entrance). Near Suarez river the beach it’s one of the safest.
  • Next to Perezoso river
  • An small beach near Punta Cahuita.

Check always the red flags that are along the beach. It`s important to check the weather and use common sense.

Don’t swim inside the river because of crocodiles.

If you want a less risky beach it will be Manzanillo, 30 minutes from Cahuita, 15 minutes from Puerto Viejo downtown.

Cahuita National Park

Snorkeling Tours

You can do snorkeling inside the National Park.

There are several companies that you can book to do a snorkeling tour.

The range of prices is between $45 – $55 and depends on where are you staying. If you are staying in Cahuita might be a cheaper price but if you will need transportation from your place, the price might be a little bit more expensive.

Usually, the tour takes around 2 hours and you will have to take the boat in place located close to the National Park.

The tour includes the equipment and some fruits.

Because of COVID-19, some tour operators required that you bring your own mask and wear your mask during the boat ride.

During the tour, you will visit coral patches and see the different fish species and then you will see a coral reef.

After the tour they can bring you back to the pickup spot or drop you at Punta Cahuita so can walk back to Playa Blanca or to Puerto Vargas.

The months that are recommended to do snorkeling are March and April another good month it`s Mid-August until September.

Can kids do the tour?

Recommended for kids 5 years old or older. 

Tour guides

We talked with a couple of tour guides who offer their services to us and other visitors.
A tour guide will inform you of all the details during the journey, and they also allow you to use their telescope to see wild animals up close.

Also, they will explain the different varieties of flowers and plants that there are during the tour.

Where can you hire your official guide?

At the entrance of the Park, before the access bridge, you will usually find several tour guides offering their services.

We recommend hiring an official tour guide since they are the most experienced both in the guide and in providing a quality service to tourists.

Tour guides

What to wear for visiting Cahuita National Park?

  • Snacks and 2 liters of water as it gets really hot
  • Hiking shoes – as the main loop is about 5 km / 3.1 mi long
  • Swimming suit – You’ll definitely want to take a dip
  • Towel
  • Camera
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray

COVID-19 protocols

They recommend going early in the morning since they have a maximum capacity of people.

When we got there; the line was about 30 people long and all the people were wearing a mask and keeping social distancing.

A member of the staff checks your temperatures and provides hand sanitizer.
Once we got into the trail at times its was hard to keep the social distance when groups cross the path and with the humidity, masks are not that comfortable.

To be honest, there were some parts of the trails where no one was around, so we took the masks off and keep the social distance as much as possible because with the humidity it’s not fun to wear a mask.

Our experience

Sadly, we only had time to hiked 2 km. However, that was enough to hang out on a beautiful beach, see the monkeys (howler monkeys and White-faced cappuccinos), iguanas, we even get to see a snake so close that you could touch her, and beautiful butterflies.

The monkeys were the highlight for Eithan he was so curious about these creatures.

For next time we are planning to do snorkeling and do the hike for more kilometers.

Our time in the Caribbean side was very special because was our son’s first-birthday and besides what means to travel with a kid and follow all the COVID protocols.

So, the 4 hours’ drive was worth it.

Have you visited Cahuita Costa Rica already? Would you like to share your tips and advice? Got questions? Let’s connect and subscribe to our newsletter or send us your questions and share your tips!

How do you get to Poas Volcano?

If you’re reading this, you’re likely planning a trip to Poas Volcano or are curious to learn more about it.

The Poas Volcano National Park, located in the Alajuela province, is a favorite destination for both locals and international tourists.

In fact, it’s the National Park we’ve visited most often in our lives – no exaggeration.

For Costa Ricans residing in the central valley, the park serves as a weekend family getaway, a popular school day trip, and for those of us in the tourism industry, a frequent work destination.

If you’re traveling to Costa Rica and considering a visit, Poas Volcano is a great choice due to its easily accessible crater by car.

The ascent takes you up to approximately 2,708 meters (8,884 feet), offering stunning views of the Central Valley.

How far is the Poas Volcano from

San Jose: 

It’s about 30 miles / 48. km approximately and the driving time around 1.5 hours to 2 hours (depending on traffic). There is no need for a 4×4 car. All the routes are paved.

Airport/ Alajuela: 

From the airport is around 20 miles/ 33 km. The driving can take around an hour. If you have a flight in the afternoon you can take advantage of doing a visit in the morning as many people do.  

San Ramon: 

It’s about 41 miles / 66 km and the driving time around 1.5 hours. You drive to Grecia and from there follow the signs that will take you to Fraijanes and then to Poasito, the town next to the National Park. 

Getting there

By car

The majority of people who visit the volcano get there by car. We highly recommend installing the Waze app to drive in Costa Rica and the Poas Volcano National Park is included on the search list on Waze, also Google Map.  

By bus

We have called COOPETRANSASI (+506-2449-5348). We are leaving the numbers here so you want to double-check if they are back offering the service.

Hiring Private Transportation

As in many other countries, the Uber app is popular to use as private transportation.

The cost for example from the Airport to the Poas Volcano is around $25 one way or more but you have to take into consideration the waiting time adding to the final price. 

We have asked a couple of transportation providers and the price that they gave to us is between $100 and $150 roundtrip from San Jose to give you an idea. 

This is a better option for people who travel in groups to split the cost.

How do I get tickets for Poas Volcano?

It is essential to buy the tickets before the visit, as they will not be sold on-site. 

During busy tourism months (Dec-May), tickets sell out well in advance, so plan ahead!

Steps: 

  1. Go to the official website from the System of Conservation areas SINAC to buy it: LINK. You can switch to English on the top right corner. 
  2. If you are a new user create an account with the information they required. Accept the terms and conditions and you can sign up on the system. 
  3. Click on Buy – Online Reservation and choose PARQUE NACIONAL POAS 
  4. Check availability and complete the purchase with your credit card information. 

Here is a small video where we show you how to purchase the permits.

You don`t need to print the tickets they will only ask you about the confirmation number. We just showed a screenshot of the confirmation email on a phone which was more than enough.

They say to bring passports and credit card paid on too (as you have to enter names a passport numbers of those you are booking tickets for) but we weren’t actually asked to show these on entering.

On an important note, if they cancel your visit like happened to us, could be because of an emergency due to the activity of the volcano at that time we didn`t get a refund. Tourists may use the entrance to visit another national park.

What you should know about the park?

Hours

From 8 am until 4 pm. Last time to access 2:20 pm.

Prices for Tourist Non-residents

Children under 2 years old won´t pay.

We did with our baby without problems. His first visit to the Poas Volcano. November 2020
  • $15 per person
  • $5 Children(ages of 2 until 12 años).

*If you are a student, show your ID. It is not a guarantee, but it could help to get a discount.

Parking lot:

Yes. The cost of the parking lot is 2000 colones ($4) per car. You can in $ or colones and also you can pay with a credit card also.

How many chances are to observe the crater?

Visitors prefer to go as early as possible since there is more chance to observe the crater as the main attraction right now of the National Park.

For weather reports or to see the volcano is open you can check the National park´s Facebook page the day before you visit.

From our visits and experiences, we can tell you that there are 50/50 chances for looking into the crater.

In our case with Poas, we were greeted with a beautiful morning during the rainy season but sometimes we have been there with tourists and we got to see nothing but dense clouds and the smell of sulfur.  

The time that you can spend in the crater area will be around 20 minutes, some people feel that it’s not fair since the price are high and the chances to see the crater are unknown. 

Is the parking lot safe? Do you think it is reasonable to leave your luggage in the car? 

It’s patrolled by a person from the Red Cross who is always there so it’s pretty safe, those $4 that you pay at the end is a contribution for them.

Are you wonder if you are visiting an active volcano will be safe for your health?

They do a good job tracking the level of gases on site. You will probably experience a smell like rotten egg and is the sulfur and that’s normal but if the levels of gases go up they will close the park for the safety of the visitors. 

However, people with severe respiratory problems are not recommended to visit the volcano because if the levels of gases can cause irritation such as coughs, irritated or watery eyes, headaches, and a cold sensation.

They have always an ambulance patrolled by the Red Cross in case of an emergency. 

Pets?

No. You cannot take pets in any National Park in Costa Rica, according to law.

What do you wear to visit Poas Volcano?

  • Rain jacket/ sweater because it gets chilly up there.  
  • Tennis shoes are fine you don’t need hiking shoes
  • Comfortable clothes like leggings 
  • Umbrella or Poncho
  • Bottle water because there is no potable water. 
  •  Sunscreen, yes, even when it’s cloudy the elevation exposes you to more ultraviolet light. 
  • Don’t forget your mask! 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations

If you are wondering how safe would be to visit a popular National Park like the Poas Volcano.

Let us tell you that our experience in November 2020 when we visited the Poas Volcano was pretty good we felt that they are very organized.

We got there and they took our temperature and requested to put the masks on.

For this national park, it’s mandatory to wear a mask during the whole time that you stay in the park.

Once we were at the welcome center they asked us to wash our hands in the bathrooms before we got the instructions to access the crater.

They keep smalls groups and asked you to exit the park in a different place where you are coming in to avoid crowds.

If you would like to read more about the coronavirus situation in Costa Rica, check this

Link: Costa Rica Coravirus; Stats & Travel Info (COVID-19)

If you still want more peace of mind to make sure that the Poas Volcano it’s a good fit for your Costa Rica trip you can read our Poas Volcano Self- Guide and discover more of this experience that you can have in Costa Rica.

Photos 

Visiting Poas Volcano
Poas Volcano National Park
Poas Volcano map
Ligia at Poas Volcano trail
Main building at Poas Volcano

Rincon de la Vieja National Park: Exploring like a Keen Hiker

Under the sun of February at Guanacaste province, we were not first-timers visiting Rincon de la Vieja National Park, but it was the first time doing Escondida waterfall trail for all of us.

It was also the first time my best friend from elementary school and I went hiking and got lost together.

Catarata Escondida” is not the popular trail at Rincon de la Vieja National Park, and that day, we understood why.

This National Park is very interesting because you can find bubbling pools, mini mud volcanoes, and sulfurous rocks.

You will also find dusty paths in the dry season and the tropical vegetation that hosts wildlife, plus waterfalls that refresh your hikes.   

Ligia and Rodrigo at La Cangreja Waterfall

How to get to Rincon de la Vieja

Rincón de la Vieja” (Corner of the old)—well, that was a good attempt at translation. Rincón, as many call it, is the volcano closest to the Pacific beaches, and the most popular after Arenal.     

You will see a lot of signs to get there, but here is the information to give you an idea where the park is located:

  • The Sector Las Pailas located approximately 25 km from the city of Liberia.
  • You must continue along the northern inter-American highway, from Liberia toward Nicaragua (5 km) to the community of Guadalupe.
  • Then take a detour (towards the east) toward the community of Curubandé, to continue for 20km on a paved road almost in its entirety, until the entrance to the Sector.

Entrance, Schedule, Map, and Trails at Rincon de la Vieja National Park (Las Pailas Section)

The National Park has two sections to explore in its 14,127 ha:

  • Santa Maria
  • Pailas (The most visited part). This area was under construction a few years ago and now it has a new welcome center and one trail with universal accessibility.

Entrance

Adults

Locals : 1000 ($2 US)

Foreigners: $15 US

Kids

Locals : 500 ($1 US)

Foreigners: $5 US

Note: You can pay in American dollars or credit cards are also accepted.

Rincon de la Vieja National Park – Las Pailas Section

Schedule

The park is open from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The opening days are from Tuesday to Sunday.

We recommend noon as the latest time to get there so you will have time to explore at least a trail.

Important: The National Park is CLOSED ON MONDAYS

Map and Trails

Click Here and download the PDF version for the map

What is the best way to explore Rincon de la Vieja National Park?

Everything depends on how you want to experience the park and the expectations that you have in mind.

I have visited this park around 3 times but never like I did in March 2019.

We did 2  trails to the waterfalls and we ended up hiking for about 8 hours total — 19 kilometers total including a small “getting lost experience.”

Our advice is to come with no big expectations but let nature surprise you in each trail.

If you want to know our opinion, we recommend to do the trails in this order:

  1. “Pailas Trail”
  2. La Cangreja Waterfall
  3. Escondida Waterfall
White-faced monkey at Rincon de la Vieja National Park

The mud pods trail – Universal trail

Circular Trail

Distance: 3 Km

Approx time: 2 hours

Ok, let’s be clear: this is not like Yellowstone National Park, located in the U.S.A (like one Tripadvisor review compared it to), but if you’ve never been in contact with volcanic activity this is really cool to see.

Here is where you can feel the earth so alive!

The main attraction of the trail is the observation of volcanic manifestations (fumaroles, mud pots, water pans, fumarolic lagoon, small volcano) with temperatures between 78 ° C to 106°C (Don’t try to put yourself in risk like a vulcanologist).

This trail doesn’t require too much effort.

La Cangreja Waterfall

Lineal Trail

Distance: 10 Km

Approx time: 2 hours

It took us 2 hours to get to the waterfall since we stopped a lot to take pictures and videos.

The trail has a lot of changes in the type of forest. Some areas are close, others are open and the last part of the trail is a little steep but not terrible.

We have visited in the rainy season and in the dry season. It is two different experiences for sure.

If you are visiting in the rainy season, you will definitely have a lot of mud, and it is not recommended to swim in the waterfall because it can be dangerous.

During the dry season, there is a lot of sun, and swimming in the waterfall is very tempting.

However, there is a sign that says that swimming is not allowed (but tourist still do it).

To your left is a small creek with hot water. We wanted to sit there, but a crab didn’t let us do it.

La Cangreja means crab in English — so I was thinking that was one of the reasons that they called the waterfall that might be because the guardian of this place is a huge crab that almost pinched our butts. haha

Make sure that you bring snacks and enough water. They don’t have a bathroom or any facilities around the place.

La Cangreja Waterfall
Ligia and her friend at La Cangreja Waterfall

Escondidas Waterfalls

Lineal trail

Distance: 4.3 Km (8.6 km in total round trip)

Approx time: 4-5 hours

Escondida waterfall — what an experience! I was wondering why I haven’t read a lot of information online about it.

We started the trail around 1:00 pm and we thought it would take us around two hours because 4.3 km didn´t sound that bad.

Well, the latter half of the path is of high difficulty, due to the ascent that must be made.

So we started going up and up, looking back with beautiful views on our back.

The signs in the rocks tell us that we have to get to the top, and nobody was on the trail.

Hiking Las Escondidas Waterfalls trail

Curious about what was coming next, we kept hiking up and the sun was really strong. Fortunately it was also windy.

When we got to the top of the hill it looks like a type of canyon that we have to go down.  

There was beautiful scenery, so we started to hear some people and thought: Ok we are not the only ones! But they were leaving so we got the place to ourselves.

There was just a small waterfall, which I assume wouldn’t seem that great to the majority of people after such a hard hike.

Small waterfall at the end of Las Escondidas trail

But oh well! We love hiking, so the challenged was worthy. I jumped in the cold water and I saw another orange arrow pointing in another direction, so we started following that, and guess what?

The real “Catarata Escondida” was right there! What a way to hide! JA!

We jumped into the waterfall again, and now our crazy hike was making more sense.

Ligia in the bigger waterfall at Las Escondidas

After enjoying the beautiful scenery and getting energized with that water (it was cold, by the way), we started hiking back. Going down sometimes is harder for me than going up.

Maria and I were so concentrated on the path that we lost sight of Rodrigo, and then we lost track of the trail.

Yep, the Sabana started to look all the same and no sign of the trail. We were trying to be calm and not tell each other that we were lost.

We started to strategize the best way to find the trail, but deeper in our brains we were panicking, thinking of the fact that was 4:30 pm already and the sun would be going down soon.

My brain started thinking the worst — for a second I pictured a helicopter, a puma.

But we kept calm and retraced our steps. Finally, we found the turn that we missed, and right was Rodrigo looking for us.

UFFF! We breathed again and with a nervous laugh confessed our worst fears if we would be lost.

The way back, the forest just was more than alive than earlier, but there was no time to stop to watch animals because we probably were the last people in the park since it was after 5:00 pm.

In fact, we got to the parking lot and our cars were the only cars there.

Can I hike to the crater trail at Rincon de la Vieja National Park?

Note: Since the crater has been active for quite a while. They keep the trail closed.

It is linear, extension of 8 km (16 km in total round trip).

It is the most difficult route in the sector, so if one day they open it again, we would love to hike this trail.

The ascent that must be made is around 1,000 meters of gain from the base of the path to the top.

The route has an average duration of between 6-8 hours one-way and return.

This “old lady” has been here for millions of years, and for the fortunate that have observed the crater they say that the landscape is pretty impressive, which gives the name to all this volcanic massif (I know the nerdy word to say a group of mountains compacted) composed of 9 craters.

For several years, the active crater has had a series of phreatic eruptions and gas emanation, with variable activity so that this path remains closed until the activity does not decrease and it is considered safe to access this area.

In other words, we don’t want to breath poison gases that can kill us. So we will wait until the experts say that is safe!

You can explore the other two trails and that is a lot of hiking for a full day inside the park.

Important things to have in consideration:

What to bring? 

  • Close-toed shoes, water (the water bottle can be insulated — mine got boiling hot), jacket, snacks (a lot of them!) or sandwich for lunch, coat (when it is the rainy season).
  • A hat or cap and lots of sunscreens are absolute musts.
  • The route to get to the National Park is pretty accessible for all type of cars. You can book your car with us.
  • If you really like hiking, this National Park offers a lot of options, just plan ahead and be prepared because still, the trails are not well marked and you can get lost! Just kidding, but really though.
  • We think this park is a good option for the people who don’t want to stay at the beach, but you can visit the beaches around it for a day.   

That’s how our day as a keen hikers ends.

Though our first trail was easy … the second trail left us tired. It was my first experience getting lost, but it was an adventure that makes me want to go back one day to hike the trail to the crater!  


Tips for doing a successful self-guided hike at Arenal Volcano National Park

“Are you locals and still do sightseeing here?” asked a tourist that was hiking the trail at Arenal Volcano National Park. The answer was yes.

Living in San Ramon, which is located 71 kilometers (44 miles) away from the Arenal Volcano, it was pretty easy to get to La Fortuna downtown for my family when I was a child. The bus ride from San Ramon is around 2 hours, so even to spend the day in the hot springs was worth it.

So I visited the volcano in many stages of my life and for many reasons more than just as a tourist. In my college years, I did a study about the forest coverage that was affected by the hotels and tourism booming in the area.

And let me tell you a cool story: In 2008, I was in Italy attending a conference and I went to a talk where NASA showed the satellite images that they got from the Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica as an example. I couldn’t hold back my tears in excitement at seeing the images of my small country.

Definitely more than hot springs and hanging bridges, Arenal Volcano is a giant that, even though I’m a local, shows me something different every time I go.

What are the main facts about Arenal Volcano National Park?

  • Area: 12,124 Ha (29,960 Acres)
  • Altitude:  Highest point: 1633 meters (Around 5358 Feet Above Sea Level)
  • Type of ecosystem:  Cloud forest
  • Dry season: January until April
  • Conservation Category: National Park
  • Wildlife: Birds around 453 species (including the Toucans), monkeys, deer, reptiles like the eyelash viper.
  • Weather: The weather varies from 22 up to 32 degrees Celsius (70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Eruption and activity: Technically, the last eruption was in October 2010 and then the volcano went to sleep, but before that, the biggest eruption was in 1968.
  • Lake Arenal: It’s an artificial lake that is the largest lake in Costa Rica at 85-square-kilometre (33 sq mi). The importance of the lake is various uses like hydroelectricity project, wildlife, and recreation.

How to start planning your Arenal Volcano hike and what you will find inside of the national park

When you are picking tours in the area, remember the importance of supporting the national parks. The national parks are in charge of protecting Costa Rica’s natural resources like water and wildlife. Park rangers have a lot of tasks behind the scenes in order to achieve those goals.

When you are picking tours in the area, remember the importance of supporting the national parks. The national parks are in charge of protecting Costa Rica’s natural resources like water and wildlife. Park rangers have a lot of tasks behind the scenes in order to achieve those goals.

However, we understand that the volume of work and the lack of enough staff means that some people don’t find what they are looking for inside the park.

Our goal is to share how we prepare to visit and enjoy a place like Arenal Volcano National Park that has a lot to offer.

Inside Arenal Volcano National Park:

  • Entrance Fee: $15 (for foreigners)/ Children $5 –  Costa Ricans $2 (We know, we know)
  • The services that you will find at the National Park are:
    1. Reception at the main entrance where you paid the fee. You can pay with cash or credit/ debit card.
    2. Restrooms
    3. Parking
    4. Two lookout points (“mirador” in Spanish) one in Sector Volcan and other in Sector Peninsula.
  • Mirador in Sector Volcan: You can drive all the way up to the viewing point and then return to the parking lot that is next to the trail.

The trails:

You will hike in the bottom part of the volcano but will have a great view of the volcano on a sunny day and you will definitely walk on the lava rocks.

It is illegal to hike to the top. Still, you might hear people that do it, but even though the volcano is sleeping there have been accidents because of this type of climbing.

But if you plan well and enjoy nature, Arenal Volcano National Park has a lot to offer. We spent almost 8 hours one day inside the park!

Trails in Sector Volcan:You will find 4 trails in this area.

This area opens at 8:00 AM. The last chance to access the area is at 2:30 PM , and ​​​​​​​they close at 4:00 PM.

  • Heliconias: It’s a small trail that not many visitors do. The distance is 600 meters (0.37 miles). Duration can be 20 minutes.  
  • Coladas: This trail is 2 km (1.25 miles) long and connects with other trails. It’s pretty much flat until you get to some stairs that will take you to the lava rocks.

The first part of the trail has as a vegetation species of giant grass mixed with what appears secondary forest.

The trail will take you all the  ​​​​​​way to the lava rocks where you can have a better view of the volcano and Lake Arenal.

Duration: 1 hour

Great Curassow female by Rodrigo Santamaria on 500px.com

  • Los Tucanes:Less popular and without a visible sign. This trail is to your left when you start to walk “El Ceibo” Trail. You will have a view of the Arenal Lake.
  • El Ceibo: The ceibo is a centenarian tree of the subfamily Faboideae, original from South America. In this trail, you will see one of these where you can take pictures and admire this giant.

The trail extension is 2.7 kilometers (1.6 miles) and you can do it in 1.5 hours.

El Ceibo trail

Trails in Sector Peninsula: This is the newest area of the Arenal Volcano National Park with 2 trails.

This area opens at 8:00 AM. 4:00 PM is the last chance to access the park, and ​​​​​​​they close at 6:00 PM.​​​​​​​​​​​​​

To get here, you will leave the Sector Volcan and turn left and take the first exit to your right and drive around 10 minutes to the entrance of sector peninsula.

  • Los Miradores: This is a super nice trail where you can walk all the way down to the lake. The distance is 1.2 kilometers (0.75 miles) and the duration
  • El Tororoi: This one you can do at the beginning or the end but it’s just a side trail. It´s 600 meters (less than a mile). However, the trail is not flat and has some stairs.

Other trails that can be found around Arenal Volcano

Arenal 1968: The trail is located in private property but also is a reserve with several trails.

Basically, the name represents the eruption that happened in the afternoon of 29 of July of 1968 and unfortunately killed many locals. That was the last day of “Cerro Arenal” because with that eruption there was no doubt that Arenal was a volcano, not just a mountain.

The entrance is located before the main entrance of the Arenal Volcano National Park.

Cerro Chato:Located next to the Arenal Volcano, this is one of the most insane trails that I will never forget because it was where I first remember being bit by the hiking bug.

Unfortunately is closed until further notice and the government doesn’t allow entrance.

3 simple tips told by a local that will help you to spot wildlife


Walk slowly & quietly:

We noticed that a lot of people were so excited to see the volcano that they forgot the wildlife that surrounds the area.

We learned that you have to immerse yourself in nature and try to be as quiet as you can so animals don’t run away.

That day, we spotted birds like toucans, monkeys, and snakes, but some people were walking so fast that they didn’t even notice that they passed next to a viper.

Be prepared & bring your snacks:

We highly recommend that you take the time to sit down and observe the movements, listen to the sounds and pay attention to the details of the trail.

When we have snacks, we are in less of a hurry to get lunch and we take the time to stop, sit down and enjoy food in nature.

Responsible Tourism tip: Remember to NOT FEED the animals, they will be worse than a broken welfare system and will be begging other tourists for food.

Check the treetops and even outside the trails (but don’t walk off the trail):

It took me a while until I understood the importance of enjoying the trails walking slow. When you train your eyes to observe any movement, you will get more chances to spot animals.

But don’t leave the trail because you can step on a snake.

We saw two French tourists who were walking slowly and paid attention to the yellow marks next to the trail and found a snake that someone could have stepped on by mistake.

The opportunities to enjoy Arenal Volcano are endless.

If you really want to learn and spot animals while at the same time supporting the local economy, we highly recommend you hire a tour guide.

But we understand if you want the freedom to do it yourself, so we recommend exploring Arenal Volcano National Park in the following order, which is how we usually do:

  • Drive all the way to the “Mirador” lookout point and then drive back to the parking lot.
  • You can start with Coladas trail to get to the lava rocks, and if the weather allows it, it is perfect for volcano pictures.
  • Walk back and take a left to continue with Ceibo Trail to take a picture of this giant tree. This one is a good trail to have a snack and sit down quietly to observe the wildlife.
  • Drive to the Peninsula area and start with the small trail “El Tororoi” and then you can go to the tower.
  • End your trip with another snack or meditation time in the last part of the trail that is in front of Lake Arenal.

We hope that this information gives you ideas of how to explore Arenal Volcano National Park by yourself.

Remember that this national park protects Costa Rica’s natural resources while you enjoy it. Maybe you don’t see them, but there is a lot of wildlife that benefits from Arenal Volcano National Park. Have fun!

Ostional Wildlife Refuge: Responsible Travel Guide

Ostional is considered as one of the most impressive nesting beaches for Olive Ridley turtles anywhere in the world.

Looking to do turtle watching in Costa Rica? We are going to talk about one of the best places to see turtles not only because here happens a very unique phenomenon of thousands of nesting sea turtles laying eggs.

Also, Ostional Wildlife Refuge represents for us, a second home because Ligia´s father worked there as the biologist of the community association for over 16 years.

A lot of memories from my childhood are here, my passion for nature was developed here in each time that I see my parents investing their time in turtle conservation.

So let’s cover the main facts to have a successful visit to this turtle sanctuary in Costa Rica. This guide will cover the best time to go there, how to do the turtle watching tours, how to get there and more.

Ostional Wildlife Refuge beach at 5am

A little of the history of Ostional Wildlife Refuge.

A small rural town in the Pacific coast,  until one night of 1959 according to an elder in the town, he remembers November 22nd, the first massive turtle nesting happened and change the relationship between the humans and turtles in this community.

Tortuga Lora” or Olive Ridley Sea turtle (Lepidochelys Olivacea) is the main species that arrive at this beach, also has been seeing Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) and the Pacific green turtle (Chelonia mydas agassizii) at this beach.

The phenomenon was heard by the biologist Dr. Douglas Robinson Clark and he built in 1971, the first biological station with the University of Costa Rica.

Of course, the challenges came and the community of Ostional started to experience problems with the poachers who sell the eggs and some neighbours started to demand the government some regulations.

Why Ostional beach is important and unique in Costa Rica?

Also, high rates of rotten eggs became also another issue. This beach reported 93% of the percentage of mortality of the eggs. Not too bad compared with Nancite another turtle nesting beach in the Pacific of Costa Rica where according to the biologist Gerardo Chávez (Cachi), the percentage of mortality is 98%.

In 1983 was created Ostional wildlife refuge to protect the turtles and they can lay eggs and hatch babies in peace without poachers.

1987 with scientific-based started the project of extraction and the community sell the eggs with all the permissions. They have the right to harvest eggs and sell them in the country.

SO WAIT! They eat the turtle’s eggs and it’s legal? Yes, because those eggs will be destroyed anyway by other turtles that will lay eggs in the same beach during “arribadas”.

Sunrise at Ostional Wildlife Refuge

The phenomenon of “arribada”:

What is “arribada”?

Meaning “Arrivals” in Spanish. The “Arribada” or “Flotas” as locals called it last around 3 – 5 days.

Around 20,000 to 60,000 turtles nest per month during the dry season and 90,000 up to 180,000 of female turtles lay their eggs at the beach during the rainy season. (Richard & Hughes 1972; Ballestero et al 1998)

So you can see turtles during daytime … you will see turtles laying eggs even some of them on top of the others and leaving you small space to walk at the beach.

Ostional turtle calendar:

In Ostional this phenomenon happens every month.

Turtles in Ostional come all year around but the “arribadas” are the best time. The biggest “arribadas” are from August to December and according to locals, October is the busiest month with turtles and baby turtles hatching.

September and October are when get the biggest gathering of turtles. –  Gilbert Rojas,  Ex-president, ADIO

Usually, the locals calculate when is going to happen to check the moon calendar, they come from the ocean to lay their eggs usually right before a new moon when it is the darkest.

Ostional town doesn’t have lights poles only in the houses to avoid light contamination for the turtles.

However, every night all year round in Ostional, there are high possibilities you can see solo-turtles and luckily baby turtles.

Turtle Arriba at Ostional Wildlife Refuge

Turtle laying eggs at Ostional Wildlife Refuge beach

How does turtle “arribadas” benefit the community?

Ostional Wildlife Refuge was created and together with the University of Costa Rica in an alliance of the local Association Ostional Development Association (ADIO). They developed a model where nature and humans created this symbiotic relationship.

So during the 36 first hours after “arribada” is declared every month by the biologist. The community members can collect eggs that will be sell in San José to different providers from all over the country and this generates a monthly income for all the members of the association.

Around $100 is the amount approximately that each member gets monthly.

The money will be distributed to all members even if they are family. Also, elders members will get like a little “pension”.

The community only collects 1% of the total of eggs lay on the beach. This will guarantee newborn to hatch and go to the ocean and hopefully one day will be back to Ostional.

8 tips for your responsible visit to Ostional

  • Plan ahead:

Remember nature can be unpredictable locals have a better knowledge when is the best time to visit. You can check the moon calendar and plan your visit or remember to contact the local association of local guides or where you are staying to get an estimate dates when “arribadas” might happen.

  • Hire a local guide:

Always the best way to explore Ostional will be with a local tour guide. They know how to find the turtles and the best schedule to go to the beach.

Also, you are providing job opportunities for them. Always government prefer you visit the beach with a tour guide for security.

You can hire them in two ways:

  1. Independent Tour Guides (Gilbert and Maria Socorro): In front of the plaza their house also works as a parking and camping space where they sell nightly tours. They are very well-known villagers and independent tour guides who have a passion for turtle protection. They have their official documentation. Contact: 6123-9003/6123-9012
  2. ADIO: All the tour guides need to have their official documentation. Contact: 2682-1229
  3. Local Guides Association: Their office is in the town next to Cabinas Ostional, you can go and hire a turtle watching tour. Contact: 2682-0428, Asociación de Guías Locales de Ostional.

You can check their Facebook pages linked before and contact them directly. The Rangers might stop you if they see you without a tour guide.

  • Don’t touch the turtles, give them space:

Even though when you want to take pictures, you might be with the temptation to touch them and some people try to stand in the front of the turtle.

The best practice is that you observe them from the back and take videos from there. Because they are very sensitive and might be left the beach and don’t lay the eggs if they feel in danger.

Lonely turtle getting back to the ocean

  • Wear black clothes:

If you are doing the tour at night turtles are very sensitive to light and colours.  So make sure to wear black.

  • No Flash on cameras:  

Also, this can affect the turtles and jeopardize the process make sure you bring the red light flashlight.

Turtle nesting during the night

  • If you want to buy eggs:

Well if you want a try the eggs this is a great opportunity. At the supermarket that is in the main street of the town, you can buy the eggs.

Just remember to ask for stamped receipts, as a proof that you are doing a legal purchase before any authority.

In Costa Rica, the illegal purchase of eggs is penalized with a fine of around ¢ 400,000 ($750 USD) and even with a prison sentence of one to three years.

  • Stay in Ostional:

We highly encourage this because is another way to support the local economy of this little town and promote the locals’ participation in tourism.

Ostional is a spot that a lot of surfers like!!!!

  • Volunteering: 

There are several organizations that you can do volunteer work. The beach always needs to be clean from all the troncs and trash, so turtles can lay the eggs properly.

Also, a lot of research has been done by volunteer work contributing to conservation.

Group of students from Australia doing some volunteer work in the community and beach

Useful information for visit this Sea Turtle Sanctuary Costa Rica

How to get there?

From San José: 

Driving time:  Around 4 – 5 hours driving from San José by car.

Ostional is located around  264 kilometres from San Jose (165 miles).

-Take Route 27 towards Puntarenas.

-Take a left to the Puente de la Amistad and go towards Nicoya.

-After about 18 miles on this road, head towards Nosara turning right.

-When you see the sign for Nosara, don’t turn. Keep going on the main road and Ostional is not too far ahead.

This will be a bumpy dirty route with many potholes.

Also, you can access Ostional through Santa Cruz

From Liberia: 

Driving time:

-Get on the main road and turn right towards Santa Cruz

– You’ll turn left onto a bumpy road (Route 160) towards Playa Marbella, Playa San Juanillo and Nosara.

By Bus:

From San Jose departs early a bus to Santa Cruz, from there take the bus leaving at noon to Ostional which returns at 5 PM only one bus a day.

Another way is to leave from San Jose to Nosara by bus which leaves at 530 AM and from Nosara take a taxi to Ostional.

Where to stay: Camping areas, Hotels or Cabins

There are not many hotels in Ostional but the cabins are ideal to spend the night there. Some people stay in Nosara or San Juanillo and travel to Ostional just to see the turtles.

Camping area:

In front of the Soccer Plaza of Ostional is the property of a local couple (they are also tour guides) where they have camping space in their yard. They also have some sort of dorm you can use the showers, toilet, use the common area where you can cook your food.

Price: To stay camping around 7000 colones ($15 USD) per person. 

Private cabin with AC:

There are families that rent rooms that have AC and independent entrance. So this is another option available in the area. You can ask in the supermarket located in the main street.

Cabins:

There are several cabins with private bathroom and they are convenient for a short time stay. The prices vary between $20 – $40 per room. Here are some names that you can search and book online.

San Juanillo lodging (Upper-class lodging):

If you are looking something more like a hotel these 2 options are 10 minutes away from Ostional.

  • Luna Azul Hotel
  • Buddha Hotel

Where to eat?

Not many options in this small town, however, there are two Sodas and one Pizza place where you can buy food.

Also if you stay in the camping place you can cook your own food.

How much will cost the tour guide (or Tours)?

The tour guide rates should be standard if you buy in ADIO or independent tour guides:

  • Locals: 2500 colones ($5 USD) per person
  • Residents: 3000 colones ($6 USD) per person
  • Foreigners: $10 usually paid in $ and $5 for kids per person

Other things that you can do in the area

  • Visit San Juanillo Beach:

Ostional is not the only place that you can see sea turtles also in the Caribbean side of Costa Rica but over there, there are more chances than other places for sure.

We can help you planning your visit to Ostional, Costa Rica. Just click on “Start Planning Your Trip” and we will make sure to help you to go and witness one of the beauties and wonder less understood of nature.

Sunset at San Juanillo beach