We spent 2 months in Costa Rica and though we felt like we covered a lot of area and saw so much of the country, there is also a feeling of barely scratching the surface. We hit up all the big spots, but our absolute favorite areas that are off the beaten path in Costa Rica. Here is a 10 day itinerary to leave the crowds and find some beauty to yourself.
With this itinerary, a rental car is needed. We rented a car through rentalcars.com because we always find the cheapest deals that way. The car was fortunately through Vamos Rent-a-Car which was great because they're a local car rental company.
Day 1: Miguel Antonio (very much on the beaten path, but worth a stop since it's on your way)
Start off with a drive to Uvita in the Puntarenas Province. If your flight arrives in the morning and you're up for it, you can stop in Miguel Antonio, about an hour north of Uvita, to stop at some nice beaches. Our favorite was Playa Biesanz which was perfect for kids with little waves and great snorkeling. If you're worried about leaving your luggage in the car on the stop, you don't have to as there are parking attendants that will watch your car for a small fee.
Day 2-4: Uvita
Once you arrive in Uvita, enjoy the jungle, the wildlife, and the views of the ocean. I suggest staying for 2-3nights--all depending if you're children are older and they're into snorkeling. If they are, Caño Island is an hour boat ride that you can take from Uvita. it is a beautiful refuge where you can snorkel or scuba dive with unbelievable sea animals like eagle rays, sharks, and sea turtles. When we looked into it, companies were only taking kids 6 and up, but there might be others that we didn't reach out to, so if you're really into it, look around a little more.
Find a place to stay in Uvita, Costa Rica below
For the next day, definitely pay a visit to Marino Ballena National Park. It's gorgeous and has endless beach. The coolest thing about it is that it's one of the best places in the country to see humpback whales (peak season is in July, August, and September), and the park's signature feature is a beach that is shaped like a whale's tail at low tide. Just check it out:
The next day or morning before you leave, you can head to Uvita Waterfall. It's a 5 minute drive from the town, and barely a walk to get there. It has a few little pools, but the last one is a 40 foot waterfall that you can climb up and then slide down. We chose not to do, me with my pregnant belly and all didn't think it was that safe, but we saw a lot of people sliding and jumping off rocks and it looked like an awesome time.
Even if you don't slide and just swim around with your kids and have them jump off the small rocks into the deep pool, it is a great time and well worth a visit.
Day 5-9: On to Osa Peninsula!
Then head to the Osa Peninsula for 4 nights around Puerto Jimenez. We stayed in a tiny town called Dos Brazos, about 20 minutes from Puerto Jimenez and right on the edge of Corcovado National Park. I recommend staying outside of the town and in the jungle. It's absolutely beautiful and the show we'd get from Macaws and Tucans was unreal. I recommend the Amazonita Ecolodge if you're looking for a place to stay.,
There is a beautiful hike to a turquoise swimming hole that you have a good chance of getting all to yourself (we did twice at least) in the Tigre River right ini Dos Brazos. On the walk, you'll cross the river a few times, so wear appropriate footwear. I always recommend Keen Newport Sandals for kids because they have great traction for hiking, breathable, and made to get wet.
You can see local families pan for gold all along the walk. If you bring some cash with you, they might offer to show you how they do it and what they look for. The path to the swimming hole is easy to follow and it's hard to miss once you get there. I think it was my favorite place in all of Costa Rica, and the kids might agree.
Another day, you can head to Playa Blanca to go kayaking. There is a low-key restaurant there with really good food and batidos to cool you off on a hot day. Then you can rent the kayaks hourly for really cheap (1000 colones which is less than $1.50). They said around sunrise and sunset, you can see dolphins jumping around you and potentially sea turtles. We got lucky because even though it was midday, we got a show from a dolphin swimming around us. Another highlight of the trip!
We also took a boat ride around the golf for the day which I highly recommend one day. You also have a really good chance of seeing dolphins then, but also swimming with rays, hammerhead sharks, and incredible fish. I think it might run you about $150, but it is so worth it.
Puerto Jimenez sits towards the middle of the peninsula, but I suggest heading down to the southern point in Matapalo for at least the day. I would definitely consider spending the night there if you are really looking to find a secluded place. There are some beautiful hotels dotted along, but not much else, so bring snacks and all the water you need if it's a day trip.
For the best place to stay in Matapalo, check out Casa Verde. It's the perfect jungle escape!
In the area, you can see all 4 types of monkeys that are in Costa Rica (which we did that day), macaws which never ceased to amaze me, and ruggedness of where the golf meets the pacific. There is also a cool waterfall to walk to.
Day 10: Airport and home 😭
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