Since last year’s trip to Indonesia we’d been super keen to get somewhere a little further afield and Costa Rica seemed like the perfect place combining luscious tropical forests with rugged volcanic landscapes and two large coastlines. Top this all off with a reputation for eco-tourism and an abundance of wildlife to gawk at and we’d booked our flights. Below you’ll find our 2 week itinerary during the rainy season (June) plus an optional diversion.
Where to go in Costa Rica?
Now, only having two weeks involved some prioritisation. We’d never found the gruelling dusk ’til dawn itinerary of guided tours favoured by some to be satisfying or relaxing – this was supposed to be a holiday from our day jobs – so planned on two 2-3 days stints followed by a longer stint at a coastal base from which we could relax, snorkel and enjoy the beach yet also range into national parks should we fancy it.
After some research we settled on the following outline for our trip which we did in late June:
Arrive in San Jose, Costa Rica – Sat (1 night)
Fly out from London Gatwick and arrive around 10 hours later in San José, orient yourselves, get a rental car, etc. and stay overnight. We stayed at Hotel Villa Dolce which was great.
La Fortuna, Arenal – Sun (2 nights)
Next, drive around 3.5 hours to Arenal with its still active volcano, national park, waterfall and hot springs. We stayed at Hotel Secreto La Fortuna located in La Fortuna which is the main town in the area.
Monteverde Cloud Forest – Tue (3 nights)
Check out Monteverde Cloud Forest with its myriad of protected nature reserves and cooler climates. Adrenaline junkies and wildlife lovers will find all they need here. Read more in our guide about the Monteverde Cloud Forest area.
Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste – Fri (7 nights)
Head up north to Playa Hermosa, in Guanacaste, for some coastal fun, snorkelling, fishing, national park day trips and relaxation. Guanacaste is the driest region in Costa Rica and in June and July still considered as “shoulder season”.
Return drive and stopover – Fri (1 night)
Drive back towards San José overnighting at Alajuela ready for the next day’s flight.
Fly back to London Gatwick – Sat (1 night)
Fly back to London Gatwick arriving on Sunday morning (there’s a 7 hours time difference).
Alternative route – Manuel Antonio
Another option we considered for a long time was the below “diversion”.
After Monteverde head south to Manuel Antonio National Park. Manuel Antonio, located right on the beach, is considered one of the countries best and certainly is its most visited national park. After 2 or 3 nights head further down for a short drive to Playa Uvita for some relaxing beach time.
Is it wise to go in June, the “rainy season”?
We didn’t find it a problem. Online weather forecasts would have you believe it’s torrential rain 24×7 in June. A little asking around suggested that this could be misleading and the actual weather pattern is more of afternoon showers. Sure, it rains most days and when it rains it’s generally of the biblical ark floating type but it was more dry than wet during our trip, and with a rain jacket or umbrella in your bag you’re prepared anyway.
The locals seem impervious to the rain, not even bothering to protect themselves unless it’s a complete downpour.