Liveaboard Diving, Jungle Trekking & Magnificent Marine Encounters: The Ultimate Adventure in Costa Rica
Uncover the highlights of Costa Rica on this 19-day itinerary, exploring the buzzing capital city of San Jose before being introduced to Costa Rica's rainforests in the Central Valley. Dive with hammerheads at Cocos Island while staying on a luxury liveaboard and explore the wild coast of the Osa Peninsula and Golfo Dulce.
Itinerary at a Glance:
- Explore the buzzing capital city of San Jose
- Experience some of the world's best big animal diving at Cocos Island, mingling with hundreds of scalloped hammerheads
- Venture 300 metres below the surface to search for rare deep-sea creatures in a deep-sea submersible
- Visit Corcovado National Park, considered one of the best national parks in Costa Rica
- Kayak through the mangroves of Rio Esquinas
- Snorkel around the reefs of Golfo Dulce
- Go on a whale watching tour around the Osa Peninsula
Why Book with Original Diving?
When To Travel
All of the holidays we create are completely tailor-made to you
Day 1: International Flight
Your Costa Rica diving adventure begins early this morning as you make your way to the airport to catch your late morning flight to San Jose. Relax with a coffee and breakfast in the airport lounge - access comes as standard when travelling with us - before boarding your direct flight to Costa Rica. The flight takes just over 11 hours, landing in San Jose mid-afternoon.
You will be met in arrivals by one of our representatives on the ground and transferred to your hotel. Once you've settled in, you have the rest of the day to relax after the flight. We can recommend the best sights, restaurants and bars to visit across the city.
Day 2: Exploring the Central Valley
Depending on how you feel today, you can do as much or as little as you like. You could take some time to relax and recuperate by the pool ahead of your liveaboard experience, or venture to the Central Valley for a day of adventurous activities.
Located in the heart of Costa Rica, the Central Valley is a smorgasbord of different environments including volcanic mountains, coffee plantations, dense rainforest and the capital of San Jose. There's a huge range of activities to get stuck into here - you could hike through forest reserves to spot the country's famous residents, including common pauraques, sloths and everything in between, or you might want to go white water rafting down the Pacuare river, visit a coffee plantation, or explore the active Poas volcano.
However you choose to spend your day, enjoy a delicious dinner back at your hotel before getting an early night ahead of tomorrow's adventure.
Day 3: All Aboard
This morning your private transfer will meet you at your hotel, ready for the journey to Puntarenas to board your liveaboard.
The journey takes around two-and-a-half hours, heading west, passing through Costa Rica's famed tropical rainforest and farmland. Upon arrival, you will be shown your cabin and given an orientation as the boat departs for the epic 36-hour voyage to the remote, wild Cocos Island.
Day 4: Travel Day
As you voyage south-west towards Cocos Island, take the opportunity to learn about the epic diving in this remote region.
The crew are incredibly knowledgeable about the area and will teach you all about the marine park and World Heritage Site. There are also videos to watch giving you a teaser of what to expect. This place is undeniably epic thanks it's incredible marine residents, from white tip, silky and silvertip sharks, marbled stingrays, manta rays, moray eels, huge schools of jacks and tuna, lobsters, sailfish, marlin, green turtles and even - if you're very lucky - a passing whale shark. The real stars of the show in this location are the scalloped hammerheads, which divers can witness in their hundreds when diving here.
If you haven't already got your Nitrox speciality, today is the perfect time to take the course, ahead of your upcoming diving adventure.
Days 5-11: Eat, Sleep, Dive, Repeat
Once you arrive at Cocos Island, settle into a delightful routine of eat, sleep and dive as you spend the next seven days diving in Costa Rica, exploring this incredible underwater environment.
Over the next few days you'll be able to do at least three dives a day and you'll also have the option to go night diving. With 20 sites surrounding Cocos Island, you will have ample time to explore the underwater world surrounding the island.
One of the most famous sites at Cocos Island, if not in the world, is Baja Alcyone. The submerged seamount has earned its legendary status due to the huge schools of scalloped hammerheads that frequent the site, as well as the possibility of manta ray sightings. For a real exploratory adventure, join the few who have ventured to the ocean's depths in a deep-sea submersible, to spy some rarely seen deep sea creatures. There have also been sightings of tiger sharks in this area, so you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of this powerful fish on one of your dives.
Enjoy days of diving, followed by relaxing evenings sharing dive stories and looking forward to what the next dive will bring.
Days 12-13: Heading back to the Mainland
Today's your final day of liveaboard diving in Costa Rica before you make the 36-hour voyage back to the mainland this afternoon. Make sure your camera is fully charged before you head beneath the waves for one last look at this incredible marine environment.
During the voyage back, take the opportunity to pick the brains of your dive guide, asking about the magnificent marine life that's visible when diving in Costa Rica - much of which you will have seen over the last few days. The guides are fountains of knowledge on the area and will be able to provide a unique insight into animal behaviour in the region.
Day 14: Wildlife wonders in the Osa Peninsula
You'll arrive back into Puntarenas in the early morning, disembarking from the boat after breakfast. Your private driver will meet you, ready for the two-hour drive back to San Jose and the Hotel Grano de Oro.
You will be met at the hotel and transferred to the international airport in plenty of time for your flight to Golfito in the Osa Peninsula and the Golfo Dulce. The short flight takes 40 minutes and once you have landed you'll be met and transferred to your hotel.
Located on the Pacific coast, south of San Jose, the Osa Peninsula and Golfo Dulce are the perfect blend of beach and jungle. Known as 'the most biologically intense place on Earth', the Osa Peninsula boasts almost half of Costa Rica's wildlife species, as well as almost 750 species of trees - not to forget the region's sweeping beaches and mangrove swamps.
Once you've checked into your hotel, spend the rest of the day getting well acquainted with your local surroundings and relaxing after your long journey.
- Indulge in a spa treatment
- Take a cooking lesson to learn the tricks of the trade behind delicious local dishes
Day 15: Adventures in Corcovado National Park
Today you'll get to explore the crown jewel of the Osa Peninsula, and perhaps the whole of Costa Rica - Corcovado National Park.
One of the most remote parks in Costa Rica, Corcovado National Park is an unspoiled paradise where dense forests harbour a stunning array of species, this green paradise is home to a whopping 2.5% of the world's total biodiversity. Spend the day exploring this incredible environment, hiking through the forests to find deserted beaches and stumbling across hidden inland rivers, waterfalls and lagoons.
Day 16: Kayaking through the Mangroves & Nocturnal Hiking
This morning it's time to get back to the water to explore the mangroves along Rio Esquinas by kayak.
Led by an expert naturalist, you'll paddle past thick mangroves and rainforest as your cruise along the river, spotting the tropical birds and other animals that reside here. Your expert guide will be able to answer any questions that you might have about the local flora and fauna and you'll want to make sure that you get plenty of pictures, capturing this amazing experience.
After your floating tour, head back to the hotel for a relaxing afternoon that is yours to spend as you like. You could head to the spa for a treatment, take a yoga session or take it really easy, snoozing by the pool.
As night falls this evening it's time to pull on your hiking boots, ready for a thrilling nocturnal rainforest hike. Accompanied by a naturalist, you'll be able to see the rainforest's nocturnal creatures as they arise from their slumber.
You'll arrive back at the hotel at the perfect time to enjoy a delicious dinner under the stars.
- If you visit during or around the new moon, be sure not to miss a bioluminescence tour
Day 17: Marine Adventures in Golfo Dulce
Spend your final day in Costa Rica back in the ocean. Don your mask this morning, ready for snorkelling around the reefs of Golfo Dulce, searching for triggerfish, angelfish, parrotfish and rays among the brain corals.
After a delicious lunch, either back at the hotel or picnicking on the beach, it's time to venture into the open ocean on a whale watching adventure. Keep your eyes peeled for bottlenose, spotted and spinner dolphins as well as humpback whales (between July and October), turtles, stingrays and if you're very lucky, false killer whales. As the sun begins to fall in the sky, the boat will head back to the mouth of the river, in time for you to see the sunset over the mountains, with a cocktail in hand.
For your final evening we can arrange a private candlelit dinner under the stars, toasting an incredible adventure exploring and diving in Costa Rica.
- Go deep sea fishing
- Visit the port town of Golfito
- Go paddle boarding
Day 18: Home Time
Today it is sadly time to leave Costa Rica. You will be transferred to the airport in good time for your flight to San Jose, which will take around 40 minutes.
Your international flight will depart in the late afternoon and takes just over ten hours, landing in the UK following morning.
Day 19: Arrive Home
Your flight lands in the UK late this morning.
All of the holidays we create are completely tailor-made to you
A Rough Idea of Price
If you would like to book the exact itinerary mentioned above, with economy flights, during mid-season and staying in our preferred room category at our preferred hotels.
If you would like to pare back the above itinerary by travelling at non-peak times, staying in a standard room and removing some or all of the guided activities.
Bells & Whistles
If you are looking for something extra special and would like to add business or first class flights, stay in top room categories at some of the most luxurious hotels we work with, and add more activities and guiding.
Emily C, Eleanor and Ollie are our experts for this itinerary and as seasoned travellers they have the inside track on the most memorable adventures.