Itinerary for 5 Days in Costa Rica
Despite its small size, Costa Rica offers a dazzling variety of world-class attractions, including some of the most beautiful beaches, exhilarating outdoor activities and the highest biodiversity on the planet. You could easily spend the rest of your life exploring this country’s pristine beaches, towering peaks and lush rainforests.
If you’d like to escape to this enchanting tropical paradise but only have five days to do so, we have the perfect itinerary for you: one that includes Costa Rica’s most unforgettable adventures and gives plenty of time to recharge at the unique Villa Punto de Vista, a luxurious resort situated on a lush tropical reserve overlooking the beautiful turquoise waters of the Pacific.
Day 0: Arrival in San José
Your adventure begins when you arrive at San José’s Santamaría International Airport. After passing through customs, you’ll be greeted by your friendly, bilingual chauffeur, who will transport you in a luxury private van to one of the most beautiful spots in all of Costa Rica: Manuel Antonio, a world-class national park renowned for its biological diversity and voted by Trip Advisor as one of the Top 20 beaches in the World!
Your chauffeur will take you on an exhilarating two-and-a-half-hour inland and coastal drive to your destination, stopping at the famous Crocodile Bridge, where you can look at the famous ancient-looking reptiles that live beneath it. Later on, you will stop in Playa Hermosa to grab some lunch at a seaside eatery right on the beach where you can enjoy a Delicious Fresh fruit smoothie, Cold Beer or tropical cocktail to get you in the vacation spirit.
After an hour of driving along a coastal highway, you will arrive at Villa Punto de Vista, a secluded luxury villa with breathtaking natural beauty, exceptional personalized service and endless activities to keep you entertained.
Once in your room, sit back and take in the unobstructed, 180-degree views of the ocean, rainforest canopy and famous isthmus of Manuel Antonio National Park. Almost every one of the Villa’s 10 rooms features a breathtaking view. Enjoy the room’s variety of top-notch amenities, which include rain showers, personalized iPads, an integrated sound system and high-speed Wi-Fi.
Once you’ve settled in, you can spend the rest of the day wandering through the villa’s very own nature reserve, where you can spot some of Costa Rica’s most famous exotic species, including toucans and spider monkeys.
Day 1: Relaxing at the Beach
After a long day of travel, you don’t want to overdo it — ease into your first full day in Costa Rica by enjoying some of Manuel Antonio’s gorgeous beaches. The park’s most visited beach is Playa Espadilla, a beautiful, mile-long beach located just a short walk from your hotel.
This family-friendly beach is great for just about any activity: You can play some soccer in the soft sand, surf the gentle waves or take a leisurely walk, which is especially memorable at sunset. While you’re at it you can enjoy a snow cone, coconut water or other popular local refreshment sold by shops and restaurants in the area.
Just to the south is the equally stunning Playa Espadilla Sur, which at its southernmost point features a thin strip of land that leads to the famous Punta Catedral, a great vantage point to take in this unique land formation and the many tiny islands that surround it.
Located across this thin strip of land is Playa Manuel Antonio, a gorgeous beach with fine coral sand that is great for swimming and sunbathing. It also features tidal pools rife with sea life, which is an ideal place for snorkeling.
If you prefer a little more solitude, you can head over to Playa Gemelas, Manuel Antonio’s most secluded beach. You might even have this special place to yourself!
After a day at the beach, you might be in the mood for some exciting nightlife. If so, you can visit nearby Marina Pez Vela, Central America’s largest marina that houses yachts up to 300 feet in length. A bustling place, the Marina has a number of restaurants and a bar on every single block, which means you could make a night of bar-hopping. The establishments offer yummy cocktails, upbeat music and dancing. The locals who frequent them are known to have a fun-loving, carefree attitude toward life, which outsiders often love.
Day 2: Horseback Riding and Waterfalls
On your second full day in Costa Rica, you’ll get to delve into the famous rainforests of Manuel Antonio and experience its rich biodiversity up close — on horseback. The key attraction on the ride is the stunning Nauyaca Waterfalls, located deep in the rainforest. Despite the remoteness of the falls, the trailhead is quite accessible, located just 20 minutes away from Dominical.
The tour lasts from 8:00 am to about 1:30 pm and begins at the offices of Don Lulo, the company that offers the horseback riding tours. The tour then continues by car until you reach the parking lot, where your guide will demonstrate how to ride a horse and talk about horseback riding safety. You will then begin your horseback riding adventure on a trail that follows the scenic Baru River before ascending a steep slope. If you’re looking for it, you might spot some monkeys or exotic birds. The trail is 2.5 miles (5 miles round-trip) and features both easy and fairly difficult places.
Half an hour into the horseback ride, you will stop at the ranches to enjoy a tasty snack and observe peacocks, white-faced monkeys, guatusas and any other animals that happen to be nearby.
20 minutes later, you will arrive at the Nauyaca Waterfalls and stay there for about two hours. The waterfalls are located in an expansive canyon covered in lush greenery, which the mist from the falls makes even greener. You can go to both the upper falls and lower falls, although we recommend that you check out the lower falls first. It is from under these 60-foot falls that you can enjoy the best views of both the stunning waterfall right before you as well as the other ones high above. These lower falls also feature a large pool of water where you can take a dip and cool off. If you’d like to put on a swimsuit first, you can take advantage of the changing rooms located near the top of the steps leading down to the waterfalls.
Once you’ve fully taken in the lower waterfalls, don’t forget to visit the upper falls, which feature a breathtaking 140-foot tall cliff with a few more falls. You may want to have a picnic here on one of the big, smooth rocks.
On the trip back, you will stop once again at the ranches to eat a scrumptious meal and drink local coffee.
The Nauyaca Falls are a must-see attraction when visiting Manuel Antonio. No horseback riding experience is needed to go on this tour.
After the tour ends around 1:30, return to the villa to take a dip in its double-infinity-edge pool, which is located on the first-floor living area. You can even have a chef grill some fresh, locally-caught seafood right by the poolside. Once you’ve enjoyed your pool-side meal, head to the villa’s Game Room, a three-room suite that features an entertainment system, pool table and wet bar. Kick back and take in a movie on the 10-foot projection screen.
Day 3: Zipline Canopy Tour
On Day 2 you explored Costa Rica’s rainforest from the ground, on Day 3, you’ll get to explore it from the treetops. Ziplining gives you a completely different perspective on the rainforests and lets you see more than you ever would have on foot. If you’re only planning to go zip lining once in your life, there’s no better place to do it than in Costa Rica, as it was invented here and has become one of the country’s most popular outdoor activities.
The 3.5-hour, guided zip-line adventure begins at 7 a.m., when your transport picks you up at the Villa. Make sure to bring sunscreen and wear lightweight clothing. When you arrive at the zip lining location, your guide will give you helmets, harnesses and other gear. They’ll review professional safety protocols, too.
Once everyone in the party is ready, your guide will take you on a journey through the canopy, providing information on the plants and animals as you zip past them.
Your treetop adventure might leave you feeling exhilarated and perhaps a bit sore. Once you’re back at the villa, you can enjoy a relaxing massage from the comfort of your room. Unwind as the massage therapist loosens up any knots in your muscles. Bring the day to the perfect close by having one of the villa’s private chefs prepare a gourmet dinner for you and your family.
Day 4: Tropical Island Retreat
On the fourth day of your Costa Rican adventure, you’ll go on an action-packed catamaran tour to nearby Tortuga Island by Calypso Cruises.
At the start of the tour, you will board the Yacht Manta Raya. The yacht will take you on an hour-and-a-half ride across the gorgeous Gulf of Nicoya. Along the way, enjoy some scrumptious tropical fruits on board.
You will then spend five hours at Tortuga Island, a private white-sand island, where you can enjoy a lunch with four courses, snorkeling, a ride on a banana boat and live music.
Afterward, you’ll board the yacht again for a Tour of Discovery, where you will enjoy views of many protected islands in the Gulf of Nicoya including Jesusita Island, Cedros Island, Guayabo Island (a bird sanctuary), Gypsy Island, Sugarloaf Island and San Lucas Island, which is home to a former prison. This tour is a great opportunity for foreign travelers to learn about Costa Rican history and get a closer look at beautiful, protected islands that can only be accessed by boat.
After touring all these islands, you will return to the port, where you can go to Calypso’s website or Facebook page to download photos of your adventure.
Head back to the villa after your day out on the ocean and relax with an ice-cold drink in one of the villa’s bars. The wall-mounted iPads Minis can serenade you with your favorite music.
Wrap up your last full day at Villa Punto de Vista with a visit to the villa’s roof deck and relax in our solar-heated 10-person jacuzzi. As you soak, you can enjoy a 270-degree view of Manuel Antonio Bay.
Day 5: Return to San José
If your flight is not until the evening and you’re planning to leave early, you can pair your day of travel with a trip to San José, Costa Rica’s history-rich capital.
One site you won’t want to miss is the fascinating Pre-Columbian Gold Museum, an underground exhibition that displays gold found millennia before Columbus’ arrival in the New World.
If you’d like to gain a better overall understanding of the local history, check out the National Museum which features exhibits on everything from pre-Columbian tools and art to the ecosystem and contemporary Costa Rican society.
Just next door is the National Theater, an example of some of the country’s most stunning architecture — a must-see for all architecture aficionados.
If you’re traveling with children, consider stopping by the Children’s Museum, which features many interactive displays on natural sciences, astronomy and humanities that will capture your kids’ imaginations.
Before you hop on the plane, don’t forget to try out some of San José’s culinary offerings, which include everything from grilled delights and fresh fruit.
Although not big-name attractions, we recommend checking out the following local offerings while in Manuel Antonio:
- Feria: If you have some free time on a late Friday afternoon or Saturday morning before 10 am, check out the local Feria, or farmers’ market and its impressive array of fruits and vegetables.
- Gelateria Amorosi: If you need to cool down on a hot day, try the delicious gelateria at the nearby Marina Pez Vela.
Choose Villa Punto de Vista for your Five Days in Costa Rica
Now that you know what to do in Costa Rica for five days, you’ll now have to decide where to stay. If you’re traveling with a party of 10 to 25 and are looking for luxurious, well-staffed and highly rated accommodations, Villa Punto de Vista is the perfect choice.
While the villa alone is worth a visit, it is the villa’s surroundings that make it a truly exceptional place to vacation: Perched high on a hill overlooking aquamarine waters, sandy beaches and the dramatic Manuel Antonio National Park, Villa Punto de Vista offers breathtaking views in all directions. What’s more, the resort offers easy access to many world-class attractions, including biologically diverse rainforests, stunning waterfalls and many other incredible geographical features.
Contact us to book a reservation and organize an unforgettable vacation. You can reach us by filling out our contact form or by calling us with the live chat feature. We’re looking forward to showing you the best of Costa Rica.