Costa Rica’s Wild Side – Pacific Coast

Search for nesting leatherback sea turtles and hatchlings at Playa Grande, explore Marino Ballena National Park by boat, and immerse yourself in the Osa Peninsula’s lush rainforest.
When: Leatherback sea turtle nesting season at Playa Grande runs from October through mid-March; humpback whale season runs from mid-December through March and from July through November.
Duration: 9 days/ 8 Nights


  • Playa Grande ~ Located on Costa Rica’s north Pacific coast, Playa Grande is an important nesting beach for endangered leatherback sea turtles.  It’s also only steps away from the main peak, one of Costa Rica’s most consistent surf breaks.
  • Marino Ballena National Park ~ Costa Rica has the longest humpback whale season in the world. Humpbacks from the northern and southern hemispheres visit Costa Rica’s south Pacific coast making for some of the best whale watching opportunities anywhere. Marino Ballena was created to protect critical breeding areas and to preserve biological communities along the coast.
  • Osa Peninsula ~ Home to the largest remaining section of Central America’s Pacific coastal rainforest and declared ‘one of the most biologically intense places on Earth’ by National Geographic Magazine.


Below are some of our sample itineraries, but note that we can customize the perfect Costa Rica adventure that meets your needs.


Sample Itinerary

DAY 1: Arrival/ Playa Grande ~ Upon arrival to Liberia International Airport (LIR), transfer to peaceful Playa Grande on Costa Rica’s north Pacific Coast. Your hotel for the next three nights is the only beach-front hotel in the center of Playa Grande and a model for sustainable tourism in the area. Playa Grande is an important nesting beach for endangered leatherback sea turtles and just steps from the main peak, one of Costa Rica’s most consistent surf breaks. Overnight at Hotel Las Tortugas.

Leatherback Sea Turtle ~ The largest sea turtle on the planet and an endangered species, leatherbacks (Dermochelys coriacea) are the only remaining representatives of a family of turtles that date back 100 million years in Earth’s history. While other sea turtles have hard, bony shells, leatherbacks have a softer carapace that allows them to dive deep in the ocean in search of food. The majority of leatherbacks that nest on Costa Rica’s beaches do so on the Caribbean Coast. Playa Grande provides critical nesting habitat for leatherbacks on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast. Nesting season runs from October through March on Playa Grande (nightly turtle tours from Oct 20 – Feb 15). Beginning in January it’s common to see hatchlings emerging from their nests and heading toward the ocean in the early morning hours.

Leatherback sea turtle hatchling in Costa Rica.

DAY 2: Playa Grande/ Tamarindo Estuary and Wildlife Refuge ~ This morning, you’ll enjoy a guided tour of the Tamarindo Wildlife Refuge. Louis Wilson, the founder of Hotel Las Tortugas, will join you after the tour to discuss local history of the area and his involvement in helping to preserve Playa Grande as a nesting area for endangered leatherback sea turtles and designation of the adjacent wildlife refuge. This evening, you’ll set out with a park ranger in search of leatherback sea turtles nesting along Playa Grande (dependent on travel dates). Overnight at Hotel Las Tortugas.

DAY 3: Playa Grande ~ You have today to enjoy all that’s on offer in the area. Optional activities include surfing and boogie boarding (surf lessons available), diving and snorkeling, canoeing, fishing, visiting Tamarindo and other beach towns located along the coast, a guided hike in Rincon de la Vieja National Park, another turtle tour tonight, etc. Overnight at Hotel Las Tortugas.

Keel-billed toucan in Costa Rica

DAY 4: Playa Grande/ Uvita ~ This morning, you’ll transfer back to the Liberia Airport in time for your scenic flight to Palmar Sur via San Jose. A local representative will meet you at the Palmar Sur airport for your ground transfer to La Cusinga Lodge in Uvita. The rest of the day is yours to explore the trails in the private reserve adjacent to the lodge. The reserve protects over 500 acres of primary rainforest and is home to blue morpho butterflies, howler and white-faced monkeys, toucans, tree frogs, and many other tropical species. Overnight at La Cusinga Lodge.

DAY 5: Uvita/ Marino Ballena National Park ~ This morning, you’ll set out for a guided marine wildlife boat tour in Marino Ballena National Park. Located along Costa Rica’s central Pacific Coast, the park was created in 1990 to help protect valuable habitat for the many whale species, including humpbacks that visit from December to April and July through October. Dolphins and sea turtles are seen throughout the year. The most commonly seen dolphins on the Pacific coast are bottlenose and spotted dolphins. Overnight at La Cusinga. (B)

Humpback Whale ~ Gentle marine giants, humpback whales (Megaptera noveangliae) are well known for their acrobatic displays. During breeding season, it’s not unusual to see humpbacks breach the water’s surface and slap tail fluke and flippers. From December – April, humpbacks from the northern hemisphere can be found along Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast and from July through October, whales from the southern hemisphere visit.  

humpback whale breach

DAY 6: Uvita/ Osa Peninsula ~ Enjoy a final morning at La Cusinga before your transfer to Puerto Jimenez to El Remanso Lodge. El Remanso’s Private Reserve covers 185 acres of tropical rainforest that acts as an important buffer zone to Corcovado National Park. National Geographic Magazine labeled the Osa Peninsula as “one of the most biologically intense places on Earth’. Wildlife are plentiful here. The rest of the day is yours to explore the area near the lodge. Overnight at El Remanso Lodge. (B,BL,D)

DAYS 7-8: These two days are yours to enjoy the natural surroundings at the lodge. A guided hike with the lodge’s resident naturalist is included. More than 400 species of birds have been identified in the area and the Osa is the only place where you can see all four species of Costa Rica’s monkeys in their natural habitat. An optional day tour to Corcovado National Park to search for the endangered Baird’s tapir is available during your stay. Overnights at El Remanso Lodge. (B,L,D)

Suspension bridge at El Remanso

DAY 9: Departure ~ Enjoy a final morning at the lodge before being transferred to Puerto Jimenez for your flight to San Jose and home. (B)

NOTE: This itinerary is based on flying into LIR Airport and out of SJO Airport. Alternate arrival/departure cities can be accommodated.



Meals: B=Breakfast; L=Lunch; BL=Boxed Lunch; D=Dinner

Pricing from $2035 per person based on double occupancy.

Package includes accommodations and meals as listed, ground transfers between airports and hotels, local bilingual English-Spanish speaking guides/interpreters on shared basis during guided excursions, transfers and entrance fees for guided excursions, domestic flights (LIR-Palmar Sur and Puerto Jimenez to SJO), and sales taxes. A donation to support local conservation efforts will be made on behalf of each participant.

Exclusions: international airfare, passport/visa fees, taxis, excess baggage fees, optional activities, gratuities, alcohol, items of a personal nature, and travel insurance.

This sample itinerary is a suggested outline.  It can be customized to best suit your travel plans.