advertisement

Seeking the sunshine and beautiful beaches of the Caribbean but only after a bit of excitement in the form of outdoor activities like hiking, surfing, wildlife viewing, volcano climbing and forest canopy rides? Then Costa Rica is your destination. Whether you base yourself on the Caribbean or the Pacific coast or somewhere in between, it will be difficult to decide whether you'd like to just relax on the beach or actually participate in one or all of these added adventures on offer.

Traveland (tel. 800/321-6336; www.traveland.com) has a six day "Escorted Rainforest Adventure" priced from only $599 per person. This special package is perfect for those on a budget who still want to indulge in all the Costa Rica added extras. From Poas Volcano to Whitewater rafting and hiking in Sarapiqui River, this adventure includes round-trip airfare, three nights' accommodations at the three-star Don Fadrique Hotel in San José, transfers, guided tour to Poas Volcano, Sarapiqui Whitewater rafting adventure, Rainforest Aerial Tram tour, two nights at the Rainforest Lodge in Braulio Carrillo National Park in jungle bungalows, rafting equipment and a birdwatching and hiking tour. From Miami the trip is priced from $599, $799 from Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles or New York, $859 from Atlanta, Dallas, Milwaukee, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco or Washington DC. Taxes are an additional $180 and a single supplement is $100. Thursday departure dates for 2006 are July 13, 20 and 27; August 10, 17 and 24; September 7, 14, 21 and 28; and October 5, 12, 19 and 26.

Its all-inclusive "Tambor Beach" package is priced from $699 for an eight day vacation on the Pacific coast. Included are round-trip airfare to San José, airport transfers, two nights at the five-star Barcelo San José Palacio Hotel in San José, transfer to Puntarenas and ferry ride to Tambor, five nights at the five-star Barcelo Tambor, free kayak, windsurfing and boogie board rental, all non-motorized activities and all meals and drinks. Add $110 if you choose to fly between San José and Tambor. Kids eleven years and younger get a $150 off. This trip is priced from $699 from Miami, $899 from Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles or New York and $999 from Cincinnati, Dallas, Nashville, Orlando, Raleigh or San Francisco. 2006 departure dates are July 14, 29 and 26; August 3, 10, 17 and 24; September 7, 15, 21 and 28; October 5, 12, 19 and 26; November 8, 15 and 29; and December 6. For Tuesday departures in January, February add March, add $50.

Caravan Tours (800/227-2826; www.caravantours.com) has a land-only ten day Costa Rica tour from $995 per person plus taxes and fees of approximately $98. The trip includes airport transfers, all meals (dinner only on the first day and breakfast only on the last day), nine nights' hotel accommodations, a San José city tour, Poas Volcano, a scenic drive through Braulio Carrillo Park, the rainforest aerial tram, a rainforest hike, cruises through Tortuguero Park and Caño Palma wildlife reserve, turtle nesting beaches, a visit to a local school, a banana plantation and a coffee plantation, Selva Verde Rainforest Reserve, a walk over a 300 foot long suspension bridge, the San Carlos Valley (Fortuna), a cruise on the Rio Frio, Caño Negro wildlife refuge, a soak in volcanic hot springs, Arenal, a Cloud Forest hike, Jaco, Manuel Antonio Park and Carara Biological Reserve. Caravan's professional tour directors conduct every land tour from start to finish. This tour departs from José regularly in from early July to late December 2006.

Latin Destinations (tel. 866/645-2846; www.latindestinations.com) offers a "Best of Both Worlds" package that includes Costa Rican romance, rejuvenation and nature. Enjoy the best of Costa Rica, from the mountain cloud forests to the sea level tropical jungle, combining Si Como No Hotel and Spa Resort near Manuel Antonio National Park (where you can enjoy guided excursions into the Park, mangrove and ocean kayaking, horseback riding, tours to our nearby butterfly and private nature refuge "Fincas Naturales", world class sport fishing, and whitewater rafting tours) with Villablanca Cloud Forest Hotel near San Ramon where each charming "Casita" is part of an authentic Costa Rican farm village overlooking 3,000 acres of dairy pastures and pristine cloud forests. The package price includes international round trip airfare, all ground transfers, three-nights at Villablanca Cloud Forest Hotel and five at Villas Si Como No with hotel taxes and breakfast daily. Get 50 percent off guided nature walks at Villablanca and the Butterfly Gardens at Si Como No with a $25 Spa advantage discount on any Serenity Spa treatment. Travel in September 2006 and this eight night package is priced from $1,050 from Miami or Los Angeles, $1,113 from New York or Houston and $1,143 from Chicago.

Gap Adventures (tel. 800/708-7761; www.gapadventures.com) features 35 individual trips that are either solely Costa Rica, or visit Costa Rica as part of a wider trip through Central America. Many are independent or self drive tours while others are guided group adventures.

Their Costa Rica "Learn to Surf" trip is a seven day surfing safari at Playa Hermosa but you can also indulge is swimming, snorkeling and relaxing. Spend seven days at Zopilote Surf Camp, learning to hang ten or improve your form. Zopilote is the only surf camp at Playa Hermosa, just north of more well-known Malpais, which means no crowds to share the sensational waves with. This adventure is priced at $795 and highlights include daily transfers to different beaches, four days of surf lessons (two hours per day), breakfast and dinner daily while at the camp, fully equipped campsite, surfboards for beginners and transfers to and from Cobano. Accommodation is in a multi share house with shared bathrooms. Daily departures are available.

The Costa Rica Family Adventure is a 12-day trip from San José that visit Tortuguero, Arenal Volcano, Monteverde Cloud Forest, Quepos and Manuel Antonio National Park. Choose from rafting, cave tours, a volcano hike, night turtle watching and more. The adventure includes 11 nights' hotel accommodations, transportation, a boat tour to Tortuguero National Park, a city and canal tour in Tortuguero, Tabacon Hot Springs visit and a guided visit to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, breakfast daily and all meals in Tortuguero (two days). Departures are on July 9 and 23, August 6 and 20, December 10, 17, 24 and 31, 2006 and various dates in 2007 in January, March, June, July and August. Please note that at the minimum age for this tour is 6 and at least one child between the ages of 6 and 17 must be traveling per booking. The trip is priced at $1,095 plus a $200 local payment.

The following airlines service San José from the U.S.:

Current summer and fall airfares from Miami range from $350 to $500, and approximately $100 more from New York or Los Angeles.

Chat up other Frommer's readers on our Costa Rica Message Boards today.