Manuel Antonio National Park (3 days)
Home of some of the most beautiful beaches on the Central Pacific coast! Take a morning hike through the park and spend the day exploring the natural coast swimming in the warm water and making sure the monkeys don't steal your stuff. Make a stop for lunch and shopping at the beach town of Jaco on the return trip.
Poas Volcano and La Paz Waterfall (day trip)
Walk up to the old crater lake of the Poas volcano and see the crater (clear weather permitting). Visit La Paz waterfall gardens for a fantastic buffet lunch and spend the afternoon visiting the butterfly and bird house, frog sanctuary, hummingbird gardens, wild feline exhibit and monkeys. Walk through beautiful waterfall trails down to the main waterfall lookout before returning to San Jose.
Arenal Volcano, Hot Springs Spa, and Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve (3 days)
Arrive at the small town of La Fortuna where the great Arenal Volcano resides. Take a short ride to a hot springs spa and enjoy the naturally heated water in multi-level pools and slides. The next morning, hike down to La Fortuna Waterfall for a spectacular view before traveling by boat across Arenal Lake to the town of Monteverde, located in the cloud forest. Go horseback riding, take a night tour through the forest and enjoy a homemade meal prepared by the hosts of the lodge. Start the next day with zip lining through the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, home of the 1 km zip line and an immense array of bird and animal species that can be seen along the way.
Optional excursion to Bocas del Toro, Panama (3 days - extra fee)
Take an early morning bus ride into Panama, where you board a boat to Isla Colon in Bocas del Toro. Explore the island with friends, finding entertaining places to eat and vendors along the streets. Take a boat tour the next morning to Starfish Beach, where giant starfish are seen in the shallows on the white sand. A barbecue lunch is served and the afternoon is free to spend with friends. Take a boat ride through Dolphin Bay the next morning on the way to Coral Key, where the water is clear, shallow, and filled with colorful fish. Perfect for snorkeling! With clear water and white sand beaches, this was the most beautiful scenery that I saw on my entire study abroad trip.