Road Scholar : Home
Navigating Costa Rica: Arenal Volcano and the Pacific Coast

Program Number: 19524RJ
Start and End Dates:
2/1/2013 - 2/11/2013;
Duration: 10 nights
Location: Costa Rica/Panama
Price starting at: $3,395.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; Small Ship Cruising
Meals: 28; 10 Breakfasts, 9 Lunches, 9 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Low Fat; Low Salt    

Board an authentic tall ship to sail Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast, where the natural forces of jungle and ocean meet. Find yourself in the midst of amazing (and fiercely protected) biodiversity on naturalist-led walks, snorkel among tropical fish and learn about rainforest research at a working field station. Plus, discover the Arenal Volcano during an expert-led walking excursion in the national park.




Activity Particulars

Up to five hours of physical activities per day including hiking on uneven terrain, swimming and snorkeling.



Itinerary At-a-Glance

San José (Costa Rica), 1 night; Arenal Volcano National Park, 1 night; aboard Star Flyer, 7 nights; San José, 1 night.



Day 1:
Arrival San José (Costa Rica):

Gain an introduction to Costa Rica in its bustling capital city.
Lodging: Comfortable hotel.



Day 2:
Coach to Arenal Volcano National Park:

Expert-led walks introduce you to Arenal Volcano National Park. Walk on a network of suspension bridges in the forest canopy.
Lodging: Resort with volcano views.



Days 3-4:
Coach to Puerto Caldera / Embark Star Flyer / At Sea:

Journey to the Pacific port of Puerto Caldera and board the Star Flyer.



Day 5:
Isla Gamez (Panama):

Explore Isla Gamez and the stunning marine environment of Chiriqui Marine National Park.



Day 6:
Golfito (Costa Rica):

Meet the scientists who work at the Tropenstation, an Austrian field station in the valley of La Gamba.



Day 7:
Drake Bay/Corcovado National Park:

Hike through a reserve dubbed “The Amazon of Costa Rica” due to its great biological diversity.



Day 8:
Quepos/Manuel Antonio:

In Manuel Antonio National Park, look for residents including the Crab-eating Raccoon, Green Iguana, White-headed Capuchin Monkey and the endangered Central American Squirrel Monkey (or Titi Monkey).



Day 9:
Curu Wildlife Reserve / Isla Tortuga:

Look for some of the 234 native bird species on a nature walk in the Curu Wildlife Reserve. Snorkel in the crystal clear waters of Isla Tortuga.



Days 10-11:
Puerto Caldera / Disembark / Departure:

Board a small boat on the Tárcoles River to observe some of the world’s largest crocodiles up close.



Star Flyer

This authentic, traditionally rigged tall ship is 360 feet long and can carry 170 passengers in comfort. It offers all the amenities of a modern cruise ship and boasts expansive teak decks, two swimming pools, an elegant dining room, piano bar and library.


Meals and Lodgings
   Wyndham San José Herradura Hotel & Convention Center (previously a Ramada property)
  San José, Costa Rica 1 night
   Arenal Paraiso
  Arenal, Costa Rica 1 night
   Star Flyer
  At Sea, Costa Rica 7 nights
   Wyndham San José Herradura Hotel & Convention Center (previously a Ramada property)
  San José, Costa Rica 1 night
 Wyndham San José Herradura Hotel & Convention Center (previously a Ramada property)
Type: Resort
  Description: The Wyndham San José Herradura Hotel and Convention Center has 229 spacious rooms with modern conveniences and a long list of amenities that are meant to accommodate business travelers as well as vacationing families. It is conveniently located a short distance from San José's Juan Santamaria International Airport. The hotel has earned a Level 3 Certification for Sustainable Tourism by the Costa Rican Tourism Institute.
  Contact info: General Cañas Highway
5 km south from International Airport
San José,   Costa Rica
phone: +506-22099800
web: http://www.wyndham.com/hotels/costa-rica/san-jose/wyndham-san-jose-herradura-hotel-convention-center/hotel-overview
  Room amenities: The spacious, air conditioned rooms have private baths, hair dryers, satellite TVs, direct-dial phones, mini refrigerators, coffee makers, safety deposit boxes, and internet access.
  Facility amenities: Complimentary Wi-Fi, three restaurants, three swimming pools, a wet bar, Jacuzzis, casino, fitness center, spa services, laundry service, souvenir shop, beauty salon, business center, conference center, money exchange, Internet access, travel agency, and a souvenir shop. Wheelchair acessible elevators and public areas. Free airport shuttle service from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Free hotel shuttle service to San José attractions.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Prices subject to availability Rates and room types are subject to availability. Please contact your program provider at 1-800-866-7111 or roadscholarprograms@holbrooktravel.com if you need assistance with booking additional hotel nights.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: Prices subject to availability Rates and room types are subject to availability. Please contact your program provider at 1-800-866-7111 or roadscholarprograms@holbrooktravel.com if you need assistance with booking additional hotel nights.
  Check out time: 11:00 AM

 Arenal Paraiso
Type: Hotel
  Description: All rooms have views of the Arenal Volcano.
  Contact info: No info.
Arenal,  000000 Costa Rica
phone: +5062-460-5333
web: www.arenalparaiso.com
  Room amenities: Hair dryer, mini refrigerator, cable TV, and air conditioning.
  Facility amenities: Restaurant, 3 pools, bar, zip line, and spa.
  Smoking allowed: Yes

 Star Flyer
Type: Cruise Ship
  Description: The décor of Star Clipper and Star Flyer is reminiscent of the grand age of sail. Antique prints and paintings of famous sailing ships please the eye, while teak and gleaming mahogany rails are richly reminiscent of Star Clippers’ proud nautical heritage.
  Ship Information: This authentic, traditionally rigged, tall ship is 360 feet long and can carry 170 passengers in comfort. It offers all the amenities of a modern cruise ship and boasts expansive teak decks, two swimming pools, an elegant dining room, piano bar, and library.
  Contact info: USA office: 760 NW 107th Avenue, Suite 100
Miami, FL 33172 USA
phone: 305-442-0550
web: www.starclippers.com
  Room amenities: Porthole or window, carpeted floors, temperature control, closet, direct-dial phone, and TV.
  Facility amenities: Indoor-outdoor Tropical Bar and Piano Bar, dining room, Edwardian-style library, laundry services (addional cost), and the Sloop Shop
  Smoking allowed: No


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
All-day arrivals into the Juan Santamaria International Airport in San José, Costa Rica. Hotel check-in starts at 3 p.m. You will be staying at Wyndham San José Herradura Hotel & Convention Center (previously a Ramada property) that night.
  End of Program:
Departures from the Juan Santamaria International Airport in San José, Costa Rica. Hotel check-out by 11 a.m. You will be staying at Wyndham San José Herradura Hotel & Convention Center (previously a Ramada property) the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required.
  Required innoculations:
Yes: Travelers arriving in Costa Rica from a yellow fever area must present proof of vaccination upon entry. Please review the Centers for Disease Control travel health recommendations for Costa Rica and Panama, and discuss with your personal physician prior to travel. Website: www.cdc.gov/travel Phone: 1-800-CDC-INFO
  Parking availability:
Not applicable.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
To Start of Program
  Location:  San José
  Nearest city or town:  San Jose
  Nearest airport:  Juan Santa Maria International Airport
  Transportation to site: Participants needing transportation services at the airport, should use the official airport taxi service called Taxis Unidos Aeropuerto (www.taxisunidosaeropuerto.com / +(506) 2221-6865). The company provides safe and reliable service to San José hotels and nearby areas. The fare can be prepaid in U.S. dollars at the airport. The taxis are orange in color and have the logo emblazoned on the driver's door.
  From End of Program
  Location: San José
  Transportation from site: The Ramada Plaza Herradura in San Jose, Costa Rica offers a complimentary airport shuttle service from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Please check at the hotel's front desk about scheduling this service. Taxi services are also available at the hotel. If you wish to hire a taxi, please ask for assistance at the hotel's front desk.
    (Additional transportation information same as above)


Required innoculations:

Yes: Travelers arriving in Costa Rica from a yellow fever area must present proof of vaccination upon entry. Please review the Centers for Disease Control travel health recommendations for Costa Rica and Panama, and discuss with your personal physician prior to travel. Website: www.cdc.gov/travel Phone: 1-800-CDC-INFO

The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Arrive in San José, Costa Rica.
(Friday, February 1)
   
 Arrive To: Evening arrival in San Jose.

Proceed through Immigrations, Baggage Claim and Customs before exiting the secured area of the airport. The Road Scholar representative will be waiting outside the exit door with a Road Scholar sign.

Transfer to hotel and check-in.

Note: This is an international travel day; there are no meals or activities included on this day. Hotel check-in starts at 3 p.m.
   
Accommodations: Wyndham San José Herradura Hotel & Convention Center (previously a Ramada property)

Day 2: Arenal Volcano and La Fortuna -
Arenal Suspension Bridges Nature Excursion

(Saturday, February 2)
   
 Breakfast: At hotel restaurant.

 Morning: Orientation to the program.
Lecture: An Overview of Costa Rica.
Depart for La Fortuna and Arenal Volcano.

Arenal was once Costa Rica's most active volcano and a main draw to the town of La Fortuna and the Arenal Volcano National Park. The volcano lords over the countryside with its perfectly conical shape and occasional smoke and gas emissions. While minor activity excites visitors, they are rarely acknowledged by the locals who have learnt to accept the antics of the volcano as part of their daily lives. The thermal waters emanating from the volcano, the clean air and the energy associated with Arenal, makes this a favorite destination for health spa enthusiasts and nature lovers.

 Lunch: At hotel restaurant.

 Afternoon: Excursion to the Arenal Suspension Bridges.

The series of bridges at the Arenal Suspension Bridges park enables visitors to experience the various layers of the tropical forest--right up into the canopy. A well constructed trail connects all the bridges. Enjoy a leisurely nature walk in magnificent surroundings while learning about the forest eco-system from your group leader.

Arrive at the hotel and check-in.

 Dinner: At hotel restaurant.
   
Accommodations: Arenal Paraiso
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Arenal -
Arenal Volcano National Park/Embark on the Star Flyer

(Sunday, February 3)
   
 Breakfast: At hotel restaurant.

 Morning: Lecture: The History and Moods of the Arenal Volcano.

Walk in the Arenal Volcano National Park along one portion of the volcano's base.

Although clouds often obscure the peak of the volcano, during clear days it is possible to see gases and steam rising from the cone. It is interesting to see how the past lava flows have contributed to the erratic growth of vegetation in the areas around the volcano.

Return to the hotel.

 Lunch: At the hotel restaurant.

 Afternoon: Depart by bus for Puerto Caldera, adjacent to the city of Puntarenas, on the Pacific Coast.

Board the Star Flyer.

 Dinner: On board the ship.
   
Accommodations: Star Flyer
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: At Sea -
Lecture and Free Time

(Monday, February 4)
   
 Breakfast: On board the ship.

 Morning: Lecture: The National Parks and Biodiversity of Costa Rica.

 Lunch: On board the ship.

 Afternoon: Time at leisure to enjoy on board amenities.

 Dinner: On board the ship.
   
Accommodations: Star Flyer
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Gamez Island, Panama -
Beach Barbecue/Water Sports

(Tuesday, February 5)
   
 Breakfast: On board the ship.

 Morning: Wet landing at Gamez Island.

The uninhabited islands of Chiriqui's Gulf National Marine Park boast 36,000 acres. This proteced area serves as a refuge for howler monkeys, leatherback and hawksbill turtles, tiger-herons, white-tipped sharks and scores of colorful exotic fish.

 Lunch: Beach barbecue on Gamez Island.

 Afternoon: Enjoy an afternoon at your leisure. Take advantage of the beautiful beach for swimming and water sports.

Return to the ship.

 Dinner: On board the ship.
   
Accommodations: Star Flyer
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Golfito, Costa Rica -
Field trip to Piedras Blancas National Park and La Gamba Biological Station

(Wednesday, February 6)
   
 Breakfast: On board the ship.

 Morning: After a dry landing at Golfito, transfer by bus to Piedras Blancas National Park and La Gamba Biological Station.

Upon arrival at the field station, participants will take part in a guided hike in Piedras Blancas National Park. This hike will be followed by a tour of the field station and gardens.

In 1991, the Esquinas forest, one of the last unprotected lowland tropical rainforests on the Pacific coast of Central America, was declared Piedras Blancas National Park. However, since all land was in private hands, it could only be catalogued as a "paper park" until it was owned by the Costa Rican national park service. Michael Schnitzler, a well-known classical violinist from Vienna and part-time resident of Costa Rica, founded a non-profit organization called Rainforest of the Austrians with the goal of raising funds to buy property in the Esquinas forest. This continued support by the Austrians and with assistance from the Nature Conservancy, today the park is thriving.

 Lunch: At Esquinas Rainforest Lodge.

 Afternoon: Return to the ship.

 Dinner: On board the ship.
   
Accommodations: Star Flyer
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Drake Bay -
Hiking in Corcovado National Park.

(Thursday, February 7)
   
 Breakfast: On board the ship.

 Morning: Board zodiacs for a short ride to Drake Bay (wet landing).

Just a 20 minute ride by boat from Drake Bay; explore the immense biodiversity of one of Costa Rica's crown jewels, Corcovado National Park. Upon arrival at the beach continue to the Ranger Station via a wet landing. Then hike approximately 3 hours through the primary and secondary forest, to experience the rainforest wildlife and flora. The rich biological diversity of the Corcovado National Park is astounding, and sightings may include as many as 4 types of monkeys, as well as coatis, sloths, anteaters, and much more. Bird lovers will be enchanted by a wide variety of birds, including tanagers, flycatchers, kingfishers, manakins, trogons, crested guans, and spectacular scarlet macaws and toucans.

 Lunch: On board the ship.

 Afternoon: Sailing around Caño Island.

Caño Island is located less than 15 miles offshore from Drake’s Bay in the Osa Peninsula. Despite its tropical beauty and attractive vistas, Caño Island’s true biological diversity is not found on its land, but in its rich underwater environment. Good water visibility, coral reefs, and colorful marine life have served to make this one of Costa Rica’s best scuba and snorkeling destinations. The island is also an important cultural and historical site, and a place where visitors can view the enigmatic stone spheres left behind by Caño Island’s pre-Columbian residents.
 Dinner: On board the ship.
   
Accommodations: Star Flyer
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Quepos -
Field Trip to Manuel Antonio National Park.

(Friday, February 8)
   
 Breakfast: On board the ship.

 Morning: Cruising along Costa Rica's Pacific coastline on your way to Quepos.

Time at leisure to enjoy ship amenities.

 Lunch: On board the ship.

 Afternoon: Arrive in Quepos and disembark (dry landing) for a field trip to Manuel Antonio National Park.

Manuel Antonio National Park is probably the most popular destination for travelers to Costa Rica and is a must on anyone?s itinerary. From sloths to monkeys, the park encompasses an amazing range of biodiversity. Despite the park's fairly small size (about 1,700 acres) visitors can enter in a rainforest and walk straight to a white sand beach. Some of the park's more notable residents include the Crab-eating Raccoon, Green Iguana, White-headed Capuchin and the endangered Squirrel Monkey (also known as the Titi Monkey).

 Dinner: On board the ship.
   
Accommodations: Star Flyer
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Nicoya Peninsula -
Curu National Wildlife Refuge/Tortuga Island

(Saturday, February 9)
   
 Breakfast: On board the ship.

 Morning: Wet landing in the Nicoya Peninsula.

Disembark for a morning at the Curu National Wildlife Refuge for a nature walk and beach activities.

In 1983 this large property was designated a Private National Wildlife Reserve in order to preserve the natural habitat along the fringes of one of the most beautiful beaches in the Nicoya Peninsula. The refuge is a haven for tropical and migratory birds, and two species of monkeys. The five different species of mangroves found in Costa Rica are represented in the inlets that are washed by the gulf waters.

Return to the ship.

 Lunch: On board the ship.

 Afternoon: Sail across the Bay of Nicoya to Tortuga Island, with a wet landing, for an afternoon of beach activities. Participate in water sports, walk on a short island trail, and relax on the beach.

Despite its misleading name, Tortuga Island is actually composed of two uninhabited islands. Postcard-perfect white sand beaches and clear waters make this a perfect tropical spot for snorkeling and swimming. The islands are located in the Gulf of Nicoya, across from the Curu National Wildlife Refuge and just a few miles southwest of the Negritos Islands.

Return to the ship.

 Dinner: On board the ship.
   
Accommodations: Star Flyer
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: San José -
Disembark Star Flyer/Tárcoles River Crocodile Safari/Farewell Dinner

(Sunday, February 10)
   
 Breakfast: On board the ship.

 Morning: Say farewell to the Star Flyer and board a bus to Tárcoles. Embark on a Crocodile Safari on the Tárcoles River.

This boat adventure on the Tarcoles River takes visitors past mangrove forests and the Carara National Park--a good place to spot Scarlet Macaws. However, the highlight of this river safari is having the opportunity to observe the large population of crocodiles that call this area home. Some of these prehistoric-looking reptiles have been found to reach lengths in excess of fifteen-feet!

After your river adventure, board a bus to San José.
 Lunch: En route to San José.
 Afternoon: Arrive in San José and check-in at your hotel.
The rest of your afternoon will be free of activities. Relax and enjoy the hotel amenities, finish packing, or take the opportunity to explore San José on your own.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner at the hotel.
   
Accommodations: Wyndham San José Herradura Hotel & Convention Center (previously a Ramada property)
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Depart for the U.S. -
Transfer to the airport.

(Monday, February 11)
   
 Breakfast: Light snack or breakfast at hotel (dependent on flight times).

 Morning: Transfer to the international airport to check-in for the return flight to the U.S.
   
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
 
  Arenal Canopy zip line, horseback riding, hiking and spa activities
Hitch your self to a zip line for an adrenaline rush through the forest canopy. Spot animals while gliding through the forest. Horseback ride within the vicinity of the volcano. Spa options provide Swedish massage, reflexology and skin treatments. For additional information, visit www.arenal.net/lake-arenal.htm
  Explore the town of La Fortuna
Walk around the town after dinner with the opportunity to interact with the locals. For additional information, visit www.lafortunacostarica.com
  Horseback riding, hiking, kayaking, safari float, boat ride on Lake Arenal or windsurfing
Horseback ride and hike to La Fortuna Waterfalls or through pastures and hilly terrain. Kayaking on Lake Arenal not only offers the opportunity to spot a variety of birds, but also the stunning backdrop of the volcano. A boat ride on Lake Arenal provides great opportunities to photograph the volcano and to enjoy the water birds frequenting the edge of the lake. The wind on Lake Arenal usually offers a great opportunity to windsurf. For additional information, visit www.arenaltours.com
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


A Brief History of Central America


Author: Hector Perez-Brignoll


Description: A good overview of the region’s economic, political and social history through the 1980s by a professor at the University of Costa Rica. Well-written, informative and concise.



Costa Rica's National Parks and Preserves: A Visitor's Guide


Author: Joseph Franke and Joseph Dimijian


Description: A first-rate source for the Costa Rican park system. Profiles 40 parks and preserves and their distinct tropical habitats. Franke provides regional history as well as tips on what to pack.



Costa Rica, Enchantment of the World


Author: Marion Morrison


Description: Published for the library market, this comprehensive overview of the geography and people of Costa Rica for children ages 9-12 has much to offer the traveler, including illustrated descriptions of the nature, history, religion and economy of the country.



Culture Smart! Costa Rica


Author: Jane Koutnik


Description: A guide to local customs, etiquette and culture.



Lonely Planet Costa Rica Country Guide


Author: Lonely Planet


Description: Regional maps, detailed site information and general tips will be useful to travelers of all budgets and interests.



Lonely Planet Costa Rican Spanish


Author: Lonely Planet


Description: A pocket guide to understanding idioms, slang and Spanish as it is spoken by the Ticos.



Mammals of Costa Rica


Author: Fiona Reid


Description: A palm-sized guide to 65 native mammals with handsome full-color illustrations and helpful descriptions. Includes a map, viewing tips and a checklist.



Neotropical Rainforest Mammals: A Field Guide


Author: Louise H. Emmons & François Feer


Description: This beautifully illustrated field guide contains all you need to know about rainforest mammals in Central and South America. It has color plates, range maps and detailed descriptions of each animal, including information about their biology, behavior and natural habitats.



The Penguin History of Latin America


Author: Edwin Williamson


Description: Williamson traces 500 years of history from the time of Columbus and the Spanish Conquest to the present day. An excellent and very readable history in a compact size.



The Ticos


Author: Richard Biesanz


Description: This insightful, fact-filled portrait of the Costa Rican people accessibly explores their culture, history and society.



The Wildlife of Costa Rica, A Field Guide


Author: Fiona Reid, Twan Leenders, Jim Zook, Robert Dean


Description: Designed to take along on a walk in the forest, this latest compact Zona Tropical guide includes 450 of the most common, interesting and charismatic mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and arthropods that you are likely to encounter in the field. Each gets an exquisite full color illustration.



Tropical Nature


Author: Adrian Forsyth, Ken Miyata


Description: A lively, lucid portrait of the tropics as seen by two uncommonly observant and thoughtful field biologists. Its 17 marvelous essays introduce the habitats, ecology, plants and animals of the Central and South American rainforest



Tropical Plants of Costa Rica


Author: Willow Zuchowski


Description: Organized by habitat, this photo guide to 400 species has chapters on popular destinations, including Monteverde and Tortuguero.





You can't find a better value than Road Scholar.


As a not-for-profit organization, we are dedicated to providing all-inclusive educational programs at great value. From lectures to gratuities to field trips to accommodations - the tuition you pay up front is all that you pay.



Specifically, this program includes:

Plus these special experiences...

View the Daily Schedule to see more

And included with all Road Scholar programs:


© Road Scholar 2014 | Call toll-free: 1-800-454-5768