Butterflies, Bicycles & Beaches

  • Itinerary Summary

    Pluming volcanoes, lush tropical forests, and spectacular beaches are just some of the attractions Costa Rica offers for active travelers. Join us this winter and discover the true meaning of paradise. You will lodge in small inns and hidden tropical resorts, enjoy a scenic float trip on the Bebedero River, see Arenal Volcano at night, and explore Costa Rica's beautiful and diverse wildlife and plants with our team of local naturalist guides. We suggest a few days in San José at the beginning of this tour or a few days extra at the beach at the end, but beware - you may never want to go home!
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    1. Day 1: Arrive in Alajuela, Costa Rica

      Highlights: Hotel with swimming pool and nature trails, welcome dinner

      We meet today outside of Alajuela, a suburb of San José and birthplace of Costa Rican hero Juan Santamaria. Relax at the hotel pool or walk in the tropical gardens before introductions with our tour leaders and the group at 5:00 pm. Then enjoy a special dinner together in the veranda restaurant of our hotel. No riding today.

      Hotel Features: Our peaceful hotel is nestled in over 10 acres of lush natural tropical gardens with exotic tropical fruits, flowers, birds and butterflies. Surrounded by coffee and sugar cane plantations.

      Facilities: Swimming pool, walking trails, restaurant and bar, only 15 minutes from international airport

    2. Day 2: Bicycling in Cloud and Rain Forests

      Highlights: Ride through coffee plantations, ornamental plant farms, and the rainforest

      After our shuttle to Naranjo this morning, we will ride past sugar cane fields and coffee plantations as we climb out of the Central Valley and across the Continental Divide. Whether you choose to cycle to the top of the divide or shuttle in the van, you'll enjoy spectacular vistas. We will arrive mid-afternoon at our hotel, tucked away from the road in a beautiful valley on the edge of a private rainforest reserve. Ample walking trails and a beautiful pool give us plenty of options for exploring and relaxing this afternoon. We have a special dinner planned tonight. Distance: 53 km (33 miles)

      Hotel Features: An environmental and animal friendly hotel, located in a hidden valley in front of a protected cloud forest with walking trails and a Canopy Tour.

      Facilities: Vegetarian restaurant, swimming pool and Jacuzzi, live music, conference room, a camping area and a pet hotel

    3. Day 3: Nature Walk, Hot Springs & Night Views of Arenal Volcano

      Highlights: Guided walk through a nature reserve, hot springs

      Learn about Costa Rica's natural history this morning on a guided walk through a local nature reserve. Then it's back to the bikes to enjoy a scenic ride toward Arenal Volcano, the most spectacular of Costa Rica's active volcanoes. Our destination is La Fortuna, nestled in the eastern foothills of Arenal. This evening, we'll visit the local hot springs where you can enjoy a relaxing soak and a classic Costa Rican dinner. After dinner we'll shuttle closer to the Arenal Volcano to get a night-time view of the mountain, and if we are lucky we'll see "fire rocks" cascading down its side. Dinner together. Distance: 40 km (25 miles)

      Hotel Features: Family run hotel in the center of the town. Very close to banks, restaurants, post office and pharmacy.

      Facilities: 15 air conditioned rooms, swimming pool and internet point.

    4. Day 4: La Fortuna and East Arenal Foothills Loop Ride

      Highlights: Scenic ride, tropical farms and gardens

      There's no need to pack this morning. Our loop ride out of La Fortuna takes us into the countryside past small rural villages, beautiful rivers, and rich agricultural land with yucca and papaya plantations. Dinner is on your own tonight but we'll help with suggestions. Distance: 52 km (32 miles)

      Hotel Features: Family run hotel in the center of the town. Very close to banks, restaurants, post office and pharmacy.

      Facilities: 15 air conditioned rooms, swimming pool and internet point.

    5. Day 5: Arenal Volcano

      Highlights: Bike around Arenal Volcano and scenic Lake Arenal

      Arenal Volcano dominates our ride this morning - and what a sight! You may even see and hear it erupt as you ride around its base, from a safe distance of course. As you approach Lake Arenal, keep your eyes and ears open for the distinct sounds of howler monkeys and the comic antics of coatimundi, as well as other wildlife that call the lake home. At our hotel this afternoon, you will enjoy views back to the lake with the volcano in the distance. Dinner together. Distance: 55 km (34 miles).

      Hotel Features: Lake view property, windsurfing equipment rental and lessons.

      Facilities: Bar and restaurant, swimming pool and Jacuzzi.

    6. Day 6: Bicycle Downhill to Sunny Guanacaste Province

      Highlights: Fertile plains of western Costa Rica, hotel swimming pool

      Ready for a change of pace? You will get your chance today as we pedal for the Pacific plains, Costa Rica's version of the Wild West. Birds, monkeys, and sabaneros ("cowboys") on horseback are some of the things you are likely to see. This is the Guanacaste province, one of the few areas in the world where you can still find primary tropical dry forest. We'll enjoy a Guanacasteco-style grill tonight for dinner. Distance: 40 km (25 miles).

      Hotel Features:Colonial style accommodation in the middle of the Costa Rican Dry Forest.

      Facilities: Traditional Costa Rican restaurant, swimming pool, walking trails full of wildlife

    7. Day 7: Boat Ride and Viewing Wildlife on Bebedero & Tempisque

      Highlights: Boat tour on the Bebedero and Tempisque rivers, Traditional Dance show with marimba music.

      Early this morning we'll bike 15 very flat kilometers (9 miles) to Bebedero where we'll board the boat that will take us across to the Nicoya Peninsula. River banks are prime feeding areas for a wide variety of animals, so this is a great opportunity to see monkeys, iguanas, crocodiles and other wildlife. After getting off the boat we'll pick up our bikes and ride to our hotel located just outside the old town of Nicoya. Take a dip in the pool before going to our special dinner featuring the traditional dances of the Guanacaste region. Total distance: 51 km (31 miles)

      Features: A modern hotel outside the colonial city of Nicoya.

      Facilities: New rooms with air conditioning, cable TV and two double beds. Swimming pool, bar and restaurant.

    8. Day 8: Bicycle to the Pacific Coast

      Highlights: Beach hotel with swimming pool, seafood dinner together

      The beach awaits today, and what a beach it is -- nestled in a quiet cove along the Pacific Ocean. We'll bike the rolling hills from Nicoya to Samara. If you arrive at our hotel early, you can choose to enjoy the beach or the pool for the afternoon. Or you can just relax with a cool drink and enjoy the ocean breeze. We'll celebrate the end of our journey this evening with a final dinner of local fresh seafood. Distance: 37 km (23 miles)

      Features: Deluxe hotel with ocean views of Playa Carrillo one the most beautiful and unspoiled beaches on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica.

      Facilities: Charming, typical palm thatched roof tops and hardwood decks around the pool, restaurant and bar. Ample air conditioned rooms with ocean view

    9. Day 9: Shuttle back to San José

      Highlights: Tour ends with a complimentary shuttle back to San José

      After breakfast this morning, we offer a free shuttle back to Alajuela or San José. We'll arrive between 2:00 and 3:00 pm, so if you are departing today, be sure to book your flight for no sooner than 6:00. There are daily flights from a local airport to San José as well, if you would like to spend some extra time on the beach or explore more of Costa Rica. Pura vida!

    • Highlights

      Tropical birds and animals, Rainforest lodges, Arenal Volcano, Pacific Coast beaches, Hot Springs at Arenal, River float trip
    • Includes

      9 days, 8 nights accommodation, 7 dinners with wine, 7 breakfasts, Group shuttle to Alajuela at tour end plus "The Usual"
    • Countries

      Costa Rica
    • Begin/End

    • Arrive/Depart

      San José
    • Total Distance

      328 km (203 miles)
    • Daily Distance

    • Rating

    • Terms

      Terms & Conditions
  • Dates Price Private Room Charge Notes

    * We are happy to match solo travelers who would like to share a room with someone of the same gender. If no match exists, due to hotel pricing, we will charge 50% of the private room charge. This charge will be collected at the time of the final payment. If a roommate assignment is available it will be refunded at the conclusion of the tour.

  • Stories

    • Book Review: Guides to Birds of Costa Rica

      Rick reviews two guide books

    • Interview with Mario Cordero

      Mario has been leading tours and coordinating our trips in Costa Rica since 1993. We recently took a few moments to catch up on his life in Costa Rica.

    • Staff report on Costa Rica tour

      Staffer Chris Lukesic describes his experience of Costa Rica when he went on the Butterflies, Bicycles and Beaches cycling tour in 2003

    • The birds of Costa Rica

      Mario Cordero, ExperiencePlus! Costa Rica country coordinator, describes birds and biodiversity of his country.

    • Traveling with friends

      Staffer Joeann Gutowski interviewed friends traveling together in Costa Rica on our tour

    • Customer photos of Butterflies, Bikes and Beaches

      We use Picasa to host pictures from our customers and staff members; this gallery hosts photos taken in Costa Rica on the BBB tour.

    • Joe Friel - Cycling past 50

      This book contains a wealth of information for the over fifty rider who wants to take charge of the aging process and become a better cyclist at the same time.

    • Maps of Costa Rica

      The MapCR.com site is a resource for travel information in Costa Rica. This site also sells waterproof, high quality Costa Rica maps that you may find helpful planning your vacation before and after your ExperiencePlus! tour.

    • Pre-tour training

      ExperiencePlus! has contracted with national fitness expert Joe Friel to create customized, day by day, training programs to ensure you are ready for your biking tour.

    • Sansa Airlines

      Sansa Regional Airlines can fly you around Costa Rica to San Jose. You can check schedules and book flights on their web site.

    • My favorite experience was the entire day we road up to and around Mt Arenal. It was a really beautiful ride and we saw some really interesting wildlife.

      Steve S., Baltimore, MD
    • Our tour leader was incredibly well-organized and yet very relaxed. Costa Rica is a wonderful country. THANK YOU!

      Stuart S. Arlington, VA
    • Loved the arrows! Our tour leaders had great knowledge of the country, history, politics, flora and fauna. I had never done a guided tour before - I am hooked! I learned so many things that I would never have known if I was just riding my bike from place to place as I have done in the past. Also, the route and hotels were great - eclectic great places that I would have no knowledge of.

      Tina E. Fort Collins, CO
    • Our tour leaders were great. We loved them both.

      Linda M. Monunment, CO
    • I loved getting to know the others in the group. Feeling great at the end of a long, hard ride. Stopping along the way to see Costa Rica in a very up-close and personal way.

      Judy W. Jacksonville, IL
    • I was very impressed with the dedication and hardwork each of the tour leaders demonstrated to make the tour memorable for each of us.

      Rebecca P. Vancouver, WA
    • I can't praise the tour leaders highly enough. {They ] were over-the-top wonderful! Every detail was taken care of so that all we had to do was ride our bikes, enjoy the scenery, partake of the fabulous meals and relax at the hotels.

      Gary B. Seattle, WA
    • [What influenced my decision to take this tour? ] In this case, I really wanted to go to Costa Rica (never been there) and I really wanted an active vacation and I like biking, and I wanted a trip I could go on myself - so an organized tour was the better fit - I just Googled Costa Rica bicycle and up you came! I have never taken a tour before - just gone to the country I wanted to visit, with a friend, and either toured from one hotel or driven around...Dinners were great - fun, excellent food for the most part, great wine. I really enjoyed the extras - the volcano, the hot springs, the coffee co-op, the dancers, the river ride - terrific.

      Clare P.
      Toronto, ON Canada
    • [What I liked best was ]downhills, views, seafood dinner, and the national dance evening.

      Toomas L.
      Tallinn, Estonia
    • What did I like best? Too many to name just one - first, the tour leaders made every day a joy to be on the ride, and secondly, the Costa Rican countryside and sights were awesome.

      Grace H.
      Mechanicsburg, PA
    • The tour leaders were terrific....very knowledgable, helpful and personable

      Patty P.
      Kintnersville, PA
    • For me, one aspect of the trip that was unique and memorable was... meeting a local and really having a true exchange of experiences and understandings, [it] was the PLUS in Experience PLUS for me.

      Daryl C.
    • We have been back from our wonderful Costa Rican bike tour for almost a month now, and we still find ourselves thinking daily about all of the many "pluses" we experienced. Here's a tiny example of how truly caring and thoughtful this company is: We somehow left a pair of shorts in one of our hotel rooms. Down the road, we got a message saying that our shorts had been found, and that they would be waiting for us at our departure hotel near San Jose, after our tour was over. We truthfully didn't even realize we'd left the shorts behind, and were so impressed at the extra effort it took to identify them and transport them. Talk about service!

      Starr & Phil T.
      Fort Collins, CO
    • Jose and his entire crew were truly outstanding. I cannot remember a trip with more helpful, knowledgable, and warm guides.

      Mark R.
      Millersville, MD
    • We go because we like your philosophy of travel. We appreciate your talent in chosing personable and well informed guides --- they work hard to make every day treasure.

      Monte & Pat P.
      Fort Collins, CO
    • The educational information shared by the tour leaders is a great plus on the tour.

      Bob G.
      Fort Collins, CO
    • The tour guides were outstanding. We had a wonderful time.

      Mary B.
      Newport Beach, CA
    • [My favorite part was ]biking through the cloud forest, and then taking a guided walk the next morning.

      Phil T.
      Fort Collins, CO
    • Please pass along my compliments to the ExperiencePlus! management. The tour course selection, on road support, road markings, daily pre-ride information, luggage handling, and hotel and restaurant selections were great. I thought the tour leader did an outstanding job... Road markings were excellent. Concerns about missing a turn, even in towns, were nonexistant. Great job.

      Don B.
      Newport Beach, CA
    • This is the first time I ever took a guided tour. It will not be the last, it was great - so much easier than planning my own.

      Carole L.
      Huntington Woods, MI
    • Yes, we're back from our amazing adventure ... I have many tales to tell (of course), but most of all I can't say enough about our guides...they were kind, caring, skilled, knowledgeable, flexible, interesting and fun to be with...they gracefully rose to every occasion... the overall route was wonderfully diverse.

      Starr T.
      Fort Collins, CO
    • The leaders were wonderful. They were available at a moment's notice, but did not hover. They were cheerful and enthusiastic and marvelous bikers. Their presence greatly enhanced the trip.

      Nada G.
      Englewood, CO
    • I have been on 6 bike tours and they have all been great. Nothing however can top the cycling day which started by seeing Arenal erupt, passing coatis on the roadside, and then having nine monkeys cross the road in front of us - all while cycling through incredibly beautiful country. This is a spectacular bike tour. I highly recommend it.

      Eileen L.
      Baltimore, MD
    • This was my first bike trip and it was perfect. The pre-tour information was really helpful. The packing tips and "Spanish primer" were great. The tour itself was handled really well. The tour leaders were wonderful. The country is beautiful and friendly. You may have set the bar too high on this trip - I can't imagine it could get much better.

      Beth R.
      Crownsville, MD
    • The most spectacular sight was the volcano at Arenal erupting at night. I will remember the sight and sounds of that eruption the rest of my life.

      Keith B.
      Boulder, CO
    • This trip was a vacation...totally removed from my everyday life. I enjoyed the immersion into another culture - everything from the language and the food to the beauty of the country. And, even though I've consumed all my coffee I can still be transported to Costa Rica as I sit in my comfy rocker from Sarchi!

      Pari R. Shawnee, KS

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