Known for its palm-fringed beaches, abundant wildlife, raging rapids, and wild rainforest, Costa Rica has been attracting adventurous travellers, honeymooners, and families for decades. It’s no surprise then that the options for luxury travel in Costa Rica are on the rise – indulgent suites, one-of-a-kind experiences, and world-class service can all be enjoyed. Whatever your idea of luxury, you’ll be sure to find it here.
Enjoy up-close wildlife encounters with top guides, bathe in natural hot springs with a backdrop of volcanoes, tuck into candlelit dinners in the jungle, take a dip in your private plunge pool on the balcony of your treetop suite, sink your feet into golden sands and sail across tropical seas on a private charter. There’s endless opportunity to indulge – let us show you how…
Costa Rica is perfect for a sabbatical trip, offering an enticing blend of culture, wildlife, adventure, and beaches. There are cloudforest and rainforest, Caribbean and Pacific coastlines, volcanoes and coffee plantations, rivers and waterfalls, world-class surf breaks, weirdly wonderful wildlife, and some of the most charming people you will ever meet. Visit for 10 days or 10 months and you’ll feel instantly at home.
On top of this, there’s great infrastructure in place to make travelling around a breeze, and to make staying in one place for longer periods a joy. You’ll find a mix of restaurants, from casual, hole-in-the-wall affairs to sophisticated joints with menus to match. You’re also covered for accommodation – sustainable luxury is the name of the game, with a range of charming ecolodges dotted throughout the country. You’ll also find ultra-luxurious hotels, villas, and private apartments if you prefer a higher level of comfort or a slower pace of travel.
How do I start planning sabbatical travel in Costa Rica?
Planning a sabbatical can be overwhelming. We often start by asking what your priority is for your trip – if something immediately springs to mind then that’s a great starting point. And if not, it pays to start with some research and a long list of ideas that excite you. We love this as an excuse to binge a ton of travel documentaries and read travel magazines like Wanderlust.
Once you have an idea of what excites you – whether that’s supporting a particular community project, visiting a specific national park, ziplining through the jungle canopy, learning a new skill like surfing or Spanish, white-water rafting along the Pacuare River, or kayaking alongside dolphins on the Pacific coast – that’s when we can start to pad out your trip plans with other exciting details.
If luxury is a priority, we can plan your trip around the best private guides, the most indulgent hotels, and the most exclusive experiences.
Luxury comes in all shapes and sizes and with hotels there’s no exception. Costa Rica’s signature brand of eco-luxury is what makes it special, however, if more traditional luxury is your style, you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for.
Boutique hotels dot Costa Rica’s most popular beach towns, from the contemporary luxury of Hotel Nantipa in Santa Teresa on the Pacific Coast to the bohemian vibes of Aguas Claras on the Caribbean coast. Adventure seekers will love the collection of hotels in the shadow of the Arenal volcano, where you’ll find a mix of stylish hotels suited to couples and families, many with their own natural hot springs to enjoy.
In the coffee region, there are homely estates such as Finca Rosa Blanca and Xandari Resort & Spa, a perfect place to unwind either before or after the international flight.
Luxury experiences in Costa Rica
For the perfect mix of luxury and adventure, look no further than Pacuare Lodge, an ecolodge immersed deep in the rainforest, accessed by white water river rafting through the Pacuare gorge. The lodge also has close ties with the local Cabecar community and excursions are an enticing blend of adventure and culture.
Another favourite is Playa Cativo on the Golfo Dulce, a family-run property that’s centred around the region’s nature. Guiding is first-class and you’ll find yourself kayaking or motoring alongside vast pods of dolphins, whales and other marine life, in between hikes to hidden waterfalls and remote jungle picnics.
Away from hotels, luxury comes in a variety of forms, from nighttime wildlife observation with private guides, to soaking in hot springs, indulging in spa treatments in the rainforest, visiting some of Costa Rica’s most exclusive dive spots, and even dining in the jungle canopy.
Costa Rica has a tropical climate, with temperatures ranging from 21C (70F) to 26 (80F) year-round. The peak season is from November to April and most activities and hotels will require advance booking. The green season is from May to October and sees fewer crowds and lower prices. It’s a beautiful time to visit, with lush vegetation and sunny mornings.
If you’re coming for the wildlife, then it’s worth taking wildlife nesting seasons into consideration. Turtles nest between March and October (locations and species vary month to month.) The best times for spotting humpback whales in Costa Rica are from August to October and from December to April.
What’s the best way to travel around Costa Rica?
Travel within Costa Rica is varied, depending on the road conditions and flight routes. You can get around on small hopper planes or private charter flights but driving distances aren’t huge. Hiring a car or a private car with a driver are both popular choices and offer great levels of flexibility and comfort. Note that some roads can be bumpy and winding so if you suffer from travel sickness, you may want to bring some medication.
Sailing is also an option along some stretches of the coast – opt for a private charter to take it up a notch and check out some of Costa Rica’s top dive sites. Rafts and motorised canoes are also used to tackle challenging areas of jungle inland.
Sustainable luxury is the name of the game in Costa Rica. Luxury is often understated – you’ll find all the creature comforts you need and then some – but most hotels are sensitive to protecting the country’s delicate ecosystems.
Most luxury hotels boast spas, swimming pools, yoga decks, fantastic restaurants and other pampering amenities. Even where electricity is solar-powered or intermittent, you’ll often find thoughtful details that make the experience more luxurious or romantic, like candlelit dinners.
Costa Rica is paving the way for responsible travel and its government has put a number of guidelines in place for hotels to follow. Awards are given to those that actively seek to preserve the environment, replant trees, and protect local cultures. As such, many hotels strive to do their part and luxury travellers won’t have to sacrifice their conscience or creature comforts.
Costa Rica travel tips
A number of hotels in Costa Rica are in remote locations and access to electricity or WiFi can be limited – particularly in the rainforest. Many lodges run on solar power and in some cases, you can only charge electronics at certain times of the day – it pays to plan ahead. Solar-powered showers and only having charging points in common areas are also not uncommon.
Be mindful of what you pack for your trip, too. Remember that Costa Rica has a tropical climate so you may need waterproofs and long-sleeved shirts to combat rainforest conditions. There’s also lots of hiking available so you may wish to pack hiking boots.
Portions of your trip may be in wild areas – Costa Rica is known for its wildlife so bring a camera, your binoculars, and your insect repellent. We also like to recommend you take eco-friendly suncream and insect repellent to help preserve the unique ecosystems.