We first visited this region a decade ago, attracted by the beaches, warm weather, stunning scenery and ecological diversity. With the development of eco-friendly boutique hotels Costa Rica and the recent paving of formerly dirt roads, the country is now more appealing than ever. The cycling is on roads where you’ll ride through lush vegetation, past volcanoes, rainforests and waterfalls. With opportunities to raft, kayak, zip-line and or hike through jungle beneath the vaulting canopy of ancient rainforests, the temptations are many.

Only Great Explorations:

  • Small groups, extraordinary guides, and authentic experiences.
  • A ride you will never forget- around Lake Arenal
  • Order off the menu at our idea of fusion restaurants such as Exotica in Ojochal, where the setting and food are Costa Rican, yet accent, cooking style, and service are French. It will be a favourite meal of your trip, promise.
  • Distinctive, charming hotels too small for larger groups.
  • Our drivers/guides speak fluent English, which we feel will substantially enhance your trip.
  • We use Toyota HIACE newer model minivans, which are air conditioned, roomy and comfortable and much superior to the older, smaller vehicles other companies use.
  • We design and operate our own trips so there are only good surprises.

Straight-talk:  In Costa Rica, the bike routes are on paved roads wherever possible; being Costa Rica, road conditions change – you have to be aware of potential potholes (and iguanas) and there is some inevitable traffic on some of the routes we use. The support van is always on hand, should you wish a lift at any time. Typical van transfer times (through scenic countryside) are as follows: D1- 2h; D2- n/a; D3- 1h; D4 – n/a; D5- 4h; D6 -1h.


San Jose

San Jose, Costa Rica

Starting and End Location


Fortuna, La Fortuna, Alajuela Province, Costa Rica

Day 1 and 3


Hotel Mystica, Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica

Day 2

Los Angeles Cloud Forest

Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort and Nature Reserve, San Ramón, Alajuela Province, Costa Rica

Day 4

Costa Ballena

Cristal Ballena, Bahía Ballena, Puntarenas Province, Costa Rica

Day 5-6

Manuel Antonio Park

Manuel Antonio National Park, Quepos, Puntarenas Province, Costa Rica

Extension Manuel Antonio

Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa Beach, Puntarenas Province, Costa Rica

Extension Santa Teresa

What’s Included in the Cost of Your Trip?


Services of one or more experienced Great Explorations guides
Support vehicle
6 nights lodging
All breakfasts, 2 lunches, and all dinners but 1
Entrance fees for selected tours including lake cruise, hot springs entry
Detailed map and route instructions
All baggage transportation
All transportation from initial meeting point to final drop-off (see arrive/depart cities)




April 6-14: Special departure (Robbin McKinney, owner of Great Explorations will be on this trip)

Trip can start any date. Self-guided and custom trips also available. Call or email for details.


4-12 participants


7 days / 6 nights


San Jose / Quepos


20-40+ miles daily



Land Cost:
US $2,950* (assuming 8 pax)
Includes 6B/2L/5D
*6-7 pax – supplement of US $400 pp
*4-5 pax – supplement of US $800 pp

Single Supplement:

US $750

Bike Rental:
US $240
Please note the bikes may be either hybrid bikes or mountain bikes, depending on the road conditions.

Extension Manual Antonio:
US $595 / Single supplement: US $245
(see details on the detailed description in itinerary)

Extension Santa Teresa:
US $595 / Single supplement: US $245
Luxe option:
US $995 /Single supplement: US $450

Flight costs:
Cristal Ballena flight (end of regular trip): US $44
Extension Manual Antonio flight: US $44
Extension Santa Teresa flight: US $83

Please note: Final itinerary is subject to revision; any changes made are done so in an attempt to provide the best possible trip given route conditions and available services. Due to the nature of our business and exchange rates, prices are subject to change. All prices quoted are U.S. dollars but we gladly accept payment in Canadian dollars also. Due to cancellations and waiting lists, trip availability fluctuates daily. If you have any questions or would like to confirm space on this trip before making your reservation, please contact us at info@great-explorations.com or by telephone at 604.730.1247

Getting to San Jose:

Direct flights are available from a number of US cities including Miami, Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, New York, LA, and Chicago. You will want to arrive the night before our trip departs; our meeting hotel is the luxurious Mariott in Alejeula, close to the airport and an exquisite colonial hacienda style hotel, on 30 acres of former coffee plantation.


Day 1


We will meet after breakfast (9:00 am) in the lobby of the Mariott Hotel. Our trip begins with a shuttle to the village of Agua Zarcas (or further if you wish a shorter ride), where we will begin cycling. Lunch is included on this day at a typical local restaurant, and afterwards, we continue to La Fortuna and our hotel. If time allows, stop to hike into the 75m waterfall near town, or head straight to the hotel to enjoy the heated swimming pool before dinner.
Cycle Distance: 40 km; 400 m gain or 54 km; 450 m gain or 68km; 765m


Day 2

La Fortuna

We’ll cycle from La Fortuna to Lake Arenal, and then take a boat cruise to Rio Chiquito and cycle a lake-side route, stopping for lunch at an idyllic small inn. Ride as much as you wish today – it is one of the most scenic rides in Costa Rica. Back in town, visit a hot springs before dinner at a favourite restaurant.
Cycle Distance: up to 80km; 1500m 


Day 3

Los Angeles Cloud Forest

From La Fortuna, we’ll ride to Bajo Rodrigues along roads dotted with fruit stands of enticing watermelon, mango, papaya and strawberries. After lunch and a swim, we’ll shuttle to our luxurious hotel, the Villa Blanca, an hacienda-style lodge with en-suite casitas and fine restaurant. There is a walking trail right from the hotel where you’ll have the chance to encounter howler monkeys and birds.
Cycle Distance: 44 km; 350 m


Day 4

Los Angeles Cloud Forest

We will ride to the beautiful village of San Ramon, “the city of presidents and poets”. Many of Costa Rica’s most famous political and literary figures were born or lived here. There is an excellent regional museum and historic church to see here. There is also an option to visit a  250 hectare coffee plantation where you’ll gain a first-hand appreciation for the history behind the Costa Rica coffee tradition. Back at Villa Blanca, enjoy the luxurious grounds and dine at the fabulous restaurant.


Day 5

Parque Nacional Marino Ballena

We start the day with a transfer to the coast and start cycling along a road that not long ago was dirt but now is well-paved with a good cycling shoulder. After stopping for lunch in Dominical, we will continue south to Ballena, named after whales that can be spotted in season. We will stay at Cristal Ballena which has outstanding views, and a very large infinity swimming pool.
Cycle Distance: 26km; 380m or 40km; 470m or 68km; 590m 


Day 6

Parque Nacional Marino Ballena

This will be a favourite cycling route, we ride a quiet road through traditional villages to Sierpe. Here we board a boat for a cruise down the Sierpe River through mangroves that are home to an incredible assortment of animals and birds. Our local naturalist will explain about the biodiversity and flora and fauna here. Late afternoon, we will return to the hotel for swim and then for a final night treat, we’ll enjoy a superb dinner at Exotica in Ojochal, one of the top restaurants along the coast.
Cycle Distance: 52 km; 500m
Mangrove Boat Tour – 2 hrs


Day 7

For those departing, we recommend an early morning visit to the beach at Ballena National Park and then a transfer to the Quepos airport for morning flight.


Extension: Manuel Antonio

For those wishing to extend their vacation to Manuel Antonio Park, we offer a two day extension, staying at the wonderful Si Como No Hotel with breakfast daily; we will transfer you from Cristal Ballena, arriving in time for a walking tour with our expert naturalist guide. Spend the afternoon at pristine Playa Manuel Antonio. Next morning you will be provided options for kayaking, horseback riding, zip line tours or rafting (included).
It includes transfers, hotel for two nights with breakfast daily, park entry and naturalist guide, additional tour (choice of kayaking, horseback riding, zip line tour or rafting, when available).

Rough Guides describes Si Como No as follows: Enjoy beautiful views of the Pacific and Punta Catedral from this award-winning architectural complex set high on a hill. The hotel has solar-heated hot water, a Jacuzzi, two pools, swim-up bar, waterslide, and a small cinema with nightly screenings free to guests.

Departure from Manuel Antonio: We’ll time the shuttle to Quepos on day 3 to co-ordinate with your onwards travel plans (flight cost Quepos-San Jose is $44 and takes 32 min).


Extension: Santa Teresa

Wishing to extend your vacation time and visit the Nicoya Peninsula? Santa Teresa offers the newest hip destination in Costa Rica. Extension includes two nights at a charming casual resort with the prime frontage on the best stretch of beach in Santa Teresa, swimming pool, yoga studio and Serenity Spa. We’ve included yoga sessions each day and surf board rentals with optional instruction from a gal, originally from France living here who will have you up on your board your first day!
It includes transfer from Manuel Antonio including speed boat crossing to Montezuma and taxi transfer to resort.
Departure from Santa Teresa: For transfer to San Jose airport your options are coach (6 hrs; $12) or flight from Tambor (25 min; $83).

Luxe Option-Santa Teresa:
In Santa Teresa, we also offer a luxe option for your hotel stay, at the outstanding boutique hotel, Flor Blanca Resort.

It includes transfers from Manuel Antonio, yoga, surf board rentals and instruction. Meals other than breakfast are additional for extensions; we provide detailed travelogue with suggestions and additional activity listings.

Volcano Lodge, La Fortuna

All of the rooms here are large and tastefully decorated and most have great views of the volcano. There are two restaurants each with separate heated jacuzzis. We like the Volcano Lodge because it is locally owned and managed and has the best location and views of the volcano.

Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Hotel & Spa, Los Angeles Cloud Forest

This 75 acre boutique hotel is surrounded by the spectacular Los Angeles Private Biological Reserve. There are 35 individual casitas and a large common ‘Hacienda House’ with billiards room, comfortable salons with fireplace and the Sendero Restaurant, where authentic Costa Rican meals are served.

Cristal Ballena, Costa Ballena

Located within walking distance of Ballena Natrional Park (named for the whales that are often seen close to shore in winter months), this hotel sits on 30 acres of land with extensive gardens. The infinity pool is large with sweeping views over Ballena National Park and the restaurant on site is excellent.

Extensions - Si Como No, Manuel Antonio

This upscale, boutique hotel boasts outstanding treetop views over the forest to the Pacific. The rooms, situated in 3-story villas are very comfortable and all have superb views. Amenities include 2 restaurants, 2 beautiful swimming pools, spa, on-site theatre. The service is excellent and this is our favorite hotel in Manuel Antonio!

Extensions - Hotel Santa Teresa, Santa Teresa

This casual hotel boasts the best location in Santa Teresa, with beachfront bungalows and duplex units with A/C and is a Frommers guidebook favorite. There is a good swimming pool, an excellent restaurant on site, as well as yoga studio and impressive spa. If you want a ‘luxe’ experience with refined service and more upscale rooms, consider Flor Blanca, below.

Extensions - Flor Blanca, Santa Teresa

Here’s what Frommers says: “This lush hotel is the most luxurious option in this neck of the woods and one of the top boutique hotels in the country. The individual villas are huge, the spa is modern and there is a full-size dojo, or yoga studio. There is a free-form swimming pool and small, but private beach. The restaurant Nectar offers New American and Nuevo Latino cuisine at its finest."


Trip Reviews

October 2, 2011

“A+- a memorable family trip”

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