Last Updated: 2/8/23 | February 8th, 2023
The first country I traveled to outside of the United States was Costa Rica, which was immensely popular back then with US travelers. It was beautiful, it was safe, and English was widely spoken. It enabled Americans who weren’t used to traveling a way to wade into the world.
These days, it’s even more popular.
It attracts huge numbers of expats, digital nomads, yoga practitioners, surf school attendees, backpackers, birders, hikers, and adventure enthusiasts. More and more people are buying property and moving there.
If you’re thinking of visiting, one of the best ways to get a better sense of it is by taking an organized, guided tour. Tour operators in the country are not just for groups led by a local holding an umbrella in the air. They cover all sorts of travelers, regardless of age or travel style. My first trip to Costa Rica was on a tour and it was not a big bus, cheesy tour that we usually think of when it comes to tours. There were a ton of adventure and cultural activities.
Group tours act as a nice primer so that when you travel on your own, you’ll have a better understanding of the place.
If you’re thinking of traveling to Costa Rica with a tour company, here are the ones I recommend:
1. MY FAVORITE COMPANY: The Nomadic Network (TNN)
The Nomadic Network is a global community for travel lovers that I founded in 2019. Our tours are for people who want to travel — not simply vacation. We always use our local connections and deep experience to really give you a sense of what it’s like to live in each destination.
On our 12-day Costa Rica tour, we showcase not only the natural beauty of the country but also the people. You’ll meet locals who will explain what it’s like to live in the region, gain insights into the food and culture of the country, see tons of wildlife, do lots of hiking, and enjoy some time on the country’s famous beaches. We’re going to show you what makes this country so special!
2. Intrepid Travel
When I’m not traveling on a TNN tour, Intrepid is my go-to tour company. I’ve been on their tours in a few different countries and always have a great time. Their tours are small group tours that focus on sustainability and local culture. They offer about twenty trips that take you all around the country, hitting the famous – and not so famous – attractions. If you’re a solo traveler, you won’t feel out of place as they always have tons of solo travelers on their trips.
Intrepid’s tours that include Costa Rica range from a nine-day “classic” tour for $1,200 per person to a super extensive, 59-day extravagant tour of Central America for $6,225.
3. Costa Rica Expeditions
Since 1978, this company has been arranging and offering a slew of guided tours around the country. Rather than providing pre-set tours that you simply book and go on, they create tailor-made itineraries based on a questionnaire you fill out in advance.
Pricing for tours with Costa Rica Expeditions depends on the length of your trip and the activities you want to do, so it all depends on how you answer their questionnaire (packages start at $250/day per person).
3. Green World Adventures
Proud owner of the prestigious Certificate of Sustainable Tourism from the Costa Rican Tourism Board, this 12-year-old tour operator offers eco-themed adventures for luxury lovers, families, adventure-savvy folks, and nature enthusiasts.
Its 13-day highlights trip literally goes from coast to coast, zigzagging through the country to give tour-takers experiences on kayaks, horses, boats, beaches, and volcanoes, allowing you to submerge yourself in all things “pura vida.”
Trips through Green World Adventures start at $762 for a five-day volcano-and-cloud-forest extravaganza and go up to $6,693 for extreme luxury vacations.
4. Greenway Nature Tours
Offering up to 40 different experiences in Costa Rica, this two-decade-old company has something for just about everyone. Whitewater rafting, bus tours, helicopter rides, private shopping tours, hot-springs-and-chocolate-eating excursions, crocodile-viewing adventures, coffee farm visits, full-day fishing extravaganzas, and thermal spa visits are among many of the activities that you can book.
Greenway tours start as low as $1,225 for the 8-day “Affordable Costa Rica Vacation Package” and can reach as high as $4,700 for a 14-day immersive safari.
5. Foodie Tours Costa Rica
This company offers food-based tours that are designed to entertain, educate, and fill you up on delicious Central American fare. Guides often take you back to the origins of Costa Rican cuisine and go all the way up to contemporary gastronomy.
The “Farm-to-Table Essential Gastronomy Experience” is a fantastic and delicious introduction to the local cuisine. The 3.5-hour experience takes you around the restaurants and cafés of San José, where you’ll meet chefs who explain the various concepts behind each dish.
For something more extensive, their two-day $295 USD food tour takes you into the countryside where you’ll visit an organic farm, learn about traditional Costa Rican cooking methods, and make your own dishes (including chocolate)!
Costa Rica is an amazing, beautiful country. It’s also bursting with amazing, affordable tours for every budget and interest. By taking one, you’ll not only get a deeper sense of the place by having an expert local guide introduce you to their homeland, but you’ll feel safer venturing into the rainforest with someone who knows what they’re doing.
Book Your Trip to Costa Rica: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner to find a cheap flight. They are my favorite search engine because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. My favorite places to stay in the country are:
- Arenal Backpackers Resort (Arenal)
- Rocking J’s (Puerto Viejo)
- Hostel Vista Serena (Manuel Antonio)
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- SafetyWing (best for everyone)
- Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
- Medjet (for additional evacuation coverage)
Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.
Want More Information on Costa Rica?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on Costa Rica for even more planning tips!