Friday, February 13
Early arrival option:
Arrive a day early, visit San Jose and spend Shabbat with the local Jewish Community.
Tonight: Oneg Shabbat + dinner with the Bnai Israel community
Accommodations: Christina Suites, San Jose
Saturday, February 14
For those arriving today: welcome to Costa Rica!
Friday arrivals can choose from a few options today:
Sunday, February 15
Morning: A walking tour of downtown San Jose, including an amazing introduction to Costa Rica from a senior tour guide. This will be followed by a short visit to the small Jewish museum where we will learn about local Jewish history.
Afternoon: Drive to the town of La Fortuna, near the majestic Arenal Volcano, with a possible stop at a traditional coffee plantation along the way.
When we arrive in La Fortuna, we will check into the Casa Luna hotel, which is in a great location - from your rooms you will be able to observe the magnificent Arenal volcano!
Later, we will head in to La Fortuna for some dinner and drinks!
Monday, February 16
Today, you can choose from four exciting adventure activities in the Arenal area - the adventure capital of Costa Rica!
Tuesday, February 17
Ginger smoothie on Finca Luna Nueva
Today we will visit the Finca Luna Nueva Farm which offeres an intimate experience of primary rainforest together with a certified organic biodynamic farm. Here, you will experience the Costa Rican rainforest, learn about the farm's sustainable practices - its 240 acres offer many opportunities to view its natural beauty- and just to relax!
Morning: We will take a tour of the Sacred Seeds Sanctuary at Luna Nueva, a dynamic collection of medicinal plants that protects and celebrates not only biological diversity in Costa Rica and the tropics, but also the diversity of cultural knowledge related to these plants worldwide.
Housing over 275 tropical plants, this collection is a delight for anyone interested in botany, herbal medicine, or indigenous culture.
The tour will be followed by some chill time - to relax in the ozonated swimming pool or solar powered hot-tub, to drink an amazing, locally sourced ginger smoothie, or to practice some yoga.
Afternoon: Time to put on your rubber boots, and head on the Cavalonga Trail hike, through amazing primary rainforest. The experienced guide will take you through the trails, which are connect to the 50,000 acre Children's Eternal Rainforest via a biological corridor. On your way, you will see many animals, and learn about the various trees and plants.
We will return to the farm, and learn about what keeps the crops healthy, from the happy water buffalo to the wiggling worms in the compost. We will stroll through the biointensive garden, where we will taste numerous plants and herbs, the same ones served daily in the farm's restaurant.
Evening: Visit the Baldi Hot Springs, Mother Nature's enormous hot tub – including an extensive buffet dinner. The hot springs are fed by an underground river heated naturally by the Arenal Volcano to the perfect temperature of 101 degrees!
Wednesday, February 18
Morning: an amazing Jungle Canopy Tour near Arenal, where we will literally fly through the rainforest by zipline (gondola tour optional)!
After lunch, its time to head to the coast! We will make our way down to the port of Puntarenas, where we will board a short ferry ride that will take us to the southern Nicoya Peninsula, and its wild Pacific beaches.
Our destination: Santa Teresa, a booming new travel destination which has been attracting beach lovers and surfers to its broad, white-sand beaches with world-class surf - but you don't have to be a surfer to enjoy a vacation here. Mal Pais and Santa Teresa rank among the most beautiful beaches of Costa Rica and on a walk to the north or south of Santa Teresa you can explore miles of picture-perfect coastline!
Santa Teresa, which will be our base for the next few nights, also boasts one of the largest Israeli populations in Costa Rica (and a small synagogue)- so we will be enjoying some Israeli cuisine as well as some special shabbat hospitality over the weekend.
Our home for the next few nights will be hotel Tropico Latino, an intimate beachfront boutique hotel - situated on four acres of unspoiled tropical beach, where you will find beautiful swimming areas, a swimming pool, and hammocks where you can sip a drink as you watch the most amazing sunset.
Tonight, we will enjoy a hummus Israeli dinner as Zula - one of the best Israeli restaurants in town (yes, there are a few!)
Thursday, February 19
Good morning! Enjoy breakfast, then practice some yoga with an instructor at the resort. For those seeking engaged wellness, the hotel's studio incorporates exercise, balance and well-being with daily yoga classes.
You can choose between two exciting full day options today:
Rainforest quad tour
Get off road on a quad or motorcycle for an adventurous ride over the mountain into Cabuya and Montezuma or explore the secluded, beautiful beaches North of Playa Hermosa and Manzanillo where we will stop for a picnic lunch in a secluded hotel, swim, kayak and and a nap under a tree. Before heading back, take a 20 minute walk to the famous Montezuma waterfall for a refreshing dip!
Surfers worldwide make their way to Costa Rica year after year for the tremendous selection of perfect breaks for every level of experience; Mal Pais, Playa Carmen and Santa Teresa boast a wide variety of unique breaks that make it the perfect location for everyone. We will be renting boards and taking lessons from Amit, one of the best guides in town - no matter what, the surfs up and you’re going to love it!
This evening, you have a free night to go explore the village, and eat in one of the many great restaurants in town.
Santa Teresa offers plenty of nightlife - and we can check out some happening spots after dinner!
Friday, February 20
This morning will have another optional yoga session, after which we will have two amazing options to choose from for the day:
A. Isla Tortuga excursion
Consisting of two large uninhabited islands off the coast of the Nicoya Peninsula, near Paquera, the pristine white sand beaches and lush vegetation of Isla Tortuga invite guests to explore, relax, swim and snorkel. During the boat ride over from Montezuma you will have the opportunity to spot dolphins, turtles and, perhaps, even a majestic whale shark or humpback whale. You’ll also pass the Negritos and Guayabo Sanctuaries, where you’ll spot an abundance of sea birds and their nests. Often times these tours include lunch and drinks and always, all the snorkeling gear you’ll need.
B. Surfing lessons / Sea Kayaking / Stand Up Paddle
If you took lessons yesterday or not - surf's up, so enjoy some surfing, or head out to the ocean on a sea kayaking or stand up paddle - the beach is your playground!
Evening: Sunset Kabalat Shabbat and meal, Israeli style
This evening, we will congregate with other members of the tribe to watch the sunset, and celebrate Shabbat with a tropical drink. Its been a long week, and tonight its time to chill. We will sit down for a special Friday night dinner of Israeli inspired food!
Saturday, February 21
Start your day with some yoga, and go to the beach - or to morning services in the small synagogue.
This morning is chill time - spend it by the pool, in the hammock or on the beach. Take a long walk on the beach. We will all come together for a shabbat lunch, after which we will be offering an optional excursion.
Afternoon: Curu National Wildlife Refuge
Curú National Wildlife Refuge and Hacienda, located on the southern Nicoya Peninsula, is thick with abundant wildlife and hosts one of the most beautiful beaches and protected bays in the area. With rich opportunity to spot some of the most exciting and interesting species, visitors will catch sight of white-faced monkeys, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, white tailed deer, collared peccary, coati, raccoons, coyotes, iguanas, scarlet macaws, toucans and hundreds of other tropical and migratory birds. The refuge aims to produce a profit and sustain local employment while also protecting endangered habitats such as mangroves, tropical and dry forests and coral reefs.
This evening, our last, its time for dinner and Havdalah under the stars!
Sunday, February 22
Time to head back up to San Jose, where we will be catching our flight home after this amazing week in paradise. We have one last adventure, as we board our charter Nature Air flight that will take us from the tiny Tambor airstrip on the Nicoya Peninsula directly to the San Jose airport where we will catch our flight home.
**Please note that the time and location of an activity might change due to unexpected circumstances, such as inclement weather and hazardous road conditions.
The Costa Rica Experience trip will take place from Friday, February 13 to Sunday February 22 , 2015 (8 nights in total; 9 nights for those wishing to arrive on Friday). We will be meeting at and leaving the San Jose (the capital) international airport (SJO).
We ask that you plan to be on a flight that will land in San Jose by 3 pm if you arrive on February 13. If you decide to arrive a day later (Saturday), please plan to land by 5 pm. Your flight home should be no earlier than 12:00 pm on Sunday, February 22.
If you observe the Sabbath you have an option of arriving on Friday and spending the weekend in San Jose, attending services in the Jewish community – or arriving Sunday and joining the group in Arenal.
If you want to arrive a day or two earlier, or choose to leave later, please let us know how we can help you experience more of this magnificent country. We can arrange for a pick-up or drop-off in another part of San Jose at the beginning or end of the trip. Day trips from San Jose include the nearby volcanoes of Poas and Irazu. If you are interested in this option, please let us know!
In San Jose, you will stay in a comfortable hotel which is walking distance from the Synagogue and a short ride from downtown, such as the La Sabana. In Arenal, we will be staying in the the Casa Luna hotel, boasting magnificent views of the volcano and a tropical backyard with resident sloths. On the Pacific coast we will be staying in the luxurious Tropico Latino. The cost of the trip is fore a shared, same gender double room, though you might choose to be in a single room for an extra fee.
For your Costa Rica Experience, Greener Travel will provide you with an experienced group leader that will escort you for the length of your trip. In various activities, we use the best local specialty guides with years of expertise in introducing tourists to the natural beauty of Costa Rica. We work mostly with local guides as well as with tourism non-profit organizations such as ATEC, which make sure that the local indigenous communities benefit from tourism revenues while protecting the environment and the traditional way of life.
We provide all transfers during the week using an air conditioned van or minibus, driven by a bilingual driver / guide., as well as the air transfer on the last day.
Before departing, you will receive a comprehensive list of suggested things to bring on the Costa Rica Experience.
A valid passport is required for all visitors to Costa Rica. Airlines traveling to Costa Rica require a passport valid for at least 6 months after the initial flight date in order to board the flight. US and Canadian citizens do not need a tourist visa to enter the country. Visitors from all other nationalities should check with the Costa Rican Embassy.
Weather on the trip should be warm and comfortable, at 75 -85 f. February is the dry season, but it is Costa Rica, and it can rain, so please bring a poncho or a light and breathable rain coat.
No immunizations, shots, inoculations or vaccinations are required to enter Costa Rica from the US, Canada and Europe.
Costa Rica has the same electric system as the United States. Electric outlets are 120 volts / 60 Hz.
Drinking tap water is safe in Costa Rica, though the water on the coast can have an aftertaste and visitors tend to buy bottled water. We suggest you purchase a big water jug when you reach the coast (1 gallon) and use it to refill a smaller bottle – it saves money and is better for the environment. The hotel where we will be staying has a fridge where you will be able to chill your water and store food.
The Costa Rican currency is the colón (cólones in plural), and the exchange rate is about 540 to one USD. You can change dollars at the airport, or just use a bank/credit card and withdraw money at the airport. ATMs can be found all over Costa Rica. Keep in mind that there is a small fee for international withdrawals, though from experience it could be safer to travel with a bank card then with a large sum of cash that can get lost/stolen. The hotels you will be staying in will have safes where we can leave valuables and passports during the day.