36 days in Costa Rica, Cartagena & Havana Itinerary

36 days in Costa Rica, Cartagena & Havana Itinerary

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Route & dates

36 days in Costa Rica, Cartagena & Havana Itinerary

Start: San Luis Obispo, United States
Fly:  17​h 15​min
1
Playas del Coco, Costa Rica
— 2 nights
Drive:  1​h 30​min
2
Tamarindo, Costa Rica
— 4 nights
Drive:  2​h 15​min
3
Playa Samara, Costa Rica
— 2 nights
Drive:  2​h
4
Santa Teresa, Costa Rica
— 2 nights
taxi + ferry:  3​h 45​min
5
Uvita, Costa Rica
— 3 nights
Drive:  1​h 30​min
6
Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
— 2 nights
Drive:  1​h 30​min
7
La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica
— 4 nights
Drive:  4​h 45​min
8
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica
— 2 nights
Drive:  6​h 30​min
9
Monteverde, Costa Rica
— 2 nights
shuttle + Fly:  11​h 30​min
10
Cartagena, Colombia
— 4 nights
Fly:  8​h 30​min
11
Havana, Cuba
— 7 nights
Fly:  16​h
End: San Luis Obispo, United States

2
nights
Playas del Coco, Costa Rica

A long-established beach community, Playas del Coco has developed a reputation as a favored spot for young travelers and locals to let loose by the sea.
Step out of the city life by going to Shark Diving and Llanos de Cortez Waterfall. Get some cultural insight at Rojas Bros Boruca Indigenous Arts and Hidden Garden Art Gallery. Get out of town with these interesting Playas del Coco side-trips: Liberia (Zipline & Church of La Ermita La Agonia). There's still lots to do: tour the pleasant surroundings at Playa Hermosa, look for gifts at Sea Hag Clothing, and take in the architecture and atmosphere at Iglesia Catolica de Playas del Coco.

For maps, ratings, where to stay, and tourist information, read our Playas del Coco visit planning tool .

San Luis Obispo, USA to Playas del Coco is an approximately 17.5-hour flight. You'll lose 2 hours traveling from San Luis Obispo to Playas del Coco due to the time zone difference. Traveling from San Luis Obispo in April, expect Playas del Coco to be much hotter, temps between 95°F and 73°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 13th (Fri) so you can drive to Tamarindo.

Things to do in Playas del Coco

#Outdoors, #Tours, #Adventure

Side Trips

Liberia, Playa Hermosa, Llanos de Cortez Waterfall
Find places to stay Apr 10 — 13:
Highlights from your plan
Shark Diving
Playa Hermosa ©
Playa Hermosa
Zipline

4
nights
Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Tamarindo ©
Surfing remains the main reason to take a trip to Tamarindo, as the beachside town is mostly known for its excellent waves.
Relax by the water at Playa Avellana and Playa Conchal. Get in touch with nature at Dolphin & Whale Watching and Adrenaline & Extreme Tours. Take a break from Tamarindo with a short trip to San Juanillo Beach in San Juanillo, about 1h 10 min away. Next up on the itinerary: relax and rejuvenate at some of the top local wellness centers, look for gifts at Azul Profundo Boutique, and admire all the interesting features of Pura Aventura.

To find reviews, photos, and tourist information, use the Tamarindo sightseeing website .

Getting from Playas del Coco to Tamarindo by car takes about 1.5 hours. Other options: take a bus. In April, plan for daily highs up to 95°F, and evening lows to 73°F. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 17th (Tue) to allow time to drive to Playa Samara.

Things to do in Tamarindo

#Outdoors, #Parks, #Beaches

Side Trips

Playa Flamingo, Playa Conchal, San Juanillo Beach
Find places to stay Apr 13 — 17:
Highlights from your plan
Playa Avellana ©
Playa Avellana
Playa Conchal ©
Playa Conchal
Dolphin & Whale Watching

2
nights
Playa Samara, Costa Rica

Playa Samara ©
A beach town with just enough development to be comfortable for families accustomed to the trappings of modern life, Playa Samara has the resorts you'd expect to find in such a scenic area, but they don't hinder the relaxing atmosphere.
Escape the urban bustle at Nosara Beach (Playa Guiones) and Nosara Refuge for Wildlife. Step off the beaten path and head to Samara Beach and Barrigona Beach. Explore Playa Samara's surroundings by going to Nosara (Jungle Mini Golf, Nosara, SIBU Wildlife Sanctuary, & more). There's more to do: look for all kinds of wild species at dondeJavitours.

Find out how to plan Playa Samara trip without stress by asking Inspirock to help create an itinerary.

You can drive from Tamarindo to Playa Samara in 2.5 hours. Another option is to take a bus. In April, plan for daily highs up to 95°F, and evening lows to 73°F. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 19th (Thu) so you can go by car to Santa Teresa.

Things to do in Playa Samara

#Parks, #Beaches, #Outdoors

Side Trip

Nosara
Find places to stay Apr 17 — 19:
Highlights from your plan
Nosara Beach (Playa Guiones) ©
Nosara Beach (Playa Guiones)
Samara Beach ©
Samara Beach
Barrigona Beach ©
Barrigona Beach

2
nights
Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

Santa Teresa ©
A coastal getaway popular with surfers and young travelers, Santa Teresa spreads out from the beach and the main coastal road to a ring of newer developments on the surrounding hills.
Kick off your visit on the 20th (Fri): enjoy the sand and surf at Playa Hermosa, soothe aching muscles at some of the top local wellness centers, and then enjoy the sand and surf at Playa Santa Teresa.

To find maps, traveler tips, where to stay, and other tourist information, go to the Santa Teresa online trip itinerary planner .

Getting from Playa Samara to Santa Teresa by car takes about 2 hours. Other options: take a bus. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 21st (Sat) early enough to travel to Uvita.

Things to do in Santa Teresa

#Parks, #Beaches, #Outdoors
Find places to stay Apr 19 — 21:
Highlights from your plan
Playa Santa Teresa ©
Playa Santa Teresa
Playa Hermosa ©
Playa Hermosa
Spas & Wellness

3
nights
Uvita, Costa Rica

Uvita ©
Ideal for visitors looking to escape Costa Rica's busy beaches, Uvita offers a serene atmosphere and plenty of uncrowded sand for a leisurely vacation.
Step out of the city life by going to Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary and Parque Nacional Marino Ballena. Step off the beaten path and head to Uvita Beach and Mama Toucan's Natural and Organic Food Store. Next up on the itinerary: admire the sheer force of Uvita Waterfall, look for gifts at Discount Liquor Wine & Cigars, take a memorable tour with Tours, and take in the exciting artwork at Magic Ananda.

For ratings, reviews, and other tourist information, read our Uvita trip itinerary planner .

You can do a combination of taxi and ferry from Santa Teresa to Uvita in 4 hours. Other options are to drive; or do a combination of ferry and bus. Finish your sightseeing early on the 24th (Tue) so you can drive to Manuel Antonio.

Things to do in Uvita

#Parks, #Outdoors, #Beaches

Side Trips

Dominical, Parque Nacional Marino Ballena
Find places to stay Apr 21 — 24:
Highlights from your plan
Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary ©
Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary
Uvita Beach ©
Uvita Beach
Parque Nacional Marino Ballena ©
Parque Nacional Marino Ballena

2
nights
Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio ©
The rainforest meets the sea at Manuel Antonio National Park, a small but scenic natural preserve on the west coast of Costa Rica.
Escape the urban bustle at MidWorld Costa Rica and Playa Manuel Antonio. You'll discover tucked-away gems like Fishing Charters & Tours and River Rafting & Tubing. It doesn't end there: enjoy the sand and surf at Playa Biesanz and look for gifts at Beso Loco Boutique de Playa.

For ratings, other places to visit, where to stay, and more tourist information, read our Manuel Antonio driving holiday planner .

Drive from Uvita to Manuel Antonio in 1.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus. April in Manuel Antonio sees daily highs of 82°F and lows of 67°F at night. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 26th (Thu) early enough to travel to La Fortuna de San Carlos.

Things to do in Manuel Antonio

#Outdoors, #Tours, #Adventure

Side Trip

Quepos
Find places to stay Apr 24 — 26:
Highlights from your plan
Playa Manuel Antonio ©
Playa Manuel Antonio
Playa Biesanz ©
Playa Biesanz
River Rafting & Tubing

4
nights
La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica

Set against the backdrop of the imposing Arenal Volcano, La Fortuna de San Carlos offers visitors a chance to explore diverse natural landscapes and sample some delicious local produce.
You'll discover tucked-away gems like Proyecto Asis and Lake Arenal. Visiting Horseback Riding Tours and Rio Chollin will get you outdoors. There's lots more to do: witness a stunning natural landmark at Ecotermales Fortuna, hike along Arenal Natura Ecological Park, take in the exciting artwork at Onirica Art Gallery, and get interesting insight from Tours.

To find photos, maps, other places to visit, and more tourist information, use the La Fortuna de San Carlos trip site .

Traveling by combination of taxi and flight from Manuel Antonio to La Fortuna de San Carlos takes 1.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or take a shuttle. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 30th (Mon) to allow time to drive to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca.

Things to do in La Fortuna de San Carlos

#Parks, #Nature, #Outdoors
Find places to stay Apr 26 — 30:
Highlights from your plan
River Rafting & Tubing
Proyecto Asis ©
Proyecto Asis
Ecotermales Fortuna ©
Ecotermales Fortuna

2
nights
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca ©
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca offers a wealth of entertainment by the sea, attracting a lively international crowd of revelers while maintaining a bright and breezy coastal charm with a local feel.
Kick off your visit on the 30th (Mon): kick back and relax at Playa Chiquita. On the 1st (Tue), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: look for all kinds of wild species at Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica and then stroll through Puerto Viejo Beach.

For ratings, traveler tips, other places to visit, and other tourist information, use the Puerto Viejo de Talamanca trip itinerary planner .

Traveling by car from La Fortuna de San Carlos to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca takes 5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of car and bus; or take a bus. Traveling from La Fortuna de San Carlos to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, you'll lose 1 hour due to the time zone difference. April in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca sees daily highs of 79°F and lows of 79°F at night. On the 2nd (Wed), wrap the sightseeing up by early afternoon so you can drive to Monteverde.

Things to do in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

#Parks, #Beaches, #Outdoors

Side Trip

Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica
Find places to stay Apr 30 — May 2:
Highlights from your plan
Puerto Viejo Beach ©
Puerto Viejo Beach
Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica ©
Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica
Playa Cocles ©
Playa Cocles

2
nights
Monteverde, Costa Rica

Monteverde ©
Monteverde is all about natural attractions, not surprising for an eco-tourism hotspot known for its cloud forests and rich diversity of animal life.
On the 3rd (Thu), identify plant and animal life at Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve, then look for all kinds of wild species at Curi Cancha Reserve, and then meet the residents at The Bat Jungle.

For traveler tips, reviews, where to stay, and more tourist information, go to the Monteverde attractions planner.

You can drive from Puerto Viejo de Talamanca to Monteverde in 6.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and taxi; or do a combination of shuttle, flight, and car. The time zone difference moving from Eastern Standard Time (EST) to Central Standard Time (CST) is minus 1 hour. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 4th (Fri) so you can travel to Cartagena.

Things to do in Monteverde

#Parks, #Wildlife, #Zoos & Aquariums
Find places to stay May 2 — 4:
Highlights from your plan
Curi Cancha Reserve ©
Curi Cancha Reserve
The Bat Jungle ©
The Bat Jungle

4
nights
Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena ©
The site of the continent's first Spanish colony, Cartagena retains much of its colonial flavor thanks to a World Heritage-listed old town, encircled by old walls and protected by imposing fortresses.
Caribe Jewelry and Emerald Museum and Museo del Oro Zenu are good opportunities to explore the local culture. Eschew the tourist crowds and head to Scuba & Snorkeling and Museo Historico de Cartagena de Indias. And it doesn't end there: contemplate the long history of Torre del Reloj, take in the local highlights with Walking tours, don't miss a visit to San Felipe de Barajas Castle, and pause for some photo ops at Monumento a Los Zapatos Viejos.

To see where to stay, other places to visit, and tourist information, read our Cartagena online road trip planner .

Explore your travel options from Monteverde to Cartagena with the Route module. The time zone changes from Central Standard Time to Colombia Time, which is usually a 1 hour difference. In May, plan for daily highs up to 90°F, and evening lows to 79°F. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 8th (Tue) so you can travel to Havana.

Things to do in Cartagena

#Tours, #Adventure, #Wildlife
Find places to stay May 4 — 8:
Highlights from your plan
Caribe Jewelry and Emerald Museum ©
Scuba & Snorkeling
Museo del Oro Zenu ©
Museo del Oro Zenu

7
nights
Havana, Cuba

Havana ©
Cuba's capital and major commercial center, Havana manages to be very old and very modern at the same time.
Get a sense of the local culture at National Museum of Fine Arts and FINCA VIGÍA. Get in touch with nature at Coral Beach and Playas de Este. Get out of town with these interesting Havana side-trips: Playa de Jibacoa (in Santa Cruz del Norte) and Matanzas (Pharmaceutical Museum & Cuevas de Bellamar). And it doesn't end there: get to know the fascinating history of Old Havana, don't miss a visit to Plaza de San Francisco, see the interesting displays at Museo del Ron Havana Club, and take a stroll through Fusterlandia.

To find reviews, where to stay, photos, and other tourist information, use the Havana trip itinerary builder .

Fly from Cartagena to Havana in 8.5 hours. Traveling from Cartagena in May, Havana is a bit cooler at night with lows of 69°F. You'll set off for home on the 15th (Tue).

Things to do in Havana

#Historic Sites, #Parks, #Museums

Side Trips

Matanzas, Coral Beach, Playa de Jibacoa
Find places to stay May 8 — 15:
Highlights from your plan
Old Havana ©
Old Havana
Coral Beach ©
Coral Beach
Playas de Este ©
Playas de Este

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