Solo travel isn’t just for bloggers, backpackers, and whimsical spirits trying to “find” themselves. Feel free to Eat, Pray, Love your way through Costa Rica, but you don’t have to embody the solo travel stereotype to have a great time.
There is something for everyone in Costa Rica. It’s a friendly place for solo travelers with a good selection of hotels and lodges in every major destination. Read through for some unique Costa Rica solo travel destinations and ideas from the Costa Rica Experts.
Join a Pacuare River Whitewater Rafting Overnight Trip (1 or 2 nights)
Solo travelers are often assumed to be adventurous types, which is why we must recommend the level III-IV whitewater rafting on the Pacuare River and its famous rainforest scenery. This tour can be taken as a 1-day trip from San Jose, but the best way to experience the magic of the Pacuare River is on the overnight whitewater rafting trip. This experience takes you deep into the heart of the rainforest via raft. You’ll stay in the rainforest for one or two nights before rafting back out again.
The best option for solo travelers is typically Rios Tropicales Lodge. Rios Tropicales operates rafting tours across Costa Rica and is the gold standard for safety and service on the Pacuare. The lodge is rustic but the natural rainforest playground that surrounds it is the real highlight. While this tour doesn’t operate for just one person, a solo traveler can join an existing trip with passengers already scheduled to the raft.
Pacuare Lodge is a great option for solo travelers who want a luxury eco-lodge experience in Costa Rica. Guests of the lodge stay for 2 nights and have complimentary experiences included in their stay. On the Pacuare Lodge property, schedule a morning of zip-lining, hike to a waterfall, or just hang out at the riverside spa.
After rafting, you can transfer back to the central San Jose area OR continue by ground to Arenal or Puerto Viejo.
Skip San Jose and Explore the Central Valley
The Central Valley can be a great alternative to San Jose for solo travelers. It’s quieter. It’s greener. The views are usually better. It’s a great entry point to Costa Rica and has some fantastically unique hotels.
Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation & Inn is a gem in Heredia, just twenty minutes from the airport. Guests arrive at a quaint inn adorned with tropical trees and flowers. Beyond the check-in area, the real magnitude of Finca Rosa Blanca is realized along meandering pathways that lead to fairytale Junior Suites. Each suite is completely different from the next. The common room features hand-painted murals by local artists and the restaurant Is one of the best in the entire San Jose/Central Valley area. The legacy of Finca Rosa Blanca is its coffee plantation, which proudly operates at the highest levels of sustainability and respect for the Costa Rican coffee tradition.
Xandari Resort & Spa is a short drive from the airport but a world away. The lively colors and bold shapes in the architecture and design are a feast for the eyes, matched only by the sweeping views of the entire Central Valley. The spacious villas feature wide balconies, where guests can take in sunrises that creep up from behind the mountains and heavy sunsets that set the sky ablaze on a clear day. The main pool at Xandari uses the scenic valley vistas as a backdrop. The second pool is surrounded by tall, tropical trees and vegetation. Xandari is a great introduction to Costa Rica’s ecology. A morning hike along the property trails will get you acquainted with the rainforest and even a few small waterfalls. The self-serve buffet breakfast doesn’t skimp on Turrialba cheese and endless coffee; fill up here before a day of Costa Rica solo travel activities.
Get Deep in the Rainforest
Solo travel gets real when you’re in the middle of the rainforest. Instead of partying at a hostel or hitchhiking through the country, solo travel can be a much-needed escape from the busy world.
After a night or two in the Central Valley or San Jose, take a short flight to the Osa Peninsula and see what Costa Rica is really all about. The Osa Peninsula is one of the best places for solo travel in Costa Rica because the lodges are small and set within the rainforest. You’ll only be with a handful of other guests at any given moment, and you definitely won’t hear the beat of the club thumping into the wee hours of the morning.
Immerse yourself in the tranquility of remote rainforest life by staying at one of the many excellent eco-lodges in Drake Bay or Puerto Jimenez. Typically, guests stay 3-4 nights at a lodge, with all meals and transportation included. This is a great option for solo travelers, as it puts you in contact with fellow travelers but doesn’t restrict you from traveling as a group.
From the lodges in Drake Bay, you can take a guided hike of Corcovado National Park. You’ll travel by boat to the ranger station before heading out in search of rainforest wildlife. Also from Drake Bay is Cano Island, one of the best snorkel and SCUBA locations in Costa Rica.
Puerto Jimenez sees the most traffic of the Osa Peninsula destinations, with some of the best eco-lodge within a 45-minute drive. Solo travelers can fill their time with self-guided hikes, yoga, massage, and off-site tours booked through the concierge. Across the Golfo Dulce is Piedras Blancas National Park, with lodges Playa Cativo and Playa Nicuesa giving guests access to its untamed rainforest trails.
Eat Your Way Around
A good meal can mean everything to a solo traveler and San Jose is one of the best places to get a little taste of everything.
On the refined end, the restaurant at Grano de Oro has been pleasing local diners and international foodies alike for decades. The rooftop tapas bar at Hotel Presidente is a perfect way to begin or end your night in downtown San Jose.
Costa Rica Foodie Tours are a handful of specially curated experiences that give you an honest taste of local food. This fun and casual San Jose food tour will fill you up, give you some social time, and take you on a tour of the Amon neighborhood.
Ojochal is twenty minutes south of Uvita on the South Pacific coast and an off-the-tourist-radar spot where you can enjoy some of the country’s best undiscovered restaurants and hotels. Start at Castillo Kitchen for an amazing dinner in a 6-room villa called El Castillo (literally ‘The Castle’ in Spanish). The quaint property peers dramatically over the coastline and while you’d never guess just by looking, it has one of the best restaurants for miles.
New to the Ojochal scene is Hotel 360, also serving up some of the best views in all of Central America. Dine with views of Cano Island to the south and Uvita to the north. The gourmet menu is constantly reinvented and adjusted to make use of the best local, seasonal ingredients. There is a legend among Costa Rica Experts about the hotel’s creamy seafood risotto.
You don’t have to dine at only hotels in Ojochal; Citrus is a well-known local favorite that always gets it right.
Retreat & Relax
Some people choose to travel solo because they seek respite from the demands of our busy world. Solo travel in Costa Rica is a great chance to reset and feel good about yourself inside and out. The Retreat is a short drive from the San Jose airport, so within an hour or two of landing, you can be relaxing poolside with a healthy tropical smoothie in hand. The Retreat’s yoga platform is a perfect place to start your day.
Continue the wellness at Bhodi Tree Resort, of the best yoga hotels in Costa Rica. The Playa Guiones/Nosara area is one on the Nicoya Peninsula, one of the world’s five Blue Zones. You’ll definitely leave here feeling lucid and centered.
Understand Local Life in Manuel Antonio
Solo travelers who favor off-the-beaten-path locations tend to skip Manuel Antonio. It is one of the most popular places in Costa Rica, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a rich and meaningful experience.
If you’ve already hiked Manuel Antonio National Park and seen the Damas Island mangroves, try exploring the area’s impressive cultural scene.
Santa Juana is a rural mountain tour 45 minutes from San Jose and a popular day trip for people who want to explore waterfalls, try tilapia fishing, learn about sugar cane production and processing, and learn about general life in the Santa Juana mountain pueblo. For the full experience, stay at Santa Juana Mountain Lodge for 1 or 2 nights.
The Villa Vanilla Spice tour brings guests in touch with local spices and plants. Dissect the flavors of Costa Rica through an easy-paced morning on a local spice farm.
Base Yourself on the Beach
Sometimes what you need more than anything else is a couple of days on a gorgeous beach. Tamarindo is one of the most notorious backpacker and solo travel beach towns in Costa Rica and Playa Tamarindo is one of the best beaches. In Tamarindo, you’ll share the beach with a mix of families, couples, groups, and other solo travelers. You’ll have a selection of restaurants, bars, surf shops, and beach vendors to patronize between surfing and sunning. Stay at Tamarindo Diria for something right in the center of the action or Capitan Suizo for something a bit quieter.
Playa Guiones in the Nosara area is a quieter alternative to Tamarindo, known locally as one of the chillest beaches around. This area is famous for yoga, surfing, and general good vibes. Diane Lane and The Red Hot Chili Peppers love it here so why wouldn’t you?
Santa Teresa is perfect for the traveler who is part yogi, part surfer, part explorer. Hit the famous waves with local lifetime surfers, visit Montezuma Waterfall, rent an ATV, or simply walk along the miles of rugged Nicoya coast for the perfect solo adventure.
Go on a Luxury Safari
Imagine having a luxury safari tent all to yourself without going all the way to Africa! You don’t have to travel too far for luxury solo travel experience because Costa Rica has you covered. The brand new Nayara Tented Camp is restoring the mystery of the rainforest back to Arenal, while Origins Luxury Lodge has transformed the high-end hotel scene in Upala. The addition of Kasiiya to Papagayo’s coasts rounds out the luxury safari tent experience in Costa Rica.
The beaten path can be tempting, but solo travel is one of the best opportunities to dig deeper into your destination and do things you might normally not in a tour group. We know planning a solo trip can be daunting, so feel free to use this Expert-curated list of unique Costa Rica destinations and ideas to help inspire the adventure of a lifetime!
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