Explore Costa Rica

Below is a list of some local excursions available near our Costa Rica property. If you are looking for a specific excursion, and don't see it on the list, just contact us and we can give you some additional possibilities!

Local Excursions
San Pedro de Poas
San Pedro de Poas

Definitely make time to explore San Pedro de Poas, the nearest largest town to Cares21 (about 10 minutes from facility). The best day to go is on Saturdays, when there is a morning farmer’s market (just off the main square, adjacent to the school on the side of the square opposite the large green church) and the main square is bustling with activity.

 

The town has a variety of bakeries, groceries, sodas, restaurants, banks, gas stations, butcher shops, produce stores, and juiceries to explore. 

San Pedro de Poas

Volcan Poas National Park
Volcan Poas National Park

Less than an hour’s drive from the facility, this is a “must-see”. Can be done in half a day on its own or combined with a visit to La Paz Waterfall Gardens to make a full day trip. If you have options, try to see the volcano in the morning while it is still clear. Weekdays are far less crowded than weekends. Set aside additional time to stop for photo opportunities along the road on the way up or down. Cost is US$15 per person, plus a parking fee of $2.75.  

 

La Paz Waterfall Gardens
La Paz Waterfall Gardens

Also a “must see” attraction given its proximity to the facility. Can be done in half a day on its own or combined with a visit to Volcán Poás National Park. The sumptuous all-you-can-eat lunch buffet is one of the highlights of the experience so the best way to do it would be to visit Volcán Poás in the morning and then try to reach the waterfall gardens by midday. It is about a 40 minute trip from Volcán Poás to La Paz (use Waze). Beyond spectacular waterfalls, the attraction also features local wildlife (all rescued or born in captivity) and amazing flora. Entrance fee is US$42 per person plus US$14 for lunch. 

 

Grecia
Grecia

Located about 30 minutes from the facility, Grecia is known for being one of the cleanest towns in Costa Rica. It is larger than San Pedro de Poás but is set up in a similar style, with a large church overlooking the main square. The town has a variety of bakeries, groceries, sodas, restaurants, banks, gas stations, butcher shops, produce stores, and juiceries to explore. Restaurants close to the main square will be more expensive and geared toward tourists. For a more authentic experience, be sure to explore the large market/bazaar that abuts the bus station 2 blocks from the main square (the bus station is highly visible but if you can’t find it, any local will be able to direct you there). There are a number of excellent sodas that are great for lunch or a snack in the market. If you are just wandering around, the town can be explored in half a day. A visit to Grecia could also be combined with a visit to CoopeVictoria to make a full day’s itinerary. 

 

Laguna Hule

Located about a 1-1.5 hours from the facility, Laguna Hule offers amazing hiking around three crater lakes. The road takes you to the top of an inactive volcano that now forms the base of 3 beautiful lakes. A well-marked hiking trail descends into the large cauldron-like depression, called the caldera. Orchids, butterflies, monkeys, and a multitude of bird species abound in this protected area. A four-wheel-drive vehicle is strongly encouraged to visit this site.  

 

Laguna Hule can be visited in a half-day but it is better to pack food and make it a whole day. There is a picnic area overlooking the largest lake. There is also a cabana and picnic area for those who would like to stay the night; a worthwhile experience, especially if there happens to be a full moon. Be sure you bring everything with you that you will need as there are no grocery stores or shops and the lone restaurant is only open on weekends. 

Playa Mantas & Playa Blanca
Numerous Beaches

For those who want to see the beach while they are in Costa Rica, head to the Pacific Coast near Jaco (about 2.5 hours from the facility). Jaco itself is a very commercialized, tourist town, full of souvenir stores and restaurants but lacking in cultural authenticity. Tourists often head off to Playa Hermosa or Playa Jaco, which are nice, but the locals prefer the privacy and pristine conditions of Playa Mantas and Playa Blanca. 

 

About 20 minutes north of Jaco near the town of Herradura, Playa Mantas can be reached by a well-marked, though unpaved access road. Follow the access road past all of the hotels and resort areas and it will lead you straight to a dirt parking lot where you can pay a few dollars to park for the day. A security guard is there to watch the vehicles in the lot, but it fills up by noon so try to get there early. You can spend some time on Playa Mantas, or continue walking the length of the beach to the left and cross over the rocks onto Playa Blanca. This destination could be squeezed into a long day trip, but you could also spend multiple days exploring the area and checking out Manuel Antonio National Park, just 90 minutes south.

For those who want a more private beach with larger surf, head about 20 minutes south of Jaco to Esterillos. There are three access areas- Esterillos Oeste, Esterillos Centro, and Esterillos Este- each with a well-marked access road leading from the main highway. Esterillos Este is the farthest but probably the most picturesque and secluded. There are a few beach hotels with restaurants that serve tourists here but you could also bring a picnic lunch and eat under one of the stands of palm trees that lines the beach. This excursion could be squeezed into a long day trip, but you could also spend multiple days exploring the area and checking out Manuel Antonio National Park, just an hour south.

Playa Esterillos

Playa Mantas & Playa Blanca

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