A black inflatable skiff filled with guests in life jackets cruise the teal ocean water by a small island in Costa Rica.
A bright red, yellow and orange macaw bird stretches its wings as it perches on a green palm tree leaf in Costa Rica.
Two male travelers wear orange life jackets and tan wide brimmed hats paddle a yellow double kayak off the coast of Costa Rica.
A girl in a bikini wades into a clear turquoise pool beneath a small waterfall inside forest of a Costa Rican jungle.
An underwater photo of a turtle swimming solo in the deep blue ocean of Costa Rica's Bat Islands.
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Central America Costa Rica Cruise

Exploring Costa Rica’s National Parks & Preserves: Guanacaste, Santa Rosa & Rincon de la Vieja

Discover the treasures of one of Costa Rica’s richest regions, Guanacaste, on this 6-day voyage aboard the 100-guest National Geographic Quest. Snorkel and kayak among a multicolored galaxy of tropical fish and palm-lined beaches in the Guanacaste Conservation Area, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Hike, ride horseback and zipline amid mist-shrouded volcanic peaks in Rincón de la Vieja National Park, where 32 rivers and streams cut their way through incredible biodiversity. As you travel from uninhabited isles to wildlife-rich jungles, bask in the “pura vida” that infuses this ecologically rich country.

This Costa Rica small ship cruise offers the opportunity to venture where few have gone before and truly experience wild Costa Rica. Have this paradise to yourself and experience the thrilling marine life by snorkel. Hike or walk the beach where the scrub forest meets the ocean. Other highlights in the Guanacaste Costa Rica region include Rincón de la Vieja National Park, home to an incredibly rare and unique dry forest. Start off in the lush forest filled with spectacular waterfalls that plunge into turquoise pools. Hike along, watching the forest and plant life change from green to gold, learning about the flora that is well-adapted to life in the dry environment. Then explore Curú Wildlife Refuge in search of exotic wildlife, like macaws and white-faced capuchin monkeys moving from tree to tree.

Travel aboard the 100-passenger National Geographic Quest, a purpose-built small expedition ship ideal for exploring Central America’s coastline. Plus, the experts and equipment on board provide the finest intellectual and educational experience of any small ship cruise in the region.

Read on for details about this Guanacaste cruise, or learn more about AdventureSmith’s Costa Rica cruises and Costa Rica trips.



Itinerary

Wild Costa Rica Escape: Exploring Guanacaste’s Natural Wonders Itinerary

This 6-day northwestern Costa Rica cruise begins and ends in San Jose, Costa Rica and spends time exploring the Guanacaste region with a special visit to its Conservation Area, a UNESCO World Heritage site plus a day exploring Rincón de la Vieja National Park.

Route map of Exploring Costa Rica's National Parks & Preserves cruise, round-trip from San Jose, with inland visits too.
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Day 1
Arrive San Jose to Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica & Embark

After arrival in San José this afternoon, transfer to the Pacific Coast town of Puerto Caldera. This evening, embark the ship and chart a course north to Costa Rica’s Guanacaste region.

Accommodations

National Geographic Quest

Meals

dinner

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Day 2
Papagayo Peninsula

Drop anchor off the remote Papagayo Peninsula and spend the day soaking up the sun and enjoying beach time alongside waters fringed by offshore islets, which create outstanding habitat for a variety of tropical fish. Or choose to walk along a rarely used four-wheel drive track, which takes you back into a beautiful gallery forest. The area is rich with bird and plant varieties, and your naturalists describe the intricate web of life in these oceanside ecosystems.

After lunch on board, continue to explore the coastline of Bahía Huevos and Playa Celestia. Take Zodiacs on an exploration of the bay and the peninsula. If conditions permit, drop kayaks and paddleboards and explore the nearby mangroves.

Accommodations

National Geographic Quest

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 3
Santa Rosa National Park - Guanacaste Conservation Area

Weather permitting, don a snorkel and fins to discover a rich underwater world or hike into the upper reaches of the Guanacaste Conservation Area for commanding views over the full length of this rarely visited archipelago.

Back on board, sail toward the mainland while enjoying a delicious lunch. Depending on conditions, you may choose to explore Santa Elena Bay in Santa Rosa National Park, Junquillal Wildlife Refuge, or Cuajiniquil Bay, all part of the extraordinarily biodiverse Guanacaste Conservation Area. While venturing out by kayak or taking a relaxing Zodiac cruise, immerse yourself in the tropical environment, alive with color. Yellow and black great kiskadees sally from exposed perches looking to capture a flying insect for an evening meal, and orange-fronted parakeets chatter overhead. Predators such as mangrove hawks may take wind, setting out on a late afternoon hunt, while ringed kingfishers, richly colored in brick red and deep blue, wait patiently, watching the shallows for a fish’s silvery flash.

Accommodations

National Geographic Quest

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 4
Rincón de la Vieja National Park & Hacienda Guachipelin

The adventure continues as we set off inland to explore Rincón de la Vieja National Park. This mountainous region is also a part of the Guanacaste Conservation Area and encompasses more than 34,000 acres. The area, with its forests carpeting the sides of two active volcanoes, is alive with geothermal activity as gurgling, bubbling mud pots spout and steam rises above the canopy.

Choose between several activity options including a hike through the transition zone where tropical dry habitat meets the temperate cloud forest. Here, we keep an eye out for exotic wildlife, with the possibility of encountering mantled howler monkeys and regionally special birds including the noisy and conspicuous whitethroated magpie-jay. Alternatively, after a short hike into the forest, opt to swim below Las Chorreras Waterfall. Or choose to ride horseback across lush meadows, or soar through the canopy by zipline before enjoying a sumptuous lunch served poolside at Hacienda Guachipelin while local marimba guitarists play and fresh ceviche is prepared.

Accommodations

National Geographic Quest

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 5
Curu National Wildlife Refuge & Isla Tortuga

Along the coast of the Nicoya Peninsula, and in many ways demarcating the line between the wetter jungles of the south and Guanacaste’s drier environment, sits Curu National Wildlife Refuge, Costa Rica’s first private national wildlife reserve. Learn about the hundreds of species of birds, reptiles, and mammals that inhabit this thriving ecosystem while exploring the park’s tracks and trails. Look for white-faced capuchin monkeys, turquoise-browed motmots, and with luck, scarlet macaws. The northern tamandua resides here, and while often elusive and quiet, this primarily arboreal member of the anteater family may be spotted.

Later, enjoy lunch on board and cruise to a cluster of offshore islets collectively called Isla Tortuga. Choose to stand-up paddleboard, kayak, or simply relax on the beach shaded by swaying palms and tropical vegetation. Celebrate the finale of your Guanacaste adventure with afternoon refreshments and hors d’oeuvres on the beach.

Accommodations

National Geographic Quest

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 6
Disembark Puerto Caldera to San José, Costa Rica & Depart

Disembark after breakfast in Puerto Caldera. Drive to the airport in San José for flights home.

Accommodations

n/a

Meals

breakfast

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Details
Inclusions, Terms & Notes

Included

Accommodations aboard ship; meals as indicated; beer, wine & full bar; excursions; services of expedition leaders, naturalist staff, expert guides and a ship’s doctor; park fees; use of kayaks and snorkeling equipment; all port charges and service taxes; basic WiFi (enhanced and premium packages available for purchase). Gratuities for all departures of National Geographic Explorer, Orion, Endurance, Resolution, Sea Cloud, Jahan and Lord of the Glens.

Exclusions

Horseback riding; immigration fees; air transportation; extensions; meals not indicated; reserve wines & premium spirits; gratuities for all departures of Delfin II, Endeavour II, Islander II, Venture, Quest, Sea Bird and Sea Lion; personal items such as emails, laundry, voyage DVD, etc.; and insurance of any kind.

Payment & Cancellation

In order to confirm this trip, a deposit of 15% of the total trip cost is required per person at time of booking. The balance of the trip price is due 120 days before the departure date. Special payment terms apply for groups of 8 or more; inquire for details. Guests who must cancel their trip for any reason must do so in writing. Standard cancellations are subject to the following per-person fees, based on number of days prior to departure:
120 or more days – 100% of deposit**
119 to 90 days – 50% of total trip cost
89 to 0 days – 100% of total trip cost
**Advance payments will be credited in the form of a Lindblad Expeditions Travel Certificate, valid for 12 months from the date of cancellation, and which may only be applied towards final payment on any future booking. 

(For expeditions booked prior to May 1, 2023: Please refer to your invoice for your payment and cancellation terms.)

Terms & Conditions

This trip is subject to AdventureSmith Explorations Terms and Conditions. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A Traveler Information Form, which includes a release of liability, must be completed and signed by all travelers. Your Adventure Specialist will send you a unique link to complete this form along with a packing list and extensive pre-departure and travel insurance information upon booking confirmation.

Arrival & Departure

The Wild Costa Rica Escape: Guanacaste cruise begins and ends in San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO). Plan flights to arrive to San Jose by 1:00pm on Day 1 of the itinerary. Disembarkation is after breakfast on the final day of the outlined itinerary. Plan flights to depart San Jose no earlier than 12:30pm on the final day. If you would like assistance with international flights, please visit our Booking Flights resource page.

Activities

Whether you are looking for light activity options or more challenging outdoor pursuits, the ship’s crew can tailor most excursions to suit your skill level. Adventure activities may include horseback riding, hiking, swimming, snorkeling, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding, inflatable boat/skiff excursions, photography, morning yoga and stretching, land treks and wildlife observation.

Room Configuration

In addition to listed Solo cabin rates, select double-occupancy cabins may be available for single occupancy with a single supplement fee. If you would like to share accommodations with another guest of the same gender, we will be happy to try to accommodate you in select cabin categories. This program allows you to pay the per person double-occupancy rate whether or not a roommate is found. Contact AdventureSmith for further details and availability.

Families & Children

Travelers under the age of 18 at time of travel save $500, at double occupancy. Skilled staff members are trained in organizing activities that inspire curiosity in young people of all ages. Programming for kids may include activities like photo workshops, journaling, scavenger hunts, Zodiac-driving lessons, hands-on nature and science programming and kid-friendly menu options.

Travel Insurance

Protect your travel investment with insurance. Our partners at Travelex Insurance offer a variety of plans and policies to fit every trip and budget. Coverage for a pre-existing medical condition is also available if you purchase the Travel Select plan within 15 days of the initial trip payment; refer to plan details. Learn more about travel insurance or get a free quote.

Itinerary Notes

Use the itinerary as a guide only. Itineraries may be altered due to weather, wildlife, national park regulation or at the captain’s discretion. The ability to be flexible makes this type of small ship cruising unique.

Rates & Dates

Cruise Rates & Dates

Rates are variable per remaining availability and are subject to change.

Nov 13 - Nov 18, 2024
National Geographic Quest • 6 days
From $4544USD
Per Person
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Nov 18 - Nov 23, 2024
National Geographic Quest • 6 days
From $4408USD
Per Person
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Jan 04 - Jan 09, 2025
National Geographic Quest • 6 days
From $4829USD
Per Person
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Jan 23 - Jan 28, 2025
National Geographic Quest • 6 days
From $4829USD
Per Person
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Feb 11 - Feb 16, 2025
National Geographic Quest • 6 days
From $4778USD
Per Person
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Mar 02 - Mar 07, 2025
National Geographic Quest • 6 days
From $4778USD
Per Person
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Nov 20 - Nov 25, 2025
National Geographic Quest • 6 days
From $4536USD
Per Person
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Nov 25 - Nov 30, 2025
National Geographic Quest • 6 days
From $4536USD
Per Person
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Dec 28 - Jan 02, 2026
National Geographic Quest • 6 days
From $4536USD
Per Person
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Jan 30 - Feb 04, 2026
National Geographic Quest • 6 days
From $4780USD
Per Person
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Feb 18 - Feb 23, 2026
National Geographic Quest • 6 days
From $4685USD
Per Person
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Mar 09 - Mar 14, 2026
National Geographic Quest • 6 days
From $4685USD
Per Person
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Accommodation

Learn About the Small Ship on Your Itinerary

Expedition Ship
National Geographic Quest

Purpose built to cruise coastal waters, shallow coves and fast-moving channels, the 100-guest National Geographic Quest is a luxurious and state-of-the-art expedition vessel designed for supreme comfort and enhanced wildlife viewing.

Deals

Current Deals on This Trip

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Offer expires May 31st, 2024
Kids Save $500 On Select 2024 & 2025 Nat Geo Expeditions Worldwide

Save $500 per kid under 18 when you book your 2024 or 2025 departure from a variety of National Geographic expeditions worldwide.

Add to Wishlist
Offer expires May 31st, 2024
Groups Save 5% On Select 2024 & 2025 Nat Geo Expeditions Worldwide

Save 5% when traveling as a group of 8 or more on a variety of 2024 or 2025 National Geographic expeditions worldwide.

Expert Review

Ship Reviews from our Experts so You Know What to Expect

Mary Montalbano • August 1st, 2023
Expert Aboard: Venture & National Geographic Quest Reviews

Learn from two AdventureSmith experts about identical sister ships Nat Geo Venture and Quest. Tips on choosing your cabin, what the food is like and why choose to sail aboard.

Book with the confidence that comes from experience.

100+ combined years of experience, 7 continents explored, decades of expedition cruising around the world & here to help you find & book your dream trip.

Extend Your Trip

Additional Travel Options Before or After Your Costa Rica Cruise

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9 Day Land Tour
Costa Rica Explorer

The Pacuare River, Arenal Volcano and the beautiful beaches of the Pacific, combine in this Costa Rica land tour that includes river rafting, guided hikes, hot springs, hanging bridges, zip lining, plus a free day to explore tropical Manuel Antonio National Park.

From $5265USD
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9 Day Land Tour
Costa Rica Coast to Coast

Traverse Costa Rica coast to coast on this 9-day land tour, exploring the rainforest of Tortuguero National Park on the Caribbean coast. Home base on the Osa Peninsula and enjoy daily excursions guided by expert naturalists in search of wildlife.

From $5185USD
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9 Day Land Tour
Pacific Costa Rica

This 9-day active tour reveals Costa Rica's Pacific coast in style. Explore Drake Bay and Corcovado National Park. Snorkel Cano Island and raft the beautiful Savegre River. End with the magnificent beaches and stunning wildlife of Manuel Antonio National Park.

From $3775USD
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Exploring Costa Rica’s National Parks & Preserves: Guanacaste, Santa Rosa & Rincon de la Vieja

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