Add value to your Costa Rica- Panama cruise with an extra day (or two) in San José, Costa Rica
Whether you begin your Costa Rica- Panama small luxury cruise in San Jose, Costa Rica, or end it there, you’re bound to have a few days on one end of the trip or the other; why not make the most of them?
It could go either way. You’re about to join your small ship cruise along the coasts of Panama and Costa Rica, but are coming off of a long flight to Latin American and could use a little down time. Or, maybe you’re fresh off the boat, relaxed from your sea voyage, but reluctant to head back home quite so soon.
Either way, a couple of days in San Jose, Costa Rica could be just the ticket that will round out your Latin American small cruise vacation just perfectly.
San Jose offers wonderful accommodations and exciting adventures
If you want to treat yourself to a luxury stay right in the city, Grano de Oro is a 5-star boutique hotel in the heart of downtown San José. Formerly a private mansion, its Spanish colonial style and tropical gardens hark back to the days of United Fruit. Just around the corner is the city’s world-famous Central Market, with its fascinating and colorful stalls filled with produce, artisanal goods, and more.
If you want a little adrenaline with your cloud forest, try Canopy San Luis, in San Ramon, north of San José. You can try your hand at rappelling, ziplining, or whitewater rafting. They also offer a “Superman” harness so that you can fly through the canopy like the man of steel or swing through the jungle like Tarzan.
When it’s a clear day atop Irazu Volcano, you can see the Atlantic and the Pacific from 11,000 feet. Nearby Orosi Valley is as beautiful as it is rich in Costa Rican history. Lankester Botanical Gardens feature countless orchids, bromeliads, bamboos, and other indigenous plants from around the country.
Whether it’s just the two of you or the entire family, everyone in the gang will enjoy a visit to Hacienda Pozo Azul, 45 minutes away, for a horseback ride along the Sarapiquí River, followed by an exciting Canopy Adventure. With nine lines and 17 platforms, you’ll have plenty of time to explore the rainforest canopy, and still be home in time for dinner. If you want to try your rafting skill, they also offer a two and a half-hour rafting trip down the river rapids (Class I – III). After you’ve worked up an appetite, sample Tico cuisine and enjoy the river view.
Braulio Carrillo National Park is 12 miles (20 km) north of San José and filled with amazingly diverse flora and fauna dedicated to preserving seven distinct eco-zones. The park has no services or facilities beyond the hiking trails and three ranger stations. So, if you go, be prepared for a long, serious hike and the cooler temperatures of higher elevations.
About an hour north of the city, La Paz Waterfall Gardens is set in a private reserve, where you can enjoy a stroll along the waterfall trail, a traditional Tico house complete with Oxen and their cart, a butterfly observatory, hummingbird garden, a frog exhibit, serpents, monkeys, sloths, and big, wild cats that have been rescued and are to be rehabilitated before release back into the jungle.
If you’re staying at Peace Lodge, located within La Paz Waterfall Gardens, admission to the park is included with your luxury accommodation, and trust us when we say that a stay at the aptly named Peace Lodge is an indulgence worth taking.
San José is Costa Rica’s thriving capital city and the perfect jumping off point for long or short-day trips to almost anywhere in the country. In most cases, staff at your hotel can help you book a tour and the tour operator usually provides transportation to and from your hotel, along with English speaking guides.
Before or after, a day or two spent enjoying and exploring the area in and around San José means an added adventure to your cruise that will book-end your trip just flawlessly.