TRAVEL DIARIES: Costa Rica – Manuel Antonio, Monteverde, & Arenal Travel Guide

Hello my friends!

We have been so fortunate to be able to travel this year and for my birthday we decided to go to Costa Rica! Zain and I both hadn’t ever been so it was a great first time for both of us and we can’t say enough good things! We did 6 days, about 1.5 days in each city and we did 3 cities. I’ll break up this guide by city so its easier. For things like car rentals, hotel/airbnb’s, and flights, I’ll put those first! I also have little vlog style reels on my Instagram that I’ll link at the end of each city for y’all to check out too, if you don’t follow me on Instagram already you can do so here! 🙂

Rent a Car: Sixt – we went with Sixt and could not be happier about it. It was a little more pricier but granted the horror stories we read about at literally every other car rental place online, we were okay to pay a little more but face no issues. Also make sure you rent a SUV for Costa Rica because the roads from city to city are no joke sometimes. We had an amazing experience, no issues whatsoever!

Flights: We took United both ways and had no problems! Nonstop from Houston to San Jose a was about 3 hours.

Hotels/Airbnb’s: We actually booked all of our stays via Airbnb but in Monteverde and Arenal they turned out to be actual hotels/lodges which was so great.

Monteverde: Rainbow Valley Lodge:

Arenal: Sangregado Lodge

Manuel Antonio: Gaia hotel was amazing, we ate dinner there but wish we would have stayed there!


-Drove from San Jose to Manuel Antonio at night and do not recommend doing any of the drives from any city at night, it’s actually kind of scary but Manuel Antonio National Park is one of Forbes top 12 national park’s in the world and man was it gorgeous.

-Do a sunset dinner at La Luna if you can, they have a Macaw reserve at the hotel that its at and you can spot them from dinner flying, you can also see the whole rainforest and beach from the dinner spot so it was beautiful.

-Jungle tour at night: we did this for the experience, didn’t really spot anything cool but it was nice to experience the adventure!

Watch the reel – here 


-Drove to Monteverde early morning and got there by 12, did the zip lining tour there and man was it amazing, I’m scared of heights so I could only do 2 of the lines but it was amazing to experience! The city of Monteverde is so cute and there’s so many great spots to eat and check out as well!

-Hike the cloud forest, the next day we started off with the hike in the cloud forest, absolutely breathtaking to hike all the way to the continental divide and be literally, up in the clouds, and this was a great experience as well even though I’m not much of a hiker it was so breathtaking!

-Coffee, Chocolate, and Sugarcane tour: We did the Don Juan tour and this was so much fun, we got to try the coffee fruit, see how coffee is made and the different types of coffee’s there are, the cacao was so interesting as well and you get to try the cacao before its chocolate, and the sugarcane juice was so refreshing too.

Watch the reel – here


-Lake Arenal was absolutely gorgeous to drive through, so we did the drive and headed to ATVing the same day and this was one of the most fun activities! They take you around the mountain and then you stop at a river and you get to swim in the river, it was so refreshing, spontaneous and so fun!

-La Fortuna waterfall was amazing as well, the city of La Fortuna is only a short 10-15 min drive from Arenal so I recommend checking out the city as well but the waterfall was so gorgeous! Reading the reviews about the 500 steps up and down scared me a bit but it was not a big deal, it took 10 minutes to go down and coming back up wasn’t that bad because there’s benches on each case of stairs so you can rest.

-Hot Springs, the hot springs there were highly recommended too! Luckily we spoke to some locals and they told us not to do the paid ones, there were free ones that was accessible 24/7 so we went there, it was so nice because there were people selling coconuts, so you could grab a coconut and chill in the hot springs and relax, it was great! The ones we went to we just googled, free hot springs, and that’s it.

Watch the reel – here

There is a LOT of activities to do in every city in Costa Rica, the best part was that we didnt have to book anything in advance! We messaged our Airbnb hosts and they told us not to worry about booking beforehand and if needed they could book for us too, it was great!



  • How many days would I recommend? At least 5 for sure! We thought doing 6 days with 3 cities would be too much, but it was doable and we wished we could have stayed longer!
  • How expensive is it/how much did we spend? It was surprisingly pretty pricey there, we easily spent close to 3000 for 6 days including flights, hotels, car, and activities + food.
  • Stray animals? There were a few strays but not like a noticeable amount! They leave you alone for the most part.
  • How much did it cost per day? That depends on the activities you book and where you eat, the food wasn’t that bad price wise but the activities can add up for sure.
  • Is it safe? Extremely! Arenal is one of the safest cities in CR, but overall we felt super safe.
  • Where would I recommend going? Monteverde hands down, its honestly like a piece of heaven! It’s beautiful and I recommend staying at Rainbow Valley Lodge because of the views, amazing place.
  • Any downsides? only downside was that it got dark at 5pm, that meant everything activity wise, closed at 5 too. So we had to wake up early, do everything we wanted to do from like 7am to 5pm, but that meant we chilled after that so it was pretty nice at the end!


Pura Vida, xo, Fatima.



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