22 days in Costa Rica, Cartagena & San Andres Island Itinerary

22 days in Costa Rica, Cartagena & San Andres Island Itinerary

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22 days in Costa Rica, Cartagena & San Andres Island Itinerary

Start: New York City, United States
+3
Bus + Fly + Bus + Shuttle:  11 h 45 min
1
La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica
— 3 nights
Drive:  4 h 15 min
2
Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
— 3 nights
Drive:  1 h 15 min
3
Uvita, Costa Rica
— 4 nights
Ferry + Taxi:  5 h
4
Playa Samara, Costa Rica
— 3 nights
Drive:  1 h 45 min
5
Tamarindo, Costa Rica
— 4 nights
Fly:  8 h 45 min
6
Cartagena, Colombia
— 1 night
Fly:  3 h 15 min
7
San Andres Island, Colombia
— 3 nights
Fly:  11 h 45 min
End: New York City, United States

3
nights
La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica

La Fortuna de San Carlos ©
Set against the backdrop of the imposing Arenal Volcano, La Fortuna de San Carlos offers visitors a chance to explore diverse natural landscapes and sample some delicious local produce.
Museum-lovers will appreciate Wood & Art Gallery and Galeria Estudio. Your cultural itinerary includes sights like Onirica Art Gallery and ChocoMuseo La Fortuna. You'll find plenty of places to visit near La Fortuna de San Carlos: Poas Volcano (in Poas Volcano National Park), Dave & Dave's Costa Rica Nature Park (in La Virgen) and Butterfly Conservatory (in El Castillo). There's lots more to do: get impressive views of Cerro Chato (Chato Volcano), trek along Arenal 1968 Trail, admire the natural beauty at Arenal Natura Ecological Park, and stroll through La Fortuna Waterfall.

For where to stay, more things to do, photos, and tourist information, use the La Fortuna de San Carlos tour itinerary planner .

New York City, USA to La Fortuna de San Carlos is an approximately 12-hour combination of bus, flight, and shuttle. You can also do a combination of flight and shuttle; or drive. The time zone changes from Eastern Standard Time to Central Standard Time, which is usually a -1 hour difference. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 16th (Thu) early enough to drive to Manuel Antonio.

Things to do in La Fortuna de San Carlos

Parks Nature Wildlife

Side Trips

Dave & Dave's Costa Rica Nature Park, Cerro Chato (Chato Volcano), Poas Volcano, Butterfly Conservatory
Find places to stay Jan 13 — 16:
Highlights from your plan
Dave & Dave's Costa Rica Nature Park ©
Arenal Natura Ecological Park ©
Arenal Natura Ecological Park
Butterfly Conservatory ©
Butterfly Conservatory

3
nights
Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio ©
The rainforest meets the sea at Manuel Antonio National Park, a small but scenic natural preserve on the west coast of Costa Rica.
Discover out-of-the-way places like Walking tours and Parasailing & Paragliding. Get in touch with nature at Playa Manuel Antonio and Manuel Antonio Hot Springs. There's still lots to do: head outdoors with Barraba's Surf, browse the exhibits of The Captain's Booty, get some thrills out on the water with a waterskiing or jet-skiing adventure, and walk around Parque Nahomi.

For other places to visit, traveler tips, photos, and tourist information, read our Manuel Antonio trip builder .

Traveling by car from La Fortuna de San Carlos to Manuel Antonio takes 4.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a shuttle; or take a bus. Cap off your sightseeing on the 19th (Sun) early enough to go by car to Uvita.

Things to do in Manuel Antonio

Outdoors Tours Parks

Side Trip

Quepos
Find places to stay Jan 16 — 19:
Highlights from your plan
Playa Manuel Antonio ©
Playa Manuel Antonio
Walking tours
Parasailing & Paragliding

4
nights
Uvita, Costa Rica

Uvita ©
Ideal for visitors looking to escape Costa Rica's busy beaches, Uvita offers a serene atmosphere and plenty of uncrowded sand for a leisurely vacation.
Get outdoors at Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary and Playa Matapalo. Do your shopping at Magic Ananda and Mama Toucan's Natural and Organic Food Store. Take a break from Uvita with a short trip to El Sitio Museo Finca 6 in Palmar Norte, about 48 minutes away. There's lots more to do: tour the pleasant surroundings at Uvita Beach, relax and rejuvenate at some of the top local wellness centers, glide through the air with a parasailing or paragliding tour, and head outdoors with Cascada Pavon - Waterfall in Costa Rica.

For photos, more things to do, and tourist information, you can read our Uvita online trip itinerary planner .

You can drive from Manuel Antonio to Uvita in 1.5 hours. Another option is to take a bus. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 23rd (Thu) so you can travel to Playa Samara.

Things to do in Uvita

Parks Outdoors Beaches

Side Trips

Dominical, Cascada Pavon - Waterfall in Costa Rica, El Sitio Museo Finca 6, Playa Matapalo
Find places to stay Jan 19 — 23:
Highlights from your plan
Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary ©
Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary
Uvita Beach ©
Uvita Beach
Parque Nacional Marino Ballena ©
Parque Nacional Marino Ballena

3
nights
Playa Samara, Costa Rica

A beach town with just enough development to be comfortable for families accustomed to the trappings of modern life, Playa Samara has the resorts you'd expect to find in such a scenic area, but they don't hinder the relaxing atmosphere.
Get in touch with nature at Samara Beach and Horseback Riding Tours. Your itinerary includes some good beach time at Nosara Beach (Playa Guiones) and Playa Buena Vista. There's much more to do: relax and rejuvenate at some of the best spas, admire the sheer force of Belen Waterfall, get interesting insight from Tours, and get a new perspective on things with Boat Tours & Water Sports.

To see where to stay, ratings, maps, and other tourist information, read our Playa Samara trip itinerary planning website .

Do a combination of ferry and taxi from Uvita to Playa Samara in 5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or take a bus. Finish your sightseeing early on the 26th (Sun) so you can drive to Tamarindo.

Things to do in Playa Samara

Outdoors Wildlife Tours

Side Trip

Nosara Beach (Playa Guiones)
Find places to stay Jan 23 — 26:
Highlights from your plan
Horseback Riding Tours
Dolphin & Whale Watching
Samara Beach ©
Samara Beach

4
nights
Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Surfing remains the main reason to take a trip to Tamarindo, as the beachside town is mostly known for its excellent waves.
You'll discover tucked-away gems like Scuba & Snorkeling and Playa Flamingo. Bring the kids along to Tamarindo Beach and Canopy Vista Tamarindo. Get out of town with these interesting Tamarindo side-trips: Las Catalinas (Playa Dantita & Playa Danta). And it doesn't end there: look for all kinds of wild species at Wildlife Areas, paddle through the water with a kayaking and canoeing tour, stroll through Monkey Park, and stop by Souvenir Guanacaste.

For photos, maps, reviews, and other tourist information, refer to the Tamarindo travel itinerary planner.

Traveling by car from Playa Samara to Tamarindo takes 2 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus; or take a bus. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 30th (Thu) so you can travel to Cartagena.

Things to do in Tamarindo

Outdoors Parks Tours

Side Trips

Las Catalinas, Playa Flamingo, Kayaking & Canoeing
Find places to stay Jan 26 — 30:
Highlights from your plan
Scuba & Snorkeling
Playa Danta ©
Playa Danta
Playa Dantita ©
Playa Dantita

1
night
Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena ©
The site of the continent's first Spanish colony, Cartagena retains much of its colonial flavor thanks to a World Heritage-listed old town, encircled by old walls and protected by imposing fortresses.
Start off your visit on the 30th (Thu): look for all kinds of wild species at Aviario Nacional de Colombia, don't miss a visit to Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, then take in the architecture and atmosphere at Ermita Nuestra Senora De La Candelaria, and finally admire the striking features of St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the next day: wander the streets of Barrio Getsemani, take in the spiritual surroundings of Templo de Santo Domingo, and then stop by La Casa del Joyero.

To see more things to do, other places to visit, where to stay, and tourist information, you can read our Cartagena trip itinerary website .

Traveling by flight from Tamarindo to Cartagena takes 9 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and flight; or do a combination of shuttle and flight. You'll lose 1 hour traveling from Tamarindo to Cartagena due to the time zone difference. In January, plan for daily highs up to 88°F, and evening lows to 75°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 31st (Fri) so you can travel to San Andres Island.

Things to do in Cartagena

Historic Sites Neighborhoods Parks

Side Trip

Aviario Nacional de Colombia
Find places to stay Jan 30 — 31:
Highlights from your plan
Aviario Nacional de Colombia ©
Aviario Nacional de Colombia
Barrio Getsemani ©
Barrio Getsemani
Templo de Santo Domingo ©
Templo de Santo Domingo

3
nights
San Andres Island, Colombia

San Andres Island
The coral San Andres Island boasts a rich colonial history, exotic beaches, and a laidback, tropical lifestyle.
Start off your visit on the 1st (Sat): explore the gorgeous colors at West View, then look for all kinds of wild species at La Piscinita, and then tour the pleasant surroundings at Playa de San Luis. On the 2nd (Sun), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: get outside with Outdoor Activities, then discover the deep blue sea with a scuba or snorkeling tour, and then take in the architecture and atmosphere at Primera Iglesia Bautista.

To find more things to do, maps, traveler tips, and more tourist information, go to the San Andres Island tour planner .

Fly from Cartagena to San Andres Island in 3.5 hours. Expect a daytime high around 84°F in January, and nighttime lows around 76°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 3rd (Mon) to allow enough time to travel back home.

Things to do in San Andres Island

Parks Wildlife Outdoors
Find places to stay Jan 31 — Feb 3:
Highlights from your plan
West View
West View
Scuba & Snorkeling
La Piscinita ©
La Piscinita

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