Kelsie & Alyson's Detailed Itinerary - Afro-Caribbean Costa Rica

San José Province, San José, Costa Rica

May 26 - 31, 2022
Group size: 2 - 2
Kelsie & Alyson's Detailed Itinerary - Afro-Caribbean Costa Rica
San José Province, San José, Costa Rica

May 26 - 31, 2022
Group size: 2 - 2

About this trip

The charming and welcoming town of La Fortuna is a perfect getaway for families, couples, and friends. The only requisite is that you love outdoor adventure and relaxation!

African heritage is alive and well in Costa Rica. Develop a deeper awareness of the country’s Afro-Caribbean diaspora on this culturally immersive tour highlighting the coastal Afro-Latin town of Puerto Viejo. Pristine beaches and lush rainforest form the perfect backdrop for R&R and exciting activities alike that highlight the area’s unique multiculturalism.

**NOTE** Activity times, transfer durations, etc. are subject to change. Your activity providers and Soul Life Travel team are here to help - please see contact info and confirmation numbers listed in the daily itinerary!

Costa Rica's Entry Requirements

All international tourists are permitted to enter Costa Rica by air, land and sea. Tourists must meet the visa requirements, when applicable, as well as the requirements established in the framework of the pandemic.

- A passport is required for entry in Costa Rica. For U.S. and Canadian citizens, only a valid passport is necessary and no prior visa approval is required. (For non-US/CA citizens, prior visa approval may be required depending on where your citizenship is based.) It is always a good idea to find out the current visa and entry requirements from your local Costa Rican Consulate. 

- Upon entering Costa Rica, most visitors are given a 90-day tourist visa that is stamped in their passport. Make sure your passport is valid for the entire length of your stay.

- The Government of Costa Rica does not require tourists entering by air, land or sea to present a negative COVID-19 test or quarantine upon arrival.

- Tourists visiting Costa Rica are requested to abide by the sanitary protocols in place when participating in tourist activities throughout the country.

For more information and requirements, please visit HERE.

Booked Hotels

Arenal - Arenal Paraiso Resort & Spa

Arenal Paraiso Resort & Spa is a beautiful retreat and base from which to enjoy the surrounding area. The accommodations at the Arenal Paraiso all offer stunning views of the Arenal Volcano, plus cable TV, coffee maker and a private bathroom that includes a hairdryer and toiletries. Some unites feature terraces, while others have balconies.

Arenal Paraiso offers its guests a variety of amenities on site. In the complete spa and wellness center guests can enjoy massages, 2 saunas, and a fitness center. There are 2 restaurants at this property. One of them specializes in regional dishes, while the other serves international-style cuisine. The breakfast buffet is free of charge. Arenal Paraiso also has an on-site gift shop, 13 pools with thermo-mineral water and a regular swimming pool and natural walking paths. 

Puerto Viejo - Hotel Cariblue

Hotel Cariblue is found on the Caribbean coast, in the town of Puerto Viejo. This region offers visitors a unique opportunity to experience a completely different side of Costa Rica. You will find a beautiful mixture of indigenous, Afro-Caribbean and Costa Rican cultures, expressed in the way of life, language and food. 

Spending Money In Costa Rica

How Much Do I Need?

This is a hard question as everyone's spending habits are different. We recommend having at least per person $250-$300 for spending money, $30 a day for meals (excluding alcohol), and around $150 or so for tipping guides, drivers, housekeeping staff. This is a very rough estimate because again everyone's spending habits are different. 

Local Currency

For the most part, U.S. Dollars are not accepted in Costa Rica; by and large you will need to pay with Costa Rican colones. Right now 1 USD equals about 650 colones.

Exchanging Funds

We strongly suggest you exchange funds before leaving the airport. There are a number of ATMs at the San Jose and Liberia International Airports. (There is also an exchange business in the airport that will exchange all currencies, however their rates are known to be very poor.) 


If you must withdraw cash at an ATM, be prepared for potentially hefty processing fees and currency exchange commissions. That said, most Costa Rican towns have several banks and almost every bank will have an ATM. In Puerto Viejo, for example, there is a Banco de Costa Rica and Banco Nacional and there are also ATMs from BAC Credomatic and Scotiabank. 

Card or Cash?

Credit or debit cards are widely accepted in Costa Rica for payment of things like shuttle services, meals, and attractions. Expect, however, to pay for taxi rides and items sold at small, roadside shops/stalls/stands with cash as credit cards are unlikely to be accepted. You’ll also need cash for most tipping situations. 

How Much Should I Tip?

Most service staff in Costa Rica hope, if not expect, to receive a tip. Here are some tipping suggestions for typical services during your Costa Rica trip:

Tour Guide - 3500-10000 colones (5-15 USD), depending on size of the tour group & tour length

Tour/Transfer Driver - 1500-3500 colones (2-5 USD) per one-way transfer; 7000 colones (10 USD) for an all-day tour

Taxi Ride - Round up the total shown on the meter

Restaurant Wait Staff - 15-20% if a 10% service charge (a mandatory gratuity charge) has NOT been added to the bill; 5-10% otherwise

Hotel Housekeeper - 1500-3500 colones (2-5 USD) per night

Recommended Restaurants

Costa Rican Go-To's

#1 Tip - Get Salsa Lizano with every meal! It’s a typical Costa Rican sauce that is SO GOOD. 

Batidos - Costa Rican fruit smoothies. You can get them with water or milk.

Casados - typical Costa Rican meals with meat, rice, beans, salad, and plantains


Where to eat: the best restaurants in La Fortuna de San Carlos 

La Parada - Pizza and good casados--try to get bistek con cebolla with Salsa Lizano

Soda La Hormiga - Great Costa Rican place, cheap and tasty! 

Copo Snow Cone Vendors - If you are walking through the park in front of the Catholic church and see the “copo” vendor, you must stop for a try. A copo is a Costa Rican snow cone that vendors sell for a couple colones.

Luigi’s Pizza - Luigi’s Pizza has been a staple in the downtown restaurant scene in La Fortuna for years. When I used to visit La Fortuna on a college budget, we would eat pizza here because the portions are big and the prices are fairly low. The white pizza is pretty epic. 

Volcano Lodge and Springs - This is a family-run hotel about halfway between the entrance to the Arenal Volcano National Park and La Fortuna city center. The best-kept secret, though, is that a local family runs the indoor/outdoor restaurants in the hotel, and you can head over for soaring views of the Arenal volcano while you eat delicious food prepared by locally trained chefs at a great price.

Puerto Viejo


Cafe Rico - get the Santa Rosa!

Soda Elizabeth - simple yet delicious

Grow - good vegan options


Tasty Waves Cantina - many kinds of dishes, solid choice near the beach

Tamara’s - local Black-owned favorite, great Rondon

Biribá - the best vegan food!

Salsa Brava - great drinks

Spicy Coconut - Curry, Thai, Mahi Mahi, seafood


Wolaba Fusion - Good sushi

Koki Beach Restaurant, Bar & Lounge - Higher end, nice ambiance, and great cocktails right on the beach!

Cafe Viejo - Italian--great pasta

Lidia's Place - Traditional Caribbean + Costa Rican food

Madre Tierra - Get the breadfruit gnocchi w/ shrimp and thank us later ;)

Stashu's Con Fusion - International fare

Free Time Suggestions

Please feel free to let us know what interests you. We're happy to make suggestions based on our extensive knowledge and personal experience, to help you make the most of your trip!


Rafting Costa Rica - Whitewater Rafting with Exploradores Outdoors

Desafio Adventure Company 

10 Best Things to Do in La Fortuna and Arenal, Costa Rica for First-Time Visitors - Passport & Plates 

Puerto Viejo


Playa Punta Uva & Playa Arrecife - Experience Puerto Viejo's Beaches Like a Local! Playa Punta Uva and Playa Arrecife are two of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica, with palm tree dotted beaches, turquoise water and soft tan sand. In between the two beaches is a great little sightseeing spot with a short trail (Playa Punta Uva on the right, Playa Arrecife on the left). You can walk around the peninsula jutting out for awesome views. 

• You can also try Playa Negra, Playa Cocles, Playa Chiquita, or Manzanillo for a serene day in the sun and sand.


Pure Jungle Spa



[2022] Must-Know Info About Puerto Viejo Costa Rica And The Southern Caribbean Coast - The Official Costa Rica Travel Blog

Johnny’s Place

Monday - Ol' School night (lots of Whitney Houston and Michael!)

Wednesday - mix of reggaeton and Top 40...Sadie's fav :)

Friday - Afro beats 

Saturday - salsa

Selina's - DJ schedule changes weekly

U.S. Re-entry COVID Test

In order to re-enter the U.S., you must present a negative COVID-19 test. It must be a PCR or antigen (rapid) test, administered no more than 1 calendar day before your flight. Please see here for details. 

Testing Options in Costa Rica Airports

Antigen (rapid) testing and PCR testing are now available at both San Jose Airport (SJO) and Liberia Airport (LIR). Lab Echandi, a reputable lab in Costa Rica, performs the test. You need to make an appointment online. Here is the link.

Puerto Viejo COVID Testing Clinics
- Laboratorio Bioclinic is great for travelers wanting to cross international borders, this lab is one of the two places offering Covid tests in Puerto Viejo at this time. Both Antigen ($76) and PCR ($140) tests are now available. An appointment is recommended.
Location: Inside Puerto Viejo Shops near Puerto and CO.
WhatsApp: +506 8950 9101
Opening hours: 8:00AM-5:00PM

- Clinica San Gabriel is also offering Covid tests needed for travel purposes. They offer both Antigen ($75) and PCR tests ($130) from 8am to 3pm daily. Your passport is required but no appointment is needed. Results are generally available early the next day.
Location: Calle 213, beside MegaSuper
WhatsApp: +506 8870 8029

What’s included

  • Airport transfers
  • Ground transportation
    Private and Shared air conditioned shuttles
  • Hotel accommodations
  • Breakfast daily
  • Guided experiences
    Authentic immersive activities and sightseeing, as per itinerary, led by English-speaking local guides
  • Airfare
  • Meals not listed on Itin
  • Activities not listed
  • Optional Activities
  • All personal items
    (room service, laundry, telephone charges, etc.)
  • Tips: Gratuities
  • Travel insurance
    (required by Soul Life Travel)
  • Passport or visa fees


Day 1 - May 26
San Jose - Arenal

Pura vida! Welcome to Costa Rica! You'll arrive at the Juan Santamaria International Airport in San José. A private transfer will bring you to your first hotel in Arenal, where you'll be for the next 2 nights. After checking in and getting settled, take some time to unwind at the pool or explore all the hotel has to offer. If up for it, maybe check out the town of La Fortuna. Explore at your own pace and grab an authentic dinner.

- Private Airport Transfer: San José -> Arenal Volcano Region

Arrival at Juan Santamaria (SJO International) Airport

• Alyson - Flight DL1974 at 5:59 AM

• Kelsie - Flight AV639 at 9:25 AM

Pick Up: The driver will monitor Kelsie's incoming flight arrival and meet her outside with a sign with her name on it. The driver will first pick up Kelsie at the airport, then get Alyson from Denny's Restaurant.

Drop Off: Arenal Paraiso Resort & Spa

Duration: 3 hours approximately

Reservation #: STFI688443


Swiss Travel Costa Rica

6:00am-10:00pm: 800-329-8687 (Toll-free) / +506 2282-4898

10:00pm-6:00am: +506 8310-7636 (Also available on WhatsApp)

There is a Denny's located about a mile from the airport and right next to a Holiday Inn Express. After Alyson gets through security, customs, etc. she can go to Denny's for breakfast. There are a couple ways to get there:

1. Holiday Inn Express shuttle: Typically, it will be waiting across the street from where you exit the main terminal. Make your way through the crowd and go across the street towards the parking garage. If the shuttle isn't there, just wait for it. If asked you can just say you have a reservation in order to board, but often they do not ask so it is a decent option for you.

2. Taxi: If you don't want to deal with the shuttle, it's a 5-minute taxi ride and you CAN most certainly get a taxi to take you to the restaurant. 

- Check in at Arenal Paraiso Resort & Spa

Includes: 1 Standard Double Room for 2 nights, Buffet Breakfast (except arrival day), Taxes


142, Provincia de Alajuela, La Fortuna, Costa Rica

T: +506 2479 1100


Free afternoon and evening to relax or explore Arenal - Lunch & Dinner on your own

Your Organizer

Soul Life Travel
Soul Life Travel arranges customized travel experiences for individual and group tours that emphasize Afro-Caribbean heritage and culture in Costa Rica.