If the focus of your trip to Costa Rica is planning a visit to Finca Bellavista, an itinerary centered on travel to, from, and within the Southern Zone is highly recommended for itineraries less than one week long.
The Southern Zone of Costa Rica is the least known and least visited region of the country, and provides a refreshing and authentic alternative to the country’s more popular tourism zones.
Travel time between the Southern Zone and regions like Papagayo, Arenal, and the Caribbean should not be underestimated, and might be better suited for a separate journey if planning a one-week trip to Costa Rica for a stay at Finca Bellavista.
These recommendations focus trip itineraries to the Southern Zone and Osa Peninsula, and points in between Finca Bellavista and San Jose. Guests coming to and from Finca Bellavista would be best suited to select either a drive-through or fly-to option from San Jose, based on the area of interest and pace of travel desired.
For those planning on driving to Finca Bellavista from San Jose, a variety of beautiful beaches, National Parks, mountains and activities like birdwatching and surfing can easily fill out itinerary days and nights. Selecting the best method of ground transportation for trip budget and timeframe can be found on the Getting Here page.
Costenera Highway/Beach Route (34)
The Costenera Highway/Beach Route is accessed from the Caldera Toll Road from San Jose and the Central Valley, and takes drivers along a long stretch of Pacific coastline. Easy stopping off points for hotels, activities, and amenities line this area.
If you are driving to Finca Bellavista from San Jose, the exact half-way point is in Esterillos Este. Enjoy miles of beaches and a more relaxed vibe than more populated places like Manuel Antonio or Jaco.
Another stop en route to Finca Bellavista from San Jose is Manuel Antonio, with its very popular national park. Those looking for a little luxury or pampering will find it in upscale hotels, restaurants and spas in this area.
Those looking to surf or spend time exploring the water will find that the Dominical and Uvita areas have plenty of options for either modest or luxury accommodations.
Sierpe is a quiet little fishing village on the edge of the lazy Sierpe river. This is also a boat access point to travel to/from the Osa Peninsula, Corcovado National Park and Drake Bay.
Cerro de la Muerte/Mountain Route (2)
The Mountain Route/Cerro de la Muerte route to the Southern Zone is longer than the Costenera, but accesses a dynamic and intriguing area of Costa Rica. This route is also known as the InterAmericana Highway, and connects Central America. This mountainous, high-altitude region is a place for birdwatchers, trekkers, and those looking for a break from the heat.
The InterAmericana reaches its high point in this area. Cozy eco-lodges (think fireplace) offer trout fishing and birdwatching tours. Birdwatchers searching for a glimpse of the Resplendent Quetzal might find it here.
Cerro Chirripo is the highest peak in Costa Rica, and trekkers will delight in the possibility of seeing both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans at the peak on a clear day. Hot springs and other features are also in this region.
Bordering the edge of Panama and inclusive of Amistad National Park, this region is a mountainous garden of Eden for adventurers to explore. This spot is easiest to access if coming overland from Panama, but can be accessed from two entirely different directions and highways.
For travelers looking to minimize travel time and extend exploration time of the Southern Zone, flying in to one of the following towns will provide specific options, further detailed in Suggested Itineraries. These regions are all accessible by vehicle as well, but are in the more remote regions of Costa Rica. As such, flying is recommended to reduce travel time.
Puerto Jimenez is the most utilized gateway to the Osa Peninsula and Corcovado National Park. This former gold mining town is the center of services for the Osa Peninsula, and acts as a gateway to Matapalo, Corcovado, and Carate.
Carate is the most remote portion of the Osa Peninsula and is the most direct access point to Corcovado National Park. Regional flights are few and far between, but will cut out the 2+ hour bumpy ride from Puerto Jimenez.
The bustling port town of Golfito provides a good jumping off point to remote lodges on the Golfo Dulce and in Piedras Blancas National Park. Deep-sea fishing and accessing the mellow beach town of Playa Zancudo are possible as well.
For additional information on travel planning, Visit Costa Rica is the country’s official tourism website, and has a multitude of links and options for travelers.