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Costa Rica Culinary Tour: A Fresh Take on a Classic Destination

Discover a tropical paradise of majestic volcanoes, powder sand beaches, lush rain forests teeming with wildlife, and rich culinary bounty. Embrace the “pura vida” as you are beckoned by a harmonious balance of relaxation and adventure. Step into a world you’ve only dreamed of visiting, and explore Costa Rica in a fresh and captivating way. Our 8-day Costa Rica culinary tours bring you right to the heart of this burgeoning foodie hot spot, where local chefs are capitalizing on Costa Rica’s bountiful harvests, abundant natural ingredients, and distinctive geography. 

Join us for a groundbreaking culinary adventure through some of Costa Rica’s most luscious landscapes, from the highlands to the jungle to the ocean. We’ll travel from historic San Jose, to stunning Arenal volcano, to the tranquil beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula. You’ll devour a delicious chocolate lunch, learn how local folk medicine can cure everything from a hangover to a broken heart, and cook tropical dishes at the base of the volcano. Along the way, we will admire Costa Rica’s incredibly diverse wildlife, unwind in relaxing hot springs, and connect with locals through hand-curated, insider experiences.

 

Top Costa Rica Culinary Tour Experiences:

  • Cooking and cocktail classes in stunning jungle and beach settings

  • Stroll San Jose’s vibrant food markets

  • Sample traditional Costa Rican food with a local family in their home

  • Eat a mouthwatering chocolate lunch

  • Explore a coffee plantation and taste some of the world’s best coffee

  • Walk the fields and groves of a family pineapple farm

If you’re ready to explore Costa Rica’s luscious treasures with a culinary twist, your adventure begins here. For more information about our Costa Rica culinary tours please call 1-800-567-9400 or email us today.

We were blown away with how good the food was in Costa Rica. Everywhere we went used the freshest local produce, meats and dairy and every meal was cooked to perfection.
— Eric & Laura
 
 
 
 

Costa Rica Culinary Tour Itinerary

DAY 1: Our Costa Rica Culinary Tours Begin in San Jose

Arrive San Jose Airport. Check into upscale boutique hotel. Welcome dinner at contemporary Costa Rican restaurant.

DAY 2: Tour San Jose

Coffee stop and market tours. Traditional dinner with a local family. Overnight in upscale boutique hotel.

DAY 3: Chocolate & Coffee Tastings

Depart San Jose for the Heredia area. Visit chocolate producer and chef for chocolate lunch. Tour of organic Costa Rican coffee plantation. Overnight in stunning plantation hotel.

DAY 4: Farm-to-Table Lunch & Hot Springs

Transfer to Arenal. Stop at local farm and visit to private hot springs. Overnight in luxury jungle resort.

DAY 5: Wildlife Refuge & Cooking Class

River safari in remote wildlife refuge. Costa Rican cooking class at the base of Arenal volcano. Overnight in luxury jungle resort.

DAY 6: Blue Zone & Beach

Transfer to the Nicoya Peninsula. Visit farm in Costa Rica’s Blue Zone. Overnight in oceanside eco-lodge.

DAY 7: Free Day & Cocktail Class

Day at leisure for relaxation, beach or nature activities. Late afternoon cocktail class and farewell happy hour. Overnight in oceanside eco-lodge.

DAY 8: Costa Rica Culinary Tour Ends

Alas, your Costa Rica cuilnary tour is over today. Transfer to Daniel Oduber International Airport (LIR) or book a few extra days at the beach.

See detailed itinerary

 
 

QUICK FACTS

8 days
Year-round
Max group size: 12
Prices from $3,990 USD 

HIGHLIGHTS

Coffee plantation tour & finca overnight

Wildlife viewing and nature walks

Cooking classes, market tours, and chocolate lunch

Hot springs visit and leisure day at the beach

Luxury eco-lodge, boutique hotel, & oceanside resort

IS IT FOR YOU?

Our Costa Rica culinary tours are the perfect vacation for anyone who is passionate about travel, insider experiences, and learning about Costa Rica’s culture through its cuisine. These tours of Costa Rica are ideal for those wishing to enjoy authentic cultural connections and experiential travel in this Central American paradise.

Adventure-seekers and relaxation connoisseurs alike will relish in this unparalleled journey across Costa Rica’s luscious landscapes. From cities to beaches and the jungles in between, we travel through three beautiful regions to discover the cultural heart of Costa Rica. From from historic San Jose, through stunning Arenal, to the tranquil beaches of Guanacaste, you’ll enjoy thoughtfully curated experiences, authentic cooking classes, enlightening discoveries, and, of course, delicious Costa Rican meals.

Please note that although our Costa Rica culinary tours are not exceptionally active trips, there is quite a bit of walking, including some uneven pavement and dirt paths during lovely nature walks.

All of our culinary vacations include a rich combination of delicious ingredients: expert cooking classes, visits to flourishing farms and vibrant markets, and world-class cuisine!

Trip Details

Detailed Itinerary

See the detailed itinerary … learn more

Food

All breakfasts, four lunches, one happy hour tapas, & three dinners) … learn more

Accommodation

7 nights boutique hotels and eco-lodges … learn more

Travel info

Important flight, insurance and packing information … learn more

Recommended Reading

Book Suggestions for your trip to Costa Rica … learn more

 
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Your Costa Rica Food Travel Itinerary

DAY 1: Our Costa Rica Food Travel Itinerary Begins in San Jose

Welcome to San Jose, where our Costa Rica food travel begins. After passing through immigration and customs, your driver will be waiting to take you to your lovely boutique hotel in the heart of San Jose. Spend the afternoon relaxing in the warmth of this tropical paradise before heading to your welcome dinner. San Jose is an up-and-coming foodie hot spot and tonight’s welcome dinner will be held at one of San Jose’s top new restaurants – locally sourced, contemporary cuisine with an innovative Tico twist!

Drive time: 30 minutes
Included meals: Dinner

DAY 2: San Jose Market Day

Today, we will tour San Jose like locals. Our first stop of the day is, of course, a morning coffee break in the Borbón market. Then we’ll stroll the vibrant market, sampling local fruits while learning about the agricultural history of this area. We will visit a number of stands, including a local folk medicine stall where we’ll learn about curing everything from a hangover to a broken heart. Then we’ll head to the Central Market, which is housed in a historic 120-year old building filled to the brim with typical Costa Rican food and drink – and of course we’ll sample some delicacies!

In the late afternoon, we’ll visit with a charming local family whose mission is to revive the traditional dishes of Costa Rica – some of which have been forgotten over the years. We’ll chat with the family, sample their foods, and explore their organic orchid garden which contains about 500 different species of orchids.

Drive time: 3.5 hours
Included meals: Breakfast, dinner

DAY 3: Chocolate & Coffee Decadence

Calling all chocolate lovers – today is for you! After breakfast, we’ll depart San Jose for the countryside, stopping for a rich and delectable chocolate experience along the way. You’ll learn about cocoa’s enchanting 4,500-year history, and enjoy a mouthwatering chocolate lunch including cocoa nib salad and spiced chocolate drinks.

We will then make our way to our favorite organic coffee plantation in the lush central highlands. From origin to harvest, drying to roasting, and finally a delicious tasting, you’ll become an expert in bold Costa Rican coffee. We will stay the night in the beautiful boutique hotel on the plantation grounds and in the late afternoon, we will enjoy coffee and cookies on the deck of the finca amidst stunning views of the Central Valley. Our stay at this coffee plantation is certainly one of the highlights of our Costa Rica food tours!

Dinner tonight is on your own. Let us know if you would like for us to arrange an optional 7-course tasting menu that is created specially for you. You are welcome to watch and chat with the chef as he prepares the meal from the organic local bounty.

Drive time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Included meals: Breakfast, lunch

DAY 4: Farm Lunch & Hot Springs

After enjoying our finca breakfast, we will make our way to the iconic Arenal Volcano. Our first stop of the day will be at a charming and authentic finca known for its walking trails, abundance of tropical creatures, and commitment to the sustainable farming of pineapple, vanilla, and pepper. After we explore the plantation we’ll enjoy a delicious farm lunch prepared by the delightful family.

After lunch we’ll head toward Arenal Volcano. Along the way we’ll stop at our favorite secluded and tranquil volcanic hot springs nestled in the lush jungle. Sink into the warm, mineral-rich waters and melt away any cares you might still have. This is truly the “pura vida.” 

Next we’ll head to our magnificent rainforest resort with view of Arenal Volcano from every room. Explore the grounds, swim in the pool, or simply relax on your deck and enjoy the sounds of the jungle.

Drive time: 5 hours
Included meals: Breakfast, lunch

DAY 5: Wildlife Refuge & Cooking Class

You may be on a Costa Rica food tour, but no trip to Costa Rica would be complete without exploring its magnificent wildlife. This morning, we’ll venture to a remote wildlife refuge set amongst marshy jungles and a slow-flowing river that is almost impossible to get to independently. We’ll take an unforgettable river safari, and with the keen eye of our expert guides, we’ll spot reptiles, birds, monkeys, sloths, caimans, and lizards as they wander along the shore. Keep your eyes on the river, too – there’s a chance of spotting the fin of a freshwater shark as it slices above the water’s surface.

In the late afternoon we’ll enjoy a hands-on cooking class at the base of Volcano Arenal. Chef Scott will teach us the art of Costa Rican food as we learn about tropical cooking, grilling, and even cocktails. We’ll prepare and eat our dinner with the magnificent volcano as our backdrop before returning to our luxury jungle lodge this evening.

Drive time: 3 hours
Included meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

DAY 6: Blue Zone & Beach

Today we’ll make our way from Arenal to the stunning beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula. Along the way, you’ll visit a farm in one of five Blue Zones in the world, set among the wetlands, dry tropical forest, and mangroves of the Tempisque River. A Blue Zone is defined by the longevity of its people and here you will discover the authentic “sabanero” lifestyle that leads to such a long and healthy life. We’ll tour the ranch, with its livestock and locally grown herbs and spices, and enjoy an authentic, locally produced lunch. We’ll then continue on to our lovely beachside eco-lodge in Nosara.

Drive time: 5 hours
Included meals: Breakfast, lunch

DAY 7: Beach Day & Cocktail Class

Costa Rica’s beautiful, secluded beaches are legendary, and we have built some relaxing beach time into our Costa Rica food tours. This morning and afternoon are at your leisure. Relax by the pool under the warm Costa Rican sunshine, take an optional guided hike to the neighboring biological reserve, or visit the nearby white sand beach to see local Tico fishermen and their colorful boats. Later today, we’ll enjoy a drinks class with tapas in the open-air lounge overlooking the stunning Pacific Ocean. Chef Thomas will teach us how to make delicious cocktails and we’ll enjoy local “bocas” as we revel in the spectacular panoramic view. This farewell happy hour will be at your lodge, set amongst a dramatic sunset, lit gardens and pools, and the emerging starry Costa Rican sky.

Drive time: none
Included meals: Breakfast, happy hour & tapas

DAY 8: Costa Rica Food Travel Ends

Sadly, our food travel in Costa Rica ends today. After breakfast, you’ll transfer to the Daniel Oduber International Airport (LIR) for your flight home.

Drive time: 4.5 hours
Included meals: Breakfast

Please note: This itinerary is designed to give you an idea of what to expect on our Costa Rica food travel experiences but is not set in stone. What we actually do on a given day is flexible and can be tailored to the interests of the group.

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Costa Rican Cooking Tours: Authentic Tico Food

Costa Rican cuisine is known for its subtle flavors, abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, and authentically Central-American staples such as seafood and rice. As new culinary trends and innovative chefs gravitate toward this bountiful region, Costa Rica’s cuisine has simultaneously begun to develop an artful edge that’s rivaling foodie hotspots across the globe. Shaped by a unique ecosystem and supported by bounteous ingredients, this undiscovered culinary apex is on the edge of a delicious transformation. Our Costa Rica cooking tours offer the unique opportunity to experience Costa Rica’s delectable, up-and-coming cuisine.

We will shop like locals in a San Jose market, sample bold Costa Rican coffee and rich chocolate, visit some of the area’s most innovative and modern restaurants, and of course, dine alongside locals on traditional, delicious Costa Rican dishes, such as:

  • Gallo pinto

  • Tamales

  • Casado

  • Arroz con Leche

  • Sopa Negra

  • Olla de Carne

You will also have an opportunity to enjoy two cooking and cocktail classes. At the base of Volcano Arenal, you’ll enjoy a hands-on cooking class, learning tropical cooking and grilling, and the art of Costa Rican food. We’ll prepare and eat our dinner with the magnificent volcano as a backdrop. On the last day of our Costa Rica cooking tour we’ll enjoy a drinks class with tapas in the open-air lounge overlooking the stunning Pacific Ocean. We’ll make delicious cocktails and enjoy local “bocas” as we revel in the spectacular panoramic view.

Our Costa Rica cooking tours include daily breakfasts, four lunches, one happy hour tapas, & three dinners. Some of these will be delicious meals you prepare during cooking classes.

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Costa Rica Hotels & Eco Lodges

Costa Rica is famous for its lush jungles and extraordinary beaches, which offer the perfect venues for our upscale accommodations. On our Costa Rica tour, you’ll stay in luxury boutique Costa Rica hotels and eco lodges just steps away from your vibrant, tropical surroundings.

Days 1-2:

Our San Jose hotel is perfectly situated for exploring Costa Rica’s capital city and surrounding areas. Located on a quiet street and nestled within the heart of San Jose, this converted colonial mansion offers the ultimate retreat after a busy day.

Day 3:

We’ll spend the next night in an upscale, tranquil hotel on a finca with stunning views, charming rooms, and lovely grounds. This eco-friendly boutique hotel provides the perfect oasis for relaxation amidst the verdant grounds of a coffee plantation.

Days 4 – 5

Our Arenal hotel is truly a world away. Set within the lush Costa Rican jungle, our nature-inspired resort offers private views of Arenal Volcano from each room. The serene and exotic location, luxurious decor, pools, and open-air restaurant will allow you to truly savor Arenal in style.

Days 6 – 8

Our final nights are spent in an eco-lodge at the Pacific Ocean. This boutique hotel is beautifully situated among two rivers, gorgeous sandy beaches, and its own private nature reserve. Breathtaking sunset views, infinity pools, and panoramic decks will give you a splendid location from which to revel in the last nights of the tour.

Each of our Costa Rica hotels includes breakfast, en suite bathrooms, and internet access.

Note: All Costa Rica eco lodges and hotel accommodations are subject to availability and may be changed as needed.

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Costa Rica Travel Information From Access Culinary Trips

Arrival and Departure Travel Information

Arrival

You should arrive at San Jose’s Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO). Group airport transfers are generally scheduled for late morning and late afternoon on Day 1 of the tour. We will not know the exact times until we have received the final flight information from all guests. We will notify you in advance should there be a wait time longer than one hour from your flight’s scheduled arrival time. In this case, you may choose to wait for the included group transfer or we can arrange in advance of your trip a private car and driver for an additional cost.

Departure

You should depart from Daniel Oduber International Airport (LIR). You should select departure flights scheduled for after 1:00 PM.

Group airport transfers are included on Day 8. We will not know the exact times of the transfers until we have received the final flight information from all guests. We will notify you in advance should there be a wait time longer than two hours from your flight’s scheduled departure time. In this case, you may choose to take the included group transfer or we can arrange in advance of your trip a private car and driver for an additional cost.

Pick-up & Drop-off Information

We provide complimentary group airport pick-ups and drop-offs at the specified airports and times on the first and last day of the trip. We will be waiting for you with an “Access Culinary Trips” sign as you exit customs at SJO airport. If you would like a private transfer, to be picked up or dropped off on a different day, or brought somewhere other than the airport, please contact us.

Note: We are not responsible for last-minute adjustments due to changes or delays with arrival and departure flights.

Flights

We do not book international flights to or from Costa Rica for our clients. If you would like assistance with purchasing your flight/visa or travel insurance, please let us know and we will forward your contact information and trip details to our travel agent partner.

TRAVEL REQUIREMENTS FOR COSTA RICA

Travel Insurance

Travel medical insurance, including emergency evacuation coverage, is compulsory for all our trips. We strongly recommend that you purchase travel insurance that includes cancellation protection so that you will be covered in the event that you are unable to attend our trip (due to injury, illness or other unforeseen circumstances). Please do not attend any of our trips without purchasing appropriate insurance coverage and providing the details to Access Culinary Trips.

Please note: proof of insurance is due within 14 days of booking, and delay in receipt may result in late documentation charges.

We do not provide travel insurance for our clients. Additional details are on our website here.

Passports & Visas

Travel to Costa Rica requires a valid passport (most countries require a minimum of 6 months validity) and US citizens do not require a tourist visa. To learn more about visa and entry requirements for Costa Rica, please check out the State Department’s website at: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/CostaRica.html

Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct travel documentation.

HEALTH & SAFETY IN COSTA RICA

Emergency Contact

If your friends or family need to contact Access Culinary Trips due to an emergency while you are on the tour, please have them refer to the pre-departure email that is sent out three weeks prior to departure, which will have specific contact information relevant to your trip. If you need to contact Access Culinary Trips while traveling, please also refer to the emergency contact information in the pre-departure email.

Health Requirements

Guests with pre-existing medical conditions are required to disclose this information prior to traveling with Access Culinary Trips, and all guests with preexisting conditions are required to provide a note from a doctor clearing them for travel. The US Department of State recommends that travelers with medical prescriptions consider bringing small additional amounts of prescribed medicines as well as a copy of the prescription and a letter from the prescribing physician explaining the need for the prescription.

We strongly recommend that all of our guests visit a travel doctor before embarking on international travel. Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure that you receive any necessary vaccinations before traveling on your trip with us. If there is a chance that you may be pregnant during your trip, please discuss your travel plans with your doctor.

Please carefully review the health information section of the following webpage for up-to-date health information, including information on the quality of medical care, the availability of medications and the necessity for vaccinations in Costa Rica: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/costa-rica

Fitness Requirements

Our trips are open to anyone who wants to explore our exotic destinations through cuisine. We do engage in multiple walking tours, some of which last several hours.

Safety & Security

To maximize your safety during our tours you should exercise common sense and caution at all times. We recommend that you always stick to set travel arrangements and avoid unknown areas. We also recommend that you wear minimal jewelry and that you keep valuable items (including cell phones) safely stored. Always keep a copy of your passport, airline tickets, and credit card numbers separate from where you keep the originals.

For more information on safety and security in Costa Rica, please review the safety and security section of the following webpage: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/costa-rica.html

Note: Most tap water in Costa Rica is safe to drink and is quite good in many areas of the country. However, if you have a sensitive stomach, we recommend checking with your guides.

Age

Children ages 12 and up are welcome on group trips. Children under 12 are welcome on private tours. Please contact us with any questions.

COSTA RICAN CULTURE

Costa Rica is a vibrant, stable, and happy nation that blends progressive values with a rich cultural history. Costa Ricans, called “Ticos,” draw their heritage from a number of different influences, including indigenous populations, Spanish colonialism, and the nearby Caribbean. Costa Ricans are very proud of their country, are leaders in environmental sustainability, and embody the national phrase, “Pura Vida.” Out of respect for the various people we will meet in Costa Rica, please consider the following:

Try to speak their language – Costa Ricans will genuinely appreciate any efforts you make to speak some Spanish during your interactions (even a simple “gracias” will do!)

Be patient – Costa Ricans are relaxed people who tend to be in less of a hurry than most of us are used to

Greet them – when entering a store, restaurant, etc., give a polite greeting (in Spanish, if possible) before initiating your business with them.

Language

Costa Rica’s official and most predominant language is Spanish, although there are a number of other indigenous languages as well.

COSTA RICA’S CLIMATE

Our Costa Rica culinary tour explores historic San Jose, stunning Arenal, and tranquil Guanacaste.

Because of its proximity to the equator, Costa Rica enjoys a tropical climate year-round. There are two seasons – the dry season (“summer”) ranging from December to April, and the wet season (“winter”) from May to November.

The average high is about 80 degrees and the average low is about 63 degrees. January is the sunniest month.

Please check specific weather for your dates before you travel. You may consider a website such as Weather.com.

CURRENCY, BANKING & SPENDING MONEY IN COSTA RICA

The national currency is the Costa Rican colón. There are exchange bureaus in the SJO airport, but their exchange rate is very high. We recommend using the exchange services at the hotels or local banks. Most counters require your passport for the transaction.

For the latest currency exchange information please go to: https://finance.yahoo.com/currency-converter

ATMs are available in all cities and major towns.

It is recommended to notify your bank or card issuer that you intend to travel abroad so that no block will be put on the usage of your credit or ATM cards.

Spending Money

Meals: All breakfasts, six lunches, and four dinners are included. Please plan to bring at least $10-$15 per lunch and $15-$20 per dinner for those meals that are not included, as well as money for snacks and drinks.

Tipping: As a general rule, Costa Ricans do not tip. However, if you would like to tip, please see below:

Tour Guide/Drivers

If you are pleased with the services provided by your tour guide and driver, then a tip for their hard work will be very much appreciated. In general, we recommend around US $10 -15 per day, per traveler for guides and US $5-7 per day, per traveler for drivers if less than 4 people in a group. We recommend around US $5-10 per day, per traveler for guides and US $3-5 per day, per traveler for drivers if there are 5 people or more. When there are additional guides or drivers involved for specific activities, such as during the market visit, we recommend tipping $1 to $2 per person per guide and driver.

Hotel & Restaurant Staff

Tips are already included in restaurant bills. If you wish to tip more, anywhere between 5 – 10% is sufficient. When you stay a couple of days in the same hotel, a tip of $2-5 per day to the maid service is appreciated, as well as $1-1.50 for help from porters.

Other expenses: There are no required additional expenses for this trip, but you might like to take spending money for such things as souvenir shopping and other activities.

ELECTRICITY & INTERNET IN COSTA RICA

In Costa Rica the power sockets are generally standard American sockets, although they may not include a grounding prong. The electrical current is 110 volts, AC.

There is wi-fi access in all the hotels.

Most US cell phones will not work in Costa Rica, unless you have a specific international plan. Contact your cellular provider to see what options you have in terms of international calling plans.

WHAT TO TAKE ON YOUR COSTA RICA TOUR

We strongly recommend using TSA approved luggage locks on your bags and to hand carry valuables on the plane.

We recommend that you pack as lightly as possible. There may not always be someone available to help you carry your bags so you should only bring as much as you can carry on your own.

We suggest that you bring the following items:

Clothing & Equipment

  • Warm-weather casual clothes

  • Sandals with straps and sturdy walking shoes

  • A light jacket and a pair of long pants

  • Toiletries

  • Bug spray

  • Swimsuit

  • Sunscreen / sunglasses / hat

  • First-aid kit (should contain lip balm, aspirin, band-aids, a cream for sore muscles (e.g. deep heat), Imodium or similar tablets for mild cases of diarrhea, rehydration powder, extra prescription drugs you may be taking)

Travel Documents

  • Passport (with photocopies)

  • Travel insurance (with photocopies)

  • Airline tickets (with photocopies)

RECOMMENDED READING LIST

Click here to check out our recommended reading before your tour!

FINAL NOTES ON YOUR COSTA RICA CULINARY TOUR

This is a tool meant to help you decide what you should bring on your upcoming trip. It is by no means comprehensive. While we do our best to be as thorough as possible, we cannot foresee every possible condition. If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

The information contained in this document is provided in good faith. Due to the nature of travel, details in this document may change. You should thus use the above information as an indication only and not as a contractual obligation on the part of Access Culinary Trips.