Costa Rica & Panama Discovery

13 Days | Chill out in the Caribbean, soaking up the sunshine in Costa Rica and Panama

4.5 out of 5 based on 36 reviews submitted.
NZD $1,680
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Get under the surface of Costa Rica and Panama; see it all from jungles, to beaches, to local villages. From San Jose to Panama City in 13 days, this laidback adventure will introduce you to some of the most beautiful spots in two Central American cultures, then give you the freedom to explore them however you want. With your local leader to steer you in the direction of the best bars and surf breaks, plus a small group of adventurers to enjoy them with, you can’t go wrong on this carefree Caribbean journey.

Trip overview

Map of Costa Rica & Panama Discovery including Costa Rica and Panama
San Jose, Costa Rica
Panama City, Panama
Panama, Costa Rica
Physical rating
Indicates how physically exerting a trip is, and how fit you will need to be to enjoy it. More info on physical ratings
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 - Max 16
Trip code
This trip generates 26 kg of CO2-e per person per day.
We offset these emissions on your behalf. But we know that is not enough, so we also have a carbon reduction target.

Why you'll love this trip
  • Put your chef hat on and help prepare a traditional Caribbean dinner with a local family in their home in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca.
  • Clear sea perfect for swimming, shacks serving cold cerveza and sandy shores covered in starfish are waiting in the Bocas del Toro, where you spend three nights on Isla Colon.
  • Head to the coffee plantations, waterfalls and caldera hot springs of Boquete, a highland town so beautiful you won’t miss the beach one bit.
  • Ride some of the region’s best breaks in Santa Catalina. If you'd prefer to stay dry (or horizontal), there's a hammock with your name on it.
  • Get to know Panama City during a guided stroll along the Cinta Costera right to the city’s salty belly – the Mercado de Mariscos (seafood market).

Is this trip right for you?
  • This trip is made for travellers who value their independence but also want the benefit of a local leader and a group of like-minded travellers. The itinerary includes basic accommodation and has free time for activities when your leader will offer suggestions. Please budget spending money for optional activities you want to partake in.
  • Using public transport is better for the environment and you’ll get an authentic look at daily life, but keep in mind that local transport between certain locations on this trip can be basic.
  • While the border crossing between Costa Rica and Panama is usually straightforward, sometimes it can take a while so please prepare to be patient. You're on Central American time now!
  • Central America is tropical, so expect a hot and humid climate. Make sure you protect yourself from the sun, wear comfortable, light clothing and stay hydrated – especially when out on walking tours. Air conditioning may not always be available in your rooms. Occasionally, properties may require an additional charge for the use of air conditioning.
  • Try to learn as many Spanish words as you can before the trip. In many of the destinations we visit, local people are reserved and/or do not speak English. Attempting to communicate in Spanish is a great way of showing you care.


This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2023 to 27 February 2024.

View the itinerary for departures between 28 February 2024 - 31 December 2024

Map of Costa Rica & Panama Discovery including Costa Rica and Panama



1 dinner


Private vehicle, Public bus, Taxi, Shared boat


Hotel (8 nights), Cabins (2 nights) Hostel Multishare (2 nights)

  • Puerto Viejo - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Puerto Viejo - Hands-on dinner in local home
  • Boquete - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Leader-led Informal Spanish Lesson
  • Panama City - Leader-led walk in Casco Viejo
  • Panama City - Leader-led walk along part of the Cinta Costera (Causeway) including a visit to the Fish Market
Add on activities
  • San Jose - Pre-Colombian Gold Museum (Entrance fee) - USD16
  • Puerto Viejo de Talamanca - Cahuita National Park (entrance fee) - USD5
  • Puerto Viejo de Talamanca - Surf lesson (1 hour) - USD57
  • Bocas del Toro - Jungle Cacao Tour (guide and transport included) - USD35
  • Bocas del Toro - Zapatilla Tour including Sloth Island & snorkelling at Cayo Coral (guide and transport included) - USD45
  • Bocas del Toro - Full-day Tour including Bastimentos island, Jungle hike & Lunch with Ngobe Community (guide and transport included) - USD60
  • Bocas del Toro - Bio-luminescence Boat Tour (seasonal - guide and transport included) - USD30
  • Bocas del Toro - Colon Expedition including starfish beach & bird island - USD40
  • Boquete - Guided Tour of Hidden Waterfalls (entrance fee, transport and guide included) - USD50
  • Boquete - Mini Canyons Tour (entrance fee, transport and guide included) - USD35
  • Boquete - Guided Bicycle Tour (guide and bike hire included) - USD55
  • Boquete - Calderas Hot Springs (entrance fee and transport included, no guide) - USD35
  • Boquete - Zipline (guide and transport included) - USD65
  • Boquete - Coffee Plantation Tour (guide and transport included) - USD35
  • Santa Catalina - Coiba Island & Grano de Oro snorkelling trip - USD100
  • Santa Catalina - Fishing trip (half day) - USD100
  • Santa Catalina - Surfboard rental (per day) - USD15
  • Panama City - Panama Canal: Miraflores Locks (entrance fee only, no guide, no transport) - USD20

Dates and availability

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Important notes

1. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm on Day 1 in San Jose. There are no activities planned for the final day so you may depart at any time.
2. To have a private room on this trip, a single supplement is bookable. The single supplement excludes days 7 & 8 (Boquete), Days 9 & 10 (Santa Catalina) where you will be in shared accommodation, and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
3. This tour includes accommodation in multi-share rooms (triple and quad). This means travelers on the same booking may be split between rooms due to single gender allocation.
4. Please be careful when booking flights into San Jose; make sure you fly into Juan Santamaría International Airport [SJO]. Please do NOT book flights to Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport [SJC] as this is located in California, United States.

Essential Trip Information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

Read Essential Trip Information


4.5 out of 5 based on 36 reviews submitted.
Reviews are from travellers who have completed their trip and want to share their experience. We show all reviews, but may remove any that include profanity or inappropriate content, are unrelated to the trip or reveal personal details.

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Christine · Traveled December 2023
This trip far exceeded my expectations. It was full of wonderful destinations, varied activities and delicious food and our leader, Abdiel, worked tirelessly to ensure that the trip ran smoothly. A highlight for me was celebrating New Year in Panama City with a lovely group of travellers and a spectacular firework display - I'll never forget it!!
Review submitted 07 Jan 2024

Nicole · Traveled October 2023
This trip is the perfect taste test for travelling Central America. It gives you a taste of each of the Central American countries with lots adventures available in each! Coiba National Marine Park and Bocas Del Toro were absolute highlights for me
Review submitted 17 Nov 2023

Thomas · Traveled October 2023
Myself and my wife we enjoyed this trip I recommended especially if your leader is Luis
Review submitted 20 Oct 2023

Gavin · Traveled August 2023
Panama is definitely worth exploring! Having travelled through the other 7 Central American countries with Intrepid, this itinerary continued to provide plenty of high quality variety and stimulation. Coiba Island (off Santa Catalina) and it's broad range of wildlife on land and in the sea was a particular highlight (and at least matched the equivalent sights in Caye Caulker, Belize).
Review submitted 03 Sep 2023

Grant · Traveled August 2023
Tour leader Abdiel is 5 stars and trip is 4 stars. Intrepid itself zero stars as I had to pay twice for the same flight (Panama City to Miami) booked by Intrepid and Intrepid could not care less about the $450 lost. Overall considering all, 1 star due to Intrepid.
Review submitted 30 Aug 2023
Costa Rica & Panama Discovery
NZD $1,680