The Great Costa Rica Cycle Challenge

LEGENDARY!
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Costa Rica Biking Adventure tour lead image 5
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Costa Rica Biking Adventure tour lead image 5
The Great Costa Rica Cycle Challenge
Duration:
10
Days
Priced from:
2799.00
USD

The Great Costa Rica Cycle Challenge

Trip Overview

If you're looking for a legendary cycling challenge, this is the trip! The goal; to entirely cross the country of Costa Rica, from the Caribbean to the Pacific, 500 km / 300 mi solely by bike. We ride on banana trails, through rivers, past the active Arenal Volcano, over the Continental Divide and to the splashy surf of the Pacific shores. This trip is one of our most epic in our 25 year history and was initially created to celebrate our 20 year milestone.

WOW FACTORS

  • Cycling across Costa Rica from the Caribbean to the Pacific solely by muscle power!
  • Mountain biking over the Continental Divide

For more Costa Rica WOWs, watch the video below. BikeHike began in Costa Rica, so this is where our heart lives in so many ways.

 

Activities

Difficulty Level

Have
Questions?

Itinerary & Map

Day 1


San Jose
Arrival
After welcoming you at the San Jose Airport, a BikeHike Adventures representative will transfer you to a comfortable hotel in the city. The rest of the day is free to explore the cosmopolitan sights of San Jose. Overnight in a comfortable hotel in San Jose.

Accommodation: Hotel
Meals: none

Day 2

San Jose - Moin - Finca Banano
Biking
We rise early and fuel with a typical Costa Rican breakfast of gallo pinto (rice and beans) eggs and locally grown robust coffee. Then we drive to the start of our cycling traverse at Playa Bonito. It’s here that we begin our 500 km / 300 mi cycling challenge across Costa Rica from the Caribbean to the Pacific, solely on our own sweat and steam. We start with a really fun and adventurous section along the coast on dirt and paved roads. We then have some legs along hard-packed sand beaches lined with coconut trees and another section along a rocky railway track that is used to transport bananas to the nearby port of Limon.  We’ll cross a number of trestles with our bikes today that are raised up high above rivers and valleys. We’ll cycle through miles of banana plantation where countless communities of laborers process the thousands of hectares of bananas. At times we’ll have to make way for them as they manually move massive bunches of bananas hung on pulleys and cables. The day finishes with a feast of dinner and an overnight at a permanent campsite.

Distance: 56 km / 34 mi
Ascent: + 305 m (1000 ft)
Descent: - 290 m (950 ft)
Accommodation: Tent
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3

Finca Banano - Guapiles
Biking
Today is filled with adventure and fun.  We begin by loading ourselves and our bikes on our rafts and paddling across the Pacuare River. Our goal is to get onto the snaking back routes and into the villages and farmlands, avoiding the busy roads. We’ll cycle along banana trails and past the processing plants where bananas are prepared for export by Delmonte and Chiquita. We’re deep in the heart of banana territory today and we’ll have the chance to visit one of the processing plants to learn the whole procedure of how they’re grown and get ready for export.  We have a few more adventurous trestle bridges to cross today, hopping from rung to rung with our bikes on our shoulders. We then bike to the Reventazon River, where a local will paddle us and our bikes across this river. We have one last river crossing, by motorboat, over the Parismina River and then we reach our lunch spot. After refueling our engines we’re ready for the final push cycling on rocky and paved roads to the town of Guapiles. 

Distance: 73 km / 45 mi
Ascent: + 375 m (1230 ft)
Descent: - 150 m (492 ft)
Accommodation: Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4

Guapiles - Puerto Viejo
Biking
We begin today’s ride on a winding paved road heading toward the Sarapiqui River.  Today is an easier day than yesterday, on mostly flat, dirt roads with a few paved sections. Sarapiqui is a region of rich diversity, known for tropical foliage and the production of corn, coffee, cocoa, cardamom and heart of palm. There is a chance we’ll encounter monkeys swinging from the trees and exotic and colourful birds on this section of the ride. We’ll pass a few football fields and might have the chance to see the locals playing one of their national sports. Costa Ricans are very excited about their local team making it to the World Cup.  

Distance: 62 km / 38 mi
Ascent: + 100 m (328 ft)
Descent: - 305 m (1000 ft)
Accommodation: Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5

Puerto Viejo - La Fortuna
Biking
Today is our biggest biking day of the trip, and there is plenty of diversity in scenery from fertile farmland to tropical rainforest pulsing with life. We cycle through the San Carlos agricultural region famous for plantations of citrus, papaya, yucca and pineapple. There is a glute-burning hilly section along dirt roads and the rest of the day is along paved roads heading towards the active Arenal Volcano. For those wanting to soothe any sore muscles tonight, there’s an option to go to one of the steaming hotsprings in La Fortuna. Some of them have services of massage and mud facials. 

Distance: 100 km / 62 mi
Ascent: + 870 m (2854 ft)
Descent: - 650 m (2132 ft)
Accommodation: Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 6

La Fortuna
Free Day
After yesterday’s long riding day we have a day off to relax, explore the area of La Fortuna and the Arenal Volcano, and rest any aching muscles. There are lots of optional activities available in La Fortuna to partake in, including zip-lining, waterfall rappelling, horseback riding, hiking and standup paddle boarding. Our guide can help you to book any optional activities today.

Accommodation: Hotel
Meals: Breakfast

Day 7

La Fortuna - Tilaran
Biking
After a day off to rest our buttocks we’ll be ready and set to continue our journey across the country. Today’s ride is a very hilly, section of paved roads. This is one of the most scenic days of the entire trip. The topography changes from flat, humid and tropical to crisp and mountainous.  It’s a relatively short day compared to some of our others, so we’ll make it to our hotel early enough to really enjoy our surroundings. 

Distance: 55 - 68 km / 34 - 42 mi
Ascent: + 1445 m (4740 ft)
Descent: - 1090 m (3576 ft)
Accommodation: Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8

Tilaran - Miravalles Volcano
Biking
The day begins with a steep climb up and over the Continental Divide, where the road is lined with spinning windmills. Today we’ll see a transition in the climate, from humid and tropical to dry and windy but not to worry, we’ve planned our route according to the prevailing winds so the wind should be at our backs helping to push us up and over the Continental Divide. We’ll break at the top for photos and a rest and then begin a scenic downhill section of dirt roads with big wide landscapes of the Guanacaste plains and the Nicoya Peninsula.  Guanacaste is the major cattle ranching area of the country and we pass through some of these ranches along the foothills of the Tenario and Miravalle Volcanoes. Tonight’s hotel has naturally heated pools to soothe any aching muscles.

Distance: 52 km / 32 mi
Ascent: + 870 m (2854 ft)
Descent: - 910 m (2985 ft)
Accommodation: Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner 

Day 9

Miravalles Volcano - Playa Hermosa
Biking
We have a challenging hilly morning but then absolutely let loose with a thrilling 20 km/12 mi descent on limestone, all the way to the town of Liberia, in the center of Guanacaste. This area is very windy, and because of that, has many windmills generating power for the locals.  Liberia is one of the largest towns we’ll encounter on our journey and is quite different from the smaller communities we’ve past through until now. We’ll break for lunch in town and then complete our crossing to Hermosa Beach on the Pacific coast.  The last stretch has a few glute burning climbs, but we end with a fast and thrilling descent all the way to the Pacific Coast. We’ll celebrate with bubbly on the beach and then have plenty of time for a swim in the surf.  Our hotel is a short walk away. We have the evening free to celebrate and reflect on the experiences of our epic adventure. 

Distance: 66 km / 41 mi
Ascent: + 490 m (1607 ft)
Descent: - 1050 m (3445 ft)
Accommodation: Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 10

Playa Hermosa - Liberia
Departure
Today you will be transferred back to the International Airport in Liberia, in time for you to check in for your flight back home. 

Meals: Breakfast

NOTE about Ascent/Descent numbers: 

The ascent/descent numbers are usually generated using Ride with GPS. The numbers are TOTAL ascent/descent for the day and these numbers do not suggest altitude. There are usually multiple small ascents and descents added up throughout the day to reach this total ascent/descent for the day. (While our numbers are generally consistent with Ride with GPS, depending on the mapping technology used, numbers may vary).

 

What's Included

TRIP INCLUSIONS:
Meals as indicated (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner), all accommodation (twin shared), all internal transportation, Trek 4500 and Scott Aspect 29er mountain bikes (all with front suspension and disc brakes), two-person tents, support vehicle, airport transfers and English-speaking guides.

TRIP DOES NOT INCLUDE:
International airfare, gratuities, airport departure taxes, meals not indicated and items of a personal nature.

MEALS:
9 Breakfasts, 7 Lunches, 3 Dinners

ACCOMMODATION:
Hotel: 8 Nights
Tent: 1 Night

Trip Facts

Weather in Costa Rica

Located just ten degrees north of the Equator, Costa Rica enjoys the advantages of the "perfect" tropical climate. The average temperature is 22°C (72°F) in the highlands and temperatures vary from mid 20’s to low 30’s °C (77°F to 95°F) in the lowlands. All year long the conditions are pleasantly moderate, with a rainy season from June to early November, and a dry season or from December through May.

Highlands (includes San Jose, Arenal and Monteverde)

November to April: Dry, especially January to end of April. Pleasant days, about 22°C to 25°C (72 to 77°F). Nights drop to a comfortable 15°C (60°F).
May to November: Green season. Mornings are clear; and generally rain comes as afternoon showers. Wettest months are September and October.

Pacific Coast (includes the Nicoya Peninsula)

November to April: Dry season. Humidity is high.
May to November: Green season. Mornings are clear; and generally rain comes as afternoon showers. Wettest months are September and October.

Caribbean Coast (includes Cahuita and Parismina)

Can rain at any time throughout year. Wettest months are November to January. Lightest rain is February to April and September. Temperatures are hot year-round.

Travel Documents

To enter the country for a Costa Rica adventure vacation, you must hold a current passport valid for six months beyond your date of departure. Citizens of Canada, the US and the UK do not require a travel visa to enter Costa Rica. Visa requirements vary from country to country. Check with your local Costa Rican consulate for current requirements.

Food and Water

Some must-tries include gallo pinto (a dish consisting of rice, black beans and spices), empanadas (bread turnover stuffed with bread and cheese) and ceviche (seafood marinated in a lemon, onion, and garlic sauce). Water is usually safe to drink in San Jose, however bottled water is recommended when traveling in the country and is easily purchased at stores. If you are susceptible to changes in the water, you will find that fresh juices, soft drinks and beer are readily available.

FAQ

How big are BikeHike's groups?

Our adventures are built for small groups, with a maximum of 12 travellers on each guided tour. Each group is diverse, comprised of men and women of many different nationalities and ages. By travelling in small groups we leave minimal ecological impact, cause less disruption to the native life and are able to gain a better appreciation for our surroundings. Small numbers also allow greater flexibility and spontaneity: a dinner in a local home, an impromptu village wedding invite and any such experiences that can become among the most memorable experiences of your BikeHike adventure.

How fit do I need to be to join this trip?

We understand that people come in many fitness levels, so we've graded our trips accordingly. There are four difficulty levels on our trips: Easy, Moderate, Challenging, and Strenuous. 

This trip is a "challenging" trip.

"Challenging" trips are physically demanding and best suited for strong people with a high endurance level. Days can be long with a total of about 7-9 hours of activity, in remote regions and occasionally without a support vehicle nearby. 

The route covers approximately 500 km / 300 mi over eight days with only one day off from riding. The longest day's ride is 100 km / 62 mi. The main challenge of the trip is the physical demands of consecutive days of riding. You should have a good level of fitness and the stamina to cope with being in the saddle for consecutive days.

We strongly recommend that you begin a regular fitness program that includes regular cycling - that is if you are not already doing so. Working out four times a week (including some riding whenever possible), 60 minutes per session should be a minimum to prepare you for this adventure. In addition, try to get in some longer distance rides beforehand to prepare for your adventure. 

The route runs through a wide variety of terrains. It is not unusual to ride in a torrential downpour or bake in the hot tropical sun.

Has this trip been run before?

BikeHike Adventures has been operating since 1994. We began in Costa Rica so these trips are our strongest. We specifically created this trip for our 20th anniversary in 2014. It became so popular that we have been running it ever since. 

Also note that the logistics of organizing tours to remote corners of the world can be very complex. Our trip development department spends long hours researching destinations, routes, ground operations and equipment. All itineraries are screened without clients before they are added to our growing repertoire of adventures. Nothing is untested. 

Can you tell me about your typical BikeHike travellers on this trip?

Our travellers share a common love for outdoor adventure. Most are looking for a physical adventure in an unfamiliar destination. This trip attracts one of our most diverse groups. A typical trip is comprised of men and women of varied ages and nationalities. We've had as many as six nationalities represented on the same trip before. Although there are a few die-hard triathletes and marathon runners, most of our clients on this trip are regular mortals in good physical condition, who exercise regularly and are invigorated by a personal challenge.

As well, the age range on this trip is typically from 30-60, although we occasionally get younger and older travellers as well.

What kind of bikes do you provide?

We use Trek 4500 and Scott Aspect 49er mountain bikes because of the rugged roads. All bikes have front suspension and disc brakes. The riding is not suitable for road bikes.

Which airports do we fly in and out of for this trip?

The arrival airport is San Jose and the departure airport is Liberia. You can arrive anytime on day 1 and depart anytime on day 10.

Can I take this trip if...

I am a solo traveller? How does solo accommodation and costing work?

Many of our travellers (both men and women) join as singles. On average, BikeHike groups are 75% single travellers and 25% couples. However, this trip is usually even more singles. This trip is likely closer to 90% singles. 

Unlike many adventure travel companies, we don't charge single supplement fees to solo travellers. Instead, we pair you with another traveller of the same gender. If we can't find you a roommate, you get your own room at no additional charge.

A single private room supplement fee is only required if you specifically request a confirmed private room for the duration of the trip. Learn more about solo travel with BikeHike

I have special dietary requirements?

We will do our best to accommodate special dietary requests (e.g. vegetarian, gluten free, etc.), but ask that you please discuss your request with us when signing up for a trip.

I am travelling with children? Is this trip children friendly?

While most of our trips are created with adults in mind, many of our itineraries are suitable for strong and active older teenagers. This trip is definitely not a family focused trip. However, we do offer many Family Focused trips, some of which are able to accommodate children as young as six.

Accommodation

Most of our trips include comfortable mid-range accommodations. This includes accommodation that provides a clean and comfortable experience in characterful surroundings that reflect the destination. To build stronger connections with the communities and support the local economies, we avoid using large international chain brands on BikeHike trips. 

This trip includes the following types of accommodation:

HOTELS

In an effort to keep money in the communities we visit around the world, BikeHike prefers small hotels, bungalows, and haciendas that showcase the character and local flair of each destination.

CAMPING

Camping on this trip does not involve pitching your own tent. It is more "glamping" than camping. The location is a permanent campsite with tents mounted on wooden platforms. You'll have access to a washroom with flush toilets and sinks. This is an incredible experience as you'll be tenting in Costa Rican paradise! 

Click HERE for more information about accommodation styles.

Adventure Dates

  • Nov 15 - Nov 24, 2019
  • Feb 07 - Feb 16, 2020
  • Mar 13 - Mar 22, 2020
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Price

(Land only, based on twin/shared room)
2799.00
USD
per person

No single supplement fees
** Guaranteed departures on four travellers

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Add-Ons

  • It's easy to add days before and after your tour.  Just ask! 
Day Destination Activity Distance Ascent / Descent Lodging Meals
1
San Jose
Arrival
— / —
Hotel
2
San Jose - Moin - Finca Banano
Biking
56 km
34 mi
+ 305 m (1000 ft)
- 290 m (950 ft)
Tent
b,
l,
d
3
Finca Banano - Guapiles
Biking
73 km
45 mi
+ 375 m (1230 ft)
- 150 m (492 ft)
Hotel
b,
l
4
Guapiles - Puerto Viejo
Biking
62 km
38 mi
+ 100 m (328 ft)
- 305 m (1000 ft)
Hotel
b,
l
5
Puerto Viejo - La Fortuna
Biking
100 km
62 mi 
+ 870 m (2854 ft)
- 650 m (2132 ft)
Hotel
b,
l
6
La Fortuna
Free Day
— / —
Hotel
b
7
La Fortuna - Tilaran
Biking
55 - 68 km
34 - 42 mi
+ 1445 m (4740 ft)
- 1090 m (3576 ft)
Hotel
b,
l,
d
8
Tilaran - Miravalles Volcano
Biking
52 km
32 mi
+ 870 m (2854 ft)
- 910 m (2985 ft)
Hotel
b,
l,
d
9
Miravalles Volcano - Playa Hermosa
Biking
66 km
41 mi
+ 490 m (1607 ft)
- 1050 m (3445 ft)
Hotel
b,
l
10
Playa Hermosa - Liberia
Departure
— / —
b

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LW
Lawrence W
February 13, 2019

My wife and I were part of a group of 13 riders on a trip, custom designed for us by Trish and her team. We cycled 450 km over 10 days, swam in both the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean either side of Costa Rica and Panama and Whitewater Rafted for 27 km down the Pacuare River. This trip reminded us again how much fun it is to experience the countries we visit by bike. There is nothing like the exhilaration of climbing and descending mountains in tropical weather, hot one moment, then drenched by warm tropical rain the next.

BikeHIke Adventures took care of every detail, from accommodations, to meals to evening excursions. Our guides and our bus driver were fun, personable and organized. They made sure that our days were full, safe and our bikes well tuned. Overall our time with BikeHike was wonderful and we are already dreaming of our next adventure with them.

Kelowna, Canada
BF
Bruce F
November 22, 2018

I have just come back form the Costa Rica Bike Challenge. It was a great trip with no problems. The trip was well organized , the food was great, and we saw some spectacular views of the country. Lots of challenging biking so get in shape first but I would recommend it to anyone.

Moncton, NB, Canada
SH
Steve H
April 8, 2018

My "Great Costa Rica Challenge" trip with BikeHike was my first with them. They have a lot of experience doing this and it shows. Everything is well organized and the accommodations and restaurant stops were fun and interesting. Everyday was challenging yet fun. I traveled alone and enjoyed the camaraderie of other adventuresome bike enthusiasts. Our first rate guide and driver took care of most every need. I'd highly recommend this trip and BikeHike.

Des Moines, IA, USA
LP
Lisa P
April 5, 2018

Loved the bike routes. Really gave you the off the beaten path feeling to the trip which we loved. We always felt safe, the guide and driver both were very knowledgeable about their jobs. They did not disappoint in any way. Always had great snacks and never ending water for our stops! Mike is a great guide and has some amazing experience. Loved his stories! We would not hesitate to travel with Bike Hike again, it was a great trip. The other riders in our group were all wonderful, which also made it very enjoyable.

Marquis, SK, Canada
GC
Guenter C
March 28, 2018

Well organized, friendly team, and a bike-route which shows the real Costa Rica. I liked the short visit of the banana export plant very much. After the challenging day out on smooth till rough country roads, I was happy about the very nice and good hotels. Astonishingly, we were nearly always the only guests. That gave a feeling exploring a hidden treasure and not being a mass tourist.

Darmstadt, Germany
CS
Connie S
November 2, 2017

I liked the fact that we were travelling in non-touristy areas and able to really experience Costa Rica. We were travelling in non-touristy areas and able to really experience Costa Rica. The camping was so beautiful! Great trip and well worth the money!

Winnipeg, MB, Canada
CG
Chuck G
February 15, 2016

The group dynamic was exceptional. A great group of people!

Port Coquitlam, BC, Canada
AT
Angela T
November 20, 2015

Had a blast. Would do it again in a min. It was an amazing trip, and would book with you guys again.

Vancouver, BC, Canada
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