La Unión Unveiled: A Community-Based Costa Rican Experience

Discover Costa Rica off-the-beaten-path with ‘La Unión Unveiled: A Community-Based Experience.’ Immerse in rural life, partake in local activities, and contribute directly to the community, all amidst breathtaking natural beauty. More than a tour, it’s a life-changing adventure with a lasting impact.

La Unión is a little-known, rural district located high in the stunning mountains of Puntarenas province. Situated only two hours from either Puntarenas City or the renowned Monteverde Cloud Forest, it’s a mere three and a half hours from SJO International Airport in San José or LIR International Airport in Liberia.

As you ascend during the final 50 minutes of your drive to the district, you’ll traverse windy roads that offer amazing views of the Nicoya Gulf, hundreds of mountains, and forests. With the increase in altitude, the climate becomes fresher and the flora and fauna change, providing wonderful opportunities for scenic photography and wildlife spotting.

This experience is all about immersing yourself in community-based rural activities amidst nature and the local people. During this responsible tourism expedition, you’ll be able to explore and participate in a variety of activities such as traditional cooking classes, hikes to rivers and lookouts, experiencing coffee, sugarcane, medicinal plants and other local crops firsthand, and interacting with locals in the community through visits to the small schools, the soccer field, or traditional ferias, depending on the time of the year.

Although most people in the area only speak Spanish, which provides a great opportunity for you to practice the language, there is no need to worry. If you’re feeling shy, a bilingual tour guide will always be available to ensure you don’t miss out on any part of the experience. It’s important to highlight that these rural communities only have access to basic services like drinking water, electricity, and some internet, yet they are surrounded by an impressive natural landscape and humble people who are glad to share their way of life and grateful for your visit.

Some of the main natural attractions in the area are the Aranjuez River, the Veracruz river, Aranjuez Canyon, El Cerro hike, Boquerones hike and Cerro el Encanto – a dramatic cliffside by the river – not to mention the forests and grass fields along the roads and up in the mountains.

Choosing this expedition ensures that 100% of the profits stay in the community. By joining this expedition and participating in the available experiences, you are being a responsible traveler supporting the communities, environmental education, and sustainable tourism practices.

Experience type:Rural CommunityPhysical rating:Active
Service level:Guided Activity
Signature Service
Surroundings:Land-based Activity
Travel Style:Community-basedType:Cultural
Duration:Full-day ExperienceRequirements:Family-Friendly
(We recommend it for ages 10+)

Why you’ll love this Experience!

Every now and then, an opportunity presents itself that allows you not just to visit a place, but to genuinely experience it and make a meaningful contribution to its story. ‘La Unión Unveiled: A Community-Based Costa Rican Experience’ is one such unique journey that takes you deep into the heart of Costa Rica. You’ll explore territory yet to be charted by tourists, relishing the thrill of discovery and the joy of authentic cultural immersion

This is your chance to step away from the usual tourist trail and walk side-by-side with locals. Whether it’s learning to cook traditional recipes, practicing your Spanish, or simply engaging in heartfelt conversations, you’ll cherish these intimate moments that touch your soul.

What truly sets this experience apart, though, is the profound difference you make. Every moment spent in La Unión contributes directly to the local community. Your adventure supports sustainable tourism, ensuring the preservation of this region’s rich cultural and natural heritage. This isn’t just a trip, it’s a transformational journey leaving you with unforgettable memories and a deep sense of personal accomplishment.

We can’t wait for you to join us for ‘La Unión Unveiled: A Community-Based Costa Rican Experience’. It’s more than just a journey; it’s an unforgettable experience filled with adventure and impact.


  • An authentic rural Costa Rican experience
  • An opportunity to contribute to responsible and sustainable tourism
  • A community-based approach that supports the locals
  • A genuine and unspoiled location, yet to be discovered by mass tourism
  • Conveniently located en-route to famous natural spots like Monteverde and Bijagua
  • A chance to meet locals and experience their way of life
  • A slow-paced journey, perfect for couples, groups, and families
  • An immersive experience, surrounded by pristine nature.

Activity Details:

  • Duration: This experience can be tailored to fit your schedule, with options for 1, 2, or 3-night stays.
  • Physical Rating: Prepare for an active adventure! You’ll be walking and trekking along mountain trails.
  • Age Requirement: This is a family-friendly experience, recommended for ages 10 and up.
  • Included Services: We’ve got transportation within the area covered for you.
  • Meeting Point: If you’re driving a high-clearance 4×4 vehicle, our meeting point is in the town of Bajo Caliente, located about 50 minutes from the small city of Miramar. If you require transportation in and out of La Unión, we’re more than happy to arrange it for you. Please ensure you contact us in advance.
  • Language: While the locals primarily speak Spanish, rest assured that you’ll have a bilingual tour guide fluent in English and Spanish to facilitate your experience.
  • Safety Precautions: Keep in mind that September and October are typically rainy months. If you’re traveling during this time, it’s essential to contact us for the most up-to-date information about road and river conditions. You’ll encounter mostly unpaved, narrow, and winding roads, some of which are alongside cliffs, so cautious driving is advised. If you’re driving downhill, using low gears is recommended to avoid brake overheating. This area is fairly remote, with the nearest clinic an hour away and the nearest hospital two hours away. It’s vital to follow our tour guides’ instructions to avoid any emergencies.
  • Food and Lodging: This remote and rural area offers food and lodging options that reflect an intimate connection with the local environment. Accommodations include homestays with local families for a unique cultural experience, rustic cabins, and charming chalets that are close to nature. If you prefer a more traditional option, there’s a basic hotel about 30 minutes away. The local cuisine you’ll encounter is authentically Costa Rican and includes meals with traditional staples such as rice, beans, picadillos or vegetable stews, soups, and animal proteins. You’ll also have the opportunity to savor local fruits like guavas, bananas, plantains, avocados, and other seasonal offerings.

Is this  experience right for you?

If you’re a lover of raw natural beauty, rural culture, and adventure, this enriching journey, unfolding over 1 to 3 full days, is tailor-made just for you.

However, if you’re not comfortable with a more rustic setting, which includes navigating unpaved roads and adapting to basic services without amenities like air conditioning or fast internet, or if you’d rather avoid narrow, winding roads, then we recommend considering our other diverse options available in Costa Rica. You can explore a variety of activities on our website for more alternatives.

Please be aware that some of the activities may require up to an hour’s walk. Come prepared to embrace the adventure.

Delve deeper into the heart of La Unión! Explore detailed descriptions of each unique activity and discover the enriching journey that awaits you in this unspoiled Costa Rican district. Click the button to read more!

Activities Explained

Depending on your time availability here are some of the activities you can enjoy in the communities of La Unión, Puntarenas:

  • Birdwatching Treks: Immerse yourself in the region’s rich avian biodiversity.

Dive into the abundant avian biodiversity of La Unión. Perched between 800m to 1500m above sea level, amidst a transition zone from dry to rain forest, this region is a paradise for bird lovers. It teems with local and migratory bird species, with vibrant splashes of color and varied melodies filling the air. Depending on the season and time of day, you might spot the dramatic Bare-throated Bellbird, vibrant Keel-billed Toucan, the show-stopping Montezuma Oropendola, or the exotic Turquoise-browed Motmot, among others. This trek isn’t just about spotting birds – it’s about immersing yourself in their vibrant habitats, learning about their fascinating behaviors, and witnessing Costa Rica’s rich biodiversity firsthand. It’s a natural symphony you wouldn’t want to miss!

  • A Bonfire Experience: Gather around a cozy bonfire, under the starlit sky.

Embrace the simple joy of gathering around a cozy bonfire, under the mesmerizing, starlit sky. With up to six months of dry season, La Unión is an ideal place to savor these precious moments. This experience offers more than just warmth and light; it’s a space for shared stories, laughter, and forging connections. Whether you’re bonding with your travel companions or engaging with local families, it’s all about genuine moments of togetherness. And what’s a bonfire without a delicious treat? Indulge in our ‘banana boat dessert,’ a delightful fusion of a s’more and a banana split, as you enjoy the stars and the serenity of this remote Costa Rican community.

  • Hands-On Sugarcane Milling: Experience the traditional art of sugarcane processing.

Embrace a hands-on journey back in time with our “Sugarcane Milling Experience”. Immerse yourself in the sweet heritage of Costa Rica, as you participate in the centuries-old art of sugarcane processing. Witness the growth of this historical plant up close, carry and rinse your own cane, and engage in a traditional milling method under the guidance of a local farmer. But that’s not all. What’s work without reward? Taste the fruits of your labor as you savor the refreshingly sweet juice of freshly-milled sugarcane, chilled to perfection. With unlimited refills, your glass will never run dry! Ideal for all ages, this hands-on adventure offers a unique blend of education, tradition, and family-friendly fun. Come, savor a slice of authentic Costa Rican heritage, one sugarcane stalk at a time!

  • Behind the Beans: Coffee Farm Tour: Trace the journey of coffee from bean to cup.

Step onto the verdant fields of La Unión, a region ideal for coffee cultivation, and embark on a full-circle coffee journey with our ‘Behind the Beans: Coffee Farm Tour.’ No matter the time of year, there’s always a captivating process unfolding – from planting and tending to the coffee bushes, to reaping the cherries and finally roasting the beans.In this immersive experience, you don’t just observe, you participate! Whether it’s helping with coffee pruning, observing the shade management practices, or joining in the harvest, there’s always something hands-on to do. And the cherry on top? You round off this rich experience by savoring your own Costa Rican Drip Coffee, brewed using traditional methods. Often, you’ll have the chance to purchase freshly packed whole or ground coffee directly from the source – a perfect memento or gift to take back home. Be a part of this full-bodied adventure and give back to the community in a truly enjoyable way. Are you ready to dive into this aromatic experience?

  • Green Legacy: Tree planting for a better future.

Join us in reversing the impacts of deforestation in Costa Rica during the 1960s 70s and 80s and be a part of our transformational eco-story. As you venture into the heartland of Costa Rica, you’ll not only learn about the history of our land but actively participate in its revival. Depending on the season, you could be creating a tree nursery, filling bags for seedling planting, nurturing seedlings, or directly planting trees into the fertile soil. This isn’t just a hands-on experience, it’s a heart-in experience too. Every seed planted, every sapling nurtured is your personal contribution to our growing forest canopy, fostering local habitats, and supporting the diverse species that call them home. And as you lend a hand to Mother Nature, you’ll feel a profound sense of satisfaction, knowing that your effort is sprouting into a legacy – a Green Legacy. This tour is more than an activity, it’s your chance to make a lasting impact, fostering sustainable tourism, and protecting our beautiful environment for future generations. Get ready to get your hands a little dirty for a cleaner, greener future.

  • Nature’s Pharmacy: A Medicinal Plant Walk.

Nestled in La Unión, a rural community enriched with traditional healing practices, you’ll explore an array of indigenous medicinal plants like the vibrant Tilo, tropical Guanábana, and the majestic Pochote. This experience is more than a walk – it’s a real-life treasure hunt offering a glimpse into natural healing methods and the chance to learn about the country’s conservation efforts. Guided by a local, this tour provides not just an education about medicinal plants, but also a window into the Costa Rican way of life. Get ready to uncover the hidden secrets of this biodiverse haven!

  • Crops and Cultivars: Discover local farming and agricultural practices.

A place where farming traditions run deep, La Unión offers a tapestry of local crops, from beans and coffee to bell peppers, rice, and much more. This experience not only familiarizes you with the diversity of crops but also the rhythms of nature, traditional farming practices, and the intimate relationship locals share with their land. With the chance to participate in harvesting activities, the fruits of your labor will come full circle as they become part of your dinner in the form of traditional local dishes. This journey provides a glimpse into the everyday lives of the community, their resilience and the love for their land, weaving an unforgettable narrative of Costa Rican agricultural heritage.

  • Nature Uncovered: Educational Guided Hikes while exploring local flora and fauna.

Wander through enchanting landscapes under the guidance of a local expert, bringing to life the vibrant flora and fauna often overlooked by the untrained eye. From spotting big iguanas and delicate butterflies to identifying unique plants and bird species, your hike will be brimming with delightful discoveries. Marvel at breathtaking lookouts, meandering streams, and dramatic rivers. Beyond nature’s spectacle, you’ll also delve into the rich natural history of La Unión and its symbiotic relationship with its inhabitants. So, lace up your hiking boots, make lasting connections, and see La Unión through the eyes of those who know it best!

  • Hands Together: A Costa Rican Community Immersion.

The small rural communities of La Unión open their doors for you to witness their daily life, their challenges, and their triumphs. From volunteering at local schools to cheering at soccer games, attending church activities or engaging with local entrepreneurs, you get to participate in a myriad of community activities. Delve into traditional festivities, or contribute through donations; your involvement helps elevate responsible and sustainable tourism practices. Take your travel experience beyond sightseeing and create a meaningful connection with the locals in a truly Costa Rican way. So come, join hands with us, and immerse yourself in the vibrant local life!

  • Local Bites: A Hands-On Costa Rican Cooking Experience.

Dive into our vibrant cuisine and traditions as you learn how to craft local favorites like traditional tortillas, savory empanadas, and sweet cajetas. Your guide for this culinary journey will be an expert local homemaker, whose passion for her heritage is only matched by her love for cooking. This experience unfolds in the welcoming ambiance of a community home, providing an intimate setting for cultural exchange. Come immerse yourself in the rural Costa Rica traditions, interact with warm-hearted locals, and relish the delicious dishes you help create. Join ‘Local Bites’ today for a truly tasty Costa Rican adventure!

  • Costa Rica Unplugged: Private Guided Camping Experience.

 Explore the exquisite rural surroundings of La Unión with a range of camping options, from the comfort and convenience of the Tranquila Farm – equipped with a ranch-style shelter, electricity, drinking water, outdoor shower, bathroom, and fire pit, to the thrilling solitude of a mountain-top campsite that offers nothing but an outdoor bathroom, a shower, and breathtaking views of the Nicoya Gulf and the Monteverde and Arancibia mountains. We provide tents and a gas stove as standard, with additional amenities such as plates, cutlery, glasses, and a knife. For a nominal fee, you can also rent firewood, lighters, wine, beers, sleeping pads, sleeping bags, and headlamps. Essentials like bug repellent, sunblock, and propane gas are available for purchase. Unplug from the usual and relish this private camping experience amidst secure forest surroundings, creating lasting memories with your loved ones. Please contact us in advance to ensure availability and to customize your camping gear as per your needs.

  • Buzzing Bees: Uncover the Art of Costa Rican Honey Harvesting

Explore the sweet side of Costa Rica with our insightful beekeeping tour in the charming La Unión District of Puntarenas. Here, local artisans have poured their hearts into the traditional craft of beekeeping, resulting in the production of exceptionally high-quality honey. Not only do they skillfully harvest the golden nectar, but they also create a range of delightful honey derivatives. This tour is a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the fascinating world of bees, gain deep insights into their vital role in the ecosystem, the challenges they face, and the ancient art of beekeeping. If you have a love for these industrious insects and an appetite for learning, this tour is a must-visit.

  • Memory Makers: Costa Rican Souvenirs, Handcrafted with Love.

Dive into the heart of Costa Rica’s rich culture with ‘Memory Makers: Costa Rican Souvenirs, Handcrafted with Love.’ A souvenir is more than just an object – it’s a cherished keepsake that captures a treasured moment in time. At La Unión, every trinket is handcrafted with love and intimately connected to the vibrant culture and stunning landscapes of the area. By purchasing these souvenirs, you aren’t merely acquiring an item – you are sharing a slice of life from a passionate Costa Rican artisan. Each purchase helps support local craftsmen and their families, infusing their passions and dedication into your own life. Join us and celebrate the beauty of Costa Rican crafts with the unique, locally-made souvenirs from the communities of La Unión.

What’s Included:

The cost of this enriching experience varies, taking into account the length of your stay and selected activities. However, regardless of your choices, the following are included:

  • Guided Tours: Benefit from the knowledge of our local tour guides who will enhance your experience with their expertise.
  • Meals: Savor authentic local cuisine with all meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) provided during the activities that last more than 5 hours, as well as for breakfast or dinner at your homestay or rustic cabin.
  • Pre-Booked Activities: Enjoy seamless access to all your pre-booked activities, curated to match your preferences.
  • Internal Transportation: We facilitate transportation to and from all activities for a hassle-free experience.
  • Leisure Time: Your itinerary thoughtfully includes leisure time for rest, relaxation, or independent exploration of the surroundings.

Not Included:

  • Transportation: Transportation to and from the communities of La Unión, Puntarenas is not included in the price. If you don’t plan on driving, please contact us in advance. We’d be more than happy to arrange transportation for you.
  • Pre-Arrival Meals and Drinks: Please be aware that any meals or drinks consumed before your arrival in La Unión are not included in this experience. We encourage you to plan accordingly.
  • Gratuities: Please note that gratuities for tour guides and drivers are not included in the price. While not obligatory, tips are greatly appreciated as a way to show satisfaction for good service.
  • Insurance: Please note that insurance is not included in our services. We highly recommend securing your own travel insurance through a third-party provider to cover any potential travel disruptions, cancellations, or other unforeseen circumstances.

Making a Positive Impact:

Choosing ‘La Unión Unveiled: A Community-Based Costa Rican Experience’ directly supports sustainable tourism and the local economy of La Unión. We ensure 100% of profits stay within the community, fostering economic growth and preserving cultural heritage.
Each activity fosters appreciation for local culture and environment. Your participation aids in environmental education and sustainable practices, conserving Costa Rica’s rich biodiversity.
By immersing in La Unión’s landscapes, you’re not just creating memories but also making a lasting positive impact. Your responsible travel choice aids in making tourism a force for good in La Unión, Puntarenas. Thank you for your support.

With ‘La Unión Unveiled: A Community-Based Costa Rican Experience’, you’re not just booking a tour; you’re signing up for a life-changing adventure. This immersive journey offers more than just picturesque landscapes and cultural insights; it gives you the chance to step into the shoes of the locals, to see the world from a different perspective, and to make a difference while doing so. So, if you’re ready for an unforgettable journey packed with adventure, cultural immersion, stunning natural beauty, and meaningful impact, this is the experience for you. 

Adventure awaits, are you ready?

Contact us to know more details