If you land in San Jose, Costa Rica during the morning or early afternoon I would suggest renting a car and drive directly to La Paz Waterfall Gardens. (Approximately one hour and 10 minutes drive from the airport)
If your budget can afford it, you should stay at the incredible, elegant and sophisticated ‘Peace Lodge’.
I would recommend at least 2 nights at Peace Lodge.
Peace Lodge is the most unique and upscale lodge located in the middle of the rain forest. Their cuisine is superb and their service and friendliness from the staff is out of this world.
If you are a guest of Peace Lodge, you can enjoy the beautiful grounds of La Paz Waterfall Gardens Nature Park before it opens and after it closes to the public. You can enjoy 5 beautiful waterfalls not counting the waterfall in your bathroom.
You can also visit their butterfly observatory, feed the sloths and monkeys, interact with the hummingbirds and toucans at the paradise gardens, study the snakes at the serpentuarium, have a night walk at the the frog exhibit, feed the wild cats at dinner time or simply observe the cats being fed.
I was amazed with the vegetation that surrounded the beautiful grounds. On top of this, their dedicated and friendly staff will make sure you have an extraordinary vacation.
During your stay at Peace Lodge you can take a tour and visit the extraordinary Poas Volcano; a must see.
Next I would recommend visiting a coffee plantation. Costa Rica is consider to have some of the best coffee in the world. You can take a day tour from the hotel or drive on your way out from Peace Lodge to Britt Coffee plantation. It will take you approximately 90 minutes. They have five interesting types of coffee tours from the classic coffee tour to the adventure tour including zip lining.
Discover the history of the first European City mainland in Las Americas, named "Granada" in 1524 and today called "The Paris of Central America". Granada is historically one of Nicaragua's most important cities, economically and politically.