5 Places to Visit in Beautiful Costa Rica
Costa Rica is not just one of the happiest countries in the world. It is also the perfect destination for lovers of adventures, nature and wildlife. You can find four UNESCO sights and over 200 volcanic formations here. Thrilling activities like river rafting, surfing and zip lining are must-dos. And with 500.000 species of wildlife Costa Rica is unique and unforgettable. Fun fact: most major radio stations play the national anthem every morning at 7.
You will find two international airports in Costa Rica: San Jose (SJO) and Libera (LIR). Pay close attention when you book your tickets, there is more than one San Jose and Liberia in the world. The same is true for places all over the country. You will also find a Cartagena, Santa Cruz and Corcovado in both Costa Rica and other places around the world.
Best time to visit
Between December and April is the best time to visit Costa Rica. That is the driest time of year. What they call the green, in other words rainy, season is from May to June and again in November. You may be able to find cheap tickets to this tropical destination for September and October, just be aware that during these months the country often experiences heavy rainfall. However, you should be prepared for some rain at any time of year. It’s the rainfall that makes the country so lush. Temperatures are consistent throughout the year, with highs around 75°F and lows around 60°F.
I could write a full article about this village located next to the Arenal volcano. La Fortuna is one of the best destinations to see the rich jungle of Costa Rica. It’s worth to spend at least two full days here to enjoy all the activities that are available.
In the middle of the jungle you will find the 200 feet high La Fortuna waterfall. A tough climb is necessary to reach it, but it’s worth it to see the natural extravaganza at the bottom of the stairs. You can swim in the crystal clear water below the fall or just enjoy nature. The entrance fee is $18 USD, with all proceeds being reinvested into local conservation efforts.
The suspension bridges of Mistico are the best in the country. You choose between three trails. The main trail is 2 miles long, the fully accessible trail is 1 mile long, and the bird observation trail has a length of 1.6 miles. Discover the wonderful forest that Mistico has to offer. Keep your eyes open to spot the most amazing array of birds, mammals, flora, amphibians and reptiles that this park has to offer. The entrance fee is $26 USD, without a guide.
La Fortuna is also the spot to enjoy the hot springs. You can visit one of the expensive resorts, or visit the free spring in the river. It’s worth to go very early in the morning! Want to pamper yourself a bit more? Check out the Tabacon Spa, the most beautiful spa in the area.
Seeking a great hike? Check out Arenal National Park or the Arenal 1968 trail. The last one will give you a great view over the volcano, and you’ll walk over part of the lava from the 1968 eruption. The cloud forest is spectacular. Entrance to both parks is $15 USD. There is so much to do around La Fortuna. Try to avoid the village in the weekend as it is a popular weekend getaway among locals.
Corcovado National Park
The lists of amazing national parks in Costa Rica is almost endless. Are you looking for the ultimate jungle experience? Corcovado is one of the most beautiful on earth, and is also home to the most biodiversity. It’s located in the Southwest of Costa Rica on the peninsula Osa. It’s quite the challenge to reach this national park. Planning is key to visit this part of the world, and when you finally do, it’s all worth it!
Be aware that you won’t be able to enter this park without a guide and permit. There are many guides in this region, it’s worth to do research before booking. There is a huge difference in price and quality.
When you enter this national park you will be greeted by many species of animals and the lush green atmosphere. Don’t forget to look up, you may spot the aras in this area. For those with a lot of patience and luck, there is a chance to spot a leopard.
Bosque del Cabo
Bosque del Cabo is a eco resort down in the Osa Pennisula that comes highly by HERA members. Lots of animals, lots of hiking trails, great food, and a biologist who offers jungle tours. We want to give you the heads up about the ocean here. The current can be very tricky. It’s not uncommon that people drown in this area. So please be careful if you choose to hit the water.
Want sunny weather and amazing beaches? Guanacaste is the place to go! It’s has the nickname the ‘Golden Coast’ of Costa Rica. It’s a very popular destination for those who love to snorkel and dive, although it’s also perfect for hiking and exploring the jungle, volcanos and mountains. Fun fact: Guanacaste used to belong to Nicaragua.
In the region of Guanacaste you can find 15 national parks. So many choices! Worth mentioning are Barra Honda, Palo Verde, Rincon de la Vieja Volcano and Leatherback Turtle Marine national park. Also, the sunset in Santa Rosa national park is magical.
For our city lovers, there’s Liberia to explore. Liberia is the capital of this province. The city kept its Wild West feel, it looks as if time stood still. Its nickname is ‘White City’, because of the white walls and colonial architecture. You can find a wide range of restaurants, cafes and nightlife in Liberia. It’s worth the visit if you want to enjoy the city life for a bit, after or before you indulged yourself with all things nature Costa Rica has to offer.
Let’s close off with the best that Guanacaste has to offer: beaches and a spectacular underwater world. The beaches here are some of the best in the country, and the beautiful underwater just adds to their charm. In the gold of Papagayo you will find the best destination for diving in Central America. Other good spots to dive or snorkel are Playa Flamingo, Tamarindo, Playas del Coc and Playa Ocotal. Do you prefer to stay on the water instead of in it? This is the place where to learn how to surf! Or stay on the beach where you can spot all sorts of turtles.
The Monteverde Cloud Forest, together with the Santa Elena Cloud forest, is the prime destination for ecotourism. In 1983 National Geographic labelled the reserve ‘the Mecca for bird and wildlife watchers’. That didn’t change, with its rich ecosystem being home to over 100 species of mammals, 400 species of birds, and 1,200 species of amphibians and reptiles. While there is tons to do here, it’s also a great time to relax, shop, enjoy some good food.
Walking through the cloud forest is a magical experience. The Santa Elena cloud forest has great walking trails for the whole family. There are numerous trails accessible by foot or on horseback. While walking the Selvature treetop suspension bridges you have the opportunity to see monkeys, sloths, birds and beautiful plants from above. And not only during the day wildlife spotting is great, around 80% of the animals in Monteverde are nocturnal.
Obviously, this is the place to go birdwatching. You can go on your own, but going on a guided tour with an experienced guide will almost guarantee that you see the most amazing variety of birds. The best place to go birdwatching is the Curi-Cancha reserve. Are you more interested in frogs and toads? During a tour at the Monteverde Frog Pond you will learn all about these species of amphibians. A tour at night is recommended to get the chance to see a lemur frog. Butterfly lovers are in the right place here. The Monteverde butterfly garden is a very popular destination. Enjoy more than 50 species of butterflies from all over Costa Rica.
Want an extreme adrenaline rush? Imagine flying through the treetops hundreds of meters in the air while you discover the divergent flora and fauna of Costa Rica. Check out the canopy tour, it’s one of the better ziplines. The tour cost $50 USD and lasts 2,5 hours.
On the Caribbean side of Costa Rica you will find Cahuita. It has a great mix of beach, nature and town life to offer.
The national park of the same name is the smallest in the country, but it protects Costa Rica’s biggest coral reef. Even better, the entrance to this national park is free of charge. Leave a tip if you like. In addition to howler and capuchin monkeys, birds, and amphibians, there are many sloths to be found here. It’s worth to hire a guide to explore the national park, so you don’t miss any of the highglights.
Beaches & coral reef
Would you like to relax, or take a dip in the ocean? Bring a towel and enjoy the most gorgeous beaches that are part of the national park. They are considered to be some of the best in the country. We definitely recommend exploring beyond the sand, as you will find a 242 hectare coral reef of the Cahuita national park coast. It’s home to 35 different species of coral, turtles, manta rays and sea cucumbers. The coral reef is heavily protected, and that’s why you need to book a tour at the entrance of the park, or in Cahuita itself, if you want to explore the reef.
After all this exploring a good meal is important. Cahuita’s cuisine is known as one of the best in Costa Rica. On the Afro – Caribbean menu you will find curried goat, jerk chicken and, of course, an abundance of seafood. And there aren’t just savory dishes on the menu! Sweet crepes made with local produce are popular with locals and tourists.
Help the environment
There is so much to see and do in Costa Rica that it’s very hard to cover everything in one article.
Do you want to score some karma points when traveling through Costa Rica? Unfortunately there are always people who leave their rubbish in nature. Take a plastic bag with you and fill it with the junk you come across. This way, Costa Rica remains beautiful for everyone.