There is no shortage of options for places to go in Costa Rica! The excellent tourist infrastructure, varied climates, and geography creates a wide variety of options to choose from. Top natural and adventure destinations include Arenal Volcano, Drake Bay, Monteverde, Manuel Antonio, Tortuguero and Rincon de la Vieja.
For good reason, Manuel Antonio is the most popular beach area and national park in Costa Rica. This area is incredibly beautiful with gorgeous beaches, jungle-lined hillsides, and an astounding amount of wildlife. With the combination of these factors, Manuel Antonio is considered to be a world-class tropical beach destination. Click on the links to read more about Manuel Antonio.
You haven't truly been to Costa Rica until you've been to Arenal, it's everything you've heard and more, especially if you love outdoor adventure! From trekking around the massive Arenal Volcano National Park. Home of the namesake Arenal Volcano, to zip lining through the rainforest, you'll have to go out of your way to find boredom in Arenal, which makes it a great destination if you're planning a family adventure vacation.
Monteverde is known as the site with the largest number of orchids in the world, with 34 of its 500 species newly discovered. Over 60 species of amphibians, including the extinct Monteverde-endemic golden toad, have been found here. This area is also a stop for 91 species of migratory birds. The famed quetzal resides here seasonally. The mammals of Monteverde include representatives from both North and South America as endemic species.
Tamarindo Beach is a long beach with great waves. The currents here can be strong so watch the posted advisories when swimming, but much of Tamarindo Beach is perfect for those just learning how to surf. The vibe of Tamarindo is best described as “Party and Play.” Great swimming, surf, fishing, and water sports during the day, buzzing nightlife come sunset. Because of its central location, tourists often base themselves here and explore Guanacaste over a number of days. Younger crowds enjoy the local bars and discotheques.
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is a small coastal town on the Caribbean sea surrounded by the lush tropical rainforest, gorgeous white sand beaches, and a huge array of different wildlife. With a mixture of Afro Caribbean, Bri Bri Indigenous, Ticos, Americans, and Europeans alike, Puerto Viejo offers a diverse and multicultural vibe. Famous for its ‘Go Slow’ attitude, you won’t find a more laid-back town in Costa Rica. Puerto Viejo is not for everyone. Puerto Viejo is more suited for the down-to-earth traveler looking for a no-frills, authentic experience.
The Nicoya Peninsula often attracts a special type of traveler and many of them head straight to Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. Whether you are traipsing about on your honeymoon or traveling solo, you can count on meeting a mix of laidback Ticos, barefoot ex-pats, and eco-conscious backpackers when you touch down in Tambor (a landing that feels like a scene right out of Jurassic Park, we should mention).
The Nicoya Peninsula’s designation as one of the world’s five Blue Zones makes Santa Teresa an off-the-beaten-path escape from the buzz of the modern world.
Attracting wildlife enthusiasts from around the globe, the small town of Tortuguero on Costa Rica’s northern Caribbean Coast is named for the famed sea turtles that come to the area to nest. Tortuguero’s dense jungle maze of winding canals is evocative of the wild Amazon. A float down these ominous brown waters is an adventure in itself as you’re sure to hear the howling of monkeys and screeching of exotic birds along the way.
Tucked away on the Osa Peninsula sits a hidden gem in Costa Rica – Drake Bay! Drake Bay isn’t usually at the top of everyone’s Costa Rica places to visit list, but it really should be. Home to gorgeous beaches, stunning sunsets, and that small-town vibe we all know and love, Drake Bay is paradise on earth.
On top of that, Drake Bay sits on the doorstep of Corcovado National Park and Caño Island Biological Reserve. So, as you can imagine, there are plenty of awesome things to do in Drake Bay, especially if you come for the wildlife.
Samara's laidback vibe allows for rest and relaxation, an almost universal characteristic of the Nicoya Peninsula. Its village offers a number of services: stores, restaurants, hotels, and a small selection of bars. The town's nightlife, however, can be found at one of its discos, which keeps the party trucking through the early morning.
Sport fishing is a popular activity off the coast, as is snorkeling and scuba diving around the coral environments.
To the north of Manuel Antonio National Park lies the small seaside town of Jacó, known for its hidden beaches, sportfishing, excellent surfing spots, and its unique position between the dry northern regions of the country and the tropical southern zone. Between the natural beauty and the luxury accommodations, it’s no surprise Jaco is swiftly developing into a major tourist attraction. Whether you’re looking for a secluded hilltop hideaway, a family-friendly ocean resort, or a top surfing destination, the Central Pacific Coast may provide just what you’re looking for.
This Pacific beach town is best known for its roaring surf and relaxed vibe. The strong sun, dark sands, dusty roads, and chill beach bars help round out the image of this steadfast surfer town. But Nosara is about more than remarkable waves: the laid-back town is a haven for yoga retreats, wildlife watching, and thrilling adventures. Located just south of Guanacaste’s famed Gold Coast, Nosara is far enough off the beaten path to afford seclusion and privacy, the perfect setting for a transcendental yoga experience.
Rincon de la Vieja National Park has adventures for the whole family. You can hike various trails, cruise the Rio Negro, go camping or stay at one of the many haciendas inside the national park. Many of the haciendas offer highly recommended combo tours. These tours, either on foot or horseback, explore the various volcanic formations that make this region so unique. You’ll visit fumaroles, mud pots, hike to the waterfalls and stop for a relaxing soak in one of the several natural volcanic hot springs. It is a favorite amongst tourists, even during the rainy season.
San Jose was founded in 1737, today it is a spread-out metropolis. This place is the capital and the largest city in Costa Rica, and it is considered among the most cosmopolitan cities in Latin America. In the city and surroundings, you can find not only great options for accommodations, but also many wonderful restaurants, bars, museums, shopping centers, and colorful markets embracing the best of local culture and night life.
Liberia is the capital and largest city in the Costa Rican province of Guanacaste, it is located 134 miles northwest of San José and is home to the country’s second-largest international airport, Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (LIR). With over 35,000 inhabitants, Liberia is one of the country’s most populated cities. Because of its location, it’s become a hub for tourists on their way to the famous beaches of Guanacaste including Playa del Coco and Playa Hermosa, and other attractions like the Arenal Volcano.
Traditionally known as a paradise for bird watchers and nature lovers, Papagayo is also a charming experience for those interested in relaxation and fun. Papagayo’s beaches are well-deveoped areas that boast gorgeous views of the Pacific. Many of the resorts are secluded on their own beaches, but you can find more action in the main town of Playas del Coco. Here you will find most nightlife, restaurants, and shops. You can not surf in these calm waters unless you go to Witch’s Rock, an intermediate/expert surfing area only accessible by 4×4 or boat.
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