Costa Rica is a popular vacation spot, thanks to its rich biodiversity and array of locations and things to do for those who love the outdoors. It offers mountains, volcanoes, beaches, and even a cloud forest. If you’re planning on heading that way, make sure and cross some of these Costa Rican adventures off of your list as you go.
San Jose is Costa Rica’s capital city, and it makes for a great starting point for your exploration, since it is in the relative center of the country. If you plan on sightseeing in the city before heading out to the nature attractions, the city’s Jade Museum and Pre-Columbian Gold Museum are good places to stop. Both are filled with rare and interesting pre-Columbian artifacts.
Arenal Volcano & Lake Arenal
The Arenal Volcano sits above the giant Lake Arenal, the biggest lake in the country, spanning 33 miles across the surface. The volcano is a popular tourist destination in Costa Rica, thanks to its regal presence over the rainforest and lake. Head there to take in the sights and you can do some rainforest hiking, horseback riding, and whitewater rafting while you’re there. Don’t forget to hit the hot springs!
Monteverde Cloud Forest
A famous destination in Costa Rica, the Monteverde Cloud Forest is one of a kind. It is located in the Sierra de Tilaran, and it is home to 2.5 percent of the entire world’s biodiversity. Traipsing through the cloud forest involves crossing high-altitude swinging rope bridges while you take in stunning views. You can also climb trees and repel down with ropes, or go zip lining.
La Paz Waterfall Gardens
La Paz Waterfall Gardens is a garden complex just east of Volcán Poás. You can usually find a day-trip from San Jose for right around $100. The destination offers 3.5km of hiking trails around five scenic waterfalls, a butterfly conservatory, and a frog garden. While there, you can hand-feed hummingbirds and toucans, and you will even get to see the three jaguars that have been raised there.
There is a unique night tour of the jungle at Rainmaker Park that you shouldn’t miss! It’s a three-hour tour in which you will see bats, lizards, spiders, owls, many different types of frogs, snakes, and even insects. You’ll cross over the famed suspension bridges for a rush and then end the tour with a Costa Rican dinner. This adventure is certainly not for the faint of heart.
Naranjo River Rafting
Another activity that requires an adventurous spirit, but is not to disappoint, is the rafting tour on the Naranjo River. It’s a half-day tour of rafting on class III and IV rapids – so it’s intended for experienced paddlers. The trip will take you through a jungle gorge and past farms and palm plantations.
If you’re looking for a more relaxed experience, the beach might be more your style. In this case, you’ll be sorry if you don’t head over to the Nicoya Peninsula. It’s an 80-mile shoreline along the Pacific, and you can drive from San Jose if you can set aside 4-5 hours. The beach here is surrounded by cattle and fishing communities, and restaurants for tourists are scattered about as well. It’s got charm for surfers and beach lovers alike!
This region is known as Costa Rica’s “Gold Coast,” because it has secluded beaches, dry, sunny savannas, and views of the volcanoes to the east. There are hotels along the coastline, along with scattered remote fishing villages that add to the allure of the area. If you travel further inland of this coast, you’ll run into a cowboy culture that originated during Spanish colonization in the 19th century and continues to thrive.
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
The village of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca offers a reggae-themed nightlife for night owls out there. It’s near the Playa Negra black sand beach, and both are good places for those who want to get away from the heavy tourist-filled areas of the country. Surfers, nature lovers, and foodies typically gather here, thanks to the bamboo bars and lively nightlife. You’ll also find bike paths, tropical farms and gardens, and remote bungalows scattered about the area.
Whether your intention is to relocate to Costa Rica entirely, or simply to plan a much-needed getaway, none of these locations or attractions will disappoint. This will make for a great start in getting to know Costa Rica.
Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ACatarata_del_Toro._Waterfall._Costa_Rica.jpg