The Central American country of Costa Rica has for a long time grabbed the attention of travelers from all over the world due to its incredible diversity of wildlife and adventures. With so much to see and do, often the hardest part of planning your trip to Costa Rica is deciding exactly where to go.
Having such an array of activities, adventures and landscapes means all your travel wishes will be met and surpassed.
It is perhaps one of the only countries in the world where you can zip-line through the cloud forest in the morning, relax in natural hot springs in the afternoon before going to watch one of the best sunsets in the world on a heavenly white-sandy beach. The following overview will introduce you to some of the top places to visit in Costa Rica and will expose you to the sheer assortment of environments and scenery waiting to be soaked up.
♦ La Fortuna & Arenal Volcano
Costa Rica is full of impressive natural features but perhaps one of the most recognizable is the once lava-spewing volcano of Arenal. Since 2010, the Arenal Volcano has been in a resting phase, enjoying its Pura Vida surroundings in the 29,960-acre Arenal Volcano National Park. Although (for now) the days of watching brilliant reds and oranges flowing out of the Arenal Volcano are gone, it is still a stunning sight as it towers above the rainforest around its base. In perfect symmetry the volcano is a prominent figure on the surrounding landscape and can also be enjoyed from the small town of La Fortuna. This quiet and peaceful town is just 4 miles from the Arenal Volcano and acts as a perfect base to explore the volcano, the national park and the wealth of activities from relaxing in beautiful hot springs to hiking and admiring the verdant canopy.
♦ Manuel Antonio National Park
From high up on the surrounding hillsides of Manuel Antonio, the true beauty of this destination can simply take your breath away. From its idyllic beaches to its rainforests teaming with monkeys and other forms of wildlife, Manuel Antonio is one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica. As one of Costa Rica’s first eco-tourist center, Manuel Antonio National Park although one of the smallest at just 1,680-acres it is still one of the most popular and beautiful. Whether walking along its rainforest trails to reach its small secluded beaches or delving into the mountains surrounding the beaches that are home to three-toed sloths and exotic birds; Manuel Antonio is waiting to impress. Manuel Antonio is also one of only two places in all of Costa Rica where you can see all four types of monkey; spider, howler, white faced and the endangered squirrel monkey in the wild. One of the reasons that the Manuel Antonio Park remains so green and alive with some of Costa Rica’s best displays of wildlife is due to its tropical climate. If you are visiting Manuel Antonio, make sure to have your waterproofs with you and perhaps even a camera cover to make sure the rain doesn’t affect your photo taking capabilities, as this is one destination you’ll always want to remember.
♦ Monteverde Cloud Forest
The misty, cool atmosphere of the Monteverde Cloud Forest adds to the mysterious wildlife waiting to be spotted and marveled at. With spectacular displays of nature, the cloud forest of Monteverde attracts scientists, bird watchers, wildlife enthusiasts and visitors wanting to experience the virgin forests of Costa Rica. From the top of the canopy on a clear day you may be fortunate enough to see both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of Costa Rica which is a sight to be enjoyed and savored for years to come. As one of the most naturally diverse destinations on the planet, it is one of the last few remaining locations where you can catch a glimpse of the endangered Resplendent Quetzal bird. From hiking through the cloud forest to zip-lining high up through the canopy Monteverde will not disappoint.
♦ Rincon de la Vieja
Backed by the Guanacaste Mountains, the Rincon de Vieja National Park stretches across 34,800 acres and is a great destination to enjoy the cool air, take a break from the stunning beaches to explore waterfalls, see exotic birds and go on fantastic hikes. Located near to Liberia airport means that access to Rincon de la Vieja and its surrounding attractive environment is on your doorstep. With an array of hiking trails and horseback riding activities, you can set out to explore the interesting terrain and make the most of the area’s natural beauty. Geothermal activity in the immediate area around Rincon de la Vieja results in a number of beautiful warm natural springs and therapeutic mud baths which come as a welcome treat after a day of exploration. The region around the National Park is also famous for being the hometown of Costa Rica’s cowboys which still thrive in the area today and you can often see them at work on their numerous cattle ranches making for a unique travel experience.
A former quiet fishing hamlet, Tamarindo has become one of the top places to visit in Costa Rica due to its unspoiled beaches and incredible biodiversity that can be found on the Nicoya Peninsula. In spite of its rise in popularity the town remains a laidback Pura Vida atmosphere so you can be sure to be unwind and relax. As well as having stunning white-sandy beaches, exploring the marine life of Costa Rica will have you snorkeling and scuba diving in the warm waters of Tamarindo. Navigate your way by canoe through the various mangroves and estuaries that make up part of the Tamarindo National Wildlife Refuge and its 1,000 acres of protected forests. Further adding to your Costa Rica adventure you can head to the nearby Parque Nacional Marino las Baulas where you can spot the largest reptile, the leatherback turtle come ashore to lay its eggs.