Costa Rica has something for everyone with its tropical jungles, divinely secluded beaches, impressive volcanoes, cloud forests, spectacular birds and wildlife, romantic waterfalls, extreme adventure activities, eco-friendly tours and resorts, and some of the best coffee on Earth. Here are just a few reasons why you'll LOVE discovering Costa Rica!
The Arenal Volcano pictured above stands majestically at 5,437 feet over Costa Rica’s fertile lowlands that surround the area. It’s Costa Rica’s most active volcano for 43 years but currently is in its resting phase. The symmetrical shape makes the volcano especially captivating.
Costa Rica’s coffee story began back in 1798 when acreage and coffee plants were gifted to anyone willing to cultivate the crop for export. It wasn’t hard to cultivate the plants in the country’s mineral-rich volcanic soils, cool mountain climates, and shaded fields. These red “cherries” are roasted into rich caramel elixir so valued in Europe. Coffee became the principal export and played a major source of income. It was a basis for the country’s economy and became an integral part of the local culture.
La Fortuna is a picturesque town situated in the Northern Highlands of Costa Rica, about 2.5-3 hours from San Jose’s international airport and 2.5 hours from Liberia’s international airport. It’s got a beautiful park with quaint gardens and a large church, and the area around the central park offers restaurants, hotels, tour options, and shopping. You can also check out the rainforest canopy below by crossing a hanging bridge. Other fun activities include flying through the sky on a zipline, rappelling down waterfalls, and splashing downriver on a whitewater raft.
Traditional dishes in Costa Rica are very affordable because they consist of rice and beans with other ingredients like chicken or fish and different vegetables. Breakfast or desayuno is similar to American dishes with a few Costa Rican twists, and you can find eggs, bacon, and sausage almost everywhere. Also popular is gallo pinto: fried rice and beans with lizano sauce. A tortilla is normally used to eat rice and beans. Lunch and dinner fare are very similar: rice, beans, chicken, fish/seafood, beef or pork. In Costa Rica, beef stew is also a signature dish called olla de carne.
Picture yourself exploring the rainforests – by suspension bridges! There are a lot of these bridges spread across the forest canopy that allow you to appreciate the complex ecosystems at the tops of trees and in the valleys below. The bridges are safely and smartly constructed to permit explorers to marvel at nature’s beauty and come in different sizes from 100 to 1000 feet. Guided tours present vital information to the bridge trips as local guides can reveal plants and animals that seemed invisible a moment earlier. The most famous suspension bridges are at Monteverde, Arenal and the Caribbean.
The most scenic waterfalls in the Latin America can be found in Costa Rica - no matter which region you visit. The views from the top are incredible as are the biodiverse nature trails with rare species of plants, birds, and wildlife. The wet season between September and December is the best time to explore the gushing waterfalls, and the must-see ones are at Guanacaste, the Pacific Coast, and the Central Valley. They’re enticing enough to jump in for a swim after a beautiful jungle trek.
Costa Rica has a wide range of diverse accommodations. From luxuriating at all-inclusive, eco-friendly resorts to sticking to basics, there’s an option for every traveler's taste and budget. You might plan to stay in San Jose, check out smaller cities near the ocean, or explore more secluded, off-the-beaten path destinations. Smaller hotels are laid-back and home-like with inviting and cozy vibes, and all-inclusive resorts are also great for having everything you need on property to relax and rejuvenate.
Costa Rica boasts an abundance of unique flora and fauna and features 32 national parks, 51 wildlife refuges, 13 forest reserves, and eight biological reserves. There are more than 500,000 animal and plant species in Costa Rica, making the nation one of the 20 most biodiverse countries in the world. Wildlife is practically everywhere in Costa Rica, not just in protected areas, so keep an eye out!
Costa Rica is a bird watcher’s paradise! There are over 800 species in a country the size of West Virginia, and you can see six kinds of toucans, 17 species of woodpeckers, 21 species of wrens and many, many more. It would take years to see all the bird species in Costa Rica – a perfect excuse to keep coming back to this biodiverse country!
Capuchin monkeys are a common sight throughout Costa Rica, especially in the national parks. These small primates are the most intelligent New World monkey and are native to Central and South America. Their slender bodies are covered in brown or black fur, and their faces, necks and chests are normally a white or cream color, meriting them the name mono cara blanca, or white-faced monkey. The capuchins are highly sociable, and the average group has around 15 members led by a dominant male. They are arboreal creatures, so look up because you won’t see them descend to the forest floor.
The magnificent shrine devoted to the Virgen de los Ángeles is called Nuestra Senora de los Ángeles Basilica in Cartago. It’s one of the most important churches in Costa Rica and is commonly known as la Negrita, patroness saint of the country. According to legend, a peasant of the name Juana Pereira found the virgin on a rock, in the same place where the first basilica in her honor was built later. The shrine’s Byzantine architecture stands out in its monumental façade and in the octagonal cupola that tops it beautifully.
Costa Rica offers two coastlines of unspoiled sands, isolated coves, and crystal-clear waters. Corcovado is on more than 23 miles of mostly secluded coastline. One of the beset beaches on Costa Rica's Caribbean Coast is at the small town of Manzanillo on the edge of Gandoca Manzanillo National Park with miles of isolated coves and quiet, tranquil shorelines. The ultimate way to relax during your vacation to Costa Rica is on one of the country’s peaceful beaches.
Shopping at local markets and roadside fruit stands is a tasty way to see and sample the diversity of Costa Rica's produce from its thousands of small farms. Going to a feria, a local farmer’s market, for the fresh, organic and local-grown produce is an authentic social and cultural event, plus an amazing savings. From the beaches of Guanacaste to the mountains in the Central Highlands, you’ll find an abundance of the excellent quality of fruits and vegetables to enjoy during your trip in Costa Rica.
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