Costa Rica Travel - Best things to do and see in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is all about natural beauty; it is home to lush rainforests, wildlife parks, picturesque tropical beaches and dramatic smoking volcanoes. With so much to do and see, this Central American nation attracts travelers of all kinds, from the luxury-focused to the surfers and backpackers. Spend your days ziplining across the rainforest canopy, sipping on aromatic coffees and discovering wildlife with Costa Rican travel experts, and that is just the beginning.
Here are 10 of the most unmissable things to do in this tiny nation of Costa Rica that has always punched way over its weight.
Learn about Coffee production
Any java lover shouldn’t leave Costa Rica without visiting the coffee plantations around the lively capital city of San Jose. Situated amidst the grassy peaks and traditional towns, these coffee fields provide you with an incredible educational experience right from its cultivation to brewing methods. They should know a thing or two: coffee cultivation in Costa Rica dates back to the late 1700s, and the Arabica coffee bean was first planted here, in the Central Valley. As any coffee expert knows, 100% Arabica is probably the finest coffee bean in existence.
After your farm tour, treat your palate with a tasting session; it will make you realize why it is so damn good. Because, in Costa Rica, it is literally illegal to grow bad coffee. Visit the Finca Rosa Blanca plantation as part of your larger itinerary; it is home to one of the world's best coffe, and a prominent highlight of the country for most coffe lovers.
Ziplining in Monteverde Cloud Forests
One of the essential things to do in Costa Rica, for anyone of literally all ages, is zipline through the misty cloud forests of Monteverde high up in the Tilaran Mountains. Flying hundreds of feet above the ground over a lush rainforest is something you won't forget in a hurry. Enjoy the spectacular panorama of electric green, broken up only by brilliant bursts of avian life.
Monteverde is not only limited to its exceptional canopy tour, but also makes as an excellent spot for a fulfilling hike, birdwatching and rare wildlife sightings of Jaguars and ocelots.
Costa Rica boasts a string of idyllic beaches to laze around on, but great surfing experiences are what they are most famous for. Surf-schools have opened up everywhere, and whether you are a rank newbie taking your first lesson, or a seasoned boarder who travels the world, Costa Rica is popularly respected as the place to visit again and again.
The best surfer beaches are the Playa Jaco, Playa Hermosa, Playa Tamarindo and the Nosara Beach; take surfing lessons for the whole family while here, why not.
Sloth Spotting at Manuel Antonio National Park
Although Costa Rica is noted for its abundance of national park reserves, when it comes to the biodiversity, Manuel Antonio National Park holds a special place amongst others. Apart from showcasing the variety of Costa Rica's prolific wildlife, Manuel Antonio is the perfect spot for observing the popular slow-moving sloths in their natural habitat. Both the 3-toed and 2-toed subspecies of sloths inhabit the reserve and are usually found high up in the trees or on the walking trails of the reserve.
In addition to the friendly sloths, one can spot iguanas sunning themselves, and also catch rare sights of white-faced capuchin monkeys.
Explore the bustling capital of San Jose
Your Costa Rican expedition will be incomplete without visiting the cheerful capital city of San Jose. Explore the essence of the city by spending your day relishing Costa Rican cuisine at the chaotic San Jose Mercado Central, and shopping at some of the coolest souvenir shops in the country.
Being the cultural hub of the country, San Jose bursts with an abundance of museums and cultural performances in its historical theatres; that, and a thriving night life of bars, cafes and fine-dining establishments ensures that there is no shortage of ways to spend an evening or five.
Another excellent option Costa Rica offers its thrill-seeking visitors, along with surfing opportunities, is waterfall rappelling, some from as high as 200 feet! Fear of heights? Well, this is one way to cure that, for sure.
Popular rappelling options lie in the La Fortuna waterfalls in the Arenal region. Playa Hermosa is another great place for shinning down waterfalls, along with options like horseback riding, trekking and ziplining, .
Take a dip in natural springs in the Arenal region
Being one of the prime landmarks of the country, Arenal Volcano grabs attention for its towering beauty surrounded by picturesque jungles and natural hot water springs.
Apart from its active volcano tag (last erupted in 2010; no casualties), the Arenal area is a natural playground for exhilarating jungle hikes (with that awesome volcano view), leading to the La Fortuna waterfalls, where you can relax in the natural hot springs of the waterfalls. All you need is a good guide, some sturdy walking shoes and refreshments for along the way.
An isolated area of great beauty enclosed by ocean and rainforest, Tortuguero National Park, situated on the Caribbean coast, is an absolute must-vist when in Costa Rica. Only accessible by plane or boat, Tortuguero makes it to the list of premier natural reserves of the country; travelers come in droves to see Green and Hawksbill Turtles laying their eggs on its shoreline (from July to September).
This is a unique experience specific to very few spots on planet earth, and experts have stated that it may be the best of the lot. To protect and propogate these gentle species, there is a special conservation project underway that visitors can volunteer for to help save these threatened species. And speaking of endangered species, Tortuguero is also home to Jaguar conservation; catch sight of these magnificent cats in their natural habitat - dare we say - before it's too late.
When it comes to exploring the wild, pristine and untouched nature, there is probably no better place than Costa Rica's lush and verdant mangroves found in the Osa Peninsula and the Tortuguero National Park. Motorized boats are not permitted, to preserve the purity of the area, and of the experience: kayaks can go places other boats simply cannot, through tangled roots that grow wild, and silently too, without disturbing wildlife. A naturalist guide will accompany you, giving you the lowdown of this magnificent eco-system, and why they go above and beyond to maintain its purity.
Experience the festive spirit in Puerto Limon
Editorial copyrights: David and Cheryl M
Before bidding adios to Costa Rica, take a trip to the cheerful town of Puerto Limon on the Caribbean coast and indulge in the party spirit of the Limon carnival. Usually held in October, this festive season showcases the rich Caribbean joie de vivre of the area, with people in extravagant bright costumes dancing in the streets and shooting fireworks all over the place.
Editorial copyrights: Mario Artavia