One of the many reasons why Costa Rica is witnessing a high footfall of visitors in recent years is due to its abundance of outstanding beaches. Squeezed between the Caribbean and Pacific shorelines, the country has nearly 300 sand-and-sea wonders with unique personalities. From mega resorts with lots of amenities to wild, untouched shorelines, there is something for every beach lover.Connect with a Costa Rican travel expert who will customize an itinerary encompassing some or all of these coastal gems that will take your breath away. Here are some of the finest beaches of Costa Rica worth your visit.Manuel Antonio beachPart of the Manuel Antonio National Park (which is one of Costa Rica's finest highlights), Manuel Antonio beach has been acknowledged as one of the seaside gems of the country for a long time. With soaring palm trees and surrounding lush rainforests, the beach can be accessed by a 30-minute hike from the national park’s entrance. Its consistently placid waters make it a great spot for swimming and snorkeling adventures. Apart from the beach, the famed adjacent national park, also one of Costa Rica's finest, gives you an opportunity to get a glimpse of some exotic wild species especially the endangered squirrel monkeys.Tamarindo BeachLocated on the northern Pacific coast of the country on the Nicoya Peninsula, Tamarindo beach is widely regarded as a great surfing destination. A popular spot for the natives, this one sees a large rush during weekends or holidays. This action-packed beach is probably an amazing place for any beginner to grab a surfboard and enjoy the thrill of learning a new sport. The town also has a thriving nightlife scene and its close proximity to Las Baulas National Park provides a great opportunity to sight some Leatherback sea turtles.Playa ConchalOften overlooked by many visitors, Playa Conchal is one of the adored beaches of the country (by the locals) which sits in the small town of Brasilito in the Guanacaste region. Coated with white sand and sprinkled with tiny seashells, Conchal Beach charms its visitors with its clear turquoise waters. Playa Conchal hosts some thriving coral reefs and tropical fish, best explored by snorkeling.Nosara beachSituated on the Nicoya Peninsula of the Pacific coasts of the country, Nosara is a laid-back village surrounded by tropical vegetation and vast stretches of unadulterated beaches. Nosara merges three beaches: Garza, Guiones, and Pelada, of which Guiones is more popular among the tourists due to its abundance of restaurants and world-class surfing activities. Editorial copyrights: Emily WhaleMost of the beach is part of the Ostional Wildlife Refuge, known for protecting the Olive Ridley and Leatherback sea turtles.Playa FlamingoOne of the rarest instances of pink sand beaches in the country, Playa Flamingo sits to the north of the Conchal Beach in the Guanacaste region. Boasting a classic crescent shape, it is a hub for a diverse range of water adventures, including snorkeling, sport fishing, and scuba diving. With high-end developments, Flamingo houses lavish condos and resorts with amazing restaurants, giving you a comfy upscale vibe.Punta Uva beachLocated along the scenic Caribbean coast, five miles away from the bustling city of Puerto Viejo, Punta Uva is a seldom visited and one of the most peaceful beaches in the country. Well-known for its tranquil waters and exceptional coral reefs, this little haven of serenity is perfect for snorkeling. Punta Uva is surrounded by a jungle; just a short stroll can lead you into exotic-bird country. Playa HermosaAnother beautiful beach town of the Guanacaste region, Playa Hermosa which literally translates as ‘lovely beach’ lives up to its name. Located only 20 minutes away from Liberia International Airport, this gray sand beach is lined with palm trees and enclosed by lush rainforests and volcanic ridges. Playa Hermosa offers a wide range of activities ranging from scuba diving and para sailing, to jet skiing (for the petrol heads). Playa Santa TeresaA well-known beach destination known for its unparalleled surfing activity, Santa Teresa is a small, quaint town along the Nicoya Peninsula. Once a fishing village, Santa Teresa has flourished into a popular tourist nook, all thanks to its awe-inspiring beaches. Some of the significant attractions include two surf spots of La Lora and Suck Rock; see them and you will understand why Santa Teresa hosts annual international surfers competitions. Apart from being a surfer’s paradise, this gorgeous shoreline is a great place for snorkeling and deep sea fishing activities.Start planning your itinerary with a local expert here.
With all its lush rainforests and picture-perfect beaches, the considerable culinary scene of Costa Rica often gets overlooked. Costa Rican cuisine is not about tacos, quesadillas, and burritos, like its Latin American cousins, but is a perfect blend of comforting, healthy food with a heavy influence of rice and beans. With Latin and Caribbean flavor-bursting fare, this is a sensory experience your taste buds will remember for a long time.Connect with Costa Rican travel experts who can squeeze a culinary tour into your action-packed itinerary.Here are some of the not-to-be-missed dishes while exploring the land of Pura Vida.RondonEditorial copyrights: Merly Diaz BustamenteDubbed for whatever the cook can run down for a meal, Rondon is a hearty soup tracing its roots to the Caribbean coast. Though there is some variance in its ingredients, Rondon typically consists of fish along with corn, sweet potato and yucca stirred in coconut milk for hours over a wooden flame. If you prefer it fiery, toss in some Panamanian chilies.ChifrijoEditorial copyrights: Roberto RodriguezA popular Costa Rican dish usually served in bars, Chifrijo is a bowl of rice and black beans topped with fried pork bits, avocado and pico de gallo (tomato salsa combined with onion, cilantro, and lemon). A perfect accompaniment to your ice cold beer, Chifrijo is best had with fresh tortilla chips.Ceviche TicoEditorial copyrights: joanOriginally a Peruvian dish, Ceviche occupies a soft spot in the heart of the Costa Rican cooking scene. A perfect delicacy for any seafood lover, Ceviche has its own version in Costa Rica and is usually composed of tiny cubes of fish (local tilapia or white sea bass), red diced onion, cilantro, garlic and hot pepper, all of it marinated in lime juice. The acidic lime juice blends perfectly with the fish meat, giving it a tender and flavorsome taste. Best had with soda crackers or fried plantains.CasadoOddly translated as “married man”, Casado is one of the famous Costa Rican plates found in almost any soda (small family-owned restaurants in Costa Rica) across the country. While there are all sorts of variations, a typical Casado includes white rice and black beans with salad, fried sweet plantain, and a protein ingredient - either fish fillet, grilled chicken or a pork slice, mixed with sautéed onions. Some of the Casado versions also come with a slice of cheese, French fries or grilled vegetables, which makes it an entire meal hugely loved by the Costa Ricans.Olla de Carne Originating from the finest of Costa Rican food traditions, Olla de Carne is a nutrient-rich beef stew, similar to a pot beef roast. This slow-cooked food is packed with chunks of beef, potatoes, yucca, carrots, chayote (Costa Rican squash) and green plantains. Widely found on the menus of most restaurants, this nourishing stew is a must-try.PataconesEditorial copyrights: Chris GoldbergGiven the abundance of green plantains in Costa Rica, Patacones are served as appetizers, peeled, sliced and fried crisp. Sprinkled with lime and salt, they are usually accompanied with fried beans, guacamole, and cheese, adding to the delight of vegetarians.Sopa NegraEditorial copyrights: AlessandroIn elevated zones of Central Valley, the temperatures are lower than the rest of country; it is these pleasant climes that makes a bowl of Sopa Negra taste heavenly. A traditional black bean soup, Sopa Negra is composed of garlic cloves, onions and finished with finely chopped coriander. Typically served with hard boiled eggs and corn tortilla, Sopa Negra is a heartwarming stew for the foodie soul.ChorreadasEditorial copyrights: MarcyChorreadas is a Costa Rican concoction of corn pancakes, and makes for a perfect breakfast or mid-afternoon snack along with coffee. Made by mixing mashed kernels of corn with milk and spices, and then poured over a griddle, Chorreadas tastes grand when dribbled with honey and served with natilla cream (similar to a creme brule).ChicharronesEditorial copyrights: PedroAnother scrumptious snack in Costa Rica’s food universe, Chicharrones are usually found at fiestas, family gatherings and similar celebrations throughout the country. Paying little attention to fat content, Chicharonnes are heavenly chunks of juicy fried pork garnished with spices like cayenne and paprika to make it savory. It is so well-loved in the country that an annual Chicharrones fair is held in the town of Puriscal.Gallo PintoNo Costa Rica food list can be complete without mentioning Gallo Pinto, also touted as the national dish of the country. Traditionally served as a breakfast, but also had at lunch, Gallo Pinto is a marriage of rice and beans with onions, red peppers and cilantro. Add-ons include eggs, fried chips, and corn tortillas. Tempting enough? Start planning your itinerary with a travel expert here that will include a guided tour of these mouth-watering delights.
Let's just get it out of the way straight off: Costa Rica is safe, overwhelmingly so, for travelers of all stripe, families, kids, adventurers et al, despite any travel advisory you may have read.It does, however, help to be well-informed about any country before visiting for the first time. A local travel expert is always invaluable when planning a trip, and he/she will be a one-stop source of all answers, but here are a few things to know before you decide to visit this Central American gem. Things to Bring‘Less is more" is the clear-cut mantra when it comes to packing your luggage for Costa Rica. Don’t over pack; big bulky bags can be inconvenient, especially if you wish to travel the length and breadth of the country and partake of adventure activities. Hence, a basic and simple wardrobe of flip flops, daily wear, lightweight shorts, tees and tank tops is highly recommended, plus any adventure specific gear that you will need - great walking shoes, for example. Bug Repellant: Besides your passport, this is the second most important thing you must carry during your trip to Costa Rica. Dealing with mosquitoes can be an overwhelming task, particularly during the rainy season. If you can, try making your own DIY bug spray with essential oils. Sunscreen: Located 10 degrees north of the Equator, Costa Rica can be unrelentingly hot and sunny, especially in the dry season. Carry and apply a lot of sunscreen to avoid that awful skin-peel. Also a hat, or umbrella (if you are so inclined), are both useful options for sun protection. Poncho or Rain Jacket: It’s nice to have some kind of protection when you get caught in a sudden equatorial shower. However, if you are traveling during the wet season, and especially if trekking through the jungle, you will need something heavier. Shoes with Traction: Unless you simply plan to lounge on the beach in your flip-flops, there is good chance that hiking shoes might come into the picture. There are hiking trails literally criss-crossing the country, and in some areas the terrain can get challenging. So carry either river-rock hiking shoes/sandals (Chacos strongly recommended) or simply get hiking shoes with a good amount of traction. Clothing: Only carry lightweight, light-colored and breathable clothing. In the tropical climate of Costa Rica, you would only require clothing that dries quickly with a decent amount of air flow. Black colored clothing should be avoided (unless it's evening wear)! Also, it gets extremely humid, and anywhere you step out in the day, you will sweat. Hence, a lightweight sweat rag might prove very useful. Insulated water bottle: Chances of losing body-fluids is extremely high in the tropical and humid climate of Costa Rica (find out about best time to go). An insulated water bottle is the perfect solution; it will provide you with chilled water to sip right through the day.Costa Rica Isn’t Cheap!We hate to break it to you, but Costa Rica is not a cheap destination; it is probably more expensive than any other country in Central America. Food prices are equivalent to those in North America and gas is nearly twice as much as the US.US dollars are readily accepted everywhere in Costa Rica. However, for any other foreign currency, we advise you to exchange it in your native country; exchange deals in Costa Rica aren’t that great. ATM’s are available almost everywhere, barring few remote locations.Dry Season or Rainy/Wet SeasonEditorial Copyrights: wsilverThere are two major seasons in Costa Rica: The dry season (which runs from December to April) and the wet season, also known as the green season (which runs from May to November). In theory, you might consider visiting Costa Rica during the dry season, but don’t get deceived by broad and generic weather predictions.Editorial Copyrights: Jason BachmanEditorial Copyrights: NH53The climate totally depends on what part of the country you are travelling to. The weather tends to be much cooler and rainier in the Central Valley surrounding San Jose, Monteverde, Arenal and the rest of the mountainous destinations across the country. And if you are in the Guanacaste region, in the towns of Liberia, Cañas or Nicoya, the climate is particularly dry. Hence we suggest you plan your itinerary, and carry the right kind of clothing accordingly.Also, the rainy season is not necessary a bad time to visit Costa Rica, as most of the days begin with bright sunshine. Thunderstorms don’t arrive until afternoon; hence, if you plan your activities smartly, you can totally exploit the spoils of the off-season (think less crowded beaches and better deals on hotels).TransportationEditorial Copyrights: /shtterstock.comEverybody is aware of the pros of a rental car. It gives you the freedom to experience special, unplanned and off-the-grid activities. It is best advised to rent a car with a reputed company, or you can hire local cabs separately in any town.Be careful though, cab drivers in Costa Rica are notorious for ripping off tourists; decide on the fare first (your hotel will give you accurate information). If you are driving your self, be cautious of other drivers; the otherwise laid-back people somehow become wild and vicious when you hand them a steering wheel. And the caution is not restricted to car-drivers; motorcyclists are also pretty reckless.Hence, we advise you to avoid the hassle and let a travel expert get you the right man behind the wheel, someone who can safely guide you through the streets of Costa Rica. There are inexpensive airport shuttles you can organize in advance, and the local bus system is also very effective. Tap Water Is SafeUnlike other Latin American countries, tap water is relatively safe to drink (apart from few rural towns). Travel experts and hotels can indicate whether the water is safe for consumption and will also indentify the right faucets to use. To reduce plastic bottle waste, we recommend getting an insulated water bottle (as mentioned before) so you can have cold water even in the 100 degree heat.Ignore all Misconceptions Regarding San JoseEditorial Copyrights: /shutterstock.com If you apply a bit of common sense and take basic safety precautions, then no place in Costa Rica is unsafe, and the country’s capital, San Jose, is no exception. However, one must avoid certain parts of the city, especially during the night. Petty theft and chain-snatching is common here; make yourself aware of the places to avoid, and stay alert (there is no substitute for street-smartness, and this applies to any country in the world). Note: For the safety of all tourists, the police sometimes conduct random checks (which includes verification of your documents) as a precaution. But we strongly recommend NOT to carry your passport with you at all times; instead, take a photo-copy and keep it handy. When In Costa Rica, Relax On Hammocks!This is not something you should pack, but just something you should know. Costa Ricans have a deep relationship with hammocks. They are everywhere: houses, apartments, bars and hotels. It’s a way of living and a testimony to the country’s easy going nature, and locals spend much of their free time swinging away; you should try it too, at every opportunity.While you can rent them at any hotel, we strongly recommend picking up an authentic Costa Rican hammock as a parting souvenir from any local market. It’s a big trend in the country, so finding a piece is easy. Carry your own and string it up anywhere. Just Fyi, Prostitution Is Legal (And Quite Rampant)Prostitution is legal in Costa Rica, so don’t be surprised if you see girls wandering around the most family-friendly of beach shacks, particularly in Jaco (most popular for them), Playa Tamarindo and the kid-friendly Playas del Coco. We only mention it here as a matter of information; they are perfectly well-behaved, and there is nothing sleazy about the scene.Again, just keep your wits about you and watch out for pickpockets. Locals Love To Talk To Foreign TravelersEditorial Copyrights: casey atchleyLocals or Ticos (as they are popularly known as), are very expressive people with an endearingly curious nature. They enjoy meeting new people from all walks of life. Don’t be surprised if a local stops you on the street for a random conversation.Note: Female travelers – be cautious! Tico men are generally very open and quite self-assured, if they see a single woman walking by herself, they won’t hesitate twice before asking about her relationship status. In some extreme cases, she might experience some mild eve-teasing. The ideal way to deal with such a situation is just by ignoring and moving on.You can design a customized tour of Costa Rica with a local expert right here.
Sprawled over just 19,730 square miles of landmass, Costa Rica would count as a miniature sized nation, but it is unmatched in its offering of a wide array of beautiful places to visit: virgin beaches, misty cloud forests, sizzling volcanoes. Easy to understand why it receives thousands of visitors every year.If planning a visit, a local travel expert will be invaluable in showing you around the country's myriad highlights. To get you started with the planning process, here are the most significant spots of the country which shouldn’t be missed.Monteverde Cloud ForestSituated in the central part of the country, the Monteverde cloud forest is probably one of the best examples of nature in its most primeval form. With lush green foliage cloaked by clouds, Monteverde is home to over 2500 different plants, 100 mammal species, 400 birds and 120 reptile species, perfectly blending into their natural element. Not a wonder then that it is one of Costa Rica's prime travel highlightsOne of the best experiences to be had in Monteverde is to zip line through the canopy, giving you a spectacular forest view and adding a dose of adrenaline to your vacation.Arenal VolcanoProbably one of the principal landmarks of the country, the Arenal Volcano enjoys a large number of visitors who marvel at the flaming lava flows from its rather active mouth. This perfectly conical shaped volcano witnessed its last eruption in 2010, after which it switched into resting mode (its current state). Arenal is surrounded by lush greenery and dazzles its visitors with exhilarating hiking trails and rare wildlife which includes howler monkeys, sloths, coatimundis (a cross between a raccoon and a monkey) and several reptile varieties. Visitors shouldn’t miss out the famous La Fortuna waterfalls, whose natural hot spring will provide perfect relaxation for your sore hiked-out muscles. Manuel Antonio National ParkEstablished in 1972 with a sole objective of preserving the biodiversity of the area, Manuel Antonio National Park spans just over 1600 acres and is the smallest of all national parks in the country. But what makes this park make the list of Costa Rica's top highlights is that it packs a lot into its tiny acreage, ranging from the wildlife and rainforests to a captivating combo of white sand beaches with coral reefs. Manuel Antonio National Park is home to a large community of sloths and some endangered species of monkeys, in particular the squirrel monkeys and the rare white-faced capuchin monkeys.Puerto ViejoKnown for its easygoing attitude and bohemian culture, Puerto Viejo is a small port town, home to a unique blend of Latin, Afro-Carribean and Bribri cultures. Puerto Viejo also hosts plenty of white sand beaches with excellent surf, making it one of the premier destinations for surfing adventures in the country. To the delight of wildlife afficionados, Puerto Viejo is just a short drive away from the Cahuita and Gandoca-Manzanillo National Parks, home to more rainforests and more of the country’s exotic species. The local beach cafes of Puerto Viejo are always thumping with Afro-Carribbean beats, making it to go-to spot for sun and fun seekers.Chirripo National ParkSpanning the provinces of Limon, Cartago and San Jose in the southern part of the country, Chirripo National Park shelters some of nature’s most diverse habitats and wildlife species. However, the main draw of the national park is the Cerro Chirripo Mountain, which stands 3,000 feet high (the highest in the country), making it a worthy adventure climb for nature lovers. Once you slog it to the top, you will be rewarded with the 360-degree panoramic views of both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean sea; yes, just the view is worth the effort.Tortuguero National ParkLocated on the northern fringes of the Caribbean coast, Tortuguero National Park can only be accessed by airplane or boat. Unlike its fellow parks, Tortuguero boasts a rich biodiversity ranging from rainforests to lush mangroves and swamps, and it also serves as the prime nesting area the endangered Green sea turtles, Leatherbacks and Hawksbills. Tortuguero, an important travel highlight of Costa Rica, is elaborately connected by a network of narrow canals and lagoons, and its hidden wildlife can be best explored by kayak instead of on foot.Drake BayFor those wishing to get away from a chaotic city lifestyle and surrounding themselves with serene undisturbed ambience, look no further than Drake Bay. Situated on the northern edge of the Osa Peninsula, Drake Bay is a long stretch of deserted coastlines shaded by palm trees, providing travelers with an ideal spot for watching sunsets and rejuvenating the self. There are lots of outdoor activities to avail of as well, like horseback riding, snorkeling, and sport fishing; you are highly unlikely to return disappointed from Drake Bay.Corcovado National ParkRegarded as the crown jewel of Costa Rica’s national parks (as well as one of its prime travel highlights), Corcovado stretches over 150 square miles and guarantees diverse wildlife sightings. This national park fascinates ecologists with its wide biodiversity of mangrove covers, cloud forests and a plethora of wildlife species, most notably the American crocodile, Anteaters, Sloths, and Jaguars. A perfect eco-tourism hub, it is not a wonder National Geographic has dubbed Corcovado as the most biologically intense place on Earth.San JoseEncircled by green valleys and mountains, San Jose, the capital, is also the beating heart and largest urban center of Costa Rica. Filled with both cosmopolitan and traditional Costa Rican culture, this metropolis greets its visitors with colonial-styled art galleries and museums with wide eatery options and a thriving nightlife scenario. Due to its conveniently central geographical location, San Jose makes a great base for exploring the other parts of the country.Jaco A 90-minute drive from the capital, San Jose, will get you to the eccentric beach town of Jaco, a popular destination for party souls. This lovely little town comprises is made up of gorgeous beaches offering great surfing activities, along with snorkeling, sport fishing, and swimming opportunities. Unlike any other small town, Jaco also happens to be one of the most developed parts of the country with plenty of modernized apartments, the finest of restaurants and a sizzling nightlife. Naturalists also have the option of heading to Manuel Antonio National Park, just over an hour away.Now that you are aware of the best nooks of the country, start planning your itinerary with a local expert right here.
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 productionAny 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 ForestsOne 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.Take a surf lesson 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 ParkAlthough 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 JoseYour 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.Waterfall rappellingAnother 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 regionBeing 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. Watch turtles laying eggs in Tortuguero National Park (and spot the elusive Jaguar)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. Mangrove KayakingWhen 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 LimonEditorial copyrights: David and Cheryl MBefore 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 ArtaviaStart tailoring your unique Costa Rica experience with a local expert right here.
Now that fall is officially here and winter is just around the corner, we asked some travel experts to tell us their favorite destinations to visit this time of year. Check out their responses below and when you’re ready to plan your custom fall or winter escape, contact one of our local guides directly for free. Without further ado, here are the best destinations to visit during the fall and winter seasons: Taylor Fuller, #TravelColorfullyFlorence, ItalySkip out on Florence in the summertime, sure it’s beautiful then, but you can really see the magic of the city in the fall and winter when the tourists clear out. Enjoy a glass of wine and a cool breeze at Piazza Michelangelo while watching the sunset or wander through the city without the crowds or lines. The best part about visiting the city in the fall is that you can venture out to Tuscany and help harvest some grapes! And the best part about visiting it in the winter is that the city lights up right before the holidays! It’s truly magical.Click here for Florence & Italy Trip Ideas Prague, Czech RepublicPrague is one of my favorite cities in the entire world. There’s just something about it. It has so much charm and that’s even more apparent in November when the Christmas markets start. You can spend hours wandering up and down the rows of stalls, drinking mulled wine and enjoying a trdelnik. And if you’re really lucky, you’ll witness a snowfall over the Charles Bridge. Suzanne, PhilaTravelGirlLondon, UKWhile I love London all year round, November offers up a few uniquely UK events that every visitor can enjoy as a prelude to the Christmas holiday.The Spirit of Christmas is an early November holiday shopping event. It is a wonderful way to discover U.K. small businesses, artisans and uniquely British gifts for your family, friends and of course, yourself. The main floor showcases vendor goods and the upper floor is for food, wine and new discoveries.The Taste of London at Tobacco Dock. This multi day event showcases restaurants as well as small businesses with holiday music, cooking demonstrations and a champagne lounge. For the foodie in your life, this is a wonderful event to discover new foods, chefs and U.K. distillers.Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park is an annual Christmas festival for all. With amusement park rides, games and food stalls, you can easily get in the holiday spirit with a side of fun. Live music, a small Christmas market of shopping stalls and an ice skating rink are highlights. Father Christmas (Santa) is also there to listen to your wish list and pose for photos. IcelandUsing the Icelandair stopover program on your way to/from Europe, Reykjavik is a wonderful weekend destination providing an appetizer to the country of Iceland. You need to experience the country in the summer and winter to fully appreciate the beauty. The reward for the cold temperatures and dark days is the chance to experience the Northern Lights. Iceland has more adventure on tap to entertain your days – the Golden Circle & Geysers tour, Waterfalls, Glacier Hiking and Black Sand beaches and stunning natural beauty all around. You can be as adventurous as you want to be - boat rides, walking tours, off-roading and cultural events abound in winter.Click here for Iceland Trip Ideas Amanda, Two Blue PassportsCubaCuba is a Caribbean island located just about 300 miles off the coast of Miami, Florida. There’s truly something for everyone in Cuba and traveling there takes you back in time to the 1960s. In Cuba you’ll find friendly locals, vintage cars, live music and a very rich history.If you’re interested in exploring the capital city of Havana, spend your days wandering the streets and sipping rum on the famous Malecón, a sea wall that stretches 8 km along the coast. If you’re seeking adventure, spend a few nights in Viñales, a UNESCO World Heritage site located just a 3 hour drive from Havana. In Viñales you can ride through tobacco fields and coffee plantations on horseback and learn to how salsa dance with locals in the town square. Cuba also has some of the most gorgeous beaches in the world! If you need a bit of relaxation on your trip, visit Varadero, a popular beach resort town. VietnamThe winter months are the best time to visit Vietnam because it’s the dry season and temperatures are warm in the southern and central parts of the country. In Vietnam, you’re sure to experience an incredible mix of history, adventure, relaxation and delicious Vietnamese cuisine.Explore and eat your way through Ho Chi Minh City, the largest city in Vietnam, famous for its delicious street food. Spend a night in the Mekong Delta and visit a floating river market where locals trade goods on the water. Visit the beach town of Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage site that was practically untouched by the Vietnam war. Wander through the magnificent temples of Hoi An in the morning and spend all afternoon relaxing on the beach while drinking from fresh coconuts.Click here for Vietnam Trip Ideas Vicky & Chris, Eat Sleep Love TravelParisParis, the capital of France, is a city we love to visit regardless of the season, just like the lyrics 'I love Paris every moment, Every moment of the year'. However, we find that Paris has that extra je ne sais quoi during Autumn when the summer crowds have disappeared and the cost of accommodation is lower. The combination of yellow, orange and bright red colors that Autumn brings to Paris' parks is phenomenal, making a walk through anyone of them a delight, especially with your partner, Paris is The City of Love after all. The weather can be hit and miss in Autumn, however, if you wear appropriate clothing, seeing all the major sites should not be a problem and if you do have to spend time indoors what better city to be in than Paris? With many world famous museums, galleries, restaurants, and cafes there is something to do whatever the weather. BerlinBerlin, the capital of Germany, is the perfect city to head to for a winter break, especially in the run up to Christmas. There is nothing better for getting you in the festive mood than a visit to one of the famous traditional German Christmas markets in the city. Once you have had your fill of beer, sausage, and Gluhwein, why not wrap up in your winter woolies, take a walking tour of the city and learn about its rich history. Visits to Checkpoint Charlie, Brandenburg Gate, and the Berlin Wall, amongst others, are musts and during winter, there are fewer tourists making the experience not as stressful as it can be during the hot, busy summer months. New Year's Eve in Berlin is one of the best in Europe, with magnificent firework displays across the city. A must if you get the opportunity. Matt, TripifiniColombiaWhen you think of Colombia, one often refers back to the 70s and 80s when cartels ran the country, but that hasn't been true for decades. This South American country has reinvented itself as a premier travel destination with golden beaches on both the Pacific and Caribbean, massive biodiversity and vibrant cities brimming with art, food and culture. Travel + Leisure also named Cartagena as one of the top destinations to visit this fall.Click here for Colombia Trip Ideas EcuadorWhether it's sailing through the world's greatest wildlife sanctuary in the Galapagos, canoeing down the Amazon or hiking in the Cloud Forest, Ecuador's diverse ecosystems, rich wildlife and tropical weather make for the perfect fall or winter escape. However, this is not just a destination for adventurous thrill-seekers as there are many relaxing activities to pursue as well like whale watching off the coast of Isla De La Plata or unwinding in the therapeutic waters of the Papallacta Thermal Spa.Click here for Ecuador Trip Ideas