Getting to know Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a natural wonderland, with volcanoes, beaches, cloud forests, and unique animals. Birdwatchers, luxury travelers, surfers, and backpackers are all drawn to this country’s natural beauty and its diverse range of activities.
Aside from San Jose’s top museums and picturesque squares, the real treasures of Costa Rica reside in the surrounding forests and small coastal towns.
Surfers and sunbathers alike flock to the Pacific Coast’s endless stretches of sand and quaint seaside towns. For those looking for a different kind of adventure, the forests of the mountains offer volcanoes, waterfalls, ziplining, and incredible animal sightings inland. Consider visiting the Caribbean coast, which offers a completely different experience thanks to its calm waters, diverse wildlife, and distinct cultural vibe.
The steep Cordillera de Tilarán contains one of Costa Rica’s best spots for viewing volcanoes: Arenal Volcano National Park. The main draw here is the Arenal Volcano, a massive cone-shaped mountain that spews massive ash columns from its crater on a regular basis.
When it finally erupted in a massive eruption in 1968 that claimed the lives of 82 people and destroyed two towns, it had lain dormant since 1500. Visitors can expect to see anything from an ash cloud to bright red lava flowing down the mountain, depending on the day and week. Since then, it has been active every day.
More than half of Costa Rica’s bird, reptile, amphibian, and mammal species can be found within the park’s borders, making it a biodiversity hotspot.
Manuel Antonio National Park
It’s easy to see why Manuel Antonio Park and the surrounding area are so popular with tourists.
A flurry of butterflies and colorful birds will greet you the moment you step foot in the park. Many species of monkeys and sloths can be seen from the walkways, including howler, squirrel, and capuchin monkeys. To get the most out of Manuel Antonio Park’s natural wonders, take a guided nature walk. With their knowledge of the animals, guides can often point out the best spots for photographing them.
Soccer matches break out in the afternoon on the lovely oceanfront beach, and surfers take advantage of the usually gentle waves.
Dominical is a tropical backpacker’s paradise, complete with dirt roads, stunning beaches, cheap lodging, casual open-air restaurants, and a welcoming atmosphere. Surfers flock to Domincal because it’s one of the best breaks in Costa Rica. As a result of the difficulty in departing, many visitors choose to extend their stays.
Luxury inns and bed and breakfasts on the outskirts of Dominical or on the hills overlooking the city are popular with the city’s wealthier visitors. Each of these locations is kept apart to allow for close-up animal viewing, with howler monkeys welcoming guests in the mornings.
In the shade of the trees, vendors set up their wares for sale on the shore.
Monteverde and the cloud forests
Ecotourism in Costa Rica’s cloud forests, particularly in Monteverde and Santa Elena, is at its peak. If you’re looking for a place to immerse yourself in nature and see rare plants and animals, this is the place to go.
In order to maintain the unique ecology of these woodlands, the clouds that cover them must provide constant moisture. It’s not uncommon for visitors to come solely for the purpose of bird-watching to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve or the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve. Keep your eyes peeled for frogs in bright colors and monkeys wailing. Finding a Jaguar or a Pumas is much more difficult. Organized hikes are a great way to get the most out of your time in the forest.
Jaco is a great option for those who want to get away from San Jose but still have access to the conveniences and luxuries of a large city or metropolis. If you compare it to other beaches in Costa Rica, this one is just ok.
Because of the lower swells than at other parts of the shore, the conditions for surfing and swimming are ideal. In contrast to the other coastal communities along this stretch of the Pacific, Jaco has modern residences and stores, a wide variety of good restaurants, and many other modern conveniences.
Mal Pais and Santa Teresa
Surfers from around the world flock to Mal Pais on the Nicoya Peninsula for its legendary big waves. Most people come to the Mal Pais to see Santa Teresa, but it also includes the towns of Mal Pais and Manzanillo, making it a chain of towns and beaches in its own right.
For the past few years, the area has become a popular destination for backpackers and surfers, as well as tourists who wish they had more time to explore. Dominical used to be a more down market area, but now it’s more hip and happening than ever before
Tamarindo, formerly a sleepy fishing village, is now a popular tourist destination, known for its mouthwatering cuisine and wide range of lodging options.
There is a 1.5-kilometer stretch of Tamarindo Beach in the community. For surfers of all levels, there is a wide range of breaks to choose from in this region. Visiting in November and December, when the waves are at their peak, is the most recommended time to go.
Attractions like snorkeling, diving, horseback riding, zip lining, and turtle watching can all be found in the Tamarindo area
National Park of Tortuguero
Visitors to the Caribbean Coast’s Tortuguero National Park may be looking for something a little off the beaten path while they’re there. Compared to the rest of Costa Rica, this area is one of the wettest and offers a unique experience. By boat or plane. Turtle watching is the park’s most popular activity because it is a nesting ground for green sea turtles.
Even though there are a plethora of beaches along the coast, swimming is not recommended due to the high surf and strong currents. Sharks are frequently seen. It is not uncommon to see hundreds or even thousands of turtles laying eggs and nesting on the beaches at night (guides are required).
Corcovado National Park and the Osa Peninsula
To the south of the Dominical beach, in southern Costa Rica, lies the secluded Osa Peninsula and Corcovado National Park.
Central America’s best remaining stretch of Pacific coastal rainforest is protected by this park, which was established in 1975. A large network of trails makes it popular with long-distance hikers.
Surfing isn’t the only thing to do in the area; scuba diving, snorkeling, and fishing are also popular. Puerto Jiménez is the area’s largest settlement, and the Drake Bay region is home to a number of outstanding lodges.
Volcanoes of the Irazu National Park
In Costa Rica, the Iraz Volcano is the tallest active volcano at 3,342 meters. Lunar-like craters adorn the volcano’s peak. With its 1,050-meter diameter and 300-meter depth, the Principal Crater of Iraz dwarfs the Diego de la Haya Crater in terms of both size and color.
All three craters, including one with a lake, can be reached via marked trails. There is also a pyroclastic cone, which was built from volcanic rock that had been fractured. Views of the Pacific and Caribbean can be seen from the summit on clear days.