Top Costa Rica Destinations
Visiting a steamy volcano to surfing a perfect rolling wave are all part of what a Costa Rica vacation is about. The beaches on the Pacific cater to sightseers looking for scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing, beach lazing or trekking. The Caribbean coast is similarly ideal. Costa Rica’s interior is best suited to animal life, plant life and even more hiking and outdoor adventure sports. These top destinations make the holiday To Do list for Central America.
Tamarindo, Costa Rica sits on the Pacific shores of the Guanacaste Peninsula, in the northwest sector of the Nicoya Peninsula. Each year from November to April, leatherback turtles dig holes in the sand to deposit eggs. Tamarindo Wildlife Refuge, Baulas National Park and surfing at Tamarindo Beach are never boring.
Mal Pais is located off the Nicoya Peninsula, at the bottom, Pacific side. The Cabo Blanco National Reserve and the Isla Cabo Blanco holds hundreds of endemic fish and birds specific. Playa Las Suecas and Mal Pais Beach both attract abundant surfers and sunbathers in the dryer months.
North of Mal Pais beach, Santa Teresa’s home lies on the Pacific side of the Nicoya Peninsula. West of Tambor, Santa Teresa offers surfers rideable waves, beachgoers plenty of sands and adventurers more than enough adrenaline highs. Water sports are always in season and the biodiversity includes sharks, rays, hummingbirds and emeralds.
Montezuma is southeast of Tambor, with a beach by the same name. Ferries come from Puntarenas and drop passengers close by. With waterfall jumping, trips to Tortuga Island, deep-sea fishing, canopy tours and water sports galore, fun is of utmost importance. Howler monkeys, raccoons and anteaters live south of here.
Flamingo Beach is less than one hour west of Liberia, where the international airport is located. An annual fishing tourney keeps professional fisherman happy, while the ATV-ing, horseback riding, scuba diving off Catalina Island and Murcielago keeps vacationers carefree. Some of Costa Rica’s best beaches circumnavigate and include Playa Flamingo.
Nosara lies inshore, less than four miles from Nosara Beach. There’s a domestic airport nearby. The high density of expats assures there are always drinks to be found. Longboarders will love it; shortboarders may have to head farther south. Snorkeling here takes a close second place only to other estuaries along the Nicoya Peninsula.
Jaco Beach is two hours from San Jose, making for an easy city escape. Partying and dancing till dusk makes Jaco a hip spot to spend late nights. The Carara National park and Rainmaker Nature Refuge are both great places to see Costa Rica’s biodiversity with a trek.
Manuel Antonio National Park at 683 hectares is the prize park of Costa Rica. Nearby to Quepos, Manuel Antonio gets hundreds of visitors per day, with a cap of 600 per day through the week. Getting close to nature highlights any day-trek into the park. Additionally, outdoor adventure activities exist in and around the park.
North of Punta Uva and Manzanillo in the Limon Province, Puerto Viejo includes the Caribbean Sea, five hours from San Jose. The Finca La Isla Botanical Garden and Bandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge have fauna and flora in abundance. Swimming is dangerous, but surfers love Salsa Brave and other high rolling waves.
Arenal Volcano (5,389 ft) and the Parque Nacional Volcán Arenal lie in proximity to La Fortuna, north and slightly west of San Jose. The volcano is alive and belches smoke and nightly fireworks. Treks around and up the volcano highlight any tour to the area. Luxurious hotels are easily found.
San Jose is Costa Rica’s capital and is the arriving destination of most international flights. The Central Valley is lush surrounded by mountains. The National Theater, Gold Museum and Natural Science Museum should not be missed, though other highlights are just as fantastic. San Jose is the antithesis of the tranquilo ambiance found east and west at the coast.
Monte Verde is south and west of the Arenal Volcano and surrounding national park. The Cloud Forest and Santa Elena top most visitors’ To Do lists. The birds and plants in Monte Verde provide the densest display of biodiversity in Costa Rica. Coffee tours can make fun side trips too.