When you think of Costa Rica, you probably picture lush green forests…and you’d be correct. Approximately 25% of the country is comprised on protected jungle, which is home to exotic wildlife. Costa Rica is also home to volcanos and beaches which makes it the ideal setting for experiences and adventures.
What to Do: Start your visit with a trip to Tortuguero National Park, which has remote swamps and waterways accessible by boat, kayak, or plane. The network of canals, rivers, beaches and rainforest is home to exotic plants and wildlife, including macaws, jaguars, and sea turtles. If you visit between July and October, you might be fortunate to see giant leatherback and loggerhead turtles who come back to where they were born to lay their eggs in the sand.
Nature and wildlife lovers will also enjoy Monteverde, which is Costa Rica’s most well-known cloud forest. At 4,662ft above sea level, precipitation and moisture-filled clouds make this a very dense and lush forest that supports six different ecosystems. Hike through the forest to view over 2,500 species of plants, 400 types of birds, and over 100 varieties of mammals.
Arenal National Park is home to Arenal Volcano, which while no longer active, is still the heart of the park. The park offers zip lining like no other through the lush canopy. You can also try hiking, kayaking and horse riding while visiting the park.
And once you are done with all of the adventure, spend some time relaxing on one of Costa Rica’s beautiful beaches. Whether you choose the Caribbean Sea side, or the Pacific Ocean side, both provide a great getaway. Manuel Antonio, backed by lush forest and a national park, is one of the most popular beach destinations.
Where to Eat: While Costa Rica is known for its lush rainforests, it has a modernized food scene as well. Rice and beans are standard fare, but try the Casado, a traditional dish made of black beans, rice, and a protein. Costa Rica is also known for its strong coffee, so make sure to get a cup while you are dining.
La Criollita, located in the city of San Jose, is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Three are three dining rooms---a main room that overlooks the kitchen, a side room with art on the walls, and an outdoor terrace with a bird garden. Serving traditional Costa Rican food, portions are generous.
Grano de Oro restaurant is one of Costa Rica’s finest places to eat. With a French chef, the menu has a European influence with beef, seafood, and chicken. The Gorgonzola-stuffed filet mignon is a signature dish.
Situated overlooking the coast of Cahuita, Sobre Las Olas has amazing food to match its views. The restaurant has Italian owners who incorporate some tradition from their home country but use local ingredients. Try to sit outside at the tables between the palm trees to enjoy the view.
El Mirador is an eco-friendly restaurant that uses sustainably sourced local ingredients. And while the food is delicious, the views of Manuel Antonio National Park is really what visitors come for.
Where to Stay: Costa Rica has its pick of beautiful hotels, all-inclusive resorts, and house rentals. Drake Bay on the remote Osa Peninsula is an award-winning boutique hotel that is completely immersed in the natural surroundings.
The Four Seasons Costa Rica in Guanacaste is the country’s most glamourous resort. The hotel sits on 250 acres of forestry that is home to howler monkeys and birds. Recently refurbished, the private villas have a private terrace with daybed and an infinity plunge pool.
The Tabacon Thermal Resort and Spa has some of the best hot springs in the Arenal region. Surrounded by waterfalls and foliage, it is the most relaxing experience. The Shangri-La gardens are only for adults with daybeds and a bar service Costa Rican cocktails. On a clear day, the volcano is in full view from the resort.
Costa Rica has so much natural beauty to take advantage of. Make sure you pack plenty of bathing suits and coverups for your vacation to Costa Rica to enjoy its beautiful beaches as well.