A fast-paced and buzzing destination during high season and a much slower and more laid-back way of life during the low season, Uvita is on many people’s to-do lists for a variety of reasons.
It is home to the Whale’s Tail beach and a popular destination for people heading out on whale watching tours. The Marino Ballena National Park is famous for migrating pods of whales. Nearby, you can also find impressive waterfalls, while many walking and hiking routes, from a comfortable stroll to a more challenging trek are available in the area.
A small fishing village on the edge of the Nicoya Peninsula, Santa Teresa is a truly beautiful setting. It is now a haven for surfers regardless of ability and offers explorers the chance to hike interesting trails and for people to explore on horseback.
Canopy tours and nature reserves can be found nearby for the visitor seeking their wildlife fix. Impressively, the area has retained its traditionally peaceful feel in amongst the changes made to accommodate increased tourism in the area.
One of the most popular regions for tourists, Guanacaste’s reputation is built on pristine shorelines, stunning mountain ranges and volcanos. Diverse and exotic, it is found in the northwestern region of the country and borders Nicaragua.
Long summer days, activity-filled regions and typically impressive Costa Rican wildlife are some of the major attractions. It is home to over 30,000 acres of national parks and its capital city, Liberia, has managed to retain its native Tico atmosphere while also becoming more accommodating of tourists.
Tenorio Volcano National Park
Found in the northern part of Costa Rico, the national park is famous, as its name suggests, for the volcano found there. The volcano consists of four peaks and two craters.
The Rio Celeste running through appears blue in colour because of the sulphur emitted from the volcano. The upper areas of the park are dominated by cloud forest, while the lower areas are covered by rainforest. Waterfalls, lagoons and hot springs are spread across the park, and pumas are known to reside in the area.
Corcovado National Park
On the Osa Peninsula, you will find Corcovado National Park once described by National Geographic as the “most biologically intense place on earth in terms of biodiversity”. For this reason among many others, it is widely considered as a ‘crown-jewel’ in Costa Rica’s vast national park collection.
American crocodiles and bull sharks are known to inhabit the rivers and lagoons of the park, while jaguars and all four types of Costa Rican monkey are also known to live there. Day trips or short stays are available, but it’s best to check in advance. All visitors to the park must be accompanied by a certified guide.
The capital city of Costa Rica, San José is likely to be the entry and exit point for most tourists. But contrary to what many believe, it’s much more than that. It is very different from what you imagine when you think of Costa Rica, and far from the kind of scenery you will get in the coastal regions. But don’t let that detract from what is there.
Restaurants and bars are plentiful and varied, you can learn a little about a lot of Costa Rica’s history at the National Museum and the National Theatre is hiding some secrets that you can discover on an hourly guided tour. Shops and markets are popular and an ideal place to grab that souvenir for someone back home, or purchase a local delicacy and step into the warm culture of the country.
If you are visiting around Christmas time, San José transforms from the place people dip in and out of to the place everyone wants to be, with many festivals and Costa Rican Christmas traditions on show at this time.
Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge
Situated on the Caribbean coast, beautiful, hidden beaches are the ideal location for snorkelling in turquoise waters. The typically Caribbean beaches are ideal for surfers, while the surrounding areas are home to some of the most sought-after sights in Costa Rica: sloths, howler monkeys and jaguars.
Isla del Coco
Surrounded by waters teeming with exotic marine life and several varieties of shark, Isla del Coco is an uninhabited island to the south of mainland Costa Rica. Many animals roam the island and it has been a popular place with visitors in the past.
Considered by some the most beautiful setting in Costa Rica (a claim for which there are many, many applicants), you can find caves with etchings from previous travellers and bask in glorious weather in a surreal location.
Poás Volcano National Park
Though not as famous as Arenal, Poás Volcano is arguably one of the most breathtaking spots in the country. The summit is over 2,700 metres and in good conditions, visitors can walk to the edge of the main crater, which has a blue-green lake at its centre.
The park is resplendent with plant life and wild creatures and the surrounding areas are dense with rainforest. On the clearest of days, it is possible to see both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts from the top of the volcano.
Found in the southern part of Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula, Montezuma is a small town bursting with character and fun. It still has an off-the-beaten-path feel to it, holding on to tradition where other areas of the country have had to modernise. It is a very laid-back town known for its long, sandy beaches and surrounding jungles.
The town hosts a wildlife reserve, turtle sanctuary and a waterfall with multiple cascades and pools. Snorkelling, swimming and surfing in the choppy waters are common and enjoyed by both tourists and locals, while your evenings can be taken up by visiting some of the many great restaurants where food from around the world is served.
Named after the billions of shells that wash up on the shore and are gradually crushed to form the sand, Playa Conchal is among the most beautiful beaches you will find in Costa Rica and indeed the world.
Consistent, near-perfect weather year-round makes this a destination to stand out above rivals. It is an ideal snorkelling spot with some of the clearest waters around. For the more ambitious, fishing and diving activities are available, and it is also possible to find a spot for camping out under the stars. National parks and nature reserves can be found in the area and an assortment of restaurants cover all needs and wishes.