Costa Rica is a veritable natural wonderland, teeming with volcanoes, beaches, cloud forests, and exotic fauna. Surfers and budget travelers will feel right at home here, but birdwatchers and high rollers will also enjoy their time here.
The best museums, beautiful squares, and cultural attractions are all located in San Jose, the country’s bustling capital, but the true gems are found outside the city limits, in the forests and small coastal towns and villages.
The Pacific Coast is famous for its seemingly endless beaches and the quaint coastal communities that serve as a haven for surfers and sunbathers. Beautiful beaches and beach villages may be found in the region of Guanacaste in Costa Rica.
The forested mountains inland provide their own unique opportunities for exploration, including volcanoes, waterfalls, ziplines, and exceptional animal viewing.
Although wildlife can be found in all 50 states, most visitors who seek out wildlife do so in the South’s verdant regions. Some of the best spots to see wildlife are south of Jaco and on down to the Osa Peninsula.
Top 6 Places To Visit In Costa Rica
One of Central America’s most popular destinations is Costa Rica. Americans have been visiting the area in droves for years, and now retirees and expats are also drawn there by the low cost of living, pleasant climate, beautiful beaches, and kind natives.
1. Manuel Antonio National Park
One of the best places to see wildlife in Costa Rica is Manuel Antonio National Park, which is located on the outskirts of the town of Manuel Antonio. It also benefits from being close to some stunning white-sand beaches.
Howler monkeys, squirrel monkeys, sloths, white-nosed coatimundis, and the ubiquitous capuchins are just some of the common primates spotted in the park. In addition to the brilliant flowers, there will be a plethora of colorful birds flying about.
You can explore the park at your own pace, but we recommend signing up for a guided nature walk if you really want to get to know Manuel Antonio. The guides usually have the best equipment for seeing and photographing wildlife, such as tripods and telescopes, and they know just where to find the animals.
2. Arenal Volcano (Volcan Arenal)
One of the best places to see a volcano in Costa Rica is in the Arenal Volcano National Park, which is located in the steep Cordillera de Tilarán. Arenal Volcano, a cone-shaped mountain with enormous ash columns streaming often from the crater, is the major attraction.
Arenal was quiet from the year 1500 until 1968, when a devastating eruption wiped out two villages and claimed the lives of 82 people. Since then, it has been consistently active, with visitors sometimes witnessing a cloud of ash and other times seeing bright red lava running down the mountain.
The park is particularly well-known for its abundance of wildlife, as over half of all Costa Rican species of birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals may be found inside its borders.
3. Monteverde and the Cloud Forests
Some of the most impressive cloud forests in Costa Rica are located close to Monteverde and Santa Elena. This is the best spot to go if you want to get out into the wilderness and view some interesting plants and animals without having to go too far from civilization.
The clouds over these woods produce the rain that keeps the local flora and fauna thriving. Although many visitors travel to either the Monteverde or Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserves to observe the abundant avian life, these protected areas also provide a home to a wide variety of mammals, amphibians, and reptiles.
Look out for the howler monkeys and bright frogs. They are harder to spot, like jaguars and pumas. One of the finest ways to experience the forest is on a guided hike. Canopy tours are another possibility; these may include the use of ziplines, bridges, or even cable cars.
4. Puerto Viejo
Puerto Viejo, a town on Panama’s Caribbean coast known for its surfing and party scene, is a favorite destination for young travelers and locals alike. There is always something exciting to do in this town. It’s often considered to be the Caribbean’s most visited island.
If you’re searching for a peaceful beach hotel, there are plenty in the area. In addition, the area is home to a jaguar rehabilitation facility that works to rehabilitate local wildlife before releasing it back into the wild.
Around an hour’s drive north of Puerto Viejo is the small hamlet of Cahuita, which is adjacent to the beautiful Cahuita National Park. You can unwind in Cahuita. After a day of hiking, animal-spotting, swimming, or surfing, most people just sit around and read, however there is one bar that gets lively (sometimes it’s half filled!).
Take a full day guided trip of Cahuita National Park if you’re feeling adventurous. Relax with some dessert crepes or grilled chicken while taking in the local culture, which is noted for its Afro-Caribbean elements.
The Tortuguero National Park (the name meaning “Land of Turtles”) is the Amazon of Costa Rica. Tortuguero National Park is the largest park in Costa Rica and occupies about 77,000 acres of the northern coast.
The rivers and canals that traverse this vast region are like veins running through the bush. The turtles (thus the name) that come to nest along the shoreline are the main draw. While April and May are prime viewing months for nesting birds, off-season visitors can still enjoy activities like hiking and canal cruises.
Wildlife, however, is abundant and visible at all times of the year. Destiny Travel Costa Rica offers three-day guided tours to the national park for roughly $500 USD if you’re looking to get away from it all.
Costa Rica is a popular vacation destination in Central America because to its beautiful beaches, lush forests, and active volcanoes. Because there is so much to do outside, it is an adventurer’s heaven. Depending on your interests, Costa Rica is home to a wide variety of breathtaking destinations.
Montezuma has the best atmosphere for those who appreciate a more relaxed, bohemian style. Monteverde Cloud Reserve Forest is the best place to go for a hike in a tropical rainforest. San Jose’s pulsating atmosphere will more than satisfy your appetite for culture, history, and variety.