Beautiful coastlines, biodiverse jungles, pristine beaches and vibrant cities await you in Costa Rica. This Central American country is filled with nature and has become a hugely popular destination over the last few years. If a trip here is on your bucket list – or any other type of list – then you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we’re discovering Costa Rica and the best places to visit on your holiday.
Viento Fresco 🌊
A trip to Viento Fresco offers the chance to unwind in an area away from the crowds. There are five cascades, with the most popular Arco Iris, otherwise known as Rainbow Falls. It drops 75m into crystal clear waters, ideal for swimming and cooling off in the heat. Viento Fresco is packed with natural beauty wherever you look, and there’s every chance that you’ll have it all to yourself.
Puerto Viejo 🏖️
You will find Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean coast near Panama. Thanks to its excellent beaches and surfing opportunities, it’s a popular spot for younger people and backpackers. Puerto Viejo is also the spot for parties, and you can expect fun-filled evenings with a lively atmosphere on your visit. If, however, you’re looking for something slightly more low-key, worry not – there are several hidden-away beaches to visit, as well as a jaguar rescue centre that rehabilitates local wildlife before releasing them back into the wild.
San Jose 🌆
The capital and largest city of Costa Rica, for many, San Jose will be your first experience after stepping foot in the country. It’s where most people fly to, but you’d be doing the city a disservice if you didn’t stop to spend some time in San Jose after your flight arrives. Avenida Central is the heart of the city with its long boulevards connecting to the different neighbourhoods, such as Cultural Plaza, where you will find the pre-Columbian gold museum. After exploring the inner city, head to the hills of Escazu. From here, you can see the start of the Costa Rican backcountry.
Playa Cocles 🏄♂️
For beach vibes, head to Playa Cocles – especially if you’re after a spot of surfing. Unlike other nearby beaches, the waves at Playa Cocles are more forgiving and ideal for anyone who doesn’t consider themselves a pro. You’ll get the best waves between March and December when they break on the soft, sandy beach.
About an hour’s drive from Puerto Viejo is where you will find Cahuita, a tiny town sitting next to one of Costa Rica’s national parks. Come here to unwind and relax, stopping at the one and only bar in the town to enjoy a cool drink on a hot summer’s day before tasting the sumptuous Afro-Caribbean inspired food. Then spend the rest of your time animal spotting, swimming and surfing – because they really do love a wave or two in Costa Rica.
A trip to Monteverde offers countless nature reserves spread over 53 square kilometres. Here, you will find protected forest areas, wildlife and much more. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing hike or adventure, Monteverde is the place to visit. Spend some time at the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, which features some of the most biodiverse patches of primaeval jungle on the planet. Everything here is eco-friendly, too. And you can stay in lodges with timber-built cabanas overlooking the beauty of Monteverde.
Parque Nacional Volcán Arenal 🌋
One of the most popular national parks in Costa Rica, Parque Nacional Volcán Arenal is located in the central part of the country, around 10.5 miles west of La Fortuna. It’s the home to the Arena Volcano, the most active volcano in the country, as well as Chato, another volcano. Explore different trails, visit the observation tower and stop by the scenic lake during your visit. You can also expect to see sloths, monkeys and anteaters during your hikes around Parque Nacional Volcán Arenal.
Santa Teresa ☀️
You’ll find laid-back vibes in Santa Teresa, a small town at the bottom of the Nicoya coast. It really is just a beach and a few eateries and yoga centres – perfect for those after some serious relaxation and meditation. Unlike Puerto Viejo, Santa Teresa isn’t a place for parties. Instead, embrace the chill with a spot of yoga before hitting the beach to catch some rays.
Corcovado is another national park in Costa Rica and a place to go for lush sights. It was established to protect some of the country’s last remaining wet forests before evolving into a popular park with cloud forests, gushing waterfalls and beautiful hiking trails. It’s hard to reach, with a boat via Drake Bay or Puerto Jimenez your best chance of getting here. Upon arrival, however, you’ll be glad you came and can set off on an adventure filled with safari and wildlife spotting.
The best places to visit in Costa Rica
If you’re looking for a scenic escape, Costa Rica is the place to go. It’s full of beautiful and natural surroundings that make it a picture-perfect destination. From exciting hiking trails to calming beaches, a trip to Costa Rica puts you right at the heart of nature and offers an experience you’ll never forget.