If you are looking for a holiday in Central America, Costa Rica is one of the most popular destinations. Both American and international tourists head there on vacation, but it has also become a busy expat area for those who are retiring.
Costa Rica boasts incredible weather, has low living costs, some stunning beaches and the locals are incredibly friendly. So, if you are heading out there for the first time, why not check out some of these places we consider the best to visit.
Translated, this area is named the ‘Land of the Turtles’. This is a rainforest style area that stretches along the coast in the North. Tortuguero National Park is an impressive 77,000 acres packed full of canals and rivers and prominent jungle areas. It is a great place to visit if you want to see turtles in their natural habitat, as when it’s time for mating season, they move to the shoreline and build their nests.
This tends to be in April and May, so you won’t be so lucky at other times of the year, but there is still plenty to do if you enjoy an outdoor adventure hiking or booking a place on one of the many canal cruises. It’s not just turtles that call this area home, and you will still be able to see many other varieties of wildlife and get some fantastic pictures no matter what time of year you visit.
If you are an amateur ornithologist, you may well have Monteverde on your list as a must-visit place. This is because it is home to the Quetzal birds, who are incredibly rare and not often spotted. Their home is the nation’s Premier cloud forest and has visitor numbers exceeding a quarter of a million every year. It is one of the most important ecotourism areas you will find in Costa Rica.
Because this area is set on the continental divide, it is a microclimate with some pretty unusual weather patterns. It is not uncommon to experience high winds, but they offer some fantastic zipline adventures that run through the tree canopies when the wind is calm. You can also take in the sights using the sky bridges. It is a very plush green area because there is substantial rainfall, but don’t let that put you off because it’s nothing like the UK rain. To spend a day zip lining, you’re looking at about $50.
Seeing a volcano is something we should all have on our bucket list. This particular volcano is still active and a stratovolcano, which means there are twin calderas, which feature some impressive sulphur lakes. There is absolutely no movement in the water of the lakes, and the colour looks almost painted by an artist. The volcano did erupt in 2019, and since 1828, there have been 40 eruptions. The area is popular with trail walkers, but you should set out early to get the best views because once the clouds drop later in the day, you lose much of the impressive Panorama.
In the South-Western area of Costa Rica, you will find the Osa Peninsula and, within that, the Corcovado National Park. It was made a National Park in 1975 and has a 424 square kilometre area which is the biggest National Park in the country. It is a lovely destination if you are looking for somewhere quiet and a bit more off the beaten track.
It has picked up in popularity, but it is still rugged and tucked away from the modern world. It is pretty tricky to get to the Peninsula, which is one reason why the tourist traffic is not exceptionally high, but it’s certainly somewhere you will be glad you got to. There are plenty of camping facilities, and from your base, you can take advantage of hiking trails, deserted beaches, magnificent wildlife and plenty of marine animals. So, if you are an outdoorsy person that enjoys looking at the wildlife, this is somewhere you need to go.
This is a popular destination for backpackers and younger people because it has a great party atmosphere with some amazing beaches with some world-class surf. You can find it near Panama on the Caribbean coast. It is certainly not a place to visit if you’re looking for a quiet life as the town comes alive at night with events going on every day of the week. However, it is undoubtedly one of the most popular destinations you will find along this coastline. There are some small pockets of quiet in the way of beach hotels if you are looking for a more peaceful retreat. Nearby there is a fantastic Jaguar rescue centre where you can visit their many wildlife in-patients who are being rehabilitated before being released back into the wild.
Cahuita is a National Park and a town that sits side by side and is situated approximately one hour away from Puerto Viejo. This is the perfect place to visit if you are looking for somewhere to get away from it all.
It’s an excellent location for swimming, surfing, sitting under a tree, reading a book, or just enjoying soaking up the atmosphere spotting the local wildlife. There is one bar in town that may get slightly lively, but nothing compared to the busier locations. It is the ultimate relaxation destination.