Centering yourself on a yoga mat or surfboard, ascending misty volcanic peaks or descending into bat-filled caves, ziplining, biking, or hiking – your return date is your only limit. This rich coast stands far apart from its neighbors on so many trends: sustainable tourism, farm-to-table restaurants, and surfing. Some colleagues of mine who run a dumpster rental company couldn’t stop raving about their recent trip to Costa Rica. It is one of the most diverse countries in the world, with about half a million species – from insects to anteaters that eat them. Here are the top experiences in Costa Rica.
A dedicated adrenaline junkie can easily cover some exhilarating river mile in the space of some days in this country. For those that can’t do them all, you can pick a river: Tenorio, Seapiqui, Reventazon, or Pacuare. Any of these rivers make for fun runs as there are rapids ranging between Class 1 and Class 5, and all have stretches that let rafters to take in the animal life and lush jungle scenery. All you need is a helmet, a lifejacket, and some chutzpah.
Hot Springs & Volcan Arenal
Although the molten night views are long gone, this perfectly conical and mighty giant is still active and worthy of a visit. Bathed in sunshine or shrouded in mist, Arenal has many beautiful trails visitors can explore and, at its base, you are just a short drive from its several hot springs. Many of the springs are free, and any local can point you in the right way.
Southern Caribbean Coast
By day, hike to waterfall-fed pools, snorkel off uncrowded beaches, lounge in a hammock, and visit the remote territories of the Kekoldi and Bribri. By night, dip into Caribbean cooking and at open-air bars sway to reggaeton. The villages of Manzanillo, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, and Cahuita, all outposts of this mix of indigenous Tico and Afro-Caribbean culture are the ideal, laid-back bases for such adventures on the southern coast of the Caribbean.
Mind-boggling biodiversity, dedication to environmental protection, and world-class parks allow Costa Rica to harbor a wide variety of endangered and rare species. Costa Rica is one of the world’s best wildlife-watching destinations. Regardless of where you travel, the branches are usually alive with critters from mischievous monkeys and lazy sloths as well as tropical birds.
Poas is about one hour northwest of the country’s capital. It is a fairytale region of hydrangea-lined roadsides and verdant mountains. Although the volcano activity of 2017 has closed the volcano site, it is a sulfurous and spectacular site worthy of a pilgrimage. The winding drive takes you past coffee plantations and strawberry farms. At La Paz Waterfall Gardens, you can hike to waterfalls, and experience wild cats, tropical birds, and rescued monkeys.