9 Extraordinary Reasons to Visit Costa Rica
Looking for Costa Rica inspiration? You've come to the right place. One visit and you'll find it's all too easy to fall in love with the country that defines natural beauty. With two striking coastlines, lush jungle, a huge array of wildlife, and plenty of distinctive activities to keep you in awe, this Central American country should be high on your list of destinations to experience.
To help you plan the most amazing trip, here are nine extraordinary reasons to visit - plus, for a truly unforgettable time why not book yourself a luxurious stay and have one of the best Costa Rica vacations ever!
#1. The Waterfalls
Thanks to the rugged terrain of much of the land and the incredibly moist rainforests, you’ll find some of the most beautiful waterfalls of Central America right here in Costa Rica. Many of them can be found after a quick and easy hike through the jungle, while others require a bit more patience to reach. Either way, most all are worthwhile.
Don't miss: La Paz waterfall in central Costa Rica for its picture perfect location in the jungle, La Fortuna waterfall near the Arenal volcano for swimming in the river below, and the multi-level Montezuma falls located near the Pacific Coast.
#2. The Biodiversity
For a country that covers only a tiny fraction of the Earth’s surface, Costa Rica is home to roughly 6% of the entire planet’s biodiversity. Due to both the Caribbean and Pacific coastlines, five immense mountain ranges, cloud forests and rainforests, active volcanoes, and a geographic location almost right in the middle between North and South America ensures the colossal plant and species diversity.
Don’t miss: For such a small country, Costa Rica is a smorgasbord of animal wildlife. Keep your eyes open for snoozing sloths hanging from tree branches, tiny poisonous frogs, clever monkeys darting around the tree tops, and brightly colored toucans, to name but a few.
Also keep in mind that there are countless places throughout the country that advertise themselves as animal sanctuaries, yet not all are wholly dedicated to the well-being of the animals. It's a good idea to read up on online reviews from other travelers before visiting any places that claim to be sanctuaries or rehabilitation centers before choosing to support them.
#3. The Surfing
Whether you’re an eager beginner or a seasoned pro, Costa Rica has got a wave for you. You’ll find ideal surfing spots on both coastlines along with plenty of surf shops offering lessons and rentals, or if you prefer, simply a laid back spot on the beach to watch others riding the swells.
The best spots: Along the northern Pacific coastline head on over to popular Playa Tamarindo where you'll find a long, beginner friendly, white sand surf beach. Although this beach is generally quite busy, you can escape from the tourists at less popular spots like nearby Playa Avellanas which is nicknamed the "little Hawaii" for its huge offshore waves.
#4. The Rainforest
If you're inspired by nature, there's no better place to start your trip than in the thriving rainforests of Costa Rica. With over a quarter of the country's land mass protected by national parks and wildlife refuges, this is one of the best places on Earth for hiking through (or ziplining above!) pristine wilderness.
What you need to know: There are plenty of national parks with well marked trails throughout the country. Some of the most popular ones include Cahuita National Park just north of the beach bum town of Puerto Viejo, Corcovado National Park in southwestern Costa Rica, and Tortuguero National Park on the northern Caribbean coast.
Hiking through the rainforest often means traipsing through a hot, humid, and insect-laden environment. Don't forget to pack some Mosquito Repellent Lotion or this Mosquito Repellent Blend of Essential Oils, which are both 100% natural and Deet-free options (and if mosquitoes love you, be sure to pack some After Bite to ease the itchiness).
#5. The Volcanoes
Costa Rica is home to some of the most exciting active volcanoes in the world and they've played a crucial role in shaping the country's landscape. Occurring over millions of years, the eruptions have greatly aided in creating soil that is rich in minerals - no doubt one of the key reasons the country is so biologically diverse. Today, you can explore many of these impressive natural landmarks.
Where to go: Arenal is undoubtedly one of Costa Rica's most visited volcanoes, and rightly so. With an impressive height reaching over 1600 meters and a lush green surrounding landscape, it's beautiful to see in person. However, it's a popular spot for tourists, so if you're looking for some alternate yet just as impressive sites head on over to the Rincon de la Vieja or Poás volcanoes.
#6. The Coffee
It's arguable where the absolute best coffee in the world comes from, but undeniably Costa Rica produces some fine java. Beginning in the 1700s, the production of coffee remains a vital part of the country's economy. For visitors, it makes for a practical and enjoyable souvenir to bring home and savor long after your trip.
Where to get the best beans: There are plenty of different brands you can choose from. Some things to keep in mind before purchasing are whether the company utilizes fair trade and sustainable business practices as coffee production in Costa Rica often relies on cheap labor. Some brand you may want to try include Café Britt and Café De Monteverde.
#7. Those beaches...
Need I say more?
Don't miss: For the best beaches in Costa Rica head on over to basically anywhere along the ocean. It's true - it's hard to find a spot here that isn't absolutely stunning. Sure, there are the popular stretches of sand like Tamarindo and Conchal, but much of the Costa Rican coastline, with its sandy shores, palm trees, and crashing surf is exactly the stuff you'd expect to find on a postcard from any tropical paradise.
#8. The Cacao
Long before Europeans arrived in Central America, the indigenous peoples of Costa Rica used cacao seeds as their currency. Despite going through a period of intense destruction due to disease in the 1970s, cacao plantations are experiencing a comeback and many are open to visitors looking to try this all-natural sweet treat.
Where to go: There are many little cacao plantations along the Caribbean coast. I had the pleasure of visiting the indigenous Tsiru Ue cacao house on my last trip to Costa Rica and found it to be highly interesting and informative. For more info head on over to this post: Visiting a Cacao House in Costa Rica.
#9. And finally, Turtles!
Clearly, one of the most unforgettable experiences you can have in Costa Rica is to observe sea turtles lay their eggs on the beaches and watch newly hatched little ones scramble towards the ocean.
What you should know: Different species of turtles nest at different times throughout the year on both the Pacific and Caribbean sides of the country. With a bit of planning and research beforehand you should be able to find a nesting site and time that corresponds with your visit.
On a side note, turtles are wild animals - they should be respected and observed from a distance and under no circumstances should you try to touch them or play with them. Simply enjoy the experience of being in relatively close proximity and appreciate the opportunity to see these magnificent creatures in their natural environment. You can also find some unforgettable volunteer opportunities where you can take an active and safe part in turtle conservation programs.
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This article was produced in collaboration with Luxury Retreats. All opinions are my own.