A land of volcanoes, cloud forests, unique wildlife; punctuated with an educated population and a resultant stable democracy attracts hundreds of visitors yearly. The name which means ‘Rich Coast’ in Spanish is a haven for birdwatchers, surfers and adventurers alike. But San Jose’s museums and the Costa Rica private villas speak of a luxury-focused sector which invites tourists and visitors to spend their time in the lap of endless stretches of beach and forest covered mountains.
Here’s a list of the best attractions in a country of natural wonders:
- Manuel Antonio National Park: This Park is known for its stretch of forest, wildlife, and sand which inhabit the area. Expect to meet howler monkeys, sloths, squirrel monkeys, capuchins and all kinds of birds in your guided tours. But the major action is centered on the beautiful oceanfront beach where surfing and soccer matches rule. In stark contrast to this natural cacophony stands the small town of Manuel Antonio which is known for its human lively atmosphere. There are various hotels where you can camp out to enjoy this bounty.
- Arenal Volcano: This national park is situated in the Cordillera de Tilarán and its main attraction as the name says, is the Arenal Volcano which reaches up to 1,633 meters. This should surely be a part of your itinerary when visiting costa rica. This volcano sees regular activity (since 1968) and is the piece of imaginations- cone shaped with ashes streaming out of from the crater or if you are lucky then expect to see glowing red hot lava flowing down the mountainside. But the park is also home to almost half of Costa Rican biodiversity. You can stay at the Arenal Observatory Lodge from where you can get some good views of the volcano as well as of this Arenal Lake located in the opposite direction.
- Monteverde and the Cloud Forests: This destination are for the travellers who want to immerse themselves in nature and take in the wildlife which breathes and lives within, but without venturing too far off the trail. The cloud cover the forest provides the moisture necessary to sustain the area’s habitat. While many mainly visit for bird watching but the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve have all kinds of amphibians, mammals, and reptiles. Organized hikes are the best way to view this location.
- Dominical: This backpacker’s paradise is full of beautiful beaches, cheap accommodation, casual restaurants and dirt streets. People often fall in love with its unique vibe and stay for the wide stretch of open beach which is backed up by shady trees. But it is possible to find quieter beaches away from town.
- Tamarindo: Located on the Nicoya Peninsula, this place is perfect for beach, surf, and fun. Once a quiet fishing village has now become a tourist destination where visitors can find everything from good accommodations to tasty food and other amenities. The area around is known for its snorkeling, horseback riding, zip lining, as well as eco-friendly adventures and turtle watching (during its season). If you are coming here for surfing then you can catch the biggest breaks in November and December.
- Mal Pais and Santa Teresa: Mai Pais is located on the Nicoya Peninsula and is known for its waves which attract surfers. Santa Teresa is the hotspot where the chain of villages and beaches lie along Mai Pais. This is the most popular haunt for backpackers and surfers who enjoy the surf and turf.
- Jaco: If you want to get out of the main city of San Jose but still want the luxuries and amenities of the city then this is the place to go for. A learner’s paradise, the beach here is pleasant and so are the waves. But its modern apartments and restaurants have made it a popular attraction among high-end travellers who want to enjoy a vacation but are not really in the mood to get out of their comfort zone.
- Tortuguero National Park: If tourists are ready to get off the beaten path then this national park located on the Caribbean coast is the place to go. Accessible only by plane or boat, it is known as one of the wettest areas on the country. It is also famous for its turtle watching as it is the breeding ground for green sea turtles. There are many beaches but they are not suitable for swimming or surfing since the currents are too strong. It is possible to spot sloths, kinkajous, monkeys, peccaries, and tapirs during boat rides or hiking.
- The Osa Peninsula and Corcovado National Park: This remote peninsula is located in the far south of Costa Rica. Some of the best rainforests of Central America are found here and they are protected in the Corcovado National Park. While surfing is the main activity, one can also engage in snorkeling, diving as well as fishing in here. The national park is famous for its trail system and is popular among hikers. But after a day of hiking, travellers can rest in Puerto Jiménez which is the area’s largest town in the fine lodges which are established on the area.
If you are looking for a tranquil vacation to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life then Costa Rica is the place to go to where among nature you will find serenity and among its people you will find hospitality.
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Seema Gurnani of Pandareviewz.com has submitted this post.