When it comes to our wish lists, traveling to Costa Rica is always right on top. From incredible landscapes and wildlife to can’t-miss museums and delicious meals, learn why Costa Rica is always a must-visit locale.
Visiting national parks
About a quarter of Costa Rica is protected land—which means there are plenty of national parks to explore. Arenal Volcano National Park, near the town of La Fortuna, is one of the country’s most popular spots. The eponymous volcano has been quiet since 2010, but geothermal activity around the area means there’s a wealth of inviting hot springs. Relax there after a day out in the rainforest—the springs are especially inviting after the adrenaline rush of ziplining through the trees!
Tortuguero (or “the Land of Turtles”) is another favorite national park in Costa Rica. Sea turtles make the area’s beaches their nesting grounds, and there are plenty of opportunities to spot other amazing wildlife, too. While cruising through the canals around Tortuguero, you might catch a glimpse of monkeys, jaguars and sloths in the surrounding rainforest.
Manuel Antonio may be the country’s smallest national park, but it’s definitely not lacking in diversity—it’s home to more than 109 mammal species and 184 kinds of birds. Keep your eyes peeled for toucans and spider monkeys, and listen for the loud sounds from howler monkeys.
Walking through the clouds
One favorite way to see Costa Rica is on a walk through the Monteverde Cloud Forest—on bridges suspended high above the rainforest floor. It’s a completely unique way to experience the landscape and get a look at often hard-to-spot birds and wildlife. With global warming’s effects on Costa Rica’s climate, the clouds may not form around the mountains anymore within 20 years, so be sure to see it before it’s gone!
Enjoying beautiful beaches
When our photographer Jimmy traveled to Costa Rica on tour, one of his favorite memories from the trip was visiting the beaches in Guanacaste. “It was the perfect setting to watch a sunset—and it was a popular spot for locals to hang out. Families, couples and friends were there relaxing, fishing from the shore and swimming. It was really a wonderful setting,” he said.
While spending time on the beach is amazing on its own, setting out to sea is another great way to enjoy Costa Rica’s coastlines. Snorkeling and sailing are activities that allow you to admire new views and get up close to the region’s incredible marine life, like tropical fish or even a friendly octopus!
Exploring San José
Costa Rica’s capital has a distinctly European feel and is famous for its array of eye-catching architecture. From colonial buildings like the National Theatre to beautiful Byzantine-style churches, the diversity of designs is dazzling.
In the historic neighborhood of Barrio Amón, you’ll see beautifully preserved mansions built by coffee growers during the 19th century. Nearby, you’ll find the Parque Nacional, which offers plenty of green space for relaxing and is filled with monuments that celebrate Costa Rica’s history.
Tasting coffee and chocolate
Costa Rica’s climate is perfect for growing both coffee beans and cacao—essentials for everyone’s favorite vices, coffee and chocolate. On tour, you’ll visit a local coffee plantation to get a peek at how your favorite cup of joe goes from beans to brew. As for chocolate, bean-to-bar operations are very popular across the country; each stage of production Is handled by one chocolate-maker, meaning the results are often especially tasty. One of the largest producers, SIBU Chocolates, has a plantation in San Isidro, but their products are available in shops and restaurants throughout the country.
Have you been to Costa Rica? Is a tour of Latin America on your travel wish list? Tell us about it in the comments!