Best of Costa Rica: Costa Rica is a relatively small Central American country with breathtaking natural beauty and a colorful display of wildlife inhabitants to seduce its visitors.
It features contrasting landscapes such as rain forests and dry, tropical forests as well as tall mountain ranges and flat plains. An independent, army-less nation since 1949, life in the “Rich Coast” (as it is known in English) is slow and peaceful; the perfect haven for total relaxation.
Points of Interest:
As can be imagined, a place blessed with the kind of striking scenery that is found in Costa Rica boasts a lot of outdoor options.
Some excellent examples of awe-inspiring places to visit include the gardens and forests found at the Wilson Botanical Garden and the Butterfly Farm which shows visitors the interesting process of farming butterflies for their pupae.
For the more culturally inclined, the Monumento Nacional Arqueológico Guayabo offers a fascinating peek at the country’s archeological past. Highlights include gold artifacts and an aqueduct dating back to 800 AD.
Due to the nation’s proximity to nature, the cuisine found in Costa Rica is fresh and simple. Although tasty, the food is not spicy as is common with many of its Latin American neighbors.
Traditional dishes include variations of rice and beans served with either chicken, beef, or fish. Tropical fruit is highly recommended – both raw or as a juice – and found in great abundance at most outdoor markets and restaurants.
Costa Rica is a great place for those that prefer an active lifestyle. With beaches on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, guests can participate in aquatic activities including snorkeling, surfing, fishing, and rafting.
Land lovers can equally enjoy their holiday with options such as surfing, biking, golf, and hiking. Sightseeing is another popular activity, which makes perfect sense considering there are plenty of exciting landscapes and exotic flora and fauna in Costa Rica to keep one engaged for days on end.
Nightlife in this charming oasis is made up of laid-back bars – often featuring live reggae or calypso music – and a handful of nightclubs featuring authentic salsa dancing for the more exuberant crowd.
Why you’ll love it:
Statistically, Costa Rica is one of the highest-ranked countries in terms of human development. Only one in five natives live under the poverty line and the country is ranked 5th in the world for environmental sustainability.
With impressive data like this, it is a pleasure to realize that Costa Rica is not only a lovely place to visit but also an ecologically responsible environment to praise.
The best places in Costa Rica to visit on your first vacation:
3 favorite places to visit:.
Costa Rica may appear to be a small country, and in fact, it is similar in size to West Virginia. But a common mistake that travelers make, when coming to Costa Rica, is assuming they can cover the whole country in a short time period.
The reality is that due to traffic and road conditions it can take more than a day to drive from one end of the country to the other. So instead of spending your entire vacation sitting in a car, driving over potholes.
We recommend that you spend some time researching which part of Costa Rica you want to see and focus your time in that area. Then conquer another section on your next trip.
Each province of Costa Rica experiences different weather contains different animals species and provides a variety of different types of beaches.
Each piece is unique and has something new to offer. Three specific areas and will forever remain at the top of the list of happy places on Earth.
1) The Nicoya Peninsula
The Nicoya Peninsula is on the Pacific side of Costa Rica, divided into the Guanacaste and Puntarenas provinces. Known for its beaches, it has become a popular tourist destination.
With some of the most beautiful, pristine beaches in the entire country, it is easy to see why many people are drawn to this area.
The Nicoya Peninsula is considered one of the five Blue Zones around the world, where residents live active lives beyond 100 years of age due to a number of factors. The area of Nicoya is noted for the longevity and happiness of the people who inhabit this part of Costa Rica.
Samara is a small beach town, and some of the Costa Rican memories could be watching the surfers at the favorite beach bar amongst new forever friends, and swinging your days away in a hammock, while enjoying the sunset at the favorite beach: Playa Carrillo.
Suggested Reading: Best Waterfalls in Costa Rica
If you spend any amount of time in this part of the country, it doesn’t take long to see why the people of Nicoya are known to be some of the happiest people in the world, as you easily adjust to the slow pace of life, forgetting what day it is.
But no worries, this is why we have the saying “Siempre Domingo”, because it is “Always Sunday” in Pura Vida land.
2) Caribbean Side
You would have heard many warnings about it being too dangerous. which is not true. You can easily walk alone on the beach at night, it is absolutely safe and you never feel threatened or unsafe in Puerto Viejo.
As soon as you step foot onto the Caribbean sand you instantly feel the laid-back beach vibe that oozes through the salty air. It is a place where Bob Marley rules, where there are no hurries and no worries, and where the only jerk is a chicken.
On the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, the food is as colorful as the rasta culture. Numerous sodas and restaurants display a bright, fresh, flavorful menu that will leave your taste buds singing.
With the only live coral in Costa Rica, this area is the most ideal for scuba diving and snorkeling amongst the vibrant sea life. The beaches are secluded and majestic. Punta Uva, just outside Puerto Viejo, is one of the favorite beaches in the country.
The famous Salsa Brava wave breaks right off the beach in downtown Puerto Viejo, making a picturesque spot for surf competitions, as crowds gather to watch the surfers put in a day at the office.
With mouth-watering food, breath-taking beaches, and a legendary wave break, the Caribbean side of Costa Rica is not to be missed. In fact, it may be just what the doctor ordered…
3) Uvita / Dominical / Osa Peninsula
This is a large area south of Uvita, just on the edge of the entrance to the Osa Peninsula. This location allowed you to explore the Dominical/Uvita/Ojochal area extensively, as well as the rugged and lesser-known Peninsula de Osa. And you will fell in love with both pieces of paradise.
The Osa Peninsula is the most biodiverse place on the planet. Despite that, this special slice of Costa Rica is not very well-traveled by tourists, which is also a part of its charm.
You can explore the tour of Sierpe river mangroves, boat around the crystal clear Golfo Dulce with a pod of dolphins. Also, you can take numerous road trips exploring the untouched beaches of the Osa.
Mother nature is wild and abundant, and humans truly are the minority in this piece of the country as they are the “Real Costa Rica”.
The Uvita area is made up of pristine beach after beach, which together creates the Marina Ballena, National Park. Here you can walk the famous Whale’s Tail beach, an exposed stretch of sand that creates the shape of a whale’s tail at low tide.
A few kilometers to the north of Uvita lies Dominical, a beach-front surfing town full of lively beach bars, surfers, hippies, and nomad gypsy travelers.
And a few kilometers to the south lies Ojochal, a growing ex-pat community with winding neighborhoods and exotic restaurants.
The extreme nature will blow your mind in this piece of the country. The Sierpe River is one of the world’s largest mangroves, The Golfo Dulce is one of the world’s deepest gulfs, and Playa Pavones is known as the world’s longest left wave.
It is the only place in Costa Rica where you can witness all 4 monkey species in the wild, and one of the few places to see vibrant scarlet macaws flying overhead. You simply cannot miss this gem during your travels.