Every inch of Costa Rica is worth seeing, and trying to determine just how to spend your time in this breathtaking country can be overwhelming. From beaches to mountains to volcanoes and more, there are endless opportunities to fill your vacation in Costa Rica with magnificent sights and unforgettable experiences. The following list of 6 must-see attractions in Costa Rica is designed to help you craft the best trip possible. Read on to see what makes these locations so great and start getting excited for the trip of a lifetime.
1. Gaze at the cloud forest reserve in Monteverde
While you will be spending most of your time in Costa Rica wearing shorts and sunscreen, you will definitely want to bundle up for your visit to Monteverde. This windy mountain town is constantly covered in clouds and a cozy chill fills the air. The cloud cover might not sound like a dream come true, but it creates a magical effect high in the mountains. People flock to Monteverde to weave through the network of trails at the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and find their way to the breathtaking overlook. One moment you will see a massive valley of trees stretching as far as the eye can see. The next moment a thick wave of clouds will sweep in, filling the valley and obscuring your view. The constant movement of the clouds is mesmerizing and the view is unlike anything you will see in the rest of the country.
2. Hike through the endless beauty of Manuel Antonio National Park
Once you get to Manuel Antonio, you can shed the layers that kept you warm in Monteverde, for the sun is always shining on this paradise. Manuel Antonio National Park is a unique park that you are sure to fall in love with. Hikers can explore the various trails until their heart’s content, hiking across bridges, under waterfalls, and through stunning canopies of trees. Those who are less interested in hiking can follow the main trail straight to the beach where a secluded stretch of sand sits peacefully, untouched by the restaurants and local sellers that crowd the beaches just a few miles north. Whichever trails you choose to take, make sure to keep your eyes out for the iconic white-faced monkeys that are known to greet travelers here.
3. See the lava lines from decades past at Arenal Volcano
Costa Rica is famous for more than just the beaches and forests. The volcanoes that dot the country are one of the major draws for a lot of tourists. While there are tons of volcanoes worth visiting in Costa Rica, there are few as picturesque as the Arenal Volcano. This active volcano stretches high above the surrounding flatland and features stark trails showing where the lava flowed during the massive 1968 eruption. You can make your visit to Arenal truly unforgettable by bathing in some of the local hot springs. Tabacon is one of the best in the area, though you will have no problem finding various hot spring spas all around the volcano.
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4. Swim in the sapphire water of Playa Uvita
Further south along the west coast of Costa Rica is Playa Uvita, another favorite for those traveling through the country. This is one of Costa Rica’s more popular beaches, as it is both quiet and convenient. In addition to walking along the beach, playing in the water, and simply soaking in Playa Uvita’s incomparable beauty, you can see the sea turtles come to nest along the shore from December until April. As if the beach wasn’t enough to draw you to this part of the country, there are plenty of striking waterfalls only a short drive away from the beach. If you can only visit one beach in Costa Rica, Playa Uvita should definitely be a contender.
5. Explore the biodiversity of Bahia Drake on the famous Osa Peninsula
The Osa Peninsula has been described by National Geographic as one of the most biodiverse places in the world and it is a must for anyone traveling to Costa Rica. In particular, Bahia Drake (or Drake’s Bay) is truly magnificent. The tiny town can only be reached by a small boat or hours of driving over dirt roads, but the effort is well worth it. The handful of restaurants and few hotels are surrounded by an endless array of trails on one side and a picture-perfect ocean on the other. Hiking around Bahia Drake is guaranteed to take any traveler’s breath away. The diversity is obvious and you will soon lose yourself in the endless variety of plant and animal life. Around every corner is another unbelievable view. The only downside about Bahia Drake is that once you see it for yourself, it’s nearly impossible to bring yourself to leave.
6. Learn to surf the waves in Tamarindo
One of the most popular beaches in Costa Rica is Tamarindo. While it definitely doesn’t offer the privacy of some of the other beaches, it has a certain energy that you won’t find anywhere else in the country. There’s always something going on in Tamarindo. From ATV tours to pub crawls, you will have no trouble filling every hour. Even just meandering the main street exploring the boutique shops and delicious meals can be tons of fun. Tamarindo is especially popular for surfers as the waves are notoriously perfect and they are easy enough for beginners, so if you want to learn to surf while in Costa Rica, this is the place to start!
Make the most of your trip to Costa Rica
Unfortunately, it would take an unrealistic amount of time to see all of Costa Rica. However, by making your way between a few of the country’s highlights, you can make sure you get the most out of your trip. Follow these 6 suggestions and we promise you won’t go home disappointed.
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