Costa Rica is well known for its tropical weather, wildlife and beautiful beaches. These are all things you are going to experience and love while visiting, but there are many more things to see and do that most people don’t know about. Here are seven things you should see and do while in Costa Rica.
1. 1. Hiking to the Rio Celeste
The Celestial River, waterfalls, and natural hot springs are located in the Volcán Tenorio National Park, just south of the Nicaragua border. Reaching the area requires a medium intensity hike - for two to four hours - walking through a beautiful forest and up through the cloud forest. The river is the most amazing blue water you will ever see. It is a phenomenon caused by a mineral mixture of sulfur and calcium carbonate. The Laguna Azul, bubbling waters, natural hot springs, and the 100 foot (~30 m) waterfall is a must see on your trip to Costa Rica. The cost is 10 USD (5345 CRC) to enter the Tenorio Volcano National Park.
2. 2. Get lost in the LaSenda Labyrinth
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
Twenty minutes outside the tourist town of Tamarindo sits LaSenda – believed to be one of the largest labyrinths in the world and the only one with two centers. You will receive a guided tour of the labyrinth including a short five-minute meditation in both of the centers. LaSenda takes about an hour to walk, passing through the centers and exiting the same point as the entrance. The evening with Griet and Ann, the owners, includes a homemade dinner with organic foods that are grown on the property. Dinner tours are given every Friday. Another great opportunity within the property is the use of a huge natural amphitheater which has been transformed into an open air theater. The amphitheater has a maximum capacity of 400 people for dinner and 1000 for concerts.
3. 3. Rappel Waterfalls (Canyoning)
Hold on tight to the rope as you ease yourself over the cliff, descending down the waterfalls into the rainforest. Hike through the river with its natural obstacles below to get to the next adventurous falls. Keep an eye out for wildlife, you never know what you may see. You will get wet – so bring a change of clothes - it’s an experience you will never forget.
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4. 4. Parque Nacional Rincón de la Vieja
This national park has so many things to do while you visit. It is a great place to hike, see nature and wildlife, watch the boiling mud pots, zip line, rock climb, and go to the Rio Negro Hot Springs – some say they are the best hot springs in Guanacaste. It is home to the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano, which has two peaks – Rincón de la Vieja and Santa María, and it has nine craters. So go for hike, cover yourself in mud, then relax in the natural hot springs.
5. 5. See the Crocodiles at the Rio Tárcoles
Before emptying into the Pacific Ocean, the Tárcoles River twists through Costa Rica’s Central Pacific region. With 25 crocodiles per square kilometer, it is one of the largest crocodile populations in the world. Reaching up to seven meters in length, these American crocodiles can easily be seen from the Tárcoles River Bridge. If you want to be a little more adventurous and get up close, you can take one of many boat tours available and see more than just the crocodiles. More than 50 species of coastal, native, and migratory birds have been seen along the river.
6. 6. Conchal Beach
To reach the clear blue water on Conchal Beach you have to walk across thousands of shells covering the ground. As you walk along the beach in the bay the shells become fewer and are broken into smaller and smaller pieces until they blend in with the sand. Playa Conchal, named because of its shell beach, is not one that should be missed. Spend the day relaxing on the beach, swimming in the warm water or rent some snorkel gear and see some of the colorful fish in the water. You don’t have to pack a cooler for this beach, as you can always find people cooking up some local fresh food to sell and drinks are available for purchase. Try some fish, lobster, or some fresh ceviche. To get to Playa Conchal you must drive across Playa Brasilito. At the end of the beach you will drive up and over a steep narrow hill.
7. 7. Walk in Monteverde’s Cloud Forest
Through a series of suspension bridges and trails, you have the unique opportunity to see some of the world’s most complex ecosystem. Appreciate the incredible array of vegetation, exotic wildlife, and beauty the canopy has to offer. The bridges span valleys and canyons which can be over 950 feet long (289.56 m). The walks can be done at your own pace by yourself or you can go with a guide to learn more about the local vegetation and wildlife.
An Unforgettable Experience
Costa Rica is a small country, with an area of 51,100 km² (19,700 square miles) and population just over 4.87 million people, but don’t let its small size fool you. There are more things to do there than you probably have time for. It is known for its many volcanoes, beautiful beaches, charismatic animals, and immense botanical biodiversity that you will enjoy. The seven things listed above will give you an experience throughout the country seeing and doing more than most tourists. The excitement, beauty, and relaxation you can find in Costa Rica is unforgettable.
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