Costa Rica has fun and party vibes in its name! And here’s the list of 15 Amazing places to explore when in Costa Rica!
Costa Rica is a small country located in Central America. The Pacific Ocean surrounds it on one side and the Caribbean Sea on the other, which means lots of coastal areas and beautiful beaches for adventure, sports, and sunbath.
A pleasant climate and beautiful views with friendly people is what you will get in the Republic of Costa Rica. It is one of the most visited Central American tourist destinations, as it is the home of some fantastic volcanic mountains in the world.
There are few significant places in Costa Rica that anyone can suggest to you, but the real exploration lies in visiting the lesser-traveled roads. So, we are listing 15 unique sites in Costa Rica that will leave you astounded. So, let’s begin with our Costa Rica expedition!
Costa Rica: 15 Amazing Places to Visit!
Welcome to the 1% forest-covered area of the world. Yes, you read that right, while you were busy thinking that Costa Rica is all about beaches, there’s a cloud forest for your surprise. Monteverde and the Cloud Forests were established here in the year 1972. This fantastic, lush green area is spread in 26,000 acres of land.
Here you can roam around to witness six different ecological zones, and if you are a nature’s child, no other place can be better for you, as there are over 2,500 plant species and more than 620 varieties of animals and birds. It never fails to attract biologists and different types of researchers.
What else is there for you to do? Well, this place is the most recommended on the list, because apart from experiencing the nature’s wilderness, you can also do horseback tours; and walk on suspension bridges and zip-lines, for doubling up your fun.
No, there’s no accommodation problems; you can stay in their lodge, grab something to eat from the restaurant, and visit other informative centers like the serpentarium of the snake house, ponds, and butterfly garden, and have your little photoshoot here.
2. San José
San José is the capital city and also the largest city in Costa Rica. The lavish city vibe is what you will get here, but not just roads and buildings are here for you to see. There are some historical places like museums and theatres for your entertainment and knowledge.
It’s the best place for you to start your Costa Rica journey. When in San Jose, visiting these places is a compulsion:
- La Sabana Metropolitan Park: Well, it seems like an oasis and makes you feel like you are in some sub-urban area, but you aren’t. It’s the biggest urban park, with an artificial lake inside, and you can learn about the country by visiting Costa Rica Art Museum.
- Jade Museum: A city’s history is best stored in the museums, and beginning your journey without having exposure to history would be a shame. This national museum was established in 1977 and is about the Jade trade that happened here from 500 to 300 BC, and you can see over 7,000 items here.
- Avenida Central: When you visit a place and don’t bring back a souvenir, there’s nothing that reminds you of your wonderful time. So don’t do this shameful act, and go to Avenida Central, which is a shopper’s paradise in the city, and you will not get bored here.
3. Arenal Volcano
Cost Rica sounded all fun and relaxing place till now, but there are some pure adventure-filled places present here, and one of them is the Arenal Volcano. Located around 90 km away from the capital, this is an active volcano in Arenal Volcano National Park. The mountain is a stratovolcano, which means it is formed in layers.
The mountain stands tall with a height of over 5,300 feet and is believed to around 7,500 years old. I hope that must have blown your mind; it is locally known by several names, so don’t get confused. This beautiful conical shaped mountain perfectly complements the overall natural view.
But for your amusement, Arenal Volcano has erupted once! The mountain has been inactive for a few centuries. Later it displayed some minor activities, but later in 1968, it erupted suddenly and led to the destruction of a small town.
It has been dormant from 2010, but still, you can’t trust volcanoes much, so be careful while you roam around it. Take lots of beautiful pictures because it is one of the most important parts of your memory-making.
4. Manuel Antonio National Park
In Spanish or locally, you can identify this place by the name of Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio. This is a small national park located on the Pacific coast side of the country. It is located around 130 km away from the capital city of Costa Rica. It was established in 1972, and area-wise it is relatively small in the whole country.
Yes, it’s small, but it is an attractive place in Costa Rica and can handle over 1.5 million visitors every year. This small park has been mentioned by Forbes as the 12 most beautiful national parks and is indeed a fact because it has some stunning beaches of Costa Rica and hiking trails.
Located in a tropical forest, you will witness white-sand beaches, caves, mountains, and lush greenery with Blue Ocean to make it a picture-perfect place. You can spot lots of animals and birds here, and if the weather remains in your favor, you can try snorkeling here as well.
It is a small town in Santa Cruz, so if you wonder that visiting another town would be a waste of time, then you, my friend is wrong. When you see such a beautiful country known for its beaches, then leaving without exploring places like Tamarindo would be a shame.
Tamarindo is known for its best surfing spots and eco-tourism. If you are a surfing enthusiast or just a spectator, then Playa Tamarindo beach is the place for you. The currents are strong here during tidal seasons, and waves can reach a height of 12 feet. The best recommended season for you would be June to August.
You can quickly fly here because there’s another airport here; it is accessible by all means. There are some fantastic supermarkets and farmer’s markets open for the visitors so that you can get to explore the other side of Costa Rica’s life. Take a souvenir for yourself from here, and try to surf by renting the gears and boards from the local shops.
6. Corcovado National Park
Corcovado National Park is located in one of the most beautiful places in the country, the Osa Peninsula. The national park was founded in 1975. As you have visited the smallest national park in Costa Rica, so now is the time to visit the largest national park in the country.
The fun fact here is the national park was named ‘the most biologically intense place on Earth in terms of biodiversity,’ by one and only National Geographic, which is a matter of pride!
You will get to see lots of wildlife here, with the lush green environment as well. There are some well-known beaches and Islands like Cano Island and Drake Bay, which is the breeding ground of the humpback whales. And lots of other aquatic animals like dolphins and bull sharks.
The best thing about Corcovado National Park is you can visit this place day and night as well. There are lodges available for an overnight stay; you need to make sure there’s a guide with you. For nature and animal lovers, this is the best place in Costa Rica, as you will get to experience and see animals from much closer.
7. Poas Volcano
As we saw that Arenal Volcano had been a dormant volcano for a decade now, but Poas is there for you, and it is an active one. The height of this volcano is over 8,800 feet and is also a layered volcano like the Arenal. This active volcano is located only 50 km away from the capital city of San Jose. You can drive within an hour and explore the volcano and head to your next destination.
For your information, the Poas Volcano has erupted at least 40 times since 1828, which means from almost the last two centuries, making it quite an active volcano in the region. It’s most recent activity has been noted twice in 2019. You cannot roam around in the area freely because it is dangerous and try to follow all safety measure provided by the authority for your safety.
The area, of course, sounds dangerous, but there’s beauty in it. The crater is a landscape in itself; you can also spot Lake Botos, which is the inactive crater now. We recommend you carry all kinds of stuff that can protect you from the heat, and if possible, hire a tour guide for better information and experience.
8. Mal Pais and Santa Teresa
Do you know the meaning of the Word Mal Pais in English translates to ‘Bad Land,’ but it is the opposite, there’s just one word that defines the Mal Pais beach of Costa Rica, and that is – BEAUTIFUL! It is believed that the natives named the land as Bad Land because of its rocky shores and difficulty is walking barefoot.
But the travelers of Costa Rica love this place because the beach here stretches to 4 km until Playa Carmen. And those who love rocky shores should visit Mal Pais, but if you are looking for some relaxing swimming experience, then head on to Santa Teresa Beach.
Santa Teresa is another famous beach in Costa Rica, known for its straight sandy beaches, and is very famous for its party scenes. You can find lots of cool bars and hostels with people dancing and enjoying. Overall the place attracts lots of party people and is among the must-visit places in the country.
9. Rincon de la Vieja
Rincon de la Vieja is one exciting place to visit in Costa Rica, more than anything else, and its history and story are what attracts most of the visitors. The name of this volcano translates into ‘Corner of the old Woman,’ and it is one of the largest and most active volcanoes present in the country.
It is said that there used to be a princess Curubandá, who fell in love with Prince Mixcoac, who was from the enemy tribe. When her father knew about their affair, he threw the prince in the active volcano crater. The devastated Princess lived on the slopes of the mountain and learned all about the medicines and became a known healer.
It is said that she gave birth to a baby boy and threw him in the live carter to allowing him to join his father. She lived there till she died of old age, and hence the place got its name. It is one of the six active volcanoes in the country, and there are lots of hot springs present on its slopes for the visitors’ enjoyment.
It is under the national park, and hence you can do lots of activities here like staying in a resort, hiking, river rafting, horseback riding, etc.
10. Tortuguero National Park
Located in the Northeast part of the country, Tortuguero National Park is the third most visited place in Costa Rica. The location is quite remote, but it still doesn’t fail in attracting people because you can reach here either by airplane or boat.
This National park has eleven different habitats, and the dry forest isn’t what you will find here because it is located in the tropical area, and the climate is all humid and moist. You can witness some pure wilderness here, as some rare and endangered species are also found here.
While roaming around in the rainforest, take a boat ride here in the canals of Tortuguero. The eco-tourism has been played a significant role here, so try to absorb the entire wilderness you can. Also, there’s a hill present among the wilderness named Tortuguero Hill. You can climb up to the top to have an overview of the area.
11. Playa Jaco
It the best beach resort town located near the capital of San Jose. This the best place to visit after you have explored the wilderness and walked around for long distances; after a tiring journey, you deserve good relaxation, and that’s why you come here.
Jaco is known for its partying environment and lively people. And apart from relaxing and dancing, you can try some extreme adventures here, like Scuba diving, snorkeling, rafting, ride on an ATV through the beach, and parasailing.
There’s no limit on what you can do here on this beautiful beach: relax, party, or stay in luxurious resorts with fantastic beach views and pamper yourself. You can also opt for some moderate sports like canoeing, kayaking, surfing, or paddle-boarding here. If you still get confused with the difference between kayak and canoe, you can clear your doubt by clicking here.
12. Irazu Volcano National Park
Irazu Volcano is another active volcano in Costa Rica, which makes it appear like this central American country is dynamic dynamite, but a beautiful one, of course. This impressive volcano is located just 50 km away from the capital city, San Jose.
The name this volcano has is an interesting one, as ‘ara’ stands for point and ‘tzu’ means thunder, also commonly known as ‘El Coloso.’ Several craters are present in the mountain range, but the Irazu volcano is the highest active mountain in the country. The mountain peak is relatively high that allows the vision of the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean when there’s no cloud.
This is one complicated active volcano as it has erupted around 23 times from 1723; the previous records are not present because it wasn’t recorded. Anyway, it is a nice place to visit when in Costa Rica. The fascinating volcano is under the area of Irazu national park, and there’s a lot more to do than stare at a volcano. You can read more about it here.
13. Braulio Carrillo National Park
Located in the middle of Heredia and San Jose province, the Braulio Carrillo National Park began its journey in 1978. The park is home to the volcanic Cordillera Central mountain range, named after the former President of Costa Rica.
There are many geographical places in the National Park, among which one famous site is the Brava Volcano, and many other dormant volcanoes are present here. Apart from the mountains, there are over four rivers that flow through the park. This national park has terrific forest cover, which covers 90% of the area.
This destination is one of the less explored places in the region, but this unexplored beauty has surprising elements that won’t disappoint you. If you don’t like the overrated places with crowds that scare you, then Braulio Carrillo National Park is the place for you.
14. La Paz Waterfall Gardens
This is a privately owned ecological destination in Costa Rica, which has always been one of the must-visit places in the country. This garden was opened to the public in late 2000 but has gained immense popularity in a short duration.
You will get a balanced combination of nature and human-made things here. As the name says, there are five waterfalls present inside the garden. You will explore several cloud forests, rain forests, hiking trails, and lots of animals on the way.
There are lodges inside this garden where you can stay and have been mentioned as one of the best places for honeymoon spots. There are cafes inside that provide delicious food, and more can someone ask for than a beautiful place and food.
For hikers, this place is a wonderland. You will not only get pleasant aesthetics but a guided tour as well. The whole inside appears like a scene from a Disney movie, as there are beautiful landscapes, animals, and butterflies roaming around with pleasant weather that will set the mood just right.
15. Chirripo National Park
Chirripo National Park is one of the largest parks in Costa Rica. It has the area covers almost three provinces: San José, Limón, and Cartago, and it was established in 1975. The National Park is the home of the highest mountain peak in the country, and that is mount Cerro Chirripó, which has a height of 12 thousand feet, which makes it the 38th highest peak in the world.
Chirripo National Park has five different ecosystems for your adventure. The wilderness of this national park is spread in a massive area of 50,800 hectares. The area witnesses two-season wet and dry, and during dry seasons the chances of forest fires are very high. So it is recommended to visit this place during wet seasons for better views and experience.
As it has one high mountain, so people are excited about hiking and summiting the peak, but it is one challenging task as it requires walking for over 21 km to reach the highest point. A treat for expert hikers and mountain climbers is also one of the coldest places in Costa Rica.
These were the few best places you can come across in Costa Rica. This country in the United States is loved by visitors from around the world and is one bucket-list worthy places to visit. The country seems like the abode of the volcanic mountains, as there are over six active volcanoes present on the land.
So without wasting any more time, plan a vacation to this beautiful country of Latin America. If you are not feeling confident about the tour, you can enroll yourself in some vacation packages and leave your headache to the tour guide.
There are serval other beaches and resorts present in this beautiful country that attracts lots of people from around the world; the friendly people and their hospitality has high chances of winning your hearts and will call you again every year. This picturesque place deserves all your love anyway.
There are chances of you hearing ‘Pura Vida’ during your whole journey in Costa Rica, and that precisely what the country is all about having a ‘pure life’. There is also a Pura Vida Resort for your wonderful stay.
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