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Destination Spotlight: Costa Rica

Costa Rica: a land that conjures up images of tropical rainforests, monkeys and toucans, and beautiful beaches. Costa Rica has been in the travel spotlight quite a lot lately, and it’s easy to see why! Learn more about what makes this country so great and why it might be a good choice for your next trip.

Costa Rica is located in Central America, nestled between Nicaragua and Panama. The country is covered with lush rainforests teeming with unique flora and fauna, and it has beachy coastlines on both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. Although Costa Rica has various climate zones, the country overall is warm and tropical year round with distinct dry and rainy seasons.

Costa Rica has been named one of the happiest countries in the world, and it’s easy to see why. Ticos (as the locals are known) are friendly, welcoming, and laid back. “Pura Vida” isn’t just a greeting here but a way of life -- it’s a phrase you’ll hear in every conversation, and it reflects their worry free, stress free outlook on life. Costa Rica is also one of the most sustainable countries in the world and is becoming a model for eco tourism.

Getting Here

Getting to Costa Rica is easy from the United States, as there are frequent flights from many major US cities, and the trip only takes a few hours. Travelers coming here will fly into either San Jose (the capital city) or Liberia, depending on what’s on your itinerary.

A valid passport is all you’ll need to visit Costa Rica. There are currently no visa requirements or extra immunizations required (although this information is always subject to change).

Getting Around

Once you’re in Costa Rica, you’ll have multiple options for how to get around.

Renting a car is a great option for those who like lots of flexibility. Roads are comfortable (although sometimes curvy) and easy to navigate. You can even use your US drivers license to rent a car here.

An escorted tour is a great option for those who would like to sit back and relax and enjoy all of the sights alongside a local guide. A tour can be a good way to get immersed in the local culture, help you access difficult-to-reach attractions, and eliminate many of the stressors of traveling alone.

Many visitors to Costa Rica also like to take advantage of plopping down at a resort (whether that be in the jungle or on the beach) and taking excursions to visit the rainforest, waterfalls, volcanoes, or wildlife. This is a good game plan for those who would like to focus on relaxation but still have easy options for a bit of adventure.

Where to Stay

You’ll be spoiled for choice among some really awesome hotels and resorts in Costa Rica. Whether you’re looking for a bungalow in the jungle or a large scale beach resort, you’ll find it here and everything in between.

There are tons of all inclusive beach resorts along the Pacific coast in the Guanacaste area, meaning you can relax and unwind with all of the amenities that you’d expect in the Caribbean and all of your meals included. From the beach, it’s still just a short drive for day trips to waterfalls, hanging bridges, or ATV tours.

Around Arenal Volcano, right in the heart of the rainforest, you’ll also find some incredible resorts and ecolodges. Many of them are connected to trails right into the jungle. Hot springs are big in this area, and some resorts have natural hot springs right on site that you can relax in after a day of sightseeing.

What to Do

You most certainly won’t find yourself bored on a trip to Costa Rica. No matter your age or interests, there is plenty to do here for everyone.

Guanacaste coast: This is the beach area along Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. There are a number of small towns dotted along the coast catering to all kinds of travelers. Whether you’re looking for surfing, diving, whale watching, kayaking, fishing, or simply relaxing on the beach, this is the place for you.

Arenal: This area of Costa Rica is right in the heart of the rainforest, with the towering Arenal Volcano dominating the area and the town of La Fortuna at its center. This fantastic area is known for hikes around the volcano, visits to the hanging bridges in the jungle, wildlife encounters, hot springs, waterfalls, coffee and chocolate farm tours, white water rafting, ziplining, and much more.

Manuel Antonio: This is a popular beach area with white sand and picturesque blue water further down the Pacific coast from Guanacaste. However, the biggest draw of Manuel Antonio is the national park here, home to tons of great hiking trails, unique animals, and a number of secluded beaches.

Tortuguero: Tortuguero, meaning ‘Land of Turtles,’ is Costa Rica’s version of the Amazon rainforest. Dominating the northern coast of the country, this huge area is home to tons of rivers and canals weaving through the jungle, as well as the many turtles that come to the shoreline to nest. The best time to see them nesting is in April and May, but if you’re visiting at other times, you’ll still be able to enjoy hiking, canal cruises, and other wildlife.

Monteverde: Monteverde is Costa Rica’s best cloud forest and boasts some unique wildlife, including the rare quetzal bird. This area is very wet and green and best experienced from up above by zip lining through the tree canopies or exploring the sky bridges.

For first time visitors to Costa Rica, if you are visiting for about a week or so, I recommend splitting your time between the Arenal rainforest and the Guanacaste coast. It is easy to do so by flying into Liberia airport and driving to each area, and this will allow you to really see some of the best of the country.

If you have more time, then consider adding on stops to places like the cloud forest or Manuel Antonio National Park.

My kiddos and I in Arenal

Who should visit Costa Rica?

Everyone! Whether you are planning a trip with family, as a honeymoon or couples trip, solo, or with friends, Costa Rica surely has something to appeal to everyone.

Families will love the wealth of attractions and ease of travel that Costa Rica has to offer. My husband and I visited with our toddler and baby and found it to be one of our easiest trips as a family. There were plenty of activities for even our young children to participate in. Some of the highlights for our little ones were the hanging bridges, a visit to a chocolate farm, animal encounters, and of course the beach.

Active couples looking for a romantic escape will also find that Costa Rica has tons to experience. You can indulge in a secluded, private jungle casita with views of the volcano or an adults-only property on the beach and still be able to go out exploring each day as you see fit. Couples looking for something especially unique might enjoy dinner at the Monteverde butterfly garden, soaking in the Rio Perdido thermal river heated by Maravalles Volcano, or taking a sunset cruise on Lake Arenal with the volcano as your backdrop.

Ready to go?

Overall, those looking for the warmth and beaches of the Caribbean with the added bonus of adventurous rainforest activities will love Costa Rica. Plus, it’s easy to get here from the US, it’s safe and offers tons of value, and its people are some of the happiest, most welcoming in the world.

Thinking about your next adventure? I’m here to help you put together the perfect itinerary for you. Send me a message any time to begin planning your visit to Costa Rica.



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