Costa Rica at a glance
Costa Rica is a diverse land of tropical rainforests, smoking volcanoes and pristine coastline. Its compact size makes it great for exploring by car, giving you the freedom to stop where and when you want to. The country boasts some of the most diverse wildlife on the planet, much of which can be seen up-close in Costa Rica´s many natural reserves. If you visit at the right time of year (and get up early enough!) you´ll get to see baby leatherback turtles hatching by moonlight, migrating whales, dolphins and all types of tropical bird species. With wetlands, coastline, rain forests and cloud forests to explore, there are so many fascinating sights and sounds to be discovered. Adventurers will find all sorts of ways to experience Costa Rica´s great outdoors, from horse riding and hiking to white-water rafting and surfing.
One of the best ways to see the country´s forest wildlife is by canopying, an activity pioneered right here in Costa Rica which can be enjoyed in two ways. The adrenalin-charged version, known as zip-lining, sees you flying through the tree tops in a specially designed harness (check our video for a little taste), whereas Sky Walking lets you take things a little slower as you walk across hanging bridges high in the jungle branches.
With a Pacific and a Caribbean coastline, Costa Rica will satisfy any need for a little beach time. Surfers will find the best breaks on the wild Nicoya Peninsula while the warm waters of the Caribbean and the coastline’s laid-back towns are great for all out relaxing. Costa Rica´s coastal waters are crystal clear and are home to living reefs and a kaleidoscope of colorful tropical fish, making snorkeling here an absolute must. Costa Rica offers a striking diversity of natural wonders to discover and some of the happiest and most welcoming people in the world to show you around!
What not to miss in
The Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the most popular in Costa Rica and the nearby village of the same name is a great base from which to explore it. The white sand beaches of Manuel Antonio´s perfect bays are bordered by lush green forests and lapped by the deep blue Pacific.
The presence of the impressive Arenal Volcano is everywhere. Whether you are strolling around La Fortuna village looking for souvenirs, trying some canopy rappelling in the forest, boating on the beautiful Lake Arenal, horse riding or hiking through the countryside – the Arenal Volcano is there, brooding away on the horizon.
Monteverde is Costa Rica´s most stunning and pristine cloud forest. As well as birds and monkeys flying through the trees, you will also find people! Zip-lining, and as they call it here, Tarzan Swinging, is very popular.
The beautiful Nicoya Peninsula is a paradise of untouched coastline and jungle. It juts out into the Pacific Ocean from the north-west Guanacaste Province of Costa Rica. The interior of this tropical peninsula is mountainous and sparsely populated with an abundance of wildlife, while the stunning coastline is dramatic and unspoiled with long stretches of sandy beaches backed by jungle.
The laidback pace of this Caribbean beach town wins many a weary traveler over and visitors often end up staying for weeks, months or even years. It is firmly on the backpacker and surfer trail so expect tie-die trousers and leaving with at least one pair of hand-made coconut shell earrings.
Today Tortuguero is the largest green turtle nesting site in the Caribbean, as well as welcoming several other species ashore during the breeding season, such as the hawksbill, loggerhead, and giant leatherback.
Rincon de la Vieja
This Guanacaste region is a real countryside idyll, with dry-tropical forests and grassland dotted with grazing cows and Sabaneros (the local cowboys) herding cattle.The Rincon Volcano often steams and grumbles away in the distance, and there are other hidden volcanoes and a host of gurgling and spitting volcanic pools and mud pots amongst the forest trees.
Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui in the lush Caribbean lowlands is known for its natural environment filled with tropical flora, and for the broad Sarapiqui River that flows through it. Just an hour and a half drive from San Jose, this region is covered with thick lowland rainforest, home to many species of birds, including tanagers, jacamars, mot-mots, parrots, toucans and the loud oropendola with its long golden tail.
The Osa Peninsula is a wild, untouched natural wonderland, with pristine expanses of rainforest teeming with rare animals and tropical birds, as well as some stunning palm-backed Pacific beaches.
Sprawling and chaotic at first sight, San José is none the less a vibrant capital with plenty to see and do. Almost all international flights to Costa Rica touchdown at the city´s airport, and as you fly into the high central valley where San José sits, you´ll see the city stretching out before you between green volcanic mountain ranges.
What you need
As most of your time will be spent exploring Costa Rica’s natural wonders, visitors should always maintain a healthy respect for nature. Pay attention to warning signs and safety advice from your guides or locals, do not stray off of marked trails in national parks and be especially careful when swimming, taking note of any warnings and watching where locals swim.
Born and raised in Amsterdam, the multi-cultural capital of The Netherlands, Eleonore’s fascination with getting to know different cultures and people instantly grew as she developed a great passion for travel, especially in Spanish speaking countries. At the age of fifteen, she developed a deep connection with Costa Rica, and nowadays being married to a Tico, truly loves and understands the country better than most. She studied Culture, Organization & Management in the Netherlands, but already during her studies spent most of her time in Central America. Eleonore started working in tourism as a travel guide, which made her able to work in close contact with people. After having her son, she transitioned to the Central America Regional Manager position for our Encounter Costa Rica office. With all of her valuable inside knowledge of the region and a good understanding of the unforgettable experience our clients seek, she is a great asset to our team. Her drive is to help our travellers get the best quality and service possible and give them a real taste of that Pura Vida feeling.