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9 Best Things to Do in Costa Rica

Updated: Oct 12, 2023

Wildlife, volcanoes, and beaches!

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Costa Rica is on your bucket list, right? From thrilling wildlife encounters to adrenaline-pumping adventures, this Central American gem has it all. Whether you're traveling alone, on your honeymoon, or with your family or group, whether you want beaches, or rainforest, or a wellness retreat, there's something for everyone! Here are my 9 favorite activities to do in Costa Rica.

1. Soak in natural thermal hot springs.

Costa Rica’s hot springs are formed by volcanic springs heated underground. Groundwater percolates down until it meets hot rock, and then returns to the surface and forms pools called hot springs. It’s like a natural jacuzzi! These soothing thermal waters are not only relaxing but also have rejuvenating properties for your skin and circulation. The La Fortuna and Arenal areas are particularly renowned for their hot springs, many of which have beautiful hotels nearby. Guanacaste, which is close to the beaches, also has a thermal river, the Rio Perdido, and a national park, Rincon de la Vieja National Park, with about ten hot springs in the area. You definitely don’t want to miss the hot springs in Costa Rica!

2. Visit Manuel Antonio National Park to see the wildlife.

Prepare to be amazed by the incredible wildlife awaiting you at Manuel Antonio National Park. It is the smallest national park in Costa Rica, but also one of the most popular. Located a scenic three-hour drive south of the capital, this coastal wonderland is home to a staggering array of animal species. Spot sloths lazily hanging from the trees, playful white-faced and howler monkeys swinging through the branches, colorful butterflies fluttering around, and the distinctive chestnut-mandible toucans displaying their vibrant plumage.

3. Go on a chocolate or coffee tour.

Treat yourself to a fascinating tour of a local coffee or chocolate farm. Costa Rican coffee is renowned worldwide for its exceptional quality, a testament to the country's significant role in the coffee industry. Additionally, exploring the rich history and flavors of Costa Rican chocolate is a must!

4. Go surfing or windsurfing.

If you’d like some excitement on the waves, Tamarindo in the Guanacaste region is a must-visit destination. Known as a surfer's mecca, this vibrant town offers a variety of surf breaks suitable for beginners and experienced surfers alike. The Pacific Coast, in the Manuel Antonio or the Hermosa Beach areas, have good surfing.

5. Experience the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.

Step into a world adorned with abundant greenery and shrouded in low-level clouds, creating a truly magical atmosphere. This biologically diverse reserve is home to an astonishing 2,500 plant species and hundreds of fascinating fauna. If you’re a bird watcher, this is the place for you—the rare Quetzal bird can only be found here.

6. Go adventuring in Arenal Volcano National Park.

The Arenal Volcano area is known as the adventure capital of Costa Rica. Embark on a zip-lining adventure like no other, soaring through the rainforest with breathtaking views of the majestic volcano, the sparkling lake, and the lush flora below. Hike along the base of the Arenal Volcano, soak in the hot springs, ride the aerial tram, visit La Fortuna Waterfall, or go on a sloth tour. You can also go whitewater rafting or on a safari river float to view wildlife.

7. Explore Tortuguero National Park.

This remote and biodiverse region is only accessible by boat or plane, adding an extra touch of adventure to your journey. Its dense jungle maze and winding canals feel like the Amazon. Traverse its intricate network of canals, mangroves, and lagoons by boat, kayak, or canoe, encountering an array of wildlife, including monkeys, sloths, caimans, and an astonishing variety of bird species. If you're lucky, you might even witness the remarkable natural phenomenon of sea turtles nesting on the park's beaches. This coastline is home to mass turtle nestings, with four different species of sea turtles. (Turtle nesting season is generally between June and October.)

8. Discover the vibrant capital city of San Jose.

No trip to Costa Rica is complete without experiencing the lively capital city of San Jose. Explore the bustling Mercado Central, a colorful market bursting with local fruits, handmade crafts, and mouthwatering cuisine. The Jade Museum is an archeological museum, full of history about Costa Rican culture. Dining is a highlight in San Jose, with a fantastic array of international cuisines.

9. Relax and unwind on the pristine Tamarindo Beach.

If you’re wanting to kick back, relax, and soak up the sun on a beach, head to Tamarindo, a long beach with great waves. It’s got a great central location in Guanacaste, so people often use Tamarindo as a home base and explore the area over a few days. Langosta Beach is just south of Tamarindo and is known for its seclusion and some great tide pools. Las Baulas National Marine park is also good for viewing Leatherback sea turtles.

Costa Rica, with its natural beauty and thrilling experiences, awaits you with open arms. Get ready to fall in love with the captivating landscapes, extraordinary wildlife, and warm-hearted hospitality. You won’t be able to do this entire list in one stay, so do what you can and then come back again! Your Costa Rican adventures are going to be incredible.


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