12 minutes reading time Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a beautiful country in Central America that offers many things to visitors. Costa Rica is a small country, but it has some of the best natural places to play in the world. Costa Rica is between Nicaragua and Panama, and it has the most plants and animals per square mile of any country in the world. It also has a diverse landscape with mountains, valleys, forests, volcanoes, beaches, lakes, and rivers.
The Best Time to Visit Costa Rica
If you’re planning a trip to Costa Rica, there are several times when you’ll find the weather more temperate than other parts of the world.
Between December and April, when the weather is dry and sunny, is the best time to visit Costa Rica. It is best to visit the country between May and June or in November, when it is green. This is when the seasons are changing, and the national parks aren’t as busy.
Wildlife is one of the best things about Costa Rica, as long as you don’t go in September or October when it rains more. It’s a tropical country, so even during the dry season, you should be ready for rain. It rains a lot in Costa Rica, which is why it is so green and beautiful.
The average high temperature is between 70°F and 80, and the average low temperature is between 59°F and 63°F.
Where to Stay in Costa Rica
There’s no shortage of places to stay in Costa Rica. From luxury resorts to rustic lodges, there’s a place for every budget and preference. You can choose from beachfront hotels, mountain retreats, jungle lodges, and even private villas.
Check our top 5 where to stay in Costa Rica:
You may already know about Monteverde Cloud Forest. This 10,500-hectare reserve, which is near the Cordillera de Tilarán mountain range, is one of the most popular places to visit in Costa Rica.
It’s not surprising that the small town of Monteverde and the area around it have become a major center for ecotourism, bringing in as many as 250,000 visitors each year. The low, wet clouds look like they are hovering over the trees.
This creates a scene that looks more like a movie set than real life. It also makes it possible for an almost unbelievable number of species of birds, insects, mammals, and plants to thrive, including 30 kinds of hummingbirds.
2. La Fortuna
La Fortuna is the main entrance to Arenal Volcano National Park. It is in the Northern Highlands, about three hours from San José. As you might expect in a place with lush rainforests and an active volcano, adventures take center stage.
What’s planned? Hiking through lava fields, trekking through the jungle, climbing rocks, white water rafting on the Balsa River, riding horses, and looking for waterfalls. It’s not always going, going, going.
Soaking in the bubbling hot springs is a great way to relax and enjoy the beautiful nature around you at the same time.
3. Santa Teresa
Santa Teresa has some of the best surfing in the world, a lively food scene with many international flavors, and a vibe that makes people want to stay on vacation forever.
People come to this laid-back beach town on Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula for surf camps and clinics, but the waves are usually better for people who have surfed before (though tenacious beginners do just fine).
If you’d rather soak up the sun than ride the waves, the sandy beach is the place to go. Bring some snacks and stay until the sun goes down, or get a table at one of the restaurants on the beach.
4. San Jose
Most people don’t think of big, busy cities when they think of Costa Rica. Instead, they think of small beach towns. We’re not suggesting that you spend all of your trip in San José, which is a big city with a lot of people. Though, it might be worth it to stay there for a night or two to see how the coast, the jungle, and the metro area, where 83 percent of the people live, are so different from each other.
The country’s capital has all the shopping, restaurants, nightlife, and traffic that you would expect from a big city. It also has many government buildings, important landmarks, cultural institutions like the Teatro Auditorio Nacional, and some great museums.
People love the pura vida way of life in Nosara. A lot of that has to do with surfing and being healthy. Playa Guiones is a great place to take lessons or join a surf camp because the waves are good for beginners. There are also many teacher trainings and retreats that combine surfing and yoga.
Whether you do yoga every day or only occasionally, the variety of classes at open-air studios on the beach and in the woods will make you want to roll out your mat.
Playa Pelada is a nice place to cool off after getting hot and sweaty. While forested hillsides make the perfect setting for hiking and ATV trips.
Top 5 Beaches in Costa Rica
There’s no shortage of beaches in Costa Rica. From the Pacific coast to the Caribbean Sea, you’ll find beautiful white sand beaches with turquoise waters. You can also visit the country’s rainforests, where you’ll find waterfalls, rivers, and lush vegetation.
Dominical is a fishing village on the southern Pacific coast that has become a popular place for surfing. It is popular with a bohemian crowd. Even though it’s popular with backpackers, it’s still pretty quiet.
Small hotels and restaurants with outdoor seating line the narrow beach road. They serve ceviche, fish tacos, and cold Imperial beer, which is a popular thing to do on a hot, humid day. In this part of the country, it rains most days.
Along this part of the coast, the nearby jungle hills make a beautiful backdrop. Here, you can see wild animals like toucans, monkeys, and sloths, or you can sit down and watch surfers ride some of the best waves in the country. You can also look at the things that artists are selling under the trees along the beach.
The tiny village of Montezuma is at the very southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula on the north Pacific coast. It is a great place to go if you want to go somewhere far away. There haven’t been any big changes here. And there are only a few restaurants, hotels, and shops in the town center. This part of Costa Rica is not on the bus route, and the roads can be rough, especially from May to November, when it rains a lot.
The jungle wraps around the lagoon at the beach, and the small group of expats who live there will tell you that the natural beauty here has a healing power.
Something special about the Pacific Ocean is that Montezuma faces east, so you can see sunrise instead of sunset. And if you walk down the beach from town, you’ll find a beautiful waterfall with pools for swimming and soaking right on the sand.
The capital of Costa Rica, San Jose, is about four hours away by car from the Caribbean coast. The Caribbean coast is the least developed part of the country. If you take the coastal highway (which is really just a two-lane road) south of Limon and head toward Panama, it ends in the town of Manzanillo.
The beach in Manzanillo is a great place for people who love nature. The water is calm and the sand is a beautiful golden-white color. Just to the south is Gandoca Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge, which has several coves with palm trees that hang over the water. Choose one and get ready to spend the day sunbathing and snorkeling in the clear water. The world under the water here is incredible.
There are a few small hostels and cabinas in the area, or you can drive 25 minutes north to the main town of Puerto Viejo, which has a much better range of places to stay, eat, and have fun.
4. Playa Biesanz
Manuel Antonio is the most popular beach in Costa Rica, and the national park with the same name is always full. Because of this, this place on the central Pacific can get crowded, especially from December to April, which is peak season.
You can go to Playa Biesanz, which is just north of the most popular beaches, to get away from the crowds. Follow the small sign that points away from the main road by the Hotel Parador. There’s a hole in the fence. If you walk down for about 15 minutes, you’ll find a gorgeous white-sand beach in a cove surrounded by tree-covered cliffs.
During the week and off-season, you might be the only one on the beach. Howler monkeys and two-toed sloths come to the beach to eat the tropical almond trees.
Tamarindo is no hidden gem. It’s a well-known small resort town on the north Pacific coast that’s always busy with lots of restaurants, bars, and shops. A great place for tourists, at least in Costa Rica. It’s not as big as Cancn or Fort Lauderdale. And the foreigners who have moved here like how it feels like a small town but has an international feel to it.
It made the list not because it was peaceful or had a lot of nature, but because of all the things the town had to offer right on the long, curved sand beach: surf lessons, fishing trips, sunset sailing cruises, happy hour and sunset at one of the many beach bars, live music, souvenir vendors, horseback riding, and wandering mariachis.
Top 5 National Parks in Costa Rica
If you’re looking for a more active vacation, Costa Rica offers plenty of opportunities for hiking, biking, rafting, zip lining, horseback riding, and other outdoor activities.
1. Manuel Antonio National Park
People from all over the world come here to spend a day in a place that looks like a postcard. The beaches in Manuel Antonio National Park are the perfect example of a tropical paradise. The only thing that can be heard over the crashing waves is monkeys swinging in the palm trees.
For sunny skies and to avoid crowds, the best time is in the morning (only a certain amount of people are admitted during weekdays and weekends). Hike to the third beach in the park. It may be the most beautiful beach in Costa Rica because it has white sand and is surrounded by green coconut palms.
Check out the tombolo, which is a pile of sand that has been built up over thousands of years by waves crashing into it. It connects an island to the mainland. A trail will lead you to the top of Cathedral Point, where you can see amazing views of the beaches and cliffs around you. The path is muddy and steep, so be careful and go with a friend.
Snorkeling and watching sea life are both great things to do. Sponges, corals, algae, different kinds of crustaceans, and fish all live along the coast. Dolphins and whales sometimes play near the islands, and when the tide is low, you can see turtle traps that the native people of the area set up over a thousand years ago.
2. Cahuita National Park
There’s a good chance you’ll see some of the park’s native animals, such as tropical birds, innumerable insects, and, if you look closely, sloths and monkeys. In the event that you are unable to see the monkeys, you will most likely hear them: the howler monkey’s loud booming call. Even in deep rainforest, the howler’s cry may be heard more than a kilometer distant.
Aside from offering some of Costa Rica’s best bathing beaches, the Cahuita region is also home to the country’s largest live coral reef. Approximately 200-500 meters off the coast, you’ll find a vibrant tropical fish and coral reef community with over 120 different species. Due to runoff from banana plantations and sediment created by logging, the quality and purity of the water has deteriorated in recent years.
3. Poás Volcano
The most popular national park in Costa Rica is close to the cities of the Central Valley, which is one reason for its popularity. But being close is not enough to bring in so many people. At about 9,000 feet above sea level, Poás Volcano has one of the biggest craters on Earth.
When the clouds move away, which happens often, the crater’s many colors and delicate landscapes become visible. Several safe trails wind through the park and lead to the old crater that is now the emerald-colored Botos lagoon. Poás has a new visitor’s center with a small café, a picnic area, parking, and a museum.
4. Tortuguero National Park
Every year from March to mid-October, giant sea turtles lay their eggs on these beaches. There are eight kinds of sea turtles in the world. Six of them nest in Costa Rica, and four of them do so in this park. But even if you don’t come to see the turtles, there is still a lot to do. You can get around on the main roads, which are canals lined with rainforest and full of animals.
You’ll float along a calm waterway, with the Caribbean just 100 meters away on one side and the rainforest on the other. The rainforest is home to three kinds of monkeys (howler, spider, and white-faced), 60 kinds of amphibians, and 400 kinds of birds (including toucans and great green macaws).
If you do come to see the turtles, the best time to see green turtles is from July to October, when the arribada brings in thousands of the reptiles all at once.
5. Irazú Volcano
If you can get there before the buses, which usually start to arrive around 8:00 a.m., you’ll have the whole park to yourself. After you park, walk back toward where the buses are parked to get to the lookout point. If it’s early and the day is clear, you might be able to see both the Caribbean and the Pacific at the same time. The view is out of this world.
Then go down and look at the holes. You’ll think you’re on a different planet. The huge, ashy crater you stand on is a stark contrast to Costa Rica’s reputation for being green, and the awesome power the volcano could have makes anyone’s heart beat faster. Check out the different craters. The biggest one is a kilometer wide and more than a thousand feet deep.