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Costa Rica

Where to go & What to do

Get the most out of your trip

Where to go and what to do


Enjoy a healthy dose of nature hiking in the cloud forest,  feast your eyes on various kinds of animals and jungle trees, treat yourself to delightful meals in exotic restaurants...


Costa Rica offers too many attractions to pick from. Our destination guide may help you decide where to go and what to do.

Table of Contents

Top 10 things to do in Costa Rica

Enjoy the best that Costa Rica has to offer


Surely you want to explore the untamed nature in the forest at sunrise and roam about charming towns in the moonlight. Embrace serenity and mindfulness by the ocean at dawn, taste the vibrancy of a South American lifestyle at night. Given the chance, you wish to spend your whole life in Costa Rica.


However, airplanes don't wait, neither do your hotel bills. While counting down the days until your departures, how do you decide where to go and what to do?

These experiences have to be on your checklist.

  • Whitewater rafting
  • Canopy ziplines
  • Surfing
  • Hot springs
  • National parks
  • Hiking
  • Sampling Costa Rican food and drinks 

Not enough for your Costa Rica trip? Read this blog post for more ideas.

What to do in Arenal

Arenal Volcano : A majestic site and one of the most popular destinations in Costa Rica. 


Rafting in the turbulence and bursting your energies? Sky tramming for the scenic snow-capped volcano? Or trekking in the forest where the birds' warbling echoes. The Arenal is your first step to embrace nature and stay away from all the worldly distractions. 


The Arenal area has vast rainforests flush with tropical wildlife. The unique geographical features present you with all kinds of activities: gondola rides, horseback tours on country roads, biking, boat tours on the lake, birdwatching, waterfalls, canyoning, the Danaus reserve, volcanically heated hot springs, bridge walks, visits to farms, and campesino home-cooked meals just to name a few.


From the Arenal, you can start a day trip to Caño Negro, a haven for wildlife lovers. Arenal is also part of our combined tour packages to Monteverde, Rio Celeste and the Guanacaste beaches, or Manuel Antonio.

Just a few of the activities around Arenal:

  • Arenal Vida Campesina
  • Sky Tram and Sky Trek
  • Tabacon Hot Springs
  • Rio Celeste hike
  • Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge
  • Rio Balsa River Rafting
  • Horseback riding
  • La Fortuna Waterfall
  • Arenal Hanging Bridges

Click here to find out more about our Arenal tours and guided excursions.


What to do in Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio National Park : A favorite for both nature enthusiasts and beach lovers. 


Feeling the smooth white sand in your toes and the fresh sea breeze. Taking a repose from the beach and wandering the evergreen forest, which grows right down to the high tide mark. You can have both the ocean and the forest in Manuel Antonio National Park. A wide selection of hotels and resorts surrounding the park is at your choice. A short list of recommended properties can be found here


Red-backed squirrel, white-faced capuchins, chestnut-mandibled toucans... Try your best to name all the animals encountered in the park. It is a difficult task because more than 100 species of mammals and more than 180 species of birds reside in Manuel Antonio National Park. You can even observe many of those species from the beach. As you are sipping on a cool drink sunbathing on the beach, you will see several different species of turtles crawling about. Manuel Antonio is a paradise for birdwatchers and snorkelers.

Here are just a few of the highlights:

  • River Rafting
  • Canopy tours
  • Sea Kayaking
  • Paddleboarding
  • Beachcombing

Click here for a menu of our Manuel Antonio tours and guided excursions.


What to do in Monteverde

The Monteverde Cloud Forest : One of the world’s premiere destinations for naturalists.


Iridescent resplendent quetzals flashing over branches, moist epiphytes coating trunks with dense green, milky fog looming far into the distance and rolling low among the trees... You are not in a movie but in the Monteverde Cloud Forest. 


The Monteverde Reserve is 26,000 acres and is an important link in the growing network of private protected areas in Costa Rica. Mountains in the fog are blurred like those in Italian Impressionism paintings. Try night hiking in Curicancha and observing those mysterious creatures, you will be amazed by how magical this planet is. 

Best experiences in the Monteverde area:

  • Guided tour of the Monteverde Cloudforest Reserve
  • Butterfly Garden
  • Sky Tram & Sky Trek
  • Curicancha Night Hike
  • Monteverde Hanging Bridges

Click here for a menu of our Monteverde tours and guided excursions.

What to do in the Guanacaste Province

Guanacaste Province: Most beautiful beaches, picturesque volcanoes and diverse habitats. 


Surfing the glimmering waves and conquering the monster ones are always fun. It will be a huge loss if you don't fully experience the balmy weather and plentiful sunshine. If you still want more beaches, Guanacaste is a must-see on your trip. 


The Guanacaste Province comprises more than 400 miles of coastline from the Nicaragua border to the Bongo River Estuary on the Nicoya Peninsula. To the east, you have windswept volcanic peaks at Rincón de la Vieja, Miravalles and Tenorio National Parks. Lush green forests merge into the lowland dry tropical forests At Santa Rosa and Palo Verde National Parks. You will encounter a lot of wildlife when trekking in the tidal mangrove forest at Palo Verde wetlands, the Tempisque River,


Enough for green plants now and yearning for some water sports? Guanacaste Province will meet all your expectations. Sports fishermen, divers and snorkelers can enjoy themselves offshore. Need a repose? Go to the warm beaches onshore and relax. Want some food? Guanacaste does not only have a distinct culture, but also exclusive cuisines.

Attractions of Guanacaste Province:

  • Palo Verde National Park
  • Rincon de la Vieja
  • Papagayo Peninsula
  • Barra Honda National Park
  • Surfing

Click here for a menu of our Guanacaste and Pacific coast tours and guided excursions.

Corcovado National Park & the Osa Peninsula

Corcovado National Park: The crown jewel of the Costa Rican national park system.

It is one of the most biologically intense and biodiverse places on the planet. 


So far we have encountered so much wildlife on our way. However, if you think that you have met all the animals in Costa Rica, you are wrong. After all the appetizers such as Manuel Antonio National Park and Monteverde Cloud Forest, now we have the entree for wildlife lovers, Corcovado National Park. 


The park conserves the largest primary forest on the American Pacific coastline and contains one of few remaining sizable areas of lowland tropical rainforests in the world. A vast abundance of wildlife will put a spin on your trip. Besides the rare-seen beautiful animals, you will also see many endangered species, especially bird species such as the Harpy Eagle and the Scarlet Macaw.


As far as landforms, the park has it all: natural rock formations, waterfalls, beaches, rivers, and rainforest that extends right up to the ocean. If you are tight on time or budget, you definitely want to list Corcovado National Park as your No.1 destination.

Highlights of the Osa Peninsula:

  • Corcovado National Park
  • Caño Island Biological Reserve
  • Whale and Dolphin watching
  • Staying at one of the deluxe eco-lodges
  • Horseback riding
  • Canopy tours

Click here for a menu of our Osa Peninsula tours and guided excursions.

What to do on the Caribbean Coast

South Caribbean region o­ffers visitors beautiful beaches, lush tropical vegetation, superb birding, and a strong mix of cultures combining people of Jamaican, Indigenous, and European ancestry. 

Venturing out into heart-pounding adventures? Experiencing different cultures and traditions? Savoring on unique cuisines at local eateries? 

The South Carribean region contains national parks of Cahuita, Gandoca and Manzanillo which offer visitors hiking trails, beaches for sunbathing, warm water for swimming and coral reefs to snorkel around.


In the seaside communities of Cahuita and Puerto Viejo, the local culture and cuisine reflect the population’s Jamaican roots. The cuisine is quite distinctive from the nation’s central and western regions, frequently uses coconut milk to flavor the traditional dish of rice and beans. Taste the unique flavors in your mouth, taste the diverse culture at your heart.


Want to see sloths and how "fast" they move in real life? The unique sloth refuge in the South Caribbean allows you to realize how fast you are living your life. Slow down, and experience your life thoroughly and mindfully, like a sloth! 


Highlights of the Caribbean Coast:

  • Tortuguero National Park
  • Cahuita National Park
  • Canoe & Float Trips
  • Sloth Sanctuary
  • Turtle Nesting
  • Kekoldi Indian Reserve

Click here for a menu of our Caribbean coast tours and guided excursions.

Best surfing in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a world-class surf destination. 

Whether young or old, first timer or professional, there is a beach and a break in Costa Rica for everyone.


After all the wildlife, vigorous plants and delicious food, now you miss the ocean again. Costa Rica haunts as an ideal place for all kinds of surfers. You can gentle, mild waves to soothe your mood. Or, you can challenge yourself and conquer the monster waves. Read our "Best Surf Spots in Costa Rica" for a thorough list with descriptions.

Here are a few of Costa Rica's best surf spots:

  • Jaco Beach
  • Playa Hermosa
  • Esterillo Oeste
  • Dominical
  • Tamarindo
  • Playa Hermosa


Sea Turtles in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is home to all the five major species of sea turtles.

If you want to observe sea turtle nesting up-close on your trip to Costa Rica it's important to know when and where to go.

Along both Pacific and Caribbean coasts, on specific beaches, you can spot the following species:

  • Olive Ridleys 
  • Loggerheads 
  • Green turtles
  • Leatherbacks
  • Hawksbill turtles

Read our Costa Rica Sea Turtle blog post for details.

Free ebook: National Parks of Costa Rica

Download directly to your e-reader, laptop or phone

A comprehensive guide to exploring the most biodiverse country on earth

An overview of Costa Rica's nine best parks and reserves, with highlights and activities. 

Download your ebook here.

Don't wait...there's more to Costa Rica.

Pacuare River Rafting
Pacuare Lodge Adventure Packages
Costa Rica's Best Spa Resorts
poas volcano
San Jose & the Central Valley
Costa Rica beach
When to go

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