Wanna discover this green sanctuary, nestled between the Caribbean and the Pacific, which invites you to relax and have a change of scenery ? Beaches, national park… Here are the best part to visit in Costa Rica.
“In Costa Rica, you can start your day in the Caribbean by the Atlantic ocean, and see the sunset by the Pacific ocean on the same day”, says Costa Rican President, Carlos Alvarado. A great overview demonstrating the uniqueness of this Central American country. Despite a small surface area, you will encounter a variety of landscapes that possesses an incredible richness of biodiversity.
At the forefront of the coronavirus pandemic, this green democracy, with its very good health system and universal access to care, has been the ‘good pupil’ of a ravaged Latin America. Costa Rica is progressively allowing tourists to enter, provided that each passenger entering or leaving the country follows the enforced protocols, including the presentation of an epidemiological form to immigration authorities.
Recharge your batteries to the rhythm of the Pura Vida
For the third time since 2009, Costa Rica is ranked first in the HPI (Happy Planet Index). It is not a coincidence that its inhabitants are among the happiest in the world. Also a champion of environmental protection, the country is an ideal destination to reconnect with nature and recharge your batteries.
Between yoga retreats and spa getaways, the Central American country has asserted itself in the landscape of wellness-oriented stays. These experiences are particularly popular in the Nicoya Peninsula, recognized as one of the five blue zones of the planet, where the longevity of the inhabitants is well above average. In Montezuma, Santa Teresa, Tamarindo or even Samara, many establishments, from the most economical to the most luxurious, offer retreats, with daily yoga classes, healthy gastronomy and often nature-related activities.
Some people in search of peace and harmony will prefer a holiday at the foot of the volcanoes, to enjoy the joys of thermal waters and volcanic mud massages. In the surroundings of Arenal, the famous Tabacon spa hotel or the luxurious Nayara Springs put relaxation in the spotlight with their “all-inclusive” packages.
Playa time : bubbling on beautiful beach
It is impossible to say which is the most beautiful beach in Costa Rica. Even if the hearts of travelers and locals often swing between Playa Conchal, San Juanillo or Carrillo. These beaches of white, golden, grey or black sand could easily feature on the front of postcards and will give you a wide range of choice whilst you cruise along the coastline.
If you are fond of small coves with coral seabeds, neighboured by luxuriant jungle, set your sights on the beaches of Puerto Viejo (Caribbean side), in particular the sublime Punta Uva. At the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, you can enjoy the serenity of the sparsely populated beaches of Montezuma and its surroundings… A real favourite.
If you want to mix relaxation with activities, the sublime beach of Sámara and its relaxed atmosphere is for you: snorkeling on Isla Chora, kayaking in the bay, diving, surfing… There is something for everyone! Finally, Conchal and its bed of shells or Uvita and its unique whale tail shape are also worth packing your beach towel for.
Volcano, national park… Meet the wildlife
Monkeys, parrots, sloths… You don’t have to go to the zoo to meet them. In Costa Rica, wildlife can be observed in its natural environment. To have more chance of seeing such creatures, it is advisable to walk with a guide on the trails of one of the 32 national parks which cover a quarter of the nation’s territory.
The largest and richest in biodiversity is Corcovado, in the extreme southwest of the country. You will surely come across the tapir, the largest mammal in the country. But Costa Rica is above all a paradise for birdwatchers. With more than 900 species of birds registered, you will only have to raise your head to see them, like the monkeys, who like to walk under our nose swinging from branch to branch.
The marine life is not to be outdone… Embark to meet the humpback whales that migrate off the Pacific coast or dive to discover manta rays, sharks and other tropical fish in the waters of Isla Cano or the Catalinas. Above all, make the most of your trip and witness the fascinating spectacle of turtle spawning at Tortuguero on the Caribbean coast or the protected beach of Ostional. In this small village by the Pacific Ocean, olive-coloured sea turtles arrive in the hundreds of thousands to lay their eggs. This phenomenon, called “arribada”, is usually observed from August to November.
Best surf spots
Some will say that surfing is to Costa Rica what football is to Argentina: a religion. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced surfer, it’s THE destination to experience the thrill of surfing. Beyond the superb waves that break throughout the year on the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, you will be seduced by the “surf culture” that infuses the Costa Rican way of life.
On almost 1000 km, the west coast has many spots where the swell increases from April to October. In the north: Playa Grande, Avellana, Negra, without forgetting the legendary Roca Bruja, accessible preferably by boat. More in the south of the peninsula, you will find a plethora of surf schools in Nosara, Sámara or Santa Teresa. On the South Pacific side, the rolls of Playa Hermosa and Dominical will delight the most technical surfers. And, on the border with Panama, chase the endless left of Pavones, amongst some of the longest waves in the world, which only comes into view when the southwest swell crosses the Gulf of Dulce.
The energetic turquoise waves of the Caribbean are also worth the detour, preferably when there is less wind from December to March. Playa Cocles offers ideal conditions, not forgetting, the world-famous Salsa Brava reef break.
Enjoying the beautiful green season
In the Pacific and Central regions, the first showers at the end of April signal the beginning of the green season, known as the “rainy season”. It will last until November. While in many countries with a temperate climate, rain is not welcome, in Costa Rica it is welcomed like the messiah after five months of drought.
The first drops fill hearts with joy, overflow the earth and revive the brightest green colour of vegetation. If sunny days are rare in June and October, the other months of the green season often offer beautiful days, punctuated by late afternoon showers. The weather is particularly mild in July and August, nicknamed by the “Ticos” “el veranillo”, the early summer.
The green season is also the time of year when you will avoid the crowds and enjoy the most affordable prices. Some hotels have very good offers. Plus, you won’t have to wait in line at the national park ticket office and increase your chances of seeing animals that reveal themselves more as temperatures drop.