TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN COSTA RICA
Enjoy Costa Rica to the fullest with our TOP 10 things to do
Costa Rica is one of the best travel destinations in Central America. It is just perfect for everyone: nature lovers, adrenaline junkies and sun worshippers; vacationers and long-term travelers, luxury travelers and backpackers.
We spent 1.5 months in Costa Rica and absolutely enjoyed our time there. In the high season from late November to late April the country gets pretty busy with tourists but there is always a quiet place to find in this tropical paradise. Compared to its neighboring countries in Central America it is very safe and easy to travel around. And although it is a pretty small country it has so much to offer. Located in the heart of Central America it touches both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean and you can travel from coast to coast in just three hours by car. And within those three hours you pass lush rainforests, heavenly beaches, volcanoes, wild rivers and amazing wildlife. It’s not surprising that Costa Rica means “rich coast” and that the country’s national motto means “pure life”: Pura vida! It’s not just greeting; it’s a way of life.
We picked out the best 10 things to do in Costa Rica for you including all the things you must see and do!
But before we get started, lean back and enjoy beautiful Costa Rica…
1. Get wet and be exhausted with White Water Rafting
Yeah, Costa Rica is just awesome for those who seek an adrenaline rush. Feel your heart beat faster; feel vibrant and alive while paddling like crazy to master the river’s rapids. White Water Rafting is a lot of fun for everyone. Costa Rica’s rivers are just perfect for an adventurous day on the river. There are different companies that offer rafting adventures with class II – III rides for families and class III – IV rides for the fitter ones of you. See how much fun it is and watch our video! Have a look here for the best tour companies around La Fortuna.
2. Flying like a bird over a pristine rain forest!
You think zip lining is boring? Sorry, but you are completely wrong! Hanging on a zip line 200 meters above ground is everything but boring. Costa Rica is home to many zip lines but if you want something special, the Arenal SkyTrek by SkyAdventures is the most thrilling zip line in the country. As I said before, the highest zip line is 200 meters above ground and the longest one carries you for 760 meters with speeds up to 80 km/h. The track stretches across canyons and in between treetops, and the amazing view of the majestic Arenal Volcano is the best view you can get while hanging on a zip line. Read more and watch our video here.
3. Chill out on heavenly beaches – Playa Punta Uva
After feeling the adrenaline rushing through your veins it is time for some relaxation under palm trees. Playa Punta Uva is a wonderful beach on the Caribbean coast of Cost Rica and perfect for a relaxing beach day. The golden sand and the shade of the palm trees invites to take a long break. It’s a smaller bay; therefore it feels almost like a private beach when there are hardly any people. It’s a pleasure walking along the beach, taking memorable pictures, and enjoying the beauty of this place. Explore more of Costa Rica’s heavenly beaches here.
4. Ride a water slide through the jungle
Costa Rica’s water slide is possibly the best water slide in the jungle. The Buena Vista Lodge & Adventure features a very impressive water slide that runs through the Tropical Forest. Jump on a tube and ride down the 420 meters along palm trees and bromeliads. While the force of the water pushes you forward your pulse will quicken with every turn of the water slide. Read more about this great activity and watch our video here.
5. Learn to surf on incredible beaches
Want to learn to surf? Costa Rica’s Playa Grande and Playa Tamarindo are perfect beaches to try this amazing sport or to master your skills. Located on the Nicoya Peninsula both beaches offer consistently great waves and beach break. While Playa Grande is a secluded surf spot with white sands and a palm tree fringed beach, Playa Tamarindo is a vibrant surf beach town famous for its pumping surf waves and large white sand beaches. Check out the best surf schools.
6. Hike a volcano
Photo Credit © explore.fieldstudies.org
Costa Rica lies at the heart of one of the most active volcanic regions on earth known as the Pacific Rim of Fire. The country hosts six active volcanoes and sixty dormant or extinct volcanoes within its borders. Visiting one of the country’s three most famous volcanoes should be on your things to do in Costa Rica list.
Arenal Volcano is perhaps the most famous of all Costa Rica’s volcanoes. With a perfect volcanic cone it is the youngest and one of the most active stratovolcano in the country. Tour agencies offer different treks where you can observe all the impact of the past eruptions, great variety of plants, wildlife and magnificent lava rock formations.
Poas Volcano (picture) is Costa Rica’s most accessible active volcano. The main crater, which is 1.5km wide and 300 meters deep, is one of the largest in the world. It’s only a 20-minute walk from the Visitor center and parking area to the crater. The crater’s sulfuric pool still bubbles and emits smoke into the air which you can observe from a viewing platform. When we were there we were a bit unlucky with the weather. It was so foggy and cloudy on the top of Poas that the crater only cleared up for a few seconds. We could take only one quick shot. So, if the sky is cloudy, don’t go up there. You probably won’t see anything.
Another great volcano is Irazu Volcano which has some of the most stunning and panoramic views. On a clear day you can see both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans from the volcano’s summit; however, such clear days are very rare. Irazu is Costa Rica’s highest volcano but a visit is a relatively easy half-day tour from San José; drive up to the crater or hike there on foot. You can visit the volcano’s five craters and see the beautiful Green Crater Lake. The best time to visit Irazu is the early morning because clouds build up towards the afternoon.
7. Swim under waterfalls
Montezuma is located near the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula and is a popular destination for all fans of relaxed parties. For such a small town, the nightlife is exceptional, featuring a host of small bars and clubs to dance the night away. It also features beaches, rivers, and scenic waterfalls. At the entrance of Montezuma (20-minute walk from the village center) you find a series of three waterfalls that cascade over the rocks and form deep pools in which you can swim in cool water. If you bring your GoPro, be careful. We lost our brand-new action camera in one of the waterfalls pools.
8. San Jose – a nice start for your adventure
Photo Credit © vert-costa-rica.fr
Costa Rica’s capital is not the prettiest capital city of Central America but if you plan to arrive at the city’s airport, you can spend one to two days there. Stroll through the city center and observe the hustle and bustle in the numerous fast food stores; take a rest and enjoy an ice cream on Plaza de Cultura; visit the city’s Gold Museum and Jade Museum, the National Theatre with San José’s most remarkable edifice, or Parque Metropolitano, a huge park featuring a lake, the Art Museum and the National Stadium.
9. Explore the country’s unique national parks
It’s pretty impressive; there are currently 28 National Parks in Costa Rica which means that roughly 20% of the country’s territory is constituted as National Park or Reserves. Exploring this stunning network of protected rainforests, tropical dry forests, cloud forests, marine areas, and wetlands has to be on your things to do in Costa Rica list.
Palo Verde National Park is a must for bird-watchers; Rincon de la Vieja National Park is popular for its numerous fumaroles and geysers, as well as hot springs, cold pools, and mud pots; Manuel Antonio National Park is the most popular national park and known for its splendid beaches; Carara National Park is one of the best places in Costa Rica to see scarlet macaws; Las Baulas National Marine Park is the place where millions of Leatherback turtles nest; or Cahuita National Park which protects one of the few remaining living coral reefs in the country and is an amazing pot for guided snorkeling tours.
This is just a tiny selection of Costa Rica’s beautiful national parks and doesn’t show the true diversity of the country’s nature. It doesn’t matter if you want to see beautiful plants, diverse wildlife, lush rainforests, splendid beaches, or majestic volcanoes; Costa Rica’s national parks have it all – and a lot more.
10. Try a typical Costa Rican dish
Photo Credit © costaricainsights.files.wordpress.com
Last but not least, put “trying new foods” on your things to do in Costa Rica list. When in Central America you have to order Casados, the traditional Costa Rican lunch. Casados is beans and rice served with some sort of meat or fish and a salad, fried plantains, white cheese and corn tortilla. Probably you will also stumble upon Gallo Pinto which is a popular breakfast dish. The only difference between the two is that in Casados rice and the beans are served side by side and not mixed.
Costa Rica amazes its visitors from the first moment on. The country’s nature is outstanding, the variety of outdoor sports and activities is unlimited, and the fabulous beaches could not be any more perfect. Enjoy this wonderful place and become a part of the amazing PURA VIDA lifestyle. You can have sooo much fun…
You are looking for more inspiration and travel tips about Costa Rica? Have a look at www.mytanfeet.com. Samantha and Yeison are THE Costa Rica experts and know everything about this wonderful piece of land.
Thanks for reading and safe travels!