For centuries, pre-Colombian Costa Rican tribes have attributed the strikingly powerful beauty of their land to the might of their gods. The untouched, heavenly scenery has created a culture so awestruck that it can only satisfy the mysteries of each wonder with a folktale. For that reason, there are countless myths, and after spending a few days in the tropical country just twice the size of New Jersey, you’ll see why.
Geographically speaking, what the country lacks in size it makes up for in splendor. The diversity of life and landscape takes you from white-water rivers in the depths of the rain forest to lakeside views of an erupting volcano. In short, the four elements created by the ancient Maleku
gods—fire, water, and air—are readily available, and to truly see the magic of Costa Rica, you have to seek out all four.Fire Arenal Volcano
— There’s a reason the Arenal Volcano is the only destination under fire: it’s a must. During the day, the mountaintop fades into the sky, making it difficult to distinguish the gaseous rising smoke from the clouds. The view, to many, is quite ordinary. However as the sun falls, the ball of lava protruding from the peak of the volcano shines like a sun along side the moon, leaving an yellowy orange reflection shimmering on Lake Arenal, below. The trickling streams of lava that flow down the mountain’s side can be seen from the comfort of a hotel balcony, or from a boat tour on the lake. It is a sight that encompasses the intersection of fear and beauty—alluding to legends, like Krakatoa and Pompeii. Either way, it projects a fabled force of our planet that you cannot afford to miss.
Water La Fortuna
— A day’s trip away from Arenal, La Fortuna boasts a 70 meter high waterfall emerges from the thickets grasps of the rain forest, and collects in a clear emerald pool below. Whether you arrive to the base on foot or on horseback, La Fortuna is the perfect end to hot and humid adventure, one that’s sure to present travelers with toucans, sloths, monkeys and more. The shaded chilly water below also a great spot for a picnic alongside the soothing sounds of the crashing water.White Water Rafting in Quepos
— The intensity of the rafting tours in Quepos varies, and one can usually find the level of adrenaline they are looking for. With that said the beastly class IV rapids that appear after the rainy season are only to be pursued by the bravest of travelers. For those who aren’t seeking as much of a thrill, the quieter bends of the winding river are accompanied by incredible, unparalleled mountainous views. For birdwatchers, the slower tours will present a perfect opportunity to behold the regions vibrant biodiversity.Corcovado Tent Camps
— Not so much a resort as a community, the Corcovado tent camp creates a foreign, yet welcoming experience from the very get go. The easiest way to arrive is by a small plane. As the pilot casually hangs his arm out of the side window and makes his final sharp turn onto the beachside airstrip, the host of the camp—Alex—arrives with a horse a carriage for your luggage and safe transport. The 45 minute carriage ride down the beach crosses rapidly gushing rivers and black streaked sand, speckled with gold. The camp itself is situated on the top of a 20 foot cliff sandwiched between beach the beach and a mountain. After it rains, water flows down the mountain, creating little streams that trickle across the beach.
AirZiplining in Monteverde
— The cloud forest doesn’t get enough credit. The fast moving winds create haze that settles above the canopy of the jungle, creating a blank canvas for the purples and oranges of sunset. Ziplining is a great way to see the jungle inside and out. Most tours in the area have lines that go through the trees, eventually leading a grand finale: a quarter of a mile long zipline that takes you 250 feet over the tops of the thick tropical vegetation. At sunset, this is especially breathtaking if you’re lucky enough to pass through an orange cloud.The Hanging Bridges of Monteverde
— For a slower bird’s eye view view of the cloud forest, take a day to walk through the hanging bridges of Monteverde. At 500ft long and 200ft high they present some of the best scenery in the country.
If your itinerary is anything short of a lifetime with the Ticos
, you'll never see all there is to be explored in the tiny country. To do Costa Rica right, to strike the perfect balance, you have to divide and conquer, otherwise it's all too overwhelming. So unleash the elements, and behold as much of the pura vida
as you can!