Literally meaning “Rich Coast," Costa Rica is home to thousands of exotic species of flora and fauna, pristine beaches, rain and cloud forests, and active volcanoes. Whether you are looking for a relaxed vacation, or an adventure-filled one, Costa Rica has it all. Here’s our top 11 things you must add to your bucket list when planning a trip to this gorgeous country.
1. See the Poas Volcano Fumes
A trip to Costa Rica is incomplete without seeing one of the active volcanoes in the country. Though the rest of the country might be scorching, the Poas Volcano, situated on an elevation enjoys a nippy weather throughout the year.
A short walk from the parking lot takes you to an overlook of the Poas crater. Be prepared to be amazed by the green sulphur pool and the fumes rising from the vents.
From the Poas Crater, a moderately steep Botos trail leads you to the emerald-green Botos Lake, another crater filled with rainwater. The acidity in the crater prevents any sort of marine life.
2. Visit the La Paz Waterfalls Gardens
Located about an hour’s drive from San Jose, La Paz Waterfalls Gardens takes you into a world of five remarkable waterfalls gushing down the tall cliffs amidst the lush greenery and a gallery of exotic birds and animals.
Walk inside the Butterfly Gardens and enjoy the flamboyant butterflies fluttering all around you. Don’t miss the exhibit on the far end of the Butterfly Gardens to see the cocoons and tiny caterpillars through magnifying glasses. Take a walk through the aviary to watch the colorful toucans, scarlet macaws and many more birds. The frog exhibit allows you to see the frogs freely jump around, within the enclosure. The hummingbird garden is not to be missed. White faced monkeys and spider monkeys are among a few monkeys that are in the Monkey Exhibit. The little jaguar in the Wildcat Zoo is cute!
Finish off the day with a good lunch buffet at La Paz.
3. Take a Morning Stroll Near the Arenal Volcano
The Arenal Volcano, which once actively erupted every so often until 2010 stopped its eruption and lays dormant (for) now. Today, you can see the lava rocks from its previous eruptions.
Bring your binoculars and join the 8.30 am morning walk from the Arenal Observatory Lodge. Walk through the hanging bridges to see the rich fauna and flora in the Arenal region and the raging waterfalls.
4. Walk on the Arenal Hanging Bridges
Walking on the Arenal hanging bridges that loop through the rainforest overlooking the deep canopy is a must-do in Costa Rica. The heights are not for the faint-hearted though.
Keep your eyes peeled out to spot the exotic birds, flowers, trees, spiders. Be on the lookout for snakes curled up on the branches.
5. Take a Hike to See the Turquoise Blue Rio Celeste Waterfall
Located in an off beaten path within the Tenorio Volcano National Park, is the turquoise blue Rio Celeste waterfalls. Be prepared for the wet and slippery trail. The long walk is all worth it!
Continue past the waterfalls to reach the junction of Buena Vista and Roble rivers, the point where the blue color originates from the mixture of sulphur and carbonate.
6. Relax, Unwind and Pamper Yourself in the Natural Hot Springs
Soak yourself in the natural hot springs near the Arenal Volcano. Baldi’s Hot Springs is one of the resorts in Arenal that has an expansive property with a number of warm and cold pools. We recommend ending a relaxing bath with their delicious buffet meal.
7. Stroll Around the Cute Town of La Fortuna
Located close to the Arenal Volcano, La Fortuna has an interesting history. It was called El Borio until the Arenal volcano erupted in 1968, destroying two other towns, leaving El Borio town untouched. For obvious reasons, the locals considered this town fortunate and renamed it to “La Fortuna”. The main park in this town with a church nearby and several other restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops nearby is a great place to stroll by. Rain Forest Café and Soda Viquez in La Fortuna serves some of the best Costa Rican food.
8. Hike the Monteverde Cloud Forest
Monteverde Cloud Forest is unique and special. It has it all - exotic birds perched on the trees, camouflaged reptiles slithering away, plunging waterfalls amidst the lush greenery, scenic viewpoints offering panoramic views of the luscious valley and suspension bridges spanning across the trails.
9. Book an Educational Coffee Tour
Book a coffee tour and learn from a local about the coffee harvesting process and how the seeds are dried, roasted and packed. You’ll get an opportunity to learn about how the different coffee berries are graded and also get to taste a variety of roasts.
10. Zipline Through the Selvatura Park
For a pure adrenaline rush, book a ziplining tour in the verdant Selvatura Park to enjoy the experience of a bird gliding through the canopy. Scream the place down and do the optional tarzan swing at the Selvatura Park.
11. Visit Manuel Antonio National Park
For viewing wildlife and the pristine Costa Rican beaches, a trip to Manuel Antonio is a must. Keep your eyes open for birds hiding away behind the trees, camouflaged lizards running along, iguanas slithering away, deers fearlessly grazing on the trail. Take a dip in the Manuel Antonio beach. Watch out for sloths and monkeys on the trees. Walk to the Espadilla Sur Beach, a relatively quieter sister of the Playa Manuel Antonio. Take your time to stroll aimlessly on the lovely sands of the Espadilla Norte Beach.
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