While half the world is strapping on faux-fur coats and boots, the other half is flip-flopping their way through the holidays. This is the case in Costa Rica, where the phrase pura vida is a daily mantra that recognizes the country’s abundant natural wealth.
Costa Rica accommodates every traveler’s desires for eco-tourism, adventure and relaxation. Exploring the country is relatively easy with a planned itinerary for domestic flights or a rental car or public buses. City hopping is the ideal way to travel through this beautiful country regardless of the budget or length of stay. Along the coastline of the country lie seven different must-see locations:
Hidden within Tenorio National park lies a glowing bright blue river. Rio Celeste is situated in a village of rural farmlands that provide an authentic travel experience. Access the illuminating waters from either the towns Bijagua or Guatuso and follow the dirt road paths to Rio Celeste Hideaway Hotel, a small eco-hotel located next to the park. The hotel offers various tours within the Tenorio Volcano Park such as bird watching and kayaking.
Three hours west of Rio Celeste Hideaway lies Playa Tamarindo, a popular beach for surfers to catch waves and tourists to observe beautiful biodiversity. Tourists have the option to embark on a two-and-a-half hour kayak tour over the Tamarindo River to Playa Grande. On Playa Grande between November and April, visitors will find the Leatherback Turtle laying their eggs. However, be cognizant that December to April is the dry season in Costa Rica and is the busiest time of year for tourists to travel.
South of Tamarindo, Montezuma offers visitors relaxing days and festive nights. This bohemian, cheerful beach town has natural water springs and strong currents to enjoy in the daytime. By night celebrate magical days with great nightlife. Conclude the visit by traveling twenty minutes outside the town to view the Montezuma Falls featuring three breathtaking waterfalls that follow along a moderately difficult hiking trail.
Jaco Beach is a 2.5-mile strip along Costa Rica’s Central Coast. This city is known to be one of the more developed beach towns in Costa Rica. Therefore, there are a variety of possible activities to participate in the day including ATV tours, zip lining and scuba diving. In the evenings watch the sunset with a cocktail in hand from Disco La Central or La Hacienda. Jaco is the closest beach to San Jose; therefore there is a range of hotel options suitable for any price range including the luxury boutique hotel, Villas Caletas, as well as hostels such as Hotel de Haan.
An hour south of Jaco Beach is Manuel Antonio, a popular town with beaches and the famous Manuel Antonio National Park. Guided tours within the Manuel Antonio National Park allow tourists to view some of Costa Rica’s wonders including sloths, monkeys, armadillos, crabs, iguanas, parrots and parakeets. Beautiful beaches line the park with warm waters perfect for swimming and water sports including kayaking, snorkeling, fishing and more.
Continuing down the coastline, visitors should be sure to hit Palma Quemada to find the beautiful eco-lodge, Tipi Jungla. Without wi-fi or electricity, Tipi Jungla provides the perfect escape. Visitors will wake to the sounds of monkeys and birds as they stay in individual Indian tents within the rainforest. Each tipi has a bed, mosquito net, dresser, candle lamp, table and chairs as well as a private bathroom. This stay is unlike any other hotel and allows visitors to truly immerse themselves in the Costa Rican jungles.
The last and most southern region to visit is Drake Bay. Drake Bay consists of small towns and villages. Before the visit, keep in mind that there aren’t any banks or ATM machines within Drake Bay and many of the businesses do not accept credit cards. Drake Bay holds various outdoor activities at Corcovado National Park, marine life on Cano Island and wonderful hiking trails along the path to Playa San Josecito.
The 19,700 square mile country of Costa Rica offers hidden treasures that meet every wanderer’s dream. Whether visitors lace up their hiking boots, put on their snorkel gear or grab a book for the hammock, Costa Rica’s beauties will create an incomparable vacation.
By Jenna Hochman