The 'rich coast' has earned its name and stands apart from its Central American neighbors on the cutting edge of so many trends: surfing, farm-to-table restaurants, and sustainable tourism. One of the world's most biodiverse countries, with half a million species. Rainforest hikes and brisk high-altitude trails, rushing white-water rapids and warm-water, world-class surfing: Costa Rica offers a dizzying suite of outdoor adventures in every shape and size – from the squeal-inducing rush of a canopy zipline to a sun-dazed afternoon at the beach. National parks allow visitors to glimpse life in both rainforest and cloud forest, simmering volcanoes offer otherworldly vistas, and reliable surf breaks are suited to beginners and experts alike.
Guanacaste Costa Rica’s dry, flat plains merge with tropical dry forests to create landscapes akin to the American “wild west” and African savannas. This region supports Costa Rica’s beef and sugarcane production, and has several national parks and wildlife reserves.
Palo Verde National Park
Palo Verde National Park is known for its wetlands with a large population of aquatic bird species and its tropical dry forests. This park is remote with over 300 species of tropical birds and alluvial planes from the Tempisque River attracting over 250,000 species of migratory geese, ducks, and other waterfowl. The park also has the only scarlet macaw colony to permanently inhabit a dry forest.
You know about the region’s main attraction: that now-dormant volcano, surrounded by old lava fields, bubbling hot springs and a stunning lake. Venture further onto the wild rivers and into the tropical jungle of the northern lowlands and you will discover real-life Costa Rica, where agricultural commerce and ecological conservation converge as a work in green progress. You can spot a macaw in the wild, paddle into roaring rapids and cruise inky lagoons, all with lifelong resident guides, then nest in lodges that double as private rainforest reserves. When the tourist hordes get you down, make your way here for a refreshing blast of rural realism and an invigorating dose of wild beauty.
Manuel Antonio National Park
Featuring lush jungle, picture-perfect beaches and craggy headlands, this tiny park brims with wildlife (and oftentimes, visiting humans). As you wander its lovely trails, you'll catch a glimpse of dangling sloths, squawking toucans and playful monkeys, and stumble on breathtaking views of the sea and nearby islands. To beat the crowds and maximize wildlife sightings, arrive early.
Monteverde is home to one of the rarest habitats on Earth, the cloud forest, and an astounding variety of flora and fauna. The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is unique from Costa Rica’s other rainforests, with a constant mist that looks like clouds and gives the forest its name. The high humidity at this spot, 1,600 meters above the ocean, creates the mist and provides a cloud-like cover.
Formerly a quiet little fishing village, Puerto Viejo has a charm that is all its own. Becoming increasingly popular, especially with the young hip crowd, this town is among the top rated surfing destinations of the world. With its relaxed atmosphere and its own unique blend of Latino, Afro-Caribbean and Bribri indigenous cultures, Puerto Viejo is a lively place to have a fun relaxing vacation.