By Writer Rider’s Samantha Cyr
From the moment I stepped off the plane, I fell in love! The overwhelming heat that makes your sticky, the abundance of vegetation, the tropical smell of humidity, the sounds of wild life, there wasn’t anything I didn’t like. The most striking was the laid back, relaxed way of the life; the “no care in the world feeling” that makes you want to stay forever… Pura Vida, the simplicity of life.
Photo by Anna Goncharova
While most land in San Jose, the capital, I opted for the less chosen path and landed in the north, in Liberia. A small town, used mostly as a transit point that allows you to discover the North, the South and the Coast through its bus terminal in the town square.
Costa Rica, located in Central America, with Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south, is one of the most eco-diverse countries on the planet, boarding the Pacific and Atlantic oceans is a tropical paradise, offering you everything you could ever want. From relaxing beach stays to hiking its infamous volcanoes or soaring above its rain-forest canopy, there’s no doubt you’ll fall in love with Costa Rica.
Photo by Ruben Ramirez
Photo by Alvaro Hernandez
With two international airports, and daily connecting flight, getting there is quite easy. Travelling within the country is also easy with its simple, safe and diverse bus network. If your budget permits, renting a car is also a plausible option. The infrastructures are modern and with a GPS or even an old school map (that’s how I did it!) getting around is easy. A car also gives you the flexibility to discover the hidden gems you’ll miss on the bus!
Whether you spend a week or two or even a month, here are 5 locations I consider Costa Rica’s must sees!
Also, enjoy this article from The Telegraph about 29 reasons why you should visit Costa Rica – the world’s happiest country 😉
Last active in 2012; this is Costa Rica’s most infamous volcano. Tucked away in the dense luscious rain-forest, this volcano is a definite must see! La Fortuna, the small mountaintop town is the starting point for most tours to the volcano. Hiking the side of the volcano is no easy feat, but it’s well worth the views and the chance to swim in the collapsed crater of Arenal’s sister volcano; Chato! End a day of hiking by relaxing in one of the many natural hot springs.
Translated means, Green Mountain and that’s exactly what it is. Explore the rain-forest like never before! Known for its famous “Cloud Forest”, its lush vegetation and diverse wildlife. More of thrill seeker? Don’t miss out on soaring above the rain-forest canopy on Latin America’s longest zip line at 1590 m long!
Photo by Ben Ostrower
3. Santa Teresa
Looking for a small beach town off the beaten path? Santa Teresa is the place to be. Made up of one main street, a few coffee shops and some local restaurants, Santa Teresa offers you an escape from city life, it allows you to relax and really enjoy the simplicity of life.
A quaint, small town known for its whale tail shaped beach during low tide. It’s a great place for beginner surfers! It might be the best place to learn, but trust me you’ll whip out more times than you can count! Be sure to catch the breathtaking sunsets along the beach. At night, take a look up, you’ll see stars like you’ve never seen before. !
Photo by Jeremy Bishop
5. Puerto Viejo
As opposed to the two previous destinations, Puerto Viejo is located on the east side of the country, bordering the Caribbean sea and used as the transit point from Costa Rica into Panama’s famous Bocas del Toro Archipelago. Puerto Viejo embraces the Pura Vida, relaxed, no worries vibe and offers a much more typical Caribbean atmosphere. Be sure not to miss out on some of the best seafood dishes you can find! Enjoy a nice bike ride along the coast and visit of the many national parks.
Here is one of the best info from Lonely Planet- Costa Rica. It will help surfers and other looking for the thrive of the waves and/ or exploring the area.
Outfitters in many of the popular surf towns rent all kinds of boards, fix dings, give classes and organize excursions. Jacó, Tamarindo, Pavones and Puerto Viejo de Talamanca are good for these types of activities.
Costa Rica Surf Camp Excellent teachers with safety certification and low teacher-student ratios.
Dominical Surf Adventures An excellent source of surf lessons in Dominical.
Iguana Surf Playa Tamarindo’s stalwart surf shop has lessons, rentals and good tips.
Caribbean Surf School Based in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Hershel is widely considered to be one of the best teachers on the Caribbean side.
Pura Vida Adventures An excellent women-only surf-and-yoga camp at Playa El Carmen.
Pato Surf School A great place to learn in super-chill Samara, with relaxed instructors and agreeable waves.
Last but not least, let us not forget the capital city of San Jose. And while it could be argued that visiting the city may not be worth it, it will serve as an important transitioning point during your trip. Besides being the bus terminal hub, San Jose does offer its visitors a variety of museums, be cultural, historical and art. Not to mention the colonial architecture that’s definitely worth checking out!
While Costa Rica, has much more to offer and many amazing places to visit, these are the highlights of what I believe should be done in a trip to Costa Rica. But who says you can’t go back more than once. Right?
If you liked this article, please go ahead and leave me a comment. I’ll love to read your experiences from your visit to Costa Rica.
What other places you recommend I should visit on my next trip back? Let me know 😉
Thank you! Until next trip!
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