Known as the “rich coast,” Costa Rica’s natural beauty dazzles even the most experienced travelers.
It is one of the world’s most biodiverse countries, after all, with half a million different species that call this place home. From giant anteaters and scarlet macaws to white-faced capuchins, you’ll see more exotic wildlife in a weekend than many people see in a lifetime.
The right Costa Rica tours can help you get the most from your vacation to this unique place. But before you start planning your trip, consider these five top locations to experience the raw, natural beauty of Costa Rica.
1) Braulio Carrillo National Park
Located roughly 90 minutes outside of the country’s capital of San Jose, the Guápiles Highway takes you from the modern world into the real-life rainforest that is Braulio Carrillo National Park. Over 150 species of mammals inhabit this 108,970-acre protected area. Watch howler monkeys swing from tree-to-tree and see colorful parrots perched in the distance. More than 500 species of birds can be found sailing the cloudy skies here.
The park is the most extensive in the country, teeming with native wildlife, plants, and flowers, many of which you can only find in Costa Rica.
Take a riverboat through the myriad of interconnecting rivers and canals sprinkled with mangroves and water hyacinth as you cruise towards the Carribean coast. This is a great opportunity to really take in your surroundings and watch for wildlife all around you.
2) Tortuguero Park
This Costa Rican National Park is best explored by boat, giving you an optimal view of the surrounding vegetation. For those who want to walk along its Carribean sandy beaches, watch for the park’s famous tortuga hatchlings as several species of turtles deposit their eggs in the piles of sand along the coast. This protected area of land was once part of an archipelago of volcanic islands. Over time, the sediments altered the coast’s structure and the area became filled with marsh and sand deposits perfect for sea turtles to implant their eggs.
The people of Costa Rica are dedicated to preserving this national treasure and the species of turtles that rely on it for the birthplace of their young. You can also visit the Tortuguero Museum, which proudly showcases the ecology of the area.
3) Baldi Hot Springs
Located in the Arenal Volcano area, the Baldi Hot Springs is a rare treat that offers ultimate relaxation. The expansive geothermally-heated springs vary in temperature because the surrounding rivers flow into them. That means there’s a perfect fit for everyone to enjoy a good soak.
Visitors are surrounded by pristinely landscaped grounds, crystalline waterfalls, and stunning wildlife which make for a truly memorable experience. Be sure to bring a towel and come thirsty to enjoy a cocktail at one of the three swim-up bars onsite. Nestled at the foot of the sleeping Arenal Volcano, many regard the Baldi Hot Springs as the “purest” hot springs the world has to offer. The best part? The springs are 100% pure of contamination and are rumored to have healing properties.
4) Arenal Volcano National Park
The Baldi Hot Springs are not the only major draw in Arenal, Costa Rica. The sprawling 29,692-acre Arenal Volcano National Park is actually home to two volcanos, although one, the Chato Volcano, has remained inactive for 3,500 years.
At 5,437 feet, the Arenal Volcano demands your attention. But you will be most entranced by the looming clouds surrounding its peak. While the volcano has been in the resting phase for over four decades, it has a history of both major and minor eruptions. Thankfully for travelers, the volcano’s seismicity, explosions, as well as lava flows have decreased significantly since 2010. Scientists have assured the public that it is still, in fact, “alive” and that it’s simply resting.
While at the park, you can see evidence of remains from the massive 1968 eruption of the Arenal Volcano. Take a hike over to the edge of Arenal Lake to find the largest dammed lake in all of Central America. There are a number of memorable views to take in throughout the hikes through the park, including the collapsed crater from Chato Volcano which gives way to a picturesque lagoon.
Throughout your journey in the volcanic region and nationally protected lands, you will be treated to the sights and sounds of Costa Rica’s native wildlife. Watch for parrots, magpies, tapir, deer, monkeys, and many more. The park also features countless plants, including several species of palms, fungi, ferns, orchids, and bromeliads.
Be prepared to wear your comfortable walking shoes for this unforgettable adventure through the Costa Rican jungle. The Arenal National Volcano Park is ideal for experiencing the raw beauty of Costa Rica.
5) Monteverde Cloud Forest
The Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve gives travelers a chance to experience Costa Rica’s most remarkable landscapes up close.
Take in 360-degree views of the lush jungle. The thick moisture in the air helps to preserve the vegetation and protects the biodiversity found in the cloud forest. Wander over suspension bridges and watch for spider monkeys, coatis, and raccoons. If you’re lucky, you just might catch a rare glimpse of tapirs, pumas, jaguars, or even ocelots. The Monteverde Cloud Forest will make you feel as if you are one with the land and the wildlife inhabiting it.
This list is just for starters
Costa Rica is a country that prides itself on preservation and sustainability. The country encourages you to experience its raw beauty while seeing the immense value the nation’s people place on keeping the environment as pristine as possible. But this list just scratches the surface of the amazing places that you can discover here.
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