Nestled between Nicaragua and Panama in Central America is a tropical paradise just waiting to surprise you with its blissful beaches, bustling cities, and vibrant forests. The place is Costa Rica, and with borders by both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, the vacation vibes could not be any stronger.
With such a prime location, the appeal of Costa Rica is obvious. When you consider its other fantastic features, the destination is even more compelling.
It features incredible biodiversity, making it a wonderful place to enjoy the outdoors and wildlife. From its impressive butterfly population to its title as butterfly capital of the world, there is no shortage of animals in their natural environments (such as the rainforest).
Whether you’re in it for the adventure into nature, the dreamy coastlines, or the culture full of delicious food, close-knit community, and vibrant living, Costa Rica is a desirable destination. In fact, we’d consider it a must-visit, especially for those living in the United States!
If you need more reason to hop aboard the next flight to paradise, don’t worry; we’re here to explain in-depth just what makes Costa Rica a place you absolutely have to visit! Our guide to the top places to visit in Costa Rica will get your gears turning and your mind drifting to exactly where you most want to travel.
The Top Six Places to Travel in Costa Rica
While Costa Rica is a small country—approximately the size of Lake Michigan, in fact—it is teeming with fantastic travel opportunities. If you’re struggling to narrow down your list of destinations, trust us, we’re right there with you.
There are just so many unbelievable beaches, immersive cultural epicenters, undisturbed natural wonders, and more to explore and experience in Costa Rica. It actually took us quite a bit of time and effort to come up with our favorite spots!
Instead of writing a full-length book about the various regions of Costa Rica worth visiting, though, we were able to pare down our list to include the top six places to travel in Costa Rica. It took much research, thought, and lively debate, but we think you’ll find the result to be enlightening and exciting!
When you think of tropical getaways, pristine beaches are likely the first thing on your mind. Well, Puerto Viejo will deliver your sandy dream destination and then some.
With shimmering turquoise waters that barely seem real to idyllic palm trees and soft white sands, the beaches in Puerto Viejo are some of the best in the Caribbean. The reasons to visit don’t stop there, either.
White water rafting, wildlife refuges, snorkeling, local culture, and more are all on full display in Puerto Viejo, ensuring that your Costa Rica vacation will be as well-rounded and fulfilling as possible!
Don’t worry; we’re not sending you to a fiery demise. Poas Volcano is one of the most incredible natural sights in the country and a popular tourist destination.
This active volcano is the focal point of a national park in Costa Rica, and for good reason. Thanks to the rainfall in the region, the crater atop the volcano features a surprisingly green lake that bubbles and steams due to the sulfuric gases and geothermal forces the volcano generates.
If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure full of hiking and wonderous views, Poas Volcano should be atop your Costa Rica travel itinerary!
When you step foot on this island, you will feel as though you have just entered an entirely new world.
Accessible only by boat or plane, Tortuguero is a nature lover’s dream. Dense rainforest offers true exploration, while howler monkeys and sea turtles abound. If you are looking for a serene location full of wildlife and natural wonder, Tortuguero is hard to beat.
Of course, there’s more to this destination than the unbelievable natural environment. You’ll also experience Costa Rican culture, delicious traditional foods, and abundant time in and around the water!
Monteverde (Cloud Forest)
If you’re not familiar with Costa Rica’s cloud forest, the name might seem strange. Trust us, while it’s not a forest on a cloud or a place where cloud formations have replaced the trees, it is a magical destination filled with awe and beauty.
As a dream destination for hikers, Monteverde offers magnificent forest experiences and views that are accessible via footpaths that zigzag through the lush, green plant life. You’ll walk on plush moss, cross hanging bridges, and feel immersed in the cool, misty environment of the forest.
When you’re not hiking, there is plenty of local culture and cuisine to enjoy. For those who enjoy a slow-paced, less-crowded vacation, Monteverde is the ideal spot. Despite the allure of the forest and surrounding areas, it remains a lowkey, less-traveled Costa Rican paradise.
Some people go to the beach to soak up the sun, dig their toes into the sand, and let the waves wash away their stress. Others view the coast as an opportunity to embrace a challenge and try new things. Tamarindo is the ideal spot for both.
If you want to learn to surf, the beaches at Tamarindo are the perfect opportunity. With surf shops galore and instructors to boot, you’ll be hanging ten in no time!
Tamarindo also offers vibrant city life, making it ideal for those who want to hit the town. From live music to exquisite dining, the community boasts nonstop events, great shopping, and pedestrian-friendly areas.
Wholesome and boasting a palpable sense of community, Montezuma is home to friendly faces, amazing food, and active lifestyles.
It’s not all yoga and good vibes that make Montezuma a desirable destination. Natural attractions abound in and around Montezuma, giving you the opportunity to ride horseback on the beaches, bask in the bountiful sunlight, and feel the refreshing mist of a waterfall.
You can even take a zipline tour over a waterfall, enjoy a boat ride and snorkeling session, and spot dolphins frolicking in their natural habitat!
Preparing to Travel to Costa Rica During COVID-19
Costa Rica is a paradise patiently waiting for visitors. However, a bit of hesitation is understandable during these uncertain times. Travel, especially that of the international variety, is not as simple as it was a few short months ago.
Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, travelers must be more aware of the risks and restrictions associated with international trips. For example, there is always the possibility of infection, which would inevitably lead to quarantining and paperwork on top of feeling poorly.
You should also be aware of new restrictions that are in place; namely, the requirement of a negative COVID-19 test in order to travel back to the United States!
Despite these new hurdles to overcome, Costa Rica is a tropical wonderland that is well-worth the current challenges. With proper planning, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy an adventurous, relaxing journey to one of the dreamy locations discussed above.
You may even branch out from our list to explore one of the many fantastic gems not mentioned in this article. Trust us, there are a lot of them out there just waiting to be discovered!