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Vacation in Costa Rica: Beautiful Nature & Great Adventure

Costa Rica is and remains simply a dream. Once you have escaped from the capital city of San José, you will find incredible scenery, locals who welcome you with open arms, and endless beaches, some of which you even have completely to yourself. In addition, there is untouched nature and an exotic animal world that invites you to discover. 

On vacation in Costa Rica, you will experience the biodiversity of nature that is rarely found anywhere else in the world. The country in Central America is bordered by Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south. To the east is the Caribbean and to the west is the Pacific. Costa Rica has made a name for itself primarily as a progressive country. And you also benefit from this when you travel to Costa Rica: because many areas are well developed for tourism and score with a high level of comfort. Costa Rica also focuses on sustainability and nature – About a quarter of the country, which covers more than 19,000 square miles, is under nature protection. Check out the best deals on flights and hotels.

Check out these other destination pages for inspiration for your next trip.

Arrival to Costa Rica

Arriving by plane is the easiest way to get to Costa Rica. Juan Santamaria International Airport San Jose (SJO) is the best to fly into. The capital's airport is about 12 miles from the city. You can get to your accommodation by bus from Alajuela to San Jose or by one of the distinctive orange taxis that wait outside the airport. The country's second major airport is located in northern Costa Rica. The Daniel Oduber International Airport near Liberia is ideal if you want to book a cheaper flight with a connection.

In Costa Rica, you can reach your destination quickly and comfortably with an intercity bus.

Is the way the goal for you? Then plan your Costa Rica vacation as part of a relaxing cruise. In addition to the popular vacation destination, you are also heading for various other regions in South and Central America. The cruises take you through the Caribbean and to the east coast of Costa Rica to the port of Puerto Limon. There are also tours of the Panama Canal where the ships are anchored in Puntarenas.

Entry Information for Costa Rica

When entering the country, show your passport that is still valid for at least six months. This is sufficient for a stay of up to 90 days. Children must also show their own passport. When you leave the country, you pay a departure tax of around 29 US dollars. Important: Anyone entering via the USA must also observe the entry regulations of this country.

Tip: Although Costa Rica is making great strides in terms of safety, experts advise against being careless on the beaches or at the bus stations in San José.

Weather, Climate, & the Best Time to Travel to Costa Rica

Costa Rica has a Pacific and Caribbean coast. Temperatures range from 85°F to as high as 100°F year-round, but the Caribbean side of the country can experience more rain than the Pacific side. The place with the least rainfall in the country is the Guanacaste Peninsula on the Pacific side of Costa Rica.

Best Time to Travel to the Pacific Side of Costa Rica

December through April is the dry season on the Pacific side. Especially in December, when nature is still saturated from the rainy season, it is particularly beautiful and, therefore, high season in Costa Rica. The rainy season, also known as the Green Season, begins from May to June, but the amount of rain is still limited. From July to August there is the so-called little summer. It can rain now and then, but there is still plenty of sunshine and nature is in full bloom. For most people, we recommend the small summer as the perfect travel time for Costa Rica. Tourism is more reserved, everything is becoming cheaper, the nature is simply incredible and the weather is still super nice. From September to November comes the full rainy season. It can really rain for days here.

High season: December to April

Small rainy season: May to June

Small summer: July to August

Rainy season: September to November

Best Time to Travel to the Caribbean Side of Costa Rica

January through April is the dry season on the Caribbean side. From May to December there is the green season, or rainy season. Monsoon-like rainfall can occur here, flooding roads and paths. So caution is advised and you should keep a close eye on the weather.

High season: January to April

Rainy season: May to December

Costa Rica Vacation Inspiration: Why You Should Take a Costa Rica Vacation

Costa Rica offers a varied landscape characterized by rainforests, mountains, waterfalls, and coasts. Just the thing for outdoor fans!

The Arenal National Park with the volcano of the same name and Lake Arenal is a real highlight. Around the volcano, you will find breathtaking nature. The park is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Central America for a reason!

If you are planning a Central America trip to Costa Rica, a hike through the rainforest should not be missed. The best known is the Monteverde Rainforest, which lies south of Arenal Park. The diverse flora and fauna of the forest is breathtaking. With a bit of luck, you can observe rare bird species here and not only encounter mighty trees, but also colorful flowers.

One of Costa Rica's most beautiful beaches is on the Caribbean coast, Puerto Viejo is equally popular with vacationers and surfers. Here you will find both relaxation and adventure! You can also find beautiful beaches on the Pacific coast. The small town of Montezuma attracts with its relaxed atmosphere.

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Where in Costa Rica Should You Vacation?

When it comes to vacations in Costa Rica, many people probably first think of the country’s picturesque beaches. The region has a lot more to offer.

Trekking Tours through the Mountains of Costa Rica

The northern mountain region is very popular with active vacationers. Among other things, the active Arenal Volcano with the neighboring Arenal Lake is located here. This body of water is a real paradise for windsurfers from all over the world. In addition, many people travel here to explore the rainforest area.

Vacation in the North Pacific Region of Costa Rica

The northern Pacific region includes the area around Guanacaste and the Nicoya Peninsula. The special appeal of this region is the enormous variety of landscapes.

The Heart of Costa Rica: The Central Valley

The capital San José is located in the middle of the Central Valley. The metropolis scores with a wide range of leisure activities and many sights. From here, it is not far to the central Pacific coast, where picturesque beaches line one another. These are well developed in terms of infrastructure.

The Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica

In the east of the country is the Caribbean coast, which also has great bathing opportunities. You will also discover numerous national parks and rainforests. This region is particularly suitable for a tour by rental car from north to south along the coast.

The South of Costa Rica

When you arrive in the south, you visit the Osa Peninsula - a real insider tip in the middle of wild nature. Here you can see all the animals that you only know from the zoo: monkeys, snakes, parrots and the like are at home there. The scene of many legends - in which it is above all about great treasures - is Cocos Island. According to legend, this island served as a template for Robert Louis Stevenson's classic " Treasure Island ". Treasure hunting is no longer allowed on the island, which is a nature reserve, but the breathtaking nature in all its diversity is more than enough as a reward for the journey.

Our pirate tip: For the brave among you, we recommend a diving safari on Cocos Island. Sometimes you can see hammerhead sharks and sea turtles.

Highlights: Sights in Costa Rica

Let's get down to the most important things. The sights in Costa Rica that you definitely shouldn't miss. It goes high up in the mountains, to dream beaches and you visit cute little fishing villages. This country in Central America will inspire you with great sights. You shouldn't miss out on various highlights.

Cerro Chirripó – The Highest Mountain in Costa Rica

You can get a great view if you climb the highest mountain in the country, Cerro Chirripó. You look to the Pacific Ocean to the southwest and the Caribbean Sea to the northeast. You plan two days for the ascent - because only a certain number of hikers are allowed per day.

The Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica

This volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in America. The last time it erupted was in 1968. Puffs of smoke can still be seen from time to time rising from the crater. The volcano and its surroundings - consisting of a national park with powerful waterfalls - is one of the tourist highlights in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica's Monteverde Cloud Forest - The Cloud Forest

The so-called Cloud Forest in Monteverde is located in the mountains of Puntarenas Province, just across the border from Guanacaste Province. Getting it is difficult. On the gravel road, you cover a few feet in altitude in the serpentines of Costa Rica. The streets are narrow, there are no barriers and there is a drop of hundreds of feet next to you, but don't let that put you off. You will be rewarded for the difficult journey. Up here in Monteverde, the climate is cooler, it can cool down to 60°F at night.

The cloud forest itself consists of pure jungle. Low-hanging lianas, tropical nature, and unusual, colorful birds populate the forest. The whole thing is pervaded by a mysterious layer of fog that places a strange stillness over the forest and pushes the humidity to the extreme. You just wait for the snake Kaa to descend from the treetops in front of you. You have to be a bit lucky because there is not always fog in the Cloud Forest, but the visit is always worthwhile because the nature is fascinating and you get a great view of the green and surrounding mountains in the area.

With colorful flora and fauna and a large variety of species, the Monteverde cloud forest fascinates. In this rainforest you will see rare bird species, if you pay attention, you will discover a hummingbird or a quetzal, for example. But also different butterflies can be seen. Other animals that make their home here include, among others

  • monkeys

  • tapirs

  • wildcats

Costa Rica's Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio can be found on the mainland, opposite the peninsula, and it belongs to Puntarenas Province. Here you will find white sandy beaches, coral reefs, and rocky rainforests. Even if it can get a bit crowded here, you should definitely not miss the national park, because the sea is particularly beautiful here. If it gets too crowded for you, you can simply drive one station further. To Matapalo. Here you will find 15 miles of totally deserted beach to enjoy.

A Break in the Village of Montezuma, Costa Rica

The idyllic village of Montezuma is not only at the top of the list for backpackers. Here - in the former drop-out village - you will find peace and relaxation. Relax in the naturopathic centers or try your hand at yoga. When exploring the surrounding area, you will be amazed at the Montezuma waterfall and go on extensive hiking tours through the endless forests of the region.

Hanging Bridges in Monteverde

If you're ever in Monteverde, then you should definitely do the Hanging Bridges Tour. Those of you who are afraid of heights might want to take a break here. At dizzy heights, you can go on suspension bridges over and through the jungle. The trail through the jungle is 1.5 miles long and the tour lasts almost three hours. Admission is from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. So at three, the last groups are let loose on the bridges. It's a shaky affair and you shouldn't look too closely at the suspension bridges, but it's a lot of fun and a great view .

Fishing Village of Sámara in Costa Rica

If you are traveling in Guanacaste, then you should also make a detour to the fishing village of Sámara. The city is small, colorful, and full of life. There are many great restaurants right on the beach, which are especially worth visiting at sunset.

Life itself takes place here on the beach. Families get together, volleyball is played, surfers go surfing and tourists mingle with the locals.

There are also dozens of great beaches around Sámara. Such as Playa Carillo. A seemingly endless, white sand beach, which is located in a curved bay and is lined with palm trees. The sea here is relatively calm by Pacific standards, and it glitters bright blue in the blazing sun. It can get crowded here on weekends as the locals love to socialize here. So if you want more peace, then you should come here during the week. At the far end of the beach, you will find a bridge from which you can even watch crocodiles and alligators in the mangroves.

Also just a short distance from Sàmara you will find Playa Buena Vista and Playa Barrigona, also known as the "White Sand Beach" or "Mel Gibson Beach" by the locals. Why Mel Gibson Beach you ask? The actor has a huge property above the beach, which is now for sale. At Playa Barrigona you will find great, white sand and crystal clear water. However, you should note that the currents are very strong here and the waves are quite high, but the beach is perfect for surfing.

Right next to Playa Barrigona you will find Playa Buena Vista, which is usually only visited by locals from the surrounding small houses. For the most part, however, you can have the beach all to yourself. The sea is a little calmer here than at Playa Barrigona and the beach itself is very spacious. For the surfers among you who consider yourself more of a novice surfer, I would recommend Buena Vista as a destination to tame the waves of the Pacific.

A little insider tip: if you take the road back to the beach, you will end up at a fork that will take you right towards Sámara and left towards the long stretch towards Sámara. Here, on the right, is the Ferreteria El Coyote. A small restaurant run by two locals. The corrugated iron-covered restaurant, which is open on both sides and has only a few seats, has the best dishes in the area. Fishfingers that send you to seventh heaven, ceviche that tastes unique, and a garlic and spinach sauce that you want to sink your teeth into are all served here.

Playas del Coco in Guanacaste

Playas del Coco is one of the oldest beach communities in Guanacaste. Even if the city is relatively touristy, it is worth stopping by here, because here you can book a great catamaran tour with a sunset on the sea. Vision Ocean Tours takes you out onto the Golfo de Papagayo and you sail towards Monkey Rock. A rock shaped like a giant gorilla head jutting out of the water. Then we continue to a deserted bay, with crystal clear water and white sand. Here monkeys greet you on the beach and you can discover the underwater world while snorkeling. Finally, it goes back and the catamaran stays on the water until the sun has set colorfully into the sea. Pure relaxation!

Santa Teresa near Malpaís

Santa Teresa is one of the best surfing beaches you will find in Costa Rica and the area is really beautiful and unique. Getting it is difficult again. It crisscrosses the jungle on a gravel road until you finally come to a small but nice surfing village nestled on the white sandy beach of Santa Teresa. Here the water shines green-blue and the mood is always good. It's relaxed, you can feel the surfer lifestyle and it's not overrun by tourists either. Those who don't dare to step on the boards that mean the world can enjoy the spectacle from the beach under the shady palm trees.

Turtles on Playa Ostional Beach

My last travel tip for Costa Rica is the so-called Arribada on Ostional Beach. An event not to be missed. Huge sea turtles crawl out of the water in masses several times a year to lay their eggs and bury them in the sand. They don't let themselves be disturbed by the people watching them and come very close to you. However, you should treat the animals with respect and not disturb or even touch them. It's just absolutely incredible how they make their arduous way through the sand, dig a hole in the ground, lay the eggs, bury them again, and then head back into the water. Here you can also see how agile the sea turtles can actually be.

Costa Rica's Culture - Food & Drink

The people of Costa Rica - they call themselves Ticos - are very hospitable. The culture of the country is characterized above all by delicious food. The indispensable basics: beans and rice. And don't worry, the Ticos are not as spicy as in other regions in this part of the world.

Rice with black beans and onions is traditionally served at breakfast, along with eggs. At lunchtime or in the evening, rice with beans is back on the menu. This dish is complemented with plantains or cassava and stewed meat.

Our pirate tip: The tamales are a real delicacy. It is meat with cornmeal that is served in a banana leaf.

On the country's Atlantic coast, the cuisine is heavily influenced by the Caribbean. The best example: rice and beans are baked there in coconut oil.