If all you knew about Latin America’s "rich coast" is that it produces great coffee, then you’re in for a treat. A trip to Costa Rica is a tropical treasure trove, filled with protected rainforest, vibrant jungle wildlife, gloriously deserted beaches and majestic, active volcanoes. Oh – and not forgetting a host of unusual places to stay.
With two coasts and over 300 beaches to choose from, there’s no excuse not to lay out that towel at least once during your stay! But if you’d rather exert some energy, Costa Rica is well-known for its epic surfing opportunities. Head for the Península de Nicoya, or the surfer town of Dominical – part of the jungle-rich Costa Ballena – for some of the best.
Meanwhile, tranquil Playa Sámara fulfils your every tropical beach dream, and you’ll find Montezuma wonderfully laid-back (it’s a little hard to get to, but so worth it!) Home to a turtle sanctuary, you can surround yourselves with soft white sand and sparkling natural pools that are reminiscent of paradise itself.
Rather dance the night away? Then head for Puerto Viejo, the fascinating, mostly English-speaking part of Costa Rica, where you can shimmy to reggae music after a hearty meal of jerk chicken.
Sustainable tourism is huge here – well, with scenery this astounding, it makes sense to conserve it. In fact, one quarter of Costa Rica’s wild land is protected by law, and it’s also one of the world’s most biodiverse countries, home to half a million species. This is one of the best places to spot the rare, remarkable quetzal, with three-toed sloths and the forest native tapir sighted as often as a common British garden bird.
Head for Tortuguero, one of the country’s many national parks, to revel in unspoilt jungle, coastal wetlands and rich wildlife. Corcovado national park boasts 164 square miles of beach-fringed rainforest, while the famed Manuel Antonio is teeming with mischievous monkeys!
An unmissable visitor indulgence, Volcán Arenal is a perfectly conical active volcano, surrounded by hot springs it’d be a crime not to take a dip in. Take one of the many amazing hiking trails, or pay a visit to the surrounding towns for a well-deserved cup of that famous Costa Rican coffee.
(If you prefer to work a bit harder for your rewards, you could always scale the heights of the country’s highest peak – Cerro Chirripó – and bask in views of the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean).
Don’t forget to pay a visit to the capital, San Jose, during your stay, where you’ll find cultural icons that include the Museo del Oro (Museum of Gold) and the grand Teatro Nacional.
Surrounded by so much natural beauty and vitality, perhaps it isn’t surprising that Costa Ricans are known to live longer, more healthy lives than the rest of us. You’ll hear the term "pura vida" (pure life) almost everywhere you go, and just like Costa Rica itself, it’s something you aren’t likely to forget.
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