15 Best Things to do in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is strikingly beautiful. Rugged and rain-forested, Costa Rica is located in Central America and shares coasts with the Caribbean and the Pacific. The capital city of San Jose is well connected to all the major American cities. 

Beach lovers, nature seekers, and history buffs, this country has a little bit of everything for everyone. Costa Rica is home to rich biodiversity, ecotourism, numerous national parks, and some great weather which means there is a lot to do here. 

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Image Source: Flickr.com

We bring to you, in no particular order, some of the best things to do in Costa Rica on your next holiday. 

1. Stand tall and watch the panoramic Pacific Ocean from the Manuel Antonio National Park

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Image Source: Flickr.com

Located on the Central Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, the Manuel Antonio National Park brings together the country’s rich biodiversity and a range of touristy activities for everyone to enjoy. The park features three beautiful beaches, miles long casual forest trails, and a dense rainforest with plenty of wildlife to explore. The small and intimate vistas that are built along the rainforest hillside are quite popular and one of the most interesting places to visit in Costa Rica! Visitors must note that this park is closed on Mondays and should plan their travel accordingly.

2. Check out the majestic volcano in the middle of a rainforest at the Arenal Volcano National Park 

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Image Source: Wikipedia.org

Set around the active Arenal Volcano, the Arenal Volcano National Park is located in the northern lowlands, Costa Rica. The park has many interesting hiking trails like the Sendero Colada 1968, Sendero El Ceibo, Tucanes, and Coladas de Lava (Lava flow). Set out on these trails and chance upon seeing some of the forest’s best-kept secrets like the large Ceiba tree, a Rainbow toucan, and of course the park’s star attraction - Arenal Volcano. Cerro Chato is yet another volcano in the park but is extinct now. Nothing like standing close to an active volcano, now is there? Other park attractions include La Fortuna waterfall and Cataratas Fortuna waterfall.

3. Take a thrilling day-trip Poás Volcano and its craters inside the Poás Volcano National Park

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Image Source: Flickr.com

The Poás Volcano is a stratovolcano in Costa Rica. First, the basics – This active volcano has erupted 40 times since 1828, the latest being in April 2017. Laguna Caliente (which is one of the world's most acidic lakes) and Lake Botos are the two crater lakes located near the summit. This has prompted the authorities to create a 2.5 kilometers safety parameter around the volcano and its lakes. And now the fun part! This park is perfect for a day trip. Here you can gaze at the incredible views of the turquoise lake, observe wildlife like jaguars, spider monkeys, and electric-colored frogs, soak up the lush scenery, and relax at a beautiful tropical waterfall. 

4. Reach deep into the jungles of the Tortuguero National Park 

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Image Source: Pixabay.com

Known for its intimate climate, wildlife species, and vegetation, the Tortuguero National Park is one of the best things to do in Costa Rica. Located on Costa Rica's northern Caribbean coast, this park serves as a nesting ground for sea turtles, including green turtles. An eco-travel paradise, the Tortuguero National Park is also one of the wettest places in Costa Rica. The best way to explore this park is along its serpentine rivers that open up in lush jungles bringing you close to the park’s wildlife like monkeys, sloths, parrots, crocodiles, caimans, and many more exotic animals. For the adventure lovers, the parks dark sand beaches and dangerous rip-tides will serve as quite a high! 

5. Visit the wet, remote and rugged Corcovado National Park

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Image Source: Flickr.com

This place is referred to by National Geographic as “the most biologically intense place on Earth in terms of biodiversity” and one of the must do in Costa Rica! Corcovado National Park is located on the Osa Peninsula and home to 13 ecosystems including the lowland rainforest, highland cloud forest, jolillo palm forest, mangrove swamps, coastal marine, and beach habitats. The park is also home to 4 species of monkey, 40 species of frogs, 28 species of lizards, 100 species of butterflies, 400 species of birds, and at least 10,000 other insects!

6. Get outdoors at the Lake Arenal 

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Image Source: Flickr.com

Offering opportunities like wildlife watching, jungle hiking, water sports, and other activities, the Lake Arenal is located next to the Arenal Volcano and boasts of a perfect climate and a beautiful landscape. This lake is the largest lake in Costa Rica and its activities include rainforest exploration, pedal boarding, walking over its hanging bridges, and wildlife and bird watching.

7. Zipline through the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve 

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Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Imaging winding through tall trees wrapped in mist. The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is located along the Cordillera de Tilarán and is one of the best tourist destinations of Costa Rica. Wander along this lush 25,700-acre reserve and chance upon spotting a small hummingbird, or a resplendent quetzal feasting on a ripe avocado!

8. Explore the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park

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Image Source: Flickr.com

Imagine an amazingly uncrowded jungle with walking trails, towering peaks, hidden waterfalls, geysers, hot springs, camping, and wildlife. Costa Rica’s Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park is just that and so much more. One of the most popular parks in Guanacaste, the smooth cinder cone volcano of Rincon de la Vieja is the main attraction here. 

9. Visit the unsurpassed Cahuita National Park 

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Image Source: Flickr.com

Protecting Costa Rica's best coral reef formations, the Cahuita National Park is one of the top attractions in Costa Rica. The beach here is one of the best in the country and is known for its scuba-diving or snorkeling facilities. Apart from stunning corals, here you can spot eels, sea cucumbers, manta rays, sharks and sea urchins. On the land, there are many colorful birds and mammals that call this place home. 

10. Hike up to the La Fortuna Waterfall

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Image Source: Flickr.com

This is the not-to-be-missed destination of Costa Rica. La Fortuna Waterfall in central Costa Rica drops about 70−75 meters and is located at the base of the dormant Chato volcano. The best way to reach this waterfall is to hike, which can be pretty challenging. The views definitely make up for it.  

11. Visit the lovely Playas del Coco 

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Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

The "Playas del Coco" is one of the oldest beach communities of Costa Rica. A recreation gateway, this place is surrounded by palm-lined beaches and rocky bays which makes this one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica. This is a typical beach town with many bars, restaurants, souvenir shops and lots of good times. 

12. Head to the pristinely beautiful Golfo Dulce 

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Image Source: Flickr.com

Located at the South of the Province of Puntarenas, Golfo Dulce is a gulf in Costa Rica. This place is not yet on many travelers’ radar and you should make full use of its secluded beaches, exclusive ecolodges, indigenous wildlife, and abundant shades of green and blue! 

13. Explore the Irazú Volcano

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Image Source: Pexels.com

The Irazú Volcano is yet another active volcano in Costa Rica. Located in the Cordillera Central close to the city of Cartago, you can visit this fascinating volcano by hiking through the jungles. Explore its nearby rugged terrain, exciting lakes, and the surrounding jungles. 

14. Holiday at the Nicoya Peninsula

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Image Source: Flickr.com

Situated on Costa Rica's Pacific coast, the Nicoya Peninsula features an 80-mile shoreline and has some of the best surf beaches in Costa Rica including the Playa Santa Teresa, Playa Mal País, and Playa Grande. Other things to do in the Nicoya Peninsula include Palo Verde National Park, Barra Honda National Park, Cabo Blanco Absolute Natural Reserve, and Las Baulas National Marine Park among many others. 

15. Explore the Guanacaste Province

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Located in north-western Costa Rica and bordering the Pacific, the Guanacaste Province is known for its beaches and biodiverse parkland. Home to a rare dry tropical forest, its Santa Rosa National Park is home to some 250 bird species and is a must-visit. A surfing and sportfishing paradise, Guanacaste is one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica. 

Sun, sea, nature, & adventure! Costa Rica has it all! Plan a trip to this lovely Central American country this holiday season, because as they say, seeing is believing!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ever since my first trip at the age of 4, I’ve been fascinated to explore places around the world. Lover of world cultures, food, souls and all things blue; I spend most part of my day writing about travel ...

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15 best things to do in costa rica
  • Any fishing opportunities in Costa Rica????

    Answer Report Abuse
    • Hi Harrom. A few of the best places for fishing in Costa Rica include Tamarindo, Lake Arenal, Jacó, and Quepos.

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