Costa Rica, the green soul of Central America, has been on your wish list for a long time? Would you like to walk on narrow paths through enchanted rainforest and look out for exotic animals? Or enjoy breathtaking views from mighty volcanic peaks and feel the sun-warmed sand of the deserted beaches between your toes? What are you waiting for?
Depending on your preferences, you should plan your own personal travel route. Nevertheless, I recommend you some highlights in Costa Rica that you absolutely have to see! During my trip through Costa Rica I got to know the most beautiful corners of the country and have put together my 9 favorites for you.
1. Pure Caribbean feeling in Puerto Viejo
In Puerto Viejo, a charming village on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, the clocks seem to tick a little slower. A wide variety of spirits meet here. Surfers, hippies, yogis, backpackers and artists create a very special atmosphere in the small village. Brightly painted houses, modern restaurants, small boutiques and the typical street vendors with homemade jewelry line the streets and immediately put me in the mood for a stroll.
The casual attitude towards life of the Ticos carries me away from the first second and I start my vacation in Costa Rica with a refreshing Imperial and a view of the Caribbean Sea – simply fantastic! If you want to experience the Costa Rican “Pura Vida”, then you definitely have to plan a stop in Puerto Viejo! And oh yes, if you’re looking for dream beaches where you can really relax, you’ve come to the right place.
2. Beach hike and wildlife watching in Cahuita National Park
I walk on sandy paths along the Caribbean coast of the Cahuita National Park. The Costa Rican flora and fauna are close enough to touch on the roadside. Every now and then I stand face to face with a monkey, raccoon or a snake – it’s amazing! The hiking trail meanders mostly through tropical rainforest, in whose trees cheeky howler and capuchin monkeys play around. In addition, the cuddly sloths can often be spotted in the treetops and they are wonderful to watch. Sometimes the path leads directly along the beach and you can’t help but plunge into the inviting sea in between.
With so much distraction you hardly notice the effort and I was surprised when I reached the end of the path after eight kilometers and suddenly found myself in civilization after this intense experience of nature. The hike creates an adventurous Robinson Crusoe feeling and is definitely one of my highlights in Costa Rica!
3. Thin mountain air on the Irazú volcano
Another highlight in Costa Rica are the countless volcanoes that rise from the earth like mighty giants. A visit to the volcano is therefore definitely a must and must be included in the travel program for Costa Rica! For me, a trip to the Irazú volcano was on the program. Don’t worry, you don’t necessarily have to climb the volcano on foot; the Irazú volcano, the highest fire eater in Costa Rica, can be easily “climbed” by car.
After an interesting drive through rural regions and parts of the mystical cloud forest, I reach the summit – at least almost. From the parking lot it goes a few meters over the barren lava field and I can take a look at the turquoise-blue acid lake in the volcanic crater before I climb a short climb to the actual summit. The short effort is definitely worth it, because from up here you can enjoy a fabulous view and in good weather you can see both the Pacific and the Caribbean coast. Unfortunately, that was not the case for me, but I can very well imagine how impressive it must be!
4. Huge trees in the Monteverde cloud forest
I especially like the vegetation in the mountain village of Monteverde! Here the charm of a mountain village meets the sometimes mystical atmosphere of the cloud forest. Jungle trees crooked by the wind and overgrown with moss as well as exotic birds amaze me on various hikes! I was particularly impressed by the huge trees in the reserve, the trunks of which are hollow and you can stand in one of these impressive giants. I looked up at the treetop in awe and suddenly felt very small. This experience was a very special nature experience for me and was immediately added to the list of highlights in Costa Rica. However, if you want to experience nature a little more action-packed, you can also enjoy outdoor activities here, such as B. Doing canopy, combining nature with an adrenaline rush.
5. Experience rainforest adventures in La Tigra
Are you ready for a little rainforest adventure and another highlight in Costa Rica? The La Tigra Rainforest Lodge is located in the middle of the Costa Rican rainforest. Here you can live next door to raccoon, red-eyed tree frog and agouti! The huts built on stilts are open at the front – pure rainforest experience! At night I was especially fascinated by the background noise, which drowns out the silence of the pitch-dark nights and makes me wonder which animals are probably moving around the hut. On a night hike, you can keep an eye out for croaking tiny creatures and help protect species by planting your own jungle tree. My tree was a small almond tree and I hope it will thrive and grow into a giant one day. For me, the time at the La Tigra Rainforest Lodge is a break from everyday life and an experience for all the senses – in the lodge’s restaurant, you can also enjoy delicious dishes made from ingredients from your own permaculture garden or from the region. Splendid!
6. Highlights to the power of three: Arenal Volcano, Lake Arenal and La Fortuna
Around the Arenal volcano you will be delighted with three highlights of Costa Rica at once! The perfectly formed Arenal volcano can be seen from afar and shows travelers the way to one of the most beautiful regions of Costa Rica. Right at the foot of the volcano, I first explore the town of La Fortuna, which invites you to take a stroll with its many small restaurants, cafés and souvenir shops. La Fortuna is also the perfect starting point for excursions in the surrounding region. In particular, outdoor sports such as mountain biking, canopy and rafting are offered here and ensure enough adrenaline.
My eyes can barely see enough of the picturesque Arenal Lake. For those who can be just as fascinated by enchanting natural landscapes, I recommend driving along the Arenal Lake. You can eat delicious sandwiches and cakes on the large terrace of the “Cafe & Macadamia” restaurant on the northern shore of the lake. There is also a free view that is priceless.
7. The magic of the Rio Celeste
Do you know the typical picture from Costa Rica, in which a turquoise blue river meanders happily through the rainforest? This fairytale place is the Rio Celeste in the Tenorio National Park. After an adventurous hike you will reach the waterfall of the Rio Celeste and be enchanted by the almost unreal sight. The water plunges about 30 meters into the depth and fills a small lake before the river searches its way through the rainforest.
I haven’t seen the combination of deep green rainforest and turquoise blue water anywhere else. At least as fascinating is the point at which the river suddenly takes on the bright blue color, when a little further up it looks like any other river. As if there was an invisible border and someone had filled one side with blue paint. Enthusiastic about the beauty of nature and the magic of the place, I can only recommend a trip to the Rio Celeste – a highlight in Costa Rica that you shouldn’t miss!
8. On the trail of the tapir in Corcovado National Park
Far in the south of Costa Rica a very special natural highlight awaits you! The Corcovado National Park is located on the Osa Peninsula, far from any civilization. It is the largest national park in Costa Rica and most visitors without question consider it the most beautiful park in the country – I can share this fascination and I would like to recommend the park to you! In Corcovado National Park I finally find the pristine and wild natural landscapes of Costa Rica and let myself be drawn into the spell of the unique ecosystem.
Driven by a thirst for adventure, I go on various hikes in the park and not only get to see an extraordinary flora, but also an exotic and species-rich animal world! Here it is also worth keeping your eyes open for a tapir, because with a little luck you may encounter one of the shy animals in the national park. For nature lovers in particular, the Corcovado National Park is definitely one of the highlights in Costa Rica!
9. Lonely beaches around Sámara
The cozy village of Sámara is located directly on the picturesque coast of the Nicoya Peninsula. The stay on the Pacific is the last stop on my trip and so I can really relax before my return flight. I choose to soak up the sun, stroll through souvenir shops, sip delicious cocktails on the beach and plunge into the Pacific waves on the surfboard.
With a rental car I can also explore the many bays around Sámara. Mostly completely deserted, the fine sandy beaches invite you to linger and daydream. Even all active people, for whom a “beach holiday” is often out of the question, can certainly relax for a while – I know for sure, because I also belong to that kind. There is something about these lonely bays that you just want to stay… So for me the lonely beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula are a very special highlight in Costa Rica.
All in all, I would say that Costa Rica is a very diverse country. If you are interested in nature and animals, Costa Rica should definitely be on your list of countries to visit. Perhaps you are wondering why, apart from the small Caribbean town of Puerto Viejo, there is no other city among my highlights? Well, as unbelievably beautiful as the country’s natural landscapes are, the cities are so inconspicuous. Through the capital San José you can z. B. go on a city tour and plunge into the hustle and bustle, but the city is not a highlight for me.