earlier this year i arrived in wonderful costa rica from Guatemala on a journey that took me through the whole of north & central america. i wanted to write a more in-depth travel guide with the top things in my opinion to do in costa rica from the tropical beaches in the west to hidden machu picchu esque sites close to the capital that have been hidden from tourists for years.
i'll take you back to the start when i first arrived in costa rica on a flight from guatemala. arriving into the capital i was not filled so much with wonder as san jose is a commercial city like most capitals in the world. but i started to get excited when i made it to my lodging and seen the area surrounding this metropolis, its was a huge valley that stretched as far as the eye can see i remember it was such a vivid green hue. .
the best way to explore costa rica is by car, public transportation here is limited so having the freedom of a car you can head to the coast where costa rica really shines as one of the best destinations in the world.
so now on to the places i truly think are areas of pure beauty and natural wonder. if you looking for a place to stay forget the hotels this is the country they have truly unbelievable villas that must be seen to be believed. costa rican vacations has some spectacular villas for all budgets all over the country. its my go to site for safe secure bookings.
manuel antonio national park
this is a truly spectacular place. its about 2 hours from the capital san jose on the west coast in an area of extreme natural beauty. its a expansive coastal rainforest reserve sustaining rich wildlife including monkeys and sloths. i came here mainly to see sloths as costa rica is one of the best places in the world to glimpse a sight of these illusive animals. i was not disappointed within minutes you will see sloths, monkeys and a whole assortment of animals and marine life. its a place that will stay in your memory forever always longer to one day make it back here.
monteverde cloud forest reserve
a lot of people have no idea that modern eco tourism was born in costa rica and this is the home of eco tourism in the country. here you can go trekking through the forest in search of exotic wild animals on elevated platforms that have been delicately placed in the canopy to give you the best possible vantage point to take in the true grandure of this forest. my recommendation is to stay in either monteverde or santa elena close by for a few days.
guayabo national monument
i had never heard about this place before i arrived in costa rica. actually i never really realised that costa rica had ancient civilisations that could rival some of those in mexico or peru. this is why i travel. i was so surprised and elated to find this little known to outsiders ancient ruins reserve close to san jose less than two hours in fact. its known that in around 800ad this settlement had more than 10,ooo inhabitants with brick roads and a complex water filtration system that pre dates most other civalizations in the region.
its a place where you can spend the whole day the scenery is dramatic and raw the wildlife is all around you and of course as they say in costa rica its all about the flora e fauna.
puerto viejo de talamanca
this little reggae town is more reminiscent of jamaica than it is of costa rica. its a place of music, laughter, love and of course jerk chicken. its a fun place where you can dance the night away to reggae songs, take in the sunset of the beautiful Caribbean coast then the next morning take in the bio diversity of the nearby chautia national park while watching the surfers off the coast of playa blanca.
(secluded beach in the gandoca refuge)
gandoca manzanillo wildlife refuge
delve through over grown cocoa trees and half eaten ripe mango's from the monkeys high up in the canopy. trekking here will take you to another world of pure unhindered bio diversity that makes the heart beat at a 1000 beats a second every time you hear the bushes rustle in anticipation of what you may see. its also an extremely important site for the survival of the leatherback turtle in the caribbean. if you have a little more time i would recommend going during hatching season to volunteer.
if your looking for relaxation, beaches and the 'pura vida' as they say in costa rica then this is the area to come to. its situated in the north west of the county. its a place of outstanding natural beauty that has a great calmness to it. you'll also find here amazing golf courses and even better fresh fish restaurants. one of my favourite things to do here is to rent a kayak in the morning pack a picnic and head out to find a secret beach that you can stay on the whole day. just make sure you get back before sunset.
(casa estrella villa in the papagayo peninsular)
places & things to eat
- street food vendors everywhere
- fresh fish restaurants
- cacao fresco
- gallo pinto
how to get around
- bus ( safe and cheap)
- rental cars are very cheap from san jose from $50 per week.
where to stay
- its all about the villas. book your costa rican vacation package here
length of stay
-as long as you want its a huge country.
- they have their own currency but american dollars are accepted everywhere but not with a good exchange rate.