Pura Vida! Where the world can't find you...
Would you like to wake up with bird sounds and the roar of monkeys in an ecolodge in the middle of a tropical rainforest? Then when planning your next trip, think of Costa Rica. This Latin American gem is a of the world’s most sustainable destinations, is compact and travelable and has a wonderful tropical climate year-round. It is rich in mysterious cloud forest, bursting with active volcanoes and has a dazzling biodiversity. Add to that the inviting white beaches, turquoise waters and laid-back lifestyle to it and you have all the ingredients for a dream vacation. Pura Vida! Where the world can’t find you….
Our top five activities and attractions:
1. Take a road trip
Freedom, happiness when traveling by rental car. Costa Rica is a safe country that is ideal to explore by self drive. With an area of about 51,000 km², it is barely larger than the Netherlands and you can easily combine the highlights of your choice in a short time. On your own and at your pace! Stops will introduce you to Costa Rican culture, a vibrant mix of indigenous heritage and Spanish colonial influences with touches of Jamaican, Chinese and other immigrant cultures. The locals are extremely warm-hearted, relaxed and have Pura Vida! as their life motto, “the pure life,” which means as much as “live in the moment and enjoy.
2. Outdoor activities
With its always pleasant temperatures and incomprehensible green nature, Costa Rica is the perfect destination for outdoor adventures.
In the fairytale cloud forest of Monteverde, hike across suspension bridges up to 35 meters high and discover a new world in the canopy of forest giants. You can zip from platform to platform via cables, mountain biking, hiking, kayaking or “tubing” where you go through the canyon on the Rio Perdido in a big rubber tire.
The area around Arenal volcano is perfect to hike through jungle and along the base of the volcano where you can walk on ancient solidified lava. Marvel at the many geysers and relax in the hot springs heated by thermal energy.
Manuel Antonio National Park – the smallest park in Costa Rica, is located alongside the ocean. Diving, snorkeling, sea kayaking, mountain biking and fishing are some of the things to do here. And of course there are beautiful walks where you can easily see toucans and macaws and curious capuchin monkeys and coatis.
Surfers can indulge in the waters around Costa Rica. Tamarindo beach (or “Tamagringo”) is known for its legendary surf waves and Pavones for its legendary ground-swell with one of the longest left-hand waves in the world.
3. Flora & fauna
Due to its unique location between the North and South American continents, the variety of (micro) climates and the different types of landscapes, the variety of flora and fauna of Costa Rica is extraordinary.
The Tortuguero (turtle village) national park is located in northeastern Costa Rica on the Caribbean coast and is accessible only by plane or boat. The park has a huge biological spectrum that it owes to the presence of eleven habitats including rainforest, green swamps, raffia palm forests and freshwater lagoons. You can see otters, caimans, sloths, spider, howler and capuchin monkeys, and bird species such as oropendulas, toucans and various waterfowl. The lagoons and channels also provide a refuge for the manatee, which is regularly sighted.
The park was established to protect the nesting area of sea turtles, who bury their eggs on the beaches. The beaches of Tortuguero are the main nesting sites for a trio of endangered sea turtles. These are the Leatherback, Green Sea Turtle, and Hawksbill Turtle. Only with a licensed guide the beaches may be visited late at night. The female turtles look for a spot on the beach and with their hind legs they dig a round hole, the nest. They lay about a hundred eggs at a time. They cover the nest and then disappear back into the sea.
The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is located in the beautiful mountain landscape of the Cordillera de Tillaranat an altitude of 1,400 meters. A cloud forest is a specific type of rainforest that is shrouded in mists with high regularity. Monteverde Cloud Forest is known for its enormous biodiversity, 130 species of mammals, 500 species of birds, 120 amphibians and reptiles and more than 3,000 different plants. The vegetation of the cloud forest is characterized by ferns, bromeliads, mosses and orchids that cover the trunks and branches of the forest giants. Combined with the mist, this gives the forest a magical atmosphere. Included in the reserve are the Reserva Biológica Bosque Nuboso Monteverde, with the largest number of orchids in the world and, inter alia, the famous quetzal bird that settles here during its migration.
Osa and Corcovado
Osa Peninsula is located in southwestern Costa Rica by the Pacific Ocean. Half of all the flora and fauna found in Costa Rica can be found here. On the north side of the peninsula is Bahía Drake. Until recently, the bay was only accessible by sea, and partly because of this it is one of the last remaining lowland tropical rainforest areas at the coast. It has a phenomenal mile-long coast with rocks and coves. Much of the peninsula is occupied by the 425-square-mile Corcovado National Park, also known as the Amazon of Costa Rica. Perhaps the most beautiful park in the country, with incredible ecological variety.
4. Special accommodations
The accommodations you can choose from are without exception special and in line with the country’s credo: sustainable! Although you can hardly make a wrong choice, we do have a few tips. In the south, on the Osa Peninsula, you will experience the most extraordinary rainforest experiences at Lapa Rios Ecolodge that vary from medicine tours to starfish hikes. Another ecolodge is El Silencio Lodge & Spa. This one is just an hour and a half from San Jose, tucked between rugged mountains amidst tropical cloud forest. ‘Silencio’ means silence and that is exactly what you experience here. Peace and quietness, surrounded by the sounds of nature. Enjoy activities such as horseback riding, authentic cultural experiences, hikes through the forest, yoga and healing treatments at the spa. For a unique nature experience overlooking the Arenal volcano, choose Nayara Tented Camp. Here you will experience unforgettable sleep-outs and excellent on-site guides will additionally accompany you on exciting activities such as whitewater rafting, hikes to the volcano and jungle treks over suspension bridges.
5. Secluded beaches
Costa Rica – or “Rich Coast” – has a coastline totaling some 1,300 kilometers, blessed with sandy beaches that blur into jungle.
On the Caribbean coast, south of Tortuguero, there are beautiful beaches surrounded by tropical forests such as Playa Cocles near Puerto Viejo. Here, a laid back atmosphere and Caribbean lifestyle merge with long virgin beaches and exotic flora and fauna, and you can do excellent snorkeling and diving among the reefs in the crystal clear waters. A visit to Cahuita National Park is also worthwhile here.
At the top of the Pacific coast you will find Nicoya, a paradise peninsula where many beaches are unknown, only accessible by 4×4 and almost deserted. North Tamarindo is one of those beautiful beaches in the Marino Las Baulas National Park, established to protect the leatherback turtles (baulas) that come here to nest on the beaches. And descend to the southern part of the peninsula, as Playa Coyote, Carrillo and Playa Montezuma and Manzanillo are picture-perfect.
South of Nicoya is Manuel Antonio National Park. It consists of rainforest and four beaches; two dazzling crescent-shaped beaches Manuel Antonio and Espadilla Sur and further Teldoro and Playita. In addition to countless water sports, you can spend your days here with your feet in the sand, looking out for dolphins and passing whales.
An absolute must is Playa Cativo, a very secluded spot in the lee of Osa Peninsula and only accessible by speedboat from Golfito. It is located on a tropical ‘fjord’ that is populated by humpback whales with their young, dolphins and whale sharks during August and September.
After reading this, are you interested in a special tour of Costa Rica? If so, please contact me. I am happy to put together a trip for you, completely customized.