From the highest peak to its lowest valley, Costa Rica’s wildlife and nature are present in every corner. Tree-line tropical beaches, bursting hot active volcanoes, hissing thermal streams and the most amazing species of flora and fauna, you have it all here in Costa Rica. Always fostering the conservation of these natural wonders, Costa Rica is a prime example when it comes to sustainability and a green mindset. Pristine beaches and forests abound in Costa Rica and some of them are even protected by NGO’s and kept away from touristic development.
Costa Rica’s nine active volcanoes have made quite the impression on visitors who are able to witness them, seen as it reminds them of the power contained in the earth’s mantle. Take for example the Irazú Volcano and its enormous crater with a boiling sulfurous lake. It’s easy to see why Neil Armstrong has stated that its desolate and imposing landscape looks like the surface of the moon. The biggest and most studied volcano is Arenal, booming and rumbling with incredible consistency and being one of the most fascinating sites to see in the nation. Comparably, the non-volcanic Talamanca Range contains two of the country’s highest peaks: Cerro de la Muerte that reaches over 9,483 feet and International American Highway crossing the 11,453 feet. If you are still looking to climb the highest peak in Costa Rica, pay a visit to Chirripó, topping 12,532 feet and requiring a hefty 9-hour hike and cold-weather camping.
Along these upper slopes of Costa Rica and draped in mist and clouds, the forest has sprouted thanks to the mosses, algae, and lichens that get a foothold on the constant wet surfaces. One example of this cloud forest is Montverde, adorned with tall trees and fabulous biodiversity. Some of its inhabitants include the jaguar, ocelot, Baird’s tapir, barrel necked umbrellabird, and the stunning quetzal. Back in 1972, this land was taken by the Tropical Science Center and they made into a secure natural reserve that now has the financial and human resources necessary to protect and expand this precious land, ultimately showing Costa Rica’s commitment to reforestation and sustainability.
The lower lands, on the other hand, are where rainforests can be found. Resonating with the sounds of wrens and antbirds, these types of forests harbor the last strongholds of biodiversity of Earth and are thus fundamental for Costa Rica. A trip to forest-like these makes modern stresses and problems fade away in what is the most authentic and unique experience you could find, almost like taking a trip back in time. Next time you visit Costa Rica, be prepared to be overwhelmed by the countries all-pervasive greenness and don’t worry about missing its wonders, because anywhere you go you’ll find something of its own kind!
Imagine harnessing your adrenaline and gliding through a perfect 6-foot wave in the Pacific Ocean. Stop imagining, feel this for yourself in Costa Rica, the perfect place to learn or enjoy the views of the beaches and connect in the best possible way with the ocean. Far from the crowded beaches, you will find in Hawaii, California, or Sydney, Costa Rica’s white sand shorelines are peaceful and considerably less crowded. We’ll start you off with some of the most famous beaches to surf here in Costa Rica, they include Jacó, Hermosa Beach, Tamarindo, Santa Teresa, Puerto Viejo, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Surf towns are spread out across Costa Rica’s territory, be it in the Pacific or Caribbean coast. The important thing is that each town offers its own wonders and difficulties. If you are a beginner, the best spot to learn and start getting used to the paddling, floating, and diving is Jacó beach in Puntarenas. Just 1 hour away from the capital San José, Jacó is in an ideal location in the center of the Pacific coast to travel and return the same day, with a beginner’s level difficulty and lots of surfing coaches’ options at your disposal. If you travel down south, you can find one of the longest left rides in the world in Pavones beach. The wave is so long it begins at the end of Rio Cairo and lasts up to 1.2 km.
The northern section of the Pacific Coast is home to several national and international surfing tournaments each year. Playa Hermosa, or also “Beautiful Beach”, is the more noticeable one with more than 3.5 km of steep beaches. With its obvious head high peaks throughout the seasons, this section of the coastline is consistent all year long. A surfing mecca for all of you thrill seekers and passionate for the sport, the northern Costa Rican beaches is the right place for you.
While visiting these splendid and authentic beach towns, not only will you appreciate the direct connection between you and the sea, you can also enjoy the traditional food and nightlife of each town. If you are empty handed and don’t have the tools to surf, don’t forget that you can find plenty of surf shops in each location, where you will find everything from a brand-new surfboard to a wax board. Feel inclined to respect the ocean and the environment and enjoy the local scene and awe-inspiring sunsets while you indulge in the water. See you out there!
Just 40 minutes away from the capital of Costa Rica, the evergreen rolling hills of Atenas is a sight you can’t pass by. As you arrive at this traditional Cost Rican rural town, you will be able to perceive its authenticity and sense its amazing climate. As a matter of fact, Atenas is reported to have one of the best climates in the world, where you are able to enjoy temperatures reaching up to 80 ° and descending to about 60 ° in its lowest state. Due to this near-perfect climate, nature around here thrives and is the reason why the exotic flora and fauna of Atenas is so diverse and all-encompassing.
Atenas Central Park is perhaps the most popular attraction in this place, located in the heart of the town and filled with shops, restaurants, and entertainment everywhere. In the shade of the tall trees, you will be in full comfort indulging on the bustling town activity there is as well as the eccentric species of birds that roam the place. Also, don’t forget to visit the souvenir shops and pick up some gifts for your loved ones that can’t be found in the normal consumer malls.
If for some reason you wish to escape the ordinary and go visit the species of the land, Zoo Ave is perfect for you. Whether you have kids, or you simply want to appreciate wildlife, Zoo Ave offers an up-and-close experience with some of the most exotic animals, the difference lies in the way that they treat, rescue, and rehabilitate animals instead of using them for profit. Think about it, when will you have the chance to see more than 130 species of animals in a secure and non-profitable organization, this might be your chance.
All of these benefits and attractions have thus turned Atenas into a great location to invest, where nature and culture fuse to make the perfect environment for calm and “Pura Vida” living. Day-by-day, Atenas is attracting new investments thanks to the new coastal highway that places Atenas just 25 minutes from the beach and 30 minutes away from more developed areas such as Santa Ana and Escazú. With its Spanish colonial feeling, in Atenas, you will have the opportunity to live a life filled with serenity but also with the availability of facilities such as international bilingual schools, ATMs, hardware stores, hospitals and clinics, supermarkets, among many others. A prime choice for Expats from all over the world, don’t look past this peaceful slow-paced town.
Imagine a place where nature is so pristine more than 300 species of recorded animals are roaming around. Established in 1989, Pacuare Reserve constitutes in a 2000-acre tropical forest reserve in Matina, Limón that is essential in the conservation of wildlife in Costa Rica, especially for the endangered leatherback sea turtle as it uses its 6km of its coastline for nesting. From March to July, don’ t miss out on the opportunity to join the reserve’s turtle census and witness from up close the remarkable nesting process. Another great sight would be happening from June-September, where you can behold yet another natural spectacle when thousands of baby leatherback turtles hatch and return to the ocean. Apart from these magnificent sea mammals, Pacuare Reserve also is the home to many other species who enjoy the tropical forest section. With its rich canals, some of the reserve’s inhabitants are monkeys, more than200 species of birds, and rare species such as jaguars and ocelots.
Being one of the most precipitated areas in Costa Rica, this wonderful territory is also composed by the Pacuare river, that serpents its way down the hill and is perfect for rafting or canopy in the dry periods (October, March, and April). If you wish to camp beside the river and immerse yourselves fully within nature, it is possible but only with an official permit from the organization.
Before being a reserve, the territory was overwhelmed by deforestation and the development of farms, this was until John Denham and his wife Hilda created in 1989 the beneficial organization that is taking care of the zone now. The nonprofit organization that stewards the region are called Ecology Project International, with all of its profits from its visitors going straight back to the reserve. If you wish to help or just get involved in the protection of this wonderland, the options vary from either financially supporting or simply volunteering and ultimately making a small step in the conservation of the site and education of future generations. Do not hesitate to come to visit this natural haven where you will be one on one with raw nature.
Costa Rica’s southern zone is a truly exceptional area that has loads of draws due to its chill climate and many cloud rainforests filled with flora and fauna. Apart from to the endless amounts of rainforest section that is covered by this area, beautiful beaches can be founded in the Southern Pacific Coast of Costa Rica in the form of Dominical, Uvita, and Ojochal. This trio of beaches has become a surfing haven for nationals and expats as well as a place to be able to witness the tropical climate and dramatic landscapes of Costa Rica.
These three locations will allow you to be fully immersed in the natural atmosphere of the beaches and also next to many of its inhabitants such as whales, turtles, howler monkeys, and beautiful species of birds.
The limited beach development that is found in these zones is mainly caused by the large portion of national parks in the area that are protected and restricted by the government. Either way, this conservation of nature makes the beauty of the zone the more exceptional for it is hard to find virgin forests such as these. For this reason, Costa Rica real estate investors and retirees picture this zone as a gold mine, confirmed by a welcoming expat and Tico community and bursting with wildlife. A decade ago, it would take a miracle for someone to take you to Costa Rica’s Southern Zone thanks to impassible roads filled with crater-sized potholes and amounts of dust preventing you to see other cars. Luckily, this all has improved seen as you can either travel down here by plane or also by car but know in a more improved 3-hour drive leap instead of the 8 hours it used to take.
For all of you thrill-seekers, the Southern Zone is also home to the most impressive topography which includes the famous Talamanca Range and the highest peak in Costa Rica, Cerro Chirripó. In addition to the towering mountain ranges and the vast beaches, there are also many waterfalls, hiking trails and an abundance of nature preserves. On top of that, there is a variety of tour operators that include horseback riding, snorkeling, scuba diving, ATV tours, coastal excursions, and many other activities that will most definitely keep you busy in this wonderful part of the country. Furthermore, with the recent introduction of property development, an array of food and drink options have become available, with about 40 restaurants and bars as well as 11 hotels at your disposal. Having said this, it is pretty easy to see why there is a great number of retirees and expats who wish to indulge in the peacefulness of this zone and hopefully buy their dream retirement or vacation home.
Within mountains and hills, you’ll find a picturesque farming town in the shape of Grecia. 45 minutes away from the center of San José, Grecia fuses an incredible and relaxing climate with a peaceful and appealing ambiance. One of its key characteristics that differentiate this town from any other in Costa Rica would have to be the abounding culture that is seen through their typical restaurants, museums, waterfalls, and cathedrals.
If you’re looking for 300+ days of sunshine, this is the place for you. Apart from the constant sun that is always shining over these lands, cooling breezes are also steady all year round, constituting in the most ideal and balanced climate to live in. Thanks to Grecia’s mild weather, farmers are hence able to cultivate fresh coffee, sugar cane, and pineapples.
Perhaps its biggest attraction, the lush and untampered beauty of Los Chorros waterfalls is a must-see sight that lies in a regional park southeast of Grecia. With easy access and a beautiful swath of jungle, this adventure is perfect for picnics with a dozen or so tables at your disposal.
Another stand-out characteristic of Grecia is its famous cathedral, Cathedral de la Merced. For all of you first-timers, this piece might look like a red-brick church at first glance but after you see the seams in the Cathedral, you’ll know exactly where you are. Constructed in the 1890s with sheets of metal imported from Belgium, this cathedral is central to the life of the typical Christian “tico”. Similar to many churches, this gothic architectural piece has stained glassed windows; however, it differs in its white wooden interior, vaulted ceilings, curving arches, and recognized gingerbread trim.
The World of Snakes is also one of the biggest draws in Grecia, known for its jaw-dropping collection and variety of more than 50 species. If for some reason snakes scare you to death, the museum also offers a butterfly arena (+50,000) and a regional museum.
Ultimately, if you’re looking for a place where weather is extremely pleasant, there is a variety of activities to do and is filled with authentic and friendly natives, don’t look further, Grecia is the place for you.
4th of July might well be the celebration of independence of the USA; however, here in Costa Rica there are several places to go if you want to commemorate this US holiday.
Firstly, for all of you don’t know, 4th of July is celebrated because it was the date when the Continental Congress declared that the first thirteen American states were no longer bound to the monarch of Britain. Historically, July 4 was not really the date when it was signed (July 2nd) rather the day when the Continental Congress formally dated, finalized, and adopted it. The nation’s citizens thus cherish this holiday like no other because it is an emblem of their country: the land of the free.
For all of you American’s at heart, don’t forget to rehearse the “U-S-A” chant and go to the activities either in Avenida Escazú or Marino Pez Vela if you’re near the Central Pacific area of Costa Rica. In Escazú, there will be both fireworks and concerts that will feature the band Mustang 65, DJ Sweetbo, the U.S. Air Force’s Airmen of Note, and the CCCN Jazz Orchestra. Also, the activity will count with activities for kids, square dancing, and a classic cars parade. For the people in the beach, specifically those of you who are residents of Quepos or visitors to the area, there is also a celebration for you hosted by the Marina Pez Vela. For this activity, kids will be able to enjoy face painting, games and inflatables as well as traditional U.S dances. If you thought you will be hungry, don’t worry, Marina Pez Vela has promised there will be hot-dogs and apple pie.
In a broader image, the important message to be taken from all of this is the fact that liberty and freedom transcends countries. In this case, it is the expats from United States who are enjoying and celebrating this event in Costa Rica, showing as well how significant the celebration of independence is for a country but also how vivid America’s culture is here in Costa Rica.
Mesmerizing beaches, astounding nature and stunning highlands are just three of the thousands of charms the Guanacastecan region has to offer. Situated in Costa Rica’s northwestern shoulder, Guanacaste or also The Gold Coast is home to the most beautiful Pacific beaches and is also the leading authority on Costa Rica’s vacations.
Guanacaste’s weather is usually dry and very sunny, thus supporting Costa Rica’s beef and sugarcane production as well as taking care of the national parks and wildlife reserves. Within Guanacaste, you can find famous beach towns such as Tamarindo, Matapalo but also exclusive and prime resorts such as Hacienda Pinilla and Peninsula Papagayo. This wide variety of options therefore attracts millions of tourists from around the world and has made Guanacaste an idyllic location that is second to none around the world.
If you’re are prepared for an adventure, don’t hesitate to visit one of Guanacaste’s most famous national parks, Rincón de la Vieja. For all of you thrill seekers, Rincón de la Vieja counts with zip lines, repel down waterfalls, thermal hot springs and much more. On the other hand, eco tourists and nature lovers will also fall in love with Guanacaste, specially inside Monteverde’s National Park, a place where they can witness more species of trees that there are in the entire USA and more than 400 species of birds. Rainforest such as these will allow you to watch in awe the diverse range of the forest inhabitants and also indulge in the mysteriousness of the Cloud Forests.
It is such Guanacaste’s richness and draw that a huge company such as Coca-Cola has decided to invest in 30 hectares of land with the purpose of installing their raw materials supply for their production. Not only this, the city of Liberia in Guanacaste will also see the opening of many hotels to expand its reach, among them are Hard Rock Hotel, Papagayo Bay Resort & Luxury Villas and Radisson Blu. All of this bieng said, next time you visit Costa Rica, don’t miss the opportnutiy to behold the beauties that lie within this region and make sure to enjoy the infinite activities it has to offer.