Costa Rica

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Costa Rica has it all: nowhere else can you gaze upon a volcano while soaking in a hot spring one day, hike deep into a rain forest the next, and end your trip learning to surf at a luxurious seaside resort. Miles of pristine beaches on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, fabulous national parks with plentiful opportunities for wildlife viewing, and world-renowned eco-lodges have made this one of the hottest destinations around. The welcoming people of Costa Rica, and their mellow pura vida lifestyle, add warmth to every visit.

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San Jose

San José is the center of all that is Costa Rica, and—to Ticos in the countryside at least—it glitters every bit as much as New York City. True...

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

This muddy, colorful little town is one of the hottest spots on the international budget-travel circuit, and swarms with backpackers, surfers...

Manuel Antonio

You need merely reach the top of the forested ridge on which many of Manuel Antonio's hotels are perched to understand why it is one of Costa...

Jaco

Its proximity to San José has made Jacó the most developed beach town in Costa Rica. Nature lovers and solitude seekers should skip this rather...

Monteverde Cloud Forest and Santa Elena

Monteverde is a rain forest, but you won't be in the tropics—rather in the cool, gray, misty world of the cloud forest. Almost 900 species of...

Arenal and La Fortuna

As they say, "Location, location, location." Who would think that a small town sitting at the foot of massive Arenal Volcano would attract visitors...

Dominical

Sleepy fishing village–turned–surfer town, Dominical is undergoing a lively makeover, with a newly paved beach road, new restaurants and shops...

Nosara

One of the last beach communities for people who want to get away from it all, Nosara's attractions are the wild stretches of side-by-side beaches...

Tamarindo

Once a funky beach town full of surfers and local fishermen, Tamarindo is now a pricey, hyped-up hive of commercial development and real estate...

Samara

Sámara has miles of palm-shaded beach, safe swimming water, and an abundance of budget accommodations and seafront restaurants, making it especially...

Ballena National Marine Park

Named for the whales ( ballenas, in Spanish) that seasonally migrate here, this park protects marine life in miles of ocean, as well as 10...

Puerto Jimenez

You might not guess it from the rickety bicycles and ancient pickup trucks parked on the main street, but Puerto Jiménez is the largest town...

Malpais and Santa Teresa

Once frequented mostly by die-hard surfers in search of some of the country's largest waves and by naturalists en route to the nearby Cabo Blanco...

Escazu

Costa Rica's wealthiest community and the Central Valley's most prestigious address, Escazú (pronounced es-cah-SOO ) nevertheless mixes glamour...

Alajuela

Because of its proximity to the international airport (5–10 minutes away) many travelers spend their first or last night in or near Alajuela...

Cahuita

Dusty Cahuita (pronounced cah-WEE-tah ), its main street flanked by wooden-slat cabins, is a backpackers' vacation town—a hippie hangout with...

Quepos

This hot and dusty town is the gateway to Manuel Antonio, and also serves as the area's hub for banks, supermarkets, and other services. Because...

Montezuma

Beautifully positioned on a sandy bay, Montezuma is hemmed in by a precipitous wooded shoreline that has prevented the overdevelopment that...

Turrialba

The well-to-do agricultural center of Turrialba is a bustling town, with a youthful vibe from the nearby university, a colorful open-air market...

Playas del Coco

Messy, noisy, colorful, and interesting, Playas del Coco has the best souvenir shopping, the most dive shops, and the liveliest nightlife and...

Limon

The colorful Afro-Caribbean flavor of one of Costa Rica's most important ports (population 90,000) is the first sign of life for seafaring visitors...

San Isidro de El General

Although San Isidro de El General has no major attractions, the bustling market town is a good place to have lunch, get cash at one of the many...

Heredia

The lively city of Heredia, capital of the important coffee province of the same name, contains a couple of the country's best-preserved colonial...

Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui

One of Costa Rica's lesser-known eco-destinations has been developing a growing selection of nature-themed activities in recent years. In the...

Liberia

Once a dusty cattle-market town, Liberia has galloped toward modernization, becoming the commercial, as well as the administrative, capital...

Rincon de la Vieja National Park

Wildlife, rivers, waterfalls, and mud baths are just the tip of the volcano when it comes to the natural wonders of Rincón de la Vieja National...

Playa Hermosa

Beautiful Playa Hermosa, once a laid-back fishing community, has grown exponentially with condominiums and villas covering the scrubby hills...

Puntarenas

This town is not on the Nicoya Peninsula, but rather on Costa Rica's mainland. It is best known as a cruise-ship port and launching pad for...

Playa Flamingo

One of the first northern beaches to experience overdevelopment—a fact immortalized in the concrete towers that straggle up the hill above the...

Cartago

Although most of its structures from the colonial era are gone, Cartago still has some attractive restored buildings, most of them erected after...

San Vito

Except for the tropical greenery, the rolling hills around the bustling hilltop town of San Vito could be mistaken for a Tuscan landscape. The...

Drake Bay

This is castaway country, a real tropical adventure, with plenty of hiking and some rough but thrilling boat rides to get here. The rugged coast...

Playa Hermosa

On the other side of the rocky ridge that forms the southern edge of Jacó Beach is Playa Hermosa, a swath of dark-gray sand and driftwood stretching...

Atenas

By the time you get this far west in the Central Valley, you’re likely headed for Costa Rica’s famed Central Pacific beaches, but the countryside...

Playa Zancudo

Life here is laid-back and casual, centering on walking the beach, fishing, kayaking, paddleboarding, swimming, and hanging out at the local...

Santa Ana

Santa Ana's tranquil town center, with its rugged stone church, has changed little through the years, even though condos and shopping malls...

Brasilito and Playa Conchal

A small, scruffy fishing village just 1 km (½ mile) north of Playa Conchal, Brasilito has a jumble of houses huddled around its main square...

Playa Grande

Down the (long, paved) road from Tamarindo, but only five minutes by boat across a tidal estuary, lies beautiful, pristine Playa Grande. By...

Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge

The boundaries of the southern Caribbean coast’s preeminent wildlife refuge aren’t well defined. You’ll pass in and out of the forested reserve...

Playa Potrero

A typical small town with a school, church, and supermarket arranged around a soccer field, Potrero is not very scenic. The main attraction...

Playa Pavones

Surfing is the main draw here, especially from April to September when the waves are most reliable. But the dramatic scenery, looking across...

San Antonio de Belen

San Antonio de Belén has little to offer visitors but its rural charm and proximity to the international airport. The latter led developers...

Palo Verde National Park

Definitely not most people’s idea of a lush, tropical jungle, Palo Verde National Park’s deciduous forest is hot, but also very dry and an ideal...

Poas Volcano National Park

Arenal may be Costa Rica's most famous volcano, but you can peer right into the crater here at Poás—from the vantage point of an observation...

Guapiles

The hub towns of Guápiles and Guácimo aren't destinations in their own right, but rather the nucleus for a few on-the-way-to-the-Caribbean activities...

Tilaran

A windmill farm in the hills high above Tilarán attests to its being the windiest place in the country, and this lakeside town is used as a...

Ciudad Quesada (San Carlos)

Highway signs point you to "Ciudad Quesada," but this friendly hub city is simply "San Carlos" in local parlance. Like so many other places...

Playa Junquillal

Seekers of oceanfront tranquility need look no further than Junquillal (pronounced hoon-key- yall ), a beach town as far away from the crowd...

Nuevo Arenal

Much of the original town of Arenal, at one of the lowest points near Lake Arenal, was destroyed by the volcano's 1968 eruption, and the rest...

Playa Ocotal

Just a few minutes south of Playas del Coco, this beach couldn’t be more different than its rapidly developing neighbor. Quiet and serene, there...

Playa Avellanas

Traditionally a far cry from its northern neighbor's boom of real estate development, Avellanas has seen Tamarindo escapees slowly encroaching...

Sarchi

Tranquil Sarchí is Costa Rica's premier center for crafts and carpentry. People drive here from all over the country to shop for furniture,...

La Cruz

North of Santa Rosa National Park on the west side of the highway is the turnoff to La Cruz, a scruffy, bustling little town. Noteworthy for...

San Ramon

San Ramón hides its real attractions in the countryside to the north, on the road to La Fortuna, where comfortable lodges offer access to private...

San Gerardo de Dota

Cloud forests, invigorating mountain air, well-maintained hiking trails, and excellent bird-watching make San Gerardo de Dota one of Costa Rica...

Playa Negra

Surfer culture is apparent here in the wave of beach-shack surfer camps along the road that leads to the rocky strand of beach. But Playa Negra...

Playa Tambor Area

Much of the vast Bahía Ballena shoreline is taken up by a massive all-inclusive hotel and an adjoining private residential development and golf...

San Gerardo de Rivas

Chirripó National Park is the main reason to venture to San Gerardo de Rivas, but if you aren't up for the physically challenging adventure...

Tarcoles

Crocodile boat tours on the Río Tárcoles are this small town's claim to fame. You don't actually have to drive to Tárcoles to do the tour, operators...

Playa Herradura

Just north of bustling Jacó, this small beach town, named for its horseshoe-shaped bay, is made up of hotels, a golf course, and a marina. Once...

Siquirres

Siquirres anchors a fertile banana- and pineapple-growing region, and marks the transition point between the agricultural lowlands and the tropical...

Golfito

...

Santo Domingo

Between Heredia and San José, the pretty town of Santo Domingo de Heredia, established in the early 19th century, has wide streets and fine...

Cabo Matapalo

The southern tip of the Osa Peninsula, where virgin rain forest meets the sea at a rocky point, retains the kind of natural beauty that people...

Curu National Wildlife Refuge

With miles of trails through forest and mangrove swamp, this uncrowded, private refuge is most famous for its pristine beach, perfectly sited...

Grecia

The quiet farming community of Grecia—the name means "Greece" in Spanish—is reputed to be Costa Rica's cleanest town, and some enthusiastic...

Braulio Carrillo National Park

One of Central America’s largest tracts of primary cloud forest looms just north of the San José metro area. The primary highway to the Caribbean...

Caño Negro National Wildlife Refuge

If you're seeking a national park experience without the crowds, Caño Negro should be on your list–-its excellent birding and wildlife viewing...

Playa Langosta

A chic bedroom community of Tamarindo, just five minutes away by car, Playa Langosta is tranquil and elegant. It has not totally escaped development...

Santa Rosa National Park

Santa Rosa National Park blends forest and the pristine beaches overlooking famed surf spot Witch’s Rock. North of Liberia, the park is less...

Esterillos Este

Just 20 minutes southeast of Jacó, Playa Esterillos is divided into three sections; Este (East), Central, and Oeste (West). While Esterillos...

Punta Leona

Past Tárcoles, the first sizable beach town of the Central Pacific coast is Playa Herradura. In between, the road passes tiny Playa La Pita...

Playa Carrillo

With its long, reef-protected, crescent beach backed by an elegant line of swaying coconut palms and sheltering cliffs, Playa Carrillo ...

Isla Tortuga

Soft white sand and casually leaning palms fringe this island of tropical dry forest off the southern coast of the Nicoya Peninsula. Sounds...

Carate

Carate is literally the end of the road. The black volcanic-sand beach stretches for more than 3 km (2 miles), with dramatically high surf that...

Playa Bejuco

Serious surfers wanting to escape the crowds at Jacó and Playa Hermosa, or anyone simply seeking to stray from the beaten path, need drive only...

Irazu Volcano

Costa Rica’s highest volcano perches on Central America’s "continental divide," offering splendid views of the Caribbean and Pacific coasts...

Punta Islita

Punta Islita is named for a tiny tuft of land that becomes an island at high tide. It's synonymous in Costa Rica with Hotel Punta Islita, one...

Carara National Park

In the wilderness of Carara National Park and surroundings, you might encounter white-faced capuchin monkeys in the trees or crocodiles lounging...

Playa Pan de Azucar

Playa Pan de Azúcar literally means "Sugar Bread Beach," though most locals call it simply Playa Azúcar (Sugar Beach). With only two built-up...

Crossing into Panama via Sixaola

Costa Rica's sleepy border post at Sixaola fronts Guabito, Panama's equally quiet border crossing, 44 km (26 miles) south of the turnoff to...

Playa Bahia Junquillal

This 2½-km (1½-mile), tree-fringed beach is as close as you can get to a white-sand beach in this part of Guanacaste. Not to be confused with...

Chirripo National Park

Chirripó National Park is the ultimate challenge for serious local and visiting hikers. But the rewards are worth it—from the visitors’ hut...

Cahuita National Park

A perfect, white-sand beach with palm trees lining its edge sits just outside downtown Cahuita and will be your first glimpse of Cahuita National...

Corcovado National Park

The crown jewel of the country’s national park system, Corcovado is the ultimate in off-the-grid adventure. The only way to see it is on foot...

Barra del Colorado

...

Barra Honda National Park

You can’t miss this park’s massive peak, once thought to be a volcano. Within that mountain, however, is an intricate network of caves to be...

Cabo Blanco Absolute Nature Preserve

True to its name, this reserve at the southernmost tip of the Nicoya Peninsula is absolutely natural, and very hot. Challenging hiking trails...

Crossing into Nicaragua at Peñas Blancas

Costa Rica and Nicaragua share a busy border crossing at Peñas Blancas, 18 km (11 miles) north of La Cruz along a paved highway. Rental vehicles...

Volcan Arenal National Park

...

San Jose

San José is the center of all that is Costa Rica, and—to Ticos in the countryside at least—it glitters every bit as much as New York City. True...

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

This muddy, colorful little town is one of the hottest spots on the international budget-travel circuit, and swarms with backpackers, surfers...

Manuel Antonio

You need merely reach the top of the forested ridge on which many of Manuel Antonio's hotels are perched to understand why it is one of Costa...

Jaco

Its proximity to San José has made Jacó the most developed beach town in Costa Rica. Nature lovers and solitude seekers should skip this rather...

Monteverde Cloud Forest and Santa Elena

Monteverde is a rain forest, but you won't be in the tropics—rather in the cool, gray, misty world of the cloud forest. Almost 900 species of...

Arenal and La Fortuna

As they say, "Location, location, location." Who would think that a small town sitting at the foot of massive Arenal Volcano would attract visitors...

Dominical

Sleepy fishing village–turned–surfer town, Dominical is undergoing a lively makeover, with a newly paved beach road, new restaurants and shops...

Nosara

One of the last beach communities for people who want to get away from it all, Nosara's attractions are the wild stretches of side-by-side beaches...

Tamarindo

Once a funky beach town full of surfers and local fishermen, Tamarindo is now a pricey, hyped-up hive of commercial development and real estate...

Samara

Sámara has miles of palm-shaded beach, safe swimming water, and an abundance of budget accommodations and seafront restaurants, making it especially...

Puerto Jimenez

You might not guess it from the rickety bicycles and ancient pickup trucks parked on the main street, but Puerto Jiménez is the largest town...

Malpais and Santa Teresa

Once frequented mostly by die-hard surfers in search of some of the country's largest waves and by naturalists en route to the nearby Cabo Blanco...

Escazu

Costa Rica's wealthiest community and the Central Valley's most prestigious address, Escazú (pronounced es-cah-SOO ) nevertheless mixes glamour...

Alajuela

Because of its proximity to the international airport (5–10 minutes away) many travelers spend their first or last night in or near Alajuela...

Cahuita

Dusty Cahuita (pronounced cah-WEE-tah ), its main street flanked by wooden-slat cabins, is a backpackers' vacation town—a hippie hangout with...

Montezuma

Beautifully positioned on a sandy bay, Montezuma is hemmed in by a precipitous wooded shoreline that has prevented the overdevelopment that...

Quepos

This hot and dusty town is the gateway to Manuel Antonio, and also serves as the area's hub for banks, supermarkets, and other services. Because...

Playas del Coco

Messy, noisy, colorful, and interesting, Playas del Coco has the best souvenir shopping, the most dive shops, and the liveliest nightlife and...

Turrialba

The well-to-do agricultural center of Turrialba is a bustling town, with a youthful vibe from the nearby university, a colorful open-air market...

Limon

The colorful Afro-Caribbean flavor of one of Costa Rica's most important ports (population 90,000) is the first sign of life for seafaring visitors...

Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui

One of Costa Rica's lesser-known eco-destinations has been developing a growing selection of nature-themed activities in recent years. In the...

San Isidro de El General

Although San Isidro de El General has no major attractions, the bustling market town is a good place to have lunch, get cash at one of the many...

Heredia

The lively city of Heredia, capital of the important coffee province of the same name, contains a couple of the country's best-preserved colonial...

Liberia

Once a dusty cattle-market town, Liberia has galloped toward modernization, becoming the commercial, as well as the administrative, capital...

Playa Hermosa

Beautiful Playa Hermosa, once a laid-back fishing community, has grown exponentially with condominiums and villas covering the scrubby hills...

Puntarenas

This town is not on the Nicoya Peninsula, but rather on Costa Rica's mainland. It is best known as a cruise-ship port and launching pad for...

Cartago

Although most of its structures from the colonial era are gone, Cartago still has some attractive restored buildings, most of them erected after...

Playa Flamingo

One of the first northern beaches to experience overdevelopment—a fact immortalized in the concrete towers that straggle up the hill above the...

San Vito

Except for the tropical greenery, the rolling hills around the bustling hilltop town of San Vito could be mistaken for a Tuscan landscape. The...

Playa Hermosa

On the other side of the rocky ridge that forms the southern edge of Jacó Beach is Playa Hermosa, a swath of dark-gray sand and driftwood stretching...

Drake Bay

This is castaway country, a real tropical adventure, with plenty of hiking and some rough but thrilling boat rides to get here. The rugged coast...

Atenas

By the time you get this far west in the Central Valley, you’re likely headed for Costa Rica’s famed Central Pacific beaches, but the countryside...

Playa Zancudo

Life here is laid-back and casual, centering on walking the beach, fishing, kayaking, paddleboarding, swimming, and hanging out at the local...

Brasilito and Playa Conchal

A small, scruffy fishing village just 1 km (½ mile) north of Playa Conchal, Brasilito has a jumble of houses huddled around its main square...

Santa Ana

Santa Ana's tranquil town center, with its rugged stone church, has changed little through the years, even though condos and shopping malls...

Playa Grande

Down the (long, paved) road from Tamarindo, but only five minutes by boat across a tidal estuary, lies beautiful, pristine Playa Grande. By...

Playa Potrero

A typical small town with a school, church, and supermarket arranged around a soccer field, Potrero is not very scenic. The main attraction...

San Antonio de Belen

San Antonio de Belén has little to offer visitors but its rural charm and proximity to the international airport. The latter led developers...

Playa Pavones

Surfing is the main draw here, especially from April to September when the waves are most reliable. But the dramatic scenery, looking across...

Palo Verde National Park

Definitely not most people’s idea of a lush, tropical jungle, Palo Verde National Park’s deciduous forest is hot, but also very dry and an ideal...

Tilaran

A windmill farm in the hills high above Tilarán attests to its being the windiest place in the country, and this lakeside town is used as a...

Playa Junquillal

Seekers of oceanfront tranquility need look no further than Junquillal (pronounced hoon-key- yall ), a beach town as far away from the crowd...

Ciudad Quesada (San Carlos)

Highway signs point you to "Ciudad Quesada," but this friendly hub city is simply "San Carlos" in local parlance. Like so many other places...

Guapiles

The hub towns of Guápiles and Guácimo aren't destinations in their own right, but rather the nucleus for a few on-the-way-to-the-Caribbean activities...

Playa Avellanas

Traditionally a far cry from its northern neighbor's boom of real estate development, Avellanas has seen Tamarindo escapees slowly encroaching...

Sarchi

Tranquil Sarchí is Costa Rica's premier center for crafts and carpentry. People drive here from all over the country to shop for furniture,...

San Gerardo de Dota

Cloud forests, invigorating mountain air, well-maintained hiking trails, and excellent bird-watching make San Gerardo de Dota one of Costa Rica...

La Cruz

North of Santa Rosa National Park on the west side of the highway is the turnoff to La Cruz, a scruffy, bustling little town. Noteworthy for...

Nuevo Arenal

Much of the original town of Arenal, at one of the lowest points near Lake Arenal, was destroyed by the volcano's 1968 eruption, and the rest...

San Ramon

San Ramón hides its real attractions in the countryside to the north, on the road to La Fortuna, where comfortable lodges offer access to private...

Playa Ocotal

Just a few minutes south of Playas del Coco, this beach couldn’t be more different than its rapidly developing neighbor. Quiet and serene, there...

San Gerardo de Rivas

Chirripó National Park is the main reason to venture to San Gerardo de Rivas, but if you aren't up for the physically challenging adventure...

Tarcoles

Crocodile boat tours on the Río Tárcoles are this small town's claim to fame. You don't actually have to drive to Tárcoles to do the tour, operators...

Playa Negra

Surfer culture is apparent here in the wave of beach-shack surfer camps along the road that leads to the rocky strand of beach. But Playa Negra...

Playa Tambor Area

Much of the vast Bahía Ballena shoreline is taken up by a massive all-inclusive hotel and an adjoining private residential development and golf...

Playa Herradura

Just north of bustling Jacó, this small beach town, named for its horseshoe-shaped bay, is made up of hotels, a golf course, and a marina. Once...

Golfito

...

Cabo Matapalo

The southern tip of the Osa Peninsula, where virgin rain forest meets the sea at a rocky point, retains the kind of natural beauty that people...

Siquirres

Siquirres anchors a fertile banana- and pineapple-growing region, and marks the transition point between the agricultural lowlands and the tropical...

Santo Domingo

Between Heredia and San José, the pretty town of Santo Domingo de Heredia, established in the early 19th century, has wide streets and fine...

Grecia

The quiet farming community of Grecia—the name means "Greece" in Spanish—is reputed to be Costa Rica's cleanest town, and some enthusiastic...

Esterillos Este

Just 20 minutes southeast of Jacó, Playa Esterillos is divided into three sections; Este (East), Central, and Oeste (West). While Esterillos...

Playa Langosta

A chic bedroom community of Tamarindo, just five minutes away by car, Playa Langosta is tranquil and elegant. It has not totally escaped development...

Playa Carrillo

With its long, reef-protected, crescent beach backed by an elegant line of swaying coconut palms and sheltering cliffs, Playa Carrillo ...

Punta Leona

Past Tárcoles, the first sizable beach town of the Central Pacific coast is Playa Herradura. In between, the road passes tiny Playa La Pita...

Carate

Carate is literally the end of the road. The black volcanic-sand beach stretches for more than 3 km (2 miles), with dramatically high surf that...

Punta Islita

Punta Islita is named for a tiny tuft of land that becomes an island at high tide. It's synonymous in Costa Rica with Hotel Punta Islita, one...

Irazu Volcano

Costa Rica’s highest volcano perches on Central America’s "continental divide," offering splendid views of the Caribbean and Pacific coasts...

Playa Bejuco

Serious surfers wanting to escape the crowds at Jacó and Playa Hermosa, or anyone simply seeking to stray from the beaten path, need drive only...

Playa Pan de Azucar

Playa Pan de Azúcar literally means "Sugar Bread Beach," though most locals call it simply Playa Azúcar (Sugar Beach). With only two built-up...

Playa Bahia Junquillal

This 2½-km (1½-mile), tree-fringed beach is as close as you can get to a white-sand beach in this part of Guanacaste. Not to be confused with...

Barra del Colorado

...

Guanacaste and the Nicoya Peninsula

Reliably sunny, dry weather brings planeloads of sun-starved Northerners to the North Pacific area of Costa Rica every winter, and a windswept...

The Osa Peninsula and the South Pacific

Visitors go south to heed the call of the wild. The jewels in the South Pacific crown are the idyllic Golfo Dulce and the wild Osa Peninsula...

Central Valley

San José sits in a mile-high mountain valley ringed by volcanoes whose ash has fertilized the soil and turned the region into Costa Rica's historic...

Tortuguero and the Caribbean Coast

The tourist brochures tout the country's Caribbean coast as "the other Costa Rica." Everything about this part of Costa Rica seems different...

Manuel Antonio and the Central Pacific Coast

The Central Pacific region of Costa Rica is a long swath of gorgeous land, encompassing sublime coastline dotted with national parks and palm...

Arenal, Monteverde, and the Northern Lowlands

The vast expanse that locals call the Zona Norte (Northern Zone) packs in a larger variety of activities than any other part of the country...

Tortuguero

Some compare these dense layers of green set off by brilliantly colored flowers—a vision doubled by the jungle's reflection in mirror-smooth...

The Orosi Valley

If you have a day to spend near San José, this idyllic valley makes a classic day trip, passing through coffee plantations shaded by poró trees...

Nicoya

Once a quaint provincial town, Guanacaste's former colonial capital is now a bustling, modernized shopping center, thanks to the bridge over...

Papagayo Peninsula

The Papagayo Peninsula, a crooked finger of land cradling the west side of Bahía Culebra (Snake Bay), enjoys guaranteed sun from January to...

Bahia Salinas

The large windswept bay at the very top of Costa Rica's Pacific coast is the second-windiest area in the country, after Lake Arenal, making...

Zona de Los Santos

Empalme, at Km 51 of the Pan-American Highway, marks the turnoff for Santa María de Dota, the first of the picturesque coffee-growing towns...

Ballena National Marine Park

Named for the whales ( ballenas, in Spanish) that seasonally migrate here, this park protects marine life in miles of ocean, as well as 10...

Rincon de la Vieja National Park

Wildlife, rivers, waterfalls, and mud baths are just the tip of the volcano when it comes to the natural wonders of Rincón de la Vieja National...

Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge

The boundaries of the southern Caribbean coast’s preeminent wildlife refuge aren’t well defined. You’ll pass in and out of the forested reserve...

Poas Volcano National Park

Arenal may be Costa Rica's most famous volcano, but you can peer right into the crater here at Poás—from the vantage point of an observation...

Braulio Carrillo National Park

One of Central America’s largest tracts of primary cloud forest looms just north of the San José metro area. The primary highway to the Caribbean...

Curu National Wildlife Refuge

With miles of trails through forest and mangrove swamp, this uncrowded, private refuge is most famous for its pristine beach, perfectly sited...

Caño Negro National Wildlife Refuge

If you're seeking a national park experience without the crowds, Caño Negro should be on your list–-its excellent birding and wildlife viewing...

Santa Rosa National Park

Santa Rosa National Park blends forest and the pristine beaches overlooking famed surf spot Witch’s Rock. North of Liberia, the park is less...

Carara National Park

In the wilderness of Carara National Park and surroundings, you might encounter white-faced capuchin monkeys in the trees or crocodiles lounging...

Chirripo National Park

Chirripó National Park is the ultimate challenge for serious local and visiting hikers. But the rewards are worth it—from the visitors’ hut...

Cahuita National Park

A perfect, white-sand beach with palm trees lining its edge sits just outside downtown Cahuita and will be your first glimpse of Cahuita National...

Corcovado National Park

The crown jewel of the country’s national park system, Corcovado is the ultimate in off-the-grid adventure. The only way to see it is on foot...

Cabo Blanco Absolute Nature Preserve

True to its name, this reserve at the southernmost tip of the Nicoya Peninsula is absolutely natural, and very hot. Challenging hiking trails...

Barra Honda National Park

You can’t miss this park’s massive peak, once thought to be a volcano. Within that mountain, however, is an intricate network of caves to be...

Volcan Arenal National Park

...

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