Adventure begins where jungle meets ocean
Costa Rica is a fantastic, tropical pearl in the heart of Central America, and quite possibly the most backpacking-friendly country in this part of the world. It offers a perfect combination of beach life, surfing, diving, snorkelling, wildlife and trekking through jungles or up the side of a volcano.
If you haven't yet visited this magical country, it sure is about time! And if it wasn't obvious already, here are 10 reasons why you'll love Costa Rica.
1. Ziplining and treetop walking through the jungle
There's something very special about propelling through the canopy on one of Costa Rica's many awesome ziplines. You get to see the rainforest from a completely different perspective which is really cool, seeing the wildlife and beautiful vegetation around you. If you prefer walking through the treetops, that's an option too in some places. Just as cool, but a slower experience as you can stop and take pictures wherever you like. Our suggestion: try both and see what you like best!
2. Amazing wildlife
Costa Rica is a country of incredible biodiversity, and its wildlife is a major draw for visitors. From monkeys and sloths to toucans and parrots, the country is home to a wide variety of animals that can be found in both its rainforests and coastal areas. Some of the most popular animals to spot in Costa Rica include monkeys, such as the howler, white-faced, and capuchin monkeys, which can often be seen swinging through the treetops. Sloths are also a common sight in Costa Rica, they're often spotted hanging from branches in the rainforest.
In addition to these more well-known species, Costa Rica is also home to a wide variety of birds, including the colourful toucan and parrot. The country also has a rich array of reptiles, amphibians, and insects, such as iguanas, crocodiles, and leaf-cutter ants. Costa Rica's diversity of wildlife is truly amazing and you can spot many different animals, from the smallest insects to the largest felines like jaguars and pumas, just by exploring the different national parks and protected areas.
3. Rain isn't necessarily a bad thing
Costa Rica is a green, lush and colorful country, packed with a total of 28 beautiful national parks. If you head in this direction at the end of the rainy season you'll still get some rain, but you'll also get to experience some of the most vibrant and stunning landscape you've ever seen. Costa Rica is squeezed between two oceans, and two continents and offers unique habitats and ecosystems. The country's smallest national park is located in Manuel Antonio on the Pacific coast. The park is home to a huge array of exotic animals: snakes, monkeys, huge lizards, sloths, and naturally birds of every imaginable color.
4. Friendly locals
Costa Ricans are often referred to as Ticos, a word derived from hermanticos, which means little brothers. This sums up the essence of the Costa Rican people really well, as they value family, community and togetherness. Generally, Ticos are a warm, friendly and welcoming people. Since tourism is such an important part of the country's economy, many Costa Ricans are very hospitable. Ticos are also extremely polite, and will often go to great lengths to avoid directly saying no to people, which can be a little confusing for some tourists!
But it's not just the friendly locals that make you feel right at home. Compared to its Central American neighbours, the country is relatively safe: the political situation is stable and there is no military presence on the streets.
5. Stunning beaches
With two coastlines surrounded by lush jungle, Costa Rica is famous for some of the most beautiful beaches in Central America. Cahuita National Park is one of the best national parks in Costa Rica due to its stunning white sand beaches, lush jungle and plethora of wildlife. It's not very far from Puerto Viejo and it's free, making it one of the must do's in the Caribbean south. Getting a tan has never been more exciting!
6. Incredible nightlife
It might be the amazing nature that draws people towards Costa Rica, but don't miss the nightlife experience. From chilled-out bars on the beach to clubs featuring world-class DJs in San José, Costa Rica offers up a huge variety of nightlife activities. You don't want to miss out on some legendary partying. Something out of the ordinary is the legendary fire dancing on the beach in Tamarindo, with the music, fire and beach setting it's quite the spectacle!
7. Some of the best surfing in Central America
Costa Rica is a surfer's paradise, with an abundance of world-class breaks and warm water temperatures. Some of the best spots for surfing in Costa Rica include:
Playa Hermosa: located on the Central Pacific coast, this beach offers consistent waves and a variety of breaks for surfers of all skill levels. It is also known for its picturesque setting and lively beach town atmosphere.
Jaco: a popular beach town located on the Central Pacific coast, Jaco offers a variety of breaks for surfers of all skill levels. Its long sandy beach and warm water temperatures make it a favorite among tourists.
Tamarindo: located on the Nicoya Peninsula, Tamarindo is known for its consistent waves and is a popular spot for both beginner and advanced surfers. The beach town offers a lively atmosphere with plenty of restaurants, bars and shops.
Pavones: Located on the southern Pacific coast, Pavones is known for its long left-hand point break and is considered one of the longest waves in the world. It is a spot mostly for experienced surfers, as the wave can be challenging and the currents can be strong.
Santa Teresa: Located on the Nicoya Peninsula, Santa Teresa is known for its long and consistent waves, making it a popular spot for both beginner and advanced surfers. The beach town offers a laid-back atmosphere and is surrounded by lush jungle and wildlife.
These are just a few of the many great surfing spots that Costa Rica has to offer. With its warm water temperatures and variety of breaks, Costa Rica is a surfer's paradise that is sure to please surfers of all skill levels.
8. Pura Vida
If you have been to Costa Rica, or if you are planning to go, one short phrase you should be familiar with is "Pura Vida". Simply translated, it means "simple life" or "pure life", but here in Costa Rica, it is more than just a saying... it is a way of life. Ticos use these words to say hello, to say goodbye, to say everything’s great, to say everything’s cool. Not surprisingly, Costa Rica has been named one of the happiest countries in the world, mostly because its people don’t stress about things we might do.
9. Arenal Volcano National Park
La Fortuna is a beautiful area that is best known for it's active volcano, the Arenal, which has been one of the most active volcanoes in the world. The volcano ejected clouds of smoke, incandescent cinder, and glowing lava on an almost daily basis. Fascinating and harmless as long as you keep a safe distance. However, currently Arenal has been dormant since 2010. Another exciting activity is abseiling down, or more specifically through, one of the countries many waterfalls.
10. Water adventure
If you haven't caught on yet, Costa Rica is a country packed with volcanoes, rain forest, waterfalls, rivers and beaches. Adventure-seeking travellers can choose between a wide selection of water activities like rafting, snorkelling, kayaking, surfing and heaps of other options. Your biggest challenge is just how to divide the time you've got in this amazing country.
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