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Ultimate Guide to Costa Rica
Last Updated: April 2020
Visitors from all over the world love the laid-back and stress-free atmosphere that encompasses Costa Rica. As the “happiest country in the world” (National Geographic, 2017), Costa Rica attracts travelers with a passion for living life to its fullest. There are so many things to do in Costa Rica thanks to the perfect weather, beautiful beaches, and incredible food. If you plan to take make the most of your trip and stay for an extended period of time, check out this 10 day Costa Rica itinerary.
Costa Rica is the most visited country in Central America, with most tourists coming from the United States and Europe. Tamarindo is the most popular destination in Costa Rica, closely followed by Arenal and Liberia. Ecotourism is a huge sector in Costa Rica thanks to its many beautiful national parks and protected areas.
Ready to experience all that Costa Rica has to offer? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Costa Rica.
Things to Do in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a dream destination whether you are looking for relaxation or adventure (or both!). There are plenty of activities for everyone to enjoy. For some amazing activities, check out the best things to do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica. The best things to do in Costa Rica are:
- Horseback riding on the beach
- Practicing yoga by the sea
- Kayaking and Paddleboarding
- Wildlife spotting
Best Beaches in Costa Rica
Endless stretches of golden sands moistened by the foam of the turquoise waters... is there anything better than relaxing under fresh palm fronds? Check out these top beaches in Costa Rica:
Playa Tortuguero is located in the Northeast of the province of Costa Rica and makes up the Tortuguero National Park. Although not accessible by car, it is possible to board a ferry from Cariari, La Pavona or Moín or one of the planes that depart daily from San José, the capital of Costa Rica.
Once you arrive at Playa Tortuguero, you find yourself in front of an infinite beach that reaches Nicaragua. Completely immersed in nature, Playa Tortuguero is an earthly paradise not to be left unnoticed in Costa Rica. It is so quiet and hidden that four species of turtle nest each year here. With a stroke of luck, it is possible to witness the first steps of tortoise hatchlings from August to November (depending on the species).
Puerto Limón's most popular beach, Playa Bonita, is not very large but is the favorite for many locals. The area is characterized by its laid-back attitude and its relaxed atmosphere. There are many excellent restaurants in the vicinity. The rough sea that breaks on its shores makes it a perfect surfing destination!
The dark sand from which the name Playa Negra derives makes this beach unattractive to the sight of many tourists, which makes it probably the most underrated among the Caribbean beaches.
Considered the best surf beach in Limòn (if not all of Costa Rica!), Playa Salsa Brava is for the more experienced surfers. The waves do not seem so dangerous from the shore, but just venture into the sea to immediately understand their grandeur!
South of Puerto Viejo, we find the famous Playa Cocles. The clear sand and the big waves make it full of surfers on the weekends, but also of families who decide to spend an afternoon in the cool of palm trees.
Proceeding a few kilometers south you reach Punta Uva, a quiet beach where you can both swim in turquoise waters and try out various water sports. Snorkeling, diving, paddleboarding, kayaking, and more are popular activities here. Surrounded by green and lush jungle it will be easy to spot sloths, monkeys, green macaws and many more directly from the beach. Not far from the beach is the Jaguar Rescue Center, where animals in difficulty are hospitalized and then released into nature once they are cured.
Nearby, the fishing village of Manzanillo, inside the Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Gandoca-Manzanillo, looks like a painting from the last century where Afro-Caribbean culture and traditions still remain alive. The beach and its surroundings allow you to explore both the mainland and the underwater world. With excursions in the jungle to spy on exotic and colorful birds or underwater between the coral reef, you will be amazed at the biodiversity that this small area can offer.
Best Time to Vist Costa Rica
Temperatures fluctuate between 68 degrees and 95 degrees all year round thanks to the warm tropical climate. The island has two main seasons – dry (summer) and rainy (winter). The dry season is December to April and the rainy season is May to November. Don’t let the rain dissuade you though from visiting in those months. During the rainy season, the landscape is lush and green, which makes for a beautiful backdrop on hikes.
Most Popular Times
The most popular (and expensive) time to visit Costa Rica is the dry season, between December to April. Book your hotel and tour reservations at least three months in advance.
If you are looking for cheaper prices and don’t mind a little rain, then July, August, and November are great months to visit. The average precipitation in these months is much lower than in June, September, and October.
The best time to spot Green Sea Turtles is in July and August. This is when most sea turtles are nesting on the beaches. However, different sea turtles species have different schedules. The Olive Ridley Sea Turtle nests all year round, the Leatherback Turtle nests from October to June, and the Hawksbill Sea Turtle nests from October to March.
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