Best attractions in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is of interest to scientists, geographers and archaeologists. But most of all it is loved by travelers. It is a small country in Latin America with a diverse natural landscape and favorable climate. Tourists are interested in all the attractions of Costa Rica, among which there are national parks and nature reserves, rumbling waterfalls and intimidating volcanoes. The trip takes you on fascinating routes, full of mystery and local color. Here, by the way, there is never winter, so the holiday is all year round. All the guides are highly qualified, because traveling in this country requires specific knowledge.

What to see in Costa Rica first

Before you enlist the support of tour guides and begin exploring this colorful country, take a few minutes to browse through our list. Even experienced guides in Costa Rica may not be able to guess what sites will interest you, so it’s best to determine your preferences before you travel.

1. Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio Park Bay with Beach

Among those must-see attractions in Costa Rica is Manuel Antonio Park. It is the oldest resort in the country, and it is rightfully considered the most visited. Tourists are attracted here, first of all, unusually beautiful beaches. They are well maintained, clean and perfectly safe. A special feature of local beaches is the snow-white sand, heated by the sun. In addition, the water in Costa Rica is very clean and clear.

Since the coast is buried in the greenery, the beaches of Costa Rica are very convenient for recreation with small children. Families come here, and the tourist infrastructure allows this. Good access routes ensure an even distribution of passenger traffic. In Manuel Antonio there are many restaurants of different levels. In addition, here, as in any southern resort, active nightlife.

Bars and cafes are always ready to welcome guests, with music blasting from everywhere. Souvenir shops are found at every step, so tourists leave here with gifts and souvenirs. It is always crowded here, which caused the friendly disposition of local monkeys, of which there are many in the area. Funny white-faced animals literally stick to tourists, but it is strictly forbidden to feed them.

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2. Santa Teresa Beach (Nicoya Peninsula)

The tropical paradise of Santa Teresa Beach

The beach is located in the southern part of the Nicoya Peninsula. It is one of Costa Rica’s natural attractions. The atmosphere of a tropical paradise from advertising posters seems to have come off the pictures to earth in this place. The white sandy beaches are called the pearl of Costa Rica, and it is true.

The sand here is pleasantly white. It has exceptionally fine fractions, so it is not called silk for nothing. The water on the coast is very clean, this is carefully monitored by local services. Many tourists with children tend to come to this beach, as the coast is shallow and the shallows here extend far into the depths.

In addition to the natural beauty, the beach is interesting because it is debugged tourist service. Experienced tourists call it civilized. There is a place to rest and eat. Access roads are in excellent condition. From the scorching sun you can always take cover in the shade of towering trees.

For thrill-seekers looking for something to see in Costa Rica, Santa Teresa Beach attracts year-round high swell. Surfing conditions here are great. Nearby is the small settlement of Malpais, where you can relax, tired from too much experience on the beach.

3. Wenado Caves (Wenado Village)

The bizarre shape of Wenado Caves

Thinking about what to see in Costa Rica? The Wenado Caves deserve your attention. Tourists are amazed by the guides’ report that the caves are up to 20 million years old, and that they have been under water for a long time. The caves were brought to the surface due to tectonic activity. After the surface of the land under water began to move, the caves gradually moved upward.

For many centuries they have been inhabited by the natives, making them habitable wherever possible. It is a natural attraction in Costa Rica, formed of beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. You can get a good look at the amazing corals here. The structure of the caves is limestone, and their vaults are compacted to a state of dense rock. There is an underwater river in the cave, which gives its vaults the most bizarre shapes.

If you book a tour of the Wenado Caves, you can admire the fossilized remains of marine animals and encounter hordes of bats. They inhabit these dark underground labyrinths, and their entire life takes place in pitch-black darkness. Staying in the cave, as they say, tickles the nerves, but professional guides do not let the travelers get scared, drawing their attention to new details. The tour ends with collective selfies.

4. Arenal Volcano (Alajuela province)

Arenal Volcano and its surroundings

Arenal Volcano is an active volcano. It is interesting because it is located in a mountain with perfectly regular conical outlines. Nature has arranged so that in the dark, the volcano is illuminated by “neon” longitudinal stripes. When there is an eruption, the lava completely lights up the surroundings. The height of the volcano above sea level is 1670 m.

Scientists suggest that the first eruption of the volcano occurred 7,000 years ago and lasted more than 30 years. Since then, explosive eruptions, extremely spectacular, occur here every few hundred years. Its last powerful eruption occurred in 1968 after an earthquake. Powerful streams of lava erupted continuously for several days. It covered 15 square kilometers. Then 80 local residents and 10 rescuers were killed.

Interestingly, after the 1968 eruption several other craters were formed near the volcano. The village, which is located on the slope of the mountain, was completely destroyed. Currently, scientists periodically note the activity of the volcano. For example, in 2011, a smoky curtain on the top of Arenal was recorded.

5. Corcovado National Park (Puntarenas province)

The pristine beauty of Corcovado Park

The province of Puntarenas comes close to the Pacific Ocean. It is here that one of Costa Rica’s main attractions, Corcovado Park, can be found. It is located on the Osa Peninsula. The park is almost entirely covered by wild forest. No trees have ever been felled here, so the area is rightly considered a protected area. The flora and fauna in Corcovado are extremely diverse.

The first settlers here began to appear only in the mid-seventies of the last century. The park is preserved in its pristine beauty. There are more than 500 species of different trees. The famous 70-meter cottonwood tree, which is located in the park, is 3 meters in diameter.

The park will be interesting to those who are interested in ornithology. In particular, here you can meet 400 species of birds, including some especially rare. For example, the population of red macaws feel at ease here. In addition, the rarest glass frog is also an inhabitant of the local forests. Among mammals, ocelots and jaguars can be found in the park. Everyone’s favorite sloths also live in Corcovado. There are many monkeys in the park, much to the delight of tourists.

If you are thinking about what to see in Costa Rica, the Salcipuedes Cave, which is located in the park, will leave a lasting impression on you. There is a legend that the countless treasures of the famous navigator Francis Drake are hidden on this island. In 1579 F. Drake stopped at one of the bays of the peninsula. It happened during his voyage around the world.

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Feel the atmosphere of Costa Rica in this beautiful video!

6. La Fortuna Falls (Alajuela province)

La Fortuna Falls against a backdrop of wildlife

Costa Rica’s natural attractions include La Fortuna Falls, located in Arenal National Park. The waterfall is 75 meters high, but the water flow is not wide, so there are always many bathers at the bottom. In addition, the place has become a favorite for those who prefer picnics in the wilderness. The place where the waterfall falls is surrounded by large rocks. At its foot, a cool and very clear lake has formed.

Interestingly, the waterfall can be admired from below as well as from above. Up there is a narrow path, and you can not only walk along it, but also ride a horse. Locals are happy to give tourists such an opportunity.

The waterfall is used as a tourist attraction. At its base at the top is an observation deck, giving travelers the opportunity to enjoy a fabulously beautiful view of the surrounding area. The platform is safe; it is fenced in with sturdy netting and a stable railing.

Official website: http://www.cataratalafortuna

7. Museum of Gold (San Jose)

Gold figurines of Indians from the Gold Museum

What to see in Costa Rica? Of course, the Museum of Gold. It is located next to the cathedral in San Jose. The exhibit contains jewelry and iconic objects made by Indian craftsmen. Among the exhibits are rarities made 500 years before the birth of Christ. In addition, of particular value are the exhibits dating back to the 16th century, when the Spaniards first came to the city. All in all, the museum has about 2,000 exhibits.

There are household items, ritual figurines and jewelry. Tourists are fascinated by shields of solid gold, which are the size of a human being. The fabulous figures of birds captivate especially with their delicate ornaments.

At the same time, the museum is one of the saddest pages of Costa Rica’s history. The fact is that many of the ornaments and unique household items belonging to the indigenous population were simply transferred to ingots by the conquistadors, because it was easier to transport them to Spain. Some, however, have survived, so the museum is under the special protection of the state. It is one of Costa Rica’s most famous cultural attractions.

Official website: https://museosdelbancocentral

8. Tortuga Island

View of Tortuga Island

When thinking about what to visit in Costa Rica, you must not overlook the idyllic island of Tortuga, which is a pilgrimage destination for tourists from all over the world. Of all the peninsulas and islands in Costa Rica, this one is the most desirable. However, there are no hotels and tents are not allowed.

What draws tourists there? The azure ocean and silky sand beach are the main advantages of the island. In fact, Tortuga consists of two islands: Alcatraz and Tolinga, but the local population stuck to the name Turtle Island. The water here is not just pure, it has the color of sapphire.

On the island, you can endlessly enjoy the sun and sand or book a variety of excursions. One of the favorite activities for tourists is a trip on a boat with a glass bottom, which gives a happy opportunity to admire the beauty of the underwater world.

There are plenty of places to eat here. Inexpensive and not crowded cafes are part of the tourist infrastructure. Tired of the sun, you can rest in a coconut grove in the benign shade. The island is rocky, so it served as a refuge for buccaneer hunters in the 17th century.

9. Hot Springs (Tabacon)

Hot Springs at Tabacon Resort

Among the must-see natural attractions in Costa Rica are the hot springs at Tabacon Resort. They are swimming pools of different shapes with thermal water. The hotel itself promises luxurious service, which is enhanced by the extraordinary beauty of nature.

Water in the hottest pools has a temperature of 42 degrees Celsius. They are closest to the Arenal Volcano. In those pools, which are located within the resort, the water has a temperature of no more than 27 degrees Celsius. As a rule, tourists go from one pool to another, which enhances the therapeutic effect of the contrasting temperature.

The history of the origin of these pools is interesting. The water originates in the clouds. It is nothing more than rainwater falling into the crevices of the earth’s crust. In the immediate vicinity of the Arenal volcano water is pushed to the surface.

So what do tourists see at the resort? There is a lot of lush tropical vegetation, which does not give the impression of some wild thickets. The hotel has a staff of 50 people, whose duty it is to look after the local greenery. Paths from one swimming pool to the other are well kept and lined with beautiful plants. Everywhere tourists are surrounded by natural beauty, ennobled by man.

10. Chirripo National Park (Cerro Chirripo)

Mountain Lakes of Chirripo Park

The park is located at an altitude of 3,820 meters above sea level. Staying in the park is very comfortable. There is always a pleasant coolness. The nature in the park is varied, but tourists are most attracted to the dwarf trees.

In translation, the name of the park means “eternal waters”. It comes from several mountain lakes scattered throughout the park.

You can only go up to Chirripo Park on foot. The path is safe, but the way is long and tedious. However, once you get there, you can admire the sunrise over the Caribbean.

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Sightseeing in Costa Rica: What else to visit while in Costa Rica

To say that excursions in Costa Rica are interesting is to say nothing, because here tourists expect to see truly exotic animals, monuments of ancient times and incredibly beautiful views. Our list will give you at least a general idea of the best attractions, so that then it will be easy to decide where to go first, and what to leave “for later”.

11. Simon Bolivar Zoo. Simón Bolívar (San José)

Zoo Crocodiles

The San Jose Zoo is among the most iconic attractions in Costa Rica. It was founded in 1919. Throughout the zoo’s existence, the Ministry of the Environment has taken special care to keep the animals there in conditions as close to natural as possible.

Here you could see jaguars and lions, which are not in cages, but in cozy open-air cages. The zoo has a total of 400 species of different animals, fish and birds, as well as an impressive collection of snakes. Serpentarium has especially rare colorful snakes. The zoo boasts a large collection of parrots, which also have comfortable living conditions.

In 2013, the government intended to close the zoo. The Minister of Environment Rene Castro intended, in his words, to “awaken the environmental conscience of Costa Ricans. In particular, he said that keeping animals in enclosures and cages was inhumane. The government’s initiative was that all 400 species of fish, birds and animals should be distributed in shelters or released into the wild.

His opponent, however, was zoo director Yolanda Matamoros. The woman lashed out at the minister with harsh criticism, saying that the country did not have the means to distribute so many animals to different locations. She was especially outraged at the idea of releasing already tame animals into the wild.

Later, the idea of turning the zoo into a Botanical Garden emerged. However, it continues to function to this day. For tourists it is one of the most interesting objects in the country.

12. Arenal Lake (90 km from San Jose)

Lake Arenal is a place of diverse entertainment

The lake is located 600 meters above sea level. It is located next to Arenal Volcano, which is located on the southeast shore. In 1979, construction work was carried out on the dam of the local hydroelectric power plant. This provoked a nearly threefold increase in water in the lake. At the same time several local settlements were flooded.

The area of the lake is 80 square kilometers. It is the largest freshwater reservoir in the region. The lake provides water not only to San Jose, but also to Gaunacast. A variety of activities are offered year-round for tourists around the lake. You can go organized fishing or windsurfing here.

In addition, there are regular trips on the lake in kayaks and boats. For surfers, the lake is interesting because there is a constant wind load. In addition, in the vicinity of the lake you can ride a mountain bike.

13. Butterfly Farm (Puntarenas)

The Butterfly Farm is home to lovely creatures

At the Butterfly Farm in the province of Puntarenas you can see butterflies of all kinds. This is one of those attractions that almost all tourists want to see in Costa Rica. The journey to the farm is accompanied by a professional guide. You can hear a whole story about each butterfly.

Accompanying persons tell how butterflies hatch from a cocoon and what living conditions they need. The farm is located in the Monteverde Park. Tourists will meet not only colorful beautiful butterflies, but also many exotic plants.

The farm is one of the undoubted attractions of Costa Rica. Butterflies are grown here not only for scientific purposes. It is a real business, as such an original gift as a butterfly in a box is gaining popularity all over the world.

14. Monteverde National Park

The Suspension Bridge in Monteverde Park

The province is located 1,200 meters above sea level in the Cordilleras. For tourists, the area is attractive because of its forests, which are always covered with fog. In them you can admire the flora and fauna untouched by man.

Monteverde National Park has become a natural attraction in Costa Rica and one of the most popular destinations for popular eco-tourism. There are more than 400 species of birds and 100 species of mammals in this biological reserve.

As for plants, there are more than two and a half thousand species. Along the entire park there are hiking trails that are inconspicuous at first glance. They are laid through the woods, so it is particularly interesting to wander through them.

In addition, there are several suspension bridges in the park, from which you can admire the tops of the trees, which are always covered with gray clouds.

15. Cocos Island (Puntarenas)

Buy jungle of Cocos Island

Of all the uninhabited islands in the Pacific, Cocos is the largest. It is separated from the coast of the country by 360 miles. Its fauna is protected and Cocos Island has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997.

What is this natural attraction of Costa Rica of interest to tourists? Of course, the lush jungle, through which is a real adventure. In addition, the seabed near the island is riddled with volcanic rocks, which intricately wriggle with algae.

Notably, gold has played a major role in the history of the island. In the 16th century, warriors of the Tahuantinsuyu Empire were armed with swords made of real gold and the central square of the island’s main town was belted with a huge chain also of the precious metal.

There is a legend that the disappeared gold of the Incas was hidden on this island. For example, August Gissler, the German explorer and founder of the colony on Cocos Island searched for the gold for 20 years. However, his search was unsuccessful.

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