Known for postcard perfect beaches, volcanoes, waterfalls, and jungles teeming with adventure, Costa Rica begs to be discovered. Whether you feed on speed, delight in dizzying heights, or prefer to take in the natural beauty with your feet firmly planted on a gorgeous beach, Costa Rica has something for everyone.
Snuggled between the Pacific and the Caribbean, this enchanting land, meaning “rich coast”, includes over 1100 miles of beaches, mostly surrounded by rainforests. Under the waves, you’ll find coral reefs perfect for diving, while up in the jungle canopy, curious animals and colorful plants await the opportunity to charm visitors.
I’ve always been a fan of vacationing like a local, and in countries as exceptional as Costa Rica, that means renting a luxury property. Costa Rica boasts spectacular homes (choosing one is half the fun) at all price points. Why go the villa route? It means my large clan has breakfast in our pajamas on a fabulous deck and enjoys afternoon cocktails by the pool in swimsuits, sans the crowds found at hotels and resorts.
I’ve rented luxury villas from St Barth to Switzerland because they allow my family and friends to relax together in a dream property while being a part of the local culture. Cooking together or hiring a private chef to teach you about the local cuisine is a far more interactive and experiential way to dive into a country’s culture. And for people like my husband – who spends his vacation in flip flops and surf shorts – you don’t have to worry about reservations, dressing up, directions or parking the rental car. My favorite way to spend a Sunday afternoon vacation planning is with a glass of wine, looking at luxury retreats and dreaming of where we’re going next. Now that we’ve got your accommodations rolling, let’s talk about the top ten reasons to discover Costa Rica.
Nature, Nature, Nature
Costa Rica boasts a lush natural environment that’s home to tremendous biodiversity. Over 25% of this stunning country is covered by protected Natural Parks and Nature Preserves bringing visitors as many options for discovery as the huge number of species that call Costa Rica home. Between majestic volcanoes, beaches, tropical rainforests and jungle adventure, Costa Rica’s natural wonders are what make it a special place to visit.
Up in the Sky
Humans weren’t born with wings, but don’t tell that to Costa Rica. Zipline through the cloud forest of Monteverde as you look for over 400 species of birds, or fly through the lush canopy near the Osa Peninsula, tracing the rivers below. For those looking to join the fun in a more serene setting, hike the trails around the Arenal Volcano, or relax on a sky tram over Jaco, with beautiful views of waterfalls and the Pacific ocean. Costa Rica offers many options for safely enjoying the country from above.
Coast to Coast in the Same Day
Thanks to Costa Rica’s size, you can discover both the Caribbean and the Pacific coasts, and if you wanted to create your own “amazing vacation race”, you can even do it in the same day. Just 3-4 hours by car (or a 45 minute flight) you can have breakfast with scarlet macaws in Carara National Park on the Pacific Coast, drive a few hours to lunch in the capital city of San Jose, then spend the afternoon on the Caribbean Coast hopscotching white or black sand beaches in Playa Blanca and Playa Negra, while watching the sunset with Cahuita National Park’s toucans, monkeys, turtles and sloths.
World Heritage and Experiential Culture
With four UNESCO World Heritage Sites encompassing conservation areas, national parks, and a cultural settlement, Costa Rica’s UNESCO sites are mostly uninhabited aside from the marine life and endangered animals that call them home. While three of the sites recognize natural reserves to protect animals from becoming extinct, the fourth, the Pre-Columbian Chiefdom Settlements with Stone Spheres of the Diquis (added to UNESCO in 2014) recognizes the now extinct culture of the Diquis people who inhabited the region. Interestingly, the meaning of the giant stone balls found here and in other areas of Costa Rica, remain a mystery to this day.
Just like Americans, Costa Ricans are a blend of immigrants from all over the world. You might be surprised to learn that in addition to descendants of indigenous people, Costa Rica’s population is also made up of immigrants from Italy, Africa, China, and Lebanon. Like its neighbor, Panama, Costa Rica is part of the great Central American melting pot.
Culinary & Artistic Feasts
For visitors, Costa Rica’s diversity means you can enjoy traditional and cutting edge cuisine, original art and music and unique crafts made by local artisans throughout the country. From walking tours of San Jose to exploring smaller coastal towns, you’re sure to find Costa Rica’s culture evident everywhere. For a particular sweet treat, take a chocolate tour.
It’s Easy to Get Around
Yes, the coast to coast adventure above sounds like an incredible day (and it can be done) but the purpose of a vacation is to relax. There’s plenty of time to take it all in. Whether you plan a one day adventure or stretch out the sights over a week or two, between scheduled airline service, rental cars and buses, Costa Rica’s easy access around the country is key to being able to experience many exciting adventures during your stay.
Banish the Jet Lag Costa Rica’s time zone – 1 hour behind US Central Standard Time – makes it easy to hit the ground running and get out to explore. And about that extra hour…
Have more Fun in the Sun The only thing you need to decide is how you’ll spend those bonus 60 minutes (I vote for umbrella cocktails by pool at your luxury villa).
Every Day is a Good Weather Day
With temperatures hovering in the 60s-80’s most of the year, the weather’s always perfect for adventure. Even when it rains, the Costa Rican landscape becomes more lush and alive, with shimmering shades of green and blue welcoming you to come out and play.
Questions about Staying & Playing in Costa Rica? Send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org