Of all the Central American countries, Costa Rica isn’t that well known for tourism. I generally think of other places whenever I picture this part of the world, but I guess that’s a shame really because the smaller countries making up this region are some of the most picturesque and wild in the world. Costa Rica is one of them, and is huge on wildlife, and biodiversity. Rainforests, beaches, active volcanoes, mangrove swamps, you’ll see it all.
Because it’s not quite as we documented travel-wise, without trawling the internet for various different sites to visit and probably getting a lot of differing advice, here’s four of the best regions of the country you should be visiting during your stay.
San Jose – You’ve probably heard of this, and that’s probably because it’s the only major city in the country. I don’t want to paint a rather grim view of this bustling city, but do be careful of street crime. Of course, this is the same in every city the world over, but just be aware of bags etc, as it is quite rife here. Despite that, San Jose is very pretty, and the mountain and volcanoes that surround it give some fantastic views. I always think the best way to see these places is on foot, so get your walking shoes on. Parque Espana is a lovely place to enjoy the sunshine, as well as the San Pedro area of the city, where you’ll find a lively bar scene. There are also lots of museums to explore, and walking around the different neighbourhoods will show you the varying areas.
Limon Province – You’re on the Caribbean coastline here, so expect beautiful views. This particular region of Costa Rica is surrounded by jungles and swamps and it often feels a bit like you’ve been stranded on another planet. It is quite remove, yet the castaway vibe I think is quite intoxicating. The beaches are wild and a little untamed, and there are sharks in this part of the world so I wouldn’t recommend swimming. There are the famous giant sea turtles at Tortuguero, so make that a definite spot to visit. Other than that, surfing, snorkelling, bird-spotting, and white water rafting are all popular activities.
Zona Norte – If you want a real wild experience, then the landscapes in Zona Norte are for you. La Fortuna is probably the most popular town in this area and a lot of people use it as a base to explore the area. You’ll find plentiful wildlife, and you have the famous Volcan Arenal here too, which is an active volcano, with lots of eco-travel opportunities around. Like a bit of bird-spotting? It’s good here.
Guanacaste – Costa Rica’s folklore and history is quite evident in Guanacaste, and this is where you’ll probably get the best picture of tradition. A picturesque area, with more volcanoes and nature, there are lots of opportunities for walking and stunning views to photograph. Parque Nacional Rincon de la Vieja and Parque Nacional Santa Rosa are popular spots and you’ll find a bit of a cowboy yee-haa vibe going on in the area as a general rule. This is the last real area before you reach Nicaragua, and many people choose to stay in La Cruz before heading over the border. The sunsets here are famous.
These are just four suggestions, and you’ll no doubt find more on your travels.