On the north end of Costa Rica's Pacific coast lies the Gulf of Papagayo, a tropical beach-laden region that's still relatively undiscovered. As remote as Papagayo is, you'll find many options for grabbing a bite. Most are centered in Playas del Coco, where you'll find (very) fresh seafood, vegetarian Lebanese cuisine, and authentic Italian fare. The list below also includes a beachfront option in Playa Ocotal and innovative Asian-fusion in Playa Hermosa.
Costa Rica Travel Insights
This 11-day itinerary is perfect for travelers who like to combine their mountain adventures with a bit of a beach holiday. You'll arrive in Liberia, the hub of Costa Rica's Guanacaste Province. From the airport, you'll head to Rincón de la Vieja and spend two days exploring the nature surrounding one of the country's most active volcanoes. Then travel deeper inland to spend a few days crossing suspension bridges, zip-lining over trees, and hiking through the jungles of La Fortuna and the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. You'll end your trip in Manuel Antonio National Park. More than just stunning white-sand beaches, Manuel Antonio is rich in biodiversity and wildlife viewing opportunities.
With the awe-inspiring Arenal volcano, an exciting rafting trip, visiting the jungle in Manuel Antonio, and just some time to relax on the beach in Manuel Antonio, this trip captures the essence of Costa Rican motto - Pura Vida!
This itinerary is specifically tuned for wildlife lovers. Expect to get up early and stay out late to see monkeys, lizards, birds, insects and other spectacular fauna that inhabit the virgin rainforest, cloud forest and swampy estuaries covered here. The trip begins with a southwest journey from San José to Parque Nacional Corcovado (Corcovado National Park) before continuing northwest along the Pacific coast. Next head inland to Monteverde for birdwatching and spotting wildlife in the unique eco-system of the cloud forest.
Despite being a small surf town, Tamarindo is officially on the radar of intrepid travelers seeking a slice of tropical paradise. Restaurants continue to pop up to meet the growing demand, and now visitors can find everything from shrimp burgers at a chilled-out seafood shack to beachside fine-dining, flame-grilled barbecue buffets, and even gluten-free Sicilian pizza. Here are eight best bets for getting your grub on in Tamarindo.
Manuel Antonio National Park is Costa Rica's smallest protected area, yet its ecological diversity is surprisingly plentiful. The same goes for restaurants—the tiny town of Quepa, gateway to the national park, has more quality eateries than you might expect. Learn where to eat in the Manuel Antonio area in our list below, where beachfront seafood spots, Mediterranean falafel shops, and more await.
Experience both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of Costa Rica — and all that's in between — on this 9-day adventure. Starting in the bustling capital of San Jose, you'll make your way to Tortuguero National Park, where you'll watch sea turtles hatch on the beach. Then head inland to the Monteverde Cloud Forest for incredible wildlife and rainforest trails. After two nights in the heart of the jungle, you'll travel to the sparkling waters of the Gulf of Papagayo. Here you'll go snorkeling and surfing, and end your journey with a spectacular sunset cruise around the bay.
This active 9-day itinerary is designed to appeal to nature lovers and adventure fiends of every stripe. It starts on the southern Pacific coast, in the remote, wild Corcovado National Park. Here you'll enjoy rugged hikes abounding with wildlife-spotting opportunities. Then it's off to the north where you'll explore the misty cloud forests of Monteverde and fly over the forest canopy on a zip-line tour. After a visit to the famed Arenal Volcano, it's time for another hike, this time to the Hule Lagoon, an ancient crater lake like something out of Conan Doyle's "Lost World."
Monteverde's rare cloud forest ecosystem sits high above sea level in the mountains of Costa Rica. Your base for excursions will be Santa Elena, a relatively quiet mountain village that welcomes travelers to the area's multiple nature reserves. Here you'll find a good array of restaurants, from mom-and-pop shops serving reliable local fare to Italian spots known for wood-fired pizza and fresh pasta.
San José is the capital of Costa Rica and its metropolitan hub, and there's no shortage of dining options to choose from. Skip the guesswork with this list of the best places to eat, running the gamut from fine dining in luxury hotels and farm-to-table eateries like Al Mercat in the city center to family-owned spots where you can chow down on 'gallo pinto'—Costa Rica's national dish.
With a mix of rugged jungles and active volcanoes, Costa Rica offers some of the best natural sights and experiences in the world. We have packed some of our all-time favorites into this 6-day itinerary. With almost a quarter of the land preserved within national parks, the country is rich in wildlife and unique flora and fauna, making Costa Rica an ideal destination for eco-tourism. Sloths, birds, macaws, and monkeys are awaiting your visit!
When travelers want to experience an even wilder side of Costa Rica, they come to Tortuguero National Park. This protected area, famous as a nesting ground for sea turtles, is remote, little developed, accessible only by boat and plane—and totally worth the journey. Read on for all the info needed to make the most of your Tortuguero adventure.
After a day of trekking around the enormous Volcan Arenal, there are likely only two things you want: a soak in a nearby hot spring and a good meal. Luckily, La Fortuna is a tourist haven, and there's no shortage of restaurants. Find Mediterranean fare, Peruvian dishes, great sushi, elevated Costa Rican cuisine, and more—most within short walking distance from the main square—with this list.
Go from coast to coast as you encounter wildlife, swim under jungle waterfalls, and unwind on magnificent beaches on this well-rounded Costa Rican adventure. You'll start in the rugged Osa Peninsula, where you'll find untouched shores and a plethora of tropical animals. Then explore the rainforests of Monteverde and Arenal before embarking on a two-day whitewater rafting trip down the famous Pacuare River. End your unforgettable stay in the Caribbean town of Puerto Viejo, where you'll snorkel, surf, and enjoy "pura vida".
Any way you cut it, traveling to Costa Rica during the holidays will coincide with the tourist high season. This has its advantages, as there are more parties and celebrations than at any other time of year. Here's some advice to ensure you get the most out of your festive tropical vacation.
Costa Rica is a favorite destination for all ages. This 10-day adventure allows your family to experience the highlights of the country from the towering Arenal Volcano, to the spectacular, remote beaches of Guanacaste. There are plenty of kid-friendly activities along the way, from sampling locally produced chocolate, to zip lining through the trees, to surf lessons in the Pacific.
Combine a beach holiday and jungle adventure in one self-drive vacation. Arrive in Liberia and head to Tenorio National Park, where you'll hike along the electric blue waters of the Río Celeste. Next up is Arenal Volcano National Park, a hotbed of adventure activities. After a waterfall trek and whitewater rafting excursion, drive to Monteverde for a zip-line tour of the cloud forest canopy and a guided wildlife night hike. Finally, it's off to the beaches of Sámara and Tamarindo on the Nicoya Peninsula for surfing and relaxation.
This itinerary is perfect for those who want a vacation filled with tropical beauty and adventure. Take a self-drive tour of Costa Rica that begins in the cloud forests of Monteverde, where you can hike over suspension bridges and zip-line over the forest canopy. Then it's off to Arenal Volcano National Park—your days here will be spent trekking around the base of the volcano, soaking in natural hot springs, and embarking on waterfall hikes.
Costa Rica is a natural marvel—a relatively small country boasting four UNESCO Biosphere Reserves and 28 national parks. Travelers heading to this biodiverse wonderland can read on to have all your questions answered—including how to get around, what to eat, how much to tip, and more.
This self-guided road trip is ideal for those who love nature, beaches, and adventure activities. It covers all of Costa Rica's highlights, starting at the famous Arenal Volcano. From there, on to the Gulf of Papagayo on the northern Pacific coast. It's the perfect spot to snorkel and take a sunset sailing cruise. Then, you'll venture into the misty cloud forests of Monteverde—spot rare birds, partake in a zip-line canopy tour, and embark on a nocturnal wildlife excursion. End your trip with hiking and beach time in Manuel Antonio National Park.
Checking off three key regions in Costa Rica, this 10-day itinerary is perfect for adventurous travelers. The trip starts with a visit to Costa Rica's famous Arenal Volcano for hiking and natural hot springs before continuing to the Pacific Ocean for some beach time at Manuel Antonio National Park. Finish off in one of the country's most remote areas—Osa Peninsula—for undeveloped rainforests, rare wildlife, and near-empty coastline.
The jewel of Central America, Costa Rica offers an array of adventures, from city to cloud forest to sea. This weeklong itinerary includes trekking near an active volcano, some of the world’s best bird-watching, and snorkeling with sea turtles. It's a trip that encompasses the country’s most spectacular and varied landscapes, plus an opportunity to savor the culture of local villages as well as that of San José, Costa Rica’s dynamic capital city.
The jewel of Central America, Costa Rica offers everything—cities, beaches, and many unique ecosystems to explore. This itinerary encompasses the country’s most spectacular landscapes, plus an opportunity to savor the culture of local villages and capital city. Hike near a volcano, experience world-class bird-watching, snorkel with sea turtles, and more.
January kicks off a new year in Costa Rica with wild parties and an epic celebration. It's also a couple months into the high season, when the skies are clear and the glory of nature is on full display. This monthly guide illustrates how best to ring in the new year in Costa Rica.
Dry, warm weather makes February is the perfect time to visit Costa Rica. You'll experience the country's famous beaches and virgin rainforests, not to mention one of the largest carnival celebrations in the region. Great conditions mean big crowds—travelers heading to Costa Rica this month will want to book in advance. Read on for more about visiting in February.
March in Costa Rica means the sun is out, the resorts are full, and the beaches are calling your name. This is the high season, and the entire country is open for business. Let this monthly guide help you cut through the crowds and find the best places to visit and things to do.
April is the last hurrah of Costa Rica's high season—a time of grand religious holidays, epic fiestas, and reliably sunny beach weather. Throw in all those spring-breaking vacationers, and you have the makings of one great party.
This itinerary is designed for those who want an off-the-beaten-path tropical excursion. Start with the remote Osa Peninsula, where you'll visit beaches and hike through the rainforest. The peninsula itself contains over half of all animal species in Costa Rica, making it one of the best destinations for those who want to observe flora and fauna both on land and sea.Then, drive north along the Pacific coast to the white-sand beaches on Manuel Antonio National Park before heading northwest into the Monteverde region. Here you'll hike over the cloud-forest canopy via suspension bridges. Finally, pay a visit to Arenal, an active volcano and one of Costa Rica's most famous landmarks.
This itinerary combines mountain excursions with a bit of a beach holiday and some aquatic adventure. You'll arrive in Liberia, the hub of Costa Rica's Guanacaste Province. From there, drive to Arenal Volcano National Park, where you'll hike to a waterfall, relax in natural hot springs, and raft world-class whitewater. Then it's west to the Monteverde to see the cloud forest canopy via suspension bridges and a zip-line tour. A drive south will take you to Manuel Antonio, a unique destination with a combination of the beach, jungle and national park. After a couple days enjoying the beach and wildlife in Manuel Antonio, you'll return to San Jose for your journey home.
May in Costa Rica is the start of the nation's rainy season. This means you'll have more things to consider when planning your trip, but it also means you'll get to enjoy a brilliant landscape, lower prices, and epic beauty without the big crowds. Read on for more tips on how best to enjoy Costa Rica in the perceived off-season.
In June, Costa Rica is easing into its rainy season. Crowds are down and the foliage is in full bloom. Travelers who venture here during this month might have to endure some precipitation, but they'll also have the nation's most desirable destinations almost all to themselves. This monthly guide reveals more.
In the middle of Costa Rica's rainy season are a precious few weeks of sun and clear skies. This typically occurs in July, and anyone lucky enough to visit during this month gets the best of Costa Rica at reduced prices and with fewer crowds. Read on for tips on how best to enjoy this "sweet spot" on Costa Rica's calendar.
August falls right in the middle of Costa Rica's "green" season, a rainier time of year when all of the country's famous flora is in bloom. Take advantage of the precipitation with whitewater rafting, or head to the Caribbean coast if you're looking for a vacation with more sun. One of the biggest religious holidays of the year occurs during this month, too. Read on for more on the nature and festivities of Costa Rica in August.
September is right in the middle of Costa Rica's rainy season—but visitors this month are still in for a treat. Not only are Costa Rica's famous rainforests in lustrous bloom, the rivers are perfect for whitewater rafting and the Caribbean Coast is still warm enough to sunbathe. Plus, you'll be in town for Independence Day—this monthly guide offers more insight into the great party.
October is one of the rainier months in Costa Rica, but if you know where to go, you can have as epic a holiday in the wetter months as you can in the high tourist season—and at a fraction of the cost.
November in Costa Rica is the calm before the tourist high season of December. Get here early enough and you might even make it for Costa Rica's own "Day of the Dead" celebrations. Otherwise, enjoy all this country's nature and beaches without the oppressive crowds.
December in Costa Rica is the peak month of the peak tourist season. There's a near endless procession of festivities and holiday merrymaking fit for any reveler young or old. Plus, there's all that natural beauty the country is famous for. Find out how best to enjoy Costa Rica during the December holiday season with this monthly guide.
Explore the highlights of Costa Rica, from volcanos and jungles to beach and surfing in one self-drive vacation. Arrive in Liberia and head to Tenorio National Park, where you'll hike along the electric blue waters of the Río Celeste. Next up is Arenal Volcano National Park, a hotbed of adventure activities. After a waterfall trek and whitewater rafting excursion, drive to Monteverde for a zip-line tour of the cloud forest canopy and a guided wildlife night hike. Finally, it's off to the beaches of Sámara and Tamarindo on the Nicoya Peninsula for surfing and relaxation.
This 7-day itinerary is perfect for travelers who want a comprehensive beach holiday. You'll arrive in Liberia, the hub of Costa Rica's Guanacaste Province. From the airport, head south to Playa Sámara, a coastal village on the Nicoya Peninsula. Then, make the drive back north to the popular surf town of Tamarindo, where you'll spend your days riding the waves and taking part in nature excursions—you might even get to see nesting sea turtles, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
This self-guided road trip is ideal for those who love adventure. Visit Costa Rica's highlights, from the famous Arenal Volcano to the misty cloud forests of Monteverde and powdery beaches of Manuel Antonio National Park. Along the way, you'll fly over the treetops on a zip line tour, swim in waterfall lagoons, and spot wildlife on nature walks and snorkeling excursions.
This active 11-day itinerary is designed to appeal to nature lovers and adventure fiends of every stripe. It starts on the southern Pacific coast, in the remote, Corcovado National Park. Here you'll enjoy rugged hikes abounding with wildlife-spotting opportunities. Then it's off to the north where you'll explore the misty cloud forests of Monteverde and fly over the forest canopy. After a visit to the famed Arenal Volcano, it's time for another hike, this time to the Hule Lagoon, an ancient crater lake like something out of Conan Doyle's "Lost World." Enjoy waterfall rappelling before ending your Costa Rican adventure with a wild rafting trip down the Pacuare River.
If you prefer an active holiday in the great outdoors amid exotic wildlife, then this is the trip for you. Over 11 days of travel throughout Costa Rica, you'll indulge in almost every activity the country is famous for. This includes zip-line tours, canyoning, horseback rides, rafting trips, and kayak excursions. All in all, this itinerary packs 10 vacations worth of experiences into just 11 days.
Some 25% of the total area of Costa Rica is protected. You'll see evidence of this in the country's many national parks and reserves—the goal being to ensure that Costa Rica's natural wonders and delicate eco-systems remain viable for years to come. This is great for visitors such as yourself, who can luxuriate in Costa Rica's natural beauty on this immersive 9-day itinerary.
Some 25% of the total area of Costa Rica is protected. You'll see evidence of this in the country's many national parks and reserves—the goal being to ensure that Costa Rica's natural wonders and delicate eco-systems remain viable for years to come. This is great for visitors such as yourself, who can luxuriate in Costa Rica's natural beauty on this immersive 12-day itinerary.
Costa Rica is a nation as biodiverse as it is beautiful and the best way to experience all this nature and beauty is by touring the country's many national parks, reserves, and protected areas. Also, no trip to Costa Rica is complete without visiting the famous Pacific coast. This nearly two-week itinerary delivers both these highlights with plenty of time to kick back, relax, and enjoy the Costa Rican way of living "Pura Vida!"
If you prefer an active holiday in the great outdoors amid exotic wildlife, then this is the trip for you. Over 12 days of travel throughout Costa Rica, you'll indulge in almost every activity the country is famous for. This includes zip-line tours, canyoning, horseback rides, rafting trips, and kayak excursions. All in all, this itinerary packs 10 vacations worth of experiences into just 12 days.
Time to hit the open road and enjoy the wonders of Costa Rica on this 11-day self-drive tour. Your adventure begins on the Pacific beaches of Tamarindo and Nosara, both gems of Costa Rica's Guanacaste Province. On top of exploring and surfing these beaches, you'll make pit stops in coastal villages and glean insight into the local culture. Continue your journey eastward to the towering Arenal Volcano. Here you will soak in natural hot springs and brave whitewater rapids on a rafting trip.
This 11-day itinerary allows you to enjoy a comprehensive Costa Rican experience that will take you from the Caribbean to the Pacific coast and everything in between. Beyond the virgin rainforest and exotic wildlife, however, you'll also get to experience Costa Rica through its delicious flavors, be it local cuisine or the famed coffee grown in its volcanic soil.
Tortuguero National Park is most famous as a sanctuary to nesting sea turtles—you can witness the babies hatch on the beach during this 4-day excursion to the Caribbean coast. After spending a day exploring San José, you'll make your way east to the untouched beaches of Tortuguero. Delve deeper into the park and paddle a canoe around its arterial waterways, keeping an eye out for plenty of other wildlife along the way.
This quick-hit excursion to Arenal Volcano National Park offers an outdoor adventure where Costa Rica's stunning waterfalls take center stage. The trip starts and ends in bustling San Jose, but the village of La Fortuna will be your base as you enjoy Arenal's many cascades. Keep an eye out for wildlife on a hike to the incredible Rio Celeste waterfall. Along the way, cool off with a swim at the base of the waterfalls, or indulge yourself with a dip in the healing waters of Tabacón before heading back to the capital.