The options for where to go and what to do in Costa Rica are seemingly endless, whether you’re planning a two week holiday or a two month excursion into the tropical wildlife that abounds throughout the country. From the rolling hills surrounding the Central Valley, home to San Jose, the country’s capital and the most populated region, to the over 8,000 miles of coastline touching both the deep blue of the Pacific or the warm waters of the Caribbean, Costa Rica offers up some of the most varied and diverse terrain and holiday packages anywhere in the world.
While the country itself is well manicured in places and can almost seem like the Disneyland of Latin America, raw and wild beauty is never far away. Journey Latin America offers a 15-day Costa Rica Wildlife Discovery trip including bird watching, whale watching on the Pacific Ocean, and hiking in the dense jungles of Corcovado National Park. Included in the cost is everything but international travel. Accommodation, some meals, and internal transport by road, sea, and air are all covered in this amazing package which takes you to places you may never reach on your own.
While some travelers may prefer an excursion such as Journey Latin America offers, others may choose to do their own exploring. Renting a car in San Jose and traversing the country’s many mountain roads which lead to either coast is a wonderful way to see the rich beauty of Costa Rica. The Interamericana, or The Pan-American Highway is the longest thoroughfare in the world with over 15,000 miles of road, and it cuts straight through Costa Rica and serves as the main road. From the Nicaraguan border crossing of Penas Blancas to the Panamanian Paso Canoas, this highway winds through valleys and mountains, past volcanoes and waterfalls, through rainforests, and tropical dry forests and shows travelers still only a mere sliver of the vast wildlife that calls this country home.
Most visitors will find their time split between exploration of the Central Valley and either one or both coasts. To the east of San Jose lies the less traveled Caribbean Coast, just over the mountains and along the Atlantic slope. This wet, humid region is home to nesting sea turtles, crocodile filled mangroves, and banana plantations. The local culture has a more Caribbean feel and the local population is a mix of indeginous Amerindians, Jamaican and Chinese immigrants and descendants and European and North American expats and transplants. Some of the highlights of this region include the Buttercup Inn Sloth Sanctuary where you can have close encounters with two and three toed sloths. Another great experience in the Limon Province is touring a chocolate finca, or farm. Learn how this delicious and fascinating crop is grown and transformed to the beloved chocolate bar that we find throughout the world.
West of San Jose lie the countless white sand, stunning beaches of the Pacific Coast. This region is much more visited than its easterly neighbor. For years the idyllic beaches of the Pacific have been attracting visitors due to their unrivaled beauty, lush tropical forests that grow right up to the shoreline, and of course the world famous surf spots found throughout the “rich coast”. The Guanacaste Province is home to some of Costa Rica’s most lavish and luxurious resorts and eco-lodges as well as some of the oldest and most establish backpacker hostels in all of Central America. Experienced surfers can make their own pilgramages to the world famous surf spots such as Witch’s Rock and Ollie’s Point, while those new to the sport may decide to do a surf school or surf camp package with one of the many surf schools in the area. Iguana Surf School is a great option offering different surf packages based on length of stay and experience.
In addition to exploring the many wonderful beaches and surf breaks, visitors to the Pacific Coast will want to spend some time wandering the national parks that dot that region. Manuel Antonio National Park is perhaps the most popular and most visited in this region and one look at its natural beauty and it’s easy to understand why. Continuing further south on the Pacific Coast visitors will feel the distance between themselves and the city life far away in San Jose. The Osa Peninsula is one of the wildest places left in Central America and while remarkable eco-lodges exist in some remote parts of the region, this is truly part of the world still run by wildlife.
Thanks to increased direct flights starting this coming year from British Airways, the beauty of Costa Rica is closer now than ever before. This pristine, lush, lively tropical paradise has been a major destination for adventure seekers and nature lovers from all over the world for years and now with more direct international flights, even more people will have the chance to experience this true gem, tucked away in the crossroads of the Americas.