Getting lost in the Corcovado jungle, lounging on the golden sand beaches or discovering coffee plantations as far as the eye can see… Costa Rica promises you incredible moments. To be sure not to miss anything, follow our guide to the essentials in Costa Rica to make your trip as successful as possible.
- 1 Costa Rica Highlights: Monteverde Cloud Forest
- 2 Poas Volcano
- 3 Tabacon Hot Springs
- 4 Rio Pacuare
- 5 Corcovado National Park
- 6 Manuel Antonio National Park
- 7 Playa Uvita
- 8 Tortuguero National Park
- 9 Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Reserve
- 10 Orosi coffee plantation
- 11 What is the best time to travel to Costa Rica?
- 12 When to travel to Costa Rica?
- 13 What is the weather like in Costa Rica?
- 14 When is the rainy season in Costa Rica?
Costa Rica Highlights: Monteverde Cloud Forest
In the mountainous region in the northwest of Costa Rica, in the province of Punataneras, Monteverde is renowned for the great biodiversity of its cloud forest, nestled at 1500 meters above sea level. Its biological reserve is home to countless wild beasts, including jaguars, ocelots or colorful quetzals. The Monteverde reserve has a suspension bridge that allows you to walk above the forest canopy. Thrill-seekers, in Monteverde, you can indulge in all kinds of activities such as tubbing (down the river in a buoy), rafting, or tree climbing…
37 km northwest of San José, the Poas Volcano is one of the must-sees in Costa Rica. Very close to the city of Alajuela, the volcano nestles in the heart of the national park of the same name and culminates at 2708 meters above sea level. It is one of the most active volcanoes in the country and hosts in its crater, an emerald-colored lake which regularly releases sulphurous and toxic vapours. Another volcano in Costa Rica: the arenal volcano. A two-hour drive from Poas, Arenal, also called cerro Arenal, is located within the national park of the same name. It is currently the youngest volcano in Costa Rica. It culminates at 1633 meters and is covered with tropical forest. There are several wonderful trails to discover on foot, in particular the beautiful ascent of Cerro Chato.
Tabacon Hot Springs
Costa Rica is a volcanic land, thus allowing thermal and sulphurous waters to form. Some hot springs are freely accessible, allowing you to enjoy its benefits. This is the case of those of Tabacón, located on the way to Volcán Arenal and whose water in the basins displays 40°C!
Thrill-seekers, the Rio Pacuare is for you. Within the Pacuare-Matina Forest Reserve, one of the most beautiful places for a vacation in Costa Rica, the Rio Pacuare is a river that meanders between the thick mountains, at high speed. The opportunity to go rafting, while being surrounded by beautiful virgin vegetation and crystal clear waters. It is even possible to camp on the banks of the river with the only view of the spectacular forest that surrounds this wonderful place.
Corcovado National Park
In the Puntaneras region, on the Osa Peninsula, Corcovado Park is one of the must-sees in Costa Rica that should not be missed. It is indeed one of the largest primary tropical forests in Central America. This nature reserve contains various tropical ecosystems and includes many endangered species including scarlet macaws, tapirs, jaguars and squirrel monkeys. Three trails cross Corcovado National Park: San Predillo-Sirena, Carate-Sirena and Los Patos-Sirena. Also, the park hides a beautiful beach, almost hidden, a real jewel of the Osa Peninsula. Corcovado Beach stretches for miles of gray sand lined with palm trees that seem to caress the ground.
Manuel Antonio National Park
Another major national park in Costa Rica is Manuel Antonio National Park. At only 16 km², it ranks as the smallest national park in the country, but is nonetheless popular. The park offers to see wild tropical forests which welcome in particular capuchin monks, howler monkeys, sloths… The approximately 680 hectares of the park are crossed by hiking trails, which wind from the coast to the mountains. We advise you to be accompanied by a guide to make the most of their knowledge and their explanations, which are very useful for observing wildlife. Also note that Manuel Antonio National Park offers a fine selection of small beaches. Indeed, renowned for its wide strip of sand in the shape of a horseshoe, Manuel Antonio Park is bordered by crystal clear waters, ideal for swimming.
Within Ballena National Park, Playa Uvita is one of Costa Rica’s must-sees. Famous for its semi-circular “whale tail” shape, Uvita beach in the province of Puntaneras is a true natural paradise. The sea is calm and the waters limpid: Ideal for a snorkeling session in order to meet an impressive marine fauna and flora.
Tortuguero National Park
We do not forget to head towards the Caribbean coast to find other essentials of Costa Rica. In the northeast of the country, Tortuguero National Park is a protected nature reserve, whose beaches are nesting areas for sea turtles, including green turtles, now endangered. To have the chance to observe their spawning, favor the months of July and August. Located in the wettest region of Costa Rica, Tortuguero National Park experiences 6000 millimeters of annual rainfall. Prepare your visit well and remember to bring umbrellas, raincoats and rubber boots! The best ? Take a taxi boat to cross the village of Tortuguero, its banana plantations and its tropical forest, to navigate quietly on the waters.
Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Reserve
Always on the Caribbean side, do not miss to visit one of the must-sees in Costa Rica: The Gandoca Manzanillo wildlife reserve. Accessible from Puerto Viejo by bicycle, the national park offers nearly 5 km² of the best preserved coral reefs in the southern Caribbean. Its wetlands preserve lagoons and mangroves. The park is also worth a visit for its beautiful little heavenly and quiet beaches.
Orosi coffee plantation
Finally, to end your trip to Costa Rica, do not miss the visits to coffee plantations, essential in Costa Rica. To do this, head for the Central Valley, in Orosi, south of San José. Small winding country roads will lead you to a bucolic landscape and a patchwork of coffee plantations. This is an opportunity to learn more about the manufacturing process of this black gold, dear to Costa Rica. From harvest to cup, you will follow all the stages of coffee making.
What is the best time to travel to Costa Rica?
The Republic of Costa Rica, also known as the green paradise or the neutral Switzerland of Central America, offers the visitor authentic wonders of nature in its purest form. Here you can enjoy beautiful tropical beaches, hot springs, volcanoes and a unique biodiversity.
When to travel to Costa Rica?
Costa Rica is a country in Central America that is located right between the countries of Nicaragua and Panama. The waters that bathe this territory are those of the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Therefore, the best time to travel to Costa Rica will be determined by the region where you are going to spend your vacations.
Generally, the best months to visit Costa Rica are from December to April. This is the dry season in which the rains are scarcer, but the prices to travel are also higher. The rainy season in Costa Rica, on the other hand, runs from May to November and is perfect for exploring the jungle or catching waves on the Pacific beaches.
What is the weather like in Costa Rica?
The climate in Costa Rica is tropical. This means that it is divided into two well-differentiated periods. Summer, considered as the dry season. And winter, where the greatest amount of rainfall is concentrated. During the summer (December – April) the average temperature is around 25 – 30 degrees. During the winter the temperatures are somewhat cooler, but also more humid, so the thermal sensation increases.
The best thing is that you choose for yourself what is the best time to travel to Costa Rica according to your own preferences. For example, if you want to be able to see wild animals, the best months are:
- November and April: the quetzals.
- April to May: leatherback turtles.
- August to September: green turtles.
In the event that you are passionate about surfing, then you have to take into account that the best months to surf are:
- December to March: Atlantic coast.
- April to August: Pacific coast.
- September and October: Central Pacific.
Finally, Costa Rica in August is a good time for sun and beach tourism. Temperatures exceed 30 degrees, being a little cooler at night. In the month of August you can also enjoy the spawning of green turtles. The good weather usually lasts until mid-September, at which time, with the presence of rain, a drop in temperatures can be appreciated.
When is the rainy season in Costa Rica?
As we have seen previously, in Costa Rica there are two distinct seasons of the year. The winter season (May to November) is considered the rainy season. During these months rainfall occurs practically every day. In winter the mornings are sunny and warm, but at noon is when it starts to rain, spoiling what could be a beautiful day at the beach. After about 2 or 3 hours of rainfall, the sun makes an appearance again.
On the Atlantic coast the rain is much stronger than in other regions of the country. In summary, it could be said that the period with the highest risk of precipitation in Costa Rica is during the months of September and October. However, and despite the fact that the rains can bother you when traveling, in this case the rainfall could even be an incentive. Traveling to Costa Rica in the rainy season will allow you to admire its vegetation in all its splendor. This is a good time to discover the spectacle of wildlife that this wonderful country offers you.
However, due to climate change, summer and winter in Costa Rica are progressively more mixed. That is, sunny days are more and more frequent in the rainy season, and rainy days are more and more present during the dry season.