When you hear the words ‘Costa Rica’ you probably start to think about stunning tropical beaches and a seriously good suntan. Yes, this is true, but did you know that Costa Rica is also one of the most interesting and beautiful biodiverse countries on the planet? For a country that is relatively small, it has around 5% of the entire planet’s biodiversity, which should tell you a lot about how natural and otherworldly Costa Rica is.
Of course, you can easily stay at one of the many Costa Rica beach rentals, before venturing out into nature, giving you the best of both worlds! What could be better?
A little geography first, however, Costa Rica is a Central American country and most people can visit here without the need for a specific visa, although do check your country of origin’s rules to avoid any disappointment on arrival. Nicaragua is to the north of the country, and Panama to the south, with two very famous and glittering bodies of water lapping either side, namely the Pacific Ocean on the western coastline, and the Caribbean Sea on the east. This should also tell you about the quality of some of the beaches in Costa Rica – truly tropical and truly beautiful.
Despite the beaches and the nature, Costa Rica’s capital city, San Jose, is a truly vibrant and fun city to visit too, so you should certainly make time to head there for a day or two. After that, exploring the country a little should also be done, with several regions which are home to amazing sights that you would regret if you missed. If you are a hiking fan, you love bird watching, you enjoy ecotourism, trekking, and basically enjoying scenery and beach time, Costa Rica has something for you.
There really is no bad time to visit; being close to the equator means that the weather is generally tropical no matter what the month, and can certainly never be described as cold! The seasons are classified as the wet season (winter), and the dry season (summer), without the four seasons you may be used to. The dry season is from December to April, and the wet season is from May to November. During this time, it is likely to rain sporadically at any time, but the temperatures are still high. The Caribbean coastline is typically more humid than the Pacific, so this may be something to bear in mind.
In terms of where to visit, this depends on what you want to see and do. The Central Valley is where you will fly to, and home to the capital city. From there, most people venture over to the Central Pacific region, as this is where the big resorts, accommodation, beaches, and tourist attractions are, as well as a few national parks too. The great thing about Costa Rica is that you’re never too far away from something jaw-droppingly natural.
The Caribbean side isn’t the most visited area, and it is quite remote as a result. We mentioned earlier about humidity, and this can give rise to a lot of mosquitos flying around! Despite that, if you’re a white-water rafting fan, this is the place to go. Guanacaste is the part of the country where you’re unlikely to see much in the way of rain at any time, and that means there are some fantastic beach options on offer here, with surfing opportunities too. This region is almost at the border with Nicaragua, and there are some beautiful volcanic parks here.
If you are intrigued by the huge, active volcano that the country is famous for, Arenal, then the Plains of the North is where you need to be headed. Here you will find bubbling hot springs and volcanic lakes. A couple of other must-visits include the Monteverde and Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserves, and Rincon de la Vieja Volcano National Park.
If you truly want to get away from it all, South Pacific Costa Rica is where you will find stunningly beautiful, remote beaches, and some of the most biodiverse and exotic flora and fauna that you are likely to set eyes on anywhere else. Again, this isn’t the most visited part, but for those who like to get off the beaten track, and be rewarded with amazing scenery, this is definitely a consideration.
Many people tend to focus solely on the Caribbean and South America when thinking about visiting this particular region of the world, but more and more people are beginning to realize the beauty and wonder of Central America as a whole. Some of the most cultural and ‘different’ countries are located here, and in terms of Costa Rica’s pull, you would be hard pushed to find anywhere else on the planet that offers you the same level of nature and biodiversity, combined with amazing beaches and city life. This is a country that really does have it all, and with some fantastic weather to boot, you’re not only guaranteed a fantastic suntan but a camera full of breath-taking photos to help you remember it all.
Flights into San Jose are much more plentiful than they have ever been, because of this recent tourism awakening, and that’s great news for anyone who wants to turn their travel plans upside down and venture somewhere they perhaps haven’t thought of before. Costa Rica is therefore the ideal answer!