Costa Rica is open for tourism! This lush tropical country is every nature and adventure lovers dream destination. The dense jungle is decorated with towering volcanoes, countless colourful species of animals, and beautiful white sand beaches with abundant sea life.
Costa Rica is one of the most bio-diverse countries in the world. The government and locals care so much about their environment which has led it to be one of the top destinations in the world for ecotourism. It has been ranked the second most sustainable country in the world!
Costa Rica is nature’s paradise!
Home to over 500,000 species of wildlife, Costa Rica is a wildlife lover's ultimate destination. There is a diverse range of lizards, snakes, birds, frogs, sloths, crocodiles and of course big cats such as the jaguar and ocelot! Plus an exquisite range of flora and fauna to feast your eyes on!
This incredible country has 27 national parks, 58 wildlife refuges, 32 protected zones, 15 wetland areas, 11 forest reserves, and 8 biological reserves. Costa Rica is a jungle heaven that offers plenty of adventurous activities to make the most out of what nature has to offer.
Another incredible part of Costa Rica, that makes it well worth a visit, is the local people! They are known to be some of the happiest people on the planet, with one area in Costa Rica being a ‘Blue Zone’. They are known for their Pura Vida philosophy, which means ‘pure life’ that is integrated into the way of life in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica is like no other place in the world. Continue reading to discover the best things to do in Costa Rica to have an adventure while immersing yourself in nature!
Canopy walk in Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is one of the most famous attractions in Costa Rica, attracting 10s of thousands of visitors a year. The forest has six ecological zones with insane biodiversity. The reserved has 100 mammal species, 120 reptilian & amphibian species and a whopping 400 bird species!
If that wasn't enough there is also butterfly gardens, a frog pond and many hiking trails to explore. The popular Cloud Forest Trail is 1.2 miles long and has the most stunning views of the jungle from up high.
Walking through the canopies in this rainforest are world-renowned with so much wildlife to see throughout each layer of the cloud forest. The hanging bridges allow you to walk among the wildlife and spend time in the upper regions of cloud forest, usually out of reach for us humans.
Rainforest Night Tour
A rainforest night tour is one of the best ways to see wildlife come to life at night, in a relatively risk-free way! Choose either a guided or a private tour to take you through the dark and dense jungle. Expect to spot scorpions, porcupines and an endless array of impressive insects that only emerge after dark.
Going on a tour at night will allow you to be guided through the sometimes sketchy jungle with a trusted guide who will take you to the best places to spot unique wildlife. This is truly an adventure that will get your heart racing!
Arenal Volcano National Park
Arenal Volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in the world! This 5480-foot mountain is a famous landmark in Costa Rica and dominates the landscape in the Northwest and is located near the small town of La Fortuna.
Even though the volcano could technically blow at any moment (the last eruption was in 1968), people have been daring to visit for decades. It is a popular ecotourism destination thanks to the beautiful Lake Arenal, the breathtaking La Fortuna Waterfall and the irresistible hot springs in the area.
Inside the park, you can expect to see lava tracks, monkeys, sloths, tropical birds and lush palms.
A fun fact is that Lake Arenal is responsible for 12% of the country’s hydroelectric energy!
If there is one adventure activity that Cost Rica is known for, it’s ziplining! Ziplining in Costa Rica is regarded as the best in the world. Flying through the Monteverde Cloud Forest is an unforgettable experience perfectly suited for adventure seekers and nature lovers!
Ziplining in Costa Rica makes you feel like a real-life Tarzan, flying through the jungle. Expect some of the most spectacular views and an unforgettable ride.
Monteverde has the long Sky Trek tour which combines ziplining, hanging bridges and hiking trails for an all in one rainforest adventure experience.Other popular places to go ziplining in Costa Rica include Manuel Antonie and Sarapiqui.
Manuel Antonio is a family-friendly tour with 12 zipline cables and 22 platforms with stunning jungle views.
In Sarapiqui, the Pozo Azul Zipline Canopy Tour goes through a canyon that is connected with 12 cables and 17 platforms.
Whitewater Rafting in Rio Pacuare
Whitewater rating on this 67-mile river is one of the most popular adventure activities to do in Costa Rica! This epic river is next to the Talamanca Mountain range and is surrounded by dense rainforest.
The warm-water river flows through incredible canyons and gorges. It is sure to get the adrenaline pumping! You’ll be spoiled with incredible views of waterfalls along the way.
You will also be able to spot monkeys, sloths and beautiful birds along the riverfront.
Scuba diving off Caño Island
Caño Island is one of the best spots in the world for scuba diving. This island is surrounded by five layers of coral reef. Species that are commonly spotted include eels, sharks, lobsters, sea turtles, whales, dolphins and sometimes cetaceans.
The best time to go diving is between January when the whales and dolphins are drawn in from the north by the warm waters of the tropical climate.
Costa Rica is a world-famous spot for surfing, with an abundance of coastline on the Pacific Coast that boasts brilliant waves. This country is also known for its laid back, hippie vibe so has attracted a scene of free-spirited, yogis/surfers who love the ecotourism and natural environment that Costa Rica has to offer.
Some of the best places to surf in Costa Rica include Manuel Antonio, Playa Negra and Santa Teresa and Mal Pais.
Manuel Antonio is a great spot for beginners to learn how to surf with plenty of lessons on offer. Playa Negra is a remote beach south of Tamarindo which is a tourist hotspot. Playa Negra is home to world-class waves that surfers from around the world come to play on.
Santa Teresa and Mal Pais are ideal spots for surfing and yoga. It is a haven for pristine beaches, waves and yoga retreats. It is an amazing spot to set up camp for a while to enjoy the laid back beach life.
Perhaps the best part about exploring the waves on Costa Rica’s pacific coast is the breathtaking sunsets you will be treated to each and every evening!
Hiking around the Rincon De La Vieja Volcano
This impressive volcano stands at 6217 feet and has nine craters! The Rincón de la Vieja National Park is home to many incredible hiking trails to enjoy this magnificent landmark. The Sendero Encantado trail takes you through the lowlands and into a cloud forest with incredible wildlife, abundant with monkeys and birds. It also leads to several beautiful waterfalls and lagoons to cool off in.
This connects to the Pailas Circuit trail that passes through sulphuric hot springs and mud pits. This trail is 6 miles long and takes you all the way to the top of the volcano.
Tortuguero National Park
The Tortuguero National Park is a pristine 77,000 acres protected area with 99% of the land being protected. It is the face of Costa Rica’s eco-tourism efforts.
This incredible national park is only accessible via plane or boat, but it is well worth every effort to reach. Tortuguero National Park offers 11 habitats which include beaches, lagoons, mangroves, rainforest and swamps.
The best way to explore is via boat through the endless canals, creeks and lagoons.
The most famous attraction that brings visitors here is the sea turtle nesting beaches. You are able to visit these beaches at night with a guide to see a variety of turtle species nesting and laying their eggs.
Hiking Corcovado National Park
The Corcovado National Park has been described as “the most biologically intense place on Earth’ by National Geographic. This national park was created in 1975 and is the largest national park in Costa Rica which boasts 13 different ecosystems.
This is an absolute haven for those who love nature and adventure. It is a favourite spot for birdwatchers, hikers, campers and wildlife photographers. This national park has extensive hiking trails through the highland cloud forest, mangrove swamps, lowland rainforests and beautiful white sand beaches.
The wildlife also does not disappoint and will be the highlight of any hike through Corcovado National Park. Expect to see plenty of monkeys, sloths, anteaters, poison dart frogs and much more! The park is home to other more rare species which include Baird’s Tapir, jaguars, Harpy Eagles as well as whales and dolphins offshore.
Tenorio Volcano National Park Hike
Yet another incredible hike around a volcano is on offer in Costa Rica! This national park is dominated by Tenorio volcano which is made up of 4 peaks, 2 craters and is over 6000 feet high.
You can hike to the summit if you are properly prepared!
The full hike takes 9 hours and you can expect to be treated with waterfalls, lagoons, springs as well as incredible wildlife and flora and fauna at every turn.
Quad bike to Montezuma Waterfall
The Montezuma Waterfall is located on the island’s west coast and is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike. The waterfall is simply breathtaking and an adventure in itself just to reach!
The hike to reach the waterfall is rather long and rocky, making the swim once you reach there amazing! There are a number of safe spots to jump into the waterfall from.
We recommend staying in Santa Teresa and hiring quad bikes to reach the waterfall. Expect to cross many streams and rivers to reach the famed waterfall!
Travelling to Costa Rica during the pandemic
It is safe and relatively easy for travellers from the UK to visit Costa Rica. The FCDO no longer advises against travelling there and from 1 August 2021, all visitors who have been double vaccinated for over 14 days can enter without mandatory insurance.
All others will need to buy insurance with specific cover requirements. All travellers must complete an advance epidemiological information form.
Tourists entering from 1 August will not be required to self-isolate for 14 days. British nationals do not need a visa to enter Costa Rica. You may stay as a visitor for up to 90 days under a tourist visa waiver.