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Costa Rica Bucket-List! Top 5 Things you must do when you travel to Costa Rica!

Costa Rica is a country full of nature, activities, culture and other things to do. When you are planning a trip, all the information can get overwhelming, so here is a list of the top 5 things you should do when you visit Costa Rica, to obtain the best experience ever!

As every traveller has different expectations about the perfect vacation, I summarized some ideas for everyone.

So let’s start!  

Visit a National Park

Carara Nationalpark C.Brandt

27% of Costa Rica´s territory is protected by National Parks and Reserves. It protects a great variety of flora and fauna and, since Costa Rica is divided into different microclimates, there is everything from tropical rain forests to tropical dry forests, cloud forests, volcanoes and much more. Visit the national parks and reserves to admire nature and animals like colourful birds, sloths, monkeys, among others. In some National Parks like Corcovado, for safety reasons, it is obligatory to go with a certified guide, who shows you the way through the National Park and can show and explain to you the flora and fauna. Did you know that National Geographic called the Corcovado National Park the biologically most intense place in the world? It protects many endangered animals like Tapirs, Jaguars, and Giant Anteaters. You can also see different types of monkeys and many colourful birds! It is definitively a worth visit!

Read more about the Corcovado National Park.

I also recommend you to do a night tour with a guide, so you won’t get lost in the darkness and he/she can show you all the nocturnal animals like snakes and spiders, which are animals that you don’t see that much during the day.

Do a cultural activity


Chorreador de café

Experience and learn about the Costa Rican culture, for example about the famous Costa Rican coffee. Coffee production in Costa Rica started in the late 1700s since the Central Valley shows perfect climate conditions and soil to grow coffee. In 1832 Costa Rica began to export their coffee to Chile where it was re-bagged and sent to England. Around 10 years later the first ship was sent directly from Costa Rica to England, which later invested in the coffee production of the country. This helped Costa Ricans leave the poverty conditions they were living in and even helped finance the construction of roads, street lighting and the construction of the National Theater in the capital San José. England has been the most important client before the beginning of World War ll.

Today, coffee is grown mostly in Alajuela, Heredia, and Cartago and still an important export good for the country. Costa Rican coffee is known for its good quality in the whole world, which makes it a great tourist attraction. When you visit a coffee farm, you will learn everything about the process of coffee production, and, of course, you can also try it. A great and delicious experience!

You can also visit the “Ticos” and learn from them how to cook typical food and let them tell you about their traditions and their day-to-day life. Ticos are very open-hearted and friendly people who are always proud to tell others about their lifestyle and other stories.

Casa Bribri


Also, the indigenous people are very interesting. There are 9 indigenous tribes in Costa Rica: The Boruca in the South of Costa Rica, the Cabécar and the Bribrí in Talamanca, the Guaymí along the Panamanian border, the Huetar in the Central Valley, the Matambú in Guanacaste, the Térraba in the province of Puntarenas and the Chorotega at the North Pacific coast, as well as the Maleku. The Maleku, also known as Guatuso people, are with 650 people the smallest tribe in Costa Rica. They live in the North of Costa Rica, in the province of Alajuela. The forest is very important for them because nature is part of their life. They believe birds are our sisters and other animals our brothers. At the southern Caribbean Coast, you can find the Bribrí tribe. They still speak their native language but Spanish with visitors. The Bribrí live in clans, and women have an important role in their societies since they are the only ones who can prepare the cocoa, which is essential for their rituals. They open their doors to show people their traditions and habits, which is a really impressive experience where you can learn a lot.

Read more about the Bribrí culture here.

Visiting an indigenous tribe or a local family is a very authentic experience, which I highly recommend. It is really interesting and far away from mass tourism, so I’m sure you will enjoy it. If you are interested in authentic experiences while in Costa Rica, feel free to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.!

Eat like a local, with the locals



The typical food is another great way to experience Costa Rica. Look for a “Soda”, which is a small restaurant and in every city or town. Tip: Ask a local for the best soda, especially the older Ticos have always an insider tip! The typical food is the Gallo Pinto for breakfast, which is rice and beans, cooked with their special “Lizano” sauce, and eggs. A typical lunch or dinner is the “casado” which consists of rice, beans, a slice of meat, fish or chicken and a salad. Other dishes you should try are the  “Ceviche”, which is fish cooked in lemon juice, “Chifrijo” and “arroz con pollo” (rice with chicken). The kitchen on the Caribbean coast is a little bit different since they cook more with coconut. A typical dish is for example “Rice and beans” which is similar to the Gallo Pinto they eat for breakfast in other parts of the country, just that the “Rice and Beans” is cooked with coconut milk and usually served with chicken and salad.

Here you can read about the top 5 dishes you must try when visiting Costa Rica and the top 5 dishes to try on the Caribbean coast!

Oh, and you definitely have to try the fruit here! They taste so much better when you eat them ripe in the country of origin! Every weekend there are farmer markets in the bigger cities, where local farmers sell their fruit and vegetables. Visit one to try the local fruit, experience a little bit of the day-to-day life of the Ticos and support the local farmers at the same time!

Here you can read more about the farmers' markets.

Do an outdoor activity


Rafting in Costa Rica

Do you love action? Then Costa Rica is the right place for you! How sounds a rafting tour on the Pacuare River, with rapids class lll - lV or white water tubing to you? Or what about rappelling at a waterfall? Also, ziplining is a MUST! It feels like you are flying through the treetops or even through the clouds.

Costa Rica is also great for mountain biking, especially in the Rincón de la Vieja National Park, a national park around the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano in Guanacaste!

Probably you have heard that Costa Rica has amazing beaches to surf, so why don’t you try it out and take a surf lesson on the Pacific Coast. Recommended beaches are in Guanacaste, for example, Santa Teresa and Tamarindo.

If you like to keep it calm, take a hike through the forest over the hanging bridges and watch the forest, rivers, and waterfalls from above. It is always a nice experience!

After a day full of adventure, relax in the thermal waters, for example in La Fortuna, Rincón de la Vieja or Orosí. The waters are naturally heated by volcanoes and are a great way to end an exciting day or to just enjoy a natural spa. The hot springs also have many health benefits like reducing stress, helping with circulation problems, reactivates the metabolism, relaxes the muscles and opens the pores, which allows the body to absorb the minerals of the volcanic rocks. Some places also offer volcanic mud which you can apply to your face and skin. This is always fun and leaves your skin very soft.

Explore the land and sea

Boot tour Quepos C.Brandt

Boat Tour in Quepos

The adventure also continues at the two coasts of Costa Rica, the Pacific, and the Caribbean. If you are at the right time at the right place, you can see turtles nesting or the baby turtles hatching, at the Pacific Coast you can also see humpback whales from December to March and from July to October and dolphins all year long at the Pacific Coast, mostly in the south Pacific of Costa Rica.

Also nice are boat tours along the coast or towards the sunset over the ocean and snorkelling and scuba diving tours, to explore the impressive underwater world.



I also recommend you to visit Tortuguero, which you can just reach by boat, so already the way to get there is like a tour and a great adventure!

Tortuguero is a village on the Northern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica and located on a sand bar. Tortuguero is one of the main places to see turtle arrivals and hatching in the Tortuguero National Park. You can see the Green Sea Turtle, the Hawksbill turtle, and the Leatherback turtle, which is the biggest sea turtle in the world. To protect the endangered animals, you can watch the turtles only accompanied by a guide.

The rest of the Tortuguero National Park is also great to watch plenty of animals like caimans, monkeys, and the green Macaw, along with hundreds of other birds and animals. The best way to see the National Park is by boat, but you can also rent a canoe and explore the canals yourself.

Like I said at the beginning, there is something for everyone in Costa Rica and you will definitively have a great time here! If you are interested in one of the mentioned tours and activities, feel free to contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.! We would love to help you plan your trip and, of course, answer any question you might have!

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  • Janaina & Dieter, Brazil

    The trip was wonderful! Your help was invaluable and without your choices it would not have been so good! I am very very satisfied and very happy with the choices you made!

    Thank you very much for everything!

    Janaina & Dieter, Brazil
  • Kathrin, Ines, Matthias & Ingo, Germany

    Hello dear Aline, many thanks to you for the great compilation and organization of the trip. We were able to spend eventful, interesting and wonderful days in Costa Rica and will keep them in good memory. A thank you also goes to the ARA Tours team, which was available 24/7 for problems and questions, which were solved and answered quickly and reliably. The punctuality of the transfers offered should also be emphasized. In summary, it was a wonderful holiday.

    Kind regards

    Kathrin, Ines, Matthias & Ingo, Germany
  • Carina & Thomas, Germany

    Hello dear Aline,
    Now we have arrived back at San Jose Airport after a great trip. Everything worked out great and the tour was just perfectly planned and organized. Thank you very much. We take a lot of positive memories with us.
    Best regards.

    Carina & Thomas, Germany
  • Yvonne, Switzerland

    The Costa Rica trip together with my family is already behind us - it was wonderful!!! Everything went smoothly from A to Z, we had a wonderful time, no incidents and wonderful experiences.
    We all enjoyed it very much; the nature is enormous, but also the warm-hearted people, the cleanliness, the food - we are very enthusiastic!
    At this point I would like to thank you very much for your support in the preparation, for all the bookings, clarifications and enquiries!!!
    We visited the waterfall in La Fortuna and had a great view of the Arenal. In Monteverde we did a Hanging Bridges and Zipline tour and in Nosara a surf course. In Finca Rosa Bianca we did the coffee tour, it was all great, fun and interesting 😊. All in all, we saw lots of animals, always ate well, enjoyed the beaches....even in rainy weather 😊. Often we were even glad that it was overcast, otherwise it would have been almost toouuu hot for us.
    So THANK YOU again so much for everything!!!!

    Yvonne, Switzerland
  • Christina, Switzerland

    Many thanks for the extensive support (before, during and after the trip) and the professional handling of our concerns. With your support we had a smooth and unforgettable vacation in Costa Rica! Our favorite hotels: Hotel Plaza Yara and the Poas Volcano Lodge - a dream!
    All the best

    Christina, Switzerland
  • Jeanne, Bernd & Bill, USA

    Yay! I´m glad we are back on track. Thank you again for helping us with all these changes.
    I´m glad we choose ARA-you are amazing! Thanks for all your help! It made it a very memorable visit!

    Jeanne, Bernd & Bill, USA
  • Janka, The Netherlands

    Hi Eli & ARA Team,
    We have spoken to the guest and they are super enthusiastic about their Costa Rica roundtrip! Everything was well organized, nice hotels, nice mix of activities & beach and they have big compliments for you guys!!
    Many thanks for all the good work!! The guest highly appreciate it!!
    They had lunch nearby in Ara Ambigua Lodge, and they loved this place. Friendly staff and good food!
    Do you work with this accommodation? If so, we would love hear 😊
    Once again, heads off for this amazing trip!
    With warm regards

    Janka, The Netherlands
  • Thomas, Deborah, Eva & Paula, Switzerland

    Dear Priska
    Happily I write some words to you in English, so you can easily forward them also to Ara Tours, please. Thank you all, we spent a magic time in Costa Rica! Baumeler's and Ara Tours organisation and logistics were perfect, everything worked out even better than we expected. The tours were brilliant, we really enjoyed everything very very much!
    All the accomodation was absolutely wonderful... the setting, the quality, the food, with happy helpful friendly staff everywhere. It was a wonderful way to experience this beautiful country the way we did, on a private tour with personal guide and drivers. We saw and learnt sooo much - it would have been impossible to do so on our own.
    Especially we praise our brilliant guide Fernando Perez, we benefited so much from his truly wide knowledge and deep love for his Country which he passed on in lovely encouraging way. We even became friends and we will meet in Switzerland coming September! Also our driver Carlos Sandi was great, not only as a driver but also as a compagnion, animal spotter and photographer. Thank you!
    So.... now we just enjoy our last day...
    Sunny greetings, pura vida

    Thomas, Deborah, Eva & Paula, Switzerland
  • Yvonne & Andrea, Switzerland

    Hello all
    Unfortunately, our wonderful trip is already over and everyday life has caught up with us again. We would like to thank you very much for everything. The trip was planned exactly according to our wishes and we have seen so many beautiful places.
    Thank you Stefanie!
    We have felt completely comfortable and top cared for by you. Via Whats App we got immediate answers to our questions, with the car everything worked out great. In all locations we were treated very warmly and nicely. It was just so indescribably beautiful, we will dream of the beautiful experiences for a long time. In any case, we will warmly recommend you and hope for a next time. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
    Best regards.

    Yvonne & Andrea, Switzerland
  • Anita, Switzerland

    We have arrived safely in Switzerland and have already returned to work.
    It was a wonderful trip you put together for us.
    Your excellent service, as well as the 24 hour support service from ARA Tours, was truly outstanding.
    I have already recommended you several times and would book with you again and again. Thank you very much and keep me informed if there are any interesting offers.
    Best wishes.

    Anita, Switzerland
  • Lukas & Isabelle, Switzerland

    Hello Pedro, our time in CR is coming to an end and we wanted to say "thank you very much for organizing a phenomenal week". Everything has been well organized and we have seen many beauties of nature. Thanks!

    Lukas & Isabelle, Switzerland
  • Reinout & Yvonne, The Netherlands

    Thanks Jenny for the clear answer. We will make an appointment via the link you gave us.
    Today we visited National Parc Cabo Blanco. What an amazing park, so quiet for tourists, so full of animals, really lovely and therefore together with Monte Verde, Cahuita and Corcovado the park today, Cabo Blanco, scores high in our ranking of most beautiful parks of CR.These parks give us reason, together with the Pura Vida in CR, to come back soon. We'll keep in contact.

    Reinout & Yvonne, The Netherlands
  • Dominik, Germany

    Good day Jennifer
    As we have already told Simone, the stay at Lapa Rios is extremely enriching, thanks to the well planned planting and the untouched environment we see a lot of animals. Contrary to the plans before the stay, we do not want to visit more animals in captivity at the end. We will have a look at the few hours before we leave.
    We thank you and your team very much for the excellent advice and the permanent support! We can only recommend Ara Tours.
    Best regards.

    Dominik, Germany
  • Daniel, Jana & Theo, Germany

    A big thank to you, you saved our vacation!
    Communication already worked very well in Germany. The help from you, especially through Aline, should be mentioned here. This was fantastic from the first WhatsApp message to the last. We already know Costa Rica, so we knew what we wanted and what not. Ara Tours was an important point of contact for us. We are very grateful to Aline precisely because our actual travel agent cancelled our trip 36 hours before departure. She immediately organized everything for us. Whether the hotel in beautiful Punta Leona, the tours to the national parks, even the shuttle service with the great driver Guillerno Ortega has to be mentioned here. We are very grateful to you, dear Aline, but also to the entire Ara Tours team. You too made our almost 3-week trip to Costa Rica unforgettable again. We would love to come back and of course we will book through Ara Tours again.

    Daniel, Jana & Theo, Germany
  • Alexander & family, Switzerland

    Thank you, everything really worked out great. Super organization and at any time quick info / help / support from you!
    We liked it very much. The conclusion in Quepos was crowning. We liked the beach in the National Park Manuel Antonio very much. We would have liked to stay longer, but we take home many wonderful, unforgettable impressions. PURA VIDA!
    Many thanks to you Aline! We will gladly recommend you to others.

    Alexander & family, Switzerland
  • Neumann Family, Germany

    - The route was super planned, first on the beach time to arrive and then only from Monteverde with excursions inland etc. and at the end again beach - perfect!
    - Support from Ara Tours was VERY good!!! Through Whatsapp reachability the service was great, very quick answers / very flexible, good suggestions etc. Also with the doctor Ara Tours helped with translations by phone - that was really very, very good!
    - The home stay day was an absolute highlight - very authentic - so we got to know the locals REAL, the family was super friendly and very open and have talked about everything. Not at all touristy perceived.

    Neumann Family, Germany
  • Marine & Bruno, France

    We would like to thank you personally for this beautiful trip that you organised for us and for the follow-up that you did throughout the stay. A big thank you also to Jennifer d'Ara tours! Thank you again and have a great week!

    Marine & Bruno, France
  • Walter, Switzerland

    We really appreciated your (almost) daily updates from Costa Rica on Covid and related issues. That was a highlight compared to other incoming agents worldwide! We thank you for your effort and wish you that you manage the coming time well and stay healthy.

    Walter, Switzerland
  • Ronald, Germany

    Our great compliments for keeping us informed every day on the developments. We wish you all the best and keep yourself and families in good health and mood during this unprecedented period!

    Ronald, Germany
  • Kathrin, Germany

    You are really super! It is impressive how you manage the crisis with your super flow of information and the great reversal. Hats off!

    Kathrin, Germany
  • Michael, Germany

    Hello, we were on a round trip in Costa Rica from 27.11., which was booked through BigXtra and organised by them. We would like to take this opportunity to thank you very much. The tour was simply amazing! The support by Carlos was just great. We have done many trips before, but this one was an unforgettable experience thanks to Carlos. Carlos speaks very good German and was able to sensitively introduce us to Costa Rica, its incomparable nature and its great, friendly inhabitants. Pura Vida became for us a term for the attitude towards life in Costa Rica. Please say hello to Carlos from us and once again a huge thank you to him in the name of the whole group of 8. We wish him only the best for his future.

    Michael, Germany
  • Evelyne, Switzerland

    Wie just did a 4 week trip in Costa Rica which was organised from ARA tours and we really liked it - well done Ara Tours! We also had a guide - his name is Enrique. His German is really good and he knows a lot about Costa Rica and he showed us a lot of animals. We had a wonderful time with hime - thank you so much Enrique!

    Evelyne, Switzerland
  • Tanja, Germany

    perfect tour perfect tour guide pablo, everything very well organised 👍👍👍👍🇨🇷🇨🇨🇷 were thrilled

    Tanja, Germany
  • Ines, Germany

    Many thanks and great praise to our tour guide Mauricio and our bus driver Adrian! We felt very comfortable during the 2 weeks in Costa Rica. The wide-ranging knowledge of Mauricio and the super driving skills of Adrian were particularly admirable. Thanks to the eagle eyes of both of them, we had the opportunity to observe a variety of animals in Costa Rica. Thank you for everything!

    Ines, Germany
  • Sabine, Germany

    I can only recommend ARA Tours. Thanks again to Nicole for the great planning of the tour and the support. Our tour guide Peter Käser was simply incredible (a walking encyclopaedia) and always had an answer to all my questions about the flora and fauna and the history of CR. Our driver Julio carried my father on his hands, for which I am very grateful. CR is also worth a trip for wheelchair users at any time (with ARA Tours, of course).

    Sabine, Germany
  • Thieme Family, Germany

    We would like to thank you once again for organizing our trip [...] through the beautiful country of Costa Rica. Our special thanks go to our tour guide Enrique, who with his extensive knowledge of flora and fauna about his country brought it very close to us and made us want to come even a second time. We were very glad and happy to travel with him, as he was also very committed to our problems on site, in addition to his competent function as a tour guide.

    Thieme Family, Germany
  • Antonia-Maria & Boris, Austria

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your sensational effort! I do not know such a competent tour guide as with you really from nowhere else... and we have already traveled a lot... 🙏🏻🍀

    Antonia-Maria & Boris, Austria
  • Katja, Germany

    I wanted to thank you again for the great Costa Rica trip. We flew back home very happy and with many great impressions. A compliment for the super organisation. Everything worked out perfectly (except for the handover of the rental car, which was force majeure...). So thank you again and I have already recommended you to friends:-)!

    Katja, Germany
  • Denise & Alain, Switzerland

    Thank you very much for your email and the tickets. We really appreciate how quickly and efficiently you deal with our requests each time!

    Denise & Alain, Switzerland
  • Philippe, Switzerland

    Hello Christine Thank you very much for this information. The support is super👍 many thanks Gruss

    Philippe, Switzerland
  • Marianne & Stefan Gräub, Switzerland

    Otherwise, the planned trip was a complete success. Everything went well and the visits you organised were all very interesting. The visits you organised were all very interesting and gave us a great insight into the respective topics. The fact that the Ticos are very friendly and always ready to help was fully confirmed.

    Marianne & Stefan Gräub, Switzerland

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