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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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