Skip to main content

Costa Rica: A Guide for beginners (Part 2)

Like I have told you, Costa Rica is a small country full of incredible places. Here I will present to you the second part of my guide with the best places that I recommend you to visit when you come to Costa Rica or are planning your dream vacation.

Beach, Mountain, forest and microclimates... You will find all the information on this blog!

Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí

Puerto Viejo is a really cool place if you want to visit natural reserves or if you want to go birding and get to know the wildlife we have in Costa Rica. It’s also close to the meeting point (Guápiles) of many special places like hotels of Tortuguero, Pacuare Lodge, and the Selva Bananito Lodge.


Being in the middle of the Caribbean and La Fortuna, it’s a good point to spent a night and then continue the trip. But for birders, adventurous or those who are interested in rural tourism, I recommend staying 2 nights.

Here you can:

  • Do Rafting at the river of Sarapiquí
  • Visit the OTS
  • Do a Chocolate and Bat Tour in Tirimbina
  • Do a pineapple tour at the Finca Surá
  • Do horseback riding Tours
  • Mountain Bike
  • ... and many more

PVS 22

 Don Rodolfo and his pineapple tour at the Finca Surá.

Rincón de la Vieja

This area is very peculiar for the active volcano Rincón de la Vieja and thanks to this, it is also known for its thermal waters and volcanic mud as a “natural spa”. At the same park, you can get to know the dry forest and the humid forest, fumaroles and many waterfalls that make it really cool.


For me, this one of the most beautiful, biggest (on the hiking plan) and complete parks.

Tip: Rincón de la Vieja National Park is closed on Mondays.

Some of the activities you can do there are:

  • Visit the National Park (at the Las Pailas sector of Santa María sector) and its crater.
  • La Cangreja Waterfall, Escondidas Waterfall, Las Chorreras, La Victoria, La Oropéndula, Las Cataratas del Bosque Encantado
  • Rafting
  • The thermal waters of the Río Negro
  • Mountain Bike
  • Visit the viewpoint at the Santa María sector

Sámara & Nosara

Sámara is considered one of the most family-friendly beaches because of its safety and low waves due to the coral reef that protects the coast. It is also known for the relaxing environment and perfect for 2 or 3 nights at the beach.

Nosara on the other side has a little higher waves to surf in Guiones and Malpais and is known for the many options of places to stay for anyone.


For both places, I recommend to go with a 4x4 vehicle and stay about 3 nights.

NOS 2 2 min

View from the Lagarta Lodge

Here you could do:

  • Kayak
  • Mountain Bike
  • Take surf classes
  • Watch the turtles nesting in Ostional (from August to December)
  • Horseback riding
  • Walks at the beaches and around nature

Cahuita & Puerto Viejo, South Caribbean

The Caribbean is one of the most beautiful parts of Costa Rica. First of all, it is a multicultural place: Here you can see the Afro-Caribbean influence, the indigenous and foreign (due to the number of foreigners settled here) at the same place.

Second, the “speed of life” is very different compared to the rest of the country. The people here don’t believe that rushing is a good idea, neither worrying and everything is “Pura Vida”.


Third, the beaches are not as visited as the beaches in Guanacaste, so it is normal to find a beach just for yourself, very clean and protected and very close to the flora and fauna.

Even though the tourist offer is not that big, there is a little bit of everything. Food is delicious and thanks to the foreigners in the region plus the typical food there is something for everyone. I recommend to stay 2 or 3 nights this place, so the long trip is worth it :)

Here you could do snorkelling, visit the Cahuita and Gandoca-Manzanillo National Park, visit Kekoldi or the Indigenous Reserve of Talamanca, go hiking or birding, do a horseback riding tour at the beach, kayak, scuba diving, visit the Jaguar Rescue Center or the Sloth Sanctuary, surf, among others.


Cerro de La Muerte, Orosí & Turrialba

Like in Sarapiquí, this place is like a “bridge” between the Caribbean and the central Pacific.

Here you can find the Guayabo monument, the Ruins of Ujarrás and the Cerro de la Muerte: the highest point of the country.

The climate is foggy and cold. It is visited by people that are interested in birds, mammals, and mountain biking and it is also possible to see how coffee, strawberries, apples, and trout are abundant in this area of the country.

It is recommended to stay one or two nights and even though there are not too many hotels, many of them are very special. Here you find hotels like Pacuare, Casa Turire, Rancho Naturalista and the hotels of San Gerardo de Dota.


Hotel Casa Turire, Turrialba

The most popular activities here are:

  • Bird watching
  • The Lankester Botanical Garden
  • Mountain Bike
  • Rafting
  • National Park Tapantí
  • Horseback riding tours
  • Coffee Tours
  • The National Monument Guayabo
  • Visit the Río Savegre
  • Birding tour (you can see for example Quetzals)


Río Marta, Turrialba

Osa Peninsula, South Pacific

The South Pacific was blessed with an incredible quantity of flora and fauna. Golfo Dulce, Puerto Jiménez, Bahía Drake and Corcovado are basically a part of a great biological corridor.


In the right season it is possible to see dolphins and whales (for example in Dominical and Uvita) and during the year and during the whole year a visit to the Corcovado and Piedras Blancas National Park is an excellent option to see species that would be extinct without this place. It is also possible to do snorkelling, scuba diving and see visit the Isla del Caño.

Many hotels are simple and some are for a higher budget. Touring is difficult because it is a place of limited access. Entering is mostly possible by boat and many places are forced to close during the months of October and November due to the rain.


Like in Tortuguero, the hotels take care of almost everything: transportation, the stay, tours, and food. The rates are packages and the most recommended package is about 4 days and 3 nights. There is also the possibility to sleep at the Biological Station La Sirena, in the middle of the jungle (yes, literally).

... and, is there more information about Costa Rica missing?

Of course! Actually, I just told you about the most popular and tourist places in the country, but definitely, there are more places to get to know and explore in Costa Rica. What do you think about visiting those places that I have mentioned? Do you already know them? Let’s go!

Recommended Blogs

Nearby Hotels

ARA Tours Testimonials-FeedBack


  • 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

    Contact Information

    WhatsApp: +506-8893-3863
    Phone: +506-2232-0400
    Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    Apdo 799 – 1007
    San José, Costa Rica

    Licenced by the Costa Rican Tourist Board: Lic ICT OT 294

    Liability insurance: Instituto Costarricense de Seguros (INS) Coverage: Territory of the Republic of Costa Rica

    Derechos Reservados - ARA Agencia de Viajes Internacional S.A © 2023