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
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
- 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.
View from the Lagarta Lodge
Here you could do:
- 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
- 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!