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Welcome to the happiest place on Earth – Costa Rica! A place with so much sunshine and natural beauty that it is easy to see why the people here are so happy. This is a country renowned for its incredible biodiversity, the purity of its rainforests, the pristine charm of its coastline and for having some of the best adventure activities in the world – not to mention being a true pioneer in sustainability and eco-tourism. But whatever it is that conquers your heart in Costa Rica, there is only one way fit to describe the feeling you'll get from a holiday here, and it's perfectly wrapped up in the country's most popular saying – pura vida! (pure life!)
Not sure how to choose which of Costa Rica's many highlights to fit into your trip? Don't worry, this is where Latin Routes can help! Our friendly Travel Specialists have travelled extensively through Latin America and know the continent like the back of their hands, so they will be able to make the perfect recommendations – and plan your perfect itinerary – based on all the things that are most important to you. And not only can we tailor-make a Truly Individual Holiday to Costa Rica just for you, but we also operate Escorted Group Tours, where we've crafted incredible itineraries and have passionate expert tour leaders ready to guide you around this spectacular country in the company of other like-minded travellers. So however you want to experience Costa Rica – we're here, ready to create your perfect adventure.
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National Parks are a major attraction in Costa Rica, but Manuel Antonio National Park stands out among all the others.
The park is well known for its astounding beaches, casual forest trails, dense rainforest, mangroves and unique wildlife.
Established in 1972, the park maybe Costa Rica’s smallest, but it still manages to gather 150,000 visitors every year. This comes with no surprise as the park has been listed by Forbes as one of the '12 most beautiful national parks in the world'.
Here you will be able to experience a lush rainforest that leads you to the white, sandy Pacific coast; you will spot capuchin monkeys comfortably playing on the trees above you; as well as the cutest sloths with whom you will fall in love. Here you can walk the rainforest trails and be amazed at every step you take; as well as snorkel off the pristine beaches without ever wanting to stop.
The two most popular beaches in the park are Espadilla Sur Beach and Manuel Antonio Beach, which are not more than a 30-minute hike from the main entrance of the park. Both beaches boast spectacular views, with breathtaking sunsets, and are places where you can relax or swim.
Monteverde is another prime destination in Costa Rica famous for its biodiverse forests that hide in the clouds. The landscape is not only stunning but also mysterious, especially, due to its misty air which embraces the greenery around. This can all be experienced at the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve - “the jewel in the crown of cloud forest reserves" – as described by National Geographic.
Here you will find the beautiful and colourfully plumed quetzal bird, jaguars, ocelots, as well as more than 450 specialities of orchid.
While at the reserve, tourists love going on hikes, as well as on canopy tours. But this is not all that Montevideo has to offer. This northwestern, mountainous town is also famous for its coffee and sugar plantations, as well as for being home to the most popular Costa Rican cheese.
Last but not least, Monteverde also plays an important role in the country when it comes to innovation, as it has been recognised as a major ecotourism destination in Costa Rica.
The Arenal volcano is located in northern Costa Rica and is a definite favourite amongst tourists. It has access to the rainforest, the waterfalls, another volcano, the country’s largest lake, as well as several hotels. No wonder it has become so popular and well-recognized amongst visitors!
This symmetrical cone-shaped stratovolcano is right in the Arenal Volcano National Park - an adventure playground where you can fly through the canopy on zip wires, visit hot springs or take the hanging bridges which will get you as close as possible to the volcano's crater.
The volcano was, till not so long ago, the country's most active one, with up to 41 eruptions a day. Even though today, Arenal is considered to be in a resting phase, you cannot hike it by yourself, and getting too close to the crater isn't an option as it is not allowed.
Still, there is a lot to enjoy here, and there are several tours of the surrounding area available for those interested. This is a very rich area in terms of wildlife, mainly due to its slight altitude changes, which create unique micro-climates and ecosystems that result in an environment filled with several exotic species.
Tortuguero National Park may be located in one of the rainiest areas of Costa Rica, still, this is a place definitely worth visiting, especially, if you are a wildlife enthusiast.
The park is located on the northern Caribbean Coast and it is only accessible by boat or light aircraft as the area is filled with a network of canals, rivers, lagoons, beaches, as well as a dense rainforest interlinked to all these.
It is the perfect location for observing wildlife by boat, kayak or even canoe, making it an extra exciting and enjoyable journey, that allows you to appreciate nature in its most pristine state.
But this is not the only great thing about the park, as the name suggests, this is a place to also allows you to admire sea turtles. Yes! In fact, there are four different species of sea turtles that you can view here (though perhaps not always at the same time).
These include the green, leatherback, hawksbill and loggerhead sea turtles – which recurrently visit the site in order to complete their massive nesting. Can you imagine what it might feel like to witness the tiny hatchlings making their way into the water for the first time? If this is not a once in a lifetime experience, then we surely don't know what it is.
Located on Costa Rica’s gorgeous Caribbean coast, Manzanillo is a place to enjoy the simple pleasures of life.
As home to some of the most scenic beaches in Costa Rica, this always sunny location is a treat for those who love relaxing and tanning. The landscapes are stunning and include fabulous white sandy beaches, lots of palm trees, as well as a prime view of the always calm and gentle Caribbean Sea.
The town is also quiet and there aren't many tourists here, which just adds that extra exclusive feel to this paradisiac town. But if you think that swimming and tanning is all that you can do here, you are mistaken, Manzanillo is also a perfect spot for sporty activities such as; hiking, snorkelling or kayaking. Plus it is also a great location to get more in touch with local Costa Rican ways - as this small town has been largely influenced by Afro-Caribbean traditions and customs - making it the perfect place for trying some local (and delicious) dishes, as well as to interact with the friendly locals.
Golfo Dulce is just another little paradise in Costa Rica. Located at the South of the Province of Puntarenas, this heaven on earth, is nothing else but a beautiful tropical fjord on the Pacific coast that no one should miss.
Filled with incredible wildlife as well as breath-taking scenery, Golfo Dulce serves up a generous platter of entertainment for anyone visiting. Here you can spend hours in the rainforest without ever getting bored as you will be able to spot anything from scarlet macaws, toucans, squirrel monkeys, or even hummingbirds.
The beaches are just as promising – especially Zancudo and Pavones – and are great locations for swimming, tanning, surfing and snorkelling. With so much beauty around here, the name of this place 'Golfo Dulce' (Sweet Gulf), couldn't have been better chosen.
Here is another unmissable park in Costa Rica – Corcovado National Park. This reserve is located on southwest Costa Rica's Osa Peninsula, is famous for its varied tropical ecosystems. Due to its biological wealth, this is a park that must be included in any Costa Rica itinerary, as you will find peace and harmony in every corner as well as some of the most fascinating animals on the planet.
In the park's rainforest and mangrove swamps, you could find everything from - jaguars, tapirs, giant anteaters, scarlet macaws, or even squirrel monkeys; while in its river – you can see other equally impressive species like - crocodiles and bull sharks. The hikes here, are as, beautiful as you might expect.
The trails follow both coastal and inland routes that include habitats ranging from Pacific beaches and mangrove swamps, to lowland and montane rainforests. If you always wanted to know what it's like to be on a nature documentary, this is the place!
Guanacaste is a province in northwestern Costa Rica bordering the Pacific and is best known for its unique beaches, beautiful mountain ranges, volcanoes, as well as parks which are filled with a rich biodiverse.
The one park that stands out here is undoubtedly Santa Rosa National Park which is home to a rare, dry tropical forest with more than 250 different species of birds. Still, if Santa Rosa is not enough, and you seek even more wildlife experiences, then you should definitely also visit Rincon de la Vieja National Park as well as the Palo Verde National Park. And what better to end your day of wildlife experiences in the park, than a visit to the sea?
Guanacaste is also famous for having some of the best beach locations in Costa Rica such as Playa Blanca, with its calm waters, or Playa Hermosa, popular for those who love diving and water sports. But the options for great beaches don't end here as you could also head to Playa Panama, Playa Grande, Pan de Azucar, Playa Ocotal, Playa Flamingo, or, Playas del Coco beaches – all of which are equally famous and pristine shorelines of Guanacaste. The weather is pleasant all year long making activities such - as surfing, snorkelling, zip line, horseback riding or, hiking - all the more enjoyable.
Fancy some Costa Rican coffee? Tasting it may be easy, but have you ever wondered how exactly do the beans go from plant to cup? A visit to the coffee plantations can show you this and more! You will learn how the coffee is cultivated, processed, and roasted, all of which while having the option of staying overnight as some plantations also feature boutique hotels.
But a trip here is not just about tasting or learning about coffee - can you imagine a better place to admire untouched nature? The cool, green peaks characteristic of Costa Rica are not only great for coffee production but also fantastic for anyone looking to escape from busy environments. The central valley coffee plantations are just the perfect way to do that. Take a country drive on the stunning, curvy back roads of this region and see it all for yourself.
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