Costa Rica: Jungle Gems and Coastal Charms: Exploring Costa Rica's Wonders
I've sought to capture the essence of this extraordinary country, a land of breathtaking natural beauty and endless adventure. From its pristine beaches to its lush rainforests, Costa Rica is a place that awakens the senses and ignites the spirit of exploration. Throughout this guide, you'll find experiences that showcase the best that Costa Rica has to offer. Costa Rica's natural beauty is a source of national pride and a cornerstone of its identity. The country is committed to preserving its environment and a strong dedication to sustainable practices. Let this guide be your compass on a journey through this extraordinary country, a land of natural wonders.
The Fora Difference
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Where to stay in Costa Rica
Nayara Tented Camps
Spectacular safari-style tents with private plunge pools, perched hilltop overlooking Arenal Volcano.
Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
Daily a la carte Breakfast for two guests per bedroom
$100 USD equivalent Food & Beverage credit utilized during stay
El Silencio Lodge and Spa
Best-in-class eco lodge on 500 acres, with suites on stilts above the jungle and, in the restaurant, a feast of organic fare.
$100 hotel / resort credit.
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Eco-hotel on the banks of a white-water river featuring indigenous Cabécar-inspired architecture, access to rainforest and farm-to-table cuisine.
Romantic candle-lit dinner.
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Things to do in Costa Rica
Things to Do in Manuel Antonio
Zip Lining at Hacienda Baru
Embark on an exhilarating journey through the heart of nature with – Flight of the Toucan. This immersive experience mirrors the majestic flight of the chestnut-mandibled toucan, as you leap off platforms, swoop down through the forest, and ascend into the embrace of another towering tree. Flight of the Toucan is a rainforest odyssey designed to captivate thrill-seekers as you soar through the treetops. First, a 45-minute ecological hike to the first cable to experience the rich biodiversity of the rainforest – expect sightings of monkeys, sloths, and maybe Toucan It’s an unforgettable blend of adventure, education, and natural wonders.
Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the most popular national parks in Costa Rica. It is home to a variety of wildlife, including monkeys, sloths, and iguanas. There are also several hiking trails in the park that offer stunning views of the coastline.
Relax on the beach
Manuel Antonio has several beautiful beaches, perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and surfing. The most popular beach is Playa Espadilla, which is known for its white sand and clear waters.
Here are several hiking trails in Manuel Antonio National Park that offer stunning views of the coastline and rainforest. The most popular trail is the Mirador Trail, which leads to a lookout point with panoramic views of the park.
Kayaking is a great way to explore the coastline of Manuel Antonio and see wildlife such as dolphins, sea turtles, and whales. There are several kayaking companies in the area that offer tours for all experience levels.
Night in the Jungle Tour
A unique excursion that immerses you deep into the heart of Hacienda Barú's lush jungles. Begin your journey as you explore the fascinating world of insects and arachnids. After a hike to a secluded camp surrounded by the symphony of jungle sounds. As the night unfolds with a guided night hike with your expert guide. Discover the nocturnal wonders of the jungle, from poison dart frogs and tree frogs to owls, tarantulas and kinkajou. Awaken to the calls of birds echoing through the trees surrounding your tent. In the morning hike to the base of towering 165-foot rainforest trees, marveling at the sheer beauty. Experience an unforgettable night immersed in the captivating wonders of Costa Rica's jungle
Things to do in La Fortuna
White Water Rafting
Costa Rica sets the stage for an exhilarating white-water rafting experience that promises both fun and natural beauty. Navigate through the heart of the jungle as you conquer the rushing rapids of the Pacuare river. As you paddle through the twists and turns, be prepared to encounter breathtaking scenery at every bend – from cascading waterfalls to wildlife along the riverbanks.
Arenal Volcano National Park
Take a hike around the Arenal Volcano National Park. Hike through lush trails and witness breathtaking views of the volcano.
Hot Springs and Thermal Baths
Unwind in the natural hot springs and thermal baths scattered around the Arenal area. The region's geothermal activity provides an ideal setting to relax and soak in the therapeutic mineral-rich waters.
Arenal Hanging Bridges
Enjoy the rainforest canopy by taking a walk on the Arenal Hanging Bridges. This network of suspension bridges allows you to explore the treetops, providing a unique perspective of the diverse flora and fauna of the area.
La Fortuna Waterfall
Discover the beauty of La Fortuna Waterfall, a stunning cascade surrounded by lush greenery. After a hike through the rainforest, reward yourself with a refreshing swim in the natural pool at the base of the waterfall.
Places to eat & drink in Costa Rica
San Manuel Restaurants
Nestled along the pristine shores of Costa Rica's Pacific Coast, Playitas Beachfront Restaurant invites you to indulge in a culinary adventure where fresh food takes center stage. Gorgeous ocean views as your backdrop, savor the flavors of ceviche, an array of choices all prepared with local expertise and infused with the vibrant essence of Costa Rican hospitality. Unwind in the relaxed atmosphere, where the gentle sea breeze and the rhythmic lull of the waves create the perfect ambiance.
La Luna Restaurant, where the aroma of sizzling fajitas and the infectious rhythm of mariachi music fill the air. Immerse yourself in the authentic flavors of tacos, burritos, and enchiladas and a selection of refreshing margaritas; let the lively ambiance of La Luna transport you to the heart of Mexico.
Step into a culinary haven of Italian warmth and tradition at Emilio's, where family recipes passed down through generations are brought to life. Experience the essence of Costa Rica's Italian heritage as you savor the rich flavors of classic Italian dishes, all prepared with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Let Emilio's be your guide to the culinary soul of Italy, where every bite is a testament to the passion and artistry passed down through generations.
Sustainable dining at Credo Feliz, where fresh, locally sourced ingredients take center stage in a menu that celebrates the bounty of Costa Rica. Credo Feliz's culinary team showcases the versatility of Costa Rican cuisine with a focus on sustainable practices and environmental responsibility. Savor the flavors of the earth and the sea.
Mix things up with an aromatic odyssey through the vibrant culinary landscape of India at Namaste Indian Restaurant. Tantalizing spices, fragrant curries, and tandoori-grilled delicacies. From the richness of butter chicken to the fiery delight of vindaloo, each dish speaks for the culinary heritage of India. Experience the warmth of Indian hospitality and let the symphony Let the flavors transport you to the heart of India's paradise, the food.
La Fortuna Restaurants
Embark on a culinary adventure to the heart of Costa Rica's grilling tradition at La Parrilla Maria Bonita. Savor the enticing aroma of steaks, cooked to perfection over a traditional wood-fired grill, and indulge in a symphony of flavors that will tantalize your taste buds. From the flavor of Costa Rican food. Enjoy a warm and inviting atmosphere, where the passion for grilling shines through in every dish, creating an unforgettable culinary experience.
Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere and culinary delights of Jalapas Restaurant, where panoramic views of the surrounding landscape complement the tantalizing flavors of Mexican cuisine. From the rich flavors of traditional moles to the fiery zest of chili-infused dishes, each bite is a celebration of Mexican culinary heritage.
Essence Arenal Restaurant
Elevate your dining experience at Essence Arenal Restaurant, where innovative cuisine and breathtaking views of the Arenal Volcano intertwine to create unforgettable food. Chef's creative genius transforms fresh, locally sourced ingredients into masterpieces of flavor. Indulge in a symphony of tastes, all prepared with artistry that will captivate you,
Need to Know
Insider Tip: During my visit in March, the weather was perfect, however much warmer in Manuel Antonio. If I could do it again, I would reverse the trip and conclude in La Fortuna with cooler weather. Before you go, read the book Monkeys Are Made of Chocolate: Exotic and Unseen Costa Rica by Jack Ewing. It is a fascinating and informative collection of essays that delve into the rich biodiversity and cultural heritage of Costa Rica. Whether you're a seasoned traveler or an armchair adventurer, Monkeys Are Made of Chocolate is a guide to understanding the natural beauty of Costa Rica. Ewing's vivid descriptions and personal anecdotes will transport you to the heart of this extraordinary country and leave you with a newfound appreciation for conservation. Hacienda Baru is a testament to the power of conservation and sustainable land management. Ewing, who founded Hacienda Baru in 1982, has transformed the property into a thriving wildlife sanctuary, home to a diverse array of plants and animals. In Monkeys Are Made of Chocolate, Ewing shares his experiences of restoring Hacienda Baru's natural ecosystem and the lessons he has learned along the way. Ewing's book is an essential guide for anyone who wants to understand the importance of conservation and appreciate the wonders of Costa Rica's natural world.
Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my guide, Nicaragua: The Ultimate Relaxation Destination.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Costa Rica.