Finding Adventure in Northern Costa Rica

Advisor - Kim Walters

Curated By

Kim Walters

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  • International Travel

  • Costa Rica

  • Active Travel

  • Adventure Travel

  • Family Travel

  • Hiking

  • National Park

  • Outdoors

Man in yellow raincoat walking through a lush rainforest in Costa Rica.

Curator’s statement

In northern Costa Rica you'll find a vast countryside with miles of plantations, cattle pastures and cowboys. The Northern Zone is the agricultural center of Costa Rica, however, it's the perfect place to visit for adventure seekers, nature lovers and/or someone looking to relax and rejuvenate.

The Fora Difference

Book with Kim to access exclusive perks and experiences on your trip.

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

Killer perks

Free upgrades, spa credits and more—we got you

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Personalized recs

Customized travel planning for your style

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Insider knowledge

Expert advice from people who’ve actually been there

Where to stay in Northern Costa Rica

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Things to do in Northern Costa Rica

A waterfall in the rainforest in Costa Rica.

Arenal Volcano is one of the country’s most famous destinations. Arenal is about 50 miles northwest of San Jose and 4 miles from the town of La Fortuna. At over 5,300 above sea level, the Arenal Volcano is a nearly perfect cone-shaped, rainforest-blanketed volcanic mountain. There are many different hiking treks you can do in this area.

Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges: This was a fantastic, easy hike, with views of the Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal.

La Fortuna Waterfall: Just outside the town of La Fortuna, this 200-foot waterfall is the perfect spot for a picnic, hiking, refreshing swim or taking photographs. The falls emerge from a thick jungle before plummeting into an emerald green pool below.

Hot Springs: After your daily activity, take some time to soak your adventurous muscles in thermal pools of water. Arenal is home to several hot springs and these mineral waters have been used as therapeutic baths for more than two hundred years to treat rheumatism and other ailments. While a hot tub at the gym is great, there isn’t anything better than a relaxing warm bath, surrounded by jungle and in the shadow of a volcano after a day of adventure.

Day Trips

Monteverde/Santa Elena is home to the Monteverde Cloud Forest. In the pleasant town of Santa Elena, you’ll see the warm smiles of farmers, artists, naturalists and outdoor enthusiasts. In an evergreen environment, due to the precipitation and moisture-filled clouds which hover over the horizon on an almost daily basis, the Monteverde Cloud Forest is the byproduct of fog and heavy, low clouds sitting among the forest canopy. It feels like a high-elevation rainforest, with mammals and over 500 bird species, including the green and red resplendent quetzal. While here, go zip-lining with The Original CanopyTour. Take a walk across the Sky Walk Suspension Bridge. Check out the Monteverde Butterfly Gardens or the Bat Jungle Exhibit.

Rio Celeste is within Tenorio National Park about 1 - 1/2 hours Northwest. This park is home to the extinct Tenorio Volcano and the Rio Celeste, which is an enchanting river that is notable because of the color of the turquoise-blue waters. The turquoise-blue is because of an optical phenomenon of a combination of minerals that coat the rocks lying along the bottom of the river which can't absorb the color blue, thus reflecting the blue in the sunlight. You will be awestruck. While visiting this area, make sure to hike to the Rio Celeste Waterfall, which can be very muddy at times. Another fun activity is to go tubing in the Rio Celeste with Onca Tours.

Places to Eat & Drink in Northern Costa Rica

Rice and beans in Costa Rica.

Italianissimo: Fabulous Italian food, including pizza! Make sure to get a pasta dish with vodka or gorgonzola sauce.

Tiquicia Restaurant: Authentic Costa Rican food. They have two different menus, one for locals and one for tourists, order from the local menu!

Jalapas Restaurant: You will find breathtaking views here along with delicious food. The bumpy ride is worth the visit.

Restaurante Travesia: This is a small restaurant with only 9 tables, so I would recommend a reservation. Order the mixed grill for two!

Chipotle's: No, like like we have in the US. A great little Tex-Mex place with delicious food!

Need to Know

Looking for more adventure travel inspo? Check out my guide Gorilla Trekking in Uganda, Adventure in Aruba and Off-the-Grid in the Osa Peninsula.

Advisor - Kim Walters

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Kim Walters

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