Costa Rica is a beautiful country filled with amazingly different ecology and scenery. No matter what type of trip you’re hoping for, you’ll be able to find it in this small Central American country. From beaches to mountains, adventure to relaxation, and from parties to family time, Costa Rica really does offer an experience for everyone.
So not that anyone really needs an arm twisting to visit such a beautiful country, but if Costa Rica hasn’t yet made your Top 10 List I thought I’d share some great reasons why it should.
1. Tons of amazing and active Volcanoes
Costa Rica is well known for its abundance of Volcanoes. One of the more popular in the country is the Arenal Volcano. Until the fall of 2010, it was known to erupt as many as 40+ times per day. While it is still active and smokes continually, the daily eruptions have subsided. The reason is not really known but even without the nightly lava shows, it’s a beautiful sight! Oh, and there’s the fact that it creates thermal pools at its base. Many hotels have taken advantage of the natural warmth so you’ll find an abundance of thermal pools, naturally heated swimming pools, and spas. One of my favorite experiences was hanging out in a thermal pool when it started raining. The difference in temperatures really excites the senses.
2. Both Caribbean and Pacific beaches to lounge on
In one vacation you could spend time on both coasts if you want. Each side of the country has a slightly different vibe, with the Caribbean side having a laid back vibe and the Pacific side a bit better known for its surfer culture. No matter which coast of the country you pick you are sure to find a scene that you enjoy.
3. Great surfing from beginner to pro
Costa Rica is a bit a Mecca in the surfing community and for good reason. Its beaches boast some of the more challenging waves in the world. Ollie’s Point, so named as it was spotted by surfers in the background of a television interview with Oliver North, is one of the best surfing spots and was even featured in the surfing movie “The Endless Summer II”. As a beginner, I learned to surf in Tamarindo. I was told the waves weren’t very good when I was there but I still experienced 4-5 swells and had the bruises to show for it.
4. Mountain Cloud Forests with diverse flora and fauna
If you haven’t experienced a cloud forest its an experience you won’t soon forget. Just the amount of flora and fauna will impress even those that don’t know what flora or fauna are. Costa Rica is known for having cloud forests that display the most species of orchids in the world. As my favorite flower it’s impressive to see such exotic ones up close. Some are even miniature.
5. Monkeys, monkeys, and more monkeys!
People trek all across the country hoping to glimpse one of the various species of monkeys that inhabit Costa Rica. In Tamarindo, monkey spotting was easy. The canopy in the southern area of the beach has remained unchanged throughout the development that has occurred in the last few decades. This was intentional so as not to upset the canopy trails the howler monkeys have followed for centuries. In this area, whether you want to or not you’re going to experience monkeys. At dawn and again at sunset, the groups of howler monkeys will pass through the canopy with their extremely loud and distinctive howl. You should be careful standing below them as they are known to throw their poop as a means of demonstrating dominance….so watch out!
6. Premier Kiteboarding location in the mountains
One of the premier kiteboarding locations in the world, Lake Arenal provides an amazingly beautiful environment to practice or watch this sport. The lake sits high in the mountains and the drive from Liberia alone is worth the trip. I haven’t tried to learn as of yet but it’s definitely on the bucket list and I look forward to giving it a shot.
7. Brush up on Your Spanish
While there are ample English speakers running around to get by without Spanish, it’s a great country to immerse yourself in Spanish. At many of the restaurants and bars away from the tourist areas, you will find staff that has no English skills so it forces you to practice. I had never studied Spanish but I left Costa Rica with at least a base set of key phrases.
8. Pura Vida!
Spanish for ‘Pure Life’, it’s a common Costa Rican greeting like Americans would say ‘What’s up’ but it’s also a way of life. This phrase embodies the experience you will feel traveling such a nature rich environment and a people that truly enjoys living life every day. It’s easy to feel the vibe when you’re there!