Costa Rica Holidays: An Overview

Costa Rica is a picture-perfect and pocket-sized country with two beautiful coastlines separated by a spine of extremely active volcanoes.

Saskia and Hero are here to help give you the inside track.

Why we think you’ll love it

  • About 25% of the country is blanketed by national parks or biological reserves, which helps to preserve its staggering diversity - Costa Rica is home to 10,000 species of plants and trees, 580 species of (migrant and indigenous) birds, and 205 species of mammals
  • Thrill seekers won't be disappointed - rappelling down waterfalls, exploring rainforest canyons, rafting along rapids and flying through the jungle canopy are amongst our favourite activitiy
  • With both a Caribbean and Pacific coast, Costa Rica's beaches are a strong pull for many travellers. Nature reserves populate much of the Caribbean coast, though the Pacific coast is undoubtedly more wild. It's arguably also more beautiful
More information

Luxury Costa Rica Holidays: The Detail

Costa Rica is the teacher's pet of the ecotourism class, and this small Central American nation regularly gets straight A's on issues green. A cast of thousands of eco-lodges and projects fly the green flag and a staggering 25 per cent of the country is set aside in National parks - the highest percentage of any nation on the planet. Call us cynical, but while some destinations pedal repackaged product as eco-friendly in order to the move with the times, Costa Rica has been walking the walk for years. Responsible tourism is embedded as the fundamental principle of the country's tourism mantra - even the Tourist Board's strapline is 'No Articificial Ingredients'. Now that makes for a truly original luxury holiday.

Did you know

  • Over 24% of Costa Rica's land is protected in National Parks
  • Costa Rica divides into seven provinces
  • There are more than 212 volcano formations in Costa Rica, seven of which are active volcanoes
  • Costa Rica means 'rich coast'. In the 16th century an explorer mistakenly thought the country weas rich in gold
  • In Costa Rica they eat 'Gallo Pinto' for breakfast, which is a mixture of rice and beans
  • Costa Rica has over 20,000 species of spiders

Impressive, we see you nod, but only to be expected from a country that abolished its own armed forces in 1948 preferring (in the aftermath of a bloody civil war) to spend millions on improving the day-to-day lot of its citizens rather than rearming to the teeth in the face of an improbable invasion from the pacifist Panamanian neighbours.

In fact, the only cross-border incursions in recent years have been those by hordes of Hawaiian-shirt-wearing American tourists. That in turn may mean the cuisine on offer rarely soars to heights much beyond super-sized burgers and shakes (although there are exceptions), but gringos from States demand - and receive - a level of service that Europeans holidaying in their own continent can often only dream of. That Ticos (as Costa Ricans refer to themselves) make such naturally warm hosts only makes the experience of a luxury hoiday here all the more pleasurable.

So what to expect from a luxury Costa Rica holiday? As mentioned, this is a pocket rocket of a country, and for all but the most backpacker-budgeted travellers, access to the furthest-flung corners is by light aircraft, which offers a wonderful perspective on the varying and distinct ecosystems that make this such a fascinating destination. The wetlands of Tortuguero and the Caribbean Coast give way to the jungle, interspersed with the massive banana plantations that provide so much of the country's income. Next come the volcanoes and cloud forests of the interior and Central Valley, and then it's down to the tropical rainforest reserves and surf beaches of the Nicoya and Osa Peninsulas of the Pacific coastline, all within an hour's flight.

The team at Original Travel are passionate about Central America, and Costa Rica is the icing on this very special cake. We revisit on a regular basis to check out the best new ecolodges and surf the best breaks, and we are here to talk you through what is an incredibly special luxury holiday destination.


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Original Highlight

With no national army to speak of, and a prolonged era of peace and political stability, Costa Rica is genuinely a safe and friendly place to travel to for a relaxed holiday.

Saskia, Original Traveller

A note on price

Costa Rica is such a small country that it’s easy to explore different pockets for relatively good value. A two week luxury holiday starts from £3,500 per person including international flights. Learn more about our pricing

More helpful tips
Weather in January January February March April May June July August September October November December
  • Average Temp. — 22°C / 71°F
  • Rainfall — 1cm / 0.4 inches
Language

Spanish; Castilian

Currency

Costa Rican Colon

Visa Requirements

Not required

Religion

Catholic

Food & Drink

Cosado, Olla de Carne (beef stew)

What to pack

binoculars, camera and swimwear

Flight from London

10:30 hrs

Time Difference

GMT -6 hrs


Top picks for Costa Rica

Corcovardo National Park

Corcovardo National Park

Osa Peninsula & Golfo Dulce

Described by National Geographic as 'the most biologically intense place on Earth', the Osa Peninsula is one big wildlife park but the jewel in the crown has to be the Corcovado National Park.

What to do

Corcovardo National Park
Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort

Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort

Peninsula Papagayo

The Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort is located on the Pacific coast of north-west Costa Rica in the scenic region of dry tropical forest, volcanic peaks and the sapphire blue waters of Culebra Bay. Infinity pools, locally-inspired interiors and a treetop spa - this is five-star eco-luxury at its best.

Where to stay

Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort
Guanacaste & the Nicoya Peninsula

Guanacaste & the Nicoya Peninsula

Costa Rica

Isolated and rugged beaches, nature reserves and increasingly stylish hotels.

Where to go

Guanacaste & the Nicoya Peninsula
Osa Peninsula & Golfo Dulce

Osa Peninsula & Golfo Dulce

Costa Rica

On the south-west Pacific coast of Costa Rica, this is home to Corcovado National Park, and endless wildlife.

Where to go

Osa Peninsula & Golfo Dulce
El Mangroove

El Mangroove

Peninsula Papagayo

El Mangroove is set in the middle of a natural mangrove forest, right on the beachfront; chic yet relaxed, modern yet down-to-earth, with service that is friendly and personal.

Where to stay

El Mangroove
Nicuesa Lodge

Nicuesa Lodge

Osa Peninsula & Golfo Dulce

Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge embraces conservation and harmony with the natural environment, and offers a perfect blend of comfort with sustainability.

Where to stay

Nicuesa Lodge
Canopy Tours

Canopy Tours

Volcanoes and Cloud Forests

Swoop through the cloud forest with the greatest of ease on a zip-wire, and discover the rainforest from a hanging bridge high up in the canopy.

What to do

Canopy Tours
Kura Design Villas

Kura Design Villas

Manuel Antonio & the Central Pacific Coast

Owned by a cool young Costa Rican couple, Kura Design Villas luxury hotel is tucked away in dense rainforest a couple of miles inland from the Central Pacific Coast, but on a mountain slope meaning exceptional views out over the ocean.

Where to stay

Kura Design Villas
Peninsula Papagayo

Peninsula Papagayo

Costa Rica

Peninsula Papagayo sits quietly on Costa Rica's North Pacific coastline; a destination that prides itself on its enviable location (teeming with exotic flora and fauna), stunning coastal setting and a local residential community that embraces tourism.

Where to go

Peninsula Papagayo
Alta Gracia

Alta Gracia

Manuel Antonio & the Central Pacific Coast

Sitting in the mountains of Perez Zeledon inland from the Central Pacific Coast, Alta Gracias is a new luxury spa hotel that had a soft opening in January and opens fully come June 2015.

Where to stay

Alta Gracia
Volcanoes and Cloud Forests

Volcanoes and Cloud Forests

Costa Rica

One big National Park, Costa Rica is filled with natural beauty, wildlife and this region is heaven for outdoorsy types.

Where to go

Volcanoes and Cloud Forests
Four Seasons Costa Rica Peninsula Papagayo

Four Seasons Costa Rica Peninsula Papagayo

Peninsula Papagayo

The 2,400-acre Papagayo Peninsula is part of a giant, government-backed development project on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. One day it will be peppered with resorts, but for the moment the Four Seasons Peninsula Papagayo has this shore almost to itself, occupying its finest location.

Where to stay

Four Seasons Costa Rica Peninsula Papagayo
Tortuguero National Park

Tortuguero National Park

Costa Rica

Tropical rainforest - one of the biggest swathes in Central America - wildlife and excellent lodges with naturalist guides.

Where to go

Tortuguero National Park
Lapa Rios

Lapa Rios

Osa Peninsula & Golfo Dulce

Set in a private nature reserve spread over 1,000 acres of Central America's last remaining lowland tropical rainforest, Lapa Rios Ecolodge overlooks the point where the Golfo Dulce meets the Pacific.

Where to stay

Lapa Rios
Arenas del Mar

Arenas del Mar

Manuel Antonio & the Central Pacific Coast

If one phrase describes Arenas del Mar it’s ‘sustainable luxury’. Costa Rica already has a fine reputation for this sort of thing, but Arenas walks the 5* walk with admirably carbon neutral footprints.

Where to stay

Arenas del Mar
Volcano Tours

Volcano Tours

Central Valley

There are two highly impressive volcanoes within easy reach of San Jose, and well worth day trip's for anyone staying in Costa Rica for more than a flying visit.

What to do

Volcano Tours
Central Valley

Central Valley

Costa Rica

Costa Rica's geographical heart is home to San José, coffee plantations, volcanoes, and rapids ideal for rafting.

Where to go

Central Valley
Arenal

Arenal

Volcanoes and Cloud Forests

Although the perfectly conical volcano Arenal is spectacular to admire from afar, it’s best to get a bit closer to the action with a visit to the Parque Nacional Volcan Arenal.

What to do

Arenal
Manuel Antonio & the Central Pacific Coast

Manuel Antonio & the Central Pacific Coast

Costa Rica

The Pacific Coast between the Osa and Nicoya Peninsulas has attractions aplenty in its own right.

Where to go

Manuel Antonio & the Central Pacific Coast
La Paz Waterfall Gardens

La Paz Waterfall Gardens

Central Valley

Searching for birds and big cats in the wild is all well and good, but at the La Paz Waterfall Gardens you’ll find them all conveniently in one place so you are guaranteed some spectacular close ups of many of the country’s most rare and endangered species.

What to do

La Paz Waterfall Gardens
Copa de Arbol

Copa de Arbol

Osa Peninsula & Golfo Dulce

Welcome to the jungle! Copa de Arbol is an eco beach front resort, secluded in 70 acres of tropical rainforest in Drake Bay.

Where to stay

Copa de Arbol
Casa Corcovado

Casa Corcovado

Osa Peninsula & Golfo Dulce

This very isolated jungle lodge is the closest accommodation to Corcovado National Park from this end of the Osa Peninsula.

Where to stay

Casa Corcovado
Surfing the Nicoya Peninsula

Surfing the Nicoya Peninsula

Guanacaste & the Nicoya Peninsula

Warm waters, stunning beaches and fewer people than many surf spots in Costa Rica make the Nicoya Peninsula as close to surfing perfection as you’ll find anywhere.

What to do

Surfing the Nicoya Peninsula
Riding Safari in Costa Rica

Riding Safari in Costa Rica

Volcanoes and Cloud Forests

Undoubtedly the most scenic and fun way to travel between Arenal and Monteverde is on horseback, crossing straight over the old mountain trails which separate the lake from the cloud forest.

What to do

Riding Safari in Costa Rica

Our enthusiastic experts are seasoned travellers with the inside track on the most memorable adventures.

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