Costa Rica

Must-Sees in Costa Rica

Must-Sees in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is the queen of all things eco. The Central American nation boasts a whopping 6% of the world’s biodiversity (while covering only 0.03% of the earth’s surface), over a quarter of the country is dedicated to conservation and almost 98% of its energy is generated through renewable sources. It’s no wonder then that wildlife thrives here and its varied cast of creatures are at one with the natural environment. The people, too, subscribe to a lifestyle of pura vida – which conveys a sense of simplicity, happiness and optimism – perfectly in keeping with the beauty of the country’s untouched beaches, tropical cloud forests and thundering waterfalls. While any of its 28 national parks are requisite additions to your itinerary, there are plenty more must-sees in Costa Rica which will imbue your trip with a feeling of pura vida

  1. Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve
  2. Arenal Volcano
  3. Tamarindo
  4. La Fortuna Waterfall
  5. Cocos Island


Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve

If Costa Rica is a world-leader when it comes to sustainable tourism, then Monteverde Cloud Forest is the jewel in its foliage-adorned crown. Monteverde means ‘green mountain’, a felicitous name for the lush, emerald flora which fills the forest, and the reserve is home to a staggering 2.5% of the planet’s biodiversity. This translates to over 2,500 plant species, 400 bird varieties, 120 species of reptile and 100 types of mammal. The best ways to experience this multifarious Eden? Treat it like one big natural playground and whiz through the canopy on a zipline, or take in the sights at a slower pace with guided tours along the many bridges strung up among the treetops.



Arenal Volcano

An almost perfectly conical stratovolcano situated in the north-west, Arenal is arguably the country’s most famous volcano (placing it firmly on our list of must-sees in Costa Rica). Arenal remains active, although is currently in a resting phase and has been considered dormant since 2010. Nevertheless, for safety reasons it’s not possible to scale the actual volcano, yet the myriad hiking trails which criss-cross around the base are ripe for exploring both on foot and horseback. The lava-spewing landform isn’t the only attraction of the area, however, and the surrounding national park also plays host to cascading waterfalls, thermal hot springs and fertile rainforest (along with its array of resident critters).



A holiday to Costa Rica wouldn’t be complete without some beach time, and with around 300 beaches bordering the country’s two coastlines, there are plenty of sand-clad contenders for our must-sees in Costa Rica. Tamarindo comes out on top thanks to its surf-suited swells, lively nightlife and powder-soft sand. A treat for those with a sunshine craving, the Pacific Coast town offers relaxation and activity in equal measure. Playa Tamarindo’s waves are lauded for their consistency, allowing beginner surfers to earn their sea legs, while Playa Langosta caters to those who are well-versed in the water.



La Fortuna Waterfall

Tumbling nearly 250 feet down to the base of the dormant Chato Volcano in the Alajuela Province, you’ll find La Fortuna waterfall (Spanish for ‘the fortune’). Access is via an hour’s hike from the dinky town of La Fortuna, through dense rainforest and down a steep canyon. Those willing to make the journey will indeed feel fortunate when greeted by the thundering curtain of water and rewarded with swimming in the nearby stream.


Cocos Island

Located a little over 340 miles off the Costa Rican coastline, Cocos Island enjoys some unique features and impressive accolades. Dubbed ‘the most beautiful island in the world’ by famed oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, it is the only eastern Pacific island in possession of a tropical rainforest. This distinctive beauty served as inspiration for the Jurassic Park movies and the island was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. A slightly more elusive addition to our must-sees in Costa Rica, its fragile ecosystem prevents visitors from staying on the island and the region is only accessible by liveaboard boat. This is good news for scuba divers, however, as Cocos Island Marine Park hosts hundreds of hammerheads, along with 27 endemic fish species, turtles, dolphins, eagle rays and marble rays. And luckily our friends at Original Diving have all the expert knowledge to plan an epic diving adventure to this remote corner of Costa Rica.

Written by Luisa Watts


Costa Rica beach