Costa Rica is one of the worlds most diverse countries in terms of nature and wildlife, with 4% of the worlds biodiversity, there is no stat more telling of the countries great richness.
Rainforests are the most evolutionarily advanced and complex ecosystems on earth. They are the foundation of Costa Rica ecotourism. The diversity of life is greater in rainforests than in any other terrestrial habitat. More colorful birds, odd mammals such as sloths and anteaters, and interesting creatures such as poison dart frogs, giant blue morpho butterflies, and leaf-cutter ants are found in and around these forests more than anywhere else. No Costa Rica nature tour can be considered “complete” without a visit to one of these remarkable rainforests.
Corcovado National Park on the rugged south Pacific coast is in one of the world’s richest biological areas. This is the only Costa Rica national park that contains all four monkey species. The park protects old growth forest where huge trees are common. A Corcovado nature tour is a day’s drive, or one hour flight from San José. Outstanding lodging can be found north of the park in the Drake’s Bay area or south of the park near Puerto Jimenez. Visitors seeking a near-wilderness experience should consider a visit to Corcovado.
The Sarapiqui area north of San José in the Caribbean zone offers some of the best rainforests for hiking in several private reserves close to the nation’s urban center. We recommend the OTS La Selva, Tirimbina and Selva Verde, especially if your personal Costa Rica package vacation has limited time for a nature tour.
Tortuguero National Park is the place for the perfect Costa Rica jungle tour. This park in the northeast is unusual in that no roads lead into the heart of the park. Travel is confined to boats along a network of rivers and canals. Visitors relax in comfortable boats powered by quiet 4-stroke motors to view the abundant birds and wildlife in the rainforest along the waterways. Tortuguero beach is the most important site of the endangered green turtle in the Western Hemisphere. Giant leatherback, hawksbill, and loggerhead turtles also nest here. Several excellent lodges with swimming pools serve guests visiting this “Little Amazon” of Costa Rica
In northern Costa Rica, the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve likely contains the best example of a tropical cloud forest in the world. Of stunning beauty, this lush, cool mountain forest is dominated by old growth forest where most large trees are nearly completely covered by thick green mats of tiny plants. Dense fog often blankets the forest in the afternoons and at night adding a sense of mystery to the experience of visiting here. This private reserve is also a permanent or seasonal home to a variety of spectacular birds, including the resplendent quetzal, black-faced solitaire, blue-throated emerald toucanet, and three-wattled bellbird. This world-famous reserve has an excellent network of level and well-maintained footpaths, and is a great Costa Rica nature tour for visitors interested in natural history
Costa Rica has over 114 volcanic formations, of which six volcanoes are considered active, in most cases they are protected areas or national parks the six active volcanoes are Arenal Volcano National Park, Turrialba Volcano National Park, Irazu Volcano National Park, Poas Volcano National Park, Rincon de la Vieja National Park and Miravalles Volcano Protected area. For visits to Rincon de la Vieja and Arenal Volcanoes we recommend staying overnight, in most cases two nights is the preferred length of stay. Poas and Irazu Volcanoes are best viewed early in the morning in order to beat the clouds and get a clear view of the craters and surrounding countryside, both are within a 90 minute drive from San José so can be visited in one day or as a visit en route to another destination.
Few places in the world allow you to have breakfast on the Pacific Ocean and dinner on the Caribbean Sea. Beautiful Costa Rica beaches will charm you at both ends of the day.
The Pacific coast boasts some of the most famous beaches for a Costa Rica surfing vacation and sun bathing. The Caribbean region of Costa Rica is noted for its variety of ecosystems and its beautiful white or black sand beaches. The beaches are so beautiful that it is impossible to determine which ones make the best Costa Rica beach vacation.
If you are flying in and out of Liberia International Airport in Guanacaste on the north Pacific coast, you may want to stay at one of the beaches in the north Pacific Region. If you are flying in and out of San Jose, then the Central Pacific region, the South Pacific region or the southern Caribbean region may be a better choice.
In the sunny northwest region lies the resort area of Tamarindo, best known for its broad, light sandy beaches, superb hotels and restaurants, and gorgeous sunsets. The warm blue waters are popular for wading and swimming near shore, and surfing further out. Many of the best hotels and restaurants are located behind the beach or across the street. This area also serves as a hub for other vicinity attractions such as snorkeling and diving tours, national parks, and sport fishing.
Manuel Antonio National Park on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast is justifiably a favorite for both nature enthusiasts and beach lovers. It’s a great place to combine a bit of Costa Rica ecotourism with a low-stress Costa Rica family vacation. The national park is famous for its beautiful creamy-white sandy beaches, forests which grow to the high tide mark, and abundant wildlife. Three species of monkeys, two species of sloths, colorful orange-and-blue crabs, anteaters, prehistoric looking ctenosaur lizards (iguana relatives) and much more live here and many are very easy to see (bring your camera!). One of the most interesting trails leads you through the forest to the top of Cathedral Point hill where you can look down vertical cliffs to the crystal clear water below. On hills outside the park a number of elegant hotels and restaurants offer excellent accommodations and breathtaking ocean views.
Jacó Beach on the central pacific coast is the one of the closest beaches to San José. It is best known for its broad, open beach, variety of hotels, and frequent strong surf attracting surfers from San José on weekends. This may be the place for your Costa Rica surfing vacation! Over the last 15 years new hotels and restaurants have been built offering visitors accommodations ranging from budget to luxurious. Along the main road are many gift shops selling souvenirs and beach items. In the center of town, nightlife is active with numerous discos and bars; however, beyond the town center the environment is much quieter. Nearby visitors can see scarlet macaws and other wildlife in or around Carara National Park. This area has a lot to offer, and is just a two hour drive from San José.