I haven’t met anyone that has been to Costa Rica and didn’t fall in love it. Continuously ranked one of the world’s most eco-friendly countries, Costa Rica has so much to offer if you’re looking for an adventurous getaway. With its diverse wildlife, breathtaking cloud forests, gorgeous scenery, and charming “pura vida” lifestyle, it’s almost impossible to leave this place without dreaming to go back.
Here are my top 10 best things to do in Costa Rica.
Hike the rainforest. Costa Rica has quite a few national parks with forested trails for you to explore. Several hiking tours lead you to waterfalls hidden within the rainforest, like La Fortuna Waterfall below. The Cerro Chato hike is also a great option; it takes you through a dense forest up a volcano until you reach the crater, which you’ll find filled with a pristine lake.
Zip lining. Costa Rica has some of the world’s best zip lining. I would recommend the Selvatura Canopy Tour in Monteverde, which has the longest zip lines in the country and allows you to soar over the canopy of the forest (and through it) to completely immerse yourself in it. There’s also a Tarzan swing at the end of the tour that catapults you out and over the edge of a mountain slope, if you’re up for it!
Hot springs. You CANNOT leave Costa Rica without visiting one of the nation’s many hot springs. The Tabacon Hot Springs are an excellent choice, offering dozens of pools, a swim-up bar, beautiful gardens, massages, mud wraps and exfoliations. We happened to go in the evening after an amazing dinner to unwind and while we were in the hot springs, it started to lightly rain. The cool rain with the hot water, plus the beautiful and peaceful setting, sold me for life and I will definitely be going back.
Try Comida Tipica – traditional Costa Rican food. Whenever you’re in a new country, you should always try the local cuisine. In Costa Rica, it’s usually called Casado or Comida Tipica, consisting of rice, beans, bell peppers, onions, plantains and your choice of meat between steak, chicken, fish or pork. It’s simple, but really good. I’d also recommend trying Imperial, a tasty Costa Rican beer.
See some wildlife. There are tons to see if you’re an animal lover. Bird watching is popular due to a diverse range of native species like toucans, cuckoos, macaws, warblers and hummingbirds. Sloths, several species of monkeys, vipers, armadillo, wild boars, are a few types of wildlife you may be able to spot on a guided tour. You can even watch leatherback turtles nest along the shores of Playa Grande.
Coffee/cultural tours. Costa Rica is famous for its amazing coffee, so if you’re a coffee lover, you may want to catch a coffee tour. Tour guides take you to the coffee fields, explain how coffee plays an important social and economic role for the country, and shows you how it is produced.
Horseback riding. Due to the gorgeous scenery no matter where you are in Costa Rica, horseback riding always makes it better. You can travel through the beach, rainforest, local villages, mountains or meadows all on horseback. We did the La Fortuna Waterfall Maleku Horseback Ride as our first activity in Costa Rica and it did not disappoint. We rode horses up the mountain, hiked through the forest to get to the La Fortuna Waterfall (photo above), then rode the horses to the Maleku Reserve where some indigenous people spoke about their traditions, customs, and showcased some of their art.
Something in the ocean. I’m a scuba diver, so diving was top on my list for my trip. Sea turtles, rays, octopus, reef sharks, whales, and all kinds of tropical fish are abundant in Costa Rican waters, which makes diving or snorkeling a perfect way to spend your day. Surfing is popular as well and you can rent a surfboard for a low price in Tamarindo, followed by a massage on the beach. There are also options to go whale and dolphin watching, fishing, and a mangrove kayak tour if you prefer to stay out of the water.
White water rafting. The day we went white water rafting was one of the most fun we had in Costa Rica. There are many options you can choose from depending on your experience level. The guides are very professional with safety as a top priority, ensuring your experience is fun and memorable.
Suspension bridges in Monteverde’s cloud forest. I saved the best for last – this one is a MUST. Monteverde’s cloud forest is truly a magical place. If you decide to go zip lining with the Selvatura Canopy Tour, you are given entry to Monteverde’s suspension bridges as well. You can walk through the suspension bridge trails at your own pace, each with varying lengths and heights above and through the forest. It was by far my favorite experience in Costa Rica, but it really is difficult to pinpoint one.
Costa Rica is a gold mine for adventure traveling. There is something there for everyone, making it a prime vacation destination. Putting the physical beauty of the country aside, you also can’t help but appreciate the Costa Rican outlook on life. “Pura vida” is the nation’s motto, which translates to “pure life.” It reflects the easy-going, fun-loving, and carefree nature of the people. It reminded me not to take life so seriously; there’s really no reason to.