The small Central American country of Costa Rica packs an oversized nature punch. Two coastlines, vast swaths of pristine jungle, national parks, volcanoes, unique wildlife, coral reefs – for outdoor enthusiasts it’s a must-visit.
Lugos Travel has designed two custom Costa Rica tours that put the country’s natural beauty front and center: Volcanic Paradise and Pura Vida. We can also create a unique, personalized itinerary with your exact needs in mind. To help you start to envision your dream getaway, here’s our nature-lover’s guide to Costa Rica:
Nestled between Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south, Costa Rica has dual coastlines – one on the Pacific Ocean and one on the Caribbean Sea. Both include stretches of white sand beaches and are known for their world-class surfing conditions (although the Pacific side is judged to be the better of the two).
In addition to white sand beaches, you can also find black sand beaches, a beach made up of millions of crushed shells, a beach that is home to a turtle breeding ground, quiet, secluded beaches, and bustling tourist haven beaches.
For a unique perspective on Costa Rica’s beaches, hikers can climb high enough to see both the Pacific and the Caribbean Sea at the same time (more on that below).
Costa Rica is largely covered in biodiverse jungle and rainforest, one fourth of which is fully protected. After the beaches, inland treks are one of the most popular activities here. And it’s more than just hiking that’s on tap. Adventure-seekers can explore Costa Rica’s jungles and rainforests through ziplining, waterfall rappelling, and white-water rafting.
For those that prefer a slower pace, schedule a visit to one of the country’s coffee or chocolate plantations, where you can explore the farm and enjoy the flavors of Costa Rica’s globally-recognized crops.
The National Parks
Costa Rica has 30 national parks, each with its own landscape and attractions. Three parks you should be sure to check out include:
Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio National Park, while Costa Rica’s smallest national park, is possibly its most well-known. And for good reason. It’s one of the most bio diverse environments in the country, easy to explore (no need to be a seasoned hiker!), and is the site of postcard-perfect back-to-back white sand beaches. Manuel Antonio is located on the Pacific side of the country. Explore on your own, or hire a private guide to point out the park’s highlights.
Tortuguero National Park
Switching over to the Caribbean Sea side of the country you’ll find Tortuguero National Park. The main attractions here are, as the name of the park suggestions, the turtles. Three species make their nests along the coast of the park. If you time your visit right, you might get to spot the hatching and run to the sea of the newest sea turtles.
Another way to explore this park is by boat. Boat tours are available, as are rentals so you can guide yourself around the canals of Tortuguero.
Corcovado National Park
Corcovado is located in one of the most remote areas of Costa Rica, the Osa Peninsula. This is a top wildlife-spotting destination, and an opportunity to explore vast areas of virgin rainforest. If roughing it is your style, Corcovado offers camping and rustic stays at ranger camps throughout the park.
Speaking of wildlife-spotting, Costa Rica is home to a menagerie of species – on land, in the air, and in the water. Birdwatchers will spot bright red macaws and colorful parrots, along with various species of toucans and water birds. A must-see is the resplendent quetzal – considered to be one of the most beautiful birds in the world.
Well-known land animals include tapirs, sloths, and the white-faced capuchin monkey. Dolphins, whales, and rays frequent the surrounding waters.
Volcanic activity can be seen all over Costa Rica. Hikers love the Irazú Volcano, which is still active, and is one of two vantage points for viewing – weather permitting – both of Costa Rica’s coasts at the same time. You’ll also want to be sure to reach the stunning blue mineral lake that the surrounding national park is famous for.
Visitors looking for more relaxation should seek out the natural hot springs that result from the country’s geothermal nature. Hot spring and hot waterfalls can be found all over Costa Rica, and a number of luxury resorts have built up around the natural mineral baths, offering an eco spa experience.
The Coral Reefs
Snorkelers and divers will find biodiverse coral reefs on both sides of Costa Rica. Cahuita National Park on the Caribbean side features a large protected reef that visitors can explore by snorkeling. Numerous beaches offer excellent reef and aquatic life viewing as well. Divers can arrange excursions through one of the country’s many top-notch diving companies.
Connect with Nature in Costa Rica
Whether you prefer the ease of our custom designed Costa Rica tours, or would rather build out your own itinerary, our luxury travel team is ready to assist. Costa Rica is one of the ultimate nature-lover’s destinations in the world – get started planning your exceptional visit today.