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Ultimate Guide: Discovering the Top Things to Do in Costa Rica

Wildlife lovers, water sports enthusiasts, and explorers interested in discovering indigenous cultures have all fallen in love with Costa Rica. The country has so much to offer that you’ll find it difficult to fit everything in a single trip. Horseback riding, spectacular hiking trails, and the opportunity to observe colorful birds and squirrel monkeys are just some of the options. Be it the dry or rainy season, Costa Rica is a land where no one ever gets bored. It’s the law!

Prioritizing some of the top things to do and the best places to see will give you a glimpse of Costa Rica’s biggest treasures. Here are 10 amazing suggestions you may want to explore during your Costa Rica trip in 2023.

1. Explore the Paths of the Corcovado National Park

Corcovado National Park encompasses one of Costa Rica’s most biodiverse regions. From clear blue water beaches to foggy rainforests, the reserve is the home of hundreds of magnificent plant and animal species. Tapirs, jaguars, spider monkeys, howler monkeys, and bull sharks are just some of the impressive creatures you’ll get to see if you’re lucky enough to be there at the right time.

The 160-square-mile lush rainforests preserve also has an untamed beach area that’s the perfect spot for adventurous travelers looking to enjoy primitive camping.

Keep in mind you have to organize your visit in advance, and you need to be accompanied by an official guide. Many tour operators and local hotels can help with obtaining permits and scheduling trips.

Corcovado National Park

2. Sunbathe on the Beautiful Beaches of Guanacaste 

There’s a reason why the Guanacaste region is often called Costa Rica’s Gold Coast. The northwestern province on the Pacific Coast is known for its white sand beaches and turquoise water. 

Some of the most popular beaches in the Guanacaste region include Playa Grande, Playa Tamarindo, Playa Conchal, Playa Avellanas, Playa Negra, and Playa Flamingo. Secluded beaches away from the noisy crowd can also be discovered if you’re interested in pristine nature exploration.

Adventurous travelers should consider spots like Playa Prieta, where it will be just you and a small, authentic Costa Rican beach, away from the tourist crowds. 

3. Enjoy a Romantic Sunset Boat Cruise

A boat cruise is an absolute must-do, especially if you’re visiting the Pacific Coast. You can choose a 45-minute boat ride at sunset or a more extensive experience that incorporates the sunset views into a boat cruise that lasts a few hours.

Costa Rica offers unique boat cruise experiences for families, couples, and daring singles. Relax, enjoy the fresh scent of the ocean, and witness the end of the day. If a romantic sunset cruise isn’t your thing, you can always admire the sunrise or simply enjoy a nonchalant boat cruise throughout the day – that’s just how many boat ride opportunities there are.

4. Have Wild Fun During Zip Line Tours

Adventurous travelers must definitely try zip-line tours over the lush rainforests of Costa Rica. The magnificent rainforest looks even more mesmerizing when explored from above.

Costa Rica is very popular for its zip-line tours and extended cables that turn these adrenaline-filled experiences into opportunities to explore the natural beauty all around you. Whether you’re a nature lover or a seeker of extreme experiences, you’ll fall in love with Costa Rican zip-lining.

Wild Fun tour

5. Visit Tortuguero National Park and Marvel at the Magnificent Turtles

Tortuguero National Park, located on the Caribbean Coast, is a unique place on a global scale. The park is a must-visit for every nature lover and an attraction for family travelers.

The Tortuguero National Park is the sport where female sea turtles come to the beach from July to October to lay their eggs. Sometimes, the groups are as large as 100,000 turtles emerging on the beach at the same time.

At Tortuguero, you’ll also have the opportunity to discover over 400 bird species, monkeys, jaguars, red-eyed frogs, and over 400 insect and spider species.

6. Hike to Arenal Volcano

Arenal Volcano National Park and its many outdoor activities should also make it to your bucket list. The home of an active volcano that’s adjacent to Lake Arenal, Arenal Volcano National Park protects over 16 reserves located in the region spanning from Tilaran to Guanacaste. The geologic and biological diversity are marvelous, giving you a lot more to observe than just the spectacular Arenal Volcano.

Adventurous travelers will love the opportunity to hike in the lava beds and up the volcanic slope. Many of the trails are ideal for beginners because they’re not incredibly steep or challenging.

7. Acquaint Yourself with the Magnificent Nature of Manuel Antonio National Park

Costa Rica’s Manuel Antonio National Park encompasses three pristine white sand beaches surrounded by the greenery of the tropical rainforest. It’s truly one of Costa Rica’s most beloved gems that enables a number of exploration opportunities.

Family travelers will be happy to find out that the calm waters of these secluded beaches provide amazing, child-friendly snorkeling opportunities and chances to view the coral reef flora/fauna. Hiking through the rainforest is another possibility to witness the natural wonders of Costa Rica.

While spending time in Manuel Antonio National Park, you’ll get opportunities to spot rare bird species, iguanas, colorful crabs, and other curious creatures.

The knowledgeable guides will make the experience even more enlightening, sharing more about the flora, fauna, and history of the region.

Manuel Antonio National Park

8. Check Out Barrio Amon in Costa Rica’s San Jose

Chances are that your trip will begin in Costa Rica’s capital San Jose as you’ll enter the country via its international airport. Before heading to the more exotic places in Costa Rica, take a moment or two to check some of the city’s most prominent tourist spots.

Barrio Amon in San Jose has some of the most outstanding architecture you’ll witness in the country. This San Jose neighborhood brags authentic buildings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was founded by the well-known coffee entrepreneur Amon Fasileau-Duplantier. This coffee grower is recognized as one of the people who played a crucial role in the growth and modernization of San Jose.

Other spots in San Jose worth checking out include Barrio Escalante, the numerous San Jose museums, and Plaza de la Cultura, as well as various cafés and restaurants.

9. Ride the Waves at Popular Surfing Spots

Whether you’re a newbie who wants to take surfing lessons or a pro who wants to discover new surfing spots to tame the waves, Costa Rica has much to offer.

Surfing is one of the most popular activities in Costa Rica. Many world-famous surfers choose places like Witch’s Rock, Playa Grande, and Playa Avellana to show off their skills and enjoy some of the best waves in the world.

Playa Cocles, Tamarindo, and the Gulf of Papagayo are all prominent places where you can get surfing lessons or practice your favorite water sport.

Surfing Spots

10. Be in Awe with Monteverde Cloud Forest

The Monteverde Cloud Forest offers an experience like no other. The misty cloud-covered rainforest is buzzing with activity and life. You can choose from a wide variety of lush trails that will take you to suspended platforms for nature observation. A zip line tour is also available, and it often proves to be significantly faster than alternatives throughout Costa Rica.

These are just some of the popular activities you can enjoy while visiting Costa Rica in 2023. Green spaces, nature trails, isolated park adventures, organized tours, and animal diversity all attract millions of people from across the globe. But Costa Rica has a lot more to offer. Whether you’re interested in culture, art, or culinary tourism, you’ll get dozens of spectacular opportunities to partake in your favorite activities.

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