A Nature Lover Overview of Costa Rica
With its lush jungles, array of wildlife, innumerable volcanoes, waterfalls and idyllic beaches, Costa Rica is one of most rewarding travel destinations in the world for an avid nature lover. The country has essentially acted as a migratory land-bridge between two continents since time immemorial. This, coupled with decades of environmental protection, has resulted in this marvelous country becoming a bona fide utopia for exotic flora and fauna.
What makes Costa Rica such a rewarding destination for a nature lover is the fact that the climate is idyllic and predictable, all year long. Temperatures in this tropical haven don’t fluctuate all that much during the year on any given spot. The predictability comes for the varied altitudes (the higher you go, the colder it gets, of course) and the ebb of the rain season.
Genially, however, Costa Rica boasts a central spine of spectacular mountains that essentially splits the country in two – the Pacific (western) side and the Caribbean (eastern) side. This allows adventure seekers to carefully choose where to go. When it’s rain season on the Pacific, it’s drier on the Caribbean – and vice versa.
The resulting cacophony of ecosystems is like nothing you’ll ever experience, anywhere else on earth. Costa Rica is one of the world’s most bio-diverse countries, bursting with a head-spinning array of natural wonders.
Here’s an overview of Costa Rica’s regions:
The Northern Pacific Coast
Rugged, dry and home to the country’s most iconic beaches, the northern stretch of Pacific coast is where most first-time visitors head to, first and foremost. Here, dry tropical jungles literally tumble onto the shore, creating dreamy landscapes revered by honeymooners the world over. The highlights of the northern Pacific Coastline include the spectacular Nicoya Peninsula beaches and the many luxurious eco-resorts of the Papagayo Peninsula.
For nature lovers who want to surf and soak up the sun on the country’s most jaw-dropping beaches, this region is ideal. Plus, those beaches are framed by some of the most amazing national parks in the country, including Marino las Baulas, Palo Verde, Santa Rosa, and Guanacaste.
Choose to fly into the Liberia International Airport and you’ll be amid all the northern Pacific action. You could lay on a beach within an hour of landing! Adventure sports abound in this area, and you’ll also have easy access to Arenal & La Fortuna, as well as the Manuel Antonio National Park, the country’s two most-famous highlights.
The Southern Pacific Coast
Choose to head south, along the Pacific coast, and you’ll see the landscapes make a dramatic turn. This is the hot, humid, lush and undeveloped side of the western coast, the one home to the world-renowned Corcovado National Park. This is the single most bio-diverse reserve in the entire country, and a place where nature reigns. A smattering of eco-lodges allows you to enjoy it thoroughly, however, yet to have this pleasure you will need to forego WiFi and the kind of luxury comforts found elsewhere. But that’s a small price to pay for dedicated nature lovers.
Perfect for those looking for solitude and immersive nature experiences, the southern Pacific offers insane outdoor adventures in the Osa Peninsula and its extraordinary Golfo Dulce. If you’re looking for the ultimate eco-adventure for the nature lover inside you, here is where you’ll find it.
The Central Valley
Over 75% of Costa Rica’s inhabitants call the Central Valley home. This is where you’ll find the capital, San Jose, and the country’s premier international airport. Being so central, the valley is a wonderful springboard for adventure tours of Costa Rica – from here, you can reach every corner of the country.
Aside from its convenience, however, the Central Valley is not without its own wild merits. Rolling green hills are accentuated by stunning mountains that rise to the heavens. Most of this area is blanketed by working coffee farms, many of which you can visit. Here is also where you’ll find the most picturesque volcanoes of all (Poas, Turrialba and Irazu) and the very best whitewater rivers of the country – head to Turrialba for world-class rafting and kayaking.
This region boasts the best tourist infrastructure in Costa Rica – roads are plentiful and in good condition and the region is so densely packed with virgin forests and charming villages that it makes for a well-rounded trip. Soak away your worries in the natural hot springs of the Orosi Valley, hike up Irazu Volcano (the highest in the country, at 11,250’), take a road trip through the eye-popping Cordillera de Talamanca and be spell-bound by the magical Monteverde Cloud Forests.
The Northern Caribbean Coast
One of the least-accessible regions of Costa Rica, the northern Caribbean coast is defined by water. The flat plains here are interspersed by a maze of rivers that comprise the Tortuguero National Park, one of the world’s prized sea turtle nesting sites. Accessible only by air or boat, the park is undoubtedly one of the country’s most unmissable natural highlights.
The contrast between east and west in Costa Rica is astounding. This is one of the least-developed corners of the country, one that’s devoid of ‘idyllic’ Insta-worthy beaches but filled to the brim with wildlife and nature. This is eco-tourism at its very best.
The Southern Caribbean Coast
Easier to reach (because roads!) yet just as uncrowded, the southern Caribbean coast is where travelers go when they crave an off-the-beaten-path adventure. With its Afro-Caribbean roots and laid-back vibe, the southern Caribbean seaside town of Puerto Viejo reveals a totally different side of Costa Rica. Until very recently, this was the country’s hidden treasure and, although the game is definitely up on that secret, it remains unhurried and devoid of mass tourism.
Fabulous surfing awaits you on this side of the country, and even a couple of fabulous swimming beaches, like Punta Uva and Cahuita.
So, has this piqued the interest of the nature lover inside you?
Just take a look at this glorious spot…
Ready to plan your unforgettable nature and adventure-filled vacation in Costa Rica?
Here’s where to start…