All posts by costaricarios

10 of Costa Rica’s Most Magical Hidden Waterfalls

Jaw-dropping waterfalls are among the most coveted natural delights Costa Rica has to offer. Unlike many other destinations the world over, many of the waterfalls in the country are actually springboards for fantastic adventure sports like abseiling and canyoneering so there’s more to waterfall-chasing here than simple visual feasting.

Although the most famous waterfalls are world-renowned and featured in every guide book (who hasn’t heard of the iridescent hue of the Rio Celeste fall?!) you’ll be happy to know that the country is home to plenty of hidden gems not many have even heard about – gorgeous waterfalls just itching to be discovered. You’ll need to get off your feet (literally) to reach and enjoy our list of hidden waterfalls, part of the appeal is that unlike the most famous options, these are off the beaten path, some requiring a decent amount of hiking to reach. All of this, in our humble (and adventurous) opinion, make them all the more unforgettable.

The most magical hidden waterfalls in Costa Rica – just 101 more reasons to plan an adventure vacation to the land of tropical rain-forests, spectacular wildlife and drop-dead-gorgeous beaches!

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  1. Catarata de Uvita, Puntarenas

The most well-known of the hidden waterfalls in Costa Rica still doesn’t see the crowds of La Paz or La Fortuna and that’s because it’s nestled in the wilderness of the south Pacific coast. This waterfall is pure fun and gorgeous place in which to spend an entire day. A natural slide and rocky platforms offer oodles of fun, with a sweet local bar serving tacos and cold drinks all day long. The ease of access and amenities make Uvita ideal for families too and the sheer choice of pool levels means that if the bottom one looks crowded you can just climb a bit further up to find your little private oasis.

  1. Catarata Nauyaca, Puntarenas

Halfway between Uvita and Manuel Antonio is where you’ll find Nauyaca, yet another hidden waterfall treasure in the south Pacific. This multi-tiered cascade is absolutely gorgeous, especially if you opt to walk through the verdant jungle (about 3.5 miles) just so you can really enjoy a refreshing swim when you arrive. Nauyaca is on private property and, as is the case with so many of Costa Rica’s waterfalls, the land-owners run a small tourist business. You can choose to visit the falls on horseback or by road transport (on a converted truck) although your time at the falls is limited if you choose anything other than walking. You can, of course, simply hitch a ride there and then walk back. The walk is beautiful and well worth the effort.

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  1. Catarata San Luis, San Jose Province

This compact and wild region south of the capital is a real waterfall haven and you’ll no doubt discover plenty more hidden treasures whilst you’re out chasing the ones on our list. So let us stir you to San Luis, one of the least known yet most beautiful of all. Set amidst outstanding rainforest displaying a wide array of exotic flora, San Luis is like a present from the gods, especially given you’re likely to meet very few fellow visitors. Way off the beaten path, San Luis is that blissful retreat you need when you just want to take a stroll in unspoiled nature, a refreshing swim on a hot summer’s day and only listen to the call of exotic birds and monkeys.

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  1. Catarata El Santuario, Alajuela

Boasting one of the most arresting settings of all, the mighty ‘Cathedral’ is a fairy-tale sight to behold. Set in the heart of a canyon amidst the peaks of the Upala Mountains in Costa Rica’s north-west, El Santuario is probably one of the hardest to reach yet among the most memorable of Costa Rica’s hidden waterfalls. Anyone with a decent level of fitness can complete the guided hike required to access this incredible place and we can also organize a horseback ride to make the whole trip even more memorable. El Santuario can be visited on a day-trip from various hubs in the north-west, including Playa Hermosa, Tamarindo and Liberia.

  1. Catarata Llanos de Cortez, Guanacaste

It’s probably not surprising to know that these glorious falls are set to be the ‘next big thing’ in waterfall-chasing tours in Costa Rica. Their proximity to the Liberia Airport means it was just a matter of time before developers started to take a keen interest in developing the area for tourism. This spells great news for those who are short on time (you can easily fit in a visit on a day-trip from Tamarindo or Playa de Coco) although you’d better make your visit soon: the crowds are bound to descend!

Llanos de Cortez is a true visual feast and, when the flow is decent, looks like a dreamy oasis encased in pristine jungle. There’s a modest entry fee and short but fun trail leading to the base of the stunning falls. Make sure you pack your swimmers and have plenty of time on your side: frolicking in the refreshing pool under the falls is out of this world. Adventurous folks can take the narrow and steep trail to the top (just watch out for the slippery bits!) and soak up the resplendent views from above.

 

We’re now going to guide you to a very special place and one of the most overlooked little gems in the country: Bajos del Toro. The small town is renowned for being a bit of a ‘wet’ place to visit and that’s because its surrounding wilderness comprises gloriously fertile cloud forests. Nestled between the much more famous (and crowded) Poas and Rincon de la Vieja national parks in the central highlands, Bajos del Toro is normally overshadowed by its much more famous neighbors and, as such, receives much fewer visitors. Considering the sheer number of hidden waterfalls to discover here, as well as loads of activities and walking trails, this should be reason enough to plan a visit. Head here if you’d love to enjoy nature at its most authentic (and underdeveloped).

The next three waterfalls will be waiting for you to visit!

  1. Catarata del Toro, Alajuela

The main draw here is the namesake waterfall of Bajos del Toro. It plunges nearly 300 ft into an extinct crater volcano and is framed by dramatic rocks and the kind of verdant wilderness one only really sees where volcanic soil is present. You can seriously spend an entire day in this reserve, chasing some of Costa Rica’s most hidden of waterfalls.

 

  1. Waterfall Hidden Treasure (Tesoro Escondido), Alajuela

Don’t you just love when a treasure hides in plain sight? And so it is with Tesoro Escondido (which literally translates to ‘hidden treasure’) another exquisite fall you can discover in the Bajos del Toro reserve. The hike to reach it is considerable and some sections require a bit of rock scrambling but, when you get there, you’ll be overwhelmed at the sheer spectacle of it all. Discovering Hidden Treasure is a real adventure of its own accord, let alone the fact that the falls are simply magnificent. We probably wouldn’t recommend you take children along for the hike but there are quite a few more hidden gems in the area if you are planning a family adventure vacation.

  1. Catarata Rio Agro, Alajuela

The ‘sour river’ waterfall is a force of nature that needs to be a lot more well-known although its anonymity is part of the appeal. The hike to reach the falls from the park’s entrance should take you under an hour at slow speed (given the outstanding landscape) but do come prepared to deal with some muddy sections, especially if it’s been raining. Don’t forget to factor in an extra hour to also visit the ethereal celeste pools (poza celeste)!

 

  1. Catarata Los Chorros, Alajuela

Offering an easy hike, plenty of swimming space and a stellar setting, Los Chorros ticks all the boxes for an all-day excursion. A popular local hangout on weekends, Los Chorros is that authentic and laid-back destination that seems so far off the tourist path, you’ll probably feel as if you’ve taken a wrong turn at some point! Head here with a guide (so you don’t get literally lost) and enjoy your day out exploring the unspoiled wilderness and discovering the various waterfalls. It’s merely a 15-minute drive from Grecia to reach the entrance to the trail and there are a few gorgeous picnic spots to boot. Why not do this the local way? Bring a packed lunch and a change of clothes and just come enjoy this corner of paradise for the day.

  1. Cascada El Pavon

The last offering on our list is yet another southern belle, often overlooked due to its remote location. El Pavon is actually a small-sized waterfall but the uniqueness of its rocky frame makes it a stunning and very photographic gem. Plus, this is so off the beaten path that it doesn’t even incur any kind of entry fee – nor any significant number of foreign visitors. Much like Los Chorros, this is a local’s secret hiding playground. Various swimming areas, gorgeous rock-scrambling and an unreal setting make this one of our favorites, by far.

 

Chasing waterfalls is totally a thing in Costa Rica! Check out our adventure vacation tours or let us design a bespoke journey through this fun and waterfall-filled paradise – we can design a personalized itinerary for you and your loved ones and include as many waterfall side-trips as you’d like. Simply contact us to know more.

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Costa Rica’s Stunning Peninsulas – Which One Should You Visit?

Anyone planning an adventure vacation in Costa Rica will undoubtedly want to visit one of the country’s stunning peninsulas, all found on the western Pacific coast. Renowned for boasting pristine wilderness, bundles of wildlife and seemingly endless stretches of unspoiled beaches, Costa Rica’s peninsulas offer a less crowded and much less touristy escape, one drenched in nature and offering a host of adventure activities as well as glimpses of authentic Tico life. Although you could just about pick any of the amazing peninsulas here and be guaranteed a phenomenal time, they all do offer something unique. From the easily-accessible Nicoya to the remote but resplendent Osa and the luxurious Papagayo – there’s a stunning Costa Rica peninsula that’s just right for your next adventure vacation.

Eeny meeny miny moe, where in Costa Rica should you go?!

Read on to find out!

 

First Up: Why Are Costa Rica’s Peninsulas So Revered?

Being one of the most popular adventure vacation destinations on the planet, Costa Rica’s most visited areas tend to get a little crowded during high tourist season in the first five months of the year. Most visitors (especially first-timers) tend to stick to the most famous spots like Arenal, Manuel Antonio and Monteverde. These three hot-spots make for a great ‘loop trip’ from the capital, are easy to reach and offer every service and luxury one would ever want. This leaves the outermost areas, the peninsulas, uncrowded – even at the height of tourist season.

Moreover, Costa Rica’s stunning peninsulas are still the least developed regions of the country so although you’ll still find plenty of accommodation and fantastic places to feast on local cuisine, the lack of over-commercialization is palpable. Some areas are more built-up whilst others are positively unspoiled, perfect if you have an adventurous spirit and don’t mind giving up a few creature comforts to immerse yourself in the country’s most untarnished nature.

It takes just a little more time and effort to visit one of Costa Rica’s peninsulas but the rewards are well wroth your while.

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Nicoya Peninsula – The Easiest To Reach, Ideal For Short Adventure Vacations & Lots Of Choices

The largest of Costa Rica’s peninsulas is by far the most accessible and the easiest to explore. With a jaw-dropping coastline and beaches favored by avid surfers from all over the world, Nicoya boasts very good tourist infrastructure and is connected to Puntarenas, one of the most popular tourist hot-spots in the country. It’s an easy trip from the capital, San Jose, whether you choose a road trip to the north-west (a sensationally scenic route) or a drive and swift ferry ride across the Gulf of Nicoya from the town of Punta Arenas.

If you choose an adventure-filled vacation in Nicoya, then your best bet is to fly into the Liberia International Airport rather than San Jose, as you’ll already be at the peninsula’s doorstep.

The north of the Nicoya Peninsula is home to famous beach towns like Tamarindo and Playa Hermosa, where you’ll find a wide range of accommodation to suit your budget, whether you seek a luxury escape or a more rustic experience. A ‘wonderful array of choice’ is what best defines the Nicoya: here, you’ll find eco-lodges nestled in prime rain-forests in the heartland and breathtaking seaside hotels that’ll make you feel as if you’ve just won the Costa Rica travel-lottery. In the far south, you’ll find remote beaches and sleepy fishing villages. If you have time, you should seriously consider a round-trip along the solitary road that traverses Nicoya. For unique family vacations and honeymoon adventure trips, the Nicoya is pretty hard to beat. If you’re dreaming of a relaxing vacation, with plenty of time to soak up the rays and relaxing on beautiful beaches, then the Nicoya is the one for you.

As far as adventure sports are concerned, Nicoya lacks absolutely nothing! From zip-lining to surfing, SCUBA diving, snorkeling, hiking, kayaking, horseback riding and so much more: the Nicoya Peninsula simply has it all. Read more about the Nicoya Peninsula to see if this corner of Costa Rica paradise is just what you seek.

 

Osa Peninsula – The True Wild West Of Costa Rica (But You Need More Time)

The best choice for outstanding wilderness and wildlife adventures, the Osa Peninsula beckons the most adventurous travelers. Part of this has to do with the Osa’s remoteness – you need a bit more time to visit this unspoiled south-western peninsula, one that becomes all but disconnected from the rest of the country during the rainiest months. This is still an amazing time to visit, with many eco-lodges including a short round-trip flight from San Jose to get you in and out.  Flying is actually the fastest way to reach the Osa Peninsula, even though the capital is only 100 miles away, as the toucan flies.

Yet the Osa is proof that even 100 miles can make all the difference. It’s another world, out here, one where nature reigns supreme.

The unrivaled highlight of the Osa Peninsula is, without a doubt, the Corcovado National Park which is often dubbed ‘the most priceless natural haven’ in the entire country and a reserve that makes up the great majority of the peninsula. If you choose the Osa, you are effectively choosing Corcovado…and what a great choice that would be.

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If you’re a nature lover who dreams of total wilderness immersion then the Osa is just right for you. There’s a handful of luxury lodges as well as budget-friendly options that are definitely on the more ‘rustic’ side of travel. But it matters not. Soon enough, it’s the Osa’s exotic cache of birds, monkeys, tapirs, armadillos, giant anteaters and even elusive jaguars that become the real highlights.

The distinct lack of human influence doesn’t mean that your vacation need be subdued: the Osa still offers a great array of adventures, including boat trips for whale and dolphin watching, kayak trips through mangroves, fantastic snorkeling and diving off Drake Bay, a great array of guided hikes to spot native wildlife, horseback riding, canyoning and zip-lining,  among quite a few other active pursuits.

This is an incredibly bio-diverse corner of Costa Rica and as long as ‘unblemished nature’ is what you want to experience then you’ll feel right at home.

Check out our Osa Peninsula Guide and scroll to the bottom of the page for more tips on time-saving transfers from the mainland.

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Papagayo Peninsula – For Luxe Eco-Conscious Wilderness Experiences

Right at the top of the luxury travel scale, the Papagayo Peninsula is the smallest of the three promontories and found just north of Nicoya. Luxury resorts here are out of this world and, quite simply, travel destinations in their own right. It figures given the ease of access and pristine wilderness, with each of the main resorts designed to offer everything you could ever dream, from sunset cruises to rounds of golf in world-class clubs, private beach clubs, glorious rental villas and yacht marinas that’ll make you swoon. Most of the resorts are found along the north and west coasts of the Papagayo Peninsula although a few exquisite choices are also found on the south coast, on the northern fringe of Culebra Bay.

Do note that almost three-quarters of the Papagayo Peninsula is designated as protected reserve and, what was allowed to be developed, was designated as luxury resorts. Yes, the entire peninsula is basically a large swath of resplendent wilderness dotted with a few astonishing 5* resorts! What makes this place so very special is that in true Costa Rica-style, it trails way ahead of the pack when it comes to sustainable tourism. The Papagayo has been lauded for its efforts in combining environmental protection with luxury travel and you can read more about that in this inspiring Forbes article.

The proximity of Papagayo to major attractions in the Guanacaste Province, which include hiking trips, volcano climbing, white water rafting, horseback riding, zip-lining (and so much more) means you could base yourself on the peninsula and take day-trips out and about. However, the best course of action would be to simply include a few indulgent days here at the end of your Costa Rica adventure vacation as these resorts are idyllic ‘rest and recoup’ havens. A simply magical way to cap off your unforgettable adventure vacation in the land of Pura Vida!

 

Read to hit the jackpot? Check out our Costa Rica Adventure Vacations and ask us how we can help you plan an all-encompassing trip to include a stay in one of the country’s most stunning peninsulas.

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Best Jungle Lodges for a WILD Costa Rica Adventure Vacation

The best jungle lodges in Costa Rica offer the unrivaled chance to immersive experiences in pristine wilderness and have an array of fantastic activities on offer. Ideal for honeymooning couples and families looking for adventure, the country’s best jungle lodges bring the WILD right to your front step. Eco jungle lodges are often deemed to be exorbitantly expensive but, in reality, there’s a wide array of budget-options in Costa Rica. That’s because the sheer idea of a jungle lodge was probably concocted right here, in a land where sustainable and immersive tourism reign supreme.

We have a Costa Rica jungle lodge to suit your desires (and budget) and, because this is adventure land supreme, you can be assured you won’t be missing out on any of the fun.

Here are just a few of our favorite Costa Rica jungle lodges:

Rafiki Safari Lodge – Puntarenas

The Costa Rican gem with the Swahili name is nestled deep in the Savegre Valley, due east from the Manuel Antonio National Park. This is an exceptionally sustainable paradise, with its imported luxury tents set on wooden platforms and its dedication to ensuring your WILD honeymoon adventures simply never end. The daily array of activities is extensive and includes whitewater rafting, hiking, horseback riding and wildlife watching among other fun excursions. For downtime relaxation, you’ll have a crazy water slide and jacuzzi in which to indulge as well as gourmet dining, SPA treatments and magnificent scenery to admire. This UNIQUE jungle ‘glamping’ experience is second to none and absolutely screams Costa Rica adventure honeymoon.

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Lapa Rios EcoLodge – Osa Peninsula

One of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World, Lapa Rios is one of the eco-friendliest jungle lodges in Costa Rica and also happens to be one of its most astonishing. Set in the Osa, the least developed peninsula in the country (of Corcovado National Park fame), Lapa Rios comprises just a handful of amazing bungalows featuring outdoor rain showers, private terraces boasting jaw-dropping views and even hammocks thrown in for good measure. The lodge is set in a 1000-acre swath of private reserve, is self-sufficient and off the grid. This is the place you come to when you wish to be woken up by howler monkeys in the morning and not the beep of your mobile phone. You’ll have an array of outdoor adventures to enjoy, amazing local food and just an immersive wilderness experience that you’ll never forget.

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El Silencio Lodge & Spa – Alajuela

This stunning 5* property is nearby San Jose yet somehow feels like it’s a world away from the rest of the world. Surrounded by the magnificent Bajos del Toro reserve and its many stunning waterfalls, El Silencio, as the name implies, is a haven of pure tranquility. The cloud forests drench this place in an ethereal fog of a morning and the sound of the wilds are a constant companion. With two national parks on either side of the lodge and a wide array of fantastical adventure sports to be had, El Silencio is ideal for those who want peace and adventure in equal measure. You’ll have a wellness spa and farm to table dining experience here, as well as yoga classes, authentic cooking classes and plenty of waterfall chasing dreams to realize.

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Pachira Lodge – Tortuguero

One of Costa Rica’s remotest jungle lodges is only accessible by boat and if that’s not enough to entice you to visit then do please read on. Drenched in a bio-diverse haven of exotic flora and endemic wildlife, Pachira is right at the doorstep of the Tortuguero National Park, revered for its nesting turtles and for being one of the most isolated and pristine corners of the country. Your jungle experience can begin in earnest, with the property offering an abundance of animal spotting chances right from your front door. With communal tables, an intimate setting and rustic décor (you are, let us remind you, in a very isolated area here) Pachira suits those who want nature to take center stage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tortuga Lodge & Gardens – Tortuguero

A more upmarket option in Tortuguero, the Tortuga Lodge & Gardens is a glorious riverfront choice that offers daily outings to spot wildlife in the pristine rain-forest that envelopes the property. With a 3.5* rating, excellent meals, friendly service and a handful of gorgeous inclusions like a saltwater pool, riverfront viewing platforms and fantastic guided walks, Tortuga is among the best wild jungle lodge experiences you can have in Tortuguero. Rustic wilderness experiences have never looked so inviting!

 

 

 

 

 

Pacuare Eco Lodge, Limon

A stunning choice for rafting enthusiasts, the Pacuare EcoLodge is set on the shores of the most famous rafting river in Costa Rica. A dozen separate cabins make up the property, which blends seamlessly into the primary and secondary forests that frame the Pacuare. You can arrive here on a multi-stop whitewater rafting trip (imagine that!) and the whole place is set up for adventure lovers, primarily. Delicious communal dinners are served by candlelight and the guides will take you on walks around the lodge to spot more elusive wildlife and visit nearby waterfalls. This is one of the most untouched regions of Costa Rica and to have the chance to raft the Pacuare and enjoy the glorious setting of this totally wild lodge is out of this world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Choose A Jungle Lodge For Your WILD Costa Rica Adventure Vacation?

Costa Rica is revered for being the birthplace of the sustainable-tourism scene and jungle lodges are something the country does superbly well. Put simply: if you don’t stay in a jungle lodge here…then where? Jungle lodge stays are an iconic Costa Rican ecotourism experience and, although the country is seeing a rise in fancy all-inclusive resorts, eco-lodges remain the most sustainable way to promote tourism in this pristine, wilderness-infused nation.

The True Essence Of Sustainable Tourism

Moreover, the ‘eco lodge’ tag isn’t just a gimmick here. It’s not like you can install a solar panel for electricity and have the job done. Costa Rica’s most revered eco-lodges are testament to the amazing benefits of sustainable tourism – they endeavor to leave a minimal footprint, to use sustainable materials and to disturb the nature as little as possible. That’s why so many comprise various detached cabins – cabins are built where they can be built, not where trees have to be cut down and wildlife disturbed. The food served is locally sourced, the strain on the environment is kept at bay and all those extra luxuries so many take for granted (like air-conditioning or paved roads) are done away with, in order to keep energy consumption low and the immersive experience high.

Getting Back To Basics

A jungle lodge stay in Costa Rica is about reconnecting with nature, primarily, whilst having as little an impact as possible. Head here to admire and learn, to enjoy and soak up and your Costa Rica adventure vacation will be a truly unforgettable experience.

There’s A Jungle Lodge For Every Budget

Various levels of luxury also mean that you can enjoy a jungle lodge experience no matter your budget. Although eco-lodges are, by their very nature, simple and rustic, there are plenty of astounding options offering 5* luxuries as well, whilst still maintaining their eco-friendly integrity. We love these luxury lodges because they prove the point that sustainable tourism doesn’t have to be rough and ready. It can be sublimely comfortable, luxurious and totally opulent too.

The Wilderness and Wildlife Experiences Are Unsurpassed

It certainly figures that if you choose to stay in a rustic jungle lodge, as opposed to a gargantuan all-inclusive resort, your experiences in nature will be more intense. You’ll have toucans eyeing out your breakfast and monkeys laughing at dad’s corny jokes. You’ll have a host of adventure sports and excursions that start right from your front door and will feel like you’re actually living the jungle not merely admiring it from afar. Many of the lodges are adjacent to national parks but, fact is, just as many have enough attractions in-house to keep you entranced for the duration of your stay. Jungle lodges are also fantastic places for learning about the environment and the social impact of tourism on local communities. Immersive, interactive and educational: this is what sums up a jungle lodge stay best.

Ask us about including a stay in a jungle lodge on your next Costa Rica adventure vacation and you can look forward to the trip of a lifetime.

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You Seasonal Travel Guide to Costa Rica

Boasting more than 20 micro climates and an eclectic array of landscapes, Costa Rica is very much a year-round destination. Having said that, there are some instances when a particular month is more enticing for a particular activity so the best time to visit will highly depend on whatever fun adventures you wish to have in Pura-Vida-land. The western and eastern halves of the country, moreover, tend to boast opposing ‘dry’ and ‘wet’ seasons so when it’s pouring down on one side, you’ll likely enjoy dry days in the other.

We’ve divided our Seasonal Travel Guide to Costa Rica into the most coveted activities and destinations, to make it easier for you to ascertain when you should be planning your own adventure vacation.

Best Climate (Less Rain)

Dry season on Costa Rica’s most visited side (the western Pacific coast side) falls between December and April and, given the first two months coincide with the Christmas holiday period, and the last with the busy Easter holiday, it also makes it the busiest and most expensive time of year to travel. Dry days are quite blissful here because, given the sheer wild nature of the country, rain can seriously disrupt extensive road travel. Busy season means you must book your trip, your activities and accommodation way ahead of time if you hope to nab your favorite preferences: you can always ‘swing’ a trip to Costa Rica at the last minute, as long as you’re happy to simply accept the choices available during high season.

The good news however, if you’re not a fan of big crowds and higher prices, is that there’s always a corner of the country that’s just perfect at whatever time you wish to visit and that, even in rain season, you can have a magical trip, mostly if you choose to explore only two areas thus reducing your need to cover long distances.

Wildlife Watching

Animal spotting is generally much better during rain season and this is especially true if you’re dreaming of marine life watching. The Ostional beaches in the Nicoya Peninsula welcome mass arribadas of nesting turtles in September and October whilst on the Caribbean side, you can catch them nesting at Tortuguero National Park from as early as May. For exceptional whale watching boat trips, you’ll want to head to the Marino Ballena Marine Park in August and September, when migrating humpbacks (and more) sail by for a few months on their way south.

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Luscious Landscapes

There’s no denying that rains have a refreshing and nurturing effect on the wilderness of Costa Rica and although the effects of the rains do remain for a couple of months after rain season ends, they don’t extend much beyond that. February may be a perfect month to soak up the sun on pristine sandy beaches but for resplendent foliage in rainforests and all national parks, rainy season tours just can’t be beaten.

Particularly beautiful is the month immediately following the first rains, when wildflowers bloom, wildlife is out in force and it seems every single bird in the country is singing its little heart out in absolute delight.

Best Value For Money

The rainy season also wins this round, offering amazing value for your adventure money. Fewer crowds and lower prices mean you can stay longer or upgrade your usual ‘luxury level’ so you can splurge on luxury lodges for just a portion of their usual, high-season prices. Visitors also love the fact that rainy season offers options for last-minute trips and even last-minute changes to the itinerary, once there. Plus, when you fly outside of the Christmas, Easter and Summer holiday vacation times, you can save a neat bundle on airfares too. Just keep an eye out for July and August travel: it may still be rainy season here but this is prime vacation period for North Americans and Europeans, so expect a slight surge in crowds and prices during these two particular months.

Zip-Lining

Zip-lining is one of the many activities in Costa Rica that can be enjoyed all year long: if you happen to be visiting during the quieter rainy season, however, you might just want to ensure you’re up and flying early in the morning. Tropical downpours usually occur in the early afternoon, so your mornings will likely be just fine. Moreover, there are zip-lining tours on offer in just about every corner of the country

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Surfing & Beach Combing

To be honest, we love beach combing in Costa Rica at any time of year but it’s true that if you only have a week to spend down here, you’ll want the highest chances of perfectly clear skies and good underwater visibility for water sports. Head here from mid-November to April to ensure perfectly clear skies and pristine beach conditions – just the ideal antidote to freezing northern-hemisphere winter blues. Do note that this is very much a tropical country: dry season means there’s usually little chance of rain but you’ll always run the chance of a refreshing downpour, occasionally. Trust us, you’ll love it!

Many people recommend visiting during the rainy season because, although you’ll possibly have fewer hours of pristine beach conditions, you’ll find beaches uncrowded and peacefully quiet. Whilst that’ll all well and true, Costa Rica is actually home to so many beaches off the beaten path, that finding a quiet nook is really not all that difficult. Yes, even in dry season.

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Hiking

Oh, now here’s a lovely conundrum: hiking, in general, is best done when trails are dry (so head here in dry season) however, given that the most spectacular hiking trails are to gorgeous waterfalls, you’ll enjoy more overwhelming water flow if you head here during the rainy season instead. Muddy trails and gushing waterfalls? Or dry trails and milder waterfalls? You decide!

By and large, however, hiking is best done during the dry season yet considering this means higher temps, you’ll really want to have your boots laced up straight after an early breakfast. Dry season is dreamy in a lot of ways but in some areas of Costa Rica the temps can get into the high-90s, so you will want to be at your most active early in the morning.

Less Humidity

The rains between May and October do bring the temps down quite a bit but they also increase the humidity levels to at-times overwhelming levels. Whilst the dry season months are somewhat easier on the body, it isn’t too hard to get used to the humidity: simply pack plenty of bug repellent and enjoy your (literal) immersion into jungle life. The pros of rainy season travel are so many that bypassing a trip at this time for a bit of extra humidity is simply not worth it!

 

Wilderness Trips

While it’s true that rainier months can cause havoc on Costa Rica’s roads, it’s also true that regional airports make it easy to reach remote regions that have been temporarily cut off, like the Osa Peninsula. This incredible wild haven of wildlife is just a peach of off-grid adventures, with rainy months offering magnificent wildlife watching. If you’re more into wilderness rather than laying-by-the-beach trips, then the Osa is quite perfect for rain season trips, especially if you can opt to fly in. Just note that September is about the best month to visit whilst October the rainiest one of all. Given that the Osa is remote and somewhat more expensive, this can also make for a much cheaper indulgence in a gorgeous eco-lodge – you may even get the whole place all to yourself. How magical would that be?

 

 

 

 

 

Caribbean Coast

The eastern Caribbean coast typically sees a lot more rain all year round although for two months, in September and October, things dry up pretty well. Puerto Viejo makes for a wonderful base to explore the coast and nearby national parks and, in October, it enjoys its short and sweet dry season. Given this is a remote region of the country and lesser visited anyway, it’s just perfect to visit at this time. Dodge the rains of the west and explore a pristine part of Costa Rica? Win-win!

Whitewater Rafting & Kayaking

River-based adventure sports like rafting and kayaking are best enjoyed when rivers are flowing healthily so head to Costa Rica during the rainy season to enjoy thrilling adventures. Having said that, however, lower river levels are quite ideal for slower and more laid-back adventures, perfect for beginners.

Most people will often worry excessively about the rain in Costa Rica, probably because they obsess over weather apps that’ll show a rain cloud for an entire day when, in reality, it only rains for 2 hours of an afternoon. Even in dry season, if we get a 10-minute sprinkle, our weather app will show a rain cloud, all day long. How crazy! There’s something to be said for some (technological) blissful ignorance here: just plan your adventure vacation in Costa Rica at a time of year when it suits you best and we promise to help you plan an AMAZING adventure in this crazy playground of ours.

See our complete collection of adventure vacations in Costa Rica and don’t forget that we can help you plan a custom-made itinerary, set to your desires and budget, t whatever time of year you wish to visit.

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The Best National Parks to Visit in Costa Rica for Honeymoon, Family or Adventure Vacations

Costa Rica is a country that’s literally defined by its exceptional array of national parks. A system of wilderness protection that started almost five decades ago, Costa Rica’s best national parks encompass over a quarter of the entire country. Whether you’ve got your eye on a volcano you can climb, a river on which you can kayak and whitewater raft, a beach you can learn to surf on, a stretch of coast renowned for attracting nesting turtles or a high-altitude cloud forest brimming with exotic birds, it’s highly likely it’ll be part of a fervently protected national park.

Just about all of Costa Rica’s best adventures play out in one of the country’s many national parks and this overview guide will help you decide which one to include on your forthcoming adventure vacation. Planning a honeymoon, family vacation or multi-sport tour? We’ve got just the national park for you!

 

Best National Parks for Honeymoon Adventure Vacations

Manuel Antonio National Park is the unrivaled honeymoon queen of national parks, the stunning reserve home to dreamy honeymoon resorts, spectacular stretches of beach where the luscious wilderness just seems to tumble straight into the sapphire seas. Yep, MA is all that, and then some. Close to the capital and offering a little of everything that makes Costa Rica’s wilderness world-renowned, Manuel Antonio is the top-choice for short and sweet honeymoon vacations.

But it’s not the only one…

The Arenal Volcano National Park has a little bit of magic up its sleeve, because what could be more romantic than soaking in a hot thermal pool surrounded by a pristine tropical rain-forest? Jaw-dropping views of Arenal Volcano from the luxurious Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort (one of our favorite wedding photo shoot locations) offer that breathtaking extra everyone seeks on honeymoons.

Ready to head a little further?

Head due east to the Limon Province and you’ll be discovering one of the lesser-visited best honeymoon national parks of all: Tortuguero National Park. This remote and unspoiled corner of Costa Rica is revered for attracting an abundance of nesting turtles and is considered an off-beat destination that tugs at the heartstrings of nature lovers the world over. As such, it is not as built-up as some other parks and is mostly coveted for its ‘totally wild’ adventure settings. However, we think all of this spells ‘pure perfection’ for adventurous honeymooning couples, the kind who don’t mind foregoing the luxurious of a 5* all-inclusive resort to be immersed in the kind of untarnished tropical wilderness that’s hard to find nowadays. Besides, there are three amazing lodges here that actually do provide plenty of luxury and comfort – think jacuzzi soaks, couple massage and riverside cabins that just scream ‘romance’. Check out our choice of amazing resorts in Tortuguero.

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Best National Parks in Costa Rica for Family Adventure Vacations

Families heading to Costa Rica are usually looking for a wide array of activities, something that’ll please children and adults equally. Luckily, Costa Rica does this seamlessly which is the main reason the country is just so popular for family vacations. Although you can always choose a child-friendly resort that offers some kind of kid-club (just a little yawn-inducing) we think you and the kids deserve a little more. In the best national parks for families in Costa Rica, you can all have the time of your lives doing fun and exciting stuff, together, whether it be going on a night-time wildlife-spotting walk, zip-line run, family hike, bicycle tour, surf lesson and even horseback ride on the beach. If time together equals closeness, then what’s the point of having fun, separately??

Manuel Antonio is very family friendly and there are walking excursions that are ideal with little ones in tow. Over in Alajuela is where you can all explore the resplendent Rio Celeste on a thrilling hike through the Tenorio Volcano National Park (ideal if your kids are a little older) and if you have kids of varying ages, you can visit Arenal, where cable-car rides thrill the little ones and zip-line rides will delight thrill-seeking teenagers.

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If you do have toddlers or young kids, you’ll also love the La Paz Nature Park because it offers light walks even the tiniest tot can achieve (carried, if need be) yet offering an abundance of beautiful wilderness experiences that’ll titillate all their senses. Numerous waterfalls and close-up encounters with some of the country’s most iconic wildlife is what enthralls young and older alike here.

Many families also love visiting Los Quetzales National Park which is, much like uber-famous Monteverde, a stunning cloud forest destination. This is one of the country’s youngest national parks and one of the least-known, which makes it a great off-the-radar destination. It’s very close to San Jose and boasts an altitude range of between 4,000 and 10,000 feet, which is sublime on a summer visit. Home to about 200 distinct species of birds as well as deer, tapirs and even a few pumas which you’d have to be pretty lucky to spot as they’re terribly shy. This is a real bird-lover’s paradise and if you take a local guide, you’ll spot some amazing specimens, like the Resplendent Quetzal at the right season and different types of hummingbirds. If your kids are interested or studying birds, they’ll absolutely love this place. There’s pretty basic infrastructure here so far (which makes it feel super remote) yet it means that guided walks are advised, with a choice of options for short and longer trails, depending on the age of your kids.

Best National Parks for Multi-Sport Adventure Vacations

It really doesn’t matter if you’re heading over solo, on honeymoon, with friends or with your extended family: adventures abound in Costa Rica’s best national parks. For multi-sport adventure vacations, whereby you can fit in as many active pursuits every day (so requiring less in-between travel) you really can’t go past the entire region framing the Pacuare and Sarapiqui rivers, on the central-eastern half of the country.

 

 

 

 

 

Bordered by the Tortuguero, Cahuita, Braulio Carrillo and Barbilla National Parks, these rivers are considered the heart and soul of the country by bonafide adventure seekers. Here, you’ll find primary virgin rain-forest that showcases astonishing biodiversity, the wilderness home to elusive jaguars, anteaters, ocelots, sloths, an abundance of monkeys and an untold number of exotic tropical birds, including toucans and macaws. We love this region because it is untouched for the most part, bar a few eco-lodges that simply offer us the chance to explore the rivers by kayak and whitewater raft and its stellar wilderness on foot. Considered one of the world’s best rafting destinations of all (the Pacuare River, particularly) this region is ideal for multi-sport adventures, because there are enough lodges to allow for week long trips but not enough commercialization that means multi-day rafting or kayaking needs to be interrupted.

For adventurous souls, this whole area is unparalleled, with plenty of offerings for families and honeymooners too. Given the Pacuare’s three-section river runs, this is also a great place to learn rafting and kayaking and a handful of dreamy lodges means honeymoon suites on riverside lodges are also on offer.

 

 

 

 

 

When it comes to the best national parks in Costa Rica, it’s worth noting that just because we mention a special reason to visit a particular national park, it doesn’t mean that reason won’t be found elsewhere. Except for the multi-sport option perhaps: the Pacuare really is the best rafting and kayaking river in the country, so even if you hike, bike ride or zipline elsewhere, you’ll still want to head here for the best river-based adventures.

Yet for all other aspects, you do have a wide array of choice. The northwest of the country, for example, is home to the best and largest range of honeymoon resorts but there are plenty scattered all over the country, some of which are exceptionally unique, remote and absolutely stunning.

Ask us about your very own personal desires, be they for your honeymoon, family or multi-sport adventure vacation and we can give you more specific suggestions of the very best places to visit.

You can contact us, right here

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Why Eco-Tourism in Costa Rica Is Worth More Than a Hashtag

Costa Rica is renowned for being the poster-child for eco-tourism and was the one country which spearheaded the sustainable tourism industry, worldwide, long before any other nation joined the movement. The national park system, set up over 50 years ago, covers almost one-third of the country, with new areas facing an imminent threat from exploitation or over-commercialization being set aside for preservation on an almost yearly basis.

The evolution of Costa Rica’s role as an eco-friendly tourism destination wasn’t an afterthought or coincidence but rather a consequence of some very direct choices. Doing away with an army in favor of conservation, Costa Rica literally set about to become THE world’s most sustainable tourism hub by which all others are judged. A few things happened as a result: first of all, the country cemented its position as one of the most bio-diverse nations, its expansive tropical wilderness home to a mind-boggling array of animals, most of them endemic, many endangered and some that used to be found all over Central America but are now only thriving here. There’s no doubt that Mother Nature is the biggest winner in all of this. Secondly, however, is the fact that Costa Rica’s entire economy now greatly depends on eco-tourism, so although some large-scale commercialization does happen, it is concentrated only in certain areas, leaving most others blissfully untouched. The ecological tourism sector is said to account for almost 20% of Costa Rica’s economy so rather than a gimmicky-ploy, eco-friendly activities and lodges here are the real deal. This is so much more than a hashtag gimmick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Costa Rica has recently experienced a rapid proliferation of dams for hydro power on rivers draining its northern Caribbean slope. In the Sarapiquí River Basin, eight hydro power plants were built between 1990 and 1999 and more projects are either under construction or proposed. The majority of these dams are small (<15 m tall) and operate as water diversion projects. Because of the threat from a proposed hydro power plant a few years back, the irrevocable damage to the wilderness and tourism scene, the plan was finally (and permanently) shelved by the government in 2005. That’s the kind of power Costa Rica’s eco-tourism industry has here: it can protect and preserve whilst still allowing for tourism businesses to grow. No-one would ever begrudge Costa Rican’s from utilizing and surviving on their country’s incredible nature splendorous but it’s great to know that the government is intent on keeping the efforts clean, sustainable and as least-impactful on the environment as possible.

What Is Eco-Tourism, Anyway?

When you immerse yourself in pristine wilderness, staying in small lodges built with sustainable materials and after careful consideration of the impact of local flora and fauna, leaving behind as few ‘footsteps’ as possible, you are halfway to achieving an eco-friendly adventure. Yet the second half of the journey must entail some kind of education, of environmental enlightenment, if you will: this is at the core of the movement or at least it was as originally concocted in Costa Rica, before ‘eco-friendly’ became more of an Instagram hashtag rather than a bonafide philosophy. Eco-tourism, to be really effective, must involve some kind of immersion, not only physical but also intellectual. Learning about local environmental concerns and being aware of the natural links that determine the health of our entire planet (be it shortage of fresh water, plastic pollution and whatnot) is paramount to enjoying a full eco-friendly adventure.

Education is important because, as researchers have surmised, we only protect what we love and, usually, only love what we know. As much as your heart might pain seeing orangutans fighting for their lives against bulldozers decimating rain-forests in Borneo, you probably won’t be compelled to do very much about it if you’ve never actually been to Borneo. And so it is with Costa Rica: adventurous visitors who visit on exceptional eco-friendly tours usually become the wilderness’ best crusaders, the loud protectors, the ones who sign petitions, keep abreast of the news and go home with a renewed vigor to use and buy less, to recycle more and to be generally more aware of the impact they make on the planet, every single day.

This is why eco-tourism in Costa Rica is so important: the more of it there is, the less need for it there will be, in the future. The ultimate dream, of course, is that all tourism become naturally eco-friendly by default, in years to come.

 

 

 

 

 

What If The Love of Costa Rica…Gets a Little Bit Too Much?

Some visitors are surprised when they learn that most national parks impose a daily cap on visitors, some even closing for one day of the week. Yet this is done because when a country becomes as popular a travel destination as Costa Rica, all the love can get a little overwhelming. For the wilderness, that is.

Large crowds will inevitably make a taxing impact on the environment and that’s why many of the country’s most fragile areas are other off-limits to tourists or impose visitor-caps, something everyone should not only accept but also appreciate. When visiting national parks, it’s important to adhere to the rules, to walk only on designated paths, to not pick flowers, feed wildlife or otherwise disrupt the nature, even if it’s by speaking quietly so as not to stress the animals. A great way to help Costa Rica’s nature is to actively seek out-there regions that are lesser visited. By taking your footsteps off the well-trodden path, you can indirectly help it regenerate.

Costa Rica’s parks and nature areas are brimming with incredible finds – glorious wildlife and amazing landscapes – so seek a lesser-known region to have it and you’ll be not only ensuring an unforgettable experience for yourself but also helping the rest of the country out. That’s a pretty neat win-win.

How Can You Partake In Eco-Tourism Activities In Costa Rica?

Head over to our luscious country for the adventure vacation of a lifetime and, as long as you’re willing to soak up all the aspects of a visit, you can enjoy a rewarding and sustainable vacation. Here are some of the way you can do that:

Visit a locally-run farm

Many family-run agricultural businesses are at the forefront of sustainable farming in Costa Rica, with organic coffee, chocolate and fruit plantations utilizing high-tech methods and unusual techniques to promote their business and help their land. So why not contribute to their amazing efforts by visiting? For a small fee, you’ll enjoy an amazing behind-the-scenes-look at how world-class coffee, chocolate and other produce is harvested, get to taste-test your way through the day and will be infinitely more educated on the agricultural process by the time you leave. Kids LOVE these kinds of outings and given there are farms open to the public all over the country, including a visit is very easy to do on just about every itinerary. Read about our favorite Sustainable Farm Experiences to be had in Costa Rica

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visit protected areas that charge a fee

Weird, right? Why wouldn’t you want to go somewhere that’s free to visit? Well, because here’s the thing: the great majority of wilderness protection funds in Costa Rica come from park entry fees, the government pouring in funds back into that specific region, acquiring and preserving more wilderness areas as a result. Entry fees in Costa Rica are really reasonable and knowing your funds will go directly to conservation can give you peace of mind when visiting.

 

 

 

 

 

Choose small(er) eco-lodges and resorts

Smaller eco-lodges and resorts are likely to be locally-owned and family run and, sometimes, giving your hard-earned holiday funds directly to locals can be of immense help, most especially if said lodge happens to be in an area is being eyed by foreign-owned building planners. Helping locals stay in business is helpful in a multitude of ways: they’re usually a lot more aware and concerned about their environmental impact, given it’s their land AND their future. Moreover, smaller eco-lodges just naturally have a lesser impact on the environment and nearby villages when compared with mega-resorts that can tax a specific patch of wilderness with an overwhelming impact. Although some argue that 100 visitors leave behind the same number of footprints, no matter where they go, it does make a difference in how those footprints are spread out. A turtle nesting site on a beach couldn’t cope with two hundred visitors, but a hundred beaches will likely not suffer at all if they were to receive two visitors each. Spread the love all over Costa Rica and the country will be more than grateful!

 

 

 

 

 

Eco-lodges will usually offer a number of enlightening excursions that are both super fun and educational. Typically, you’ll explore the area of wilderness around the lodge, either by walking tours, horseback riding, bicycle riding and even kayaking and rafting. The latter two are phenomenal ways to reach remote areas that can’t be reached by road or on foot and, on overnight adventures, you can really explore far and wide. What’s more, you’re likely to see a lot more wildlife the further away from civilization you head which is why these kinds of eco-tourism activities are just so popular with nature lovers. You do your bit for nature by spreading out, you get to see amazing landscapes, spot more wildlife and have the adventure of a lifetime while you’re at it.

 

 

 

 

 

See Costa Rica Rio’s extensive collection of adventure vacations for honeymooners, families and custom-made itineraries way off the beaten path.

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Guide to Monteverde’s Magical Cloud Forests

Costa Rica’s magical cloud forests are among the country’s top 3 destinations and, as such, receive a hefty number of tourists every year. More than a deterrent, this highlights the fact that when it comes to amazing landscapes, an abundance of wildlife and a crazy array of super fun activities, Monteverde is one of the country’s top spots. The region’s prominence has spawned an eco-tourism scene that is out of this word: stunning lodges, excellent restaurants (serving up some of the best fresh produce in the country), exceptional coffee and a myriad of unique experiences are on offer. This is among the most fertile corners of Costa Rica, where agriculture is prime and unspoiled, and where wildlife and wilderness thrive with abandon. One of Costa Rica’s Seven Wonders as voted by visitors and a priceless natural treasure no visitor should miss experiencing.

Monteverde

In the refreshing cloud forests of Monteverde, you’ll discover a truly magical world, where an impressive array of hummingbirds, many of them endemic, fly about in a flurry. The cloud forests here are also home to pumas, sloths, porcupines, coatis, exotic frogs, spiders and snakes galore not to mention the elusive and beautiful Resplendent Quetzal among hundreds of exotic birds. All up, Monteverde is home to more than 400 distinct species of birds, 100+ reptiles and amphibians and thousands of unique flora species. Some animals are easier to spot than others but with a local wildlife guide, plenty of time and patience (not to mention a night-time wildlife watching excursion) you can be handsomely rewarded.

Where Is The Monteverde Cloud Forest?

The forests in the clouds are on the highlands about 3 hrs north of San Jose, the capital. The sheer proximity to the city means this is a popular spot for day-trippers and extended vacationers alike, the winding road upwards providing exceptional views of the lowlands and a wonderful change in scenery. Whilst a day-trip could certainly deliver some experiences, it simply wouldn’t do this place justice to just ‘see it’ for a few hours. For a truly immersive Monteverde experience, you’ll want to spend a few days here, lost in these ethereal forests, discovering her stunning hidden treasures. There’s a lot to see and even more to do in Monteverde, whether bird-spotting, zip-lining, hiking or wildlife-chasing. The average elevation in Monteverde is 4,600 feet so expect the temps to be lower than on the coastline. Monteverde always offers a wonderful reprieve on a scorching summer day.

How Was Monteverde Created?

The reserve was founded by a Quaker group from the US who migrated here in the 1950’s. Some 11 families left the US after becoming disillusioned with their country’s wars, enticed to Costa Rica due, primarily, to the country’s lack of military ambition. They wanted to live in peace and, in Costa Rica, they found the paradise they were searching for. The group purchased a large area of land and set it aside for protection, in what is now the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve, one of three reserves in the area. Biologists have been coming to Monteverde for over half a century, firstly attracted by the English-speaking communities which welcomed them and, thereafter, by the astonishing biodiversity they discovered.

Monteverde

What Is The Climate Like In Monteverde?

This being a tropical cloud forest, you can expect rain on most afternoons and certainly cloud cover of an early morning (and late afternoon). The humidity is what keeps everything so luscious and fertile and what gives the forest its mystical atmosphere. Rains here can be intense but short-lived and usually occur in the early afternoon. The best time to hike in Monteverde is in the morning, right after your delicious local breakfast.

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What’s There To Do In Monteverde?

Cloud Forest Walks: Monteverde boasts a variety of walking trails, offered from three distinct nature reserves. The most popular of this is undoubtedly the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve, its well-kept trails (over 8 miles in total) waterfalls, startling views and hanging bridges attracting groups of all ages. You don’t necessarily need a local guide to walk the trails in any of the parks but it does help to have a trained eye spot even the tiniest creatures which can sometimes be the most fascinating. This is particularly true for families whose children get very excited about any animal spotted and love learning more about the ecosystems they are visiting by asking questions to knowledgeable guides. You can pick up a trail map when you purchase your entry ticket.

Wildlife Refuge: The Monteverde Wildlife Refuge – in Santa Elena – is a haven for protected species and the fantastic guided night walks are among the best in the country. A very magical experience by all who have been lucky enough to attend and an unmissable experience for wildlife lovers. The guides at the refuge are super enthusiastic, knowledgeable and very entertaining, offering unique tours of their very precious corner of Monteverde. Not to be missed! If travelling with kids, also include a visit to the Bat Jungle, a wonderful animal refuge offering guided tours and feeding shows. One of the most educational spots in Monteverde.

Cheese Tasting: The Monteverde Cheese Factory was one of the first farming experiments started by the initial Quaker inhabitants of the region and has become a local icon. The home-made ice-creams are about as popular as the quetzals in these parts, yet their creamy cheeses and yogurts also shouldn’t be missed. The cheese factory is just a couple of miles south of the Bat Jungle.

Active pursuits: Eco-tourism and adventure go hand-in-hand in Costa Rica and never is this more evident than when visiting Monteverde. The cloud forests are here to be traversed on thrilling zip-lines and it is here that you’ll find the longest zip-line route in the country (over 5,000 feet of flying adrenaline-rush!) and aerial adventures for adults and children alike. There’s a mountain of fun to be had here, whether on foot, on horseback or by mountain bike. An adventure-filled day spent canyoning and canopy swinging in Monteverde really is one of the best Costa Rica experiences of all.

Insider Tips for Monteverde Visits

  • You’ll definitely want to be wearing good hiking shoes when walking the trails here. Routes are well-kept but the nature of the ecosystem means they are sometimes steep and slippery.
  • Wear long pants and always pack a waterproof jacket, no matter how clear it seems in the morning
  • Head off early for your walk to miss the crowds. Your chances of spotting wildlife are greater when there are fewer people about. Remember to keep quiet as you walk, wildlife startles easily.
  • For the greatest convenience if traveling independently, plan to stay on the charming town of Santa Elena, where you’ll have everything at your fingertips. Lodges and B&Bs here are rustic and less luxurious than those found along the coast but the lack of over-development really is a huge part of Monteverde’s appeal. Our personal recommendation is the Monteverde Lodge and Gardens, an absolute haven of tranquility, replete with wildlife and offering amazing culinary delights. You can read more about it, right here.
  • Quetzals breed and are seen in greater numbers between February and July. If your aim is to spot this resplendent bird, plan to travel to Monteverde during this period.
  • You can expect to eat really well in Monteverde – not only does the area boast a healthy expat community thanks to its Quakers origins but it is also a very popular tourist spot AND a region renowned for its high-quality fresh produce. It’s a win-win for foodies! Amazing organic restaurants as well as pizzerias, sodas and international joints offering all sorts of cuisines to suit every taste.
  • Monteverde is colder and rainier than most other parts of Costa Rica and, no matter what time of year you do visit, you should always expect some rain. The first four months of the year are the driest and warmest – although a light spring shower in the early afternoon is still common. This means, however, that you can skip downright deluges which can make hiking trails very slippery.

At Costa Rica Rios, we are famous for our adventure-filled vacation tours, be they for families, groups of friends or honeymooning couples. We not only offer tours in different locations throughout the country but we also organize bespoke tours, whereby you tell us what you want to do, where you want to go and how much you’d like to spend and we do our best to bring it all together and plan your absolute Costa Rica trip of a lifetime.

Contact us today how we can combine a visit to Monteverde on your next adventure vacation in Costa Rica.

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Best Places for Your Costa Rica Destination Wedding Photo-Shoot

We won’t lie: enjoying a stunning photo-shoot is one of the best parts of a Costa Rica destination wedding. Many couples enjoy them so much that they actually plan several photo-shoots on their adventure honeymoon after their wedding, just so they can take advantage of an array of magnificent locations. Whilst you probably can’t get to a volcano, a beach, a waterfall and a rain-forest in the one single photo session, there’s nothing stopping you from getting dolled up a few times during your trip, just so you can have a wide variety of shots in your album.

Photogenic, dreamy, colorful and totally charming, the best places for your Costa Rica destination wedding photo-shoot will ensure your album be among the most treasured mementos you’ll have of your big, beautiful, all-important day.

Beaches

Choose a remote beach on the western Pacific coast and you will have the most magical sunset photos of all. Beaches are undoubtedly the #1 wedding photo-shoot location in Costa Rica, with the array of options making for personalized albums that are unique to every couple. Whilst sunsets are the prime attraction on the Pacific Coast, sunrises are on the Caribbean, the play of light in the early morning making for sensational shots. The most popular beaches are unarguably in Manuel Antonio National Park, where verdant forests tumble down to sandy shores, remote and wild beaches on the Osa Peninsula (home to a few stellar boutique resorts) and of course Tamarindo, a popular vacation spots that offers everything you need for a fabulous wedding vacation.

Given that Costa Rica destination weddings are so popular all over the country, it means you’ll find an excellent photographer no matter which beach you need to visit. More often than not, however, photographers will also travel to different locations for a shoot so if you have a specific expert in mind, it always pays to ask their availability at your chosen location. Whilst continuity in style can certainly be a lovely thing, it’s also wonderful to have different reels from different photographers, to have the widest range of looks. Just like every beach in Costa Rica is unique and enticing in its own way, no two wedding photographers are the same.

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Waterfalls

Nothing spells Costa Rica glamour weddings quite like a waterfall photo-shoot and although the country is absolutely chock-full of stunning drops, many are perhaps a little too inconvenient to reach, all dressed up to the nines. In this instance, we prefer waterfalls that are close to – and even within – some of the best resorts in the country. At the La Paz Waterfall Gardens, for example, you don’t even need to move an inch in your heels: you can have the ceremony, reception lunch and photo-shoot all in front of one of five gorgeous waterfalls. Only an hour away from Sa Jose, this stunning place is well-versed in all things wedding related so you can organize a shoot here even if not staying. An in-house butterfly garden also makes for a very unique setting, to add color and an ethereal setting to your photos.

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Luxury Hotels & Resorts

The easiest option is also one of the most glamorous, with Costa Rica’s array of wedding resorts putting on fabulous photo-shoot locations throughout their outstanding properties. You can choose your luxury resort location by a glorious private beach, immersed in pristine forests and even overlooking one of the country’s many awe-inspiring volcanoes. Resorts and hotels really do combine the best of it all, as far as convenience, setting and location are concerned. When choose a wedding venue, it pays to check out the property (albeit virtually) to see if the setting would make for great photography. The in-house wedding planner can also run through all the available options with you, both at the resort itself and nearby. Every Costa Rica photographer has their own ‘insider secret spot’ when it comes to wedding photo-shoots, so it helps to pick their brain.

Private Villas

A jaw-dropping backdrop, an infinity pool, your own private haven and a fantastical place to hold a breath-taking photo-shoot – private villa rentals in Costa Rica are just the gift that keep on giving. Luxury villas come in all shapes, sizes and budget with accommodation options ranging from family sized (4-5) to larger groups ideal for a wedding with sleeping arrangement for, say, two dozen people yet with enough entertainment space to fit double the number. If you have your wedding reception and accommodation already sorted and simply wish to book a villa for a few hours’ worth of posing glamorously, ask the venue, or your photographer, if they know of an available villa that would allow for that. There are many, like Villa Punto de Vista, that actually allow for this as the country is a very popular photography and TV Show shooting destination.

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Luxury Yachts & Catamarans

Add a touch of glamour and exclusivity to your wedding photo-shoot by heading out into the sapphire seas on a luxury yacht or catamaran cruise for a couple of hours. You’ll find a greater choice of boat and rental options on the Pacific coast and although quite a few insist on day-long rentals, many can be hired for just an hour or two which would make the wedding photo-shoot a lot more affordable too. If you don’t have the time nor the inclination to do your own research on this, it may be worthwhile to hire a wedding planner who will not only organize the actual ceremony for you but can coordinate with photographer and photo-shoot venue to fit within your budget and according to your wishes. Event planners really take all the stress out of destination wedding planning and Costa Rica boasts a wealth of expert and professional ones – just see here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rain-forests & Wilderness

Taken on the path to the La Fortuna waterfall, the below photo shows just how atmospheric Costa Rica’s rain-forests can be for wedding photography. Choose Monteverde and you could be on a hanging bridge suspended in the clouds, framed by verdant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Volcanoes

The Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort, right at the foothills of Arenal Volcano, is the prime location in the country if you’re dreaming of that distinctive WOWing photo-shoot setting. It really doesn’t get any better than this: a luscious resort set in prime wilderness, with its own private hot springs and insanely beautiful gardens. Choose to stay here and the resort will help co-ordinate your shoot, taking advantage of the many secluded spots that make for glorious pics. Yet Tabacon is not the only choice, by a long shot. There are many beautiful lodges here that not only boast their own unique views of Arenal but also know of prime spots just nearby which you can take advantage of.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wildlife Refuges

Hosting a wedding photo-shoot in a wildlife refuge may seem a little odd at first but once you realize that a ‘refuge’ in Costa Rica can mean more than one thing. Whilst some are bona fide wildlife rehab center (totally worth visit) other are simply fervently protected reserves where wildlife can thrive. Boutique lodges within the boundaries of wildlife refuges can make for exceptional photo-shoot locations, especially for animal-lovers. Imagine having the moment a cheeky monkey tries to steal your bouquet or a colony of coatis walks across your path, forever immortalized in your wedding pics? Pretty special! Parrots, monkeys, perhaps even a sloth – these are the kinds of wedding subjects with whom you could be sharing your treasured photographs.

And what could be more Costa Rican than that?

If you fancy a unique destination wedding photo-shoot in Costa Rica and looking for that one adventure vacation company that can bring your wedding and adventure honeymoon together, talk to Costa Rica Rios today.

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Costa Rica’s Most Glorious Beaches Off the Tourist Radar

Whilst there are certainly plenty of countries all over the world that boast wonderful beaches, few serve up the kind of spectacular choice that Costa Rica does. The country’s most glorious beaches offer something for every beach-bum visitor, whether they’re heading here with kids in tow, to soak up the rays in a plush resort, learn to surf, stand-up paddle or just have as many chances of a refreshing soak as possible. We hear you! The country’s extensive coastline – all 800 miles of it – makes a seaside getaway supremely easy. You can spend days lost in its pristine forests, hiking its awesome volcanoes or whitewater rafting its rivers, before settling in to one of the many beachside villages dotted along both the Pacific and Caribbean coast.

The most spectacular beaches in Costa Rica are well renowned but, in this guide, we wanted to take you a little off the beaten path. Just to prove the point that you can come here, go way off the tourist path and still find a myriad of jaw-dropping beaches not many have even heard of.

Here are a few of the most glorious beaches in Costa Rica we love to retreat to for a peaceful weekend of soaking up the rays and frolicking in the seas.

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Playa Rajada, Guanacaste

One of the country’s most startling and clean beaches, Rajada is a haven of absolute tranquility. Outside of busy holiday periods, you’ll find this beach desolate and inspiring, ideal for those craving a stint of complete tranquility. Even at its busiest, though, Rajada could never be overcrowded – it’s too remote and too unknown to attract that kind of crowd. Right on the north-western tip of Guanacaste, Rajada is just a few swim strokes away from the border with Nicaragua and although it’s really easy to reach (especially if you arrive at the Liberia Airport) most tourists simply don’t make the effort. Which is precisely why you should. Local campers head over on weekends to pitch a tent and spend a couple of relaxing days, anticipating the nightly sunset, which is just out of this world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Playa Tambor, Puntarenas

Right in the heart of Ballena Bay in the southern coast of the Nicoya Peninsula, Tambor is favoured by active honeymooning couples. The beach is a tranquil hidden secret although nearby, you’ll find a wealth of fun stuff to see and do so you can extend your stay for many days. As the name suggests, the bay is favored by migrating whales who used to head here during the dry season to mate and rest in between long journeys. Unfortunately, the whales don’t drop in as often or as in large pods as they once used to, although occasional sightings are still common. The town of Tambor boasts a few accommodation options and is a really chilled-out spot to while away a day or two. Quaint fishing villages, incredible rain forests and a wealth of wildlife await you in this southern end of Nicoya, making Tambor a wonderful reward for a whirlwind trip through the wilds of Costa Rica. A small airport at Tambor can help you cut travel time if you’re on a short Costa Rica adventure vacation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Playa Manzanillo, Puntarenas

Just around the western corner of Nicoya, a short drive from Tambor, is Playa Manzanillo, on one of the most unspoiled corners of the country. Swaying palm trees kiss the crystal seas here, with a nearby lagoon also offering plenty of snorkeling chances. Being out of the way and somewhat hard to reach (not really but enough to hold back large resort developers) has guaranteed this beach is visited by a select number of dedicated beach lovers, those who love their nature pristine and undisturbed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Playa Santa Teresa, Puntarenas

Manzanillo’s southern neighbor, Santa Teresa, is just as stunning yet the ease of access comes with an increase in crowds. Still, this is Costa Rica’s quiet side, the one many never get to see, so fellow beach-visitors here are limited nonetheless. With added infrastructure, though, comes the chance for morning yoga classes, surf lessons and all the mod-cons many enjoy on a day out at the beach. Santa Teresa is a wonderfully long stretch of beach ideal for really long walks and, being on the westernmost coast of the country, also a superlative sunset soaking spot. Seaside restaurants, a relaxed vibe and super friendly locals make this a very addictive beach to visit, so be warned!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Playa Mantas, Puntarenas

Not every unknown gem is in a remote spot that may be lovely but boasts no infrastructure at all. Take Mantas, for example, a sparkling gem of a beach with a charming little village boasting all-inclusive lodges and boutique hotels. We love this beach because you can reach it easily from San Jose, is perfect for swimming with kids (lots of fun rock pools in which to play) and has enough mod-cons so you can stay a few nights without having to move on due to lack of restaurants or whatnot. The rocky shores, however, make Mantas seem quite wild and untamed (which it is) and offers a wonderful balance between Crusoe-escape and 5* luxury.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Playa Minas, Guanacaste

The lack of anything man-made makes Minas (or Zapotillal) a fabulously rewarding beach to visit. What a difference from its built-up neighbors! Granted, the unpaved track that leads here certainly keeps the crowds at bay and, to be honest, is reason enough to rent a 4WD in Costa Rica. The turquoise water is crystal clear here and swimming is simply divine. Plenty of trees offer ample shade so you can pack a picnic basket and just spend the whole day here if you wish. This is Costa Rica paradise!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Playa Pelada, Guanacaste

As far as ‘postcard-pretty’ beaches go, Pelada is right up there with the best of them. Crescent shaped white-sand beach, framed by verdant forests on one side and sapphire seas on the other. A swoon worthy sight that’s definitely worth the drive, Pelada would have to be the most spectacular beach you can visit in Nosara. Spend a day tucked in the shade of the big palm trees, tackling the small waves and enjoying refreshing swims. There are no services here at all which spells great news for those who love their beaches au naturel.

 

 

 

 

 

Playa Isla Tortuga, Puntarenas

We admit it’s a bit cheeky to include a beach on a remote island but hey, given Isla Tortuga can be easily reached by boat in just a couple of hours, why miss out on this starting beauty?! Floating off the southern coast of the Nicoya Peninsula, Isla Tortuga is unadulterated paradise, the kind you envisage when you’re dreaming of Cost Rica beach adventures. The water here is a thousand shades of turquoise, perfectly clear, warm and immensely inviting, the sand white and sparkling, the forest lush and emerald – Isla Tortuga is a beach dream personified.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Playa Samara, Guanacaste

Those travelling with bubs will want to check out Samara, one of our favorite hidden gems in Costa Rica. The town is large enough to offer a few accommodation choices and restaurants yet small enough to make it feel remote and undiscovered – a perfect end to any Costa Rica vacations. With calm seas, gentle waves, a few choice activities and plenty of trees to string a hammock, not to mention drop-dead-gorgeous scenery, Samara is, without a doubt, one of the most glorious beaches in all of Costa Rica.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Costa Rica Rios, we’ve perfected the art of off-the-tourist-radar’ adventures, taking intrepid guests on the journey of a lifetime in some of the least-known – but most rewarding – corners of the country. We love incorporating a little of everything on our adventure tours, including beach days, forest days and thrill-seeking days. Ready to discover the REAL Costa Rica? Then contact us today.

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Costa Rica’s Most Instagrammable Hot-Spots

Costa Rica is not a country that’s short on spectacularly photogenic spots yet a few have become almost ‘legendary’ in social media circles. Adventure vacations chasing Costa Rica’s most Instagrammable hot-spots tug at the heart of those who not only cherish delivering a heavy dose of Insta-envy (because isn’t that just a little bit fun?) but also those who simply want to discover the most outrageously beautiful spots in the country.

Our list of favorite Insta-worthy spots in Costa Rica don’t just look good on camera but also require an adventurous spirit to capture. Because, after all, what’s the point of planning an adventure vacation in Costa Rica if the best Instagrammable hot-spots are just outside your hotel door?!

So get over here, strap on your boots, slap on the sunscreen and come see what photogenic gems Costa Rica has in store.

The Hanging Bridges of Monteverde

There’s something utterly surreal about the rustic bridges seemingly suspended in the clouds of Monteverde. The vibrant green of the forest mixed in with the mist of the low clouds lends this landscape a fairy-tale vibe like few others.

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What, Where & How: Halfway between San Jose and the Liberia International Airport, the Monteverde Cloud Forest is one of Costa Rica’s most distinctive wilderness highlights. Explore the biological reserve on foot it by following a complex maze of walking trails which include several hanging bridges, and immerse yourself in this unique ecosystem right at the top of the continental divide. Costa Rica feels like another world at this altitude (pack some warm clothing!) the distinct climate nurturing an array of unique flora and fauna you simply won’t find anywhere else.

Rio Celeste Waterfall in Tenorio Volcano National Park

Costa Rica’s many waterfalls are among the most Instagrammable hot-spots of all and among them we’d rate the Rio Celeste Waterfall as perhaps the most photogenic of all. The iridescent color of the water is said to have inspired Photoshop (probably) creating a surreal Insta-worthy snap that’ll blow you away. The best part of capturing this startling sight? The heart-pumping hike to get there!

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What, Where & How: Nestled in the heart of the Tenorio Volcano National Park in Guanacaste, the Rio Celeste Waterfall sits at the end of a short and sweet one-mile hiking trail through wilderness and, at the end, a very picturesque staircase that descends almost 500 feet. The stairs are unarguably the toughest challenge on the legs but if you’re after a little adventure in Costa Rica, consider this a stellar warm up. You can continue through the western section of the walking trail after ascending the stairs, which will guide you to a beautiful viewpoint over the rain-forest (just watch your feet on the uneven platform) and then onward to a turquoise lagoon and bubbling sulfur hot springs. The end of the trail is the confluence of the two rivers and one of the most unmissable parts of the park – where the celeste waters begin their journey!

Irazu Volcano

Volcanoes are about the only Instagrammable competition to waterfalls in Costa Rica, with the country’s #1 attraction, Arenal, taking out the first photo-price across the board. Yet whilst Arenal is indeed a spectacular sight, we do cherish the otherworldly view of Irazu, the highest volcano in Costa Rica and one basting three mineral-enriched caldera lakes of astonishing colors.

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Santa Teresa Beach, Nicoya Peninsula

Waxing lyrical about waterfalls and volcanoes doesn’t hide the fact that the most photographed of all Costa Rica’s highlights would surely be its beaches. This country is defined by its exceptional stretches of postcard-perfect beaches and if anything could induce a case of Insta-envy then a glorious sunrise or sunset photo of a Costa Rica beach would have to do the trick. To this end, head to the western shores of the wild Nicoya Peninsula and cast your eyes on Santa Teresa, one of the most magnificent stretches of coast in the entire country.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What, Where & How: The Nicoya is often dubbed the ‘wild west’ of Costa Rica and it is here that you’ll find the most remote and unspoiled beaches on the Pacific coast. The town of the same name is just a cool surfer’s hangout, attracting discerning travelers who wish to get away from it all and have a few more days up their sleeve. Santa Teresa is a white sandy beach framed by palm trees, one that seems to stretch out forever. You won’t find any mega mall or huge resort hotels here but you will find is one of the best surfing spots in the world, a laid-back vibe that just screams Pura Vida and endless chances for that perfect Instagram pic.

Nesting turtles at Gandoca Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge

Let’s be honest: snapping a close-up shot of an iconic turtle is pretty much equivalent to winning the Instagrammable lottery in Costa Rica and knowing where to go and when will help you achieve that goal. Whilst the Pacific is the more famous (and visited side to visit for nesting turtles) we absolutely love the remote and pristine Gandoca Reserve on the Caribbean side, one of the least-known corners of the country.

What, Where & How: Gandoca is one of our favorite Instagrammable hot-spots because this wild reserve doesn’t just serve up sloths, turtles and other wildlife on a silver platter: you still need to hike, you still need to look and you still need to pray it happens but, if you go with a specialized local guide, your chances of spotting and photographing a turtle in the wild are absolutely brilliant. Plus, chasing turtles in Gandoca means you’ll head to the lesser visited Caribbean Coast, where fewer tourists and more wildlife combine to create a magnificently remote adventure. Just south of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Gandoca is one of Costa Rica’s hidden treasures, where idyllic beaches, dense tropical forests and a multitude of wildlife await. The plus side? You’ll literally be among very few lucky folks that’ll hashtag Gandoca on Instagram.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruinas de Ujarra

In Costa Rica, it’s not just Mother Nature that creates the most the most Instagrammable hot-spots although, in the case of the Ujarra church ruins, she certainly plays a big hand in framing the picture.

 

 

 

 

 

What, Where & How: The remnants of the very first church ever built in the country date back to the 1500’s and are set amidst a verdant garden right in the heart of the Orosi Valley, a short distance southeast of San Jose. Built by missionaries and boasting a troubling history, the church ruins are both fascinating to discover and amazing to photograph.

Lake Arenal

Well, it’s not like we could really leave the star Costa Rica Instagrammable attraction off our list but, in this case, we’ll hone in on the most photographic side of Arenal Volcano and that’s from its namesake lake. Taken at the right time of day, with the right condition, the reflection of the peak on the lake is simply spellbinding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What, Where and When: Arenal is Costa Rica’s premier attraction, one that’s easy to get to and super easy to enjoy. A multitude of resorts, some with their own private hot-springs (imagine THOSE Insta pics) as well as plenty of adrenaline-pumping activities like zip-lining, mountain biking and horseback-riding, make this a very comprehensive destination for singles, families and honeymooning couples alike. The extensive lake sits on the western side of the volcano so best plan for an early-morning visit to the lake to snap the sensational scene with a rising sun.

La Bruja Waterfall, Turrialba

Turrialba is one of the lesser-visited corners of Costa Rica. This adventurous playground hides many hidden treasures and, among them all, is where you’ll find the Witch’s Waterfall, one of the country’s most Instagrammable hot-spots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What, Where & How: If you’re after an off-the-beaten-path adventure to one of the least photographed and known waterfalls in Costa Rica, then set your sights firmly on La Bruja. You’ll need to be in good physical shape and be ready to hike a few miles in untouched wilderness to reach it but, when you do, you’ll no-doubt consider it well worth the effort. This is one of the most off-beat destinations in the entire country and the waterfall one of the rarest sights of all.

Turrialba is Costa Rica adventure capital and it’s no coincidence that this is our backyard. At Costa Rica Rios, we can help you find an infinite array of Instagrammable hit-spots way off the beaten path, whilst dishing up a sensational week of unforgettable adventures in one of the world’s wildest countries. Check out our Adventure Vacations Packages and contact us when you’re ready to take your Instagram account to a whole other level.

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