Tag Archives: Costa Rica

Lonely Planet Names Costa Rica BEST in Travel for 2020

Lonely Planet has just released its much anticipated ‘Best in Travel’ list for 2020, naming Costa Rica among the world’s top 10 countries to visit. Aside from its impressive and unrivaled biodiversity, the country’s commitment to environmental protection is what cinched the deal for the respected travel-guide publication. As the global tourism industry comes under increased scrutiny, eco-friendly destinations are swiftly becoming the most sought-after by travelers and it’s unsurprising that Lonely Planet names Costa Rica as the leading ‘pioneer’ in this regard. Sustainability is nowadays of the utmost importance within the travel sector, with people making very informed decisions about where they wish to spend their hard-earned travel money. Costa Rica, being the recognized birthplace of eco-tourism, is surely the most deserving of this nod.

costa rica

Here are just some of the fantastic reasons Costa Rica should be right at the top of YOUR vacation list for 2020.

  1. Costa Rica Is Insanely Easy To Get To

The ease of Costa Rica travel is undoubtedly a huge deal for many travelers – especially those with barely a week (or long weekend) of vacation time. Aside from the many direct flights connecting our sweet lil’ nation with the rest of the world, there’s the fact that Costa Rica’s two primary international airports, San Jose and Liberia, can get you within just a few hours’ drive of major highlights, maximizing the fun and minimizing time-sucking transfers. Should you happen to live close to one of the many US airports with non-stop flights to Costa Rica, you could leave home in the early morning and be catching waves, in the country’s resplendent Pacific coast, by lunchtime. And that’s just magic

Check out our Guide to Costa Rica Airports to have a better idea of how to plan your trip

sunset

 

  1. Costa Rica Is The Safest Country in Central America

Costa Rica usually rubs shoulders with Chile when it comes to competing for ‘safest’ hub in Latin America, yet when it comes to its own compact region (Central America) it reigns supreme. This is especially surprising given the sheer array of adrenaline activities most visitors partake in – although you may think that ‘safety’ only refers to crime, it actually encompasses everything that could cause harm, including traffic or adventure-sport accidents. The country’s political stability, relatively high quality of life (ibn its region) and impressive score on the Happy Planet Index, translate to a laid-back, friendly and safe destination to visit. Take precautions as far as your adventure-filled Costa Rica vacations are concerned and make sure you’re in the best hands possible when you visit.

Read our Safety Guide to Costa Rica to know where most dangers lie

waterfall

 

  1. Happy Locals = Happy Visitors

There’s no denying that happiness is contagious and the general contentment with life, in Costa Rica, is one of the country’s most enticing aspects. The warmth and friendliness of the locals are legendary (especially endearing for families with children) and that adds to the overall enjoyment of a visit. Widespread happiness in Costa Rica is attributed to several things but the main point is that locals feel listened to, for the most part, by their government. Impressive spending on health-care and education is achieved primarily because the country did away with its armed forces over 70 years ago, so it has a huge surplus to spend on citizen-based services (rather than a military) every year. Costa Rica also invests heavily in renewable energy – almost the entire electricity needs of the entire population are met exclusively with hydro, geothermal, solar and wind power. All of this makes Costa Rica one of the world’s most progressive regions and, despite the obvious level of poverty in even the most rural areas, is a huge source of pride among locals. Ticos love their country and their government’s commitment to protecting it and they showcase a huge desire to share their corner of paradise with visitors.

Isn’t that just delightful?!

parrots

 

  1. Tourism Plays a Direct Role in the Wellbeing of Costa Rica’s Inhabitants – It’s Wonderful to be Apart of That!

Tourism also plays a huge role in Costa Rica’s economy and it’s no wonder visitors are treated with so much graciousness. Alongside electronics and agriculture exports, tourism is the biggest earner in the country and it’s wonderful to know our tourist spending is funding such an admirable nation. It should be noted, however, that the tourism ‘glow’ is not felt equally, all over the country. Obviously, there are still many rural communities all over the country that see only a fraction of the tourist income that more prominent regions, like Arenal and Monteverde, receive. You can directly help the government bridge the gap, however, by actively choosing to take your adventure vacation in a lesser-visited but equally spellbinding region. We’ve helped plan many off-the-beaten-path Costa Rica vacations and usually find our guests to be completely blown away by the country’s hidden gems. Want to step off the gringo trail in Costa Rica? Let us know and we’ll make it so!

kayaking

 

  1. There is SO Much to See and Do in Costa Rica – You’d Need a Whole Lifetime to Tick All The Boxes

When all is said and done, Costa Rica’s single biggest enticement is its nearly infinite array of exceptional adventures. Here, you can swing from trees in pristine rain-forests brimming with toucans, sloths and monkeys. You can snorkel among unspoiled reefs teeming with tropical fish, hike along the base of semi-active volcanoes and explore bio-diverse reserves that look like they’re come straight out of a National Geographic documentary. You can meet an abundance of unique and curious wildlife, up close and personal, sometimes whilst having breakfast at some ridiculously charming eco-lodge immersed in a national park. And, more than anything, you can have bundles of fun in Costa Rica. The country’s most revered for its offering of adrenaline-packed adventures, so you can count zip-lining, rafting, kayaking, surfing, snorkeling, hiking, canyoning, mountain-biking and horseback riding among the very best things to do here. You can also enjoy a romantic active honeymoon, a fun-filled family reunion or simply come discover the country on your own. Many countries may claim to offer ‘something for everyone’ but we don’t know any that hit the spot like Costa Rica.

At Costa Rica Rios, we offer award-winning adventure tours and specialize in vacations for:

See all our Costa Rica Adventure Vacation packages and contact us for bespoke, tailor-made itineraries. If you want to experience the best adventure destination in the world with the best adventure company, just leave your question and contact details right at the bottom of this page

 

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Safety Guide for Costa Rica Adventures

Safety is usually a huge priority for anyone planning an adventure vacation in Costa Rica. And if it isn’t then it definitely should be. The country of a million adventure sports is an active traveler’s dream with such exciting activities as zip-lining, whitewater rafting, abseiling, horseback riding and mountain biking appearing on the daily itinerary of all adventure seekers heading our way. Yet as exciting as all this may be, it’s easy to often overlook the safety aspect of such endeavors.

waterfall

To this end, here are a few recommendations to help you plan your unforgettable (and safe!) adventure vacation in Costa Rica:

 

  1. Do Your Research Before…So You Don’t Have To Worry During Your Vacation

The main reason so many people overlook the safety aspect of adventure-filled vacation is because it’s a totally boring subject to contemplate, especially at a time when one is fantasizing about swinging between jungle treetops and rappelling down raging waterfalls. Yet although the chances of something going awry is minuscule, endeavoring to ensure your utmost safety before you even get on the plane means you need not worry about DURING your trip. This is what everyone should be aiming for: make safety a priority during the planning stage (ensuring you are able to actually partake in some extreme sports and choosing the right adventure travel company) and you need not question yourself during the trip.

 

  1. Choose An Adventure Company You Know You Can Trust. Once You Do, Listen To Them and TELL Them of Any Health Issues

The adventure travel company you choose should be well-renowned and boast an excellent safety record and plenty of client reviews. Once you’ve made your pick, trust them wholeheartedly. These are the guys that know best.

There are certain health issues that may prevent you from partaking in some of Costa Rica’s most coveted activities. You may not know what they are but your tour company definitely should, so disclose any issues you may have (including medication you may be taking) and let them guide you towards the right activities for you. Moreover, trust that your guides know their job and have your safety (and that of your travelling group) as their top priority, above and beyond anything else. Sometimes, they’ll ask you to wear specific shoes for certain activities or remover jewelry and leave your camera behind. Some activities have age restrictions. All of this is done purely for safety reasons so, please, listen to the recommendations of your guide and, even if you don’t understand the reasons behind certain restrictions, always follow them. By all means, do ask for explanations if you so wish and if you’re not in a situation of immediate danger (in which case follow directions first and ask questions later) as guides do appreciate explaining their safety protocols. The best agencies will have top-notch equipment of the highest standard and experienced and well-trained guides that know their chosen pocket of wilderness like the back of their hands. They’ll know to continually check the weather forecast and have contingency plans in place should anything negatively impact the day’s intended activity.

 

  1. Make Sure You’ve Had No Alcohol and Are Well Rested Before Attempting Any Outdoor Activity in Costa Rica

When having a blast in Costa Rica’s wilderness, it’s imperative that you – just like your guides – be at the top of your game and that means you should be well rested and not suffering under the influence of alcohol or drugs of any kind. You’d be surprised at just how uncoordinated you can be being only a little bit tired, let alone a little bit hungover. Your reaction times are delayed and your overall physical performance will suffer greatly if you aren’t feeling 100%. If in doubt, speak to your guide about what’s required of you on the day and take a rain check to rest instead. This way, your safety will never be compromised.

 

  1. Make Sure You Have Comprehensive Health Insurance That Covers All The Activities You Want To Do

No matter how many precautions you may take when travelling to Costa Rica, something can always happen and for that reason it is imperative you arrive with a fully comprehensive travel insurance policy to cover you for all eventualities. Should you suffer an injury during your adventure tour of Costa Rica (rare but not impossible), the last thing you’ll want to worry about is whether or not your travel insurance will cover all of your expenses. As we love to say: if you can’t afford insurance, you can’t afford to travel! Make sure your insurance policy will cover your intended activities specifically. Many standard travel policies will not cover for adventure sports, for example, so make sure you have a policy that does.

 

At Costa Rica Rios, we take your safety seriously and that’s part of the reason National Geographic voted us one of the Best Adventure Travel Companies (on Earth). We’ve been running fully-guided adventure tours in Costa Rica for over two decades, using world-class equipment and employing the best guides in the business. For your unparalleled safety and peace of mind, we are your safety guides for Costa Rica adventures. When only the best will do!

See our full collection of Costa Rica adventure vacations and contact us to know more.

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15 Amazing Things To Do in Arenal

Alrighty –  you’ve booked your Costa Rica adventure tour, you KNOW there’s no way you’re missing the Arenal Volcano National Park and now it’s just a matter of figuring out what to actually DO once you get there.

We’ve got you covered, thrill-seeker!

Here are 15 of the most amazing things to do in Arenal!

  1. Walk Over Ancient Lava Fields

Walking trails in and around the Arenal Volcano National Park abound, with choices for leisurely strolls and hard-core hikes suiting various levels of fitness. Out of all of these, the La Coladas Walking Trail is undoubtedly the most iconic and comprehensive because it meanders through large sections of the pristine rain-forest and guides you over fascinating cooled lava fields. The trail is moderately easy and takes merely an hour or so but it does reward you with the most unobstructed views of Arenal Volcano. If you’d love a longer walk then take La Coladas and extend it to join Los Tucanes Walking Trail (2.5hrs), which takes you deeper into the rain-forest, all the way to the Arenal Observatory Lodge. This trail offers even more chances of spotting birds and other wildlife, especially if crowds (and noise) are minimal.

volcano

 

  1. Swim Under The Overwhelming Spray of La Fortuna Waterfall

La Fortuna Waterfall is one of Arenal’s most celebrated sights and heading here with a picnic brunch and your swimmers is a great way to start your day. This has got to be the very best swim you can have in Costa Rica, especially on a blisteringly hot day. We offer a wonderful horseback ride to these waterfalls which adds a whole other element to the excursion – more on that at the end of the article.

waterfall

 

  1. Soar Like a Bird Above The Forest Canopy

Zip-lining and canopy walking over hanging bridges is the bees’ knees of Arenal and the one activity that’s offered in several places. Zipping at what feels like a million-miles-an-hour is the enticement for the fastest courses whilst slightly more demure options, that can be even more enjoyable, will also suit adventurous children. If it’s your first array into the adventure Costa Rica adventure vacation scene, do note that zip-lining, scary though it may seem, isn’t nearly as (arguably) daunting as rafting Class IV rapids and even canyoning, so it’s a great way to wet your adrenaline-feet in Costa Rica.

zip-lining

 

  1. Visit a Turquoise River & Waterfall Right Nearby

The Rio Celeste Waterfall is the fervently protected jewel in the crown of the Tenorio Volcano National Park, right next door to Arenal. A 2/3-hr hike in the park dishes up superb nature-infused adventures and although you cannot swim here, like you can at La Fortuna, the visual spectacle alone is utterly worth your while. Do note that the ethereal colour of the Rio Celeste is due to a very unique mix of minerals which means if you visit during rainy season, it will not seem as bright, since the strong current and rainfall will disturb the sediment on the riverbed. The park is about an hour’s drive out of La Fortuna.

waterfall

 

  1. Take a Paddle to Lake Arenal and Enjoy Magnificent Volcano Views

On a crystal-clear day in Arenal, you simply can’t paddle past Lake Arenal, provider of startling volcano views. Take a kayak or a SUP board and spend as much time as you like frolicking about. The lake itself is expansive so you can be out here for hours on end yet given the sheer array of other phenomenal things to do, we usually find that a 2-hour outing is plenty for most people.

volcano

 

  1. Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa

This place offers hands-down the best views of Arenal Volcano and boasts several hiking trails within its private reserve. The best part of the AOL is that although staying here is a bit of a dream, you don’t have to in order to hike here: just can pay the day-entry fee and off you go. The Observatory Lodge is revered for offering some of the best bird-watching trails in all of Arenal. This is also one of our favorite honeymoon sundowner spots in the country!

arena; observatory

 

  1. Soak In a Natural Thermal Pool

As you disembark your plane in Costa Rica and experience the at-times overwhelming heat and humidity, you’ll think everyone crazy for insisting you soak in a hot thermal pool in Arenal. But, trust everyone on this, it is one of the most exquisite experiences in the country. The volcanic region of Arenal boasts the best natural hot springs in Costa Rica in the country and, after a full-day out exploring, hiking, rafting and what-not, you will LOVE to soak your bones and muscles in the mineral-rich waters.  This is seriously the best way to end each and every day in Arenal. To this end, consider staying in one of Arenal’s best hot-spring hotels: having private pools all to yourself is an unforgettable treat!

pool

 

  1. Catch Your Heart In Your Throat on a Raging River

White-water rafting in Arenal dishes up gorgeous Class II rapids (perfect for families) as well as Class IV drops, the kind that’ll have your heart firmly in your throat the entire ride. We’re particularly fond of the Balsa River because it offers the best family-friendly rafting experience with relaxing-enough rapids that allow you to take it easy and really soak up the surrounding wilderness. Riverside wildlife spotting in remote areas is ideal because animals are a lot more prone to come out of the thick foliage when they’re away from roads and inhabited areas and that’s what makes a ‘slower and tamer’ rafting excursion all the more rewarding. Arenal and La Fortuna is only one of several world-class whitewater rafting destinations in Costa Rica.

rafting

 

  1. Boop Noses with Monkeys & Aid in Their Recovery

Very little compares to seeing monkeys, sloths, toucans and all other Costa Rican creatures in the wild (where they belong) yet the undeniable truth is that visiting one of Arenal’s wildlife refuges is a wonderful way to help local projects rescue and rehabilitate injured wildlife. Proyecto Asis is one such oasis and a place where you can volunteer a few hours of your day to help prep and feed for the menageries of animals that are living their best convalescence. Not only will you get to feed and boop noses with at-risk monkeys (the kids go bananas over this) but you’ll also fill your heart, knowing your entry fee contribution has gone to helping this amazing place. Read about 3 Brilliant Wildlife Refuges in Costa Rica.

squirrel monkey

 

  1. Get Your Chocolate Fix

Just between us, the chocolate feasting to be had in Arenal is probably reason enough to book a Costa Rica adventure vacation. After all, every endurance athlete knows that chocolate is the best refueling snack of them all! Given the wonderful organic chocolate produced in the region, you should probably go a little beyond a simple feast here: take an interactive chocolate workshop and you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at how chocolate is processed AND get to feast at the end. A win-win! Farm experiences are among the most eco-conscious activities you can partake in when visiting Costa Rica.

There are plenty of tours to choose from but we are kinda addicted to the Rainforest Chocolate Tour. Something about ‘eat all the chocolate you want’ suggestion at the end…

cacao

 

  1. Saddle Up, Cowboys and Girls!

Horseback riding is very much part of Tico culture so, rather than being a ‘tourist gimmick’ created specifically for foreigners, it can be considered an authentic cultural experience. Aside from simply swapping your motorized (or foot-drawn) transport for a 4-hoofed beast (like at La Fortuna Waterfall) you can also take sensational tours through remote trails. You can ride your steed to the Rio Celeste, you can combine a half-ride, half-whatever else you fancy (like zip-lining, whitewater rafting and hot-springs) or take a whole day out on a customized itinerary that is perfect for experienced riders. If you’re a particularly avid and experienced rider, you can also ask us about multi-day horse treks, among the most unique and exceptional activities to do in all of Costa Rica, not only Arenal.

horseback riding

 

  1. Take a Cooking Class

There’s no better way to eat like a local in Arenal than by learning to cook like one. Authentic cooking classes are very popular here and we’re finding more and more guests want to include a half-day immersive class to really get the comprehensive Tico experience here. There are a ton of hands-on culinary options here, including tortilla-making, chocolate workshops and everything from traditional appetizer to 3-course-meal creations. The great thing about Costa Rica cooking classes and that they showcase the most organic produce grown locally so you get an insight into the health-giving properties of the food, the culinary culture of the county and end up feasting your tastebuds like nothing else!

Check out these four totally unique cooking classes in Costa Rica.

ceviche

 

  1. Go Canyoneering For a Day…and DO.IT.ALL.

Can’t decide which of the amazing Arenal adventure activities you want to do? How about doing them ALL?! A full-day canyoneering excursion in Arenal will get your heart pumping like nothing else and, as long as you can manage to take your eyes off the stunning canyon, you’ll also soak up outstanding landscape views. The ultimate adrenaline-junkie fix, canyoning combines hiking, rappelling, cliff jumping and even some rock scrambling to create a 4-in-1 adventure sport that is out of this world. Much like the rafting choices, canyoning options are also numerous so you can all Rambo on extreme tours, or opt for a beginner’s course, depending on your skill levels and thrill-addiction.

canyoning

 

  1. Enjoy a Relaxing Swim and Rope-Jump, FREE OF CHARGE!

Sometimes, even an adventure-filled vacation needs to include a little down-time but rest assured that in a place like Costa Rica, that ALWAYS comes with some kind of action. Just a 15-min walk out of La Fortuna Town is where you’ll find Salto, a glorious section of river you can access free of charge. Locals head here to freshen up and rope-swing on a hot day and it makes for a beautiful way to pass a few relaxing hours. It Isn’t quite as magical an experience as swimming under the La Fortuna waterfall but hey, it’s convenient and free of charge so what’s not to love about that? Plus, you can go totally lazy-bum for the afternoon and take a taxi out here (all the drivers know it). Simply nominate a pick-up time (1.5hrs should be enough) and you don’t even have to walk. A great ‘last day in Arenal’ activity! Just a word of caution, though, as this stretch of river is set in a canyon: do not head here if it is or has been raining and, if it starts to rain, leave immediately, as the river level can rise incredibly fast. Just use common sense and enjoy.

tropical rainforest

 

  1. Take a 4X4 Tour to El Castillo (and stay the night)

El Castillo is one of the quaintest villages in the Arenal region but often gets overlooked because you need a 4WD to reach it. For those willing to go that extra mile, though, the experience is very rewarding and is a stunning way to get well off the tourist trail (and away from the crowds). A handful of beautiful eco-lodges means you can head up here (only 11 miles away from La Fortuna) for a couple of days if you wish, and explore this lesser-known area. A butterfly conservatory and ‘eco-zoo’, where you’ll find a great collection of amphibians and reptiles, provide plenty of distraction if you don’t want to tackle any of the (many) hikes on offer. The best reason to come to El Castillo, however, is that the charming town offers arguably the most jaw-dropping and unobstructed views of Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal.

volcano

 

Here at Costa Rica Rios, we offer an amazing array of adventure sin Arenal, all of which can be customized and tailor-made to suit your wishes. Check out the best Arenal Activities we have on offer and the wonderful Arenal Hotels we recommend staying in – various options means budget travelers, families and honeymooners will also find something to suit them.

Contact us to know more.

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What to Do With Kids on Family Vacations in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica rates among the world’s best family vacation destinations and that’s because this country is bursting at the seams with an array of outdoor pursuits that enthrall kids and adults alike. Families love holidaying here and that’s hardly surprising when you consider the inherent love of children and family-life the Tico culture boasts. Unlike other destinations that place an emphasis on separating adult-fun and children-fun, Costa Rica brings it all together, offering immersive and rewarding experiences to families who actually love spending time together and sharing unforgettable memories.

So why not plan a family adventure vacation with a difference for 2019?

Come and see what magical adventures await you all in wonderful Costa Rica.

 

Wildlife & Wilderness in Costa Rica

What makes Costa Rica so ideal for family vacations is the fact that parents don’t really need to do too much to entertain the kids: the country’s wildlife-enriched wilderness does a great job of grabbing everybody’s attention. A nature lover’s dream, this compact country is enriched with a host of eco-tourism projects that offer educational and totally fun activities for kids of all ages. In Costa Rica, kids learn about the importance of environmental protection by discovering rare and endangered species, by walking on hanging bridges in virgin forests and by exploring national parks full of creatures, sounds and smells. You’ll be amazed how fascinated children can be in unspoiled nature and even if you think your child is not the nature-lover you’d hoped he/she would be, just wait until you see them here, locking eyes with a sloth, spotting colorful toucans and giggling at the piercing call of howler monkeys. Jungle experiences are the #1 attraction for families visiting Costa Rica and rest assured that there are plenty of eco-lodges that offer comfortable stays for even the most creepy-crawly-phobic child (or parent). See our selection of the Best National Parks in Costa Rica that make for superb family vacations.

kids

 

Family-friendly Hiking Trails in Costa Rica

Families heading to Costa Rica for the first time can be anxious about the country’s extensive maze of hiking trails, thinking that the options for young families are limited. Not so! The most popular destinations, in fact, are tailor-made for family vacations, offering a wide array of options for parents with young kids in tow. Visiting Manuel Antonio and La Paz Waterfall Gardens to enjoying leisurely walks is a no-brainer for first-time visitors, especially those with very young kids or those who don’t normally hike very much in the great outdoors. If your family is a bit more adventurous and used to hiking then the whole country really is your oyster: Costa Rica boasts a multitude of hikes to waterfalls, mountain peaks, temperate and cloud forests, as well as endless miles of glorious beaches that can be walked for hours on end. You can read more about our favorite family vacation hiking trails.

 

Family-Friendly Resorts in Costa Rica

Family-centered resorts are very popular here, especially along the north-western Pacific coastline, where you’ll find a bevy of excellent choices along some of the most celebrated beaches in the country. Yet if you’re looking for some quality time away from the maddening distractions of everyday life, then you might want to look into some of Costa Rica’s most unplugged eco-tourism lodges instead, where jungle activities, surfing, swimming, snorkeling and night wildlife-watching tours ensure the kids not even notice the Wi-Fi is missing. Read more about some truly special Family-friendly Resorts in Costa Rica.

kids

 

The Best Amusement Parks in Costa Rica

It may surprise you to learn that Costa Rica isn’t replete with amusement parks and that’s because the whole country is considered a nature-filled family playground – the need for dedicated play parks is not as pronounced here as in other countries. Nevertheless, there are a few great options if you have children of varying ages and just wish to treat them to a different kind of day out. Costa Rica’s best amusement parks are much more organic and less commercial than those back home and most visitors love them precisely for this reason. In Costa Rica, kids can slide down thrilling water rides created with thermal springs, fly through tree-tops in pristine tropical rain-forests and even indulge in a multi-sport adventure outing where horseback riding, zip-lining and kayaking provide all the thrills.

 

Mountain Biking Adventures

If exploring mountainous wilderness on two wheels is your family’s idea of a great vacation, then you’ll be excited to know that Costa Rica is traversed by hundreds of miles of exceptional mountain biking trails and is considered one of the world’s prime destinations for bikers. The country’s diversity means that no matter what time of year you visit, you’ll find one region at its absolute prime: perfect temps to hit the trails, a kaleidoscope of destinations and fantastic scenery, no matter where you go. Obviously, mountain biking adventures in Costa Rica are primarily suited to families who bike together regularly although there are plenty of short and sweet trails if your kids are just starting off and you’d like to test the waters. We offer tailor-made mountain-biking itineraries that will ensure your family has a fantastic, safe and unforgettable time.

 

Family Multi-Adventure Tours

At Costa Rica Rios, we combine everything that makes this incredible country so ideal for families and create multi-adventure vacations that captivate the hearts and souls of young and young-at-heart alike. Our most popular tours combine whitewater rafting, canopy zip-line, horseback riding, hiking, hot spring soaking, surfing and wildlife-watching in a week (or more) of exceptionally fun adventures. We offer soft adventures for families with younger kids and more active experiences for those with fearless teenagers on their hands. We can take you to the most popular sites if it’s your first visit or more remote locations if you crave an off-the-beaten-trail journey. Our adventure tours are not only fun and varied but they’re also safe, affordable and planned to suit your needs. We take the hassle of planning every detail of your adventure vacation in Costa Rica so you can rest easy, knowing your vacation, and your family, are in capable and experienced hands.

Above all, we combine the best aspects of Costa Rica’s nature and culture to offer truly immersive experiences – these are the family adventure vacations no family will readily forget.

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Flying to Costa Rica Airports – Your Guide to Hassle-Free Travels

You know that Costa Rica is one of the most popular travel destinations for North Americans; you know flights times are short, transfers swift and the sheer easiness of travel here inducive to relaxing and invigorating vacations. That doesn’t mean that figuring out where in Costa Rica you should be flying to, is a piece of cake. Don’t stress! We take all the hassle out of your Costa Rica vacation planning with this comprehensive airport guide, aimed at helping you navigate the many options for flights to Costa Rica and all the logistical issues you’ll be facing.

Whether it’s your first time abroad or you’re an old-hat at this jetting-about business, we hope you’ll find this guide helpful.

Costa Rica’s International Airports – The Main Entry Points

Costa Rica boasts several airports, most of which only operate domestic flights: super convenient if you wish to visit many regions in a short amount of time, once you set foot in the country. The two main entry points if hailing from abroad, however, are the San Jose International Airport (in the Central Valley), and the Liberia International Airport, in the northwest.

airport

San Jose International Airport (or Juan Santamaria Airport – code SJO) – Nearby the capital of San Jose, Costa Rica’s largest and busiest hub is the primary entry point into the country for most visitors. It services the Central Valley and the entire southern region of Costa Rica, as well as the eastern Caribbean coast. If you’re heading to the Central Pacific region and want to visit the most famous hubs of all, like Manuel Antonio, Arenal, Monteverde, the Osa Peninsula and the Limon Province, San Jose’s main airport is by far your best choice.

Multi-adventure vacations with itineraries that include several destinations are best started from the capital – there isn’t a corner of the country that can’t be reached from here and, besides that, 99% of all the domestic flights to more remote regions also originate here, so you’ll undoubtedly be ‘passing through’ San Jose at some point during your journey.

Where: The Airport is in the town of Alajuela, about a 20-min drive from downtown San Jose

Best for: the central and southern regions of Costa Rica, including the remote Osa Peninsula, the amazing Tortuguero National Park and the Limon Province on the eastern Caribbean coastline, as well as the eastern and southern coasts of the Nicoya Peninsula

What: The second most prominent airport in all of Central America, SJO is well set out, with plenty of shopping and dining options and servicing the highest number of both international and domestic flights in the country

airport

The Rincon de la Vieja National Park is in the far north of Costa Rica, best reached by flying into Liberia

Liberia International Airport (Daniel Oduber Quiros Airport – code LIR) – The Liberia International Airport is perfect if your itinerary primarily consists of beach-bumming in stunning Guanacaste or exploring the western coast of the Nicoya Peninsula. This is the preferred airport of return visitors who may have already seen and done the country’s most famous hubs and now wish to mainly explore the north.

You can still get to Monteverde and Arenal from here, of course, considering the central region of Costa Rica is compact and road-travel here relatively easy. Moreover, there is a lot less traffic congestion out of Liberia so although distances are about equal, it usually takes less time to reach these famous hubs from Liberia. The main downside is that domestic flights originating from here are limited so if you want to travel far and wide, you will have to head to San Jose.

Where: The town of Liberia is much smaller than San Jose so your accommodation options in town aren’t nearly as extensive. Whilst you’d find plenty to see and do on a 2-day layover of San Jose, Liberia isn’t a town you’ll want to spend too much time exploring. The airport’s proximity to the coast, however, means you can reach your chosen Guanacaste destination in no time at all.

Best for: The north-western coast of Guanacaste is resplendent and much less visited and, to discover this phenomenal stretch of coast, the Liberia Airport is ideal. This is also true if you wish to explore the western highlights of the Nicoya Peninsula, namely the beaches around Flamingo, Tamarindo and Nosara.

What: Liberia is a much smaller airport than San Jose and although its recent upgrade did include a fair amount of shopping and dining options, it still doesn’t offer as much as the capital’s main hub. And that’s ok: most people simply wish to check in and out of the country with minimal fuss and, in this case, the Liberia Airport is even more convenient.

airport

Flying to Costa Rica From Nicaragua or Panama?

If you’re planning a multi-country jaunt through Central America and flying to Costa Rica from Nicaragua or Panama, you may fly into San Jose’s Tobías Bolaños International Airport (code SYQ), which is nearby its main international airport. It mostly services only domestic flights but does offer connections to Panama and Nicaragua, so don’t be alarmed if you’re booking flights and notice an airport name you don’t recognize. It’s likely to be this one.

Which Airport is Cheaper?

Traditionally, it was always more expensive to fly into the Liberia airport – however, given the extensive upgrade in recent years and the rise in the airport’s standing, there are now some fantastic deals to be scored, due to sheer volume of passengers and flights. By and large, San Jose still offers the best-value flights into Costa Rica yet the disparity has now become so minimal that the choice really only comes down to convenience. San Jose is actually a lovely city that’s worth a look but many return visitors are happy to skip the big metropolis and head straight to the beach or, alternatively, squeeze every moment of ‘fun in the sun’ in Guanacaste at the end of their trip, and fly home from Liberia.

So, Does It Really Matter Where You Fly To?

Yes, it does: choose the wrong airport and you could easily waste an entire day of your vacation (if not two) and, if that time could be better spent sipping cocktails overlooking a dreamy beach, you’ll be kicking yourself. More importantly, it pays to plan the wisely, in a way that allows for no backtracking and the shortest transfer times of all on both arrival and departure day.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • If you’re planning a whirlwind itinerary, note that you don’t need to fly in and out of the same airport. You could, for example, fly into SJO, spend a week meandering towards the north and then fly out of LIR. This is, by far, the most popular option to squeeze the most out of your itinerary
  • Don’t be fooled by Goggle Map driving-time suggestions as the app doesn’t take into account real-time traffic (especially around major hubs) and road conditions. It takes longer to cover distances here than back home so when Google suggests it would take two hours to get from A to B in Costa Rica, do trust that will most likely take four. This is why choosing the right airport for arrival and/or departure is quite important

Are There Any Non-Stop Flights to Costa Rica?

Yes, plenty – not only from the USA but also from Europe. Here’s a list of the most popular cities offering non-stop flights into Costa Rica:

From the USA

  • New York
  • Miami
  • Los Angeles
  • Houston
  • Atlanta
  • Fort Lauderdale
  • Orlando
  • Denver

From Latin America

  • Mexico City
  • Bogota
  • Lima
  • Panama City

From Canada

  • Toronto
  • Montreal

From Europe

  • London
  • Madrid

NB: this list is far from exhaustive as airlines are continuously adding more non-stop flights to Costa Rica due to increasing demand. Moreover, do note that the number of direct flights (with a short stop along the way) connect the country with at least 50 destinations, worldwide.

What About Domestic Flights in Costa Rica?

Travel to Costa Rica to visit the Osa Peninsula during the wet season and the only way you’ll reach it is via a short domestic flight. Domestic flights in Costa Rica are a godsend if you want to travel far in a short period of time or if you’re travelling outside the dry season and face some road travel disruptions. The most popular domestic connections, therefore, are those that will get you to the remotest hubs which would likely take you an entire day to reach by road from San Jose.

They are:

Tortuguero Airport – The easiest way to reach the remote turtle haven of Tortuguero, on the north-eastern Caribbean coast, is to fly there directly

Drake Bay Airport – For access to the remote and unspoiled north-western corner of the Osa Peninsula

Nosara Airport – Waste no time reaching the breathtaking beaches of the northern Nicoya Peninsula by flying directly into Nosara

Puerto Jimenez – The springboard for trips to Corcovado National Park, in the Osa Peninsula, Puerto Jimenez sits on the border of the Golfo Dulce Nature Reserve

Liberia – Unsurprisingly, the most popular domestic flights in the country are between the capital and the Liberia Airport

Insider Tip: domestic flights in Costa Rica restrict the amount of luggage you can take so you must have all your flights organised before you leave home, to ensure you don’t pack more than you can take on board. This is especially crucial if you’re planning a one-way itinerary between San Jose and Liberia and must take all your luggage along on any side-trip.

 

When is The Cheapest Time to Fly to Costa Rica?

Travelling outside of the high tourist season (June to August and December to March) has many benefits, cheaper flights among the most coveted. Visiting Costa Rica during the Green Season, as it’s known in these parts, offers some of the best value-for-money experiences around: not only will you save on flights but also accommodation, activities and organised tours. You’ll also enjoy the most famous highlights with fewer tourists for company and, even though it is true that some activities/roads/hiking routes will not be accessible due to flooding, there will still be SO much you can see and do.

Here are our Top 10 Reasons to Visit Costa Rica in the Rian Season

Traditionally, the cheapest month to fly to Costa Rica is September.

Need Some help?

That’s why we’re here! At Costa Rica Rios, we’ll help you plan the Adventure Vacation of a lifetime, from beginning to end. That’s why National Geographic Adventure named us one of the World’s Best Travel Adventure Companies on Earth. Contact us, at any time, to start planning your trip.

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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.

peninsulas

 

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.

peninsulas

 

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.

peninsulas

 

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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