December 9th, 2008 |    coralhill

Costa Rica has something for everyone. Some of the best that Costa Rica has to offer are it’s natural environments, beaches, adventure trips, day hikes and nature walks, bird-watching , family destinations. Luxury hotels and resorts, eco lodges & wilderness resorts, bed & breakfasts & small inns, great restaurants and night life.

Split into different sections there is the valley of which San Jose is a part, the Guanacaste & Nicoya Peninsula, the Northern Zone, the Central Pacific, The Southern Zone of Osa Peninsula, the southern Caribbean and northern Caribbean.

The best nature has to offer are the Nation Parks and Wildlife Reserves and rivers.

There are the Rincon de la Vieja National Park in the Northeast Guanacaste Section, with it’s 1,848m (6,061 Ft) Rincon de la Veja Volcano. It has many thermal geysers, vents and fumaroles, rugged waterfalls and swimming holes. It can be best reached by the city of Liberia.

To the East of Rincon is the Santa Rosa National Park know for it’s remote pristine beaches, best reached by the city of La Cruz. This section of the Pacific Coast has miles of white sandy beaches, Playa Naranjo, Playa Nancite, Playa Blanca and Playa Junquillal. Along with world renowned sport fishing of Bolanos Bay.

To the south on the Nicoya Peninsula is the Golfo to Papagayo and its many first class Luxury resorts, along with miles of beaches such as Playas, Hemosa, Panama, and Culebra. To the south of that are, Playa del Coco, and Playa Ocotal, with it’s many resorts and great sport fishing. Going down the coast you will arrive in Playas Flamingo, Potero, Brasilito and Conchal. All located about a 180 miles north west of San Jose and about 40 miles west of Liberia. These beaches are very popular vacation home spots for North Americans and Europeans.

Among the many beaches along the Pacific Coast of the peninsula, are Playa Tamarindo in the central part of the coast. It is a very popular resort town and a great spot to try out serious port fishing. To the very south are Playa Nosara and Playa Samara. They make up the southern part of the Nicoya Peninsula. When not at the beach some of the many fun things available are Fishing Charters, Horseback Riding, Kayak Tours and Bird & Sea Turtle Watching. Away from the beaches visit Barra Honda national Park, There is an extensive system of caves. The park is also great for hiking and bird-watching. Of to the west and south are Playa Tambor and the Curu Wildlife refuge. At the very tip of the peninsula visit Playa Montezuma which has a great waterfall just 1 mile outside the village. From there head to the great surfing beaches of Mailpais /Santa Teresa. You can also dive and snorkel here and enjoy some great hikes and horseback riding.

The Northern Zone of Costa Rica has some of the worlds best Mountain lakes, Cloud Forests and quite a few volcanoes. Arenal Volcano is constantly active and on a clear day and night you can see smoke and fire. There are many resorts and lodges surrounding the volcano and many have their own hot springs pools. The city of Fortuna has many lodging and restaurants. From La Fortuna you can drive to or hike to a viewing area and then if you want hike right to the falls. Just up the road from Arenal Volcano is Lake Arenal, a large (34sqmiles) man made mountain lake the largest lake in Costa Rica that is world renowned for wind surfing as it can often have winds of 60 knots or greater. . From the Arenal area, there are many white water rafting companies that can take you on half day to week long river trips. Along the way from the Pacific coast to either Monteverde rain forest or Arenal Volcano stop by and visit the La Paz Waterfall Gardens.

Between La Paz Waterfall Gardens and Arenal Volcano is Monteverde Biological Cloud Forest Preserve, Costa Rica’s most popular tourist destination. The constant level of moisture seen here and on many of Costa Rica’s Mountain tops give rise to an incredibly diverse life forms and a forest in which nearly every inch of space has some sort of plant growing. It is one of the very few places you can observe the elusive Quetzal. A bird revered by the natives of the Americas. While there try the skywalk, or a Canopy tour or horseback riding. There are also a Butterfly Garden, a Serpentarium, a frog pond and an orchid garden.

While on the Pacific coast you can travel across the southern Nicoya Peninsula and across the Golfo de Nicoya to Puntarenas. From here the coastal road south is mostly paved and is lined with some of Costa Rica’s most famed and visited beach and national park areas. The great surf beaches of Playa Herradura, Play de Jaco and Playa Hermosa are all next to each other. They are world famous for their surfing and are the closest beaches to San Jose. About an hour south is the cit of Quepos, it is the support town for Manuel Antonio National. It is full of Monkeys lots of monkeys, pizotes and deer. Just out side the park are numerous lookouts and many hotels and restaurants along with a large variety of adventure tours and ATV tours. There are uninhabited islands just off the coast and beautiful white crescent beaches.

About 26 miles south of Manuel Antonio is Dominical. It can be reached by the beach road or by going inland from Quepos then south to San Isidro. Dominical, once a pristine village of sugar white sandy beaches has become one of the fastest growing developments on the southern Pacific coast. It used to be one of the best kept secrets to find a deserted beach. The village is right on the banks of the Rio Baru as it empties into the Pacific. It s a great place for bird watching. Going inland from Dominical you can visit Santo Cristo Waterfalls a two-tiered waterfall with an excellent swimming hole, or the Diamante Waterfalls, a three-tiered falls with an inviting pool. If you head south from Dominical, you can still find some very beautiful, undeveloped and deserted beaches. They are disappearing fast Head south from Dominical and soon you will see Playa Hemosa a long stretch of desolate beach with fine sand. Along the way south stop the village of Uvita, and visit the Ballena Marine National Park it stretches south to Playa Pinuela and includes the Isla Ballena just off shore. The beaches here are well protected and great for swimming.

From you head to the Osa peninsula and the southern most part of Costa Rica. The northern part is Drakes Bay, It is a great place to get away from it all, there are few phones and no power lines. This is what adventure travel is all about. The road is often muddy so getting around is not easy. There are many lodgings from cabins to luxury resorts. Stretching south of Drakes Bay are miles and miles of deserted beaches and the deserted and remote Osa Peninsula down to Corcovado National Park a wet remote area, best explored over several days. The weather makes it difficult at times to go very far or do much, but t s pristine, untouched and beautiful. Many rivers empty onto the many beaches. Some of which break up into the jungle. You can find more conventional accommodation and things to do on the Golfo Dulce, along with the city of Golfito. From Golfito you can travel south to Panama, stopping at Playas Zancudo and Pavones.

After seeing all of the above in Costa Rica you will need to come to the unique and beautiful Caribbean Coast. From the northern part of Tortuguero National Park and the Barra del Colorado National Wildlife Refuge. These are among Costa Rica’s most popular destinations for adventure travel and ecotravelers alike. It is one of the worlds best sea turtle nesting areas. It is inaccessible other than by boat form Moin or by airplane to Barra del Colorado Airport or Tortuguero Airport. There are no roads in the area. Barra del Colorado is an isolated little town, that supports a diverse population f Afro-Caribbean and Miskito Indian residents, Nicaraguans and transient commercial fisherman. It is world renowned for its Tarpon and snook fishing. World record Tarpon are caught here . It is hot and humid here and rains a lot.

The Tortuguero National Park is connected to Limon, the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica’s only port city, by a series of rivers and canals that serve as the only means of transportation for the area. This aquatic highway is surrounded b a thick rainforest that is teeming with Howler and spider monkeys, three-toed sloths, toucans, and great green Macaws. A trip up the canals is a little bit like cruising up the Amazon on a very small scale. Four different kinds of Sea Turtle nes in the area, the green turtle, hawksbill, loggerhead and the giant leatherback. The prime nesting period is from July to mid-October, with August and September being the prime months.

When arriving o the Caribbean coast to either explore the Tortuguero National Park or to go south to Cahuita National Park and south to the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife refuge, it is necessary to pass through Limon. It is just off shore form here that Christopher Columbus anchored in 1502. He felt it was a potentially very rich land and named it Costa Rica (Rich Coast). It is the best port on the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica and is from here that the first Bananas were shipped to North America. It is a fairly rough port city and a very busy port moving container ships of imports and exports from throughout Costa Rica and Panama. It is a port of call for Cruise ships and throughout the winter months experiences 4-5 cruise ships calls a week. It is not know as a tourist destination, but a gateway to the Tortuguero National park and the beaches of Cahuita, Puerto Viejo , Punta Uva and Manzanillo.

To the south of Limon is Cahuita, noted for Cahuita National Park and it’s beautiful white sandy beaches. The village boasts a variety of restaurants that include Tico fare, afro-Caribbean and international cuisines. The village traces it’s roots to Afro-Caribbean fishermen who settled this region in the mid-1800’s as a place to live and grow their foods while turtle hunting along the coast. The population is still mostly English speaking blacks whose culture and language set them distinctly apart from other Costa Ricans.. People come to Cahuita for the beaches, both north and south of the village. To the north are Playa Negra with it’s black sandy beach and Playa Grande, miles of unspoiled undeveloped beach. To the south is Playa Blanca which is the National park with the forest behind and the coral reef off shore. A great snorkeling spot. The National Park is teeming with wildlife, has an easy to traverse hiking path, that goes along the shore. There are many Cabinas and bed & breakfasts in town. Here you can horseback ride on the beach, snorkel, go fishing, ocean kayaking and surfing. After dark visit Coco or Ricky’s bars and enjoy the sounds of Calypso and Raggeaton.

To the south of Cahuita is Puerto Viejo, a surfers paradise with a lively atmosphere. Surfers come here from around the world to ride it’s Salsa Brava wave. There are many good swimming beaches and plenty of vacation options. The town abounds with good restaurants and many lodges, Bed & Breakfast and beach side cottages and Cabinas. It is often a stop off on the way to Bocas del Toros in Panama. Just to the south of Puerto Viejo are the beaches of Playa Cocles, Play Uva and Playa Manzanillo, all with white sandy beaches and warm waters. The road ends at Manzanillo. This is the end of the line of Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast. From this point a national wildlife reserve stretches all the way to Panama.

As you can see Costa Rica has something to offer to everyone. Come give us a try, see what paradise has to offer.