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15 reasons to put Costa Rica at the top of your travel list

hace 2 años

You have had a long year. It is time to get back out there (safely, of course)

After a year or more of being largely housebound, when we finally come out on the other side, our “first trip” out of the country will feel extra special, a celebratory antidote to the sadness and the many, many months spent chilling at home.

But where to go? To a beach? A city? A rainforest? A cultural hotspot? There are so many possibilities, and Costa Rica offers them all. With miles upon miles of untouched tropical rainforests, endless strips of stunning beaches, an abundance of wildlife and waterfalls, cultural hubs scattered throughout the country, incredibly fresh and local food, and more. The land of “pura vida”—which translates to “the pure life”—truly has something for everyone. What is more, the country is also completely dedicated to sustainability.

Here, 15 reasons why you will not regret making Costa Rica your first trip after a very travel-less and oh-so-trying year. (Bonus: All the companies mentioned are, in fact, certified in sustainability!) 

  1. Because you can leave 2020 behind you (both physically and metaphorically) as you zipline through the jungle in the Osa Peninsula.

Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula is one of the most wild, undisturbed regions in the whole country, which means that ziplining through it is always epic. But after the past year, that soaring sense of freedom as you watch the world whiz by below you will make you feel more alive than ever before. 

  1. The country’s beautiful beaches will soothe your restless, tired soul, from Playa Grande…

Located in Guanacaste, a province in the northwestern part of the country known for its sunny beaches, calm waves, and generally dry weather, Playa Grande is arguably one of the most popular beaches. Surfers especially dig it for its just-right waves, wide stretch of sand, and bonkers sunsets. (Bonus: Playa Grande is located between a National Park: Marino Las Baulas National Park.)

  1. ...to Playa Dominical...

While many beach bums tend to head to Guanacaste for the forever sunshine and classic surf town vibes, Dominical is much less developed and a bit sleepier—perfect for those who prefer to go off the beaten path. Playa Dominical has more of a wild jungle feel than those in more touristy zones, and bonus: You will get a taste of more local life, too. 

  1. ...to Playa Manzanillo.

Like Dominical, the Caribbean side of Costa Rica (where Manzanillo is located) is also a bit sleepier than other more developed parts of the country. The area has a heavy Caribbean influence you will recognize in the food, which often features ingredients more common in those nations, like coconut milk, ginger and chili pepper. Manzanillo Beach, in the province of Limón, is surrounded by mangroves and has a great restaurant and bar where you can fill up on fresh seafood and get a taste for local life.  

  1. You can even learn to surf in Nosara (so you can ride the waves into a brighter future).

Of course, you can surf all over Costa Rica. Originally known as the Costa Rica Surfing Chicas, Del Mar Surf Camp in Nosara was the first surf camp in the country to be run by a Costa Rican woman and it continues to employ locals to support the surrounding community.

  1. You can pamper yourself in the hotsprings at the base of Arenal Volcano.

You know how you missed all those massages and facials during quarantine. Make up for lost time at Tabacón. Rejuvenate your soul and mind with dips into the various natural hot spring baths and swimming pools, all fed by healing water from the surrounding volcanic land by Arenal Volcano. Make sure to book one (or ten!) of their luxury spa treatments, too. It was a YEAR, and your cooped-up body will thank you. 

    7. Get your adrenaline rush on the Río Negro in Guanacaste.

The Río Negro is one of Costa Rica’s most scenic rivers, and this day trip leads you in and around it in all the best ways, with a zip line tour, a tubing adventure, a horseback riding session, and, lastly, a dip and steam in the surrounding thermal waters and mud baths to soothe your muscles after an action-packed day. 

    8. Get Zen at a forest therapy session.

While forest bathing—the art of absorbing a forest atmosphere—originated in Japan, it has grown quite a following in Costa Rica as well, only here it takes place in a rainforest. Sensoria encourages you to think of your forest bathing journey as an “invitation” to awaken your senses as you take in the sounds and scents of the jungle. The best part? Getting in tune with your emotions in such a serene setting may help you reflect on recent challenges in a way that was more difficult to do when you were still in them. 

    9. For an even more local experience, you can enjoy the typical Costa Rican Gastronomy

Make sure to order patacones and chifrijo, one of the most traditional Costa Rican dishes. Chifrijo is a bowl of rice and beans topped with fried pork rinds and lime juice, and it is served with patacones—sometimes called tostones—which are fried plantains. Other local dishes to try: casado (a combo platter with a mix of meat, rice, black beans, vegetables, and plantains), and tres leches (a vanilla sponge cake). 

    10. And fresh smoothies on the beach or in the rainforest are always a recipe for happiness, too.

Costa Rica is brimming with delicious tropical fruits, from star fruits to mango to guava to papaya to soursop. Your mission: Find a nearby smoothie stand (they’re everywhere) and prepare to taste the fresh tropical magic. 

    11. A unique experience in Tamarindo...

Like Nosara, Tamarindo is another classic Costa Rican surf town, known for its wide stretch of beach and fantastic sunrises and sunsets. Tamarindo is beach town with a great gastronomic offer, fun and it´s strategically located close to pristine beaches for a one-day tour. To close a wonderful day, nothing better than a sunset on a catamaran to enjoy the beach at its fullest.

    12. Wake up in the rainforest to the sound of howler monkeys at the Osa Peninsula.

There is nothing quite like waking up in the thick of the rainforest at the south pacific coast of Costa Rica. You can find many lodgings with villas and bungalows with private balconies nestled within the trees—some with private plunge pools! You can walk out your door with your morning cup of coffee and listen to the sounds of howler monkeys and tropical birds and insects buzzing all around you. The forest and turquoise ocean views are breathtaking. 

    13. Wake up in a cloud at Bajos Del Toro.

Waking up here means you can cross “visit Cloud 9” off your bucket list. Bajos del toro is located high up in the trees of the cloud forest reserve, a tiny rural town in the middle of the country, two hours north of San José by car. This area has incredible views of the surrounding misty mountains and provides a serene atmosphere of utter seclusion. Waterfalls, trails, and the best part: a cloud forest just two hours’ drive from San Jose.

    14. Perhaps most important of all, though, you can finally take a deep breath and relax after such a stressful period…

    15. Because you are in the land of “pura vida,” and all is always good in your life.

Written by Time Out. Paid for by Essential Costa Rica

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