Located in Central America, Costa Rica (Rich Coast, in English) has become a popular destination among American and European tourists. Renowned for being the greenest country in the world, Costa Rica houses amazing wildlife and extremely diversified landscapes (volcanoes, highlands, beaches, etc.). This map of Costa Rica will give you an idea of this long and narrow country that is bordered both by the Pacific and Caribbean Oceans.
With coastlines on the Pacific and Caribbean sides, Costa Rica welcomes 1.5 million visitors each year, most of them coming to enjoy the beauty of nature in a well-preserved environment. Indeed, 25% of the country consists of protected areas, which makes it the perfect destination for ecotourism.
As for the weather in Costa Rica, you should know that temperatures vary according to the location. The best season to visit the country is probably the dry season (December-April) which is also the peak season. However, visiting Costa Rica during the rainy season can be a good way to avoid tourists and find cheaper accommodation.
Here is an overview of the main destinations you can travel to while visiting Costa Rica:
- San Jose, Capital of Costa Rica – San Jose is one of the top destinations. Even if most people just pass through the city on their way to the Costa Rican rainforests, you should take the time to stop by. Indeed, San Jose is a great city to enjoy Latin culture: you can either experience Latin nightlife by partying with Ticos (the Spanish nickname for Costa Ricans) in the famous El Barrio or look at the colonial architecture in the Barrio Amón. Make sure to try the national dish called Gallo Pinto (fried rice with black beans) and have a real Costa Rican café con leche (coffee with milk).
- Heredia – Heredia is one of the most beautiful provinces in Costa Rica. If you enjoy wild nature, Heredia is definitely the place to be. Renowned for its volcanoes and tropical forests, it houses the Barva Volcano which is one of the few Costa Rican volcanoes you can climb. Bird lovers will also appreciate the North of the Province where they will be able to watch the rare quetzal, a large, strikingly coloured bird.
- Arenal Volcano – The Arenal Volcano is the most famous volcano in Costa Rica. Located in the Province of Alajuela, it is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Watching the volcano at night (when it is not cloudy) is a unique experience never to be forgotten. If you love windsurfing and/or kite surfing, consider visiting Lake Arenal, also located in the Arenal National Park. Other activities are also available such as canopy tours, water rafting and horse riding.
- Dominical – Located in South Costa Rica, the city of Dominical is mostly known for hosting the most beautiful Costa Rica beaches. In terms of activities, fishing in Costa Rica and particularly in Dominical can be really entertaining. Dominical is also a great place to take a whale watching tour.
- Cartago – Cartago, which was the first Capital of Costa Rica, has a rich history and culture. The number one attraction of Cartago is the Black Madonna (La Negrita), a miraculous statue which is said to have healing powers. Cartago also houses the Basilica of La Virgen de los Ángeles, the largest Church of Costa Rica. The city is located in a natural area and is close to the Irazú Volcano and the Orosi Valley where you can take a look at beautiful landscapes that feature coffee plantations, mountains, etc. Cerro Chirripó, the highest mountain in Costa Rica, is located in the South of Cartago and is a perfect destination for hikers.
- Cocos Island (Isla del Coco) – Located in the Province of Puntarenas, Cocos Island is an island off the Pacific shore of Costa Rica. It is considered to be one of the 10 best diving sites in the world, so if you are a passionate fish-watcher, do not hesitate to visit Cocos Island and get a glimpse of whale and hammerhead sharks.
Not only is Costa Rica well-known for its amazing natural resources but it is also an attractive medical tourism destination. Indeed, a lot of tourists, mostly coming from North America, travel to Costa Rica in search of affordable health care services. Costa Rica is particularly famous for providing cost-effective cosmetic and aesthetic surgeries.
Costa Rica is a wonderful vacation destination. With its rich culture, its breath-taking landscapes and its mild climate, it will certainly not disappoint you!