Tourist Attractions in Costa Rica
Other Popular Destinations
Costa Rica is a nature lover's paradise, with extraordinary wildlife viewing opportunities, beautiful lush mountains, and unending coastal beaches. Eco-tourism is highly promoted here, with many lodges in remote areas, where people come to bird-watch, wake to the sound of howler monkeys, bask on the beach, or hike through the cloud forest. Zip lining is everywhere! For adventure travelers who want to get out and see it all, Costa Rica is a relatively easy place to explore independently.
Most visitors arrive in San Jose. Although this is the main population center, it does not generally hold a lot of attraction for visitors. The city has several parks, including Savannah Park and the National Park, a central market which is oriented towards locals rather than tourists, and the National Theatre, one of the best pieces of architecture in the city. From San Jose visitors can choose to head to the Pacific Coast, the lesser visited Caribbean Coast, north to Liberia, or to the highlands to immerse themselves in the cloud forest or see an active volcano.
The Pacific Coast is the most popular area, with wide dark sand beaches that attract surfers, and lush coastal mountains which are home to rare birds, all kinds of monkeys, sloths, and other critters. Some of the main towns along this side of the country are the city of Jaco, the famous surfing beach of Playa Hermosa, Emanuel Antonio with the nearby spectacular Emanuel Antonio National Park, the backpacker haven of Dominical, and a few other small communities. Also on the Pacific side are the numerous beach towns of the Nicoya Peninsula, particularly Montezuma and Santa Cruz. In the far north of Costa Rica, Liberia and the surrounding resorts cater largely to package tours.
The Caribbean Coast is much less developed in terms of tourism. This low lying coastal area has a number of beaches, as well as mangrove forests, and swamp land. The main population center is the port city of Puerto Limon, more of a working city than a tourist center. Some of the main highlights in this region are the parks, particularly Tortuguero National Park where green sea turtle come to breed, and Barra del Colorado National Wildlife Refuge. Both of these provide excellent wildlife viewing opportunities.
Away from the coasts, interesting inland opportunities include the rainforest around Monteverde and the Arenal Area. The Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve outside of Monteverde is one of the country's most visit areas for bird and wildlife viewing. The Arenal Area is home to Lake Arenal and Arenal Volcano National Park, where people come to see the lava flowing down the side of the active Arenal Volcano. This is quite the sight after dark and many hotels promote their view of the volcano, so visitors can enjoy the night time spectacle from the comfort of their room.