Largely underdeveloped until the mid 20th century, Costa Rica is now one of the hottest destinations around. Visitors are flocking to this laid back country, looking to experience the ‘pura vida’ (pure life), soak up the sun and explore the tropical rainforests.
Bordered by both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea, Costa Rica is a compact yet diverse tropical paradise with countless ecosystems and an astonishing array of wildlife. In fact, National Geographic has referred to it as “one of the most biologically intense places on Earth”, thus making it a haven for nature-lovers, wildlife photographers and keen birdwatchers alike.
From hiking in cloud forests and national parks to exploring canyons and gorges, Costa Rica has so much to offer that it’s hard to know where to begin. Osa Peninsula on the southern Pacific coast is one of the best areas for rainforest exploration and is also where you will find deserted beaches and numerous luxury lodges. Drakes Bay on the western shores of the peninsula, home to Corcovado National Park, is a prime spot for humpback whale watching, whilst Tortuguero National Park acts as a breeding ground for endangered green turtles. The resplendent Quetzal bird can be spotted at Arenal Volcano National Park, home to Costa Rica’s most active volcano and the Tabacon hot springs.
Described by many as the eco and adventure capital of Central America, Costa Rica offers a myriad of adrenaline-inducing activities from white water rafting and quad biking to zip lining and canopy tours. Sun-seekers can relax on the pristine beaches of Guanacaste whilst surfers ride the waves and party in the laid-back towns of Jaco and Montezuma.
For culture, head to the capital San Jose, which aside from its chaotic urban sprawl has plenty of charm, with Spanish colonial architecture, a vibrant arts scene and some excellent restaurants serving local seafood.
Whilst the dry season runs from November to April, the best time to visit Costa Rica is January when the landscape is green and there is little rain, making it an ideal time for exploring rainforests and lounging on beaches.