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Costa Rica Places of Interest

This Central American country offers visitors so many things to see and experience. This page identifies some of the places to experience outdoor Costa Rican activities.


bullet Ten Must See Places in Costa Rica
bulletPuerto Viejo Caribbean Coast Adventure
bulletVisit Arenal Volcano
bullet Adventure Park at Arenal
bulletMal Pais
bullet Tortuga Island

Tortuguero Beach


Ten Must-See Places in Costa Rica

By Jonathan Williams

Costa Rica is one of the countries in Central America. It is bordered by both Nicaragua and Panama as well s the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Costa Rica is a wonderful tourist destination for visitors as well as newlyweds, and here are ten of the many places that you can enjoy in Costa Rica.

1.) The Central Cathedral

Located in Alajuela, this cathedral is a must-see when you visit the city. Although it is pretty in its own way, it is not that impressive when it comes to its architectural design. What makes this area special though is because it is a nice spot where you can enjoy views of parrots and even a sloth or two if you are lucky enough.

2.) Juan Santamaria Park

You can take a nice long walk in this park named after their national hero. You will also see here cannons that were used during the 1860s era. After a stroll in the park, you can also visit the Juan Santamaria Museum which houses memorabilia about the national hero.

3.) Poas Volcano National Park

This is a favorite place among locals and foreigners alike. Here, you will get to see what the crater of a volcano that is still active looks like. There are guided tours that will take you to the summit of the volcano.

4.) The Lankester Botanical Gardens

What great way to spend a relaxing afternoon than having a nice quiet stroll along the grounds of this botanical garden? Here, you will see a large assortment of orchids and other kinds of plants. This is also ideal for families to enjoy.

5.) Arenal Volcano

You can also take guided tours to the Arenal Volcano, another active volcano here in Costa Rica. Here, you will be taken to El Mirador where you are in a safe distance to view the volcano's eruption. The hot lava flow is a nice view when seen at night, red lava against the contrast of the black night.

6.) Fortuna Waterfall

This is another favorite tourist spot. Here, you can spend the day swimming in its lovely pool and stream as well as catch a glimpse or two of its native animals. Do not forget to bring a jacket though as it can become chilly at night.

7.) Cahuita National Park

Visiting this national park is also a great way to spend the day. Its main attraction is its coral reefs that are located near the shore. As such, this is a good area where you can snorkel or scuba dive and get to enjoy the views offered by the different species of fish that make their homes in the reefs.

8.) Corcovado National Park

This is a wildlife park that provides a very good opportunity to see animals at their habitats. Here, you will see four species of monkeys as well as wild cats (many of them endangered) and other kinds of animals like birds. This remarkable plethora of animals in this national park is brought about by less human contact.

9.) Manuel Antonio National Park

This is home to squirrel and white-faced monkeys as well as other kinds of animals such as the sloth and iguanas. You can also see here toucans and birds and, of course, bats. Word of caution though, it is prohibited to feed the monkeys in this national park.

10.) Monteverde and Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserves

This is also a must-see in Costa Rica if you are a nature lover. You will enjoy here the sights of vast greenery as well as a myriad of creatures like amphibians and insects. Get a different thrill as you walk through its trails with vines hanging from trees and the songs of the birds and insects.

Jonathan Williams is the travel writer for Destination Guide TV - the place to share travel videos. Visit to view or share Costa Rica travel videos



Puerto_Viejo_Costa_Rica - Caribbean Coast Rica Adventure

By Hatchemoto Mishimuri

Puerto Viejo is a vibrant seaside town which lies 34 miles south east of Puerto Limon, and 10.2 miles south of Cahuita. Located in the Limón province on the shores of the Caribbean sea, Puerto Viejo is considered one of the most happening places in Costa Rica. It is the largest tourist destination on Costa Rica's Caribbean coast.

Known for its warm, crystal clear blue waters, pristine, uncrowded beaches, excellent restaurants, Rasta-Jamaican influence, and exotic tropical fauna, Puerto Viejo was built around a beautiful bay with calm water for swimming. The distance from San Jose to Puerto Viejo is 130 miles (210 km).

Additionally, there are many interesting attractions nearby such as the Cahuita National Park, Talamanca Indian Reserve and Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge. Puerto Viejo is fast becoming one of Costa Rica's premier tourist hot spots.

"Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is a decidedly Caribbean concoction of perfect beaches, spectacular surfing and laid back afternoons, spiced with the most happening music, nightlife and restaurant scene on the coast. But don't expect to be the only gringo in town, more expats are moving here every year."

Hurricane Free Zone
The Southern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica is completely free of hurricanes! At 9 degrees north of the equator, we are blissfully free of worrying about hurricanes!

Gorgeous Tropical Beaches
From Puerto Viejo south to Punta Mona (Monkey Point), about 25 km, and to Cahuita, 30 kilometers to the north, stretch fabulous empty beaches dotted with coral reefs. These beaches are known to be some of the best in Costa Rica. Coconuts trees dot the white and black sand beaches mixed along the coast line, all the way to the border of Panama.

With a picture-perfect tropical influence, you can find miles of deserted, palm tree fringed beaches in which to spend hours snorkeling, strolling or reading peacefully. Or sit under the shade of a palm tree and be entertained by the local scene at the more populated hangouts. You will also find lovely calm coves that form small protected pools - perfect for children or lazy afternoons basking in sun and shade. From Manzanillo south to Punta Mona (Monkey Point) is about a 25 km walk or boat ride, as there are no roads. The beaches are gorgeous and interchanged with beautiful rock formations and overhanging palms.

There is a long stretch of beautiful pristine beach which extends past Playa Chiquita to Manzanillo and beyond Monkey Point (Punta Mona) and Gandoca. Much of this region is under protection by the government of Costa Rica as a wildlife reserve, and is a fantastic place for snorkeling, nature hiking or observing troops of howler monkeys.

World Class Surfing
Puerto Viejo Costa Rica is legendary among the surfing crowd and is among the top rated surfing destinations of the world. Many international surfers come here from all over the world to ride what has been called the heaviest wave in Costa Rica: Salsa Brava - a thick Hawaiian style wave that builds in deep water and whose boxy barrel hammers thunderously over a shallow reef. The biggest waves in Costa Rica break in Puerto Viejo when there is a swell. Surfers also love the long stretch of beach at Playa Cocles in front of Break Bay Island - a more consistent break with lefts and rights breaking close to the beach and which is good for novices and intermediates.

Playa Negra (Black Beach) offers a great beach break with waves year round and, along with Punta Uva, is among the safest beaches in the area. There's plenty of fun for beginners here as well as free community surf activities for kids. The Playa Negra break is perfect for beginners taking lessons. And Manzanillo, located in the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, 20 km south of Puerto Viejo, sports a fast break at the northern end.

Countless Activities
You will find adventures galore here including scuba diving & certification, snorkeling, surfing, canopy tours (including ariel trams and zip lines), sea and river kayaking, kayak surfing, fishing, jungle adventure/rainforest tours, boat tours, birding, turtle sanctuaries, chocolate tours, eco tours, dolphin tours, indigenous Bri Bri tours, horseback riding, whitewater rafting, hiking tours, cultural and educational tours.

The area is filled with abundant wildlife and bio diversity, with over 400 species of birds, almost 500 species of fish, and more than 40 species of coral including kingfishers, parrots, hummingbirds, sloths, toucans, monkeys, iguanas, lizards, frogs, a myriad of butterflies, basilisk lizards, otters, manatees. On the coral reefs are a myriad of life forms to see such as angelfish, parrot fish, triggerfish, mackerel, red snapper, jacks, crabs, rock lobsters, octopus, eel, squid, rays, starfish, brain coral, fire coral, sheet coral, lettuce coral and star coral.

International Flavor
The town of Puerto Viejo can host your days and evenings of shopping, Salsa & Caribbean dancing and delicious dining to Costa Rican and international cuisine. Some of the restaurants are famous for their Caribbean style seafood and reggae music, and you can also find wonderful international cuisine all within walking distance of town center. With it's relaxed, laid back atmosphere, this once quiet fishing village is poised to become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Caribbean. Other local stands are known for their natural juice drinks and delicious breakfasts. Local women in Puerto Viejo make coconut bread, jam, biscuits, pattys and other homemade treats in the tradition of Limón. Costa Rica Puerto Viejo.

Tropical Reservations provides the most comprehensive information about Puerto Viejo Costa Rica.


Visit_Arenal_Volcano On Your Costa Rica Vacation 

By: Challen Clarke

If you haven’t seen an active volcano, visiting Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica is really an amazing site. Arenal Volcano is the most active volcano in Costa Rica and listed as one of the top ten most active in the world. Of course, you are not guaranteed to see any lava spewing from the top, but you will certainly see activity.

The rainy season corresponds to the summer months for those in the Northern Hemisphere and the volcano’s peak is often covered in clouds during the afternoon and evening, which lessens your chance of seeing the lava at night. However, during the rainy season the mornings are often very clear, which means early risers have a good chance of seeing the lava before the clouds roll in and will have great weather for morning hikes. Keep this in mind when you are planning a trip.

Even if you don’t actually see lava, you will still be able to feel and hear the volcano rumbling, as well as see smoke billowing out the top of the crater. If you have binoculars you can spot rocks expelled from the top and watch them tumble down the flanks of the volcano.

Inside Arenal Volcano National Park, travelers can take a hike, guided or solo, through the rainforest to find the 1992 lava flow. Once you reach it, you can climb up the now gray trail and see the interesting lava formations.

Travelers to the region might also be interested in going kayaking on Arenal Lake, or taking a horseback ride through the rainforest to the base of the volcano to begin a canopy tour. This canopy tour is a series of 12 platforms and 10 zip-lines.

It is very safe and pretty thrilling as you zip above the forest. All of these excursions make spotting sloths, tropical birds, and monkeys very likely.
Before you plan a trip, make sure you know which side of the volcano is most active. It changes every few years and you definitely want to stay in a hotel on the most active side to have the best chance of seeing lava.

Explore highly active Arenal Volcano on your exciting Costa Rica vacation with expert travel advisors Costa Rica For Less. Travelers to the region can often see lava flowing from the crater at night and will most likely hear and feel the volcano’s activity while watching plumes of smoke billow from the peak.

This guide to visiting Arenal Volcano on your exciting Costa Rica vacation was written by a Costa Rica travel expert at Costa Rica For Less.


The Ultimate Adventure Park at Arenal Costa Rica

By Nagib Georges Araman

For anyone visiting Costa Rica, the Arenal Volcano must definitely be considered on the top of the list of places to visit. Located in the nation's northern lowlands, and tucked within a national park of the same name; this impressive volcano has gained worldwide prominence for its symmetrical shape and size and magnitude. For many years, and as recent as 2010, Arenal was Costa Rica's most active volcano.

But the volcano is by no means the only attraction in the lush area of the Arenal Volcano National Park. In fact, the entire region, with its natural beauty, is outdoor enthusiast dream come true. There is an abundance of activities waiting to be experienced in the park, which is blessed with natural sites like a lake, a rainforest and a cloud forest. One spot that offers all sorts of wonderful surprises to adventure-seeking tourists is the Sky Adventures Arenal Park. At Sky Adventures, your physical fitness and agility may be challenged, but it is ultimately all in the name of fun!

If you are after a more relaxed activity that also unveils spectacular views of the rainforest and the volcano, then the Sky Tram gondola is perfect for you. This ride's leisurely pace allows you to really soak in the incredible panorama. You will also be accompanied by a bilingual guide, who will provide interesting insights about the park and its habitats. The gondola will eventually bring you to an observation deck high up a mountain, so you can get a front-seat view of the Arenal Volcano's south face.

After taking as much time you need to experience the sights, you can leisurely take the gondola back down to the base of the mountain. However, if you want to mix it up a little - daredevil style - why not go down with exciting speed and flair? The zip line service called Sky Trek will do just that. Sky Trek boasts 8 zip lines, with the longest one, stretching about 2,493 feet (1,250 meters). This zipline experience promises to be very scenic as well as adrenaline-pumping. Expect to soar over multitudes of trees at a fast rate. But don't blink, as you will missed unparalleled views of Arenal Volcano and the Lake.

Sky Trek management takes safety very seriously, so you will be guided by professionals who will also assist you in putting on the safety gear. Wear closed toed shoes, and comfortable clothes that will coincide with the weather. And whatever you do, don't forget to bring your trusty camera - just do not drop it because of all the excitement of gliding in through the air! If you think Sky Trek is not daunting enough, picture doing it at night? Fortunately, this fantasy will turn to reality when you sign up for the Sky Trek Night tour. Who knows you might even get a glimpse of some volcano lava action while you are at it!

If you want to linger around the forest at a high altitude for a while, then Sky Walk is an excellent challenge to take on. This tour is different as it's focused on walking paths and crossing high bridges. This will definitely make you overcome your fear of heights as some bridges lead you to canopies of tall trees and over ramparts. It is also the perfect activity to see wildlife in action as you get to superb vantage positions to take in the beautiful views.

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Mal Pais Costa Rica

By Nagib Georges Araman


Mal Pais may be smaller than other communities in Costa Rica, but it is undoubtedly one of its most trendy and popular beach spots. Located in the southwestern section of the Nicoya Peninsula, this coastal village is the kind of place stripped of the hustle and bustle familiar to urban living.


Tourists can come here to completely unwind and rejuvenate the mind and the body. This may also be the reason it attracts the rich and the famous, including Hollywood actors and international celebrities. As a result, Mal Pais always has that happening, yet understated class to it. A vacation here usually means spending relaxing days on sandy beaches and enjoying gorgeous sunsets.


The beaches are, of course, the highlight attractions in Mal Pais, which boasts a coastline that spans about 6 kilometers. Most of the coastline is occupied by long stretches of sand, but you can also find some considerably big sets of rock. Near the shore is a lush jungle rich in flora and fauna. The beach itself barely has any development. The hotels and resorts are mostly found on the sandy stretches of its sister village of Santa Teresa. This is also where you can find bars, restaurants and shops to rent surfing equipment. A number of people include Santa Teresa and the Playa Carmen area when they talk about Mal Pais.


Unlike Nicoya Peninsula's neighboring villages like Montezuma, there are less tours and activities offered in Mal Pais. This is actually the point of coming here, to relax and do very little. But after a few days of lazy relaxation, you may feel like doing something, and you can always go fishing, ride a horse along the beach or sign up for canopy tours to nearby forested region.


The Cabo Blanco Absolute Reserve is quite accessible from Mal Pais and makes a great day trip destination for those who love the jungle environment. Cabo Blanco covers about 1,270 hectares of land area, and is the first protected area in Costa Rica. Bird watching has also become a popular activity in the area because of the wide range of coastal and migratory birds that frequent here. Some of the bird species to watch for are falcons, kingfishers and scarlet macaws.


Mal Pais is highly regarded for its big swells and long beach breaks, which are consistent throughout the year. That is why it is no surprise that surfers from all over make their way to this sleepy beach town to ride the waves. From the water, you can admire the volcanic formations that populate the shore. The breaks generated in Mal Pais is perfect for intermediate and expert level surfers. If you are a surfing novice, there are some spots you can go to for practice. In addition, Santa Teresa's beaches have swells ideal for beginners.


You can reach Mal Pais by taking the Highway 160. If you are coming from the city of Puntarenas, you can take a ferry first to Narajo Beach or Paquera. From these places, you have the choice of driving a rented vehicle or take the bus. If you prefer to fly; you can book a domestic flight from San Jose International Aiport or Pavas International Airport to Tambor Domestic Airport, which is the closest airport to Mal Pais. Once you land in Tambor, you can easily hire a taxi to take you to this beautiful coastal community.



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The Exquisite Tortuga Island

By Nagib Georges Araman  |   Submitted On August 23, 2015

Tortuga Island is the perfect day trip destination for anyone visiting Montezuma and wanting to explore Costa Rica's wonderful marine environment. Isla de Tortuga (Turtle) Island has become widely popular in Costa Rica because of its powdery white sand beach and complementing clear turquoise water. Its offshore area provides excellent opportunities for snorkeling and scuba diving.

Situated within the province of North Puntarenas, on the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula; Tortuga Island has an interesting and colorful history. Centuries ago, it used to be the hub for pirates. The people even made a pirate theme song to remind younger generations of its pirate past. The island is actually part of a small archipelago referred to as Las Islas Tortugas. The main island, which is officially named Tolinga, is now widely referred to as Tortuga Island. The other main island in the archipelago is called Alcatraz.

You can arrange a boat tour to Tortuga from the nearby villages of Montezuma Mal Pais, Tambor, Cabuya, and Santa Teresa. There are also tours that go to the island all the way from Puntarenas or Jaco. If you are coming from these cities, the boat ride will take about 90 minutes. Even though this may be longer, the trip is considered is quite scenic because of the outstanding seascape of the Nicoya Peninsula. And if you're lucky and attentive enough, you may even spot dolphins, jumping manta rays and even whales along the way.

Almost all of the visitors come in on some tour or cruise to Tortuga Island. There are many tour agencies in the nearby village of Montezuma and other towns in the region that offer different types of excursions. Most of their itineraries consists of not only spending time on the island, but also a snorkeling excursion. Snorkeling is indeed a worthwhile activity as the waters surrounding the island are home to a volcanic rock reef and many delightful species of marine life such as angel fish, spinner dolphins, octopus, sting rays and sharks. If you want to really immerse yourself into this colorful marine world, your tour can also include a scuba diving session. Tortuga Island is an especially unique diving spot in Central America because is close to not only one but three sunken ships to explore.

Some cruise companies like Calypso offer their clients a trip to Tortuga Island with a more luxurious twist. Guest are ushered to a new and modern catamaran and are served gourmet meals and drinks on board. The staff will also dedicate time to impart to guests important information and insights on the Gulf of Nicoya and its gorgeous islands.

Once in Tortuga, there are various activities that you can engage in aside from lounging on the beach all day (which is also not a bad idea). Some people tend to play beach volleyball or take kayak outings. Others, especially those who love hiking, explore the different trails and hills on the island. And if you really feel very adventurous, you can trek all the way to the mountain!

Bigger tour companies usually have their own mini restaurants and bars, and will even set up live entertainment on the beach for a fee of course. Other outfitters specialize in cooking seafood-based lunch for their guests. Whichever tour company you wish to go with, it is important to ensure your expectations as a traveler, match their services and itinerary. TRANSFORMING THE WAY WE TRAVEL

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Where to Go in Costa Rica: Tortuguero Beach

By Alex Wall

Tortuguero (translated as "Region of Turtles") is a quaint little village located on the northeastern Costa Rica Caribbean coast, around 50 miles north of the main Port of Limon. Tortuguero beach is the most important nesting site of the endangered green turtle in the Western Hemisphere. Giant leatherback, hawksbill, and loggerhead turtles have also been known to make their nests on its beaches.

The village is situated on a sand bar island, separated from the mainland by Tortuguero River and bordering the Caribbean Sea. Because of its location in a Caribbean environment, weather in Tortuguero varies more so than the rest of the country. Temperatures remain around the same point year round with day time highs in the low 90s and night time lows in the upper 70s. Rainfall varies by month and isn't necessarily governed by the rainy season or dry season with the months of February, March, September and October being the driest.

The main attraction of Tortuguero National Park (named after the village that surrounds it) is the turtles. Green sea turtles neared extinction decades ago due to the hunting of males for meat and the poaching of eggs for their supposed aphrodisiac properties. These turtles are now considered an endangered species. That is why tourists may look upon the turtles on the beach and their hatching babies but are strictly forbidden from touching them. "Turtle season" peaks around the months of late July through August.

Tortuguero is renowned for only being accessible by plane or boat ride through the canals that run through the rainforest in this national park, this earned this region the nickname of 'Central America's Amazon'.

Once turtle season has passed, both park and village tend to be looked over by many travelers. However, this can be considered a great mistake as this region as much more to offer than just its namesake. Tortuguero is a quieter destination than others on the Caribbean coast, and the vine-draped river trails are frequented by a plethora of wild creatures. There exist seven species of river turtles, Spectacled Caiman, a number of crustaceans, and over 50 species of colorful freshwater fish. If you take a trip on a tour boat, or paddle a canoe through the freshwater canals you are also likely to see Spider, Howler and Capuchin Monkeys and dozens of species of birds. Some have even reported seeing the West Indian Manatee, also an endangered species. Guests of the national park are reminded to treat the wildlife and plants with respect.

Obviously canoeing is a major activity to think about, but fishing has increased in popularity here and is also highly entertaining for those who enjoy the sport. Atlantic Snook and Tarpon are just two of the species that attract expert fishermen from all over the world to this region. As is often the case, there is a range of prices and quality for tours in Tortuguero. To be sure that you are getting a qualified guide, ask to see his/her ICT certification card. As of 2012, not everyone can give out tours, only qualified professionals with proper certification. Don't run the risk of getting kicked off the beach and losing your money!

If want to plan your vacation around the beautiful Tortuguero Beach but are unsure how to proceed, contact us! Car Rental Costa Rica staff will be happy to help you get there!

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You can learn more about the outdoor adventures in Costa Rica by visiting our other Costa Rica Pages:

bulletWater Adventures in Costa Rica
bulletFishing in Costa Rica
bulletSurfing in Costa Rica
bulletCosta Rica Botanical Gardens
bulletAn Introduction to Costa Rica's Adventures





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