Top Costa Rica Attractions
The first time you visit Costa Rica, or any new destination,
the question asked isn’t usually what attractions should be
scene but what attraction to see first, what to expect, how to get
there, and how much time is needed. We’ve provided tips, advice,
and other information about the top tourist attractions in Costa Rica
to help with your itinerary planning.
obligatory canopy safari tour is an exhilarating adventure located
in Manuel Antonio. Invented in Costa Rica, the tour zips you through
rainforest tree-tops, across 9 wires and down 3 rappel lines. You
begin your journey with a drive through the rainforest, where your
friendly guides will point out everything from squirrel monkeys
hiding in the trees to stems of a henna plant transported from Africa.
Once you arrive at the Canopy Safari Ranch, you will be greeted
with either a full-Tico breakfast or lunch, depending on the time
of your tour. When you’re ready to go, you will be given explicit
safety instructions and outfitted with your zipping gear. After
the initial zip across and above a small river, you begin your hike
into the rainforest, where tree-stumps line the path of your ascent.
Make sure to keep an eye out for animals while you're hiking. If
you're lucky, you may catch a glimpse of the very rare Honduran
After your hike, you will begin zipping from tree-top to tree-top,
landing on man-made platforms made especially for this adventure.
Three heart-pounding rappel lines are included in the tour, and
Canopy Safari is the only canopy tour in Costa Rica that offers
the rappel. The trip lasts a few hours and you are given the chance
to go for a refreshing swim in a local river immediately following
Manuel Antonio National Park
|7:00 AM - 4:00 PM Tuesday-Sunday
Costa Rica is home to a number of national parks. Despite being
the smallest, Manuel Antonio National Park has long been considered
one of its gems. Located minutes from Quepos on the central pacific
coast, the park's major draw is that it combines the beauty of white
sand, warm beaches with an astonishing backdrop of forest and mangroves.
Playa Espadilla and Playa Espadilla Sur are located here, as is
the breathtaking Playa Manuel Antonio, easily one of the most beautiful
beaches in all of Costa Rica. 109 species of mammals and 184 species
of birds reside in the park, and you can spot three-toed sloths,
iguanas and the endangered squirrel monkey. Because of its increasing
popularity and in order to protect the wildlife and the environment,
camping is not allowed and the park is closed on Mondays. Go early
in the morning or midweek to avoid large numbers of visitors. If
you come within close contact to any of the squirrel monkeys, it
is crucially important that you do not feed them. You can get fined
and banned from the park, but most importantly, you can make them
seriously ill, as they are used to a very natural diet.
Arenal Volcano National Park
was a dormant volcano until 1968, when a massive explosion triggered
lava flows that destroyed two villages, Tabacon and Pueblo Nuevo,
and killed their entire population. Although the lava eventually
slowed down to a normal and predictable flow, the volcano has remained
active almost daily since then. It is considered one of the world's
most active volcanoes, and the nighttime explosion of bright lava
is an awe-inspiring experience.
The volcano is best viewed in the early morning hours or in the
evening, as cloud coverage can, at times, be common. A number of
tour operators offer packages to the park.
Note: there is no camping allowed inside the park. The only legal
place to sleep is the Arenal Observatory Lodge. Located about a
mile and a half from the volcano, the lodge provides the ideal starting
point for a visit to the area. Travelers can embark on several hikes
that provide amazing views, explore lava flow trails and soak in
nearby hot springs. The lodge was established in 1987 and people
from all over the world have come here to study the volcano.
Café Britt Coffee
Located in ‘the city of flowers’ the Café Britt
Coffee Tour offers visitors a unique look into the business and
art of coffee brewing. Since 1991, half a million people have enjoyed
this informative and interactive tour that captures the history
of coffee-making, from early plantation days through modern times.
The tour takes place on a six-acre farm surrounded by breathtaking
volcanoes. It is led by experts, who have their very own takes (often
humorous) on the important roles that coffee has played in the development
and prosperity of Costa Rica. In addition, visitors can also take
the equally enticing Cappuccino Coffee Tour.
The coffee farm has an on-site restaurant and souvenir shop. Here,
you can purchase everything from, what else, coffee (ground and
whole beans) to chocolate-covered coffee beans to coffee liqueur.
The shop also carries traditional souvenirs i.e. t-shirts, ceramics,
books, etc. The grounds have their very own 200-seat theater, which
sometimes produce theatrical or musical events. Weddings, corporate
events and training seminars can all be held there as well.
Costa Rica Surfing
Although not exactly a ‘tourist attraction,’ one of
the most incredible and rewarding experiences one can have while
in Costa Rica is learning to surf (or learning how to attempt to
surf!). Costa Rica has several great surfing beaches, and surfers
from all over the world have been attracted to its marvelous breaks.
In Manuel Antonio, you will find several surf shops that offer
lessons along the crowded strip on Playa Espadilla. Lessons are
usually taught by locals who work for (or own) the surf shops. Depending
on which shop you decide to go with, lessons vary from USD $20/hour
to USD $30/hour. There is no need to set up appointments, but do
know that the waves are best for riding during the early mornings
and afternoons. Also, note that the best surf coincides with Costa
Rica’s rainy season.
If you want a more intensive experience, head to Playa Tamarindo
in the northern peninsula. The surfing here is top-notch, and you
will see everything from beginners to more advanced surfers. Surf
schools and tours line the strip here as well. Prices may vary.
Jaco´, in the central pacific coast, is Costa Rica’s
surfing capital. It has consistent breaks all year and is easily
reached from the nation’s capital. The town itself is not
as appealing as others, mainly attracting surfers or those who want
Costa Rica Travel Guides
Frommer's Costa Rica
Lonely Planet Costa Rica
Let's Go Costa Rica
Fodors Costa Rica