Costa Rica Travel Guide: 11 Must See Places In Costa Rica

ever dreamed of exploring a Tropical Paradise with jaw-dropp...

ever dreamed of exploring a Tropical Paradise with jaw-dropping natural wonders and secret hideaways welcome back to wonderfully lost your home for all things travel today we're talking about 11 must-see places in Costa Rica where volcanoes wildlife and pristine beaches steal the show trust us this thrilling ride will have you packing your bags in a heartbeat number 11 San Jose picture this you've just landed in Costa Rica and the vibrant city of San Jose is calling your name so why not kick off your adventure by diving into the rich culture and pulsing heartbeat of this Lively Capital before venturing out to the coast as you stroll down Central Avenue get ready to Unleash Your in a culture vulture with museums Galore showcasing everything from glittering gold to ancient Jade and while you're at it don't forget to sneak a peek at the stunning National Theater steeped in history architectural Splendor and a vibrant array of performances as well but beware your taste buds will have you begging for the delicious treats at the bustling San Jose Central Market and if that's not enough San Jose offers city tours Food Tours and even a beer tour to quench your thirst for knowledge so should we count you in Number 10. the crocodile bridge on tacola's River ready for a heart pounding jaw-dropping experience that'll make your friends Green With Envy then brace yourself for the legendary crocodile Bridge just a 25 minute drive north of harco this adrenaline pumping Pit Stop offers a once in a lifetime chance to witness American crocodiles basking in their natural habitat snap some thrilling pics and then reward your bravery with a scoop of heavenly pops ice cream from a nearby shop and don't forget to grab a one-of-a-kind souvenir so you can boast about your daring crocodile encounter for years to come number 9. hako ready to amp up your Costa Rican adventure with sun-soaked beaches gnarly waves and buzzing nightlife say hello to hako the beach Haven that's got it all like located just a stone throw from the capital San Jose this Coastal gem is the perfect Escape for those craving a taste of the good life forget about roughing it harco's got all the modern Comforts you'll ever need from Chic Apartments to mouth-watering restaurants whether you're a surfing Pro or a laid-back Beach Bum you'll fall in love with the energetic Vibes and pristine Sands of this Coastal Haven the best part hako also makes a fantastic base for exploring all the nearby attractions so get ready to ride those waves soak up the sun and indulge in the ultimate Costa Rican Beach Escape number eight tortuguro National Park prepare to be dazzled by the tortuguro national park a Wonderland where sea turtles and exotic Wildlife rain Supreme nestled on Costa Rica's Caribbean coast this off the beaten path Paradise is a treasure Trove boasting Lush rainforests unspoiled beaches and the incredible spectacle of sea turtles nesting from May to October you'll get to witness thousands of green leatherbacks Turtles laying eggs and Marvel at the Miracle of Life we think this definitely calls for an Instagram story that'll leave your friends and family in awe but don't let the fun stop there explore the surrounding canals and waterways for a chance to spot monkeys sloths and even The elusive Tapia yes the star of the show in tortagiro are the turtles but that doesn't mean you can't Venture along the Park's hiking trails or embark on boat rides through the intricate canals and waterways sure you can't swim with sharks lurking nearby but who needs a dip when you've got an unforgettable nature experience at your fingertips number 7. Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve imagine wandering through a mystical Paradise where vibrant wildlife and jaw-dropping waterfalls are just the beginning welcome to Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve Costa Rica's best kept secret for nature enthusiasts and Adventure Seekers alike forget about your typical tourist traps this high altitude rainforest is teeming with enchanting creatures from howling monkeys to elusive Jaguar but wait there's more delve into the Monteverde experience with local guides who'll introduce you to rare bird species and unveil the secrets of this unique ecosystem and why just watch Nature Documentaries when you can zipline through the Treetops or stroll across suspension bridges in the flesh and after all that excitement recharge it at Cozy Cafe tucked away in the clouds but don't forget to pack your warm clothes as it can be chilly there Adventure awaits you in this breathtaking cloud forest Wonderland number 6. Cocos Island National Park picture this a secret Island Paradise where breathtaking wonders rival a Galapagos and Jurassic Park Vibes run wild ladies and gentlemen this is Cocos Island this Hidden Gem a UNESCO world heritage site is so underrated it's almost criminal nestled between Costa Rica and Colombia this remote Haven offers pristine Beauty for adventure Seekers the kicker Cocos Island boasts world-class diving for thrills because of all levels you can plunge into the chilly Waters and swim alongside white tip reef sharks humpback whales and friendly Dolphins it's like Nature's VIP Club and you're on the guest list carcass island is calling you for an incredible Escapade just don't forget to send a postcard to your envious friends back home number five dominical welcome to dominical Costa Rica a Tropical Paradise where Backpackers Surfers and luxury Seekers unite dominical dishes out the Perfect Blend of gnarly waves laid-back Vibes and luxurious hideaways where you can ride the swell of Central America's best surf then kickbacking cozy accommodations or pamper yourself at an upscale Hillside Retreat because why not consider this as a sign to discover the wonders of the Pacific coast and well you even get to embrace the wildlife that's just as friendly as the locals with howler monkeys toucans and more making guest appearances in your vacation snapshots but that's not all folks diving to dominical's Bohemian heart where craft vendors tempting eateries and Serene beaches are yours to explore and for an extra Touch of Magic join the annual Envision Festival celebrating Music Arts and wellness in this dreamy corner of paradise dominical isn't just another Beach town it's a tropical Treasure Trove of Unforgettable experiences number 4. Rincon De La Vieja ready for an epic adventure in a volcanic Wonderland look no further than Rincon De La Vieja saddle up because the Guanacaste hotspot is your ticket to Adrenaline pumping activities like hiking to the summit ziplining through the Treetops or white water rafting down roaring Rivers not into breaking a sweat no worries Rincon de la vie has got you covered with more laid-back activities like waterfall chasing and hot spring soaking and when it comes to resting your weary head Resorts like Hotel Hacienda guachapalan and Hotel Casa Conde offer Prime volcanic views and indulgent amenities number three Tamarindo are you yearning for an escape to a sun-soaked paradise where surf Vibes and good times are the order of the day then Tamarindo is the answer to your desires you'll forget your worries as you catch epic waves or bask on the sun-kissed shores of this Costa Rican Gem and while you're at it say hasta la vista to hunger with mouth-watering local Cuisine and let your hair down at Lively bars that'll have you dancing the night away Tamarindo isn't just a one-trick pony though this Beach Town oozes culture boasting a diverse mix of architectural Styles tasty treats and toe tapping tunes and if you think the party stops at the shore think again the surrounding tropical dry forests and wetlands offer eco-adventures Galore Tamarindo is the ultimate Beach getaway that serves up a slice of everything for your vacation number two Manuel National Park Manuel Antonio is the ultimate Costa Rican hot spot with its stunning National Park mesmerizing white sand beaches and vibrant town named after the founder of democracy in Costa Rica president Manuel a figures Farah this gem boasts Trails through Lush forests and cascading waterfalls keep your eyes peeled for sloths monkeys and colorful birds as you explore this paradise and when you need a break from all that action the Soft White Sands serve as the ultimate unwinding destination with crystal clear waters lapping at your feet the town of Manuel Antonio is a tourist haven with plenty of Hotel options restaurants and Lively Oceanfront bars and for the Ultimate Experience we suggest you check out the luxurious Beach Resort where you can sip cocktails in style and soak up the breathtaking views number one a renal Volcano National Park the Crown Jewel of the adventure capital of Costa Rica with its towering cone-shaped Mountain lush green forests and mesmerizing waterfalls this National Park is sure to take your breath away the Arenal Volcano National Park is where you can witness one of the world world's most active volcanoes spewing Ash columns and fiery lava flows strap on your hiking boots and explore the rugged terrain of the Cordillera de telem where half of all Costa Rican birds reptiles amphibians and mammals call home and if you're looking for a place to stay why not check out the arena Observatory Lodge situated on a macadamia nut farm on the south side of the volcano this Lodge offers the best views of the fiery mountain and plenty of hiking trails leading to cascading waterfalls and ancient lava flows this is your cue to experience the thrill of a renal Volcano National Park if you dare thanks for wandering with us if you enjoyed this video then check out our Key West Florida travel guide linked here foreign

Welcome back to Wanderfully Lost, where Moms and Dads go for travel advice.

This comprehensive guide is your ticket to exploring 11 of the must-see places in Costa Rica.

Disclaimer: The blog may cause extreme wanderlust and uncontrollable urges to quit your job and move to Costa Rica permanently.

Be sure to check out our COSTA RICA travel planning resources at the end, and if your time on our site is as WANDERFUL as we hope, we’d be super thrilled to have you share this post with your fellow wanderers.

11. Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio, the jewel of eco-tourism in Costa Rica, where tiny is mighty! 

At just 4,900 acres, Manuel Antonio National Park may be the smallest reserve in the country, but don’t let that fool you! 

You can spot a plethora of critters from scurrying red-backed squirrel monkeys to lazy two-toed sloths, and of course, the ever-elusive basilisks.

The village of Manuel Antonio is a hub of activity, with sport-fishing outfitters, zip-line courses, and hiking guides galore! 


Catch good-quality breaks at Espadilla Sur, perfect for both beginners and advanced surfers, and hey, there’s even snorkeling on offer at Playa Biesanz if you’re feeling adventurous. 

And for the ultimate sunset experience, hike on over to Punta Catedral.

10. Tortuguero

Tortuguero Costa Rica Beach

Torturego is a slice of paradise – away from the bustling crowds and isolated from the city’s buzz.

But if you’re not a fan of sea turtles, then tough luck, because that’s pretty much all this place is known for. 

During nesting season, you can witness these shelled creatures making their way to the beach to lay their eggs, and if you’re really lucky, you might catch a glimpse of some baby turtles scurrying back to the sea. 

Just make sure to bring your binoculars and a strong coffee, because these turtle safaris happen in the dead of night.

But if you’re not content with just turtle sightings, you can also explore the wetlands and creeks of the Tortuguero National Park

Hop in a canoe or kayak and paddle through the murky waters, watching out for lurking caimans and other critters that call this place home. 

9. Guanacaste

Guanacaste Costa Rica Beautiful Beach View

If you’re tired of crowded beaches and want to get off the beaten path, Guanacaste is the answer to your prayers! 

If you’re a beginner surfer, Tamarindo is the place to be.

Check out Nosara, Tamarindo, and Playa Guiones for the best waves.

But the real star of the show is the Santa Rosa National Park! 

Get ready to explore empty wisps of golden sand and swing with rare capuchin monkeys in broadleaf woodlands. 

And if that’s not enough adventure for you, why not try ziplining? 

Guanacaste has got you covered, from the kid-friendly Monkey Jungle Zip Line to the hardcore ones that’ll make you question your sanity.

And if you’re lucky, you might catch the turtle hatching season on Playa Grande! Find magical places to stay in Guanacaste.

8. Jaco Beach

Jaco Beach Costa Rica Beach Landscape View

Now we’re headed to Jaco – the ultimate beach resort in Costa Rica! 

This place is like a beachy wonderland, bursting with big hotels, beer-sloshing bars, and fast-food joints that’ll make your heart skip a beat. 

Jaco’s got some fantastic beaches just waiting to be explored. 

Playa Blanca boasts a rare stretch of white sand, while Playa Herradura offers a huge horseshoe bay with shallow waters that’ll make you feel like you’re in paradise. 


And for those seeking an adrenaline rush, trek to the Nauyaca Waterfalls or hop on an ATV tour through the coast forests.

But the real star of the show here is the surfing! With consistent shoulder-height waves that break over soft sand, the two-mile beach is perfect for first-timers. 

And if you’re a pro, head on down to Playa Hermosa, the first official World Surfing Reserve in Central America.

7. Islas Murciélagos

Islas Murciélagos Costa Rica Island View

Are you an avid scuba diver looking for your next big thrill? 

The Islas Murciélagos is perhaps the answer to all of your prayers. 

These islands are the ultimate diving destination in Costa Rica. Especially if you have a knack for experiencing the marine life up close, you’re in for a treat. 

Before you even hit the water, you’ll get to enjoy a dolphin and whale show on your boat ride from Playa del Coco. 

And once you do descend into the depths, the visibility is so good you’ll be able to see the look of pure terror on your fellow divers’ faces.

But it’s not just the underwater world that’s worth exploring. 

If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can also take a hike on Isla San José. 

It’s only a measly two miles to a ranger station and lookout point.

6. Cahuita

Cahuita Costa Rica Native Sloth Hanging Around

Welcome to Cahuita, the sleepy little town that Puerto Viejo de Talamanca used to be before it got too cool for its own good. 

It’s basically a couple of streets surrounded by tin-roofed shacks and some vibrant homestays, but don’t let that fool you. 

There are two beautiful bays here: one with black sand, the other with sugar white sand that’s perfect for Instagramming.

If you’re into surfing, you’ll be stoked to know that Cahuita has some beginner-friendly waves that work best in the winter months when the Pacific side of Costa Rica is wimpy. 

But the real star of the show is Cahuita National Park, where you can hike through the jungle and listen to the calls of howler monkeys, or dive into the coral gardens and say hello to sea cucumbers and manta rays. 

5. Arenal

Arenal Costa Rica Volcano

The Arenal Volcano is the ultimate centerpiece of the adventure-packed Arenal region. 

Standing tall at a whopping 5,436 feet, it’s a perfectly cone-shaped mountain that once erupted more than 41 times each day! 

Don’t fret, it’s now dormant – so there’s no chance of being caught up in a volcanic explosion… unless it’s the end of the world.

Also, why not start with a hike to the La Fortuna Waterfall, where the H2O crashes down more than 240 feet into a turquoise pool hidden deep in the jungle? 

Or maybe you prefer to get wet and wild with some gnarly whitewater rafting on the Peñas Blancas River or spelunking in the creepy Venado Caves – it goes down a disconcerting 8,850 feet below ground!

And the fun doesn’t stop there – there’s also the massive Lake Arenal, which is the largest lake in Costa Rica and a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. 

You can take on the ziplines that lurk in the peaks above the lake, soak in hot springs near Tabacon, go stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking, or even take a dip in the wild waters.

4. Corcovado

Corcovado Costa Rica Beach

If you’ve only got time to visit one national park in Costa Rica, you might as well make it the Corcovado National Park. 

With several trails to choose from, you’ll be spoiled for choice. 

Want to go on a long hike through lush cloud forests and gushing waterfalls? 

The Los Patos to Sierna trek is your best bet.

 Or maybe you’re more of a budding botanist? 

The San Pedrillo Trail has huge purple heart and mahogany trees, as well as ferns and orchids galore!

Corcovado’s showstopper is its animal diversity. 

The Sirena Trail is the perfect place to spot coatis, pumas, wild pigs, and toucans in their natural habitats.

And the views where the jungles meet the Pacific Ocean? Simply breathtaking. 

You could even go whale watching or enjoy the black-tinged sands of Carate Beach if you’re feeling extra adventurous.

3. Tortuga Island

3. Tortuga Island Costa Rica Copycat of Thai Islands

Tortuga, the Costa Rican copycat of the Thai islands is the place to enjoy. 

If you’re into underwater exploration, Tortuga’s got you covered. 

You can choose from the El Aquario reef, a fish paradise teeming with rainbowfish, angelfish, stingrays, and all sorts of strange corals. 

Or maybe you prefer the Bye Bye Reef, where you can hang out with manta rays and sea turtles around giant submerged volcanic rocks. 

Feeling daring? 

Head to the Caroline Star shipwreck to meet some white-tipped reef sharks!

And if you ever get bored of the ocean, don’t worry, there’s more! 

Tortuga has its own zipline course, and challenging jungle hikes that lead to lookout points over the canopies. 

You might even spot some scarlet macaws, tapirs, and bizarre iguanas up there.

2. Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa Costa Rica Surfers Beach

Ahoy, surfers! 

Santa Teresa is where it’s at if you’re looking for a gnarly wave-riding experience. 

This sandy slice of the Nicoya Peninsula boasts three epic beach breaks that’ll make you want to hang ten for days on end. 

Beginners can catch some sick waves at Playa Hermosa, while the more seasoned shredders can tackle the point breaks of Mal Pais down south. 

Even if you’re not into surfing, Santa Teresa’s got you covered with its buzzing nightlife scene. 

Rub shoulders with famous DJs during the holiday season and dance the night away at La Lora disco club. 

And if you’re feeling adventurous, trek up into the jungle for a refreshing dip in the Montezuma Waterfall. 

Just be sure to hydrate before hitting the town again.

1. San José

San José Gateway to Costa Rica

San José is the gateway to Costa Rica. 

The locals are proud of their Avenida Central – a long strip of pavement that goes from one end of the city to the other. 

It’s like the city’s main artery, but instead of blood, it’s pumping with taxis, buses, and pedestrians.

But don’t stop there! 

Head to Escazu and check out the “lush hills” that “scramble up the cloud-topped peaks”. 

Why not treat yourself to some gallo pinto and tamales while you’re there? 

That’s what the Ticos do, and it comes with a bonus view of the city.


And if you’re really feeling adventurous, take a dip in the Poas Volcano’s turquoise caldera lake! 

Just kidding, that’s not allowed. 

But you can visit the La Paz waterfall gardens and Central Market for some exotic fruits and coffee beans.

Ready to explore Costa Rica stress-free? Get ready for some unforgettable experiences! 



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