Despite being smaller than Denmark, Costa Rica is one of the most well-visited destinations on the planet: its incredible biodiversity, welcoming culture, and many fun attractions draw in over two million tourists every year. There’s so much to do here that you’d be forgiven for struggling to figure out just how much you can pack into your vacation, but these are some of the best bets for those who want to make the most of their time here.
1) Try Horseback Riding in Costa Rica
Horseback riding is one of the most popular ways to see the country; it’s a popular activity throughout the national parks, as it fits the eco-friendly culture of Costa Rica. Mistico Park has a horseback-only trail that provides you with a sense of seclusion, while Arenal Volcano Park lets you ride up to the top of a volcano! You can also choose beach horseback riding tours, trotting across the white sand along carefully cultivated paths with the fresh Pacific breeze on your face.
2) See Sloths up Close
Sloths are almost quintessential Costa Rica culture: they are laid-back and relaxed, just like this tropical nation where time seems to move a little slower. Over on the southwest Caribbean side, you can visit the Sloth Sanctuary, which rehabilitates injured two-toed and three-toed sloths so that they can continue to serve as the nation’s most beloved ambassadors. The sanctuary provides numerous tours, including one that takes you behind the scenes to better understand how the conservation agency nurses sloths back to health. When the weather cooperates, you can also take a canoe tour through the forest, where you might be lucky enough to see a shaggy grey head peeping around the leaf canopy.
It’s important to note that you cannot touch or interact with any of the sloths while you’re there: wildlife conservation regulations prohibit non-sanctuary individuals from any direct interaction with the animals in their care.
3) Relax in a Hot Spring
Most tourists to Costa Rica visit during the winter months, avoiding all the annoying chores like shoveling snow off the roof back home – and there’s no better way to remind yourself that you’re free and clear of slippery ice than to jump into a nice warm hot spring. Costa Rica has six active volcanoes and 61 dormant or extinct ones; with all these fiery geothermal activities, it’s also home to many rejuvenating hot springs, whose mineral-rich water has drawn in visitors for hundreds of years.
These springs are located throughout the country; however, the Arenal/Los Fortunas area is home to numerous professionally managed day spas and resorts, including Rio Chollin, Tabacon Hot Springs, and Titoku Hot Springs. Wherever you visit, you may be able to find small, family-managed springs, but be advised that you would do well to brush up on your Spanish if you’d like to go for these more intimate options.
4) Go Ziplining in Costa Rica
For an exhilarating adventure through the forest, consider ziplining: Costa Rica has some of the longest and most well-maintained lines in Central America, including double lines so that you can go whizzing along with a friend. This is a wonderful way to get a bird’s eye view of the rainforest, and you might be lucky enough to spot a few rare animals, such as scarlet macaws or jaguars, streaking through the trees!
It can be intimidating to be so far up high, but don’t worry: it’s incredibly safe. Costa Rica has incredibly strict guidelines for all of its tourist activities, considering both the security of visitors and the protection of the ecosystem. There are platforms interspersed throughout the path so that you can take a break and gather your courage for the next plunge, and you will be assisted by well-qualified guides who will check all of the equipment to ensure that you’re totally comfortable.
5) Stay in a Private Villa
If you want to really enjoy the gem of Central America, you need to see its world-class hospitality at its finest. A private beach villa in Costa Rica is one of the best ways to appreciate the country; you’ll have a beautiful, environmentally conscious resort all to yourself with your closest friends and family. Located on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, you can have incredible views of both the lush rainforest and the pristine beaches near the Manuel Antonio National Park. Better yet, these villas come with their own private chefs, who use locally sourced and sustainable ingredients that embrace nature’s abundance. If you or one of your family members has a food allergy, you can be assured that you won’t have to worry about cross-contamination: just let them know ahead of time what your dietary restrictions are, and they’ll strictly adhere to allergy protocols.
There is so much to do in Costa Rica; every region of this small country has its own unique charms, and you’ll never run out of great activities throughout your stay. Better yet, their excellent resorts will make it all the more enjoyable to head back inside after a long day of playing in the forest or frolicking along the beach. No place in the world is quite like this ecological marvel, so be sure to get the most out of your trip by considering these fun tourist ideas.
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