15 of the best attractions in Costa Rica

*Review best according to redakciey. About the selection criteria. This material is subjective in nature, is not an advertisement, and does not serve as a guide to purchase. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

The Republic of Costa Rica is located between Nicaragua and Panama, its southern and Western coasts are washed by the waters of the Pacific ocean, and the Eastern Caribbean sea. The state covers an area of just over 50 thousand square kilometers. With such a modest size, Costa Rica boasts a fairly high standard of living for this region, in this indicator it is in second place after Panama. The name of the country translates from Spanish as “rich coast”, and in many ways this is true. It has a rich culture and history, but its most important asset is the fantastic diversity of nature. Dense rainforests cover two-thirds of Costa Rica’s territory, where a huge number of rare trees grow and hundreds of thousands of species of animals, birds, and insects are found. Here you can see formidable caimans, huge sea turtles, miniature hummingbirds, exotic butterflies. Residents are rightly proud of their wildlife protection program, and there are about 25 national parks and nature reserves in the country.

Costa Rica is very attractive in terms of tourism, it is visited by one to three million tourists per year. In addition to the splendor of unspoilt nature, the state has a developed hotel and entertainment infrastructure. Guests who decide to spend their holidays here will find about three hundred sandy beaches, a large number of water sports and, of course, an extensive excursion program. The country has a mild climate almost all year round, with an average temperature of 23-26 degrees. An important role is played by the low crime rate – it is one of the safest Latin American countries. Costa Rica has a lot of attractions, both natural and man-made. We invite you to learn about the most interesting of them.

Costa Rica’s best attractions

Category place Sight rating
Costa Rica’s best attractions 1 Manuel Antonio national Park 5.0
2 Venado Caves 4.9
3 The Arenal Volcano 4.8
4 The gold Museum 4.7
5 Hot springs 4.7
6 Tamarindo 4.7
7 Backdraw 4.6
8 Las Baulas national Park 4.5
9 San Jose Cathedral 4.4
10 Coconut Island 4.4
11 La Fortuna Waterfall 4.4
12 Tortuga Island 4.3
13 Stone balls of Costa Rica 4.2
14 Monteverde cloud forest reserve 4.2
15 Guayabo 4.1

Manuel Antonio national Park

Attraction rating: 5.0

The Park is located 132 kilometers from the capital, near the Pacific coast of the country, its territory is slightly more than 16 square kilometers. Although it is the smallest of all Costa Rica’s national parks, it is visited by up to 150,000 people each year. The main reason is the amazing biological diversity that can be observed here. Manuel Antonio is home to over a hundred species of mammals and almost two hundred species of birds. Walking through the Park, you can meet Howler monkeys, spiky-tailed iguanas, white-nosed coati and other unusual animals. Dolphins and even whales often swim into the coastal waters, making seasonal migrations.

Guests are invited to contemplate nature on foot, by means of a kind of cable car passing through the crowns of trees, or from suspension bridges laid at dizzying heights. The Park has four sandy beaches, water activities include surfing, sailing on yachts or catamarans, and sport fishing. An interesting fact is that Manuel Antonio is open to the public only until 4 PM, as the tide floods the entrance to the exit, and at night crocodiles often swim here.

Venado Caves

Attraction rating: 4.9

15 of the best attractions in Costa Rica

Venado caves have existed since the Miocene period, their age is approximately twenty million years. Most of this time they were hidden under water, but due to tectonic activity they were on the surface. Even now, during the rainy season, the caves are sometimes partially flooded, and the rest of the time a shallow, winding river flows through them. Once local residents tried to settle in here, but the constant humidity forced them to leave these underground shelters over time. Today, only spiders and a colony of bats remain permanent inhabitants of the caves.

The underground passages are rich in beautiful stalactites and stalagmites, as well as fossilized corals and remains of marine animals-at every turn, the underwater past of this place is noticeable. Although tourist excursions in the Venado caves are quite frequent, there is no lighting provided, and travelers have to use flashlights.

The Arenal Volcano

Rating of the attraction: 4.8

15 of the best attractions in Costa Rica

Due to its location in a zone of high volcanic activity, Costa Rica is rich in volcanoes, there are 120 of them in the country, and 70 of them are still active. The most famous is Arenal, an active stratovolcano located in the province of Alajuela, 90 kilometers Northwest of the capital. The volcano has a regular conical shape, its height is 1670 meters above sea level. By geological standards, it is quite young, about seven thousand years old.

According to research by scientists, the earliest eruption of the volcano lasted for 35 years. Since then, Arenal has been characterized by explosive eruptions that occur once every hundred years or more. Since the 16th century, the volcano remained dormant until a large-scale eruption triggered by an earthquake began in 1968. Rapidly moving pyroclastic flows led to the death of 90 people, and lava pouring out over several days buried almost 15 square kilometers of the surrounding area. The village of Tabacon was completely destroyed, and the city of Pueblo Nuevo was also partially affected by the disaster. In our time, large eruptions are not expected, but the volcano is constantly active, almost every day giving out small lava flows. Such eruptions look especially impressive in the evening, as if the top of the mountain is illuminated from the inside. Tourists visiting the surrounding area of the volcano are offered both Hiking and the opportunity to admire the Arenal from the height of a hot air balloon.

The gold Museum

Attraction rating: 4.7

15 of the best attractions in Costa Rica

The pre-Columbian gold Museum is located in Central San Jose, close to the Cathedral. As the name suggests, the exhibition is a collection of gold artifacts from native American times. Previously, gold finds discovered by archaeologists were kept in a Bank, but due to the constant increase in their number, the authorities decided to build a special Museum. The collection includes valuable household items, jewelry, objects related to native American religious rituals and ancient art objects. The total number of exhibits exceeds two thousand units.

Visitors to the Museum are most impressed by the highly detailed bird figurines, erotic figurines, huge gold shields and a full-length sculpture of a warrior. Some of the artifacts date back to the fifth century BC. It is worth noting that the Museum contains only a part of the treasures of the Indians. After the conquest of Central America by the conquistadors, a huge amount of looted gold was simply melted down into ingots and sent by sea to Europe. But even what’s left allows you to get a glimpse of the rich culture and craftsmanship of Costa Rica’s indigenous people. The gold Museum shares a room with the numismatic collection, where you can see coins of the state, starting from the XV century. Interestingly, despite the huge value of the stored collections, the Museum building has never been attacked or robbed in its entire history.

Hot springs

Attraction rating: 4.7

15 of the best attractions in Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s most famous hot springs are located in Tabacon, 13 kilometers from La Fortuna. There are seven large thermal pools and many small baths, as well as cascades of miniature waterfalls. Hot water pools are surrounded by a dense tropical garden, which is maintained by the staff of the nearby Tabacon Grand Spa. Thermal springs are heated due to volcanic activity, the temperature in them ranges from 40 to 25 degrees. They owe their existence mainly to the Arenal volcano. Water contains dissolved minerals leached from underground rocks and magma particles. Tabakon springs do not have the pungent smell of hydrogen sulfide that is characteristic of many other hot springs.

Tamarindo

Attraction rating: 4.7

Tamarindo village is located in the province of Guanacaste, on the Nicoya Peninsula. This place, once a modest fishing village, is now very popular with ecotourists and surfers. The sandy beaches of Tamarindo have gentle entrances to the water, they are ideal for inexperienced swimmers and novice surfers. There are both places with active currents and large waves, as well as quieter areas. Extreme athletes prefer to Board off the coast of Pico Pequeno or near the mouth of the El Estero river. In the winter months, the height of the waves slightly away from the shore can reach four meters. For beginners, there are surf schools here, and there are also rental points for various water equipment.

For those who aren’t interested in breaking the waves, Tamarindo has plenty of other recreational opportunities. Tourists are offered diving, sport fishing, horseback riding, Hiking tours through the dense and filled with exotic wildlife jungles that surround the coast. Like any place of pilgrimage for surfers, the resort is famous for its vibrant nightlife.

Drake’s Bay

Attraction rating: 4.6

15 of the best attractions in Costa Rica

Drake’s Bay is located on the OSA Peninsula. This is one of the most beautiful, peaceful and secluded places in Costa Rica, a true tropical Paradise surrounded by pristine nature. On the coast around the Bay there are long sandy beaches, a little further from them there are small hotels and cozy guest houses. This place got its name in honor of the famous pirate Francis Drake, who visited here in the XVI century. Legend has it that he hid somewhere nearby part of his untold wealth, looted from the Spaniards.

Drake Bay is perfect for both beach holidays and diving – there is a whole network of underwater caves. The territory of the Bay includes the Corcovado national Park, which is distinguished by its biological diversity. The Park is home to many rare species of birds and animals, most of which are found only in this part of the world.

Las Baulas national Park

Rating of the attraction: 4.5

15 of the best attractions in Costa Rica

Las Baulas is known as one of the largest leatherback turtle nests on the Pacific coast. The Park is located near the border with Nicaragua, in the province of Guanacaste, its territory is approximately 220 square kilometers. Sea turtles used to be found here by the thousands, but due to the widespread popularity of their meat and eggs, the animals were almost completely exterminated. Only after the establishment of the National marine Park and taking leatherback turtles under increased protection, their Pacific population began to gradually recover. Currently, the number of this species is about two and a half thousand individuals.

Leatherback turtles come ashore only during the egg-laying period, so you can see them from November to April. These beautiful animals are known for their slowness when moving on land and huge size-some of them can reach two meters in length, and weigh over 500 kilograms. Guided tours of the Park are conducted exclusively to minimize the impact of tourists on the ecosystem.

San Jose Cathedral

Attraction rating: 4.4

15 of the best attractions in Costa Rica

The Cathedral is one of the main attractions of the Costa Rican capital. It stands in the Central part of the city and is a simple, but at the same time majestic building, combining in its architectural form two styles at once: Neoclassicism and Baroque. The Cathedral was built in 1860, before that there was a small Catholic Church in its place. In 1871, the building suffered serious damage after an earthquake, and it had to be rebuilt anew. Another reconstruction took place 20 years later, in honor of The Pope’s visit to the city of San Jose.

The entrance of the temple is decorated with numerous columns, the interior space is striking with a wealth of colorful stained glass Windows. On the main altar, you can see an old wooden statue of Christ. The Cathedral is open to all comers, it is visited daily by a large number of tourists. Religious mass is held three times a day, in English and Spanish.

Coconut Island

Attraction rating: 4.4

15 of the best attractions in Costa Rica

Cocos island is the largest uninhabited island in the Pacific ocean. Its area is 24 square kilometers, it is located 600 kilometers West of Costa Rica. Picturesque tropical landscapes and rich fauna of the island have made it attractive for tourists. Despite its inaccessibility (you can only get there from the port of Puntarenas), more than 1,100 people come here every year for excursions. The island’s unique ecosystem is home to many endemic plant and insect species. But the main wealth is hidden under the waters off the coast of Coconut: there are more than three hundred varieties of fish and about five hundred species of shellfish. Thanks to the ocean currents, divers regularly encounter rare rays, octopuses, Galapagos sharks, dolphins, sea lions and many other inhabitants of the underwater world near the island.

There are several legends associated with the island of Cocos, United by the theme of treasures allegedly hidden here by pirates. Treasure hunters have made at least 500 expeditions in history, but none of them has been successful. However, a beautiful story about a treasure buried on a desert island formed the basis of one of the most popular adventure novels – “Treasure Island”, written by the Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson. In addition, Cocos island became the prototype for Isla Nubar, the main location of the book “Jurassic Park” by Michael Crichton, which was later used for a series of blockbusters.

La Fortuna Waterfall

Attraction rating: 4.4

15 of the best attractions in Costa Rica

La Fortuna waterfall is located in the Arenal National Park, near the volcano of the same name. Its waters originate from the Tenorio river and fall off a cliff, from a height of 75 meters, falling into a beautiful emerald lake. The waterfall is surrounded by thickets of tropical trees and plants, as well as large boulders. At the very top, there is an observation deck from which visitors can admire the waterfall and its surroundings. Also, many tourists do not miss the chance to swim in the crystal clear, cool lake at the foot of La Fortuna.

Tortuga Island

Attraction rating: 4.3

15 of the best attractions in Costa Rica

The island, which belongs to Costa Rica, is located in the Caribbean sea and covers an area of 180 square kilometers. Although there are no hotels and developed infrastructure, Tortuga still attracts a large number of tourists. One of the main reasons lies in his past. In the XVI century, the island served for many years as a refuge for Spanish buccaneers and to this day there are many legends among the locals associated with the island’s pirates. Tortuga is also ideal for a beach holiday.

The waters near the island are a real Paradise for divers. Dolphins, Moray eels, octopuses and giant sea turtles can be seen in the depths of the water. And there are several sunken ships lying on the sea floor near Tortuga. Those who want to enjoy the beauty of the underwater world without scuba gear are offered a clear-bottomed boat tour.

Stone balls of Costa Rica

Rating of the attraction: 4.2

15 of the best attractions in Costa Rica

Stone balls are one of the most unusual and mysterious sights in Costa Rica. Initially, these spheres were discovered at the beginning of the XX century when clearing the area for banana plantations. Believing local legends that gold was hidden inside the balloons, workers would split them apart or blow them up with dynamite. In the end, local authorities managed to put an end to such acts of vandalism.

To see the stone balls in a few places on the island of caño, the Nicoya Peninsula or near the mouth of the river Diquis. Several spheres are kept in museums, both in Costa Rica and abroad. Their size varies widely: from a few centimeters to two meters in diameter, the weight of the largest reaches 16 tons. Scientists who have studied the mysterious balls, could not come to a consensus about their age or origin. The theory that such spheres could have appeared naturally as a result of natural forces seems unlikely. On the other hand, to create them, the natives who lived thousands of years ago would have needed not only special tools, but also extensive knowledge in the field of stone processing. Not without theories related to the disappeared highly developed civilizations. In any case, people have yet to solve the riddle of stone balls.

Monteverde cloud forest reserve

Rating of the attraction: 4.2

15 of the best attractions in Costa Rica

Monteverde Park’s forests are home to more than a hundred species of mammals, about 400 species of birds, thousands of species of insects, and up to 2,500 species of plants. This biological reserve attracts a huge number of wildlife lovers. While walking through the Park, you can admire rare species of orchids, and if you are lucky, you can even meet the symbol of Latin America-the Quetzal bird, considered sacred by the Mayan and Aztec Indians. Quetzal is remarkable not only for its bright appearance, but also for its amazing love of freedom: all attempts to keep it in captivity ended in failure, after catching the birds quickly die.

Many tourists prefer to see the beauty of Monteverde from a height. For this purpose, suspension bridges are laid in the Park, and canopic tours are also offered. The latter are moving along metal cables stretched at a height of up to 40 meters above the ground, using safety equipment.

Guayabo

Attraction rating: 4.1

15 of the best attractions in Costa Rica

The most important archaeological site in Costa Rica is located on the southern slope of the Turrialba volcano. The lost Indian settlement was built more than two thousand years ago, and in 800 ad it served as a major political and cultural center of the tribe. During the period of prosperity, the population of Guayabo reached 20 thousand people. For some unknown reason, the inhabitants left the city in the early 15th century.

Archaeological excavations revealed a well-developed urban infrastructure, including stone-paved streets, houses with stone walls, petroglyphs, artifacts with unique writing, as well as cult sculptures depicting the Jaguar God and the alligator God. Of particular interest is the aqueduct system, which has remained operational to this day. Many precious metal objects have also been found, and they can be seen in the National Museum of San Jose.

Attention! This rating is subjective in nature, is not an advertisement, and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

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