What are the best places to visit in Costa Rica? What are the best things to do in Costa Rica?
I get these questions a lot. Having lived in Costa Rica for 12 years, working in the tourism industry, I field questions from extended family, friends, friends of friends, and even complete strangers if I happen to mention that’s where I live. They all ask the same thing, “If I were to visit Costa Rica, where should I go and what should I do?”
Start small, I always recommend. Choose two or three destinations for a week-long trip. Costa Rica overall is not a large country, but because of its rugged, mountainous topography, if you flattened it out, it would probably double in size. There are hundreds of beaches between the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, plenty of rivers and volcanoes, and 161 national parks, private reserves and wildlife refuges each with a unique ecosystem.
If I were to design a seven-day first-time Costa Rica vacation for someone, I would choose something like the Best of Costa Rica itinerary by 2Costa Rica Travel. On this Costa Rica vacation package, you get adventure, rainforest, beaches, national parks, and the country’s most famous volcano – all in a week.
Go for an adventure whitewater rafting tour on the Pacuare River (class 3-4), one of the world’s best for scenery and rapids. The drive there takes you through the cloud forest of Braulio Carrillo National Park.
Next is two nights at the posh Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort at Volcano Arenal. Car rental is included. The Tabacon Hot Springs, with their views of the famous Arenal Volcano, are world-renowned.
Then, it’s off to the beach for two nights at luxury eco-hotel Si Como No at one of Costa Rica’s most beautiful Pacific beaches, Manuel Antonio. Two adventure tours are included – Jungle Canopy tour and hiking in one of the country’s most visited national parks, Manuel Antonio.
You finish in San José for a last night in the capital city.