You’d be forgiven for thinking that Costa Rica is little more than a gigantic national park. This country is absolutely covered with protected spaces and wildlife reserves, and it sometimes feels as if David Attenborough might appear out of nowhere to narrate your entire journey. That sensation, however, is precisely what makes the parks so wonderful: They embody the sort of lush landscapes you’ve only ever seen on television documentaries.
In-the-know travelers tend to argue about which parks are the most unmissable, but first-time visitors will find that each of the options brings its own set of perks. Manuel Antonio combines forest and beach into one jaw-dropping spot, Tortuguero is a jungle paradise with waterfalls and black-sand coast, and Corcovado is as remote and pristine as they come. Just be sure to tuck your camera into your backpack; no matter where you go, you’ll find landscapes that are worthy of a magazine cover.
The Natural Wonders
If the national parks aren’t enough to convince you, the adjacent natural wonders are sure to do the trick. From serene beaches to smoking volcanoes, Costa Rica seems to house every type of landscape within its borders. Guanacaste is a great place to get your first taste; this northern area is home to Rincon de la Vieja Volcano National Park, the Arenal Volcano and the iconic Tropical Dry Forest. The Sarapiqui Canopy is another must-see spot for travelers who prefer jungles to volcanoes, and Tortuga Island boasts turquoise waters and powder-soft beaches.
One of our personal favourites, however, is the Monteverde Cloud Forest. Located in the Cordillera de Tilaran mountain range, this sprawling reserve lets you climb through the scenery surrounded by an ever-present layer of canopy fog. It’s like walking through a dreamscape.
The Tropical Paradise
Forget the Virgin Islands. Ditch the Dominican Republic. Next time you’re in the mood for a tropical vacation, make a beeline for Costa Rica. In addition to its natural spectacles, this country has the market cornered on beach-town vibes. The Caribbean region is known for its laid-back atmosphere, and surfers flock to areas like Puerto Viejo de Talamanca to catch a few waves in the crystal-clear waters. Dominical is another fantastic spot for island-style holidays; surfing is big business here as well, but you’ll also find some incredible places to whale watch, horseback ride and kick back on the beach. Check out Trailfinders Costa Rica holidays for a tailormade trip to experience all of these unique highlights and more.
(Photo by davidgordillo via Flickr)