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With tropical beaches, lush rainforests and friendly locals, there are endless things to do in Costa Rica. Sun, surf, and adventure, Costa Rica has something to offer all types of travelers. From never-ending outdoor activities to a plethora of diverse wildlife and some of the most picturesque landscapes in the world, visitors are spoiled for choice in what many visitors describe as the ultimate paradise. Whether you want to adventure through one of the many National Park’s or just soak in the 800 miles of pristine shoreline, discover the top things to do in Costa Rica.
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What Is It? A top animal rescue center in the country, Proyecto Asis is a community-based organization that does a lot of good, and lets visitors help with their mission.
Why Do It? Founded in 1995 and located just outside of La Fortuna, Proyecto Asis serves as a rescue center for injured and orphaned wildlife in Costa Rica. Visitors are able to visit and take a one and a half-hour informative tour of the rescue center or participate in a more detailed and hands-on three-hour volunteer experience.
Good to Know: Here animal lovers can get up close and personal with the animals in their natural habitat and learn about wildlife protection and the center’s mission of preserving these populations.
What Is It? Home to several towering volcanoes, a handful of these impressive feats of nature are also active.
Why Do It? Quiet since 2010, Arenal and the surrounding National Park are popular with visitors. Situated among a lush rainforest, Arenal boasts an abundance of natural beauty and trails for hiking, trekking, and mountain biking near the volcano’s base.
Good to Know: Visitors are spoiled for choice in adventures, as nature lovers will find solace in a number of hot springs, and can observe a plethora of diverse wildlife such as toucans, parrots, and tanagers in the lush surroundings.
What Is It? Boasting 6 ecological zones, the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve is a unique attraction that offers visitors a chance to explore an area with 90% virgin forest.
Why Do It? Located in the Northern Plains and a three-hour drive from San Jose, visitors will be wrapped in a sea of lush greenery as they are faced with 400 types of birds and 2,500 plant varieties in a 25,700-acre reserve.
Good to Know: Considered a must-see attraction to fully appreciate Costa Rica’s rich wildlife diversity, highlights of the area include the adventurous Sky Walk hanging bridges and Sky Trek zip lining tours to catch a glimpse of the pristine treetops from a bird’s eye view.
What Is It? One of the most popular National Parks in Costa Rica, the Manuel Antonio National Park has unspoiled white sandy beaches coupled with an evergreen tropical forest and mountain backdrop that will take your breath away.
Why Do It? One of the most impressive landscapes in the world, the park is also known for its marine biodiversity and coral reefs perfect for diving, snorkeling, and kayaking excursions.
Good to Know: Boasting 12 small isles just off the coast, the area is popular with dolphins and whales, and visitors can explore a variety of trails within its forests, mangroves, and lagoons filled with a variety of foliage and wildlife.
What Is It? Luckily for us all, Costa Rica’s beaches offer an array of surfing options for every skill level.
Why Do It? Whether you’re a professional or a complete beginner, visitors will find sprawling beach retreats for all to enjoy. A former sleepy resort town, Jaco is now a popular area teeming with charming shops, restaurants, and beachfront hotels. Here visitors will find palm-lined shores and lots of places to learn the art of surfing.
Good to Know: In addition to its world-renowned waves and sun-kissed beaches, surf lessons and rentals are widely available for those ready to catch a wave.
What Is It? A 70-acre private ecological park teeming with rich biodiversity, the La Paz Waterfall Gardens is where cloud forest and rain forest can co-exist.
Why Do It? Visitors are met with a magical experience at this fairytale garden complex buzzing with scenic waterfalls, colorful orchids, and abundant wildlife. Visitors will be pleased to find paved trails amongst the lush rainforest that wrap around 5 picturesque waterfalls, with platforms available for a prime aerial view of the natural wonders.
Good to Know: In addition to its natural beauty, there are over 100 species of animals, hiking trails, an aviary, and a butterfly garden. From croaking frogs to howling spider monkey’s, the La Paz Waterfall Gardens are a nature lover’s paradise.
What Is It? Located in the capital city, the National Museum of Costa Rica in San Jose is situated atop the Plaza de la Democracia on a Bellavista Fortress built in 1917.
Why Do It? Originally used as military barracks in the Costa Rica civil war, visitors can still spot hundreds of bullet holes in its walls. Offering visitors a sample of Costa Rica’s archeological, historical, and natural wonders from the pre-Columbian period to the present, visitors can explore a handful of notable exhibits and interesting artifacts.
Good to Know: To top it off, visitors will find a large butterfly garden and a breathtaking view of the city from the museum’s courtyard.
What Is It? Located on Caño Island, the Caño Island Biological Reserve is a top attraction in Costa Rica.
Why Do It? An archaeological reserve since 1978, it boasts clear warm waters where visitors can explore this marine reserve and discover five platforms of low coral reefs with an underwater landscape of caves, cliffs, and canyons. Home to a wide variety of marine mammals that include turtles, manta rays, and white-tipped sharks, the Caño Island Biological Reserve is consistently rated as being one of the best underwater snorkeling and diving spots in the world.
Good to Know: Known for having the largest concentration of coral-building organisms along the Pacific Coast, the island is said to have been formed over 50 million years ago.