Costa Rica is famous for rich coffee, majestic volcanoes, luxurious beaches, and its laid-back pura vida lifestyle. Pura vida is Spanish for pure life which perfectly describes this magnificent country and its people. The people of Costa Rica, called ticos, are welcoming and friendly, and English is spoken in many of the tourist areas.
There is so much to do and see in Costa Rica whether you're into nature, relaxation, or just soaking up a new culture – there's something for every kind of traveler. Keep reading to discover the ten fun things to do when you visit the land of Pura Vida.
10 Go Zip Lining
Zip-lining is a thrilling way to get a birds-eye view of Costa Rica's beautiful jungles. Even those with a fear of heights have enjoyed this unique way of exploring the canopy of the rainforest. You'll find many opportunities to zip-line in Costa Rica and each one offers something different. Are you looking for velocity, number of lines, or a variety of wildlife? Think about what's important to you before choosing a place.
Zip-lining is something everyone should experience at least once, but it's important to research which companies have the best safety records before you go.
9 Tour San José
The capital of Costa Rica is the country's hub of culture. Here you can visit the Jade Museum where you will learn about the artisans of Pre-Columbian Costa Rica in a place dedicated to preserving the country's treasures. The National Theatre in the center of the city is a photo opportunity you won't want to miss whether or not you catch a performance.
Take a walking tour through San José to learn more about the history of Costa Rica while sampling popular foods. Or, visit the Mercado Central where you'll find everything from fresh fruits to handmade souvenirs.
8 Search For Sloths
Many people think it's easy to find a sloth when they visit Costa Rica. I mean, it's practically the mascot of the country. However, sloths hide in the trees and can be very difficult to find so finding a professional guide is the best way to see these slow-moving mammals.
When choosing a place to see sloths, keep some things in mind. Only patronize places where the animals are in the wild, or being rehabilitated and never spend your money where they allow tourists to hold the sloths. Holding a wild animal is stressful for them and can cause them harm.
7 Visit An Animal Sanctuary Or Refuge
According to Costa Rica Guide, Corcovado on the Osa Peninsula has the greatest diversity of "any region of similar size, anywhere on earth". At the National Park there you may see jaguars, squirrel monkeys, macaws, or tapirs. Along the Pan-American Highway, you'll find a Puma Rescue Center where you can take a self-guided tour and see pumas, jaguars, and other wild animals.
Costa Rica is home to many animal sanctuaries but, unfortunately, not all are legitimate. When searching for one to visit, make sure they do not breed the animals there and that the intention is to release them back into the wild, whenever possible.
6 Take A Coffee Or Chocolate Tour
Nothing beats a delicious cup of rich Costa Rican arabica coffee, and Costa Rican chocolate is world renowned as well. The Central Valley of Costa Rica is home to most of the country's coffee and cacao plantations and many offer fascinating and informative tours for guests.
These tours are not only informative but entertaining and delicious, too. You'll hear about the history of coffee and chocolate told by a bilingual guide and be treated to a tasting or two along the way. You may even be chosen to help make chocolate. What's not to love about that?
5 Soak In The Hot Springs
There's nothing more relaxing than a long soak in warm water. Thanks to the geothermic activity of its volcanoes visitors to Costa Rica can find soothing hot springs in many parts of the country. Not only is it relaxing but the waters of these hot springs contain a multitude of minerals that are purported to alleviate symptoms of arthritis, eczema, and other maladies.
The most popular area for hot springs is near the 7,000-year-old Arenal Volcano where you'll find many places to enjoy the springs – some even have water parks for kids. Or, join the locals in the natural springs of the Tabacón River for free.
4 Go Bird-Watching
It's not punny to say people flock to Costa Rica to lay their eyes on myriad birds of various colors, shapes, and sizes. True bird-lovers are eager to catch a glimpse of the elusive Resplendent Quetzal, Costa Rica's rarest bird while the friendly toucans or Great Kiskadees are within plain view.
There are many birdwatching tours you can take with guides who are equipped with powerful telescopes and a keen eye. Using a guide is the best way to see the birds who tend to stay hidden in the trees – the ones you'd never find on your own.
3 Visit A Soda
There's no better way to get the full Costa Rica experience than by spending time with the locals eating a comida tipica. Translated, comida tipica means typical meal which includes rice, beans, fresh greens, vegetables, meat or fish, and fried plantains. Although the name means spotted rooster you won't find poultry in a breakfast of gallo pinto. This dish of rice and beans is served with eggs, fried plantains, and fried cheese. Order a bebida natural and you'll enjoy a frosty drink made with your choice of tropical fruit.
You'll find all these at sodas, the small, cafés found all over Costa Rica. In fact, one small pueblo could have five sodas within its limits.
2 Visit A Black Sand Beach
Costa Rica has several black sand beaches where lava deposits have turned the sand black. In Limon on the Caribbean Sea, is Playa Negra where you may encounter wild horses running in the black sand. Surfers enjoy some of the largest breaks in the world on this side of the country, and you'll witness a completely different culture from the rest of Costa Rica.
Playa Hermosa on the Pacific coast is popular for tourists who enjoy the many fine restaurants and hotels. But, if you're looking for a black sand beach that's less crowded and developed, nearby Ocotal may be a better option.
1 Explore The Cloud Forest
Costa Rica is made up of many different micro climates and has twelve different climate zones. You may wear a t-shirt and shorts in one part of the country, and be searching for a rain jacket after traveling only ten miles. The elevations give you a feeling of being right within the clouds (there's a reason they're called cloud forests) and afford exploration opportunities like no other.
The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is Costa Rica's most famous reserve and contains 100 species of mammals, and 400 bird species, giving you a good chance of seeing a wide variety of wildlife. Consider checking out the hanging bridges where you can walk through the cloud forest on a suspended bridge.