Costa Rica by Region

central Valley

The Central Valley is both geographically and economically and socio-cultural heart of Costa Rica, between the Central Volcanic Mountain Range and the Talamanca mountain range, about 1000 to 1200m above sea level. Because of this location it has a very pleasant eternal spring climate, with an average temperature of around 22 C. The area is home to some 2.5 million people, more than half of the total population, spread across the four largest cities in the country, San José, Alajuela, Cartago and Heredia. More than 80% of the industry is located here but agriculture is not unimportant because outside the cities, on the fertile slopes of the volcano, is after all still a lot of vegetable and coffee cultivation.

The capital San Jose has only 300,000 inhabitants but is visited by 1 million people, it is always very busy and lively. Here you can find the finest museums in the country, including the Gold Museum, Jade Museum, and National Museum, housed in the imposing Bellavista Fortress, an old army barracks. The National Theatre right in the center is definitely worth a visit for its beautiful interior. Other beautiful buildings are the Melico Salazar Theater (Parque Central) and the Central Post Office (Calle 2). The Mercado Central (Central Market) is also a must if you just want to taste the atmosphere of the daily life of the Costa Rican. There is everything for sale, from meat and fish, vegetables and fruit to cowboy hats and machetes, and you can tasty and very cheap food in so-called sodas, small, simple restaurants where mostly typical dishes.

In the Central Valley, you can visit the Poas Volcano, often combined with a visit to a coffee plantation, or the volcano Irazu, with a stop in the former capital Cartago to visit the Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels, the most important pilgrimage site in the country. Not so far away you can also find Jardin Lankester, a large botanical garden that includes numerous species of orchids.


Guanacaste is a province in the northwest with a very dry and sunny climate. Even in the rainy season (May to November) it rains much less than in the rest of the country. Along the west coast of the Nicoya Peninsula are dozens of beautiful beaches with a hugely varied range of hotels, from the super-luxurious Four Seasons Hotel and other large all-inclusive resorts in the Gulf of Papagayo to simple backpacker little hotels in Montezuma, and everything in between . The most visited beaches here are Playa del Coco, Playa Flamingo, Tamarindo and Samara. Playa Ostional takes place monthly in the second half of the year (usually just after new moon) arribada a place, a unique natural phenomenon where hundreds Ridley turtles at once come ashore to nest. Learn Turtles, the largest reptiles in the world, come ashore in Playa Grande near Tamarindo, between October and February, but to a much lesser extent.

But Guanacaste is much more than sun and sea. Just below the Nicaraguan border is the National Park of Santa Rosa, a unique tropical dry forest completely bald will be placed in the dry season, but every year is lush green in the rainy season. Palo Verde National Park is a wetland area around the lower reaches of the Tempisque River, with healthy populations of storks, spoonbills, cormorants, kingfishers, etc, a must for bird lovers. But the most remarkable National Park in Guanacaste is undoubtedly Rincon de la Vieja, located around the eponymous volcano of boiling mud pools, steam vents and sulfur lakes everywhere, and a network of adventurous hiking trails to waterfalls and craters.

Finally, Guanacaste is also known for its haciendas, vast cattle ranches with savannah-like fields that are managed by the sabaneros, the Costa Rican cowboys. Riding in the company of such local saba nero is always a memorable experience. …

Central Pacific Coast

This area covers the Pacific coast of the port city of Puntarenas in the north to the surfers paradise Dominical in the south. In between lie Jacó, the largest and most developed resort in the country, and Manuel Antonio, near the former banana port of Quepos. Jacó is known for its great surfing and nightlife, while Manuel Antonio attracts visitors with beautiful palm fringed beaches, spectacular sunsets and a national park full of wildlife. This is probably the best place in the country to observe monkeys, sloths, coatis and iguanas.

Another protected area that is worthwhile is the Carara National Park, a unique tropical forest in the transition zone of the dry north to the wet south. Towering trees hostels here toucans and macaws noisy yellow wing, and the meandering Tarcoles River is the largest population of crocodiles in Central America. From a nearby bridge over the river you are guaranteed a good look at a few, and sometimes decades, of which 4m-long meat eaters.

The Central Pacific coast is only 2 to 3 hour drive from San Jose and partly therefore Costa Ricans themselves a very popular holiday destination, especially in the period around Easter and New Year.

Southern Costa Rica

Tourist still the most pristine region of Costa Rica, with hundreds of thousands of hectares of pristine wilderness and rugged coastline where long deserted beaches are interrupted by rugged rocks. Along the coast may be relatively easy dolphins and humpback whales are spotted, especially in the National Park Marino Ballena and around the uninhabited Caño Island, where it is indeed good snorkeling and diving. one finds sprawling on the banks of the Sierpe river, almost impenetrable mangrove forests on the Osa Peninsula is still the biggest piece continuous lowland rainforest in Central America, with a biodiversity that is comparable to the Amazon. For example, in the Corcovado National Park, all four species of monkeys found in Costa Rica, as well as tapirs, anteaters, boa’s and wild boar, and it is one of the few places in the country with healthy populations of wild cats such as jaguars and poema’ s. The vegetation is no less impressive, with nearly 500 species of trees such bizarre wurgvijgen, giant kapok trees and endless rows of coconut trees where forest and beach meet.

Further inland lies the Cordillera de Talamanca, the longest and highest mountain range in the country, more than 200km continuous protected area of cloud forests, oak forests and paramo, a steppe-like landscape above the tree line. Here lies the highest mountain, the 3820m high Chirripó which can be climbed by a three-day trek. The mighty valley of the Savegre river is San Gerardo de Dota, a picturesque mountain village at 2000m, where all year are observed by quetzals and other colorful upland birds.

Northern Costa Rica

The undisputed attraction in the so-called Zona Norte is the Arenal Volcano, and rightly so. With its perfect cone shape and daily eruptions, this majestic mountain the ideal example of a volcano. Especially at night, in clear weather, the lava flows are an unforgettable sight. But also during the day, during a walk in the National Park Arenal can, from a safe distance, the intense activity of this rumbling colossus hear and see. In the thermal baths at the foot of the volcano is relax and take from the nearby village of La Fortuna are many excursions like rafting, quad biking or mountain biking. Also popular is a daytrip to Caño Negro, a wildlife sanctuary in the far north of the country, near the border with Nicaragua, where you will see virtually guaranteed howler monkeys and alligators during a three-hour boat ride, as well as bright green basilisk lizards, iguanas and a lot water birds such as herons, snake-necked birds, ducks, kingfishers and sometimes pink spoonbills.

To travel from Arenal to Monteverde you need all around the 32km-long lake Arenal, a fantastically beautiful route that lends itself to numerous photo stops. Monteverde is mountain top of the Tilaran, at about 1500m altitude, and is popular with travelers because of its magical cloud forest with quetzals and hummingbirds. In addition to the many hiking options on the ground floor you can also find closely acquainted with the canopy of the forest, called the canopy. You can walk through the canopy over the high strung suspension bridges or glide along the solid wires of an adventurous canopy tour …

Also in the Zona Norte de Sarapiqui region, the flat catchment area of the river. Here you can stay in beautiful location jungle lodges or cozy family hotels. Birdwatching is the main attraction, but next to toucans, woodpeckers and weaver birds you see here as well brightly colored poison dart frogs and armadillos. You can also go rafting or visit here on a pineapple plantation and inpakhal.

Caribbean Coast

Here, near the port city of Limon, where in 1502 Christopher Columbus came ashore to baptize this country Costa Rica-rich coastal areas, because of its stunning natural wealth and beauty. Even though it has been cut since then, of course, a lot of forest to make way for banana plantations and livestock, yet also kept a lot of rainforest intact. In many cases, increasing the jungle to the beach, as in the Gandoca-Manzanillo Reserve and the Cahuita National Park, which indeed can be beautiful snorkelling above the surrounding coral reef. In the colorful villages of Cahuita and Puerto Viejo atmosphere is very relaxed and cozy Caribbean atmosphere and here you can taste a very different culture than in the rest of the country. The population here is in fact largely Afro-Caribbean origin, and that is reflected in the language, music and in the local cuisine. English belongs here more than Spanish, reggae and calypso over salsa or meringue and coconut is used in many dishes.

Also on the Caribbean coast, in the far northeast of the country, is Tortuguero, for many visitors the highlight of their trip through Costa Rica. Here you delves into wildlife from small boats that glide almost silently through the jungle. In this remote area roads are indeed still nonexistent and paths are often impassable because of the mud. In addition to 26,000 hectares of primary rainforest to the Tortuguero National Park protects a beach 35km long known as the most important nesting site for the green sea turtle in the Western Hemisphere. Between July and October come here every night hundreds of sea turtles difficult beach to dig a hole and it almost to deposit hundreds of eggs, a natural spectacle that you may only attend under strict guidance of a local guide.

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