Dramatic peaks, pristine beaches and lush rain-forests (we didn’t know there was a green this deep and vibrant on the colour spectrum) are all yours for the taking in Costa Rica, the country that holds the number one position on the Happy Planet Index. You’ll quickly realise why.
At a glance
Exhilarating adventure, world-class surf, captivating wildlife and gorgeous coastlines await in Costa Rica, home of both coffee and sloths – an amusing duo if ever there was one. Surrounded by the Pacific Ocean on one side, and the Caribbean Sea on the other, with jungles, volcanoes, waterfalls, monkeys, those sloths, and lots of happy people in between – this is one of the most stable, and most beautiful countries in Central America.
What to see
Far from the swarming crowds, make sure you see the side of Costa Rica that few people get to see by going the Black Tomato way. The emerald green Pacuare River by a raft is the epitome of ‘off the beaten track’ Costa Rica as you traverse rapids, past ancient jungle and cascading waterfalls – you are guaranteed to have wet pants after this ride, in a good way, of course. World-class waves and sun drenched beaches await in Jaco, the quirkiest of ocean-side escapes. This is the place that surfers come to play, sunseekers bask all day and the nightlife never sleeps. For a dryer, on-land experience, hike into the jungle to spot the rare sloths and monkeys, as well as getting up close to local tribes. Costa Rica has a wealth of eco-lodges to choose from and is the perfect choice for anyone captivated by the natural world. Try eco-friendly Pacuare Lodge, an green-retreat where you can dine surrounded by the forest and flickering candle-light for an experience to remember. For panoramic views, journey into the wild Talamanca Mountains and rappel down lush waterfalls and revel in the lushness and diversity of the forest. And for a thrill that you’ll never forget, visit the active Arenal Volcano, where you can marvel at the lava flow and take a hair-raising zip-line tour over the forest canopy. For some wind down time, the sandy shores of the Manuel Antonio National Park are the perfect place to relax – all vanilla-coloured sand and turquoise water. No vehicles are allowed in the park, so going by foot is the only way to go. Hike into the ever green rainforest, it’s totally worth it, trust us, we know. Especially when you find yourself sharing your lunch with impish monkeys, quizzical birds and maybe even a sloth. And for even more wildlife, a visit to Tortuguero to meet the nesting turtles is a must.
Why we love it
‘Pura Vida’ (pure life) sums up Costa Rica, everything from the dramatic surf to the virgin rainforests is superbly wild and ‘au natural’. This is a region that boasts so much geographical diversity you’ll think you’ve jumped continents; seductive sandy beaches, dramatic peaks and lush rain-forests are all yours for the taking. And the best part is we know the secret spots where you can escape the crowds. Total bliss if you ask us…