Pura Vida, pure life, is the country’s motto and it is evident everywhere you turn in Costa Rica. Costa Rica is one of the most sought out destinations and keeps topping lists of trending travel itineraries. Costa Rica offers a little of everything. Beach goers and surfers flock to the Pacific shores pristine beaches while thrill seekers plunge to central valley’s white water rapids. The rainforest and canopy tours are Costa Rica’s primary draw as the country boasts 5% of the world’s biodiversity spread along just 0.1% of the world’s landmass. Over 25% of the country is protected in national parks. Visitors to Costa Rica will delight in walking among the clouds in Monteverde or communicating with the monkeys in Corcovado National Park.
The Pura Vida lifestyle in Costa Rica is more than just a laid back attitude and lots of nature. Costa Rica is consistently among the top Latin American countries for human development (the HDI index), likely the most stable country politically in Central American and Costa Rica is ranked 5th in the world on the Environmental Protection Index and the only country in the top 10 from North, Central or South America. Conservation efforts are a large part of Costa Rican culture and business and its results are evident in the natural beauty and sustainable efforts you will experience there.
Part of this conservation effort extends into Costa Rica’s Rainforests. One of the most popular places to see the lush tropical greenery is in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, located in Northern Plains of the country. Due to its location and altitude, the treetops are almost always shrouded in mist. The Reserve and surrounding area are home to hundreds of species of mammals, over 400 species of birds, and over 2500 varieties of plants. Visitors can hike through the forests, or better yet, literally get a bird’s eye view through area’s canopy and zip line tours. One of the most popular things to see and do in Costa Rica, zip lining got its start in the Monteverde Cloud Forests. Even if hanging from a wire doesn’t sound appealing, yet you want to get above the trees, there are many hanging bridges that can take you slowly through the treetops to spot wildlife such as quetzals, ocelots, tapirs and maybe even a jaguar.
Other popular parks include the Manuel Antonio and Corcovado National Reserve. Manuel Antonio is near the central Pacific coast and is a great nature reserve to visit in combination with a stay at the beach. Corcovado is one of the most prolific wildlife reserves, but in the southern part of the country is more remote.
Volcanoes are a natural part of Costa Rica’s landscape, but not to worry, they are mostly dormant or do not have volatile eruptions. The most scenic and popular of the volcanoes is the Arenal, about 60 miles northwest of San Jose. It’s almost perfectly symmetrical presence delights photographers, hikers and even spa revelers as the hot springs surrounding the volcano provide for a relaxing respite from the days adventures. The hot springs originate in a geothermal heated underground river. Local hotels have tapped into the mineral-rich hot springs creating natural spas for their guests.
On both sides of Costa Rica, you’ll find a number of beaches, beach towns, surf schools, and plenty of laid back relaxing to fit right in with your Pura Vida lifestyle. The beaches at Manuel Antonio on the Central Pacific coast are conveniently located next to or in the nature preserve of the same name. The Osa Peninsula, Nicoya and Nosara and most of the Pacific coast are popular as well for their long stretches of soft sand, surfable waves and lack of high rise buildings allowing the natural beauty of the jungles to accent the warm blue waters.
Costa Rica enjoys a year round tropical climate with average high temperatures in the mid 80’s for most areas. It can get cold at night in the mountainous and cloud forest regions, so prepare a light jacket. As for the best times of year, December through April is the country’s drier season, with May though November being the wet or green season. Keep in mind Costa Rica does lie along the Caribbean Sea and may be prone to the Atlantic Hurricane Season as well from June to November. That being said, early parts of the green season can be enjoyable with more in the way of tropical plumage and fewer tourists. Go prepared for rain and your trip can be quite enjoyable.