Costa Rica is a small country but it is filled with many kinds of attractions for tourists. The destinations that each tourist chooses for their Costa Rica travel itinerary will depend on many factors, but here are three top attractions that should not be missed:
1. Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
Once known only to naturalists, this unique cloud forest is now open to anyone who wants to visit it. This cloud forest is located in the northern part of the Puntarenas province, less than 3 hours from San Jose. This protected area encompasses 26,000 acres of cloud forest, which is actually a bit different from rainforest. This natural attraction is located at 1,600 meters above sea level and is always covered by a layer of mist and clouds. It’s truly amazing to look down at the clouds! The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is home to thousands of species of flora and fauna and walking through the park with a guide is a great way to learn about them. There are 8 miles of well-preserved trails throughout the park for visitors to explore. Typical poster animals for Costa Rica that can be found in this nature reserve include pumas, monkeys, red-eyed tree frogs and toucanets. If you are lucky, you might even be able to see some of the more unique species like the golden toad, which is only known to exist there.
2. Hot Springs Near the Arenal Volcano
La Fortuna is a very charming town. The area is popular for all kinds of tourists because of the variety of activities that you have to choose from if you make Arenal/La Fortuna your homebase. You can explore the rainforest on horseback and get to beautiful waterfalls and swimming holes. Some are naturally heated by the volcano. The pool-like thermal hot springs are another magnet for tourists, as they are said to cure many ailments. They are also great for relaxing and stress relief. If you are feeling the need for adventure after a day of relaxing in the pools of various temperatures, you can go on a canopy tour or bungee jumping in the same area.
3. Manuel Antonio’s Pristine Beaches
Once a small town, Manuel Antonio is now a bustling beach destination. Manuel Antonio National Park is popular because of its proximity to San Jose and its unique landscape. You can see many cliffs and mountains right along the beaches. You’ll almost definitely spot sloths and monkeys without having to leave your chosen spot on the sand. In fact, this is one of only two destinations where you can spot all four types of Costa Rican monkeys: white-faced, squirrel, spider and howler monkeys. The white-faced monkeys are especially playful and mischievous. One might come by to take your sandwich from your picnic basket! In addition to being a great place to relax on white sand and wildlife watch, Manuel Antonio is great for surfing, swimming and snorkeling in see-through turquoise waters.
Costa Rica is known for its eco-tourism but also for its history, beaches and adventure activities. Choosing which attractions to visit while traveling might be hard, but these top attractions are a good place to start.