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It’s happening. You’re going to Costa Rica. You’ve made a decision. End of.
But what are you going to do when you get there? For a small country, Costa Rica certainly has a lot to offer. Should you head to the east for some sultry reggae vibes, or journey south to the untouched tropical jungle? And how do you avoid all those other tourists and still see what the country has to offer?
Well, don’t you worry. We’ve been there and have helpfully put together 5 of our favourite things to do in Costa Rica, so you’re fully clued up when you arrive.
1. Spotting quetzals in the clouds
One for the bird lovers! Spot the famous quetzals and many more exotic birds in the beautiful forests of San Gerardo De Dota. We’d love you to be one of the first to experience this amazing trip and come up close and personal with these fantastic feathery fellas (…say that fast after a cerveza or four!)
2. Early morning canoe trip in Tortuguero
This is a really different way of exploring Costa Rica that you won’t forget in a hurry. Venture out before the local wildlife hides away for the day and see what species you can spot. You might even find yourself a rare ocelot, as well as seeing howler monkeys, different breeds of dolphins, capuchins, agoutis and even elusive tapirs.
3. Village stays with the Bribri
Stay with, and get to know the indigenous members of the population through immersing yourself in the local culture of Bribri. The people of Bribri are warm and welcoming. Recycling, sustainability and generally looking after the environment are all things that are very much ingrained in their way of life. Enjoy helping out with the community and learning to cook the local way. Just make sure you brush up on your Spanish and take a phrasebook, as English is pretty limited.
4. Grab a craft beer in San Jose
Chances are you’re flying into San Jose. Now, there seems to be a little snobbery around San Jose with most travellers, who tend to vacate the city as soon as they can. While it may not have the fading colonial grandeur of Buenos Aires or the edgy art scene of Bogota, there’s a warm and friendly vibe to San Jose that makes it a nice place for a wayward wander. During our own wandering, we stumbled upon San Jose’s flourishing craft beer scene. Yep, that’s right, the craft beer revolution has far surpassed the streets of Hoxton and Shoreditch. You can try a selection of beers at Wilk Craft Beer in Barrio Escalante where they brew their own on-site and have a few national and international options to boot. If one craft beer establishment isn’t enough for you, then you’re in luck, just one block away is The Costa Rica Beer Factory with yet another multitude on offer.
5. Journey into the jungle
Let’s be honest, you’re unlikely to travel all the way to Costa Rica and not check out the wildlife. Instead of heading to the usual haunts of Manuel Antonio or Monteverde, why not journey to lesser-known Boca Tapada and spend the night in a treehouse in the middle of the Maquenque National Wildlife Refuge? Get closer to the forest wildlife, high up in the trees. It may be a bit of a shock at first to wake up with the sun (and cicadas) at 5.30am, but so worth it when you head out onto your balcony with a cup of Costa Rican coffee to find a group of howler monkeys right above your heads.
For even more Costa Rica travel tips, head to our travel guide below.
View our favourite itineraries
From 16 days / 15 nights (flexible)
Nicaragua, San Jose - Tortuguero - La Fortuna - Monteverde - Rincon de la Vieja - Ometepe - Granada - Managua
From 17 days / 16 nights (flexible)
Panama, San Jose - Tortuguero - Puerto Viejo - Bri Bri Village - Bocas del Toro - Boquete - Panama City