Why Costa Rica Should Be On Your Travel Bucket List
Costa Rica is known for many things: vacation resorts, perfect weather, and being one of the happiest countries in the world. So, it’s definitely a bucket list destination for anyone looking for a relaxing vacation. But the country also offers plenty of adventures, from snorkeling to ziplining.
Given the variety of scenery, activities, and climates, it’s difficult to suggest the perfect Costa Rican vacation itinerary. But, then again, it's the region's indulgent spirit and pure lifestyle (pura vida) that makes it so popular — it caters to every taste. Here are the top reasons why you need to put Costa Rica on your travel bucket list.
Whether you’re a beginner or a veteran surfer, Costa Rica is home to some of the world’s best surf spots. The country has excellent surfing beaches up and down its 800 miles of Caribbean and Pacific coastlines. You can catch some of the best surf breaks anywhere along the Nicoya Peninsula on the Pacific side. Waves are consistent throughout the year, so you can surf any season. And breakers at places like Playa Samara are smooth and gentle, making them perfect for learning to surf.
Costa Rica is awash with volcanoes. In fact, its entire topography formed over 75 million years ago from volcanic eruptions. That explains why the country has over 120 volcanic sites. The most popular fiery mountain top is the Poas Volcano, which sits about an hour and a half outside of the capital city of San Jose. The Poas is an active volcano with the largest crater in the world, measuring a mile in diameter. And visitors can get within 300 feet of its edge.
Costa Rica’s volcanoes not only offer spectacular views, but they also power all the country’s natural hot springs — perfect for soaking in after a hard day of volcano watching.
Costa Rica is the perfect place to watch the slowest mammals on the planet. There are many sloth sightseeing tours and even a sloth sanctuary. Tours can take you deep into the rainforests of Costa Rica, the sloth's natural habitat. But you're likely to catch most sloths napping since they spend 15 - 20 hours dozing every day. If you do stumble upon a wide-awake sloth, you’ll have plenty of time to snap a photo of their iconic, smiling face — they move at a top speed of 3 meters per minute.
And Costa Rica is home to two of the six different sloth species — the two- and three-toed versions. Some sloths are nocturnal, so they’re more difficult to spot. But others, like the brown-throated sloth, are active during the day, so you’re likely to stumble across one whether on a tour or hiking through the forests.
Every java purist understands the beauty of a fresh cup of Costa Rica coffee. The country is famous for its Arabica beans, grown within the volcanic soil at high elevations. The result is a coffee profile noted for its fruity acidity, crisp taste, and full body. Most stores in Costa Rica sell ground or whole bean coffee at very affordable prices. The most popular varieties come from the Doka Estate and Café Britt plantations. If you want an intimate coffee experience, take a coffee tour of these local growers. Most tours include information on the plantation’s history and a look at the entire production process. Plus, you can get the freshest cup of coffee you've ever had.
Costa Rican climates are perfect for growing cocoa beans. The country’s economic history is strongly connected to the cocoa plant. In fact, Costa Ricans used cocoa beans as currency until the 1930s. The country has many cocoa plantations in Puntarenas, Guanacaste, and several other provinces. Chocolate tours of plantations take visitors through the entire process of making chocolate, from harvest to roasting. But if you'd rather satisfy your sweet tooth, take a chocolate tasting tour. These tours feature fresh samples of dark chocolate, cacao fruit, and roasted beans.
If supporting the sustainability of natural environments is on your bucket list, Costa Rica is your vacation destination. Since the early 90s, the country has promoted ecotourism to boost its economy and preserve its natural habitats. Along with the many national parks and nature preserves, the country is filled with eco-friendly hotels and lodges. Private companies, vacation resorts, and tour operators all offer services with minimal impact on the environment.
Costa Rica is a tropical country located near the equator. The weather is hot year round, with an average seasonal temperature of 85°F. But the nation’s climate is more diverse than you’d expect, especially when you change elevation. Sunny coastlines host warm beaches and cool breezes. And at higher mountain elevations, temperatures drop significantly because of thin air and thick forests.
Costa Rica has a dry season that runs from December to April, and a wet season from May to November. But even these vary from region to region. The Caribbean coast is slightly cooler than the Pacific one, especially during the winter months. Because of the diverse micro-climates in Costa Rica, check regional climates for the areas you intend to visit.