7 Best Places to Visit in Costa Rica
July 28, 2018
Costa Rica is a tropical gem in Central America. Here are what we thing are the 7 best places to visit in Costa Rica including some useful tips for going for yourself!
7 Best Places to Visit in Costa Rica
Costa Rica was a breath of fresh air. Arriving there, we immediately felt safe in this country that is much wealthier than its Central American neighbours. Between the beaches, wildlife, and kind people we knew that we were in for a treat in Costa Rica!
Our goal in Costa Rica was to explore and experience the variety of things to do that it has to offer. So that is just what we did! We saw baby sloths, swam in turquoise oceans, and walked through the trees in a cloud forest. Each experience was different from the next but each represented a part of Costa Rica.
After a couple weeks of travelling, these are what we think are the 7 best places to visit in Costa Rica! Have a read and let us know if you think we missed anything! We could always use an excuse to go back to Costa Rica!
1. Jaguar Rescue Center
First on the list has to be the Jaguar Rescue Center simply because baby sloths and monkeys are too cute! But it isn’t just the cute animals that make this one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica, it is the centre itself and what they are doing for the local wildlife!
The Jaguar Rescue Center is an animal rescue centre operating near to the town of Puerto Viejo. They save a variety of animals and each animal has its own story. Some were injured by poachers, some were kept illegally as pets, and some were simply found wounded. On a tour of the centre, you learn about each story individually. We saw owls that were half blind, baby sloths that were abandoned too early from their mothers, crocodiles that were a danger to the community they were near, and even some wild cats!
The Jaguar Rescue Center only lets visitors on a tour. Public tours run daily at 9:30 am and 11:30 am and they cost $20USD. Private tours can also be arranged. All proceeds go back to ensure that the Rescue Center can continue operating. All staff are volunteers so be sure to tip your tour guide!
2. Cahuita National Park
One of my highlights in Costa Rica was a day trip to Cahuita National Park. This national park is special because of its pristine beaches and wildlife everywhere! I have ever been to a National Park where I have seen so many wild animals in one place before.
We saw several howler monkies and were able to watch them in the treetops for ages as they jumped from branch to branch and howled! These monkeys make the craziest sounds, they roar almost like a lion! We also saw Coatis, Raccoons, Tarantulas, and ever a Viper!
This park is easily accessible on a day trip from Puerto Viejo on a tour or with public transport. You will walk through the jungle trying to spot animals and stopping at beautiful swimming spots along the way. Cahuita National park is without a doubt one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica.
3. Puerto Viejo Town
Both Cahuita National Park and the Jaguar Rescue Center can be accessed from the touristic town of Puerto Viejo. But the town itself is also worth exploring! Located on the Caribbean coast, there are several nearby beautiful beaches.
The town is very touristic but also has many wonderful locals. Eat at one of the local restaurants, attend a parade or festival, and then go out and enjoy the nightlife in one of the safest places in Central America.
San Jose has a bad reputation with travellers, and therefore many people skip it. But not to me! To me, San Jose is one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica! Why? Well, a visit to any country cannot be complete without a visit to the capital city to learn about history and culture.
We did a free walking tour in the downtown area and learned so much about Costa Rica and its history! Did you know Costa Rica doesn’t have a military at all? They believe in “Pura Vida” or the relaxed “chilled out” vibe. We learned about the Civil War and about their journey to claim independence.
But besides the history, it is a beautiful city with lots of shopping and even the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted!
5. Monteverde Cloud Forest
A different side to Costa Rica, away from the beaches is up in the mountains exploring the cloud forest. Walking through the Monteverde Cloud forest is magical. You literally walk amongst the clouds. You walk through the trees, over rope ridges, see waterfalls, and even to viewpoints above the forest.
The Monteverde Cloud Forest is located just outside of the town of Santa Elena in the central north of Costa Rica. It costs $20 USD to enter and can easily be accessed by public bus.
6. Santa Elena Ficus Tree
In the town of Santa Elena, there is this crazy Ficus tree! This is the most unique of the best places to visit in Costa Rica. In fact, many people can’t find the tree even when they look for it.
What was once a local secret, is now becoming a popular place for tourists. But not so popular, it is still free and just simply a tree in the forest in Santa Elena.
But why is this Ficus Tree so special? The tree is perfect for climbing and offers insane views from the top. It is a playground for the adventurous that nature has made all on its own. I have never seen anything like it and can’t believe it isn’t a proper tourist attraction with lines and an admission fee yet!
7. Punta Uva
Punta Uva is a beautiful beach. It is on the Caribbean coast only a few kilometers from the Puerto Viejo. No trip to Costa Rica can be complete without swimming in the bluest, clearest water you have ever seen!
What I loved about Punta Uva, is how relaxing it was. When I was there, it was a beautiful day out and the beach was practically empty! It isn’t super built up and felt relaxing. Rent a bike from Puerto Viejo and ride there for yourself. It makes for a great day trip.
Costa Rica was awesome! And like I said, we are looking for an excuse to go back so if you have already been, let us know where we need to go next time and what you think are the best places to visit in Costa Rica in the comments below!