Costa Rica's diverse habitats and natural beauty could keep a traveler enthralled for months on end. Most travelers flock to the country's political, economic and cultural capital of San José before venturing out to Costa Rica's other attractions. There you can view the country's cosmopolitan scene and experience the city's vibrant nightlife. Get your fill of churros and hot chocolate before heading out to discover Costa Rica's rainforests, mountains, volcanoes, beaches and cloud forests.
Tortuguero National Park
In this national park, it's easier to get around by kayak or canoe than on foot. Originally a volcanic archipelago, the islands are now fused together as a network of marshes, lagoons and beaches. The park is most dramatic during turtle nesting season from late July through August. Sign up for tours in advance as Tortuguero's turtle beaches have become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. You can see some turtles laying eggs on the beaches during the day, but most turtles arrive in the early evening as the moon rises. During hatching season, you can see baby turtles emerging from the sand and scurrying toward the ocean. Even when it's not nesting season, this national park offers a wealth of wildlife and biodiversity to discover. Many travelers see Tortuguero as a day trip or a one-night trip from San José, but staying a few nights in Tortuguero village will allow you to see more of the area.
This beach's shores made up of millions of crushed seashells have made it one of the country's most beautiful beaches. Located on the Costa Rican Gold Coast, the four-kilometer stretch of beach is ideal for swimming and snorkeling year-round. The weather is usually sunny, and the water is almost always warm enough to swim. To get there, you can fly into Tamarindo Domestic Airport or take a four-hour scenic drive from San José. If you're not interested in booking a room in one of the beach's posh resorts, consider camping out under the stars at a nearby ranch.
Braulio Carrillo National Park
Braulio Carrillo National Park boasts more than 500 species of birds and 150 mammals within its diverse habitats. The rainforest and cloud forest are easily reached by highway from San José. The park's many hiking trails are suited for hikers of all abilities, and the elevation range from 118 feet to 9,500 feet gives a lot of variation in the terrain and wildlife in different areas of the park. You can hike to waterfalls, beaches and volcanic craters or ride the aerial tram to get a bird's eye view of the virgin forest.
Article Written By Heather Carreiro
Heather Carreiro is a certified English teacher who has been writing since 2008. The editor of Matador Abroad, her work has appeared online at BootsnAll, Matador Network, GoNOMAD, Journey Beyond Travel and Expat Women. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in linguistics and Middle Eastern studies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and is pursuing a Master of Arts in English at Bridgewater State University.