Costa Rica Destinations Summary Guide

Last Updated: May 20, 2021

On this website, we give tons of detailed information on Costa Rica’s destinations and attractions. Reading everything takes a lot of time, however. That’s the reason for this destinations guide. Below, we provide a broad overview of the major destinations in Costa Rica. We describe what each town is like, who it might appeal to, what it offers for activities, and where it is located. When you find a place that you’re interested in, click on our full article to read all the details to plan your visit.

We will be constantly updating this post with new Costa Rica destinations as we come out with more articles.

Costa Rica Destinations

Costa Rica Destinations

Click the following links to jump to a specific destination. Or read the full list below, in alphabetical order.

Atenas

Location: Central Valley Just west of San Jose and set in the rolling countryside is Atenas. This small town has a distinct local feel with a bustling downtown set on a central park. Touted as having one of the best climates in the world, Atenas has gained popularity with foreigners over the years and grown a sizable expat population. Atenas is also a good stop for those looking to go west from the airport on their way to the Pacific coast or Monteverde. La Casita del Café near Atenas Costa Rica Popular activities in Atenas include:
  • Organic coffee farm tour
  • Botanical Orchid Gardens
  • Las Minas Waterfall and swimming spot
  • A weekly farmers market
  • Zoo Ave Wildlife Rehabilitation Center
Read our post Atenas: A Glimpse of Authentic Costa Rica for more information.

Bijagua

Location: Northern Zone Bijagua is a small town to the north of La Fortuna/Arenal Volcano that is quickly gaining in popularity. Not only does this rural town give visitors a chance to experience real life in Costa Rica, but it also offers the amazing Rio Celeste. This bright blue river and waterfall is just a short drive away and is one of our favorites in Costa Rica. In addition, because of the area’s dense rainforest, Bijagua is also a great place to see birds and wildlife. Bijagua, Costa Rica - A Gateway to the Rio Celeste Waterfall Activities in Bijagua include:
  • Hiking at Tenorio Volcano National Park to see the Rio Celeste Waterfall
  • River tubing
  • Horseback riding
  • Hiking and hanging bridges at Heliconias Lodge and Reserve
  • Farm tour at Finca Verde
  • Frog tours
For more information, check out our detailed article Bijagua: A Gateway to the Rio Celeste Waterfall.

Cahuita

Location: Southern Caribbean Coast Cahuita is a super laid-back village on Costa Rica’s southern Caribbean coast. The small downtown abuts Cahuita National Park, which is full of tropical jungle and wildlife. Sloths are particularly easy to see here, but monkeys, snakes, and many kinds of birds also can be observed. This region of the country has almost an island feel, with a vibrant Afro-Caribbean culture and reggae beats filling the air. Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is about 15 minutes south of Cahuita and offers a larger selection of accommodations, restaurants, and things to do. Costa Rica Destinations Summary Guide - Cahuita Popular activities in Cahuita include:
  • Cahuita National Park
  • Beaches
  • Snorkeling
  • Cultural Tours
Read our post Cahuita: Culture and Calm on the Caribbean for more information.

Curubande de Liberia

Location: Guanacaste Province If you’re looking to explore the quiet countryside of Guanacaste, the small town of Curubande de Liberia may be a good fit. This peaceful community is located inland and has several gorgeous bright blue rivers and waterfalls to explore. It’s also close to Rincon de la Vieja Volcano, which has a national park with trails to explore. There’s not much in Curubande; however, it has a few larger hotels nearby that offer adventure activities and other tours on site. Curubande de Liberia in Rincon de la Vieja Popular activities in Curubande de Liberia include:
  • Rincon de la Vieja National Park
  • Waterfalls
  • Adventure day passes (zip lining, river tubing, horseback riding)
  • Hot springs and mud baths
  • Mountain biking
Read our post Curubande de Liberia: A Country Town in Rincon de la Vieja for more information.

Drake Bay

Location: Osa Peninsula/Southern Pacific Coast Drake Bay is a remote village set in the thick jungle of the Osa Peninsula. It appeals to nature and wildlife lovers due to its abundant animals and birds. Although the town is very small, it has a wide array of accommodations. Both luxury travelers looking for a relaxing escape and backpackers alike will enjoy Drake Bay. Drake Bay might not be the best destination for those who want all the conveniences or who are afraid of bugs and other creepy crawlies that live in the jungle. It is also more difficult to get to so plan to spend at least a few nights there. Costa Rica Destinations Summary Guide - Drake Bay Popular activities in Drake Bay include:
  • Hiking in the nearby Corcovado National Park
  • Wildlife watching
  • Beaches
  • Bird watching
  • Snorkeling and diving at Cano Island
  • Dolphin and whale watching
  • Rainforest night walks
Read our post Drake Bay: Costa Rica Unplugged for more information.

Dominical/Uvita

Location: Southern Pacific Coast Dominical and Uvita are two neighboring towns on Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast. They are surrounded by jungle and are less developed, although they offer a good selection of hotels, restaurants, and things to do. Dominical is best known for surfing. Uvita is a popular town among expats and is also home to Marino Ballena National Park (the National Whale Marine Park). The stretch of coastline that makes up the Costa Ballena hosts several beautiful, and all but deserted, beaches. Costa Rica Destinations Summary Guide - Dominical and Uvita Popular activities in the Dominical-Uvita area include:
  • Beaches
  • Surfing
  • Waterfalls, including the stunning Nauyaca Waterfalls
  • Hiking
  • Wildlife watching
  • Whale and dolphin watching
  • Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Horseback riding
  • ATV tours
  • Kayaking/SUP
  • Yoga
Read our post The Costa Ballena: Uvita, Dominical, and Ojochal for more information.

Esterillos Oeste

Location: Central Pacific Coast Esterillos Oeste is a quiet beach town located on the central Pacific coast, about 1.5 hours from San Jose. While lesser known, it’s still a great place to meet locals and experience a different side of Costa Rica. The main beach, Playa Esterillos Oeste, is the focal point of the community. Since the waves are larger, you’ll likely find some surfers riding the high tide. But you can still wade in the water along the shallows and explore the calm tidepools. Even though this is a beach town, you’ll still experience the beauty and sounds of the surrounding forests and farmlands. Costa Rica Destination Summary Guide - Esterillos Oeste Popular activities in the Esterillos Oeste area include:
  • Beaches
  • Exploring the tidepools
  • Surfing
  • Horseback riding
  • ATV tours
  • Wildlife watching
  • Zip lining
  • Kayaking/SUP
  • Crocodile river tours
  • Catamaran tours
Read our post Esterillos Oeste: Surfing, Serenity, and La Sirena for more information.

Jaco

Location: Central Pacific Coast Jaco is one of Costa Rica’s most developed beach towns. Along the main strip fronting the beach are a myriad of shops, restaurants, bars, and tour operators. Some of the best restaurants in Costa Rica can be found in Jaco. The town has a big party scene if you’re looking for nightlife, but is also family-friendly. Jaco is conveniently located on the central Pacific coast, about 1.5 hours from San Jose international airport. Playa Jaco itself isn’t the most beautiful beach in Costa Rica, but there are other nice ones nearby. Costa Rica Destinations Summary Guide - Jaco Jaco has tons of activities. Some of the most popular include:
  • Crocodile river tour
  • Sport fishing
  • Hiking and birdwatching at Carara National Park
  • Surfing
  • Beaches
  • Horseback riding
  • Adventure activities like zip lining, canyoning (waterfall rappelling), and ATV tours
  • Waterfalls
Read our post Jaco: Costa Rica’s Booming Beach Town for more info.

La Fortuna/Arenal Volcano

Location: Northern Zone La Fortuna is located in the northern lowlands (inland but not quite in the mountains). It is one of Costa Rica’s most popular destinations. The main draws are Arenal Volcano and the natural hot springs. La Fortuna has a huge range of hotels, from backpacker hostels to five-star hot springs resorts. This makes it a great destination for solo travelers, couples, and also families. It is best explored with a rental car because the area is spread out. Those looking for a more off-the-beaten-path experience might find La Fortuna a bit touristy. Costa Rica Destinations Summary Guide - La Fortuna The most popular activities in La Fortuna are:
  • Arenal Volcano
  • Hot springs
  • Hiking
  • Waterfalls
  • Proyecto Asis Wildlife Center
  • Zip lining
  • Hanging bridges
  • Whitewater rafting
  • Lake Arenal
  • Horseback riding
  • Night tours
Read our post La Fortuna: What to Expect from Costa Rica’s Most Popular Destination for more details.

Manuel Antonio

Location: Central Pacific Coast Manuel Antonio is a popular beach town nestled in the rainforest on Costa Rica’s central Pacific coast. Its main attractions are the national park and gorgeous beaches. In the park and throughout town, it is easy to spot monkeys, iguanas, and other wildlife. Manuel Antonio is a wonderful destination for first-time travelers to Costa Rica. There are family-friendly resorts, romantic villas for couples, and even gay-friendly hotels. Manuel Antonio is more touristy and can get busy during the high season (December to April). Costa Rica Destinations Summary Guide - Manuel Antonio Manuel Antonio has hundreds of different tours. Some of the most popular include:
  • Beaches
  • Wildlife watching
  • Manuel Antonio National Park
  • Zip lining
  • Whitewater rafting
  • Sport fishing
  • Catamaran and sailing tours
  • Canyoning (waterfall rappelling)
  • SUP
  • Kayak mangrove tours
  • Parasailing
  • Horseback riding
Read our post Manuel Antonio Trip Planning for more information.

Miravalles Volcano

Location: Guanacaste Province The Miravalles Volcano area is made up of two sleepy towns, Guayabal and Fortuna. Although this area sits between two popular destinations (La Fortuna/Arenal Volcano and Rincon de la Vieja), it has remained quiet and peaceful. In addition to hosting a volcano, Miravalles has natural hot springs and volcanic features like mud baths and steaming fumeroles. The Untapped Miravalles Volcano: Hot Springs, Nature, and Zero Crowds Things to do in the Miravalles Volcano area include:
  • Thermal hot springs (several facilities, including a children’s activity center)
  • Las Hornillas Volcanic Activity Center
  • Hiking
  • Llanos de Cortez Waterfall
Learn more about this authentic destination with our post, the Untapped Miravalles Volcano: Hot Springs, Nature, and Zero Crowds.

Monteverde

Location: Northern Zone Monteverde is one of Costa Rica’s most sought-after destinations. Its intriguing cloud forest and abundant wildlife draw thousands of visitors each year. Though this former Quaker town feels rural and pastoral, it has been built up for tourism over the years. Hotels are available for all budgets and are mostly lodge-style. Monteverde is in the mountains and more difficult to access so spending at least a couple of nights there is best. It is an especially good destination for families because of all the kid-friendly things to do. Costa Rica Destinations Summary Guide - Monteverde Monteverde offers a number of activities including:
  • Zip lining
  • Hanging bridges
  • Hiking
  • Night walks
  • Coffee tours
  • Birdwatching
  • Aerial trams
  • Wildlife exhibits (butterfly or hummingbird gardens, serpentariums, etc.)
  • Horseback riding
Read our post Monteverde: A Forest in the Clouds for more info. Also check out our Monteverde Hotel Guide for tips on where to stay.

Montezuma

Location: Southern Nicoya Peninsula/Pacific Coast Located more remotely on the southern Nicoya Peninsula, Montezuma is a laid back beach town that draws mostly backpackers and young families. Many people come to Montezuma to just relax on the beach, but there’s also a lot to do. The biggest attraction is the Montezuma Waterfalls. Though the town is quite small, it is a good destination for foodies. Locally made craft beer and eclectic international cuisine fill restaurant menus. Hotels are mostly budget and mid-range, but there is a resort nearby and vacation rentals in the hills. Montezuma, Costa Rica Destination Guide Things to do in Montezuma include:
  • Beaches
  • Waterfalls
  • Hiking at Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve
  • Wildlife watching
  • Zip lining
  • Surfing
  • Yoga
  • Snorkeling at Tortuga Island
Read our post Montezuma: A Bohemian Beach Town for more info.

Nosara

Location: Central Nicoya Peninsula/Pacific Coast Nosara has recently garnered the attention of influential media outlets and is an on-the-rise destination. In this community, you’ll find a mix of surfers, luxury travelers, families, expats, and yoga lovers. The town’s dirt roads connect different neighborhoods, each with their own beaches and distinct feel. Because Nosara is spread out, it is best explored with a rental car. Nosara is one of Costa Rica’s more expensive destinations. Costa Rica Destinations Summary Guide - Nosara Some of the most popular activities in Nosara include:
  • Surfing
  • Beaches
  • Yoga
  • Horseback riding
  • Kayaking/SUP
  • Zip lining
  • ATV and off-road vehicle tours
  • Turtle watching (seasonal)
  • Wildlife watching and wildlife rehabilitation tours
Read our post Nosara Trip Planning Essentials for more information.

Orosi

Location: Central Valley Orosi is a small locals’ town east of San Jose, near the city of Cartago. It’s located high up in the mountains but set in a valley. A scenic river runs through the town. Everything is lush and green in Orosi, due to frequent rainfall. Orosi is known for having Costa Rica’s oldest church still in use today. If you’re looking for an authentic destination, Orosi is a great choice. You can really mingle with the locals here. Orosi Things to do in and around the Orosi Valley include:
  • Hiking in Tapanti National Park
  • Hot springs
  • Coffee tours
  • Irazu Volcano
  • Farm tours

Pavones

Location: Southern Pacific Coast Pavones is a remote beach town on the far southern Pacific coast, almost at the Panama border. It is best known for having one of the longest left breaks in the world for surfing. But the area’s beaches are fun to explore for even non-surfers. They have a very wild feel, with a thick rainforest backing and lots of craggy rocks. The small town doesn’t have too many amenities, but still plenty of nice places to stay and eat. Pavones Costa Rica Popular activities in Pavones include:
  • Surfing
  • Snorkeling
  • Exploring Beaches
  • Sportfishing
  • Whale and Dolphin Watching
  • Horseback Riding
  • Day Trip to Zancudo
Read our post Pavones: Surfing and Seclusion on the Southern Pacific for more information.

Playa Avellanas Area

Location: Guanacaste Province/Northern Pacific Coast
The Playa Avellanas area is made up of three main towns: Playa Avellanas, Playa Lagartillo, and Los Pargos (Playa Negra). This region is quieter and draws surfers, yogis, and those looking for a more off-the-beaten path beach experience. This area is just south of the popular destination of Tamarindo, but feels far removed. It’s accessible via rough (but manageable) dirt roads. Playa Avellanas is home to a very popular beach bar/restaurant, right on the sand. Although the area has several more restaurants, those looking for convenience and amenities may prefer more developed destinations in Guanacaste like Tamarindo, Flamingo, or Potrero. Playa Avellanas Area Destination Guide Things to do in the Playa Avellanas area include:
  • Surfing
  • Yoga
  • Horseback riding
Read our post The Playa Avellanas Area: Going Off-the-Beaten Path in Guanacaste for more information.

Playa Bejuco

Location: Central Pacific Coast Playa Bejuco is a quiet beach town between two bustling tourist hubs, Jaco and Manuel Antonio. The community doesn’t have a main area; rather, there’s just one road that runs from the highway to the beach. Not far away, though, are several great restaurants. The beach itself has waves that are better for surfing, but you can still wade in the shallow water.  Bejuco is a good option if you’re looking to stay away from the crowds. Playa Bejuco
Things to do near Playa Bejuco include:
  • Surfing
  • Day trips to nearby towns (Manuel Antonio, Jaco, Esterillos)
  • Horseback riding
  • Other tours are a short drive away (ATV, zip lining, rappeling, hiking, chocolate tour)

Playa Brasilito

Location: Guanacaste Province/Northern Pacific Coast Playa Brasilito is a small beach-side village that sits right between some larger tourist towns in Guanacaste, yet maintains a very local feel. The town is centered around a soccer field that fronts the beach. Although Playa Brasilito is a more off-the-beaten-path destination, it has a decent number of hotels, restaurants, and things to do. One of the main draws of Playa Brasilito is that it is within walking distance to one of the country’s most beautiful beaches, Playa Conchal.  Playa Brasilito is a good option for budget travelers, as it less expensive than many of the popular beach towns in Guanacaste.  Playa Brasilito: An Authentic Beach Town in Guanacaste Visiting the area’s beaches is the main attraction in Playa Brasilito, but there are also other things to do nearby:
  • Horseback riding
  • ATV tours
  • SUP
  • Surfing
  • Jet skiing
  • Catamaran tours 
  • Sport fishing
  • Zip lining
Read our post Playa Brasilito: An Authentic Beach Town in Guanacaste for more information.

Playa Conchal

Location: Guanacaste Province/Northern Pacific Coast Many consider Playa Conchal, in northern Guanacaste Province, to be Costa Rica’s most beautiful beach. The water is a stunning shade of turquoise and the sand is made of tiny crushed shells. Although Playa Conchal is a beach without much else around, it feels more like a destination because of a popular all-inclusive resort. Costa Rica Destinations Summary Guide - Playa Conchal Things to do at Playa Conchal include:
  • Beach – swimming, SUP, kayaking, snorkeling, jet skiing
  • Catamaran tours
  • Golf
  • Spa
  • Sport fishing
  • Horseback riding
  • ATV tours
Read our post Playa Conchal: The Allure of Shell Beach for more information.

Playa Flamingo

Location: Guanacaste Province/Northern Pacific Coast Playa Flamingo is a well-known destination in Guanacaste Province. It has earned acclaim over the years because it’s one of Costa Rica’s only white-sand beaches. Although small in size, the hillside has been built up with high-end condos, hotels, and vacation rentals, many with stunning ocean views. It also has an all-inclusive beachfront resort. Playa Flamingo draws luxury travelers but also has more affordable accommodation options. Those seeking local culture may prefer staying in the nearby towns of Potrero or Brasilito. Playa Flamingo View Things to do in Playa Flamingo include:
  • Beach
  • Jet skiing
  • Catamaran tours
  • Sport fishing (there is a marina currently being expanded)
  • Diving
  • Snorkeling
  • Horseback riding
For more information, you can read our post Playa Flamingo: A Luxury Destination in Guanacaste.

Playa Hermosa (Guanacaste)

Location: Guanacaste Province/Northern Pacific Coast Playa Hermosa is a quiet beach community in northern Guanacaste Province. It draws visitors looking for a relaxing escape. The beautiful main beach is popular for swimming and is known for its stunning sunsets. Although the town is smaller, it has a large selection of vacation rentals and condos. Playa Hermosa is a good destination for families due to the calm ocean waters. Costa Rica Destinations Summary Guide - Playa Hermosa (Guanacaste) Things to do in Playa Hermosa include:
  • Beach – swimming, SUP, kayaking, jet skiing, banana boat rides
  • Diving and snorkeling
  • Catamaran tours
  • Sport fishing
  • Horseback riding
  • ATV tours
  • Zip lining
Read our post Playa Hermosa (Guanacaste): Costa Rica’s Northern Beauty for more info.

Potrero

Location: Guanacaste Province/Northern Pacific Coast Potrero is a small beach town in Guanacaste Province. Although it is surrounded by some of this area’s most popular destinations, Potrero has remained mostly off the tourist trail. This has kept prices at hotels and vacation rentals relatively low. The best thing about Potrero is how easy it is to explore area beaches. Within 15 minutes of town are some of Guanacaste’s most beautiful beaches, including Playa Conchal and Playa Flamingo. It’s also just a short drive to some lesser known spots. Playa Penca, Potrero Some more things to do in Potrero include:
  • Stand up paddleboard
  • Kayaking
  • Sailing
  • ATV
  • Jet skiing
  • Zip lining
  • Wildlife rehabilitation center
For more information, read our post, Potrero: A Home Base for Beaches in Guanacaste.

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Location: Southern Caribbean Coast Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is on the rainforest-rich southern Caribbean coast. This area of the country has several features that make it unique. Culturally, many of the locals are of Afro-Caribbean or indigenous descent. The weather is also different, with the best times to visit (September and October) coinciding with the rainy season on the Pacific coast. One of Puerto Viejo’s best attributes is its many stunning beaches with calmer water. Puerto Viejo Beaches Puerto Viejo has many options for things to do. Some of the highlights are:
  • Beaches
  • Wildlife rehabilitation tours, including Jaguar Rescue Center
  • Chocolate tours
  • Hiking
  • Snorkeling/diving
  • Surfing
  • Indigenous culture tours
  • Horseback riding
  • Night hikes
Read our post Puerto Viejo: Caribbean Cool in Costa Rica for more information.

Puerto Jimenez

Location: Osa Peninsula/Southern Pacific Coast Puerto Jimenez is one of two major towns on the Osa Peninsula (the other is Drake Bay, see above). It sits on a picturesque bay with some of the calmest water in the country. Although the town has a local feel, it has a decent selection of hotels and restaurants that cater to tourists. One of the biggest reasons travelers visit Puerto Jimenez is to explore Corcovado National Park. Tours and activities out of Puerto Jimenez tend to be more expensive as many take place by boat. Costa Rica Destinations Summary Guide - Puerto Jimenez Popular activities out of Puerto Jimenez include:
  • Day trips or overnight stays in Corcovado National Park
  • Kayaking
  • Dolphin and whale watching
  • Snorkeling
  • Sport fishing
  • Beaches
  • Osa Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Horseback riding
  • Chocolate tours
To learn more, read our post Puerto Jimenez: An Outpost to the Osa.

Samara

Location: Central Nicoya Peninsula/Pacific Coast Many of the beach towns in Guanacaste Province are quite developed, but not Samara. It has more of a small-town feel. Along the few criss-crossing streets that make up the downtown, you’ll find one- or two-story hotels, restaurants, and shops. There are no high-rise condos or fancy resorts. Instead, the vibe is casual and laid back. Samara draws visitors of all ages and is a favorite among families because of its relatively calm water for swimming. Costa Rica Destinations Summary Guide - Samara The main activities in Samara are:
  • Beaches
  • Hiking
  • Surfing
  • Kayaking and SUP
  • Zip lining
  • Diving
  • Horseback riding
  • ATV tours
  • Waterfalls
Read our post Samara: Guanacaste’s Most Overlooked Beach Town for more tips and info.

San Gerardo de Dota

Location: Southern Zone San Gerardo de Dota is a tiny village in the high-altitude mountains south of San Jose. With cloud forest nearby, San Gerardo offers a less busy alternative to Monteverde. Package tourists often visit San Gerardo in search of an elusive bird called the Resplendent Quetzal, but it is also a good destination for those wanting to go off-the-beaten path. Most lodges are more rustic and cabin-style, which fits in nicely with the quiet surrounds. San Gerardo is best for those seeking a peaceful escape. Costa Rica Destinations Summary Guide - San Gerardo de Dota San Gerardo de Dota offers a few things to do including:
  • Bird watching
  • Hiking
  • Waterfalls
  • Zip lining
  • Horseback riding
  • Fishing for trout
For more information, read our post San Gerardo de Dota: A Hideaway in the Cloud Forest.

San Isidro de El General

Location: Southern Zone San Isidro de El General is located in the mountains of the Southern Zone. This small, but vibrant, city doesn’t draw very many tourists, but is quickly growing in popularity among expats. Here, you’ll find busy city streets filled with small local restaurants, clothing stores, and all the basics like hospitals, pharmacies, and grocery stores. San Isidro is a wonderful place to explore the culture and a good stopover for a night or two. Costa Rica Destinations Summary Guide - San Isidro Some activities around San Isidro de El General that may appeal to visitors include:
  • Hiking
  • Waterfalls
  • Farmers market
  • Bird watching
Read our post San Isidro de El General for more information.

San Jose

Location: Central Valley Many people visiting Costa Rica get in and out of its capital city almost right away. Although San Jose isn’t really considered a tourist destination, this sprawling metropolis actually has a lot to offer. It is a great place to observe the local culture as it is where the majority of locals live. And with a vibrant art scene, fantastic dining options, and several cultural sites, you can easily spend a couple of nights. Costa Rica Destinations Summary Guide - San Jose Popular activities in San Jose include:
  • National Theater
  • Museums – National Museum (pictured above), Gold Museum, Jade Museum, Children’s Museum
  • Central Market
  • La Sabana Park
  • National Artisans Market
  • Art galleries
Read our post How to Spend 1 or 2 Days in San Jose for more information.

Santa Teresa

Location: Southern Nicoya Peninsula Santa Teresa is quickly becoming a hot beach destination in Costa Rica. Although located very remotely on the southern Nicoya Peninsula, this laid-back surf town has tons of amenities. It is popular for young people looking for a social scene. Along the busy main road in town, you’ll find many restaurants, cafes, shops, and mostly inexpensive accommodations. Plenty of more upscale lodging is available in the hills around town and quieter locations to the north and south. Santa Teresa Destination Guide The most popular thing to do in Santa Teresa is surfing. Other activities include:
  • Tide pools
  • Day trip to Tortuga Island for snorkeling
  • Day trip to Montezuma 
  • Hiking in Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve
Read our post Santa Teresa: Costa Rica’s Trending Beach Town for more information.

Tamarindo

Location: Guanacaste Province/Northern Pacific Coast Tamarindo is the most developed beach town in Guanacaste. Here, you will find trendy boutique hotels, beachfront B&Bs, hostels, and a few condos and bigger developments. Tamarindo is a popular destination for surfing, but draws all types of travelers. Food lovers will enjoy the many awesome restaurants. Tamarindo has a vibrant nightlife and offers all the conveniences. Those interested in exploring the local culture may prefer another destination. Costa Rica Destinations Summary Guide - Tamarindo Keep in mind that many of the recommended activities for Tamarindo are located several hours away. Popular choices in the immediate area include:
  • Beaches
  • Surfing
  • Zip lining
  • Sport fishing
  • Catamaran and sailing tours
  • Estuary boat tours
  • Diving and SNUBA (snorkeling with an airline hose)
  • SUP
  • ATV tours
  • Turtle watching (seasonal)
  • Spa
  • Shopping
Read our post Tamarindo: Where Paradise Meets Convenience for more information.

Tortuguero

Location: Northern Caribbean Coast Tortuguero is one of the best places in Costa Rica to see wildlife. Many people plan their trip around turtle season, where you can see green and other sea turtles come to shore to lay their eggs. Boat tours along the canals are also popular and can reveal wildlife like monkeys, crocodiles, and many types of water birds. Tortuguero is a remote destination on the northern Caribbean coast. It can be reached by boat or small plane. Higher end travelers can stay at one of the all-inclusive lodges. Shoestring travelers will prefer one of the small, family-owned hotels closer to town. Costa Rica Destinations Summary Guide - Tortuguero Activities in Tortuguero include:
  • Turtle watching (seasonal)
  • Wildlife watching
  • Bird watching
  • Boat and kayak canal tours
  • Night tours
  • Hiking
Read our post Tortuguero Off the Resort for more details.

Conclusion

As you can see, Costa Rica has destinations that will suit just about any type of traveler. The best thing about this relatively small country is that in a single vacation, you can explore several locations and get a completely unique experience in each one. We hope this Costa Rica destinations guide has given you a head start in your planning. If you need help putting together an itinerary for your trip, check out our Itineraries page for some samples. We also have a book, Top 10 Costa Rica Itineraries, which can help you make sense of how these destinations can be paired.  Last Updated: February 19, 2021

Looking for more info to jump-start your planning? You might like these posts:

  • Regional Snapshots – Read our snapshot posts to get an idea of what Costa Rica’s different regions are like. Covers the Central Valley, Central Pacific Coast, Caribbean Coast, and more.
  • Best Time to Visit Costa Rica – Information on what months are ideal for a visit. Includes times to avoid like busy holidays and the rainiest times of year.
  • Cost of Traveling in Costa Rica – Wondering how much things cost in Costa Rica? This post will give you an idea of what to expect for things like hotels, rental cars, tours, and restaurants.
  • Driving in Costa Rica: What to Know Before You Go – Worried about driving in a foreign country? Learn about road conditions, safety, and more in this post.      

Related Posts

Manuel Antonio Hotel Guide
Manuel Antonio Hotel Guide: Where to Stay for Ocean Views, Rainforest, and Wildlife
Orosi
Orosi: A Valley of Green
Playa Bejuco
Playa Bejuco (Puntarenas): A Destination Between Destinations
Santa Teresa Destination Guide
Santa Teresa: Costa Rica’s Trending Beach Town

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