Costa Rica: It is easier than you think
Getting to Costa Rica has never been easier. From LAX, Alaska Airlines flies non-stop to Liberia Airport (LIR) in the north, connecting you to areas like Guanacaste, Monteverde and La Fortuna. From other cites, most major airlines service either Liberia or Juan Santamaria International AIrlport (SJO), which is the country’s main airport. As of April 1, 2022, there are no longer health restrictions to enter the country. Although, health protocols have been established by private companies and may be in place for tourist activities.
There are four types of tourism in Costa Rica which include adventure, culture, relaxation and nature. If you’d like a typical week-long holiday, here are some suggestions.
Arrive in Juan Santamaria Airport and transfer to Arenal Volcano National Park. It provides 70% of the water within the watershed of the Arenal dam. Here you can enjoy activities such as ziplining, horseback riding, suspension bridges, hiking and hot springs.
Spend the day at Lake Arenal, which is one of the larges artificial lakes in Central America. Enjoy sports such as fishing, kayaking and paddle boarding. Spend two or three days exploring this area before moving on the Fortuna River. The Fortuna River Waterfall is part of the National Park and is the source for the Fortuna River. It has a path of approximately 530 steps with resting stops. Next, spend a few days in the Monteverde Cloud Forest, which is made up of tropical jungles with a great variety of flora and fauna. There is a 770m zip line in the forest as well as suspension bridges which extend across canyons to connect 8 miles of hiking trails.
Begin your trip in San Jose. In the Acosta region, you can tour coffee plantations. The Palmichal Wildlife Refuge is less than an hour form San Jose and is one of the las areas of old growth could rainforest in the central region. You can enjoy the scenery and wonderful cuisine. This area is worth 2 days of day trips from San Jose.
Next, you head north into the southern part of the Guanacaste province to Nandayure. Here you can observe livestock and agricultural activities and the community offers nature and beaches. Punta Islita hosts leatherback and hawksbill turtle nesting in October. Parcque Nacional Santa Rosa is located near Liberia and is considered a World Heritage Site. It is named after a battle fought there and has a museum within the boundaries of the protected Wildlife area. You can depart from the Liberia Airport for the return flight to the US.
Begin and end this journey in the city of San Jose. Aserri is just south our San Jose and is the home of the tamale, the production of masks and the Stone of Aserri. Hiking, culinary tours, the history of masquerades and ox-cart tours are among the offerings here.
San Gerardo de Dota is known for its cooler climate and being surrounded by nature and biodiversity. It is a place for bird watching, hiking, viewing waterfalls and fishing.
If you are traveling between the months of July and October, the Ballena Marine Park offers a chance to see humpback whales. In September, the Festival of Whales and Dolphins takes place in the Uvita region. Plan several days in this region so taht you can whale watch, snorkel and just relax. If hiking appeals to you, Manuel Antonio National Park has six different options for you to enjoy. Forests and beaches are home to capuchins and raccoons, so be careful that they don’t steal your food.
Return to San Jose for the return flight home.
All of Costa Rica is great for its nature. The best time to visit is between December and April. This time of year, the weather will be good, and you should be able to see the humpback whales and nesting turtles. The Pacific and Caribbean coasts are vastly different. If you are looking for traditional luxury and beach towns, you may want to spend extra time along the pacific. Most of the suggestions above have had nature. If you’d like to incorporate more, there are boat tours on the Sarapiqui River, where you can see sloths, water birds, lizards, monkeys and more. You can also learn about cocoa processing and see one of the longest suspension bridges inthe country in the Tirimbina Biological Reserve.
For another boating option, visit the Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge (river tour). It is home to mammals such as jaguars, pumas, tapirs, ocelots, howler monkeys two-toed sloths, otters, skunks and deer.
Tenorio Volcano National Parke and Celeste River is one of the most visited destinations in the country. Take a tour to enjoy the tropical forest and the Celeste River waterfall. Return to San Jose at the end of your week of nature.
Costa Rica is an often less traveled gem. Place it on your list of destinations for 2023.