You don't just visit Costa Rica ... you experience it! And it's impossible to experience it all in one trip. But that's okay, because once you visit, you will be back! Pura Vida!
To understand the uniqueness of Costa Rica, just look at the numbers ... 27 National Parks, 6 active volcanoes plus more than 60 dormant/extinct volcanoes, 500,000 species of wildlife, 5% of the world's biodiversity - jungle, cloud forests, coral reefs, rainforests, hot springs, dry forests, waterfalls, swamps. Add in relaxing yoga and wellness centers, thrilling outdoor adventures, and a foodie haven to fuel those adventures, and you have a vacation of anyone's dreams!
When you visit, the people of Costa Rica will welcome you with open arms and encourage you to "Pura Vida!" - which literally translates to "Pure Life." It's a greeting, a philosophy, a way of life. It means don't sweat the small stuff, live life to the fullest, and anything in between. You'll find yourself saying it many times a day and wanting to bring that feeling back home with you.
Costa Rica Itineraries
My husband and I vacationed in Costa Rica five years ago for our 10-year anniversary, and I have several families and honeymoon/anniversary clients booked for this summer, so I'm deep in Costa Rica immersion. So much so that I've begun designing Fall Break 2023, and the kids finally get to go! We're so excited to share Costa Rica with them!
The diversity of Costa Rica requires you to move at least once during your stay, so be prepared to pack light and be adventurous! While there's no shortage of options, the top itinerary combines the Arenal Volcano and rainforest area with a beach experience. And if you have more than a week, I'd recommend stops in between the two areas!
Arenal + Papagayo Peninsula for those looking for a more luxurious beachfront resort. There's even a few All-Inclusive options.
Arenal + Nicoya Peninsula for those looking for a more hippie surfer town experience.
Manuel Antonio if you want all the outdoor adventure in one place and don't mind more rustic accommodations. Manuel is five hours from Arenal, so it's difficult to do both.
These options grossly over-simplify all that Costa Rica has to offer, but they're usually my starting point for first-timers. My hubs and I did option 2 for our anniversary, although I wish we had done option 1 - and that's what I recommend for my honeymoon/grownup getaway clients. While I like to think of myself as a hippie surfer, I like beachfront luxury resorts more than I like being cool. For Fall Break 2023 with the kids, we may do Manuel Antonio and include the Kids Saving the Rainforest tour, or we'll do option 1 and include a stop in the Central Valley for canyoneering, tubing, waterfalls, and sloths!
Costa Rica Adventures and Accommodations
No matter which parts of the country you visit, adventure is always on the agenda in Costa Rica. Test your courage with whitewater rafting, waterfall rappelling, and ziplining. Get a workout hiking in the rainforest and exploring waterfalls and then soothe your muscles in a thermal spring. For water lovers, there's snorkeling, scuba, surfing, kayaking, SUP, and even cave tubing. You can explore on foot, horseback or ATV and spot unique wildlife all around you - monkeys, sloths, SNAKES, jaguars, humpback whales, and brilliantly-colored frogs, macaws, hummingbirds and butterflies.
After all that adventure, you can rest your weary head in accommodations as unique as Costa Rica itself. From beachfront resorts that blend into the landscape to eco wellness lodges nestled in a canyon over hot springs to luxury tented camps built in the treetops of the rainforest - you decide how rustic or how luxurious you want your accommodations to be. Most choices are committed to sustainability and conservation, making Costa Rica one of the most eco-friendly destinations.
As for when to visit, December through April is high season, and the crowds and prices reflect that. But don't be afraid of green season - the rainier months of May through November. You're in the rainforest, so it's gonna rain regardless of when you're there. But you can beat the crowds and save some money if you time your vacation during green season. For our next trip to Costa Rica, I priced Spring Break and Fall Break 2023, and the fall was significantly less expensive. So Fall Break it is!
Heather Vergara is a former Pepsico marketing executive who left the corporate world to be a Mom and never made her way back. In addition to travel and adventure, Heather is passionate about kindness, community, whole food and fitness. Her travel business, Show Them the World, is more fun than she ever imagined! In just a year and a half in business, she's helped close to 100 families see the world - Hawaii, Alaska, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Turks & Caicos, St. Lucia, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, National Parks, and more to come!
Heather has an MBA in marketing from Indiana University, a Digital Marketing Executive Education certification from Columbia University, and a BA in Journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She lives with her husband, two kids, and two furry dogs in Zionsville, Indiana.