5 Best Areas to Stay in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is arguably one of the most beautiful countries in the world. So, if your travel plans include an itinerary for Costa Rica, you should know about the area’s landscape. Costa Rica is a beautiful country that is highly focused on conservation. About 25% of Costa Rica falls under the conservation umbrella, including 20 national park areas, several areas that are fully protected, eight bio reserves, and different animal refuges.
The Central American state is also known for its ample wildlife, beaches, expansive rainforests, and volcanoes, making it a good travel destination. About a quarter of the nation is covered by thick jungle, inhabited by abundant wildlife, including all members of the cat family, spider monkeys, jaguars, and some indigenous birds.
Whether you’re looking to embark on numerous adventurous activities, see a variety of cool animals, honeymoon as a newlywed, plan a family-friendly tropical vacation, or enjoy a beachside vacation, there is something for everyone in different regions of Costa Rica. Learn about the five places in Costa Rica you should consider when booking your next vacation below.
5 Best Areas to Stay in Costa Rica
1. For Adventurous Travelers: Arenal Volcano Area
If you like your travel to be adventurous, it is hard to beat the Arenal Volcano area. This beautiful region is chockful of resorts and other lodging options. Situated in northern Costa Rica, it is located about three hours north of the capital city of San Jose and is simply breathtaking.
The Arenal Volcano area is another place to stay, particularly for adventurous travelers, because of the numerous destinations available in the region. While in the area, you can visit the Arenal Volcano National Park and explore it. The park’s green, fertile landscape is dominated by the Arenal Volcano. Being one of the most active volcanoes in the country, visitors can see the volcano erupt. The eruption creates a fantastic scene ideal for taking good photos and videos whether you’re on a solo trip, traveling with friends, or on an adventure with your partner.
Apart from viewing the volcano erupt, travelers can visit various hot springs near the volcano. People can dip themselves in the hot springs and have a warm, therapeutic bath in the middle of the rainforest. The Arenal Volcano area is a good place for ziplining and areal trips given its amazing views of the Arenal volcano and Lake Arenal from high altitudes. Visitors can go for an airborne excursion to enjoy an aerial view of the area. If you’ve always wanted to zipline, this is certainly the best spot to try!
Visitors can also hike through the rainforest to go and view the La Fortuna waterfall. The waterfall drops into a pool of clear water that travelers can dive in and swim. Be sure to carry a swimsuit when you go to the Arenal Volcano area. You can also hike on Arenal bridges created by fixed and hanging structures with views of the volcano. You will also enjoy beautiful flora and fauna as you hike through the dense thicket. Overall, the Arenal Volcano area has intriguing places for adventurers to explore. It’s an ideal place to stay during your Costa Rica vacation because there are so many opportunities for adventure in close proximity!
2. For Animal Lovers: Cloud Forest
Monteverde is home to the cloud forest and is a hiker’s dreamland. There are plenty of opportunities in Monteverde to hike and reconnect with nature. The “cloud forest” is so named because the canopy is often covered with clouds. Monteverde is a great place to stay when visiting Costa Rica for many reasons. It is a natural reserve spanning over 10,500 hectares of land and with copious wildlife, making it a suitable destination for animal lovers. The forest has more than six ecosystems and is home to at least 100 mammal species, 490 butterfly species, and over 2,000 species of flora and fauna.
For animal lovers, Monteverde is an excellent place to visit because it is one of the few reserves in the world inhabited by all six species of the cat family. You can easily spot a jaguar or any other member of the family when on a visit to Monteverde. Monkeys, sloths, olingos, and other tree-dwelling animals are also plentiful in the reserve. They freely roam the reserve and skip from one tree to another.
Birds are also a common sight in the cloud forest. There are no less than 30 types of hummingbirds in the natural reserve as well as rare and colorful birds like bellbird and quetzal. However, you must be at the reserve very early in the morning to see the birds. Since only a limited number of people are allowed in the reserve in a single day, it would be best to book an appointment in advance.
You’ll leave the cloud forest with plenty of beautiful photographs of the wildlife you encounter. If you’re an avid hiker and animal lover, Monteverde is certainly the best spot for you and your travel companions to stay.
3. For Honeymooners: Puerto Viejo
Puerto Viejo is about a five-hour drive from the airport, but most agree it is well worth it. Known for its black sand beach and crystal-clear Caribbean waters, Puerto Viejo is the ideal backdrop for a romantic beach getaway. Lay on the beach and have a beautiful view of both the ocean and the rainforest in Puerto Viejo.
A beautiful small town in Costa Rica along the Caribbean coast, Puerto Viejo is the perfect place for honeymooners because of its beautiful beaches, stylish hotels, and relaxed vibe. It provides a cozy, private environment for recently married couples who want to enjoy themselves after their wedding.
When along the beach, honeymooners can bask in the sun, take romantic beach walks, or go scuba diving or snorkeling. A couple can also go fishing deep in the sea aboard fishing charters and tours. Being one of the biggest party towns in the region, honeymooners can enjoy a series of parties filled with bonfires, music, and dancing. Other activities you can partake in as newlyweds include:
- A chocolate tour: Tour a cacao farm and learn how chocolate is sustainably grown, processed, and made! Plus, enjoy a sample or two.
- A cultural tour: Visit an indigenous community to learn about their lifestyle, culture, and traditions.
- A surfing lesson: Learn how to surf with your new spouse!
- A wildlife refuge tour: See a variety of wildlife, such as crocodiles and parrots, and enjoy the views!
- A white water rafting adventure: Here’s your opportunity to try white water rafting in a beautiful country!
- A bike ride: Rent bikes and leisurely ride around Puerto Viejo to take in its views and attractions.
The high number of good hotels in Puerto Viejo gives honeymooners a large pool of facilities to select from. This enables you to select a hotel that provides the most romantic setting for you and your spouse at an affordable price. Honeymooners can also tour the town to shop for souvenirs or visit local eateries to enjoy local Costa Rican cuisine. Puerto Viejo’s natural elements and activities can help a couple relax and enjoy each other’s company following a wedding ceremony.
4. For Families: San Jose
San Jose is the capital of Costa Rica. If you want to travel to Costa Rica and experience its old-world charm, this is the place for you. The capital is in the center of the country, about 20 minutes from the airport with easy access to everything. This is a great place to stay for first-time travelers to the country.
San Jose is arguably one of the best areas to stay in Costa Rica. The city is beautiful and has many fun places to visit for both kids and adults. Its spectacular landscape, thrilling activities, and welcoming people will leave your family yearning for more trips to Costa Rica’s largest city.
A tour of the city is exciting and educational. You can tour the city and learn about its history and get to see some of its important landmarks while enjoying the atmosphere and interacting with people. Here are a few family-friendly tourist attractions your family will love:
- The National Museum of Costa Rica: Learn about the history of Costa Rica as a family!
- The Children’s Museum: Your kids will love the “archaeological dig!”
- The Pre-Columbian Gold Museum: See all forms of Costa Rica currency throughout centuries.
- The Jade Museum: See the world’s largest collection of American jade!
- The Central Market: Try fresh fruits and vegetables among other food stand treats!
- The Amusement Park: Your kids can run around, and they’ll love all the rides at this fun park!
- Culture Plaza: This bustling but fun market area is ideal for a lunch break with your family.
- Sarchí: Pick out souvenirs and enjoy a bite to eat in this quaint small town just outside San Jose!
Besides going for a city tour and visiting various museums and attractions, the capital has amazing city parks that families can visit. For instance, a travel expedition to La Sabana Metropolitan Park will enable your family to enjoy the expansive green vegetation in San Jose with a backdrop of the city’s architecture. The park is suitable for picnics, nature walks, and other recreational activities for families. As seen, there are many good places to visit and numerous exciting activities for families to do in San Jose. Consider working with a travel agency to plan your Costa Rica family vacation in order to make your travel experience smooth and as relaxing as possible.
5. For Ocean Lovers: Tamarindo Beach
If you think that surfing is the best way to spend your Costa Rica vacation, you will love Tamarindo Beach. This gorgeous beach has something to offer everyone, but it’s the best place to stay for travelers who enjoy laying on the beach, sunbathing, swimming, and leisurely reading a book on the sand. Tamarindo Beach is also ideal for visitors who’d like a mix of relaxing beach time and exciting ocean adventures.
This beach is situated along the pacific coast in the province of Guanacaste and is one of the most popular beaches in Costa Rica. It is known for ocean-related activities, especially surfing, because of its strong waves. The ocean along Tamarindo Beach has multiple reefs and beach breaks that make it a good place to learn how to surf as well as look at sea life underwater. The strong waves imply that visitors must be cautious when swimming in the Pacific waters. Other water sports like kayaking and fishing are also popular in Tamarindo Beach. You and your travel companions can enjoy a relaxing afternoon on the beach while also dipping your toes in the water!
Another fantastic opportunity you should take advantage of while staying in Tamarindo Beach is the nearby waterfall tour. A local expert will guide you through a tour of Rio Celeste and Llanos de Cortes’s waterfalls. Enjoy a hike while taking in the beautiful scenery around you. Nature lovers will especially love this excursion during their Costa Rica vacation.
If you’ve always wanted to be on a sailboat, there’s an opportunity near Tamarindo Beach. Climb aboard the Blue Dolphin, where a guide will point out beautiful sea life, such as dolphins, whales, and turtles, as you leisurely tour the waters around Guanacaste. You’ll have the opportunity to kayak and paddleboard near the sailboat as you take in the breathtaking ocean views.
After an eventful day of swimming, going on a sailboat ride, hiking to see waterfalls, and engaging in water sports, visitors can relax in the evening at restaurants and bars along the beach as they listen to music or watch the sun go down. Residents in Tamarindo Beach have a laidback lifestyle, which makes the area affordable to visit and discover. If you are an ocean lover or love surfing, be sure to visit Tamarindo Beach when you travel to Costa Rica.
Book Your Costa Rica Vacation Today
Spanning from the capital city to the coastal sides of the Central American nation, these are some of the five best areas to stay in Costa Rica. The nation is a fantastic place to visit for adventurers, animal lovers, honeymooners, families, and ocean lovers. Whether you enjoy vacationing beachside or embarking on an adventure of a lifetime, there are numerous activities to try. No matter what you come to Costa Rica for, mix up your activities so you can see everything that Costa Rica has to offer.
Depending on the vacation you want, book your travel accommodations in one of these beautiful areas if you’re traveling to Costa Rica for a memorable experience. You will want to come back over and over again!
What area to stay in Costa Rica do you think sounds like the best? Let us know in the comments below.
About the Author
John Rabenau is the founder and owner of Costa Rica Escapes. They are a small travel agency, and because of that they are able to dedicate more time to ensuring that their clients have the absolute best vacations possible in the beautiful country of Costa Rica.
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