Review of the best according to the editorial board. On the selection criteria. This material is subjective and does not constitute advertising and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.
The Republic of Costa Rica is located between Nicaragua and Panama, its southern and western shores are washed by the Pacific Ocean, and the eastern ones – by the Caribbean Sea. The state covers an area of just over 50 thousand square kilometers. With such a modest size, Costa Rica boasts a high enough standard of living for this region, according to this indicator, it is in second place after Panama. The name of the country is translated from Spanish as “rich coast”, and in many ways this is true. It has a rich culture and history, but its most important asset is the fantastic diversity of nature. Dense rainforests cover two-thirds of Costa Rica's territory, they are home to a huge number of rare trees and hundreds of thousands of species of animals, birds, and insects. Here you can see formidable caimans, huge sea turtles, miniature hummingbirds, exotic butterflies. Residents are justly proud of their wildlife protection program; there are about 25 national parks and reserves in the country.
Costa Rica is very attractive in terms of tourism; from one to three million tourists visit it a year. In addition to the splendor of untouched nature, the state has a developed hotel and entertainment infrastructure. Guests who decide to spend their holidays here will find about three hundred sandy beaches, a large number of water sports and, of course, an extensive excursion program. The country has a mild climate almost all year round with an average temperature of 23-26 degrees. The low crime rate also plays an important role – it is one of the safest Latin American countries. Costa Rica has a lot of attractions, both natural and man-made. We invite you to find out about the most interesting of them.
Top sights in Costa Rica
|Top sights in Costa Rica||1||Manuel Antonio National Park||5.0|
|8||Las Baulas National Park||4.5|
|9||Cathedral of San Jose||4.4|
|11||La Fortuna waterfall||4.4|
|13||Costa Rican stone balls||4.2|
|14||Monteverde National Park||4.2|
Manuel Antonio National Park
Attraction rating: 5.0
The park is located 132 kilometers from the capital, off the Pacific coast of the country, the territory occupied by it is slightly more than 16 square kilometers. Although it is the smallest of all Costa Rica's national parks, it is visited by up to 150,000 people every year. The main reason is the amazing biological diversity that can be observed here. Manuel Antonio is home to over a hundred species of mammals and nearly two hundred species of birds. Walking through the park, you can see howler monkeys, spiny-tailed iguanas, white-nosed coati and other unusual animals. Dolphins and even whales that make seasonal migrations often swim into coastal waters.
Guests are invited to contemplate nature on foot, using a kind of cable car passing between the crowns of trees, or from suspension bridges laid at dizzying heights. The park has four sandy beaches, water activities are represented by surfing, sailing on yachts or catamarans, and sport fishing. An interesting fact – Manuel Antonio is open to the public only until 4 pm, as the tide floods even to the exit, and at night crocodiles often swim here.
Attraction rating: 4.9
The Venado Caves have existed since the Miocene period and are approximately twenty million years old. For a significant part of this time, they were hidden under water, but due to tectonic activity they ended up on the surface. Even now, during the rainy season, the caves are sometimes partially flooded, and the rest of the time a shallow, winding river flows through them. Once upon a time, local residents tried to settle here, but the constant humidity forced them to leave these underground shelters over time. Today, only spiders and a colony of bats remain permanent inhabitants of the caves.
The underground passages are rich in beautiful stalactites and stalagmites, as well as fossilized corals and the remains of marine animals – at every step you can see the underwater past of this place. Although tourist excursions to the Venado Caves are quite frequent, there is no lighting and travelers have to use flashlights.
Attraction rating: 4.8
Due to its location in a zone of high volcanic activity, Costa Rica is rich in volcanoes, there are 120 of them in the country, and 70 of them are still active. The most famous is Arenal, an active stratovolcano located in the province of Alajuela, 90 kilometers northwest of the capital. The volcano has a regular conical shape, its height is 1670 meters above sea level. By geological standards, it is quite young, about seven thousand years old.
According to research by scientists, the earliest volcanic eruption lasted for 35 years. Since that time, Arenal has been characterized by explosive eruptions that happened once every hundred years or more. From the 16th century, the volcano was dormant, until in 1968 a large-scale eruption, provoked by an earthquake, began. Rapidly moving pyroclastic flows led to the death of 90 people, and the lava pouring out over several days buried almost 15 square kilometers of the surrounding area. The village of Tabacon was completely destroyed, and the disaster also partially affected the city of Pueblo Nuevo. In our time, large eruptions are not expected, but the volcano is constantly active, almost every day giving out small flows of lava. Such eruptions look especially impressive in the evening, the top of the mountain seems to be illuminated from the inside. Tourists visiting the vicinity of the volcano are offered both walking and the opportunity to admire the Arenal from a balloon height.
Attraction rating: 4.7
The Pre-Columbian Gold Museum is located in the central part of the city of San Jose, near the cathedral. As the name suggests, the exhibition is a collection of gold artifacts from Native American times. Previously discovered by archaeologists finds from gold were stored in a bank, however, due to the constant increase in their number, the authorities decided to build a special museum. The collection features valuable household items, jewelry, objects related to Native American religious rituals and ancient art objects. The total number of exhibits exceeds two thousand items.
The greatest impression on the visitors of the museum is made by the figurines of birds, erotic figurines, huge golden shields and a sculpture of a warrior made in human height, created with incredible detail. Some of the artifacts date back to the 5th century BC. It should be noted that the museum contains only part of the Indian treasures. After the conquest of Central America by the conquistadors, a huge amount of plundered gold was simply melted down into ingots and sent by sea to Europe. But even what remains provides insight into the rich culture and craftsmanship of Costa Rica's indigenous peoples. The Gold Museum shares a space with the numismatic collection, where you can see the coins of the state from the 15th century. Interestingly, despite the enormous value of the stored collections, the museum building in the entire history of its existence has never been attacked or attempted to rob.
Attraction rating: 4.7
The most famous hot springs of Costa Rica are located in the Tabacon resort, 13 kilometers from the city of La Fortuna. There are seven large thermal pools and many small baths, as well as cascades of miniature waterfalls. Hot ponds are surrounded by lush tropical gardens, tended by the nearby Tabacon Grand Spa. Thermal springs are heated due to volcanic activity, the temperature in them ranges from 40 to 25 degrees. They owe their existence mainly to the Arenal volcano. The water contains dissolved minerals washed out from underground rocks and magma particles. The springs of Tabakon lack the pungent smell of hydrogen sulfide, which is characteristic of many other hot springs.
Attraction rating: 4.7
The village of Tamarindo is located in the province of Guanacaste, on the Nicoya Peninsula. This place, once a modest fishing village, is now immensely popular with ecotourists and surfers. The sandy beaches of Tamarindo have gentle entrances to the water and are ideal for inexperienced swimmers and novice surfers. There are places with active currents and big waves, as well as quieter areas. Extremists prefer boarding along the banks of Pico Pequeno or near the mouth of the El Estero River. In the winter months, the wave height slightly off the coast can reach four meters. For beginners, there are surf schools here, and there are also rental points for a variety of water equipment.
For those who are not interested in conquering the waves, Tamarindo has a large number of other types of recreation and entertainment. Tourists are offered diving, sport fishing, horseback riding, and hiking tours through the dense and exotic jungle that surrounds the coastline. Like any surfer destination, the resort is renowned for its vibrant nightlife.
Attraction rating: 4.6
Drake Bay is located on the Osa Peninsula. This is one of the most beautiful, calm and secluded places in Costa Rica, a real tropical paradise surrounded by pristine nature. On the coast around the bay there are long sandy beaches, a little further away from them there are small hotels and cozy guest houses. This place got its name in honor of the famous pirate Francis Drake, who visited here in the 16th century. Legend has it that he hid some of his untold wealth from the Spaniards somewhere nearby.
Drake Bay is perfect for beach holidays and diving – there is a whole network of underwater caves. The area of the bay includes the Corcovado National Park, distinguished by its biological diversity. The park is inhabited by many rare species of birds and animals, most of which are found only in this part of the world.
Las Baulas National Park
Attraction rating: 4.5
Las Baulas is known as one of the largest nesting sites for leatherback turtles on the Pacific coast. The park is located near the border with Nicaragua, in the province of Guanacaste, its territory is approximately 220 square kilometers. Previously, sea turtles were found here in the thousands, but due to the widespread popularity of their meat and eggs, the animals were almost completely exterminated. Only after the establishment of the National Marine Park and the taking of leatherback turtles under increased protection, their Pacific population began to gradually recover. In our time, the number of this species is about two and a half thousand individuals.
Leatherback turtles come ashore only during the egg-laying period, and therefore you can see them from November to April. These beautiful animals are known for their slowness when moving on land and for their enormous size – some of them can reach two meters in length and weigh over 500 kilograms. Tours in the park are conducted exclusively with a guide to minimize the impact of tourists on the ecosystem.
Cathedral of San Jose
Attraction rating: 4.4
The Cathedral is one of the main attractions of the capital of Costa Rica. It stands in the central part of the city and is a simple, but at the same time majestic building, combining two styles at once in its architectural form: neoclassicism and baroque. The cathedral was built in 1860, before that there was a small Catholic church in its place. In 1871, the building suffered serious damage after an earthquake and had to be rebuilt. Another reconstruction took place 20 years later, in honor of the visit of the city of San Jose by the Pope.
The entrance of the temple is decorated with numerous columns, the interior space amazes with the richness of colorful stained-glass windows. On the main altar you can see the ancient statue of Christ, made of wood. The cathedral is open to all comers; a large number of tourists visit it every day. Religious Mass is held three times a day, in English and Spanish.
Attraction rating: 4.4
Cocos Island is the largest uninhabited island in the Pacific Ocean. Its area is 24 square kilometers, it is located 600 kilometers west of Costa Rica. Picturesque tropical landscapes and rich fauna of the island have made it an attractive tourist destination. Despite the inaccessibility (you can get there only from the port of Puntarenas), more than 1,100 people come here every year for excursions. The island's unique ecosystem is home to many endemic plant and insect species. But the main wealth is hidden under the waters off the coast of Cocos: more than three hundred species of fish and about five hundred species of molluscs live here. Due to the ocean currents, divers regularly meet rare stingrays, octopuses, Galapagos sharks, dolphins, sea lions and many other inhabitants of the underwater world near the island.
Several legends are associated with Cocos Island, united by the theme of treasures allegedly hidden here by pirates. Treasure hunters have undertaken at least 500 expeditions throughout history, but none have been successful. However, a beautiful story about a treasure buried on a desert island formed the basis of one of the most popular adventure novels – Treasure Island, written by Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson. In addition, Cocos Island became the inspiration for Isla Nubar, the main location of the book “Jurassic Park” by Michael Crichton, which was later filmed for the blockbuster series.
La Fortuna waterfall
Attraction rating: 4.4
La Fortuna waterfall is located in the Arenal National Park, near the volcano of the same name. Its waters originate from the Tenorio River and break off the cliff, from a height of 75 meters, falling into a beautiful emerald lake. The waterfall is surrounded by thickets of tropical trees and plants, as well as large boulders. At the very top, there is an observation deck, from which visitors have the opportunity to admire the waterfall and its surroundings. Also, many tourists do not miss the chance to swim in the crystal clear, cool lake at the foot of La Fortuna.
Attraction rating: 4.3
An island belonging to Costa Rica, located in the Caribbean, it covers an area of 180 square kilometers. Although there are no hotels and developed infrastructure on it, Tortuga still attracts a large number of tourists. One of the main reasons lies in his past. In the 16th century, the island served for many years as a refuge for Spanish buccaneers, and to this day there are many legends associated with the island's pirates among the locals. Also Tortuga is perfect for a beach holiday.
The waters around the island are a real paradise for divers. Dolphins, moray eels, octopuses and giant sea turtles can be seen in the depths of the water. Several sunken ships rest on the seabed near Tortuga. Those who want to admire the beauty of the underwater world without scuba gear are offered a tour on a boat with a transparent bottom.
Costa Rican stone balls
Attraction rating: 4.2
Stone balls are one of the most unusual and mysterious sights of Costa Rica. Initially, these spheres were discovered at the beginning of the 20th century when clearing the area for banana plantations. Believing the legends of local residents that gold was hidden inside the balls, the workers split them into pieces or exploded them with dynamite. In the end, the efforts of local authorities managed to put an end to such acts of vandalism.
Stone balls can be seen in several places on Caño Island, Nicoya Peninsula, or near the mouth of the Dikvis River. Several spheres are kept in museums both in Costa Rica and beyond. Their size varies widely: from a few centimeters to two meters in diameter, the largest weighs 16 tons. Scientists who investigated the mysterious balls were unable to come to a consensus regarding their age or origin. The theory that such spheres could appear naturally as a result of the influence of natural forces seems unlikely. On the other hand, to create them, the natives who lived thousands of years ago would need not only special tools, but also extensive knowledge in the field of stone processing. Not without the theories associated with the disappeared highly developed civilizations. In any case, people still have to solve the riddle of the stone balls.
Monteverde National Park
Attraction rating: 4.2
The forests of Monteverde Park are home to more than a hundred species of mammals, about 400 species of birds, thousands of species of insects and up to 2500 species of plants. This biological reserve attracts a huge number of wildlife lovers. While walking in the park, you can admire rare species of orchids, and if you're lucky, even meet the symbol of Latin America – the quetzal bird, which was considered sacred by the Maya and Aztecs. Quetzal is remarkable not only for her bright appearance, but also for her amazing love of freedom: all attempts to keep her in captivity ended in failure, after catching the birds quickly die.
Many tourists prefer to see the beauty of Monteverde from above. For this purpose, suspension bridges have been laid in the park, and canopy tours are also offered. The latter represent movement along metal cables, stretched up to 40 meters above the ground, with the help of safety equipment.
Attraction rating: 4.1
Costa Rica's most important archaeological site is located on the southern slope of the Turrialba volcano. The lost Indian settlement was built more than two thousand years ago, and in 800 AD it served as a major political and cultural center of the tribe. During the period of prosperity, the population of Guayabo reached 20 thousand people. For some unknown reason, the inhabitants left the city at the beginning of the 15th century.
Archaeological excavations have revealed a developed urban infrastructure, including stone-paved streets, houses with stone walls, petroglyphs, artifacts with unique writing, as well as cult sculptures depicting the jaguar god and the alligator god. Of particular interest is the system of aqueducts, which has survived to this day. A lot of items made of precious metals were also found, they can be seen in the National Museum of San Jose.
Attention! This rating is subjective and does not constitute an advertisement and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.