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Costa Rica see + do

Costa Rica's two big draws are its wildlife and outdoor adventures. More than a quarter of the tropical country is protected within reserves, wildlife refuges, and national parks, and its 800 miles of Pacific and Caribbean coastline offer excellent surfing, diving, and swimming—plus the chance to see rare marine turtles crawl ashore by the hundreds to lay their eggs. There are several active volcanoes, including the perfectly conical Volcán Arenal and the Poás, where you can drive to the summit and peer into the crater. Exploring the rainforest canopy via a zip-line is a virtual rite of passage for visitors to Costa Rica, and there's an array of other adventures—from horseback rides to white-water rafting—to boost your adrenalin. Although the country is not very large, it can't be seen in its entirety during a single visit: Costa Rica is amazingly diverse and very mountainous, so most people wisely concentrate on one or two regions at a time. To figure out which regions to stay in, see our Fact Sheet.

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Tortuguero National Park, Caribbean Coast

Located at the far north end of the Caribbean Coast, Tortuguero National Park is a must-see for nature lovers. River otters, howler monkeys, caimans, manatees,...more

Editors' Pick
San José and the Central Valley, San José + the Central Valley

Of all the Central American capitals, San José could be considered the most appealing (if you've been to places like Managua and San Salvador, you know...more

Editors' Pick
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Rafting and Kayaking in Costa Rica

Combine steep, rugged mountains and high rainfall, and the result is a perfect tropical cocktail for kayaking and white-water rafting. Ríos Tropicales has...more

Editors' Pick
Hotel Photo
Nicoya Peninsula, Nicoya Peninsula

Beach bums are spoiled for choice along the Pacific shores of the Nicoya Peninsula, a huge horse-head–shaped landmass separated from the savanna lowlands...more

Editors' Pick
Hotel Photo
Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve, Monteverde

A wide variety of flora and fauna thrive in the eerily mist-shrouded mountains of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve. High on many bird spotters' lists is the...more

Editors' Pick
Hotel Photo
Manuel Antonio and the Central Pacific Coast, Central Pacific

The highlight of Costa Rica's Central Pacific coast, and the main reason most travelers visit the region, is Manuel Antonio National Park. Despite its small...more

Editors' Pick
Hotel Photo
Lake Arenal and the Northern Lowlands, Northern Lowlands

Situated on a windswept saddle of the Cordillera de Tilarán mountain chain, Lake Arenal is the country's largest body of water. Its scenic beauty is reason...more

Editors' Pick
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Horseback Riding in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is still very much an agrarian society, and the horse remains a regular form of transport throughout much of the nation. That means lots of organized...more

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Guanacaste, Guanacaste

Costa Rica's northwest quarter is distinctive for its lingering dry season and deciduous forests that flare in spectacular blooms in spring before shedding...more

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Diving in Costa Rica

Costa Rica isn't known for coral reefs—it has very few, and small ones at that—but it contends with the world's best diving sites for its abundance...more

Editors' Pick
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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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