5 Things to Love about Costa Rica
It’s difficult to imagine that a country as rich in cultural and natural experiences as Costa Rica could be limited to a short list of only 5 things to love. There are definitely more than just 5 things about the country that stand out, but when I think about my trip there, these are the 5 highlights of our experience.
1- The resorts
There are enough lodging options in Costa Rica to accommodate any budget and travel style. But for me, the luxury resort experience just can’t be beat. The spa treatments, the food, which is often typical Costa Rican food, and the rooms, which are often unique in the way they work with the environment. You could end up staying in a resort in the rain forest! Even in a resort setting, chances are that your room could be no more than a wall of nets separating you from nature.
One thing to note is that many Costa Rican resorts are environmentally conscious and only offer fans instead of air-conditioning. One my favorite resorts in Costa Rica is the Lapa Rios Ecolodge in the area of Puntarenas. The views from our private cabana were breathtaking and, the service, as well as the tours included with the stay, was top-notch.
2 – The beaches
Whether you like to snorkel, whale watch, surf, or just relax on the sand, there is a beach for you in Costa Rica. The list of options is endless: Puerto Viejo, Montezuma, Cahuita, Tortuguero…on and on it goes.
You can easily build an entire vacation around touring Costa Rican beaches, or just pick your favorite, settle in, and enjoy.
3 – The adventures
Adventure travel to Costa Rica isn’t anything new, but what few realize is that even travelers with small kids can find it easy to take on all the fun Costa Rica has to offer. My family of 5 and I went on night hikes, where we were surrounded by snakes and all things creepy-crawly just to get a feel for what nocturnal life in the jungle was like. We took on a two-hour hike through the rainforest in search of waterfalls and of course, there was no way we were going to miss ziplining through the Cloud Forest. It’s really a great place for anyone with a sense of adventure to visit, no matter how old they may be.
4 – The environmentalism
In 2010 Costa Rica was recognized for its efforts in biodiversity protection. To date it is known as a global leader in sustainability, even in the area of tourism, not always an easy task. You might find tour guides asking you to use environmentally-friendly insect repellent so as to not harm or affect the ecosystem. You might also find that even some of the most luxurious resorts don’t have air-conditioning and limit the number of times they replace the towels in your room. You will find that many tours incorporate lesson on sustainability, leaving you with more awareness than you came in with.
All of these small efforts are designed to protect everything we have grown to love about the country so that others can enjoy it just as much in years to come. This stance is something I not only respect, but really love about Costa Rica.
5 – The wildlife, but especially the howler monkeys
People always ask me what Costa Rica is like. I always tell them there is a lot of wildlife. I mean, a lot of wildlife. If you are sensitive to critters and things, it might take some getting used to. On one of our first nights in the country, my husband had a hard time falling asleep because the jungle was so loud, and, at the time, we lived in the heart of New York City!
But you quickly get used to it, and even find yourself searching for it and wanting to learn more about it. My favorite part of the wildlife in Costa Rica was the howler monkeys. To those not familiar with their call, they sound like dogs howling. When you finally see them face to face, it’s a pretty exciting moment. They don’t bother you if you don’t bother them, though they always keep a close eye on you.
The people, the food, the sights, all of it is amazing. There’s a larger expat community now than there was years before, so at times it might feel like you are visiting an extension of the United States or some other English speaking nation. But, there are plenty of smaller towns and villages that still provide that real Latin-culture feel, and I encourage you to seek those out. If you don’t know where to start, ask a Tico (Costa Rican native) where they hang out. The fact that they’re often more than happy to show you is just another reason to love Costa Rica.