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Costa Rica translates to ‘rich coast’ in Spanish. The country’s beautiful coastlines that border both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean are matched by an equally inviting inland filled with lush rainforests, dormant volcanoes, and exhilarating white water rapids.
With so much natural splendor, it’s no wonder the country is considered a haven for the adventurous type. Take magical hikes through forested hills, surf in Tamarindo, and zip-line through jungle canopies for a unique vantage.
Wondering where to start? The good news is that given the country’s size, there’s no reason you can’t include it all in your trip.
Beauty and nature surround you, and it would be wrong to visit Costa Rica without taking in the outdoor adventures, but there is the opportunity to swap the greenery for the concrete jungle. Costa Rica is bustling with historic cities like San Jose for you to get your cultural fix.
Costa Rica has a tropical climate year-round and is divided by two distinct seasons: the dry and rainy seasons. The rainy season (called the ‘green season’ by locals) runs from May to mid-November and the dry season is from mid-November to April.
As you’d expect, most travelers choose to visit during the dry season where they can enjoy sunny weather with little to no rain - particularly appealing for those wanting to do plenty of hiking.
If you are more flexible with your travel plans, the in-between months just before the dry seasons starts and ends give you more bearable temperatures and an extra-lush rainforest thanks to the rainfall.
Bordered by both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, Costa Rica features magnificent beaches on both sides of the country. Warm waters all year-round, stunning surroundings and all the water sports you could ever need. What more could you want?
The Guanacaste province has 200 kilometers of coastline offering prime beach frontage on Costa Rica’s Pacific side. Here you will find the country’s most crystalline waters - ideal for scuba diving and fishing. In the province, Tamarindo, Playa Guinos and Papagayo Gulf are all beaches worth visiting.
The Puntarenas province is on Costa Rica's central Pacific Coast. The beaches here are less than an hour from San Jose, making them a favorite for tourists and locals. Manuel Antonio is not only the most popular beach in the province but also in the entire country Costa Rica! The palm tree-lined beaches are enclosed by jungled hills and there are plenty of water sports readily available. Elsewhere, Jaco is a surfer’s paradise with waves large enough to host international surf competitions.
Beachfront villas in Costa Rica
To slow down and relax, a vacation rental or villa on the beach is a perfect retreat.
Estate Oceano is a beachfront villa in Tambor just steps from the beach and complete with infinity pool and luxurious accommodations.
Casa Rio Grande is a beautiful beachfront villa rental sitting on the south end of Jaco Beach.
Villa Diosa del Mar is a private getaway with access to the small and gorgeous beach village of Playa Junquillal.
It’s most likely that your flight to Costa Rica will arrive at San Jose airport, the country’s hub. From here you can get anywhere via public transportation and taxis.
Onward travel for your trip is best by rental car. This allows you to travel on your own schedule and stop off where public transport won’t. Thankfully, many of our luxury villas in Barbados come with an optional private driver who can chauffeur you around the island, leaving one less thing for you to worry about.
If you plan on doing plenty of travel across the country but want to speed it up, Costa Rica has domestic airlines where that allow unlimited flights as a package.
Costa Rica’s cuisine isn’t famously something that draws the crowds in its own right, but it’s certainly something for visitors to get excited about. Here, you will find a unique Caribbean/Costa Rican fusion filled with distinct flavors and tastes that you’ll struggle to find anywhere else on the globe.
On the Caribbean coastline, you will find food influenced by the region with jerk chicken, rice and beans, and curried spices - a far cry from what you will find on the Pacific side. Here, you can tuck into some traditional Costa Rican dishes such as casado, Gallitos de Picadillo, and Vuelve a la Vida.
Ginger in Guanacaste serves a mix of traditional and pan-Asian fused tapas. This is a classy spot that is the talk of the province.
Kapi Kapi in Manuel Antonio is a restaurant more on the expensive side but they serve a delightful Costa Rican and Asian fusion.
Makoko in Playa Panamá, near Papagayo uses Costa Rican ingredients to create a diverse menu with international meals.
A soda is a traditional Costa Rican restaurant that those who want to experience the country’s true culture must try. In a soda, you’ll get a taste of authentic Costa Rican food.
With so much variety and natural beauty, it's not surprising to see that there are many amazing locations in Costa Rica to choose from. Some of our favorite Costa Rica rental locations include:
Cielomar is a six-bed rental located in Peninsula Papagayo with a stunning design of the property that focuses on the views toward the ocean.
Sky's Edge is a high-end brand new villa with mesmerizing ocean views, also located in Peninsula Papagayo. There are no neighbors here, just the monkeys swinging in the surrounding trees.
Regardless of where you choose to base yourself for your Costa Rica escape, luxury villa rentals reflect traditional Costa Rican interiors with open-concept designs, original architecture, and balconies, terraces, and rooftops to best appreciate the surrounding beauty.
Looking for a Costa Rica experience without the stress of organizing it? Our personalized luxury travel concierge service creates tailor-made vacations with all the big and little bits planned entirely for you.
Manuel Antonio is an ideal base for active travelers looking for a bit of adventure. There are the rainforests of Manuel Antonio National Park, beaches and off-shore coral reefs. For families, Papagayo is a great option - calm waters make the beaches perfect for children to play.
Tamarindo is a popular beachfront location home to waters perfect for surfing, diving and fishing. Look out for leatherback turtles who build their nests along these beaches at certain times of the year.
You can’t visit Costa Rica without taking the time to get up close with the country’s natural wonders. 27% of the landmass is devoted to national parks and reserves so take walking tours, hike up hilltop or soar above the trees on zip-line. Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio, Parque Nacional Corcovado and Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve are all worth exploring.
Tortuguero is a small town in Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast that attracts wildlife enthusiasts from around the world. The main attraction is the sea turtles that come here to nest but as you float down the river you will also spot manatees and crocodiles, as well as monkeys and sloths hanging in the trees above.
Scuba diving and surfing are other activities that Costa Rica is deemed a hotspot location for. Caño Island Biological Reserve has five platforms of low coral reefs and there is an abundance of famous surfing locations for beginners and experts alike.
After all that exploring in the day time, it’s time to unwind and enjoy the Costa Rican nightlife.
Much of Costa Rica’s nightlife revolves around the country’s capital, San Jose. That being said, certain beach locations around the country also have a bustling nightlife. From small gathering where you can rub shoulders with locals to party clubs with DJs, there’s something for every type of night you’re looking for.
In San Jose, Club Vertigo is the go-to nightclub with a great soundsystem and a friendly crowd. Jaco is a beach town that transforms into party central at night with plenty of bars and clubs to choose from including Le Loft, the best place to dance into the early hours. Sharky’s in Tamarindo also has a fun vibe with different events happening almost every day.
Arenal Volcano is one of the world’s most active volcanoes and visitors have traveled in droves to see the glowing rocks and molten lava that has been spewing since the last eruption in 1968.
San Jose’s National Theater is considered the most impressive building in the capital. Within the stunning exterior is an auditorium seating 1,040 people - catch one of their regular performances during your stay.
Le Paz Waterfall Gardens National Park near San Jose is the best way to see all of Costa Rica’s in one beautiful setting. Explore the five waterfalls, rainforests, and animal sanctuary including jaguars, monkeys, and pumas.
The Cayman Islands dollar is the official currency, although US dollars are accepted almost everywhere.
Costa Rica is home to two international airports that receive flights from the USA and Canada daily. San Jose International Airport (SJO) is the most popular but Liberia International Airport (LIR) is more accommodating for those whose final destination is in the north of the country.
A 10% gratuity will automatically be added to your restaurant bill. This is a standard so feel free to tip extra if the service was above and beyond. Elsewhere, tipping is never mandatory but if your tour guide or driver gave you a pleasant service, consider giving them 10-15% tip.