Updated: Dec 13, 2021
Here's a list of eight reasons why Costa Rica should be your next adventure vacation.
1. Corcovado National Park
National Geographic noted that Corcovado is the “most biologically intense place on Earth in terms of biodiversity”. To see Corcovado today is the same as what you would have seen hundreds of years ago. Towering rainforests, tapirs, toucans, all working in a rainforest system that’s been designated as Costa Rica’s largest national park since 1975.
Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or have only dreamed of surfboards, Costa Rica is the spot. With beautiful breaks throughout the Pacific Coast there’s no place better in Central America to surf than Costa Rica. A morning paddle out in the warm waters provides an amazing sunrise over the rainforest clad mountains. If you’re lucky you may even spot a green sea turtle popping up for a little hello.
Lizano is the best sauce in the world. A thin, tangy, light brown sauce, you will find Lizano inside every home, restaurant, car, bus, train, and plane. Produced in Costa Rica since 1921 Lizano is to Costa Rica as ketchup is to America. (Except Lizano is better than ketchup).
There are four types of monkeys in Costa Rica: white-face capuchin, howler, squirrel, and spider. It is not uncommon to come across all these in the same day depending upon which part of Costa RIca you are in. There’s no need to set an alarm on the Osa Peninsula. Howler monkeys will be sure to wake you up early in the morning. Although the sound of the howler may sound intimidating they are actually the least confrontational of Costa Rica’s monkey species. The point of the howl in the morning and at night is to indicate to other howler troops their location. Basically, the howlers are telling the other troops, ‘Hey, I’m over here today, let’s be chill, and just don’t come over in this spot.’
5. Route 34
Driving isn’t the glamorous part of traveling. But every once-in-a-while there’s a strip of pavement that is enjoyable. Route 34 is Costa Rica’s two-lane highway along parts of the Pacific Coast. Certain sections open up to beautiful vantage points of the Pacific which provide a perfect stop to stretch your legs, grab a pipa, and enjoy the journey. Along Route 34 are interesting little roadside fruit stands, shops, and at one point between Uvita and Dominical there are these giant dinosaurs at a gas station (every time I pass it, there’s this random Route 66 vibe, i.e., ‘Largest Rocking Chair’ or ‘World’s Biggest Paint Ball’, although I’m not even sure if those are on Route 66). Also, la puente de los cocodrilos, or crocodile bridge is an interesting little 20-minute stop. The Tarcoles River flows below Highway 34 and the bridge that goes over is an impromptu crocodile viewing area. Years ago there used to be tons of crocs chilling just below the bridge waiting for their probably 40th chicken meal of the day. Before it was banned you could buy raw chicken and drop it down to the huge 3 to 5-meter long crocs where they happily ate their easy meal. Today, it’s illegal to feed the crocodiles (which is understandable), but there are still a host of crocodiles that hang below the bridge. Just so we’re on the same page, we’re not going swimming in Rio Tarcoles.
I never understood the magic behind whale watching until I actually saw one in the Golfo Dulce. To see something so massive yet so graceful is a humbling experience. There is this connection that pulls you to the ocean, to the whale, and to nature overall. There’s a symbiotic relationship that exists between us, nature, and whales. We have an obligation to help protect these animals. Although most of us realize this idea, seeing a whale behaving as it has behaved since the inception of whales is a gentle, yet massive reminder that we must work as one to keep our oceans clean. Costa Rica is a busy terminal for whale migrations. When the northern Atlantic waters turn too cold in the winter North Atlantic St. Lawrence Humpback Whales and California Humpback whales migrate south to Costa Rica’s warm waters to give birth. On the opposite side of the hemisphere, the Antarctic Humpback whales have the same plan but at a different time of the year. A longer migration than the northern humpbacks gives the Antarctic Humpback whales the impressive feat of having the longest migration in the animal kingdom, passing the entirety of South America on their way to Costa Rica. Humpbacks of both species give birth in the warm waters of Costa Rica because there are no predators that will eat the calves here.
7. Central Mercado
Every Costa Rican adventure stops and starts in San Jose, the capital, because the main international airport, Juan Santamaria (airport code: SJO), is located here. About a 30-minute drive from the airport is the city center where you can find the ‘Mercado Central’. This bustling market established in 1880 has a host of vendors selling spices, fishes, meats, souvenirs, breakfast...everything really. It’s a quick glimpse into Costa Rican daily life filled with colors, people, and the comforting smells of a Latin market. You cannot leave Costa Rica without coffee, and this is the place to buy coffee from the roasters. Whether it be ground, whole beans, or you’re looking for a chorreador (the sock-like drip coffee maker popular in Costa Rica) Central Mercado is the spot.
Costa Rican beaches might be your sole reason to visit. If it is, I’m totally on-board with that. Depending on where you’re planning to visit there’s a beach for everybody. Or if you don’t want to see anybody there’s plenty of beaches like that too. The beaches of the Osa Peninsula are desolate, beautiful, and the place where the sand stops and the rainforest begins. There are not many places in the world where you can take one step from the beach into the rainforest. There’s this yin-and-yang between the beach and rainforest. We live in a time where it is really hard to find balance, but beaches of the Osa are best to place escape from it all. If you’re trying to surf, surf, surf, and surf there’s a stretch of beaches in the town of Santa Teresa that are a surfer’s dream. Koa Smith, Kelly Slater, Tom Brady, and Diplo have all surf the different breaks the of Santa Teresa.