5 essential travel experiences in Costa Rica

Arenal Volcano - Costa Rica

Ardyiii/flickr

There is no shortage of things to do in Costa Rica, whatever your interests might be, but like in all countries with a very distinctive cultures, some things just must be seen and done if you want to be able to say that you’ve truly seen Costa Rica. You can’t visit Japan without tasting the sushi, or visit Thailand without a romp on an island beach, but what is a traveler to do when in Costa Rica? Granted, the volcanoes and cloud forests are definitely on anyone’s Costa Rican bucket list, but obviously there is more to this exciting country. Here are 5 essential travel experiences in Costa Rica, for travelers who don’t want to miss out on anything.

Visiting Arenal Volcano

Anyone’s who ever given any mind to visiting Costa Rica will probably have heard about Arenal Volcano, one of the most popular attractions in the country. This active volcano is over 1600 meters tall, and it is the centerpiece of Arenal Volcano National Park. If you’re in luck, you might get to see some lava flow, but the solidified flows and the fumaroles peeking from behind the dense cover of trees is not less impressive. Other things you can do in the area are zip lining, rafting and rapelling.

Go to the beach

Tamarindo, photo by Christian Haugen

Even if you normally don’t enjoy lounging on the beach, Costa Rica’s beaches are worth visiting even for their natural beauty alone. Dominical and Jaco are very popular with party goers and surfers, while Montezuma is a bohemian paradise, but the beaches in national parks are all tranquil, pristine natural beauty. Corcovado National Park has some of the most amazing secret beaches you’ve ever seen.

Rafting

There are more rivers per square kilometer in Costa Rica than anywhere else on the planet, so it’s only natural that the extreme sport of choice for most domestic and foreign travelers if rafting. Reventazon and Pacuare Rivers near Turrialba are a popular option, as is Sarequipi River near Arenal. El General river has the biggest volume, while the Chorro section of the Naranja river will send your adrenaline levels through the roof.

Surfing

Casado as a main dish

rachfog/flickr

Costa Rica is a surfer’s paradise, there’s no doubt about it. Guanacaste has several beaches wit amazing breaks, and you can find several good spots in Dominical and Montezuma as well. If you’ve never surfed before, Costa Rica is a great place to learn the sport. Some of the most famous surfing schools in the country can be found in the pleasant beach town of Tamarindo.

Eat

Costa Rican cuisine is far from being as intricate as French or Chinese, but it is one of the most wholesome cuisines in the Americas. There’s less spice in Costa Rican food than in other Latin American dishes, but everything is flavorful. Try local specialties like casado, gallo pinto, and trust the plato del dia (plate of the day) at the small eateries. Costa Rican cuisine will be much better than whatever you get at fast foods and western-style restaurants, and it’s definitely one of the 5 essential travel experiences in Costa Rica.

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