The Most Popular Destinations in Costa Rica

Costa Rican Caño Negro tour, ©manalahmadkhan/Flickr

Costa Rican Caño Negro tour, ©manalahmadkhan/Flickr

Visitors going to Costa Rica have a wide range of activities to try while spending their holiday time. Some of the most popular destinations a tourist must see in Costa Rica are the volcanoes, beaches, waterfalls and cloud and rainforests. The individual destinations described below were chosen in a purely objective manner based on visitor statistics compiled by the ICT, SINAC and MINAE.

For others there are no statistics and we determined the most popular by personal observation, and talking to residents, expats and people in the travel industry to come to a consensus. Also have a look, at the most popular adventures in Costa Rica, and the best kept secrets for Costa Rica travelers.  

Rain Forests, “jewels of the Earth”

Costa Rica rainforest, ©HBarrison/Flickr

Costa Rica rainforest, ©HBarrison/Flickr

One of the most popular destinations in Costa Rica are the rain forests. In the foothills and lowlands of both slopes, Costa Rica’s rainforests harbor thousands of known life forms and thousands more yet to be described. The most popular rainforest in Costa Rica measured by the number of visitors each day is Braulio Carrillo National Park. It straddles the Guápiles highway, the main route from San José to the Caribbean coast.  Most of the traffic just passes through perhaps pausing at some of the scenic overlooks, but there are beautiful trails for those who want to explore more.

Spirit of Cloud Forests

Monteverde Cloud Forest, ©Nao lizuka/Flickr

Monteverde Cloud Forest, ©Nao lizuka/Flickr

The cloud forest captures the imagination of even the most cynical among us. It emanates a sense of ancient and enduring life of peace. Sitting quietly overhead, its long feathery tail swaying gently in the breeze is a scarlet and emerald bird that seems to embody the spirit of the cloud forest. Most probably this is the reason why cloud forests are on the list of the most popular destinations of Costa Rica. Monteverde is a private reserve which provides the easiest access to the cloud forests. Monteverde is much larger, the cool, wet, windy weather means shorter visits, and as a private reserve it has better funding than most of the National Parks.

Nine Active Volcanoes

Volcán Irazú, Costa Rica, ©Cris Valencia/Flickr

Volcán Irazú, Costa Rica, ©Cris Valencia/Flickr

Nine active volcanoes of Costa Rica may remind tourists of the tremendous power of the earth’s thin cloak. Volcanoes are definitely very popular destinations in the country. Most people familiar with Costa Rica would immediately think of Arenal’s fiery lava flows if asked for the most visited volcanic destination, but it’s actually third on the list. Irazú and Poás volcanoes each attract more than twice as many tourists as Arenal. In fact they’re the two most popular National Parks in the country.

Unforgettable Nature Cruises

Costa Rican Caño Negro tour, ©manalahmadkhan/Flickr

Costa Rican Caño Negro tour, ©manalahmadkhan/Flickr

The canals of Tortuguero and wetlands of Caño Negro are the most popular places to sit back relax and let the boatman be your guide to bird and wildlife spotting. Caño Negro has a slight edge in numbers because of the popularity of day tours, but Tortuguero gets many more overnight visitors. The mangroves of the Damas estuary are gaining popularity with tourist from the adjacent Manuel Antonio area.

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