A Costa Rica vacation is an experience you won’t soon forget. Costa Rica is a land teeming with wildlife, from the many species of tortoise in Tortuguero, to monkeys of Monteverde, and the great flocks of colorful birds around the Arenal. To experience this natural world is to experience nature at its richest.
The Costa Rican government works hard to preserve and maintain the natural scenery, and all the places mentioned below are protected natural parks. If you are a lover of nature or the outdoors, we recommend a Costa Rica vacation in following three areas, any of which will give you memories worth sharing!
Mountains and Mystery at the Arenal National Park
The national park is home to an exceptionally diverse range of wildlife. Nearly 53% of all Costa Rica’s bird species are present in the park.
The scenery of Costa Rica is marked with large mountains and volcanoes. The king of them all is the majestic Arenal volcano, which appears to break out from the midst of a large and resplendent forest. You may certainly have seen it in a photograph or film, as it is one of Costa Rica’s most famous landmarks.
Less commonly known, but no less spectacular is the Chato Volcano, which, like the Arenal, is in Arenal national park (some affectionately consider it the Arenal’s little brother) . Thousands of years ago, the summit of the Chato Volcano collapsed inwards, leaving a large crater, which is now filled by a picturesque green lagoon. Unlike the Arenal, the Chato has been fully consumed by the jungle resulting in lush green cover all over it.
The national park is home to an exceptionally diverse range of wildlife. Nearly 53% of all Costa Rica’s bird species are present in the park. You’ll likely see many of them, like the fiery-billed aracari, fly past you as you set out to explore. This abundance of bird species makes the Arenal a paradise for bird watching.
Aside from birds, there are over 131 species of mammals, including several species of monkey such as the fascinating Howler Monkey and the Spider-Monkey, 135 species of reptile, and more. Even during the most brief visit, you’ll be amazed at the diversity of wildlife you’ll see, and this is apart from the incredibly diverse tropical flora.
There are numerous natural hot springs in Arenal national park, many of them within the grounds of the park’s hotels and resorts.
You can experience the full splendor of Arenal National Park thanks to a varied range of guided hiking routes. Some of these are high above the ground, right up amid the canopy of the jungle (which you can safely walk through thanks to an intricate series of bridges). Some of the park’s trails can only be crossed on horseback, a wonderfully traditional way of exploring the country. This way, you truly can get closer to nature during your Costa Rica vacation.
There are numerous natural hot springs in Arenal national park, many of them within the grounds of the park’s hotels and resorts. So, if you make the wise decision to stay in the Arenal during your Costa Rica vacation, you will be able to enjoy the hot springs with a degree of exclusivity.
Where to Stay in Arenal
1 Tabacon Resort & Spa
The Tabacon Resort rests in the highlands of the Arenal national Park, in the shadow of the great volcano itself. The resort is extremely well located, with access to some of the area’s best hiking trails, and convenient access to some of the park’s famous hot springs, allowing you easy access to the highlights of Arenal. Read more
Nayara Springs offers a true rainforest experience with all the modern comforts. The resort itself is located within the thick jungle and is only accessible via a raised walkway in the canopy of the trees. The resort offers access to hot springs, a spa and sauna to unwind in, a piano bar for your entertainment, and an exceptional restaurant. Read more
Adventure on Your Costa Rica Vacation Amid the Mists of Monteverde
It is considered one of the most biodiverse places in the country, and in the world!
Monteverde encompasses 35,089 acres of the Cordillera de Tilarán mountain range. Its legendary cloud forest is a land unlike any other, famous for its mysterious damp cloud which rests just above the canopy level of the rainforest. This gives the rainforest a mysterious, dreamlike quality. As you explore, you are quite literally, walking in a cloud. This becomes especially the case if you decide to explore the forest high up on a suspension bridge.
Although you can explore some of Monteverde by yourself, we recommend hiking with an experienced guide who can show you the area skillfully. Like in Arenal national park, you can enjoy some of the area on horseback! There are numerous bird-watching tours in Monteverde for you to choose from, which will allow you to see this avian diversity through expert eyes.
The unique climate makes it a place of almost impossible biodiversity. You will see all six species of cat, (Ocelots, Jaguars, Pumas, Jaguarundis, Margays, and Oncillas), over a thousand species of reptiles, hundreds of bird species including the rare and endangered Three-wattled Bellbird. It is considered one of the most biodiverse places in the country, and in the world! No Costa Rica Vacation will be complete without experiencing it.
Although the area is immensely popular with people around the world, the Costa Rican government have done amazing work to ensure that the area is well protected. In the late 1940s, a group of Quakers who had fled the Korean War draft settled in Costa Rica, and noticing the incredible natural scenery, set aside an area of land to be protected. Overtime, the protected area grew and came to be maintained by the Costa Rican State.
Where to Stay in Monteverde
1Hidden Canopy Treehouse
As the name suggests, this hotel rests in and around the great trees of the cloud forest itself. Each window therefore gives you a spectacular and unspoilt view of the region. There are few hotels in the world which allow for such close proximity to nature. Read more
The Belmar Hotel prides itself on its sustainability, and was recognized for its efforts by the Costa Rica tourism board. The rooms are decked in varnished wood paneling which gives the hotel’s interior a quaint, old-world feel. Staying in the hotel can be a wonderfully healing experience, with a yoga studio, spa, and juice bar on offer. Read more
Swamps of Tortuguero
Every year without fail, the beaches around Tortuguero fill with hundreds of Turtles. To see this remarkable natural phenomenon is an experience unlike any other!
Far from the mountains and rainforests of the Monteverde and Arenal, lies the swampland of Tortuguero– a place famous for (and indeed named after) the vast numbers of sea turtles who nest on the coast here. As the area is thick with rivers and canals, it is best explored by boat.
As you sail or float down the waters on a motorboat or canoe, you’ll see exotic birds fly over head such as Billed Toucans, or the Slaty Tailed Trogon, and below you, colorful tropical fish or other amphibians (the area has many forms of alligator or crocodile). It is an experience far removed from the treks and hikes of Monteverde, but is equally unmissable.
Of course, no experience in Tortuguero will be complete without a nesting turtles tour. Every year without fail, the beaches around Tortuguero fill with hundreds of Turtles. To see this remarkable natural phenomenon is an experience unlike any other, and is very much worth the effort for any lover of wildlife.
Where to Stay in Tortuguero
Aninga Lodge’s location makes it a fantastic place to stay during your Costa Rica vacation. It’s located only a few minutes from the main canal and main town of Tortuguero. However, given its luxurious spa (located right by the shore), bar, and restaurant, you might not want to leave. The Hotel, with its 33 large and spacious bungalows has a interesting rustic appearance, suiting with local scenery. Read more
The Pachira Lodge allows for a comfortable stay in the rainforest of Tortuguero.You can relax and unwind in the warm waters of the lodge’s swimming pool, or stroll over to the nearby Aninga Lodge and visit it’s spa. Read more
Explore the diversity of this stunning tropical country – get in touch with us today and we’ll help you plan the Costa Rica vacation of your dreams!