Manuel Antonio Costa Rica highlights

Where to go in Costa Rica: Highlights for your First Visit

Published by

Welcome to the breathtaking paradise of Costa Rica. This green jewel in Central America is all about soaking up the wildlife and biodiversity – all with an eco-friendly focus. So, when you’re considering where to go in Costa Rica, you know you’ll be soaking up the Pura Vida lifestyle everywhere you go.

There’s so much to see in Costa Rica. So, whether it’s your first visit or a return trip, you’re in for a treat.

From lush rainforests teeming with exotic wildlife to sprawling beaches fringed by turquoise waters, Costa Rica’s landscapes are something special. Immerse yourself in the vibrant biodiversity and walk the stunning rainforest trails, ready to encounter rare species like sloths, toucans, and jaguars around every turn.

Costa Rica highlights

Costa Rica is a green country – but that goes much further than the landscape. The country is fiercely dedicated to preserving its nature and national parks.

Costa Rica is a real trailblazer in sustainable tourism. Many countries could learn from the way they’ve effortlessly managed to weave conservation efforts into their tourism industry. ‘Pura Vida’ (meaning ‘pure life’), is their national motto – and they live and breathe this. Constantly working to ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy this biodiverse slice of paradise.

Whether you’re an adventure seeker looking for thrilling activities like zip-lining through the treetops or a nature lover yearning for peaceful hikes through cloud forests, there is something for everyone in Costa Rica. Discover hidden waterfalls cascading down lush green mountainsides or relax on pristine beaches where time seems to stand still. You’ll love it. We just know it.

Dream Beach Nicoya Costa Rica


1. Explore the Pristine Beaches and Coastal Wonders

No Costa Rica holiday would be complete without taking the time to soak up the pristine beaches and coastal wonders of Costa Rica. This tropical paradise boasts a plethora of breathtaking coastal destinations, ready to tempt you to pop your toes in the sand and your head beneath the waves. From the stunning Pacific coast to the enchanting Caribbean coast, there is no shortage of natural beauty to explore.

One must-visit destination is the Manuel Antonio National Park, where lush rainforests meet golden sandy beaches (and the iconic whale tail that’s visible at low tide!). Immerse yourself in the vibrant biodiversity as you stroll along picturesque trails that lead you to secluded coves and hidden gems. Feel the warmth of the sun on your skin as you relax on pristine shores, surrounded by crystal-clear turquoise waters.

manuel antonio national park whale tail Costa Rica highlights

Costa Rica’s Northern Pacific coast offers a diverse range of beaches, each with its own unique charm. Whether you seek thrilling waves for surfing or tranquil shores for sunbathing, there is a beach for every preference. Indulge in thrilling water sports or simply unwind with a book under swaying palm trees – the choice is yours. Don’t miss a stay at the magical Lagarta Lodge – the views are indescribable.

Lagarta Lodge Costa Rica view

On the Caribbean Coast, discover a different side of Costa Rica’s coastal wonders. Here, untouched beauty awaits with secluded stretches of sand and vibrant coral reefs teeming with marine life. Along with different local flavours and an endearing laid-back vibe.

Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica Caribbean Coast

2. Get back to nature exploring the rainforests and wildlife sanctuaries

Step into a world of wonder and immerse yourself in the seriously special rainforests and wildlife sanctuaries that Costa Rica has to offer. From the lush greenery of Tortuguero National Park to the mystical Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, and the awe-inspiring Arenal Volcano National Park, there is no shortage of natural beauty to explore.

Arenal Volcano Costa Rica Highlights

Tortuguero National Park, known as the “Land of Turtles,” is a haven for nature enthusiasts. Here, you can watch sea turtles nesting along its pristine beaches and embark on boat tours through the intricate network of canals. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife as you go, it’s teeming with it!

For those seeking a truly enchanting experience, venture into the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. As you wander through mist-covered trails, you’ll encounter an astonishing array of plants and flowers. Keep your eyes peeled for elusive species such as the resplendent quetzal or howler monkeys swinging gracefully from tree to tree.

Monteverde Cloud Forest Costa Rica, Costa Rica highlights

Here at HA, we love to get you off the beaten track. There are few better ways to do that than including a visit to Boca Tapada, either right at the start of your adventure or right at the end. You’ll stay in the unique and charming Macquenque Eco Lodge (we’ll always try and get you your very own treehouse if we can!), and it’s seriously magic. You’ll be surrounded by pristine nature, encounter exotic birds and learn about the coffee production that’s so important to Costa Rica.

Maquenque Eco Lodge Treehouse Boca Tapada

No visit to Costa Rica would be complete without exploring Arenal Volcano National Park. This majestic volcano stands tall against a backdrop of dense rainforest. Hike its trails and even climb the volcano to witness breathtaking views. You could paddle board with the volcano as your backdrop or head off on a sloth tour. Or, simply while away the hours soaking in natural hot springs with the sounds of the rainforest surrounding you.

Similarly, if you’ve got enough time to spend to get down there (and the budget, because it does tend to fall a little on the pricey side), the Osa Peninsula is one of the most special spots in Costa Rica. If you’re wondering where to stay in this tropical haven, don’t miss the rustic yet luxurious, Bosque Del Cabo, a slice of heaven nestled in the heart of the rainforest, where you’ll shower under the trees and wake up to the sounds of monkeys swinging through the trees and toucans serenading you with their unique tunes. If beachfront luxury is more your style though, then Playa Cativo is your dream come true. Picture yourself sipping piña coladas on a private beach while being surrounded by crystal-clear waters and golden sand. Magic.

Playa Cativo Osa Peninsula

3. Experience Adventure and Adrenaline in Costa Rica’s Outdoor Playground

If adventure is on your holiday wishlist, Costa Rica has you covered. First on the adventure list is ziplining in Monteverde – an exhilarating adventure that takes you soaring through the lush rainforest canopy. Feel the rush of wind against your face as you glide through the trees, taking in breathtaking views of the diverse rainforest below. Flying through the canopy of the cloud forest is an experience like no other.

Next up, brace yourself for an unforgettable white-water rafting expedition on the Pacuare River. Navigate through rapids of varying intensity, as you work together with your team to conquer each thrilling twist and turn. The sheer power of the river combined with stunning tropical scenery will stay with you forever.

white water rafting in Costa Rica

If surfing is your passion, head over to Tamarindo – a paradise for wave enthusiasts. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced surfer, Tamarindo offers waves suitable for all levels. Ride along with the ocean’s rhythm as you catch those perfect waves, looking back at the lush, green-lined coastline as you go.

Surfing in Tamarindo Costa Rica


4. Exploring the Captivating Capital: San José

San José will be where your Costa Rica adventure begins. Whether you take a Food and Cultural Tour or go it alone to explore the cultural sites, it’s a great introduction to the country.

Prepare to be amazed by the array of museums in San José. From art enthusiasts to history buffs, there’s a museum for every interest. Get lost in the world of masterpieces at the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design or dive into Costa Rica’s rich history at the National Museum.

Vázquez de Coronado, Costa Rica

But it’s not just about museums here – take a stroll through Mercado Central and experience the vibrant local culture, sample delicious street food and haggle for unique souvenirs.

Don’t forget to visit iconic landmarks like Teatro Nacional, a stunning architectural gem that will transport you back in time. And if you’re feeling adventurous, venture outside the city limits and explore breathtaking natural wonders such as Poás Volcano or La Paz Waterfall Gardens.



5. Indulge in Relaxation at Costa Rica’s Natural Hot Springs and Wellness Retreats

Escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life at Costa Rica’s natural hot springs and wellness retreats. It’s one of the real beauties of this magic country.

For one of our favourite, and most indulgent ways to experience Pura Vida wellness at its best, head to Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort, nestled at the base of the majestic Arenal Volcano. Here, you will discover a harmonious blend of nature’s beauty and luxurious wellness amenities. Soak yourself in the natural hot springs that flow from volcanic sources. You’ll leave high on life, relaxation and all of the natural healing properties your skin will have soaked up!

Tabacon Hot Springs Costa Rica highlights

During your time in Costa Rica, we’d always recommend you indulge in a spa treatment inspired by the country’s rich biodiversity. For example, you might try a volcanic mud wrap or perhaps a soothing massage using locally sourced ingredients. Allow yourself to be pampered from head to toe while surrounded by breathtaking views of tropical rainforests. Don’t mind if we do!

Manuel Antonio Costa Rica highlights

Heading off on your first visit to Costa Rica is such a special time. It’s a truly magical country, and discovering it for the first time is a buzz you’ll never forget. This country offers so many pinch-yourself travel experiences that will ignite your sense of adventure. You’ll be waxing lyrical about its natural beauty long after you return home.

Beyond its natural beauty lies the true essence of Costa Rica – its warm and welcoming people. When you book a holiday with us, we’ll always make sure it’s sprinkled with plenty of opportunities for authentic interaction with locals.The Costa Rican people are beyond friendly. They’ll always be eager to share their rich traditions and stories that have been passed down through generations.

There’s so much to see in this incredible country, we understand it can be tricky to know where to start. But, that’s where our Costa Rica aficionados Dawn and Lou come in. What they don’t know about Costa Rica is nobody’s business. They’ve got all of the knowledge and first-hand experience needed to design a Pura Vida holiday that’s perfect for you. So give us a call on 01242 253 073 or request a quick quote today, and let us start planning your dream adventure. 


Costa Rica get a quote