Costa Rica is a travel paradise. Pristine beaches, lush mountains, cool cloud forests, active volcanoes, world-class coffee plantations & stunning wildlife. There’s no shortage of things to do on vacation.
But travel to Costa Rica can also be overwhelming.
There’s the language barrier, the cultural differences —even just figuring out the best places to go.
Fortunately, Costa Rica travel planning can be easy. You just need the right advice!
I’ve spent over a decade exploring this incredible country, and I love showing visitors the best that Costa Rica has to offer.
Use the information below for initial trip planning. For comprehensive travel info, check out my full-color, photo-filled guidebook Costa Rica: The Complete Guide.
Costa Rica Travel Guide
Best Times to Visit Costa Rica
Discover the best times to visit Costa Rica. Avoid the rainy season, escape the crowds, and find your personal slice of paradise.
What to Pack for a Costa Rica Vacation
Whether you’re visiting the beaches, the rainforests or the mountains, don’t leave home without these essential items.
Costa Rica’s Best National Parks
There are 26 national parks in Costa Rica. Discover the very best, including national parks with stunning beaches, mountains, rainforest, cloud forest and more.
Costa Rica’s Best Beaches
From Caribbean beaches with fabulous sunrises to Pacific beaches with terrific sunsets, Costa Rica is famous for sun, surf and sand.
Costa Rica’s Best Waterfalls
Costa Rica’s lush mountains are filled with waterfalls. Visit any of these tropical oases and you might never want to go back home.
Best Volcanoes to Visit
Find out why Costa Rica is called the “Land of Volcanoes.” Drive to the rim of an active volcano and peer inside the crater!
Costa Rica Hotels
From luxurious ecolodges to beachside B&Bs, discover the best hotels and places to stay in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica Weather
Understanding Costa Rica’s annual weather patterns is essential for travel planning. Don’t get caught in the rain!
One of the tallest peaks in Central America, 12,533-foot Chirripó offers the best hiking in Costa Rica. You can even spend the night near the summit.
Costa Rica Photo Gallery
From the islands to the highlands – gorgeous shots from one of the most beautiful countries on earth.
Photos of Baby Animals
What’s more incredible than Costa Rica animal photos? Costa Rica baby animal photos!
Costa Rican Food
Discover authentic local specialities — from Afro-Caribbean dishes to indigenous cuisine. Contrary to popular opinion, Costa Rica has lots of delicious food. You just need to know where to find it.
Costa Rica Culture
Understand the basics of Costa Rican culture and you’ll discover the best of Costa Rica. A few simple things can really set your trip apart.
Costa Rica Overview
Costa Rica is a tiny country with big attributes: the most peaceful country in Central America, the most democratic country in Latin America and one of the most biodiverse places on earth.
The country’s name, “Rich Coast,” was given by early Spanish explorers who assumed Costa Rica was filled with gold. In reality there was little gold to be found, but the country is home to something even more precious: stunning natural beauty.
Located just north of Panama and just south of Nicaragua, Costa Rica occupies one of nature’s most incredible pieces of real estate. Like the rest of Central America, Costa Rica is sandwiched between two continents and two oceans, attracting an amazing diversity of plants and animals from each ecosystem.
Even within Central America, Costa Rica’s biodiversity is impressive. Its Pacific Coast is the transition zone between the tropical dry forests of the north and the tropical rainforests of the south. A string of mountains runs through the center of the country, sheltering cool cloud forests and freezing páramos.
This varied geography supports an astonishing range of flora and fauna. All told, Costa Rica is home to roughly 5% of the world’s biodiversity, including nearly 8% of the world’s bird species, 10% of the world’s butterfly species, 10% of the world’s bat species and 20% of the world’s hummingbird species.
Even more impressive, all this natural wonder is packed into a country just 300 km (186 miles) long by 120 km (75 miles) wide, about half the size of Ohio. No other area of comparable size in the Western Hemisphere contains so much biodiversity.
Costa Rican People
The people of Costa Rica, who call themselves “Ticos,” are the proud stewards of this natural heritage. In contrast to the rest of Central America, which suffered a series of ruthless dictators and bloody civil wars throughout the 20th century, Costa Rica is a stable democracy that abolished its army in 1949 and invested in its people. Today its citizens are among the most educated and prosperous in Latin America.
Costa Ricans also take environmentalism seriously. They have set aside over 25% of Costa Rica as national parks or preserves, and ecotourism is a major part of the economy.
As such, Costa Rica has become a powerful role model for other developing countries, demonstrating that environmentalism and economic growth can go hand in hand.
Costa Rica Travel
Not surprisingly, Costa Rica’s unique combination of peace, stability, natural beauty and environmentalism lures travelers from around the world. Costa Rica vacationers are treated to gorgeous beaches, lush rainforests, active volcanoes and world-class wildlife.
And because foreigners have been visiting for decades, Costa Rica is incredibly user-friendly. English is widely spoken, hotels and restaurants are up to international standards and getting around is easy.
You don’t have to be Tarzan to enjoy a Costa Rica vacation, which is what makes it one of the world’s most popular eco-destinations.
Plan the Perfect Trip to Costa Rica
Order Costa Rica: The Complete Guide!
The #1 Costa Rica guidebook.Full-color and filled with insider tips.Plan the ultimate Costa Rica adventure!