Top Ten Reasons to Visit Costa Rica

Cailin O Neil March 21, 2013 29
Top Ten Reasons to Visit Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a small country in Central America known for its lush jungles and awesome waves to surf. I recently visited Costa Rica and aside from an abundance of rain, I quickly fell in love with this country and its people. Here are my top ten reasons for you to visit Costa Rica.


Snorkeling in Costa Rica, photo by Cailin O.

If you are a thrill-seeker and someone that craves adventure, then Costa Rica is definitely the place for you. It’s home to the original canopy tour that lets you travel through the jungle like a monkey, and it’s known for its zip-lining tours, whitewater rafting on world class rapids, kayaking, scuba diving, cliff diving, sky diving and pretty much anything else extreme that you can come up with.


Sunset at the beach, photo by Cailin O.

Costa Rica is a great place for the unadventurous as well, or for those who just need a break in between adventures. With almost 1,000 miles of coastline, Costa Rica is home to some lovely beaches. Whether you choose to visit a public beach in Manuel Antonio National Park or maybe your hotel has its own private beach, you will definitely be delighted to feel the sand between your toes and warm sun on your face. If you are looking for lots of sun, maybe avoid the rainy season.


Scott surfing, photo by Cailin O.

Costa Rica is famous for its waves and is one of the top three surfing destinations in the world. The water is warm year round and the waves are great any time of the year as well. The rainy season can often be the best time to go when it isn’t as crowded. The surf is also good on both sides of the country and there are a lot of great breaks to choose from. If you are new to surfing, there are also a lot of great surf schools that will teach you everything you need to know.


Baby sloth, photo by Cailin O.

The slowest mammals in the world, sloths are so ugly they’re cute and they can be found all around the country. Look up in the trees as you drive along the road or hike in the jungles and you might just see one or two. If you want to get closer, then you should visit the Sloth Sanctuary to learn more about them – you might fall in love with them just like I did. To learn some sloth facts, check out the video I made here.

The food

Chips with guac and salsa, photo by Cailin O.

Like any country, Costa Rica has its own tastes, and its main staple tends to be rice and beans aka Gallo Pinto. A lot of its main dishes use a sauce that you will quickly come to love called Lizano Salsa. It’s kind of like a BBQ sauce, but kind of not. Hard to explain, for sure, but they put it on everything and people love it so much they even sell it at the airport.

Costa Rica is also a huge grower of coffee, bananas and chocolate. If you visit Quepos, be sure to take a tour at Villa Vanilla farms to see how they make chocolate as well as vanilla, pepper, cinnamon and more.

Happy People

Selfie in the jungle, photo by Cailin O.

Costa Rica is known as the happiest country on Earth. They are an extremely peaceful country and even did away with their army in 1949. A common saying among locals is “Pura Vida” which means “pure life.” Everywhere you go in Costa Rica you will be welcomed with a smile by the locals, and they will truly make you feel at home in their country.


The rainforest, photo by Cailin O.

About 25% of the country is made up of protected national parks and rainforests which hold 5% of the worlds biodiversity. Aside from taking canopy and zip-lining tours, there is also a tour that offers a aerial tram ride through the rainforest treetops guided by an expert naturalist. This is perfect for the less adventurous. Other parks, like Manuel Antonio National, offer walking tours with guides who point out different animals and species and help you find that elusive sloth.


Arenal volcano, photo by Attit P.

One of the main tourist attractions, Costa Rica currently has five listed active volcanoes and 200+ volcanic formations. Because of them, the country has very rich and fertile soil which helps make it so lush and full of life. The volcanoes and surrounding areas are also popular areas for hiking, camping and mountain biking.

The wildlife

Wildlife, photo by Cailin O.

Aside from sloths, Costa Rica is full of cheeky monkeys who might steal your food if you aren’t watching, and if it’s not the monkeys, it’s the raccoons – they run around in the daylight with a similar outlook on life to the honey badger of South Africa. There are lizards, geckos and iguanas all over the place, and Costa Rica is also known as a great bird-watching country with over 812 recorded species found there.


Eco row boat tour, photo by Cailin O.

With plans of being the first carbon neutral country in the world by 2012, Costa Rica is also a destination popular for its eco-tourism – some might even say they were the first to start it. With many eco-friendly hotels and lodges across the country and tour operators attempting to be as low-impact as possible, they are well on their way to full sustainaibility. You can feel good about visiting and not leaving a big footprint.

Have you been to Costa Rica before? Did I leave anything out? Please tell us in the comments below.


  1. Chris March 22, 2013 at 2:59 am - Reply

    I’ve yet to visit South America, but I’m now itching to go!

    Great write up. Thanks for sharing.

    • cailin March 30, 2013 at 9:59 am - Reply

      Thanks Chris! Costa Rica was pretty awesome! But don’t forget it is considered either Central America or North America! So close to South America but technically not quite there ;)

  2. Shirley March 24, 2013 at 3:20 pm - Reply

    Any Spanish Language Institutes or homestay language programs/locations that you can recommend? What time of year is best for going to Costa Rica to learn Spanish?

    • cailin March 30, 2013 at 10:00 am - Reply

      Hello Shirley,
      I’m not sure of any language courses but I would assume any time of the year is a great time to learn Spanish! It is such an awesome language :)

    • Jennifer April 26, 2013 at 5:36 pm - Reply

      Shirley, there are a lot of places that offer Spanish courses. I used EF, Education First. My suggestion though is to go to a university that has a main language of Spanish. Why? Because when everyone gets out of class they speak their native language. If you go to a language school the students will mostly speak English. That’s not to say it’s not amazing, because it is. I learned so much about other countries and cultures by talking with the different students. If you go language institute route, like I did, go the homestay way rather than living at the school.

      Also, check out that you go to an area that’s not a tourist trap. Tamarindo is where my school was and a lot of the area spoke rough English so I tended to not speak Spanish.

      As for everyone, BARTERING IS AMAZING! Barter, barter, barter. Say your from Canada instead of US since we are Gringos and tend to be charged more. Visit the clubs as ladies are almost always free or have free drinks. The crazy entertainment is awesome from fire dancers to live music to just people who will randomly pull you in to teach you how to marangay (Not sure of the spelling but it’s a dance.)

      I lived there a month and LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it. Once you go, you will have a spark and will always want to return.

    • Ashima Scripp April 4, 2014 at 2:50 pm - Reply

      Hi Shirley! If you are still looking check out the immersion programs at Proyecto Asis Wildlife Rescue Center. Live with a local family, work with Costa Rican critters and learn spanish!

    • Diana October 19, 2014 at 7:10 pm - Reply

      Also, to Shirley, I wanted to recommend a school called Instituto Estelar Bilingue in Liberia. I studied there for about a month and I had an awesome experience and learned a ton. They also have just the homestay option too! Good luck!!

  3. Frank Powell April 16, 2013 at 1:01 am - Reply

    Costa Rica has so many dimensions to it when it comes to having amazing tourist attractions. Cuisines, adventures, lifestyle- you name it and they have it. Costa Rica is one of the best holiday spots.

  4. Kate April 27, 2013 at 5:43 pm - Reply

    I studied at Forrester in San Pedro one summer and at Intercultura (both its locations–Heredia and Samara) the next summer. Both were terrific. I am a language teacher, and I can tell you that the curriculum and methodology were sound and up-to-date. Both schools had excellent instructors and lively classes. The homestays are a big part of the experience, so don’t pass up the opportunity!

  5. Paulus July 6, 2013 at 2:11 pm - Reply

    Only one thing to add to your list. I had a great time in this backpacker hostel in Manuel Antonio. Made some wonderful new friends who have been travelling all over the world. Costa Rica rocks!

  6. John Decker July 17, 2013 at 1:22 pm - Reply

    This is a great article and I love the pictures. My family and I visited Costa Rica last summer and it was amazing. Every good thing we heard about Costa Rica was 100% true. The food was amazing and the people were so friendly. We really felt welcome and like we belonged. Before the trip I wanted to plan some fun activities for us to do, so I researched Costa Rica Tourism on the internet and I found a lot of great options. I think our favorite places we visited was Chirripo National Park, Montezuma, and Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. Each place was so unique and had amazing views.

  7. Sammy July 23, 2013 at 10:33 am - Reply

    I’m from Italy, I’ve been living in CR during the last 6 years. I believe you have shown 10 good reasons to start living in CR. I can add two more: friendship. Cr is a dangerous country but you can build strong friendship because of that (you have to visit your friend’s house to stay safer) and… love. I’m in love with a “tica”… and I’m so happy!

  8. Donald August 5, 2013 at 8:07 pm - Reply

    Great summary, Cailin! Put an asterisk by *THE PEOPLE! I have lived here as Owner of Casa Tranquila for seven years and made some of the best friends I have ever had in my life. They are warm and welcoming! THAT is the true appeal of Costa Rica.

  9. Hotels in Managua August 26, 2013 at 4:29 pm - Reply

    Hi! I´m from Nicaragua and i think that CR is a beautiful country and i hope to visit in the future…

  10. Deborah September 10, 2013 at 1:11 am - Reply

    Love this post! Any recommendations for where to stay?

  11. Tiffany October 16, 2013 at 10:38 pm - Reply

    I recently visited Costa Rica and loved my stay there! Reading your article, I was reminded of the amazing dish that we got from a small restaurant called Tiki Tiki in Jaco. Please check out my stay there Pura Vida!

  12. costaricacurious November 20, 2013 at 11:43 am - Reply

    Great Article. As of June of this year CR is my new home as my wife and I early retired here. I love reading others posts because inevitably they focus on the beach and rainforests. Since, we settled in a small coffee farming town up in the mountains, I love reading about what people love about the other climates available in this great country.

  13. Escape Hunter December 27, 2013 at 4:15 am - Reply

    It’s a fresh place, nevertheless… some of the most well-preserved forest areas in the World.
    I hope they will never start cutting the trees down!

  14. Costa Rica Travel February 13, 2014 at 3:54 pm - Reply

    Wow so many interesting facts that I didn’t know…Like the 25% of my country is made up of protected national parks and rainforests which hold 5% of the worlds biodiversity.
    Thank you very much even for Costarican lol you’re article was very nice.

  15. Pascal Lue March 12, 2014 at 11:13 am - Reply

    More reasons why I’m so glad I added this to my bucket list. Any suggestions on what to see in and around Guanacaste?

  16. Ashima Scripp April 4, 2014 at 2:48 pm - Reply

    Great article! I would add the cloud forest in Monteverde to your list of must-sees – it’s an fascinating rare ecosystem and home to many amazing plants and animals. Also the whole area around Monteverde is beautiful and pastoral.

  17. winifred October 10, 2014 at 12:25 pm - Reply

    i want to visit costa rica so bad after doing all these research about it..first place im going to when i turn 21.

  18. Diana October 19, 2014 at 7:08 pm - Reply

    Great article! Costa Rica is the BEST! I definitely agree with the “happy people” part…I have never met a mean or rude person when travelling to Costa Rica. Also, one thing I didn’t see mentioned is that Costa Rica is very safe. I think that it is the safest country in Central America which is (one of the reasons) why I chose to go there in the first place!

  19. Anne November 12, 2014 at 12:39 pm - Reply

    Can you advise me as to what kind of vehicle I need to drive in Costa Rica. We will be going in January 2015 and plan to visit Dominical, San Jose and Monteverde. Are the roads difficult to drive? Are there signs? Are there gas stations? How much is usual to pay to rent a car/SUV?

    • Brian February 22, 2015 at 4:53 pm - Reply

      To anyone wondering about travel in CR.
      I travelled a good amount of the northeast, central north and west coast of CR in a rented Toyota Yaris. With no problems.
      We travelled from Flamingo to Aranal volcano, from Aranal south to coast to Caldera. From there we have driven the West coast and hit the beaches along the way up to Tamarindo, Playa Grande, Potrero, Danta, Danita, Las Catilanas and back to Flaningo. NO PROBLEM.

      The roads are paved and wide enough so that you’re not worried about passing buses and transports. Much easier than driving the English country side.

  20. Sydney December 17, 2014 at 10:02 am - Reply

    This was so full of information! For my Spanish class we are researching countries and luckily I got Costa Rica! I enjoyed reading all of these great things about the country. Thank you!

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