6 Things You Must Do in Costa Rica Before You Die

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Misty rain forests and bewitching volcanoes. Smiling sloths and ants on a mission. Black sand beaches and white-faced monkeys. These are the glimpses of the miraculous that await in Costa Rica, a place you need to check out before you check out. Here are our recs of the most aahsome things to do in this escape haven, better known as Costa Rica.

1. Be Wowed by a Volcano. Until 2010, Arenal was an active volcano, blowin’ smoke and riling everyone up, spewing lava, gas and ash on a regular basis.

(Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica, photo by: L. Mitchell.)

But as of late, it’s been as quiet as a church mouse. However, even without all the fireworks, it’s amazing. There is so much you can do around it: ride horses around the base–it’s a rain forest–rappel down waterfalls, soak in geothermal baths (hot springs heated by the volcano), walk over the canopy on precarious suspension bridges…

(Arenal Rain Forest, Costa Rica, photo by: R. Jaimes.)

You like? Good. Now you can get an even more vicarious trip through this forest primeval via video as one of our True Beach Lovers sure-foots it across. (Check out the shot of Arenal.)

You can also hike through tangles of lush thickets, raft down a river, snorkel and scuba dive. Exhausted yet? Thought so. Costa Rica has more than enough to keep all you peeps with adult ADHD from getting bored.

2. Zip Line Over the Canopy. This exhilarating, (or terrifying) thrill ride was invented in Costa Rica in 1974 by a Cal State grad student, Donald Perry, to study the mystifying canopies of the Costa Rican rain forest. This single act of science evolved into the fun/chills/scares-a-second that you can have when you visit the lush, beguiling country called Costa Rica. Arenal is one of the best places to do this, along with the Jaco Rainforest, Monteverde and Manuel Antonio. Get a glimpse of one of our True Beach Lovers sailing in mid-air in the video below.

3. Poke Around in a Rain Forest. They’re green and have crazy amounts of dense, fluffy leaves and bushes. It’s the way Eden must have been. There are a couple of ways to do this–and either way, it’s the true definition of awesome. You’ll see lush greenery, sparkling waterfalls…

(Arenal Rain Forest waterfall, Costa Rica, photo by: L. Mitchell.)

…leaf-cutter ants that carry leaves (what else?) on their backs as they lumber back to their colonies…

(Leaf-cutter ants, Arenal Rain Forest, Costa Rica, photo by: L. Mitchell.)

…and other coolio critters like snakes, but don’t touch them.

(Snake in Arenal Rain Forest, Costa Rica, photo by L. Mitchell.)

You can walk on terra firma, and/or start your trek upward until you reach the suspension bridges, where you can experience the mists of the cloud forest. Monteverde, Manuel Antonio, Arenal, and Montezuma are a few of the places to check out. Even though we’ve already covered this, it’s to cool not to mention, or experience, again. See the video below of yet another fearless trek by one of our True Beach Lovers across a seemingly flimsy (though they’re not) suspension bridge.

4. Surf (or Learn to) in Tamarindo.  This surfing mecca (shown below) boasts a wide variety of sunny places to get your wave on. For beginners, the beach right in the center of Tamarindo is great; the surf is best during mid-high tide. For long boarders, El Estero, the river-mouth at the north end of the beach, is perfecto; the solid right beach break is where you’ll find your nirvana. Other places to check out in Tamarindo are Pico Pequeno, a rocky point that’s best surfed at mid tide. Isla Capitan, a small islet in the bay of Tamarindo, is the place to hit when you’re up for southern swells.

Surf boards, Tamarindo Beach, Costa Rica
Surf boards, Tamarindo Beach, Costa Rica, photo by: Instagram.com/ejz3m.)

For all you experts, Playa Negra is the sweet spot: it’s a right point break with very fast waves that’s best surfed during the transition of tides.

After you’ve crushed it in the surf, kick back, have a chilly cocktail…

(Playa Negra, Tamarindo, Costa Rica, photo by: instagram.com/bchoi45.)

…and ponder this mesmerizing sunset. (And no, we did not retouch this pic.)

(Sunset, Tamarindo, Costa Rica, photo by: instagram.com/bchoi45.)

5. Walk on Black Sand Beaches. This may seem a bit counter intuitive, but trust us, it’s the coolest–and you can find them many areas in Costa Rica. In Playa Negra, you’ll want to check out Puerto Viejo. It’s on the Caribbean coast and it might be the best. Wear sandals because the sand gets hot, but that’s okay. All you have to do is dip into the cool waves a few feet away. Also in Playa Negra, you’ll want to visit Los Pargos. This beach was made famous in the movie “Endless Summer II.” Be sure and grab some snaps and tag them #endlessummer and then educate everyone about your historical filmic tidbit. Playa Panama is north of Los Pargos and is good for swimming and tanning; it’s a protected cove that’s lined with mesquite, Brazilwood and sarno trees.

Playa Hermosa (pictured below) is a few miles south of the town of Jaco in the central Pacific region of Puntarenas – the currents are too strong to swim, so just stroll, but if you’re a surfer, then go for it. Or you don’t have to do anything at all, except relax under a palm tree with a drink from one of the nearby beach-hut bars.

(Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica, photo by: instagram.com/lluisllavina.)

If you want a little more structure overhead (and around you) while you’re hanging beachside, Secrets Papagayo in Guanacaste also has a gorgeous black sand beach…

(Secrets Papagayo Beach, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, photo by: T. Hardy.)

…and is a five-sun resort with a pool that overlooks the cerulean ocean. We seriously
recommend staying at this dreamtastic, all-inclusive resort.

(Secrets Papagayo, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, photo by: instagram.com/afunga70)

If you’ve brought the fam-bam, Dreams Las Mareas (also in Guanacaste) is where you want to be. You’ll not only fall in love with it’s all-inclusiveness, but also the gorgeous sunset views of the pool.

(Dreams Las Mareas, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, photo by: T. Hardy.)

No matter where what Costa Rican black wonder sand you end up on, your toes will be tickled–and your soul will be soothed. You’ll never forget it.

(Secrets Papagayo Beach, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, photo by: T. Hardy.)

6. Gawk at the Wildlife. Unlike the zoo, you can get up close (but maybe not personal) with so many kinds of adorable, entertaining animals. We saw some very active Capuchin (also called white-faced) monkeys who were happy to gobble up our snacks. Then we came upon a lone iguana that instantly became the center of attention after his buddies ditched him. He didn’t seem too worried. And finally, after a horseback ride around the base of Arenal, we happened upon a sloth inching his/her way down from a tree (see below.) They do this once a week to “use the facilities” we’re told. (That’s a long time to hold it!)

Sloth at Arenal Costa Rica
(Sloth, Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica, photo by: L. Mitchell.)

So whadda ya say about Costa Rica? You in? We know you are. How can you not be? And we make it so easy to get there. Just pick up your phone and call one of our sunsational

Beachologists at 1-800-915-3162 and you can create the bucket-list-worthy, vacation package of your dreams to Costa Rica. If you’d rather cogitate over all the incredible all-inclusive getaways we offer not only to Costa Rica, but also the delicious Caribbean and Mexico, just visit our site. Life is short. We all have an expiration date. Get to Costa Rica today before that happens.

Lisa Mitchell

I am a blogger for CheapCaribbean.com who is a travel junkie and addicted to the beach.

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