Costa Rica essentials: How to do bucket list travel properly
White water rafting on the Pacuare, Caribbean beaches, lush rainforests and cloud capped mountains. The crown jewel of Central America isn’t just one of the most ecologically diverse places on the planet, it’s also amongst the most breathtaking.
It’s impossible to fully articulate the allure of the Americas, with Central America in particular offering plenty for more daring travellers to get excited about. Still off the beaten track in comparison with its southern and northern neighbours, it comes with the promise of ruined jungle temples, jaw-dropping beaches, and epic adventure.
If there’s a jewel in this crown it must be Costa Rica. A country of spectacular beauty, its major selling points span everything from serene bays and islets, to vast wetlands teeming with wildlife, and remote mountains shrouded in perpetual mist. Hence the name cloud forests. Far safer than the likes of Guatemala and Panama, with the added selling points of having no army and more protected land per capita than anywhere else on the planet, we reckon you’re probably convinced by now so here’s everything you need to do whilst over there, or risk missing out big time.
Go head to head with white water rapids
The definition of awesome, spending a few hours battling boulders and currents on the Pacuare River is an unforgettable experience, and easily accessed with an organised excursion from the whistlestop of Turrialba.
Get to the Caribbean
On the whole, the Pacific coast is more developed and Americanised than the Caribbean, and whilst we have nothing against development or the U.S. many places on the Caribbean side of the country feel like the kind of beaches sailers find salvation on after the ship goes down. Cahuita is particularly beautiful, albeit well known.
Sail the ‘mini-Amazon’
Tortuguero is guaranteed to make you feel like Indiana Jones. Or some other explorer. Both a ramshackle little village and surrounding area, this part of Costa Rica is known as the ‘mini-Amazon’ for good reason- wide rivers, narrow canals (natural and man made), and thick rainforest are the defining memories of any visitor, and an early morning boat ride down these waters is an animal lover’s dream come true- from monkeys down to cayman, and back up to toucans.
Always keep your eyes peeled
Chances are you won’t be hitting Costa Rica for a couple of nights, and there’s even more money on the fact you’ll be staying outside the main city of San Jose or other larger towns. As such you can expect to come very close to an abundance of wildlife, from deadly trees and poisonous snakes, to see-through butterflies, mischievous capuchin monkeys and the iconic blue-jean frog. So basically take a camera.
Zip-line the canopy
Breathtaking, terrifying, inspiring and pretty much impossible to properly describe, getting strapped to a zip-line and then pushed one mile across the top of the rainforest at serious speed isn’t for everyone, but we wish it was. Selvatura Park, in Monteverde, is one of the best places to do this in the world, with 12 separate cables covering 18 platforms, and the final thrill of taking to the superman position and flying at 60KM per hour over tropical wilderness. A serious cure for that rum hangover.
Image credit: Caribbean beach at Tortuguero town.