A Cruising Couple | December 21, 2015 9:00 PM ET
5 Activities You Can’t Miss On Any Visit To Costa Rica
PHOTO: Capuchin monkey in Costa Rica. (photo courtesy of Thinkstock, all others courtesy of A Cruising Couple)
Costa Rica means a lot of things to a lot of people.
For some, it’s a tropical paradise unlike any other — a place to connect deeply with Mother Earth. To others, Costa Rica is an opportunity to witness some of the most beautiful and rare animals in the world. Then still for some, Costa Rica is synonymous with world-class surfing or even as a retirement destination.
Whoever you are, Costa Rica has something for you. There’s a reason why the country continues to call people back to its lush jungles and beautiful beaches.
There are an endless amount of activities to experience on any trip to this Central American paradise, but here are a few of our favorites. If you want to get past the resort walls and tourists towns to experience the true side of Costa Rica, then don’t miss these five activities.
1. Getting To Know The Ticos
Costa Ricans are fondly called Ticos (male) and Ticas (female). Ticos are arguably some of the most wonderful people you’ll ever meet, but the unfortunate reality is that few foreigners seem to take the time to get to know them. When visiting Costa Rica, staying within a "foreigner's bubble" will result in missing out on some of the best this country has to offer.
Ticos are incredibly kind. They will invite you over for dinner, go out of their way to help you with anything you could need, and be incredibly patient with you and your shaky Spanish. The key is to leave the tourist towns and take a moment to explore where the locals live.
2. Hit The Beach
Nearly 1,000 miles of coastline provides an enchanting escape to the weary traveler who is in need of some serious Vitamin D. Costa Rica is known for its clean and spacious beaches, so it should come as no surprise that a day of sandy toes tops our list of attractions. Expect pristine waters that lap along secluded stretches of sand, and strong palm trees that gift sleepy beach bums with plenty of shade.
If you are more of the adventurous type, beaches present a host of opportunities to get your adrenaline pumping. Costa Rica is home to some of the world's best surfing spots and is far less commercialized than places like Hawaii or California. Paddle boarding, jet skiing and even horseback riding are other opportunities for fun and adventure!
Costa Rica's national parks have the loveliest beaches, but you may have to pay a small entrance fee, and certain activities like swimming or surfing may not be allowed.
Whether it is up the side of a volcano, through a dense and flourishing jungle, or along a meandering path with a stunning waterfall as the reward, hiking in Costa Rica means gorgeous views, awe-inspiring wildlife and adventure galore.
Choose a self-guided tour for some off-the-beaten-track exploration or join a tour guide for a knowledgeable trek, an overnight camping excursion, or a journey that combines hiking and horseback riding!
For some hiking inspiration, check out this list of the 16 Best Hiking Trails in all of Costa Rica.
Costa Rica may not be known for its cuisine, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t unique Costa Rican dishes to try. Local restaurants are called Sodas and are located on nearly every corner. Arguably the most uniquely Costa Rican dish is Gallo Pinto, or rice and beans served with a delicious salsa and usually plantains. Ceviche is the perfect refreshment on long beach days. This dish is made of raw fish soaked in lime or lemon. Most restaurants will offer super fresh smoothies and fruit juices, as well as bold Costa Rican coffee.
Once you’ve had your fill of Costa Rican cuisine, enjoy the many expat-owned restaurants and cafes that offer everything from sushi to pizza to great vegan dishes.
5. Experience The Wildlife
With over 615 wildlife species per 10,000 sq km, Costa Rica is one of the most bio-diverse countries on the planet. Experiencing the wildlife in a sustainable way can be enriching for both you and the planet.
Volunteering or joining a guided tour at one of the plentiful wildlife sanctuaries will enable you to connect better with and appreciate animals while supporting an incredible cause. Get up close to monkeys, sloths, macaws, raccoons, and porcupines and leave knowing that you contributed to the bettering of the community and the environment.
Costa Rica seems to be rising to the top of everyone's favorite destinations, and honestly, it's easy to see why. Incredible people, jaw-dropping scenery, adventure and relaxation await.
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