I recently returned from a trip to Costa Rica. On my trip I stayed at Costa Rica destinations that were on the incredibly beaten path going from San José to Monteverde to Jaco and then back to the capital. There is nothing wrong with this, but if you stay in a country long enough, you definitely want to check out other places off the main tourist path. I will leave that on this post to the experts, the Costa Rica Experts that is. Sara Meils from the Costa Rica Experts gives travelers tips on exploring the more hidden parts of the country.
Costa Rica Destinations off the beaten path
Adventure. Discovery. Exploration. That’s the name of the game in Costa Rica. And where can you find it? Well, arguably anywhere. But if you’re looking to really getaway, the following destinations will accomplish just that. Venture off the beaten path into quiet seclusion and discover your own Costa Rica. This is a vacation after all.
Southern Caribbean Coast
The Caribbean Coast is a destination often overlooked by tourists. This is especially true of the southern coast despite its natural beauty and authenticity. But for those willing to explore the mysterious eastern shoreline, many pleasant surprises await them. Deserted Caribbean beaches, clear waters, and dense forests are highlights in this region. Cahuita National Park, located just south of the port-city of Limon, is a combined land and marine park protecting some of the last remaining coral reefs in Costa Rica. South of Cahuita lies the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge. There is only one trail within the refuge. To reach it, you’ll walk along the beach south of the town of Manzanillo, cross through a small river, and there you will meet the trailhead. How’s that for remote?
Southern Caribbean Attractions: Coral Reefs, Marine Life, Beaches, Culture, Isolation
Southern Pacific Coast
The humid rainforests and rugged coastlines of the Southern Pacific Coast will delight adventure and nature enthusiasts alike. Some of the most remote rainforests in the world are found here. In fact, the Osa Peninsula is so secluded that it can only be reached by boat or small plane. The ecolodges are basic in an effort to minimize their environmental impact. Just off the coast of the peninsula is Cano Island, one of the best places in Costa Rica for diving and snorkeling. Explore coral reefs surrounding the island and the mysterious pre-Columbian stone spheres left behind. Ballena Marine National Park, just north of the Osa Peninsula, is named for the majestic whales that frequent the shoreline and the view from above. The coastline incredulously takes on the shape of a whale’s tale! The beaches of the national park are isolated and the strong waves that approach the shore attract experienced surfers.
Southern Pacific Attractions: Nature, Wildlife, Seclusion, Beaches
South of the popular beach destinations of Guanacaste lies the Nicoya Peninsula. The region profits from the same glorious sunsets and coastline, but is much more remote. Gravel roads and its location on the tip of the shared peninsula, further from the Liberia International Airport, have made the Nicoya Peninsula less accessible. There is something to be said for an area that is known throughout Costa Rica as a wellness destination- the perfect place to go to unwind. Nicoya is also an international Blue Zone, where residents live longer lives and suffer from lower rates of disease. The Nicoya Peninsula attracts yoga and wellness enthusiasts from around the world. The Nicoya Peninsula also attracts turtles and people who care about sea turtle conservation.
Nicoya Peninsula Attractions: Yoga, Beaches, Surfing, Wellness
Rio Celeste Waterfall in Tenorio Volcano National Park
This destination wraps a stunning waterfall, volcano, and national park all into one! The jewel of Tenorio Volcano National Park is the brilliant blue Rio Celeste Waterfall. The waterfall gets its striking turquoise hue from unique minerals. Hike about 2 hours into the park to unearth this natural beauty. On the way in, give yourself a free mud facial from the river bank compliments of Mother Nature. Natural hot springs and mud pots bubble up and dot the trails. Definitely check them out, but be careful – some are very hot!
Tenorio National Park Attractions: Rio Celeste Waterfall, Hiking, Wildlife, Tenorio Volcano
The Pacuare River is a white water rafting paradise. If you’re into rafting, thrills, and rustic eco lodges, the Pacuare River is your place. Raft to a secluded nature lodge where you will be met with still more excitement. Zipline, trails, rapids, and wildlife are available to ensure the adrenaline junkie is never bored. Our Experts recommend rafting with Rios Tropicales Lodge or Pacuare Lodge on this escapade.
Pacuare Attractions: rafting, adventure, rainforest, zipline
The goal of Traveling Ted is to inspire people to outdoor adventure travel and then provide tips on where and how to go. If you liked this post then enter your email in the box to get email notifications for each new entry. Daily travel photos are excluded from your email in order to not flood you with posts. There is no spam and email information will not be shared. Other e-follow options include Facebook (click on the like box to the right) or twitter (click on the pretty bird on the rainbow above).
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Costa Rica is definitely on my bucket list! The blue of that waterfall just looks unreal – so clear and aqua. I like that you can have both an active holiday and then laze around the beach too.
Shobha recently posted..The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
Shobha, the waterfall is not unreal. The image has enhanced after it was taken. Almost every photographer in the world does that. However, costa rica is one hell of place. I would definitely want to visit Nicoya Peninsula when i visit costa rica.
Ohhh how I wish I’d made it to the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica — sounds like my kind of place! Unfortunately the furthest south I made it was to Jaco. I know, not that far south and as you said, well on the beaten path (or as I refer to it, el gringo camino).
I did however spend some while exploring the Gulf of Nicoyo and I loved it. One of my favorite regions of Costa Rica — simply breathtaking!
Derek Freal recently posted..10 Things You Don’t Know About Sri Lanka
Nothing wrong with Jaco. It may not be a top authentic Costa Rica destination, but it is a lot of fun. I hope to make it to Nicoya Peninsula one of these days.
Some great adventures here Ted! I have always wanted to go to the Rio Celeste Waterfall… nice to see someone blogging about something a little bit different in Costa Rica rather than the same ‘top sites’ again and again! 🙂
Will recently posted..The Backpacker Interviews: Captain Acid
I am guilty of blogging about some of those, but they are amazing too. Rio Celeste does look beautiful.
Apparently Costa Rica is the happiest place on earth. I read it today. Your photos look AMAZING. I’ve been wanting to go there so badly ever since I read an article about the country in a travel magazine. I am slowly planning to visit that side of the globe and I will bookmark your post, so I can use some of the tips you’ve posted.
I think Nicoya would be my type of place. Feeling younger, no heart failures? I will say yes to that?
Jo (The Blonde) recently posted..Trip to Chiang Dao and Shambala in Your Heart Festival – a perfect Valentine’s weekend
I hope you make it there soon and visit some of these places Jo.
The perfect marriage of adventure and relaxation. Costa Rica is one of our favorites! Great article.
Thanks, that is the perfect short description of Costa Rica.