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The Best Things to Do in Costa Rica

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During a first visit to Costa Rica, the nature-watching options alone threaten to overwhelm. But there's no reason to worry because you really can't go wrong when it comes to spending time in nature in the country. Watch for animals in the Monteverde Cloud Forest or choose any of, well, loads of wildlife refuges. Head out on hiking trails around La Fortuna or just plunk yourself down on some white sand beaches and ... ahhhh. Of course, there's more to the country than nature outings. Enjoy a wide variety of museums in San Jose.
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36, Limón Province, Costa Rica
I was walking through the Parque Nacional de Cahuita on the Caribbean coast one morning and this brilliant eyelash viper caught my eye from well off the trail. I have always wanted to see one of these unique snakes in the wild and now, after...
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Cartago Province, Turrialba, Costa Rica
Irazú—70 minutes from the capital, in Cartago—is one of five active volcanoes in Costa Rica. The ride to the park is gorgeous in itself: You’ll pass farms whose cultivated fields and grazing livestock offer...
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Cartago Province, Turrialba, Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s largest archaeological find was uncovered in the late 1800s as laborers cleared land to plant coffee. The 540-acre site, believed to have once been home to 10,000 people, was abandoned before the Spaniards arrived. Its ancient...
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700 meter west of national park Tenorio, Alajuela Province, Rio Celeste, 21502, Costa Rica
Nature has blessed Costa Rica in its gorgeous landscapes, fertile fields, and a thousand other bucolic miracles. Río Celeste, for example, is like no other river in the world. This stream gets its sky-blue color from...
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Alajuela Province, Alajuela, Costa Rica
At this dairy outside Fraijanes, a one-of-a-kind bilingual tour opens a window onto local farming. The two-hour experience flies by, taking visitors from the milking stations all the way through the process that transforms milk...
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Alajuela Province, La Fortuna, Costa Rica
Hike up to El Arenal’s gray volcanic cone for a magnificent view of La Fortuna, one of Costa Rica’s most celebrated destinations. Locals and expats alike are mad for the area’s hot springs, fun locavore restaurants,...
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The cultivation and export of coffee have shaped Costa Rica’s economy since the 19th century, when the world began to crave the country’s coffee varieties&nbspand their unique aromas, textures, and tastes. At the...
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Known by indigenous peoples as Sibú Mountain—a sacred name that means “Creator of Life and Wisdom”—Poás Volcano, which soars to 8,885 feet, cannot fail to impress. The active volcano is a perennial favorite...
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Fraijanes, Provincia de Alajuela, Alajuela, Costa Rica
This enchanting corner of Costa Rica, blessed with a superb climate, provides visitors with a chance to experience an ideal rural setting. If you’d like some action with your relaxation, you’re well positioned to hit...
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Heredia Province, San Rafael, Costa Rica
Famed as one of Heredia Province’s hidden jewels, San Rafael is a sleepy rural town that mixes luxury real estate and old-style farms with a host of other contemporary delights. Surrounded by verdant highlands and cypress trees, it is known...
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La Paz Waterfall, Alajuela Province, Costa Rica
La Paz Waterfall Gardens is Costa Rica’s most-visited private nature reserve and animal sanctuary. While walking the park’s two miles of perfectly designed trails, you’ll happen on exhibits that showcase jungle cats, butterflies,...
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Jacó, first discovered by hard-core surfing enthusiasts, is now, thanks to Highway 27, the closest beach to San José. With buoyant nightlife and an ever more go-go real estate market, Jacó is much more than just its 2.5-mile...
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Provincia de Puntarenas, Monteverde, Costa Rica
Monteverde, one of the world’s most celebrated wildlife refuges, also attracts humans in search of their own wild lives. Adrenaline bursts can be administered according to each visitor’s tastes. Airborne adventures include...
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Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica
Wetlands everywhere are at risk due to global warming, and the private wildlife refuge known as El Viejo Wetlands was created to protect some of these ecosystems. Among the thrilling sights you’ll see on a boat tour of the refuge that...
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Guanacaste’s beaches are well worth exploring. The pink-sand shoreline of Playa Conchal, for example, is blanketed with almost three million tiny shells. Playa Flamingo is home to Costa Rica’s most extensive marina; hotels there offer...
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Cuesta de Moras, San José, Costa Rica
The walls of the National Museum still bear the scars of cannonballs. The museum, formerly the Bellavista barracks, was where prisoners were jailed, in cells that can be visited by those interested in how prisons and dungeons...