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What to Do in Costa Rica

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This small country affords travelers a wealth of experiences. Head to the rain forest and see jewel-toned tree frogs from a zip line through the canopy, or opt for a beach vacation at a surf camp or dreamy resort. You can even soak in a thermal pool and watch the plume of smoke rise from a volcano. ¡Que rico!
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Calle El Arbol 2,, Limón, Manzanillo, Costa Rica
Exploring natural spaces without harming them is a fundamental concern for ethical ecotourism providers. Nature Observatorio approaches the dilemma with a new concept: a spacious tree house whose nylon support straps allow it to be removed...
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avenida 69, calle 213 y calle 215, Limón, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, 70403, Costa Rica
This chic downtown Puerto Viejo art gallery—clear evidence of a Costa Rican design boom—leverages the cultural confluence of Afro-Caribbean, European, and indigenous influences that shaped the town’s history. The decor is rather...
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36, Limón Province, Costa Rica
Who doesn’t love Costa Rica’s adorable tree sloths? From their upside-down yoga positions to their mellow “smiling” faces, sloths have a curious way about them that always inspires fascination. The Sloth Sanctuary...
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Cartago Province, Costa Rica
A shared obsession for roses as well as for Costa Rica’s numerous microclimates led entrepreneurs Martín Guzmán and Luis Guillermo Vega to take up cultivating and exporting the flowers about 30 years ago. Over time,...
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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, Cartago, Costa Rica
The University of Costa Rica—a leading Latin American research center when it comes to epiphytic plants (i.e., those that grow on other plants but live off ambient moisture)—operates the Lankester Botanical Garden, which promotes...
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Cartago Province, Orosi, Costa Rica
Its breathtaking landscapes make the Orosi Valley one of Cartago Province’s major attractions, well worth the quick 22-mile hop from San José. You’ll discover a marvelous mix of coffee plantations and cute rustic restaurants, as...
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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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Irazú Volcano, Cartago Province, Costa Rica
Prusia Forest, in Irazú National Park, offers visitors the opportunity for strolls amid magnificent arboreal specimens. Follow pathways such as La Cajeta, La Cueva, and El Río and the trail called El Bajo La Laguna, which leads to...
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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, irresistible...
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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 and their unique aromas, textures, and tastes. At the Vargas...
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Alajuela Province, Sarchi, Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s artisanal oxcarts—with their precise, geometric constructions and eye-popping colors—are a sensation. Yet in the 19th century, they were simply the essential technology for overcoming muddy roads and bringing coffee...
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Provincia de Alajuela, San Carlos, Costa Rica
Get down and dirty on an unforgettable spelunking experience at the Venado Caves, 45 minutes from La Fortuna. The caves were formed some 15 to 20 million years ago by tectonic shifting and erosion from underground streams. In them, you’ll...
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Parque Nacional Volcán Poas, Provincia de Alajuela, Costa Rica
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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Rincón de la Vieja Volcano, Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica
This majestic volcano’s splendor on its own will delight photographers and nature lovers, but it’s in fact one of a contiguous chain of active volcanoes surrounded by tropical forests where jaguars, pumas, armadillos, black spiny-tailed...
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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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Calle 13 y 13 bis, Provincia de, Av Central, San José, Costa Rica
Jade carvings represent some of Costa Rica’s most valuable archaeological legacies. The National Insurance Institute began an initiative to safeguard 7,000 jade artifacts as well as carvings in other stones and in shell and bone, and this...
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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...
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Barrio Escalante, San José, Costa Rica
Known for its expansive, mid-20th-century residences, the neighborhood called Escalante is now filled with restaurants and bars as well, along with shops that sell locally designed objects. The food scene in Escalante has turned it into a bit of a...
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Entre Av 7 y Calle 11A, San José, Calle 11A, San José, Costa Rica
eÑe was one of Costa Rica’s first so-called cultural boutiques. Its showroom, in a beautiful Barrio Amón building overlooking the Parque España, is a pleasure for the eyes. Even its sign is stunning: an enormous red...
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Avenue 9, San José, Costa Rica
Looking for authentic souvenirs of Costa Rica to bring back home? Kúkara Mákara offers a great selection of items, all 100 percent artisanal and officially Costa Rican. Its name—an allusion to children’s nonsense...
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Avenida 2, calle1, San José, Costa Rica
For three centuries, Costa Rica’s national theater has been an important cultural forum, and its beautiful structure is a designated national monument. Docent-led tours of the Renaissance-style building and its performance hall are highly...
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Bajos de la Plaza de la Cultura. Avenida Central. Calle 5 San José Centro San José CR 10104, Av. Central, San José, Costa Rica
Considered a landmark of Costa Rican architecture, this 1982 underground structure was cleverly designed by architects Edgar Vargas, Jorge Bertheau, and Jorge Borbón to house several museums without blocking an open view of the Teatro...