Is Costa Rica Worth Visiting? 23 Reasons To Visit

Is Costa Rica really worth visiting? In short, absolutely! From surfing on the Pacific waves to zip-lining over the jungle, from soaking in hot springs to exploring hidden waterfalls, there’s no shortage of unique experiences.

Are you ready for a dreamy tropical vacation surrounded by rainforests, and exotic wildlife? Then look no further than Costa Rica! This Central American paradise is a top travel destination for those seeking an unforgettable adventure.

And that’s just the beginning! Keep reading for everything you need to know before you go and why you won’t regret making Costa Rica your next travel destination.

Girl walking down a suspension bridge trying to decide: Is Costa Rica worth visiting?

Is Costa Rica Worth Visiting

23 Reasons To Visit Costa Rica

Costa Rica is definitely worth a visit. And these are my reasons:

1. Tropical Rainforests

These beautiful rainforests cover more than a quarter of the country. Full of wildlife and beautiful vegetation.

2. Volcanoes

Costa Rica has OVER 200 volcanic formations. But, only 5 of them are considered to be active. Costa Rica prioritises safety, so if there’s any chance of one erupting all parks will be closed. Nonetheless, volcanic soil is highly fertile and makes for Impressive forests.

3. Biodiversity

This country is one of the most biologically diverse countries on the planet. It’s home to over 500.000 species, which is around 5% of the world’s biodiversity.

4. Beaches

We just couldn’t resist the stunning beaches, which are some of the most beautiful in the world. Our favourite? The one in Manuel Antonio National Park.

The beach at Manuel Antonio Park. Jungle in the background, sand and sea in the foreground

5. Wildlife

Costa Rica’s wildlife is unique and unforgettable. From sloths to toucans, we were always looking out for the next amazing creature to spot.

And honestly. You might think, is there really that much wildlife? Absolutely! On a walk in the town of Manuel Antonio, NOT the national park, we saw multiple sloths, 6 different groups of monkeys, and macaws.

6. Snorkelling & Diving

With its pretty waters and abundant marine life, Costa Rica is a dream destination for snorkelling and scuba diving. On our 1-day dive trip near Caño island, we saw sharks, rays, dolphins and much, much more.

7. Sustainability & Eco-Tourism

We greatly appreciate the country’s commitment to sustainability and eco-tourism. In most National Parks you’re not allowed to bring in ANY type of food. So that the animals don’t eat it, and you can’t litter.

The government has many policies in place to protect Costa Rica’s nature. Like banning single-use plastic, and tax discounts for sustainable projects. Some areas, like Caño Island, are so heavily protected, you can’t even visit. You can only dive and snorkel on the south shore of the island.

Three capuchin monkeys on a tree trunk clearly inspecting something out of frame

8. Coffee

Costa Rica is known for excellent coffee. There are coffee plantation tours and coffee roasting workshops. Which is great if you’re a coffee lover like me!

9. Friendly people

All people of Costa Rica made me feel welcome and at home. Pura Vida!

10. National Parks

The National Parks in Costa Rica are heavily protected. This means you’ll be sure to have an amazing time visiting them!

No litter, beautiful greenery and an abundance of wildlife are a certainty.

Mother and baby tapir in Corcovado National Park

11. The Arenal Volcano

Yes, I have already mentioned volcanoes. But this one deserves a special mention.

Watching this volcano at nighttime means you get to see lava flowing down the sides, and maybe even lava spraying out the top.

12. The Fruits

Costa Rica has the perfect climate for growing delicious tropical fruits, and we couldn’t get enough of the fresh and juicy papayas, pineapples, and mangoes.

Right. You can get these fruits in North America and Europe. But they’re not the same. The fruits for export are picked before they’re ripe, which makes them less flavourful. The fruit in Costa Rica is on a completely different level!

13. Surfing

Learning to surf in Costa Rica is a great experience, with relatively gentle waves and warm water to make it easy and fun.

14. Peacefulness

I could always find a quiet spot to relax and soak up the sunshine, surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty. And with quiet I mean no people, there will always be the sound of wildlife, wherever you are.

A Macaw in a palm tree in Manuel Antonioe. Is Costa Rica worth visiting?

15. Wellness

The country’s excellent spas and wellness centres are a great way to relax and rejuvenate, with treatments using local herbs and ingredients.

16. Museums

There are many great museums in Costa Rica. Like the National Museum of Costa Rica. This museum shows archaeology, history, anthropology and natural history.

17. Traditional Celebrations

Costa Ricans celebrate their history and traditions with colourful festivals and parades throughout the year, which are always a sight to see.

18. The Food

The food in Costa Rica is amazing. Being so veggie and vegan-friendly, we had a great time trying out all the local dishes.

19. Tours And Adventures

Other than hiking and taking in nature, you can expect white water rafting, ziplining, bungee jumping, and more.

20. Safety

Costa Rica is considered a safe country. We had no problems at all walking around in the dark. We’ve not felt unsafe at any time!

When travelling, it is always best to be aware of your surroundings and exercise caution. No matter the destination!

21. Weather

The weather in Costa Rica is amazing. Especially from December to April. This is the dry season, but also the busy season.

A blue and white hummingbird snacking on some red flowers with a dramatic green jungle backdrop

22. Unique Accommodations

Little bungalows in the jungle, views of the pacific ocean, views of volcanoes, there are too many unique accommodations to even list.

23. It’s unforgettable

With so much natural beauty and adventure to be found, Costa Rica provides the perfect backdrop for unforgettable memories and experiences.

Is Costa Rica Worth Visiting

Best Places to Visit & Where To Stay

Drake’s Bay

Drake’s Bay was our absolute favourite destination during our 3 weeks in Costa Rica. It’s interesting to get to; you either have to fly in a tiny propellor plane, or you take a boat from Sierpe.

In the dry season, it is usually possible to drive, but you’ll come across river crossings, slippery roads and waterfalls. Great to see, but not so great to drive in. You’ll need a beefy rental car, and it’s not unlikely to damage due to the poor road conditions.

Named after the famous pirate Sir Francis Drake, who supposedly used the bay as a port and is rumoured to have buried treasure in the area.

Drake’s Bay feels remote; it’s quiet & calm, and the roads are sand and gravel.

From here you can visit Corcovado National Park. This HUGE National Park is home to ocelots, pumas, jaguars, three types of monkeys, tapirs, and crocodiles. It was the BEST day trip we did in Costa Rica.

The beach at Drake's Bay with a palm tree hanging over the sand

Where to stay in Drake’s Bay

We stayed in Casa Tuanis. This small guesthouse is airconditioned and right in the town. Close to good restaurants and a shop. It’s affordable and comfortable!

👉 Experience the beauty of Corcovado National Park and the peacefulness of Drake’s Bay at Casa Tuanis!

Manuel Antonio

Home to the Manuel Antonio National Park. This park is a bit more touristy but has AMAZING beaches and an abundance of wildlife. The town has great restaurants and bars, and it’s a good place to learn how to surf. Book your ticket online in advance, because there are no tickets at the park.

Where to stay in Manuel Antonio

We picked Vista Serena as our accommodation and highly recommend it. Affordable and quiet. It has a great view of the Pacific and the sunset.

Away from the noisy town, but a VERY short bus or taxi ride away from the National Park and beaches. It’s possible to walk like we did, but the way back is uphill.

👉 Enjoy this quiet but beautiful accommodation by booking now!

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Our last stop before going to Panama. This cute little town on the Caribbean coast has a different vibe than the rest of Costa Rica. It feels more Caribbean. The culture, colours, and food show this. It’s close to Cahuita National Park, which is FREE to visit. You can donate, but it’s not mandatory.

Walking around just outside the town you’ll find toucans, monkeys and sloths.

Where to stay in Puerto Viejo

Our pick was Caribe Town Bungalows. A beautiful eco-lodge on the gorgeous Playa Cocles beach in Puerto Viejo. Natural beauty, surrounded by tropical gardens and towering trees that provide a scenic backdrop for an unforgettable stay!

👉 Stay at this picturesque accommodation and enjoy the Caribbean Sea and Costa Rica’s wildlife!

A Cayman only just above the surface of a stream in Corcovado National Park

If you are heading to Bocas Del Toro after Puerto Viejo check out our detailed guide for the journey.

What Is So Special About Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is a country unlike any other. Meaning “Rich Coast” in Spanish, this Central American gem has an impressive mix of landscapes. From active volcanoes to dense rainforests, and over 800 miles of coastline on both the Caribbean and Pacific sides.

Is Costa Rica worth visiting, and what makes Costa Rica special? Here are just a few reasons:

Pura Vida Lifestyle

“Pura Vida” is a commonly used phrase in Costa Rica, which translates to “pure life”. It reflects the laid-back, friendly culture all Costa Ricans live by.

You’ll feel the Pura Vida lifestyle in every part of Costa Rica, from the welcoming smiles of the locals or the beautiful natural surroundings.

You’ll be greeted with the words Pura Vida. Pura Vida is used to thank people. And you’ll be waved goodbye with a smile and Pura Vida.

Pura Vida is Costa Rica. And Costa Rica is Pura Vida!

Nature and Wildlife

Costa Rica is one of the most biodiverse nations on the planet, with over 5% of the world’s plant and animal species found within its borders. From toucans to sloths, monkeys to jaguars, it’s a nature lover’s dream come true.

With its commitment to conservation, Costa Rica is a great choice for travellers who want to experience the beauty of nature while also playing a role in its protection. By choosing eco-friendly tours and accommodations, visitors can help ensure that Costa Rica’s nature will continue to exist for generations.

A woman posing with a camera on a suspension bridge in the Monteverde Cloud Forest

When Is The Best Time To Visit Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is a year-round destination, thanks to its tropical climate and diverse landscape. However, the best time to visit depends on what you want to do and what part of the country you plan to visit.

Costa Rica is considered to have three seasons, which do overlap. It makes it worth visiting all year round!

High Season

The high season in Costa Rica is from December to April because that’s the dry season. During these months, the weather is sunny and warm, making it an ideal time to visit the beaches or take part in outdoor activities.

Keep in mind that this is also the busiest time of the year for tourism, so expect larger crowds and higher prices.

Low Season

The low season in Costa Rica runs from May to November, which is the rainy season. However, this is a bit of a misnomer, as the weather can vary widely depending on the region.

For example, on the Caribbean coast, the rainy season runs from September to November, while on the Pacific coast, it can rain sporadically throughout the year.

The benefit of travelling during the low season is that there are fewer crowds, and prices can be much lower.

Green Season

The months of May and June and October and November are said to be the “green season” in Costa Rica.

A time of year when the rains are more consistent. While this may not be ideal beach weather, the rains can bring out the greenery of the rainforests and make for spectacular scenery.

It’s also a great time to see wildlife, as many species are more active during the wetter months.

Ultimately, the best time to visit Costa Rica depends on your own preferences and interests. Keep in mind that even during the rainy season, it rarely rains all day, every day – so you can still enjoy many different things.

Whether you prefer sunny beach days or active outdoor adventures, there’s something for everyone in this tropical paradise.

A lazy capuchin an a branch with all 4 limbs hanging down

How many days in Costa Rica is enough?

Based on the size and diversity of the country, it’s difficult to say how many days in Costa Rica are enough. However, I recommend spending AT LEAST 10 days in the country to make the most out of your trip.

This will allow you to visit some of the most iconic destinations, such as the Arenal Volcano, Drake’s Bay, Tortuguero National Park, and the Monteverde Cloud Forest. We even have a specific 2 day itinerary for Monteverde.

Of course, the duration of your visit will depend on your interests and travel style. If you’re planning on spending most of your time at the beach, you may only need a week to enjoy the sun. But if you’re interested in active adventures, you should allow for more time to go hiking, rafting and ziplining.

Take the time to enjoy all the nature. Whether you’re here for a week or a month, the beauty of Costa Rica will leave a lasting impression.

A guy ziplining through the Monteverde Cloud Forest

Getting Around Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a relatively small country, but its diverse landscapes and terrain can make getting around a bit of a challenge. However, with the right transportation options, travelling within the country can be a breeze. Here are some of the best ways to get around in Costa Rica:

Domestic Flights

If you’re looking to travel long distances quickly, domestic flights are a great option. Sansa and Nature Air are the two main airlines in Costa Rica, offering flights to several destinations across the country. The benefits of flying are that it saves time, and provides you with spectacular aerial views of the scenery.

But as we all know, this is absolutely not the most eco-friendly way of travel, and thus only advised if you’re very short on time. We did end up taking a domestic flight in Costa Rica, but MOSTLY because I love aviation. Sure, it was also very convenient. Let’s not pretend like it was only because of my love for airplanes.

Despite it being the ONLY flight we took in our 5 months of travelling Central America, we still made sure to offset our carbon emissions.

The view  of the cockpit from a passenger seat in a Cessna Grand Caravan airplaine

Private Transportation

Another convenient way to get around is Private Transportation. Private shuttle services are available to transport you from the airport to your hotel or take you on day trips to nearby attractions.

Keep in mind that private transportation is expensive, but it’s worth it if time and comfort are your top priorities.

We did one trip by private transport. It was very hard to get from Liberia to Monteverde. And a shuttle was inconvenient because of two transfers. Plus, it ended up being cheaper to book a trip through Get Transfer. This is a company I definitely recommend! They have a mobile app, too.

Rental Cars

Renting a car is the best option for those who want more flexibility in their travels. It allows you to go at your own pace, make spontaneous stops and visit more remote destinations.

We consider renting a car in Costa Rica the best option for transportation. Especially in the low season, it’s not expensive and even ends up being cheaper than shuttle buses.

Unfortunately, we only figured this out a few days before arriving in Costa Rica. Which made the prices skyrocket, if there was any availability at all.

We ALWAYS use Discover Cars to get the best deals on rental cars! Slight warning, the reviews on sites like Trip Advisor for Economy Rent a Car are not very good. They’re cheap, but that’s usually for a good reason. This was the only last-minute option that fit our budget, but we decided to skip them.

🚗 Find your ideal rental car with Discover Cars!

Keep in mind that a few roads in Costa Rica can be challenging, so it’s important to have a good understanding of the driving conditions and be comfortable with dirt roads or steep hills. If you use Google Maps or something similar, you’ll be fine! Just don’t try to drive to Drake’s Bay.

Public Transportation

Public transportation in Costa Rica is a reliable, affordable way to travel from one destination to another. Buses are the most common form of public transportation and offer an extensive network across the country. Travelling by bus is the most affordable way to get around, but it may not be the most comfortable, especially for long distances.

We took buses from San José to Puerto Viejo, and from Manuel Antonio to Uvita.

Organised Tours

Organized tours in Costa Rica offer convenience, expertise, socializing, and sustainable tourism. Everything is arranged for you, and experienced guides provide insight into the culture, history, and wildlife.

You can choose from various options, and socialize with like-minded travellers. It’s a stress-free way to explore the gorgeous landscapes and diverse culture of Costa Rica.

A bus terminal in Costa Rica. People sat on benches waiting with 3 buses stopped in the background

Is Costa Rica Worth Visiting – FAQs

We’ve gone over a lot of information already. Hopefully, you already figured Costa Rica is worth visiting. But, in case you have more questions, I’ll try to answer them below.

Is Costa Rica very touristy?

Yes, Costa Rica is considered a popular tourist destination, with over two million tourists visiting the country each year. Its reputation as a tourist destination is due to its natural beauty, rich biodiversity, and eco-friendly tourism industry.

While there may be areas that are more touristy than others, visitors who venture beyond the main tourist hotspots can experience a more authentic and immersive cultural experience. In general, Costa Rica’s tourism industry has a reputation for being welcoming, friendly, safety-conscious, and sustainable.

Which is better Belize or Costa Rica?

This depends on your type of travel. People go to Costa Rica for the wildlife and Nature, and people go to Belize for a beach holiday.

There is definitely more to do in Belize than just visiting the beaches, but it’s definitely not as adventurous as Costa Rica.

A capuchin monkey nibbling on a broken stick

Is Costa Rica cheaper than Hawaii?

Yes, Costa Rica is generally considered to be cheaper than Hawaii when it comes to accommodation, food, and activities.

While Hawaii has a reputation for being an expensive destination, Costa Rica offers a range of options to suit different budgets. For example, accommodations in Costa Rica can be found for as little as $20 per night, while similar options in Hawaii may be more expensive.

In terms of food, Costa Rica offers a range of affordable local dishes and international cuisine, while Hawaii is known for having higher prices due to its remote location and high demand.

Similarly, activities in Costa Rica such as volcano tours, zip lining, or surf lessons are typically less expensive than in Hawaii. However, it is important to note that travel costs such as flights can vary depending on the time of year and ticket availability.

What is Costa Rica known for?

Costa Rica is known for its beautiful nature, wildlife, and Pura Vida lifestyle.

Amazing rainforests full of animals will make your trip the highlight of the year. The Costa Ricans’ Pura Vida lifestyle will give off onto your own, making sure you’re relaxed and worry-free.

Is Costa Rica Expensive?

Costa Rica is considered to be the most expensive country in Central America due to the high taxes, which are used to protect biodiversity.

This is necessary though, since tourism can harm nature. These taxes make sure it doesn’t, and everyone can enjoy the rainforests.

That being said, this is what we paid on average:

  • A meal in a restaurant: €12,70 per person
  • One night’s accommodation: €43,75 per room
  • A beer in a bar or restaurant: €2,50

If you want to know more about the costs of visiting Costa Rica then check out this post.

Is Costa Rica Safe?

Yes, Costa Rica is considered a safe destination. There are cases of petty theft and pickpocketing, but that is it.

We did not feel unsafe at all on our trip through Costa Rica. But it is always wise to be aware of your surroundings, and not go out by yourself at night. But that goes for anywhere!

Can you drink tap water in Costa Rica?

Tap water is safe to drink in Costa Rica. Only in some remote areas, including Drake’s Bay, it’s not safe to drink.

Ask your hotel or hostel to be sure, but generally speaking, the water is safe to drink.

Final Thoughts – Is Costa Rica Worth Visiting

You were wondering if Costa Rica is worth visiting. And hopefully, you now have your answer! Costa Rica is ABSOLUTELY worth visiting.

We’ve enjoyed every single second of our trip through Costa Rica. And have found it the most impressive country in Central America when it comes to nature and wildlife.

If you are torn between visiting Costa Rica and Nicaragua then check out our post comparing the two here.

I hope you decide to go, it will be an experience you will never forget, nor regret!