With some 25% of the country’s land protected in National Parks, Costa Rica is arguably the most eco-friendly country in the world. And this little slice of tropical paradise certainly packs a lot into its relatively narrow borders. Boasting both Pacific and Caribbean coastlines, rainforests, volcanoes, highlands and astounding wildlife, Costa Rica is a nature lovers dream.
Costa Rica has earned its well-deserved eco-tourism reputation and stands apart from its Central American neighbors in many aspects: from surfing and other adventure activities, farm-to-table restaurants, wildlife conservation and sustainable tourism. Its infrastructure is well supported by green energy such as wind and hydro. One of the world's most biodiverse countries, with half a million species – from insects to the giant anteaters that devour them – it also protects one-quarter of its wild lands for future Costa Ricans to enjoy.
The country has a lot of different areas to explore, many of which can be reached by short, easy flights on light aircraft, allowing you to see and do a huge amount in a relatively short space of time.
The Central Valley
Costa Rica’s heart and soul can be found on its quiet, coffee-cultivated hillsides of the Central Valley. This is not only the geographical center of the country but also its cultural and spiritual core. It is here that the Spanish first settled, here that coffee built a prosperous nation, and here that picturesque highland villages still gather for centuries-old fiestas. It is also here that you’ll get to fully appreciate Costa Rica’s country cooking including its delicious artisanal cheeses, corn cakes and freshly caught river trout.
San Jose, the capital, lies right in the centre and is surrounded by traditional coffee plantations, which makes it a great place to start your trip after a long flight. It is also where you will find one of A2A’s favourite lodges. Accessible only by white-water rafting the rapids or taking a hanging basket over the river after some off-roading in a 4x4, this superb lodge epitomises what Costa Rica does best – eco-friendly luxury.
The northern plains and cloud forest
To the north of San Jose, the perfectly conical Arenal Volcano should not be missed. Although you can’t climb it, there are lots of excellent walking trails in the area as well as other adventurous pursuits such as zip-lining, mountain biking, rafting and horse riding. Not far away, the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve admits only 160 people a day, so fragile is the environment here. You’ll not only find the world’s largest orchid collection here and thousands of plant species, but it is also one of the best chances you will have of spotting the Resplendent Quetzal, one of over 400 bird species found in the park.
The rainforest and Carribean coast
Tortuguero National Park sits on the Caribbean Coast and is one of the largest areas of rainforest in Central America. It is a hotspot for endangered green turtles which come to lay their eggs between June and October, but the tropical rivers are also home to other species including otters, caimans, monkeys and several exotic birds such as parrots and toucans.
The jungle and Pacific coast
It comes as no surprise that the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica is no different went it comes to nature. The Osa Peninsula in particular nothing short of a natural paradise, home to almost half of all the species found in Costa Rica. There are countless rare and endangered species roaming the Corcovado National Park which takes up much of the peninsula, including Baird’s tapir, jaguars, giant anteaters and the harpy eagle just to name a few. Although hard to get to, in true Costa Rica style, the region still offers fantastic accommodation in luxury eco lodges so you can enjoy the true wilderness in comfort.
Recent studies show that many Costa Ricans live longer, healthier lives compared to the rest of the world, due to its 'pura vida' (meaning 'pure life') philosophy, a term used everywhere around the nation. These two words can mean hello, goodbye, cool, and many things good. We guarantee after a week in this beautiful paradise you will be saying it, too - pura vida.