Tips for Vacationing in Costa Rica

National Geographic writer Cliff Ransom delves into the reasons why Costa Rica might just be the best place for an ecotour vacation in his article Costa Rica: Big Trip, Little Country. Ransom offers suggestions and tips for planning a wild vacation.

“To get the most out of a trip to Costa Rica, consider the vacation a series of short, contained journeys, each distinct from the next. The jungle-covered volcanoes of the central highlands are worlds apart from the dry, cactus-studded hills of Guanacaste or the deserted beaches of the Península de Osa. In any other place, linking such disparate geographies would be a chore, but because of Costa Rica’s size—a touch smaller than West Virginia—you can string them together with ease.

Hike a Smoking Volcano The three-day circuit from lava-spurting Volcán Arenal to the cloud forests of Monteverde is the trip that jump-started the ecotourism boom in Costa Rica.

Raft a River Classic “There are a lot of great rivers in Costa Rica, but the Pacuare ranks as one of the great rivers of the world,” says Michael Kaye, founder of Costa Rica Expeditions, among the country’s most long-standing guide services.

Go on a Jungle Safari While the backyard of an average Costa Rican home can be a safari in itself, most wildlife lovers head to Tortuguero. This network of beaches and black-water canals in the country’s northeast is rife with caimans, jaguars, tapirs, and massive leatherback, hawksbill, and Caribbean green sea turtles that nest seaside throughout the year.

Surf a Legendary Break Costa Rica has Central America’s greatest concentration of well-charted, accessible surf breaks. At the heart of the action is Tamarindo, a party town in the country’s northwest with surfing schools, board rentals, boat hires, and head-high summer swells.”