In a land, not so far far away, once thrived thousands of different species unknown to most individuals living in the big cities. Actually, correction! STILL THRIVE. In fact, Costa Rica has one of the best preserved wildlife and plant life in the Western Hemisphere.
Costa Rica occupies a privileged spot in the heart of Central America. While its territory of 19,652 square miles touches both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the country is surprisingly accessible – one can travel from coast to coast in just three hours by car (or 45 minutes by plane).
The Caribbean region of Costa Rica stands out for its variety of aquatic ecosystems and its beautiful white and black sand beaches, providing an ideal setting for activities such as sport fishing, snorkeling, and sun bathing. The Pacific coast concentrates big tourist centers and its beaches are very popular for surfing, for example Esterillos, Jaco, Hermosa, Boca Barranca. In the Golfito region, near the Marino Ballena National Park, surfing fans can find the famous “long lefthander wave.”
If you only have a few days, most large cities in the U.S. now offer direct flights to San Jose and some to Liberia. While Liberia (Northwest of Costa Rica) is closer to the popular region of ARENAL, roads to access ARENAL are somewhat difficult from Liberia. I definitely recommend landing in San Jose. Depending on your arrival flight, you can rent a jeep and make your way to Arena in less than 3 hours. For flights arriving after 3pm, I recommend staying in San Jose for one night.
Arenal is located in the northern part of Costa Rica. In addition to great jungle landscapes, it offers superb volcanoes and natural hot springs which have made the region quite a popular place for fitness and nature discovery. There, I recommend you stay at least 3 nights. One should definitely do Zip lines (also called Canopy tours). This is the best way to be close to nature and as you make your way down the valley from tree to tree, you encounter many species of Monkeys, birds (including the amazing toucans) and other jungle animal life. Another fantastic way t discover this part of Costa Rica is to embark in white water rafting or water rappelling (aka Canyoning).
After a fantastic time spent in the Volcano region of Costa Rica, make your way down to Manuel Antonio, a national park on the pacific side. This journey might also take you about 3 hours traveling through some of CR’s best landscapes.
There, I recommend a 3 to 4 night stay. Between the fantastic scuba diving (an activity I have become extremely avid of) experiences in the protected areas of Manuel Antonio National Parks, surfing and the sandy beaches where relaxing is a mandatory activity, you will find the central pacific coast of Costa Rica both pristine and ready for the most luxurious comfort one may be accustomed to.
The area includes several 5 star resorts offering top of the line accommodations and amenities all while blending with the exuberant landscapes of the region.
Costa Rica is much more than a tropical paradise only a few hours from the U.S., it is a vastly protected area where humans and nature can easily interact all while respecting each other. For less than $1,000/person, one can easily spend a whole week in luxury all while enjoying the very basic this country has to offer: a true communion with nature!
Interested in going to Costa Rica? Ask me and I’ll be more than happy to make suggestions and recommendations for a journey to remember!
Mikael Frank Audebert