Costa Rica is one of those places you see on TV and wonder if it’s too good to be true. Not only cited as one of the happiest countries on the planet, Costa Rica is also blanketed with lush rainforests, cut on either side with incredible beaches and home to so many animal species it would blow even David Attenborough’s mind.
As if that isn’t enough, here are 30 reasons why Costa Rica should be on your holiday bucket list.
1.Costa Rica might be pint-sized, but it still boasts 5% of the world’s biodiversity, laying claim to animals like poison dart frogs, tapirs, jaguars and three-toed sloths. Slip into the country’s national parks, and you’ll have a shot of seeing them in the wild.
2.There are 1,290 kilometres of coastline in Costa Rica, so there’s no shortage of sunbathing spots. And they’re all public.
3.More than 50 known hummingbird species of the total 300 can be found in Costa Rica, making it the makeshift hummingbird capital of the world.
4.Coco Island – one of Costa Rica’s outlying islands – is said to be a top spot for scuba divers, teeming with hammerhead sharks and dolphins, though you can only reach it via a guided tour or with a park ranger. It’s also rumoured to be the real life inspiration for the island in the film Jurassic Park.
Enjoy these amazing encounters with Tiger Sharks from our last expedition to Coco’s Island…Origen Extraordinary Escapes #cocoisland #tigerSharks #theorigenteam #puravida #costarica #extraordinaryescapes #travel #traveling #wanderlust #tasteintravel #traveljournal #igtravel #instatravel #travelgram #travelphotography #traveltheworld #escape #vacation #trip #getaway #beautifuldestinations #traveldeeper #luxury #picotheday #holiday #jetset #thegoodlife #vacaymode #traveltips #wherenext
5.A common expression in Costa Rica is ‘pura vida’, meaning ‘pure life’. It’s a bright and shiny, feel-good phrase that can be used as a greeting or goodbye, or if someone asks how you’re doing. Think of it as a little window into the upbeat Costa Rican lifestyle.
6.Costa Ricans take their coffee very seriously, with special coffee tasters much like sommeliers that rule the roost in France. There are more than 200,000 acres of coffee planted in the country, and up until the last 20 years, coffee was their biggest export.
7.Around 25% of Costa Rica’s land is protected – that’s the largest percentage of protected areas in the world. The parks offer scenery like waterfalls, rainforests, lagoons and volcanoes.
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8.In Costa Rica, you can breathe easy, as it’s one of the greenest nations in the world. By 2021, Costa Ricans aim to be completely carbon-neutral, and even have regulations on how often commuters in the capital of San Jose drive during the week.
9.Costa Rica’s beaches are privy to some seriously amazing surfing conditions, from the country’s biggest waves in Salsa Brava to the notoriously surfer-friendly resort of Playa Tamarindo.
10.Between exploring the craters of Arenal Volcano – the youngest and most active volcano in Costa Rica – there are hot springs in the volcano’s shadow that are naturally-heated by volcanic activity that you can lounge in.
11.Costa Rica enjoys a tropical climate year-round, so there’s basically no bad time to visit.
12.The plant now known as the gaga lipfern in Costa Rica was named after pop superstar Lady Gaga in honour of her visit to Costa Rica’s capital city San Jose. So even the plants here are kind of famous.
13.The beaches here come in all shapes and sizes, from practically deserted to shores lined with luxury hotels.
14.Costa Rica’s dry season is from December to April, which means our version of winter is their version of summer. Hello, winter getaway.
15.Costa Rica is sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east. That means you can tick two new bodies of water off your list for the price of just one holiday.
16.Costa Rica has 14 river systems whose white water rafting difficulties range from Class I to Class V. Depending on your level of fearlessness, you can take a leisurely Pocahontas-style animal-watching trip or charge helmet-first into rushing rapids.
17.The Irazu Volcano – the highest active volcano in the country – can be scaled via a weekly shuttle bus service, so there’s no sweat-breaking required.
18.Costa Rica is home to a number of the world’s dwindling cloud forest population, in places like the Los Angeles Cloud Forest and Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, both of which are available for hikes.
19.No two hikes through Costa Rica’s gorgeous landscape are the same. You can scale bridges hanging mid-air, trek up the side of a volcano or scramble across logs suspended over rivers and underneath waterfalls.
20.You don’t have to keep your feet on the ground to explore Costa Rica – you can also take to the sky with ziplining adventures over the rainforest canopy.
21.Costa Rican cuisine is a tantalising mixture of Spanish flavours leftover from its Spanish colonisation, African and Native American fare and hints of the Caribbean.
22.Both coastlines of Costa Rica play host to thousands of turtles every year that reach its shores to nest. Here, you can expect everything from Olive Ridley turtles in Ostional, Leatherbacks in Playa Grande and Hawksbills in Tortuguero.
23.Costa Rica holds its animal population in high esteem and in 2012, officially banned recreational hunting.
24.The museums in San Jose are virtual gold mines – there’s the Precolumbian Gold Museum and Jade Museum, each highlighting the country’s centuries-old riches.
25.Travelling by horseback is about as common as walking in Costa Rica – okay, maybe not that common, but you get the picture. Here, you can horseback ride on the beach, through the mountains or past the rainforests.
26.There are a number of trams crisscrossing over the rainforest canopy, so you don’t even need to don your hiking boots to explore this lush scenery.
27.One of Costa Rica’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites is the archaeological grounds at Finca 6, which hold mysterious stones carved into large spheres that date back to pre-Columbian history. Researchers are yet to discover their purpose, but believe that once they’ve cracked the case, they’ll have a better understanding of Costa Rica’s ancient population.
28.One of the most popular beach bites in Costa Rica is a copo, AKA a sweet, shaved ice treat topped with syrup, powdered milk and condensed milk. Some variations even feature ice cream and fresh fruit.
29.Costa Rican lovebirds also make this tropical haven a top spot for romance. It’s common for Costa Ricans to refer to their partner as ‘mi media naranja’, which, in English is ‘the other half of my orange’.
30.Costa Rica is consistently named one of the happiest countries in the world by the Happy Planet Index – Costa Ricans have a high life expectancy and incredibly high literacy rates, and there’s no standing army. And we can’t help but agree – Costa Ricans and holidaymakers that choose its shores have a lot to be happy about.
There you have it – leaving Costa Rica off your holiday bucket list is basically impossible. Been to Costa Rica already? Let us know your all-time fav activities below!