Best Things to do in Costa Rica
Whether it’s swimming in remote waterfalls, spotting the red-eyed tree frog, or witnessing volcanic activity, Costa Rica always puts on a show. From north to south, there are amazing places, activities, and landscapes to see. Here are some of the best things to do in Costa Rica.
Step into the pages of the Jungle Book at the Nauyaca Waterfall. The stunning scenery of the mighty waterfall, surrounded by ancient trees and jungle, is really something to remember. The main waterfall gushes down from a height of 45 meters, flowing into a smaller 20-meter fall below. Beneath the cascading falls, discover the deep pools used by locals and travelers as a place to swim and relax.
Situated in the remote landscapes of southern Costa Rica, Nauyaca waterfalls are the perfect natural paradise! Not only can you swim, climb, and jump, but people also take advantage of the hiking and horse riding in the area.
2. Punta Uva
Punta Uva is a vacation dream to come to life. Shimmering clear blue ocean laps at a white sand shore, shaded from hanging palm trees. The beaches in Puerto Viejo are some of the best beaches in Costa Rica, but Punta Uva has to be the most beautiful of all. Spend the day here relaxing and swimming in the crystal clear water, only pausing to sip on fresh coconuts. Alternatively, hire a kayak and go on an adventure upriver, exploring the jungle off the beach.
This untouched area is one of the best things to do in Costa Rica, made even more beautiful by strict Costa Rican laws prohibiting building on the beach.
3. Hot Springs, La Fortuna (Best Things to do in Costa Rica)
La Fortuna is one of the most magical places to visit in Costa Rica, mainly known for its relaxing hot springs. The small town sits in the shadow of the majestic Arenal Volcano, the country’s most active volcano! The geothermal activity has created numerous natural hot springs in the area to enjoy, with water at a temperature of 35-38 degrees.
Depending on your budget, splash out and enjoy the hot springs at some of the more luxurious hotels. You can also pay for a day pass to use the springs (although often it’s a cheaper deal to stay at the hotel too). If you’re on a budget, there are some fantastic hot springs in La Fortuna to visit for free.
Our favorite hotel in La Fortuna is Tabacon Resort which has hot springs included in their nightly package.
4. Mistico Hanging Bridges
Another gem located close to La Fortuna is the extraordinary Mistico Hanging Bridges. Enjoy the experience of being suspended in the air among the rainforest canopy, watching the incredible wildlife up close.
Follow the trail to find 6 hanging bridges and 10 regular bridges, allowing you to witness unique animals like frogs, sloths, and monkeys in the wild. From 148 feet up, you’ll see some of the most amazing views, even the volcano on a clear day! Mistico Hanging Bridges are definitely one of the best things to do in Costa Rica!
Named one of the most beautiful parks in the world, Manuel Antonio National Park lives up to the hype. Although the wildlife, flora, and fauna are incredibly diverse, the park is surprisingly small. Because of this, it’s the perfect place to spend a day exploring all the things to do.
Follow one of the trails with a specialized wildlife guide who can point out the array of animals, from macaws and toucans to sloths and crabs. When you reach the end of the trail, you are rewarded by the most remote and beautiful national park beaches. Here you’ll find clean white sand, palm trees, and iguanas that roam free along the shoreline.
6. Surfing on the Beaches of Santa Teresa
Think of Costa Rica, and surfing is one of the first things that come to mind. Santa Teresa is one of the greatest places to visit in Costa Rica for surfing, known for its excellent waves, beautiful beaches, and energetic atmosphere. For beginners, head to Playa Hermosa, where you’ll find soft sand (without rocks) and easy-rolling waves. This is also where most surf lessons take place.
More of an advanced surfer? Playa Santa Teresa is one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica for more powerful and challenging waves.
7. Whale Tail of Uvita (Marino Ballena National Park)
The beach town of Uvita sits next to Marino Ballena National Park, one of the best things to do in Costa Rica. The national park is home to green forests, beautiful beaches, and exotic wildlife. However, most importantly, it’s the place to visit for some of the most extraordinary whale watching in the country! Choose the right season, and you can get the chance to witness humpback whales in the wild.
As a coincidence, there is a special spot on the beach, where two sides meet during low tide. This occurrence forms the shape of a giant whale tail. During this time, you can walk along this 600-meter wide sand passage. However, you won’t be able to see the shape from the ground. To do so, you’ll need to use a drone to capture some fantastic photos.
8. Corcovado National Park (Amazing Places to Visit in Costa Rica)
Corcovado National Park is not only one of the best things to do in Costa Rica, but it’s also one of the most biodiverse regions in the world! In fact, this unique area is home to various landscapes, from mangroves and cloud forests to mountains and beaches. Best of all, a variety of wildlife calls Corcovado National Park their home—even the elusive jaguar!
The national park is huge (424 square kilometers), providing endless days of exploring. For this reason, travelers spend a few days in the national park, camping and enjoying many of the hiking trails. To add to the remote experience, the park can only be reached by boat, foot, or air because no roads lead into the park. All this makes Corcovado one of the most fantastic places to visit in Costa Rica!
9. Night Walk in Monteverde Cloud Forest or Tortuguero
Taking part in a night walk is one of the most exhilarating things to do in Costa Rica. Seeing animals come out to interact under the cover of darkness is truly spectacular! With the help of a skilled guide, you’ll get the chance to learn about nocturnal animals, lit only by flashlights and the moon and stars.
10. Puerto Viejo Chocolate Experience
Costa Rica might be known for its coffee, but it’s also famous for producing the world’s most delicious treat: chocolate! Join a chocolate tour in Puerto Viejo (the Caribbean side of Costa Rica) and learn all about the production process.
The guides will show you how cacao is grown and produced while you spot all the beautiful animals that live amongst the cacao trees. Best of all, you’ll get to experience the wonderful flavors of chocolate, alongside delicious fresh fruits like mangos and bananas.
11. Horse Riding in Santa Teresa: Best Things to do in Costa Rica
Can you imagine anything more exhilarating than galloping along the beautiful beaches of Santa Teresa on horseback? With the wind in your hair and the sound of hooves on the sand, experience the freedom of horse riding. Not only is it a fantastic way to see the world from a different perspective, but it’s also truly one of the best things to do in Costa Rica!
We did a 3-hour horse riding tour that you can read all about in our Santa Teresa Travel Guide. It is an ethical company where the staff work in harmony with the horses, always respecting these amazing animals. As with any tour that involves animals, it’s essential to research and learn about the effect of wildlife tourism.