Costa Rica is a little slice of paradise with endless ecological wonders to uncover. It’s also a beacon for international tourism, and with that comes a lot of advertising.
It might seem challenging to figure out which experiences are worth spending a little extra on, to make the most of your Costa Rica vacation. That’s why we’ve assembled this guide of essential Costa Rican experiences and amenities to make your vacation special.
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Scuba Diving with Undersea Hunter
Trust us: you’ll want to indulge in scuba diving with Undersea Hunter to Cocos Island. An adventure dive of this caliber will plunge you into a vivid ecosystem you can only imagine on dry land.
Climb aboard the Sea Hunter, the gold standard in dive boats, and enjoy a long-range expedition along the Osa Peninsula. If you want to experience serious diving and scenery, the Osa Peninsula is another place you don’t want to miss.
For a more thrilling adventure, head to Bat Islands to dive with the bull sharks. A private Catamaran rental through the aptly-named Serendipity will surely clear your head and whet your appetite for even more aquatic adventure.
Chocolate Tours in the Rainforest
About 25 miles from Bijagua is an unexpectedly delightful tour: the Chocolate Tour at the Tree Chocolate Farm! This family-run, locally owned farm is nestled in the rainforest surrounding the Tenorio Volcano–so you know it’s spectacular.
You’ll be treated to an explanation of the process of producing the sweet delicacy known as chocolate–from the cocoa bean to the candy bar.
Take a tour through the cacao, coconut, and other trees and plants on-site at the farm, and indulge in tasty delights along the way.
Sustainable farming practices, along with rainforest conservation, also make this a business worth supporting.
Organic Coffee Farm Visits
Another great tour to take is of an organic coffee farm, especially if you like starting your mornings with a lovely, steaming cuppa. Costa Rica is widely known for its coffee fincas (farms) and coffee export so a tour of one, is both educational as well as deliciously indulgent.
We’d recommend visiting the organic, sustainable coffee farm Finca Rosa Blanca. This hidden gem is a 25-minute drive from San José and is situated on the slopes of Poás Volcano and Barva Volcano.
It boasts around 30 acres of rich high-altitude organic coffee- Arabica, Catuaí, Catimor, and the now world-famous Geisha.
Book a private tour of their plantation and bean-processing facilities that is led by an expert guide and teaches you coffee “cupping”, before ending at their restaurant, with your desired preparation of the Café Rosa Blanca and an amazing view.
Another great multi-farm, coffee tour lies in the foothills of the Talamanca Mountains that you can get to by horseback! A private guide will lead you along rough roads, allowing you to marvel at the spectacular rainforest views and the Rio Cedral River.
The tiny community that resides here prides itself on its rich and long coffee-growing heritage. Not only do you get to taste their divine coffee creation but you also get to learn about its history from the very landowners who plant, harvest, and sell it.
A Serene Spa Day
Did you know that you can get a life-altering massage in Costa Rica? One of the best places to visit is Los Altos De Eros for a Costa Rica spa day you won’t forget.
This open-air spa has five private treatment rooms, all of which overlook the Pacific shorelines and tropical forests of Guanacaste. Be sure to check out indulgences like the Balinese soaking tub, heated hydrotherapy pool, and gorgeous waterfall while enjoying the very best in self-care.
Costa Rica also happens to have areas with a volcanic geothermal activity that create natural hot springs in abundance. These natural healing pools are the perfect place to relax, unwind and let your worries dissolve away. It’s also a great way to end a super busy day of adventure activities/sports.
A great option for this is Springs Resort and Spa which is known for its jungle waterfalls, numerous secluded streams, and freeform pools with the view of the Arenal Volcano. In fact, many of their treatments make use of locally-harvested volcanic clay!
Divine Dining from a Michelin chef
If the indulgence you’re craving is culinary, head to the Pangas Beach Club. There, you can enjoy al fresco dining and order delicacies like lobster, ceviche, mussels, and more.
At Park Cafe’s supremely romantic candle-lit courtyard, world-renowned Michelin chef Richard Neat can treat you to small sampling plates of French foods and a carefully curated wine list.
This one features an intimate eight-table limit, so you know this establishment is a true indulgence in a culinary and cultural experience.
A Private Paradise at Casa Teresa
With all the incredible beaches in Costa Rica, you’d be remiss if you didn’t spend a little extra on a waterfront paradise for your vacation.
Casa Teresa, both private and spectacular, is just the place—a luxury rental in Costa Rica that allows you to take full advantage of their most coveted asset.
With private chefs, room service, yoga and meditation offerings, concierge service, and four master bedroom suites with ensuite spa bathrooms, this beachfront villa is more like a paradise where everything is in place and taken care of, so you can just kick back and relax.
Take an ATV Biking Tour
If you’re an adrenaline junky or just want to get out of your comfort zone, consider taking an off-road ATV tour exploring beaches from Tamarindo to Flamingo.
Drive through the view of dry forests, river crossings, mountains, and other stunning tropical sceneries.
You’ll have an experienced guide teaching you how to maneuver your vehicle and ride through a rugged circuit so there is no need to be nervous if you’ve never done this before. This tour lets you soak in the sights and sounds of the Costa Rican forest and spot various types of birds and monkeys along the way.
You can also upgrade your tour to include activities such as snorkeling, driving a UTV, ziplining, or riding through other areas by the ATV.
5-Star Rainforest Bungalows
Costa Rica has a variety of 5-star rainforest bungalows that seamlessly blend into their serene, natural surroundings. Splurging on stay (even if it’s just for a day or two) at one of these resorts is sure to leave you and your family with countless priceless memories and pictures.
What makes these bungalows so special is their purpose to protect and conserve the wildlife around them.
One particular rainforest reserve that is worth the visit is Lapas Rios which is a collection of 17 cozy bungalows dotted along a ridge. This 1000-acre private rainforest reserve is located in the Osa Peninsula which is undoubtedly one of the country’s most biodiverse areas.
You’re sure to encounter iconic frogs and macaws; endangered monkeys and over 300 bird species. This immersive destination allows one to live, breathe and explore life in the jungle.
If this isn’t enough to convince you, the reserve has also been listed in National Geographic as being one of the most unique lodges in the world.
Each room features outdoor showers, private decks, and open-air architecture. Its ocean-facing positioning allows for natural airflow, and its screens create an enchanting indoor-outdoor sensory experience.
Another great location to stay at is the Tabacon thermal resort and spa which is nestled in the tropical rainforest at the base of the Arenal Volcano. This five-star accommodation places special importance on conservation while also being completely carbon neutral.
However, the main attraction here is the picture-perfect natural setting that surrounds it – this view alone is worth the splurge as this resort is situated over 900 acres of tropical reserve.
The resort features a unique healing thermal spring that emerges from the volcanic earth and cascades downwards to form waterfalls, streams, tranquil pools, and ponds.
Aside from simply soaking in this natural hot spring, you can also avail other spa treatments such as massages, facials, and body treatments in stunning open-air spa bungalows.
Photos to Capture it All
Your trip to Costa Rica will be an unforgettable experience. You’ll want to capture these moments in photos and film to memorialize them for the rest of your life—so make sure you’re properly equipped to do so or hire someone who is!
Modern phones get the job done, but you’re not going to capture the stars or the majesty of a cloud forest landscape with an iPhone.
And if you’re planning on having a destination wedding—or even a secret proposal—or special event during your trip, you absolutely need to hire a professional photographer.
Worrying about capturing the moment will detract from your experience, and you don’t want to burden a vacationing friend or family member, either.
Experiencing the thrill and beauty of Costa Rica via adventure tourism is an experience worth far more than any souvenir.
All in all, making incredible memories and being able to capture them is well worth the splurge in Costa Rica!