Few places boast the range of natural attractions available in Costa Rica and holidays here guarantee you some extraordinary experiences, with both the Atlantic and Caribbean coasts vying for attention alongside still-active volcanoes and national parks teeming with wildlife. Also, not to be overlooked, the capital San José is a fascinating mix of traditional and Spanish architecture.
Natural wonders in Costa Rica
Close to the capital is the crater of Irazú; the surreal lunar landscape is one of Costa Rica's most stirring sights. Arenal is one of eight active volcanoes in the country; night-time eruptions are the most spectacular. The thermal springs and mud pools of Volcán Rincón de la Vieja are best explored on horseback or on foot. Trekkers should scale Cerro Chirripó, the country's highest summit.
Costa Rica's wildlife
People looking to spot wildlife should travel to Santa Rosa National Park, which has ten different habitats, or Tortuguero National Park to explore the lush rainforests, long beaches, swamps and lagoons home to nesting turtles. Parque Nacional Corcovado is considered one of the most biologically diverse places in the world, whilst Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio is perfect for primates including howler monkeys and capuchins.
A pristine coastline
And, to bookend your holiday, there are also some stunning beaches to choose from too, with the glistening sands of Playa Conchal – arguably Costa Rica's best beach – contrasting against rolling surf of wild Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. And, away from the mainland, in the Pacific's deep blue, there's the island of San Lucas with its fascinating, penal-colony past, and national-park Isla del Coco whose soaring cliffs and golden bays tumble down to waters rich in marine life.