Costa Rica At It’s Best: 5 Experiences Not to Miss

Costa Rica At It’s Best: 5 Experiences Not to Miss

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I’ve been very eager to head to Costa Rica lately, so I asked my friends at Suitcase Stories to highlight some of their absolute favorites things to do and see there. After reading this guest post, I just know I need to book my ticket soon!  I mean who wouldn’t want to cuddle a sloth!?!?

While not a typical “Top Ten Tuesday” post, they have described so much more to experience at each destination.

Here are some of their must-do’s:

La Paz Waterfall Gardens

This was most definitely a highlight during our Costa Rica trip. If you are a nature and wildlife lover this is the place to go! You can stay at the La Paz Guest Houses or just visit the Gardens on their own, which is what we did. At first I was a little surprised at the cost – $50USD, you can get a cheaper ticket without lunch – but when I saw how much there was to see and do I realized it was well worth it – The buffet lunch that came included in that price also helped!

There are hundreds of species of wildlife in and around the gardens including beautiful bird aviaries; a butterfly house with the most colorful butterflies I’ve ever seen; a tropical frog exhibit with frogs as small as your thumb nail and more colorful than any frog I’d ever seen; snakes, although I’m not a fan of snakes it was still cool to see so many difference species; there were two big cat exhibits which were very cool; monkeys and so much more! Then there are the five waterfalls which are nothing short of majestic. La Paz is definitely my top pick for Costa Rica.

Volcon Arenal

Perhaps the most famous natural landmark of Costa Rica, Volcon Arenal is an inactive volcano. There was heavy cloud on the day we went but you could still see how beautiful this volcano is. But there is so much more to Arenal than just the volanco. There are two spectacular waterfalls, Rio Celeste and La Fortuna as well as a gorgeous national park. And lets not forget the eco zoo, the butterfly house or the hanging bridges!

The area surrounding all of this, La Fortuna, is in itself worth a visit. I have never seen so much lush greenery in my life. And the restaurant and shopping area is amazing, albeit small. The food was some of the best we had in Costa Rica. The people here were extremely friendly and really helpful, giving us tips on what to do and where to go in the area. I would definitively suggest a visit to La Fortuna / Volcan Arenal when you are in Costa Rica.

The Sloth Sanctuary

Sloths are possibly the cutest living thing on this earth! Those smiley faces get me every time. I am a huge sloth fan so when I heard about this sanctuary I had to go! And it didn’t disappoint. There are two different tours you can take – The first tour is the basic tour in which they show you around the premises, you get to meet most of the sloths and you receive a canoe ride for an hour. Nice. However, the other option is all that plus you get a private tour of the sloth hospital, you get to see the baby sloths in the incubators and you get to hold your very own sloth! There was no question which tour we were going to do!

The center does an amazing job of rescuing sick or injured sloths, bringing them back to health and then releasing them back into their natural habitat. They do an amazing job and most of them are volunteers. You can see the love they have for each and every one of these beautiful creatures. There have been times where its been unsafe to let the sloth go back into the wild – for example the poor little guy who lost his arm due to a power line – so in these instances they keep them on their large property and take care of them for life. This was an amazing experience, one my favorites in Costa Rica.

Puerto Viejo 

This is a very popular area with tourists and expats. Puerto Viejo is located at the south end of the Caribbean coast so the water is clear and warm. This town has a hippy feel to it and is very laid back. It’s a great place if you are looking for somewhere to chill out on the beach. We were here for two days in which time we did very little other than relax, soak up some sun and surf and wandered through town, which is a very short wander.

There are roadside markets here which you can buy local clothing or jewelry and souvenirs. There are plenty of amazing restaurants to choose from including great cheap street food to a la cart dining. There are great places to visit near by like the Jaguar Recue Centre. There is also horse riding and water activities you can do here. But most people come for the relax vibe, the great food and to soak up the Caribbean sun.

Monte Verde

Monte Verde is a small town not too far from La Fortuna. Its crowing glory is the Cloud Forest. MV is about 4662 ft (1440m) above sea level so as you can imagine by the name, it’s surrounded by cloud most of the time. There is a fantastic walking trail, which takes a couple of hours to walk but very well worth it! On our walk we saw beautiful birds, butterflies, frogs and even a snake (which we stayed well away from, thank god for zoom lenses!).

But the Cloud Forest isn’t the only thing to do here. If you are an adrenaline junkie there is a fabulous zip line here. Or, if like me you want to skip the heart failure, there are some great food places including a very good cheese factory, which I highly recommend. They have beautiful cabin accommodations here if you want to spend a few days, which is probably a good idea as there is so much to see and do at Monte Verde.


This post was written by:
Nicole and Michael are an Australian couple in who gave up their careers, sold their possessions and left their ‘conventional’ life behind for a life of travel. They have been living a nomadic life for 13 months and see no end in sight.

They recently launched Suitcase Stories, a website where they share their stories, travel tips and destination guides. Their main goal for this website is to inspire others to travel and to show people how long term travel is not only possible but affordable.

You can follow their journey on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest also.

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