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Things to do in Costa Rica

There’s no shortage of things to do in Costa Rica, especially for those who love the great outdoors. From natural wonders—cloud forests, jungles, volcanoes, and beautiful beaches—to great local shops with colorful artisanal crafts, bars with sunset views, and tropical drinks and spas featuring indigenous ingredients, Costa Rica is an ideal destination for active and adventurous travelers who also enjoy a dose of culture.

For smart ideas on what to do in Costa Rica, search our travel guide, featuring handpicked listings from Travel + Leisure editors and writers. Browse to find the best local experiences from San José and Tortuguero National Park to the Nicoya and Osa peninsulas—surf schools, rainforest treks, photography safaris, and more.

Travel + Leisure also shares the names of top travel agents and tour operators who specialize in the region. These go-to experts know what to do in Costa Rica, helping travelers zero in on the very best attractions and activities, like ziplining, Arenal volcano hikes, and wildlife treks with naturalists. We point you to one-of-a-kind adventures, such as surfing with the pros at Pavones, site of the country’s most famous wave. Whether seeking unusual things to do in Costa Rica or classic iconic experiences, let Travel + Leisure be your guide.

  • Amy Glass

    A travel agent for more than 30 years, Amy Glass specializes in New York City, Costa Rica, and soft adventure travel (think biking, bird-watching a... More
  • Backroads

    Active travel (cycling; walking; sea kayaking; rock climbing) paired with unexpected cultural experiences (storytelling in Ireland; a game of boule... More
  • Biesanz Woodworks

    Functional, beautiful objects made from rainforest woods are created on site at this small store and wood shop run by American craftsman Barry Bies... More
  • Café Britt Plantation

    Coffee is king in Costa Rica—and of the nearly 150,000 large and small coffee fincas (plantations) that dot the Costa Rican landscape (most in the ... More
  • Classic Journeys

    Unbeatable access to experiences around the globe—learning firsthand about a family-run organic coffee plantation in the Galápagos; dining in a pri... More
  • Compleja Atmosphera

    Wood sculptures by locally renowned artists are the specialty of this upscale gallery. The carved, stylized figures of Central American animals and... More
  • Corcovado National Park

    Corcovado’s 127,000 acres of lush primary rainforest protect an extraordinary array of wildlife. Central America’s largest population of scarlet ma... More
  • Costa Rica Expeditions

    The oldest and most reputable adventure outfitter in the country (founder Michael Kaye left his native New York to open the biz in 1978), Costa Ric... More
  • Costa Rica Sky Adventures

    A 1.7-mile zipline network in the Monteverde Reserve operated by Costa Rica Sky Adventures gives airborne guests close-up glimpses of forest-dwelli... More
  • Country Walkers

    Moderate and challenging walks (and a few small-ship cruises) in 80 destinations around the world with a roster of insider guides, such as Morocco ... More
  • Earthwatch Institute Expeditions

    Earthwatch, a nonprofit organization that does ecologically oriented scientific field research around the globe, has maintained a strong presence i... More
  • Green Magic Travel

    The eco-minded outfitter organizes customized itineraries with volunteer activities—protecting green, hawksbill, and leatherback turtle nests with ... More
  • Hacienda Barú National Wildlife Refuge

    The reserve protects 815 acres of coastal rain forest. Look for capuchin monkeys, toucans, and three-toed sloths along the reserve's well-groomed t... More
  • Horizontes

    This long established agency can organize botany, birding, or photography tours, and more. More
  • Katie Nelson

    Years as agent: 14. Other specialties: Costa Rica, Guatemala. Consulting fee: Varies. katien@travelpoints.com More
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