Costa Rica Travel Guide
Behind the columned, Neoclassical facade of San José’s National Theater, the opulent pink marble lobby with statues of Beethoven and other iconic composers gives way to a main auditorium with grand oil paintings of 19th-century Costa Rican life.
The eco-minded outfitter organizes customized itineraries with volunteer activities—protecting green, hawksbill, and leatherback turtle nests with park rangers in Tortuguero National Park, or counting species like the endangered rainbow-hued scarlet macaw in Corcovado National Park.
Active travel (cycling; walking; sea kayaking; rock climbing) paired with unexpected cultural experiences (storytelling in Ireland; a game of boules in Provence; visiting mask makers in Bali).
An independent group of naturalists directed by biologist Mike Boston leads custom wilderness treks on the Osa Peninsula.
A buzzing hive of commercial activity, this covered market is as much of a full-immersion experience as a shopping destination.
The left point break at Pavones is the country’s most legendary wave—and a pilgrimage site for top surfers from all over the world.
While this Pacific stretch’s notorious breaks are mainly for experts, novices can learn to hang ten along the calmer shores of Manuel Antonio Beach.
Nearly 5,000 feet above sea level—and reached via a four-hour, precipitous, unpaved drive from San José—this 25,700-acre, amazingly biodiverse preserve is the most popular tourist attraction in Costa Rica.
Unbeatable access to experiences around the globe—learning firsthand about a family-run organic coffee plantation in the Galápagos; dining in a private home in Delhi—are woven into every walking-based excursion, from Ireland to Bhutan.
A lively mix of locals and globals gather at this casual beach bar to lounge in leather rocking chairs on the open-air patio and sample from an exquisite cocktail menu (more than 90 concoctions are on the list).
Float quietly past the howler monkeys, green iguanas, crocodiles, and toucans that reside on the thickly forested banks of Guanacaste’s Tenorio River while rafting. Expert guides can lead you through adrenaline-pumping rapids or slower, meandering waters. half-day trips from $95
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 Rica Expeditions runs multiday packages to all the country’s wildest natural places.
This long established agency can organize botany, birding, or photography tours, and more.
Functional, beautiful objects made from rainforest woods are created on site at this small store and wood shop run by American craftsman Barry Biesanz. Among the offerings are painstakingly made and richly colored humidors, jewelry boxes, credit card cases, and comb sets.
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 Central Valley), Café Britt is the best place to learn about it.