Costa Rica attractions offers something for everybody! Most visitors to Costa Rica fall in love with this beautiful country and its friendly people. Lets face it, from idyllic tropical beaches, verdant mountains where the climate is always spring-like, to tropical rain forests with abundant flora and fauna, there is a lot to love. For some people the main attraction is the world class sport fishing. For others it is the numerous national parks and/or the numerous species of birds found here. Maybe its just the ideal climate and the slower pace of life.
Corcovado National Park is an undeniably beautiful place, considered to be one of the most important natural preserves in the Americas, this virgin rain forest park invites superlatives from all who visit. At least thirteen distinct vegetation types in close proximity, including mangroves, palm swamps and bloodweed forest make Corcovado a botanist's dream. Jaguars, giant anteaters, hundreds of white-lipped peccaries, tapers, and a host of rare rain forest animals inhabit the vast reaches surrounding the crocodile-filled lagoon at the park's center. The captivating visual beauty of its forest and of its coastline, with miles of uninhabited beaches and roaring cascades, draws visitors from all over the world. Visit the Costa Rica Bureau for official state tourism information, tours and hotels.
The beaches along Guanacaste's shore - Hermosa, El Coco, Flamingo, Tamarindo, and Nosara are some of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica. With a drier, more arid climate than other parts of the country, this area offers a wealth of water sports; surfing, world-class sportfishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, etc.
The Pacuare (pah KWAH ray) is the quintessential tropical river. Along its course lie several densely vegetated gorges which shelter jaguars, ocelots, monkeys, sloths, and an incredible variety of birds. Also found within these gorges is some of the best whitewater in all of Central America, ranging up to Class V in difficulty. The Pacuare is the only river in Costa Rica which contains these amenities, including virgin rain forest, while also being quite accessible. The lowland tropical forest here is remarkable for its luxuriant variety and the amazing abundance and diversity of wildlife found within it.
Costa Rica offers more than 840 different bird species in an area no larger than West Virginia. From quetzals to brown pelicans and humming birds, there are more bird species here than in all of North America combined.
Costa Rica Beaches and Pacific Attractions
RÍO EL GENERAL
Flowing out of San Juan Lake in Chirripó National Park, this river becomes the Río Grande de Térraba before emptying into the Pacific. The longest (196 km) and one of the mightiest rivers in the country, this river offers rafting trips through rapids in certain stretches, such as Las Juntas de Pacuar al Brujo.
Located some 12 kilometers from Dominical on the highway to San Isidro de El General, these lovely waterfalls are also known as the Santo Cristo or Don Lulo waterfalls. Visitors arrive on horseback to enjoy the beautiful falls surrounded by greenery, and to swim in the large, safe pool.
This beach’s big waves are ideal for surfing. The place is also popular with campers, with facilities available. Tours and excursions can be taken from Dominical to neighboring places of great scenic beauty, such as the Nauyaca waterfalls and nearby hills offering spectacular views of the entire coastal area. Dominical offers a variety of tourism services and shops.
The moderate surf here is perfect for swimming and other water activities. At the south end of the beach lies Punta Dominical, which features a lush tropical wet forest. This, and the spectacular surrounding landscape, offer great enticement to nature-lovers.
The viewpoints on this rocky hill swathed in vegetation offer views of Dominicalito, Roca Árbol island and the stunning mountain and maritime landscape stretching southwards.
This beach is connected to Playa Uvita to the south by a sandy tongue, or tombolo, in the shape of an anchor that can be explored at low tide, when different species of crab, fish, mollusk and algae may be observed. From this spot both beaches may be viewed, as well as the beautiful Fila Costeña mountains.
One of the most stunning beaches on the Southern Pacific coast, Uvita features moderate surf safe for swimming, as well as estuaries and mangrove swamps, especially at its north end. South of the Quebrada Villegas estuary is a lovely line of coconut palms. Near the south end of the beach is Quebrada Colonia. This beach is ideal for walking and horseback riding, as well as observing the marine life around Punta Uvita.
Rich in marine life, this tongue, or tombolo, features a reef that shelters it from dangerous currents and strong surf, making it a perfect place to swim and cool off in its waters. It’s also a popular spot among divers.
UVITA MANGROVE SWAMP
Located behind Punta Uvita, this mangrove swamp is rich in typical coastal flora and is home to several species of seabird, including the little blue heron, the white ibis and the osprey.
Accessible only by boat or panga, this island is an extraordinary place for diving and observing the variety of marine species.
Featuring little surf and fine sand, this beach is set in a breathtaking coastal landscape that includes Isla Ballena less than three kilometers offshore. Playa Ballena, along with Isla Ballena and Rocas Tres Hermanas, make up part of Ballena National Marine Park, which stretches from Punta Uvita to Punta Piñuela. The park’s waters are visited by humpback whales every year from August to October and from December to April.
A beautiful, small cove with moderate surf, Piñuela is great for swimming, especially at its south end. Behind the beach is a steep, mountainous slope covered with greenery. A small promontory lies north of the beach, close to which the Quebrada Piñuela empties into the sea. Isla Ballena may be viewed from here.
Though small, this beach is surrounded by lovely scenery. Ventanas (“Windows”) gets its name from the rocky promontory at its north end featuring holes in the rock that can be explored at low tide.
Located south of Boca Brava, this beach is not suitable for swimming; however, its waves are excellent for professional surfing.
This small community lies 15 kilometers from Palmar Norte and Sur, on the banks of the river of the same name. Sierpe offers commercial services and accommodations, as well as water transportation companies that can take visitors out to sea to visit Isla del Caño, or fish or dive nearby. A good number of tourists access Corcovado National Park via the Río Sierpe, and many bird, animal and reptile species can be seen on this trip.
This beach is made up of highly scenic rocky areas and coves. Frequent rains nourish a very wet tropical forest rich in biodiversity. Many sport-fishing and diving tours to Isla del Caño depart from Drake, as well as tours to Corcovado National Park. Visitors can hike or horseback ride to nearby attractions. Every February, the landing of pirate Sir Francis Drake at this spot is commemorated with official and local celebrations.
PLAYAS DE MATAPALO
At the south end of the Osa Peninsula lies Cabo Matapalo, close to which are several stunningly beautiful coves and beaches set in very wet tropical forest, home to several species of birds, monkeys and other animals. Waterfalls and other natural features make exploring the rich biodiversity a delight. Beaches popular with surfers include Matapalo, Backwash and Pan Dulce, all of which offer excellent conditions for this sport.
Located south of Puerto Jiménez on the road to Matapalo, this long beach is shaped in a half-moon, and features rocky coastline to the south and the mouth of the Río Tamales near its center. The surf is gentle to moderate depending on location. Birds may be seen among the coastal greenery.
Situated at two meters above sea level, this community is the best place from which to access Corcovado National Park. Good commercial and tourism services are available, including several leisure, adventure and sport-fishing companies. Jiménez is reached via Chacarita on the Interamerican highway, or by daily boat service from Golfito.
A large, pleasant beach featuring coastal vegetation, mangrove swamps and the mouth of the Río Platanares, this is an excellent place for sunbathing and enjoying the ocean. Stretching south from Punta Arenitas, Platanares is very popular with the residents of Puerto Jiménez, as well as the tourists who come here on their way to Corcovado and other destinations on the Osa Peninsula.
Located two kilometers form the village of La Palma, this beach features moderate surf and is popular with the village’s residents. Set on Golfo Dulce and surrounded by mountains perennially clothed in green, Playa Blanca is a lovely spot.
The only city in the country found inside a protected area, Golfito rests on a long strip set in a small cove on Golfo Dulce. The place is characterized by the architectural style of the houses of the Banana Company, which for many years managed every aspect of banana production. The town features commercial and tourism services, a hospital, airfield, wharf and other government services.
Several tourism companies provide lodging, food, tours and other services. Among the city’s main attractions is the Depósito Libre Comercial de Golfito, where a variety of items can be bought duty-free. Golfito is the perfect departure point for visits to other coastal communities such as Puerto Jiménez and Zancudo, as well as tours to the Gulf, Río Colorado, Drake and Playa Cacao, among other destinations.
Though Playa Cacao is located just two kilometers from Golfito, the best way to get here is by boat (panga). Little surf makes it a very safe place to swim. Green with plant life, Cacao is a great place for walking around and observing the flora and fauna. The town of Golfito can be seen from the beach.
A long beach with fine sand and moderate surf, Zancudo features a lovely estuary and plenty of coconut palms and tropical greenery. It’s a great place for swimming, sunbathing and walking, as well as other recreational and sporting activities. Sport-fishing and whale- and dolphin-watching tours are offered.
This rocky stretch of coast offers beautiful scenery, thanks to its luxuriant plant life and small bays ideal for swimming. Set on a small cove, Pavones’ main attraction is its open ocean surf, which forms the world-famous long left wave that draws many surfers to this beautiful and remote spot. To the south, horseback rides and long walks to the least explored stretch of coast in Costa Rica may be enjoyed.
RÍO GRANDE DE TÉRRABA
Formed by the El General and Coto rivers, which are fed in turn by tributaries originating in the Cordillera de Talamanca, this river runs 160 kilometers and forms the country’s largest hydrographic basin at 2,171 square kilometers. Its many mouths and deltas make up part of the largest wetland in Central America. The Río Grande de Térraba is considered the most important river in the Southern Zone because of its socioeconomic significance.