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7 Best Costa Rica Regions to Visit on Vacation

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Catarata del Toro waterfall in the Central Valley, Costa Rica

Catarata del Toro waterfall in the Central Valley, Costa Rica

The best Costa Rica regions to visit each offer unique experiences, and knowing what the country’s cultural and scenic diversity can offer can ensure you find the right places for your trip.

Each distinctive region of the country represents a larger personality and, whether interested in the adventures of the jungle or the rustic charm of the Caribbean, you can embrace the famous pura vida lifestyle on vacation in your region of choice.

The following is an introduction to seven of the best, sharing advice and tips on how to choose a destination for your custom tour.

  1. 1. The Caribbean Coast
  2. 2. Guanacaste and North Pacific
  3. 3. Arenal and Northern Lowlands
  4. 4. Nicoya Peninsula
  5. 5. Central Pacific
  6. 6. Osa Peninsula and South Pacific
  7. 7. San Jose and Central Valley
  8. Explore the Best Costa Rica Regions on Vacation

1. The Caribbean Coast

Snorkeling on the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica

The Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast extends from Nicaragua to Panama and feels like a rustic excursion to where the jungle meets the sea.

The northeast will immerse you in a secluded corner of plains and rivers, covered with rainforest and accessed by plane or boat. In the south, you can enjoy long stretches of uncrowded beaches and Costa Rica’s renowned coral reefs.

The unspoiled connection between land and sea introduces countless opportunities to explore the gorgeous sea scenery, from the charm of turtles along the shoreline or chances to wind through remote canals, bask in the sun on white-sand beaches, or snorkel along the country’s largest coral reef.

Best for: Romantic Costa Rica vacations that take advantage of the Carribean’s coastal charms and luxurious seaside experiences.

2. Guanacaste and North Pacific

Resort on Peninsula Papagayo in Guanacaste, Costa Rica in

Peninsula Papagayo in Guanacaste, Costa Ric

Guanacaste is one of the regions you may think of when planning a visit to Costa Rica as its famous beaches and luxury resorts draw travelers from all over the world to the Central American country.

Home to some of its best golden-sand beaches and one of Meso-America’s largest tropical dry forests, Guanacaste features the joys, thrills, beauty, and charms that many visitors search for during their vacation.

Rivers for kayaking, tranquil pools for exploration, perfect waves for surfing, intriguing horseback-riding trails, and celebrated national parks for discovering wildlife, Guanacaste represents one of the best places to experience the top things to do in Costa Rica.

Best for: Costa Rican trips that capture the highlights and allow travelers to embrace many iconic activities.

3. Arenal and Northern Lowlands

Scenic view of Arenal volcano in Costa Rica at sunrise

Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica

Boasting volcanoes, thermal pools, and plentiful wildlife, Arenal and the Northern Lowlands embody the endless adventurous spirit of Costa Rica.

The variety of ecosystems creates a diverse region to explore, culminating in the exciting view of Arenal Volcano’s conical peak. You will encounter tapirs and howler monkeys, or you can witness a staggering waterfall, birdwatch along the marshes, or fish on the lake.

Arenal is a dazzling introduction to the wonders of nature and thrilling explorations of the wilderness, specifically on Costa Rica eco tours revolving around outdoor adventures.

Best for: Discovering the unexpected natural beauty of Central America on Costa Rican outdoor adventures.

4. Nicoya Peninsula

Puerto Carrillo Beach on the Nicoya Peninsula

Puerto Carrillo Beach on the Nicoya Peninsula, Cost Rica

The Nicoya Peninsula is paradise, a stunning coastal gem to visit in summer and spring, the best times to visit Costa Rica.

Gorgeous beaches and enviable weather make it a fantastic vacation getaway, while the rich biodiversity immerses you in the treasures of Costa Rica’s natural beauty.

Coastal villages with internationally renowned surfing, boutique resorts with dramatic panoramic views, unspoiled forests with exotic wildlife, and epic fishing adventures giving way to mouthwatering seafood, the Nicoya Peninsula can offer every kind of traveler an unforgettable experience.

Best for: Exploring Costa Rica’s endless marine and wildlife experiences during the spring and summer travel seasons.

5. Central Pacific

Zip lining in Costa Rica

Zip lining in the Central Pacific, Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s Central Pacific is a coastal haven, with accessible shorelines and luxurious accommodations connected to the gorgeous Pacific waters.

Easily reached from the capital city, the tropical ambiance transitions between rainforest and its golden shores, offering views of giant crocodiles or swinging, white-faced capuchin monkeys.

With world-class surf, deep-sea fishing, high-adrenaline sports, endless outdoor activities, or simple relaxation on soft-sand beaches, the Central Pacific is one of Costa Rica’s most popular regions for a reason.

Best for: Escaping the crowds on active senior tours of Costa Rica to experience the unending beauty of the Central Pacific coastline.

6. Osa Peninsula and South Pacific

Scarlet macaws in the Osa Peninsula

Scarlet macaws in the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica

The Osa Peninsula, one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica, overtakes the southwestern edge of the country and connects its South Pacific corner to the edge of Panama.

The secluded beaches, access to outdoor adventures, vibrant surf, incredible snorkeling, and distinctive biodiversity demonstrate the region’s natural beauty and charisma.

With approximately ten percent of the mammals found in the Americas populating the region, as well as hosting one of the largest macaw populations in the county, the Osa Peninsula and South Pacific celebrate biological richness and sustainable wonder.

Best for: Luxury Costa Rica vacations that celebrate the country’s biological diversity and highlight sustainable activities that protect endemic wildlife.

7. San Jose and Central Valley

Coffee plantation in the Central Valley of Costa Rica

Coffee plantation in the Central Valley of Costa Rica

San Jose represents the cultural capital of the country and the surrounding Central Valley highlights its authenticity, from delicious dishes to views of the encircling volcanoes.

Hiking trails, whitewater rafting, coffee plantations, and museums span the region’s central location. You can explore colonial architecture or visit a birding paradise, embrace pristine greenery at an urban park, or discover a national park spanning 14 different ecosystems.

San Jose and the Central Valley capture a unique image of Costa Rica that is both wondrous and adventurous.

Best for: Family tours of Costa Rica that combine educational experiences in the capital and adventure trips through the Central Valley.

Explore the Best Costa Rica Regions on Vacation

Hiking in Corcovado National on the Osa Peninsula

Corcovado National on the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica

While small, the regions of Costa Rica truly demonstrate the diversity of the country, from its lush natural beauty to coastal splendor, where you can enjoy the wildlife or experience its thriving, inviting culture on Costa Rica tours and vacations.

Whether looking for an exciting couple’s adventure, an energetic family escape, a romantic getaway, or a relaxing senior vacation, you can find more inspiration for your custom trip in our Costa Rica travel guide.

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