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Instead, visitors come here to stay in remote lodges, hike in Monteverde Cloud Forest , ride along mountain bike trails or go windsurfing on Lake Arenal. Head further south for better accessibility. Surfers flock to this area of the Pacific coast. The sprawling capital city of San Jose —and its 2 million inhabitants—is located here.

Historical sites, excellent restaurants, museums, shopping centers and parks abound in San Jose.


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San Gerardo de Dota is a quiet spot for birdwatching. The valley is surrounded by high mountains, including four active volcanic peaks. The central valley offers history too.

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It was the capital until , but much of the town has been destroyed by earthquake and volcanic activity. Though small, Costa Rica has a lot to offer travelers who want to commune with nature.

The wait will be short before somebody strikes up a conversation. In addition, wellness packages are increasingly popular in Costa Rica, with a holistic focus on a life well lived. Your perfect Sunday could start with yoga on the beach, and include private classes with a local chef focused on healthy ingredients. Or relax all afternoon at the spa after a guided hike surrounded by nature.

Costa Rica Ecotourism Insider's Travel Guide

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Insider Costa Rica, Santa Teresa

This gives you time to take part in activities in the morning and then rest in the afternoon while listening to the tropical rain that cools things off for the evening. Prices are lower and places are not as busy as during the drier high season, and everything is lush and green. Additionally, this is whale migration season on the southwest Pacific coast.

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Sometimes we have an Indian summer in the middle of July, when it may not rain much at all for two weeks. The December holiday season is the busiest time of year, but the first two weeks of the month are quiet with low-season rates in effect , and you can enjoy the transition from rainy to dry season when everything is still lush and green.

It is often the only time in the high season that you can plan a last-minute trip and still have your first choice of the top properties. Easter week: You will be competing for space with international adventure-seekers and a growing number of wealthy Costa Ricans on traditional beach breaks.

The weather is usually gorgeous, but the nature parks and hotels are at their most crowded.

The Insider’s Guide to safety in Costa Rica

To us at GreenSpot, there is nothing more valuable than creating a better environment for future generations. And there is much that we can learn from the few indigenous communities left throughout the world about preserving Mother Nature. Access to this area is difficult, involving a helicopter ride and several hours of hiking.

The Hanging Bridges in the foothills of Arenal Volcano are quieter right after lunch. You can wait until no one else is in the shot, but you may still get photo-bombed by a sloth. Coffee and a simple life represent the true Costa Rica. A refillable water bottle.

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All of the upscale hotels that we work with have filtered water, or bottled water in much larger containers. Your own hair conditioner comes in handy when visiting the jungle, too; some of the conditioners offered at the lodges leave your hair completely unmanageable in the heat and humidity. Sign up for Wendy Perrin's newsletter and be the first to know about travel deals from trusted friends, as well as ideas to make your next trip extraordinary.

Get VIP benefits, insider access, and unbeatable value. These tours take place on a series of suspended bridges and platforms built within the Monteverde Cloud Forest, allowing for an up-close look at the rain forest. For the more daring, the forest can also be experienced via zipline.


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With the help of a harness, you will find yourself gliding between the treetops. Many hotels have ATVs available for two-hour guided tours around the trails and roads in the area.


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The roads can be dusty, as you can see in the photo at the top of the post, so be prepared to get a little dirty. But as you can also see above, the scenery is spectacular and definitely worth it! This adventure can be set up as either a half- or a full-day trip.

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Possible catches include dorado, tuna and blue marlin. Sure, you can get a massage anywhere. Instead, you can see, smell and hear the ocean for yourself as you receive a message in a real, palpable, honest-to-goodness paradise.