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La Fortuna de San Carlos is at the center of an array of geological wonders. The nearby Arenal is Costa Rica's most active volcano, routinely bursting with lava and ash, and the Catarata de La Fortuna is a waterfall pouring from a seventy-meter cliff. The Tabacon Hot Springs are a relaxing intermission in the midst of the various spectacles, and the Leaves and Lizards Arenal Volcano Cabin Retreat is a blissful end to any day's excursion.
Tamarindo is a prime spot for surfing and sportfishing, diving and sunning. Nesting leatherback turtles do their thing along the beaches from October to May and, for some nesting of your own, gorgeous beach houses, B&Bs and luxury hotels line the sunny sands. Shopping and dining options are superb and plentiful, perfect for sampling the true flavors of Costa Rica.
The tree-lined beaches of Manuel Antonio National Park seem ripped from an adventure movie, providing a breathtaking color mash-up of lush greens and brilliant white. The eco-diverse forest is rife with scampering wildlife. Hire a boat for a guided tour of a mangrove swamp, sink into pampering at a full-service spa or nibble tasty cuisine at one of many incredible local restaurants.
Surf’s always up in the Costa Rican beach town of Santa Teresa. Bright sun and gleaming sands make the perfect backdrop to hang ten in the crystal-clear waters, and fishing, snorkeling and kite-surfing are popular among vacationers. Yoga and spa services are a must for the ultimate relaxation, and, at night, catch a glorious sunset on the same beach where earlier you caught a wave.
Your morning in Nosara: Wake to the sounds of the jungle. Walk two minutes to Playa Guiones and do a few yoga poses at sunrise while surfers ride the waves. Wander north to Playa Pelada for a swim and spectacular views of the Pacific. Sound idyllic? Nosara, with its beaches free of developments, its tide pools, plus ziplining, wildlife rescue and more, is perfect for your extended holiday.
The tiny hamlet of Jaco is located in the Pacific Coast province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica. It’s the ultimate hideaway for sun seekers and active travelers, with cinnamon-hued volcanic-sand beaches, lush green rain forest and verdant mountains. Surfers flock here from around the world, but families, and honeymooners also find much to love, thanks to the multitude of beaches, outdoor activities, dining, shopping and nightlife. Explore the Costa Rican rain forest by horseback, learning about the flora and fauna in this impressive eco-system. Take an ATV tour to beaches, remote villages and waterfalls. Try your hand at sport fishing, paragliding, sea kayaking or even bungee jumping. Spend an afternoon at the Pura Vida Gardens and Waterfalls, where you’ll find millions of plants, flowers and orchids from around the world. Zip line through the jungle, play a round of golf or take an aerial tram tour of the rain forest. Expert surfers will want to check out La Roca Loca and Playa Hermosa for a challenge.
Vibrant and packed with Victorian mansions, Costa Rica's rowdy, bustling capital was built on the profits of the coffee trade and working "golden bean" plantations still surround the city. Try freshly roasted local beans at Mercado Central. For shinier gold, visit the Museo del Oro. Many renovated landmarks now house stylish hotels. Usually viewed as a hub, rather than a destination, nightlife is concentrated in Spanish village-inspired El Pueblo. Don't miss the elegant 1897 National Theater.
A tiny village with two miles of pure white sand and fabulous conditions for swimming, Uvita might become your favorite place in Costa Rica. It's part of the Marino Ballena National Park (Whale Marine Park), named for humpback whales who meet and mate here every winter and spring. Take a boat ride to Caño Island, a nature reserve with incredible marine life.
A water sports and recreation gateway surrounded by palm-lined beaches and rocky bays, Playas del Coco is under an hour from Liberia, Costa Rica’s Daniel Oduber Quiros International Aiport (LIR). Relax on white sand beaches or stroll the black sand beach beneath the cliffs at Playa Ocotal. Dive, snorkel, swim, surf, fish, bird-watch, kayak, sail, jet ski, hike, bike, golf, and horseback ride.
Only real-deal surfers should brave the torrid waters of Puerta Viejo de Talamanca, known both for their beauty and for their dangerously strong riptides. Surf’s especially up at Salsa Brava and Playa Cocles. Not to fear—the rest of you water bugs can enjoy snorkeling, kayaking and diving in the calmer waters of Cahuita or Manzanillo. Rent a mountain bike to coast to Manzanillo for a full, fun experience.