1 Volcán Arenal
After decades of almost constant violent eruption, Volcán Arenal, one of Costa Rica’s most iconic attractions, fell into a slumber in 2011. Activity may or may not resume soon, but until then, you can hike through diverse ecosystems in the day, then bask in nearby hot springs.
Monteverde provides a brief insight into the magnificent diversity of the highlands, including over 400 species of bird, the highlight being the resplendent – but elusive – quetzal. For a bird’s eye view, soar through the spectacular misty cloudforest canopy on a high-speed zip-line.
Beach lovers and surfers can pick pretty much any spot from the northern Nicoya Peninsula down the Central Pacific coastline and find a personally tailored version of paradise with lively resorts and quiet hideaways catering for all budgets, tastes and energy levels, all with some of the best sunsets on the planet.
4 Parque Nacional Chirripó
Travelling overland down the mountainous spine of the country, a barren páramo wilderness at the heart of the continental divide, you’ll be able to enjoy sweeping views of Chirripó Grande, the country’s highest peak and a serious challenge for trekkers.
5 Puerto Jiménez and Península de Osa
Located on a remote Pacific peninsula, the pristine Parque Nacional Corcovado is a moment of magic for both adventurers and wildlife lovers, where you can encounter sublime rainforest fauna. Gateway to Corcovado is Puerto Jiménez, a relaxed former mining town with a frontier feel.
6 Parque Nacional Tortuguero
The canals of Tortuguero are likely to provide quiet moments of awestruck contemplation as you encounter the wildlife and vegetation of this aquatic inland waterworld, while on the coast prehistoric turtles lumber out of the surf to nest on the beaches as they have done for millions of years.