When you are planning your vacation it is good to know a little about the area so you can choose what suits your fancy. The locals refer to themselves as Ticos and they are warm and welcoming wherever you visit in Costa Rica. My friend and I plan to visit all areas of Costa Rica but you may have to consider what to put in your itinerary if you have only 7 days. The following is a list of the various regions and what they might offer in the way of entertainment. Pick and choose whatever combination you like.
Most museums and art galleries in Costa Rica are found in San Jose. The central part of San Jose is noisy and crowed as the capital of any city will be. The airport is located outside of San Jose and you may come into Costa Rica via San Jose anyway, why not check it out while you are visiting. I have been told that you step of the curb carefully in Europe or get run over. Pedestrians do not have the right of way in San Jose either so watch yourself when you cross the street.
Arenal and Monteverde are located in the Northwest. Arenal is the Volcano located in this area and it is a game of wait-and-see to get the opportunity to view the cone of the volcano spew hot lava. Arenal is one of the only active volcanoes in the world that can be safely viewed by tourists without the threat of bodily harm. I live in the Pacific Northwest, also in the shadow of Mount Rainier so volcanoes don’t bother me.
The road to Monteverde runs from the small town of Santa Elena to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve with hotels, nightclubs and restaurants. This area is usually very dense with tourists. Originally settled by Quakers this area now has a thriving eclectic artist community. Quakers are also reported to be great cheese makers in this area. I just love cheese and Quakers are cool too so I gotta plan to visit the cheese farm. Although this is one of the busiest this region offers many day trips and interesting things to do.
While the Costa Rican government would certainly welcome the revenue from more tourists, for the moment the beaches of Nicoya remain somewhat of a secret. Beaches are still relatively deserted. If golf is your thing the course at Playa Conchal is renowned. This would be the vacation for you if you have water sports in mind. There is snorkeling, swimming, diving, surfing, fishing, and even kayaking. The drive from Carrillo to Mal Pais by 4-wheel drive is simply amazing. This area is also surfer heaven. Horseback riding is also offered by most of the hotels.
Quepos & the Central Pacific
This area is known for beaches and water sports. There is an abundance of quiet beaches to choose from while you do see surfers frequently the beaches are not crowded and it is easy to relax. Along their Pacific Coast Highway there is a vast array of lodging anywhere from the seedy to the luxurious and in between. This area is a wonderland for any beach lover with diving, fishing, golf, and horseback riding, kayaking and even surfing. I want to try the Titi Canopy tours. A canopy tour is like a ski lift going from tree to tree like the monkeys. If you are afraid of heights this is not for you!
Osa Peninsula & Golfo Dulce
This area is much more remote, however there are several luxury hotels. Drake Bay has whale-watching tours and you can often spot dolphins playing around your boat. Corcovado National Park offers tours that are teaming with wildlife to see and take photos of. In Golfo Dulce the are 2 botanical gardens, Casa Orquideas Botanical Garden and Wilson Botanical Garden.
Miles of banana plantations can be found here. Some believe these to be the most beautiful beaches in the country, although it is much more humid. The culture here is more Caribbean in it’s inhabitants. The usual water sports can be found here.