Beginner’s Guide To… Costa Rica

by Crissandra Ayroso
squirrel monkey in arenal volcano costa rica

Surf, relax, and explore in Costa Rica. One of the happiest countries on the planet, Costa Rica is also one of the most peaceful and progressive. Costa Rica has been sans military since 1949; the extra funding invested in education and culture. Costa Rica’s standard for living and pura vida lifestyle is a huge draw for locals and visitors, and encourages many returns – and for some, a permanent move.

Read on below for an introductory guide to some of Costa Rica’s best beaches, eco-tourist sites, and nightlife.

Beaches & Surfing

In the Nicoya Peninsula, long, sleepy stretches of beach hug the Pacific coastline and lush green rainforests brush through the interior. There are villages where time stands still and towns that never sleep. In this northern region of Costa Rica, provinces like Guanacaste and Puntarenas are some of the most picturesque and perfect for relaxing, surfing, learning how to surf, and exploring the lush green scenery. Hotel accommodations suit a range of tastes and budgets, from backpacker-friendly hostels to luxury hotels to spacious yoga retreat inns facing the jungle.

montezuma_beach_costa rica

Montezuma Beach, Costa Rica

  • Montezuma‘s serene natural beauty, mountainous backdrop, and cascading waterfalls paints a soft, colourful backdrop for this sleepy beach town. A free-spirited, bohemian village, a visit to Montezuma will welcome you with markets selling fresh organic food and locally handmade goods, mom-and-pop run shops, bars, and restaurants.
  • If you’re looking to kick it up a notch, head to Santa Teresa, the lively little beach town that gets up early and stays up late. Come for the surf, stay for the nightlife. Santa Teresa attracts a younger crowd, pro and non-pro surfers, live music fans, and many international DJs. It’s a great spot to people watch and meet travellers from around the world.
  • Tamarindo is a popular beach town and lively surf mecca with more modern, developed areas.
  • If you’ve ever wondered where the Ticos (locals) go on vacation in this tropical paradise, it’s here in Samara, a tranquil, unassuming escape from the world, where the pace slows down until nightfall, when the town comes alive.


Monteverde Cloud Forest

sunset over monteverde cloud forest costa rica

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Costa Rica

In the cool, misty altitudes of Costa Rica’s infamous cloud forest reserve, bridges hang suspended from canopy to canopy and range in height from 140 feet to 500 feet above ground. From here, you can look down and see Monteverde like one of its creature inhabitants. Explore as you wish; by foot, by zipline, or by canopy tram.


Arenal Volcano

squirrel monkey in arenal volcano costa rica

Curious squirrel monkey friend in Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica

The Arenal Volcano is one of the country’s six active volcanoes which erupts on almost a daily basis – and has for the last 50 years. Arenal had lay dormant for about 400 years and since 1968 curious visitors have flocked to this popular site. Hike to the base of the volcano and if you’re lucky, you’ll witness the spectacle of its bright fiery orangey lava flow in action. There are plenty of convenient nearby towns to stay at with amenities like shops and hotels, such as La Fortuna, located about 17 km from the volcano. And while you’re there check out the Fortuna Waterfall, about 6 km from the volcano. Go for a swim or just enjoy the view after the hike.


Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio National Park is located in a convenient and accessible region of the mid-Pacific coast. This famous park features picturesque palm tree-lined beaches, colourful lush rainforests and forestry, white sandy beaches, exotic wildlife and marked trails for hiking and exploring.


Tortuguero National Park

olive ridley turtles migrating in tortuguero costa rica

Turtle hatchlings migrating in Tortuguero, Costa Rica

Every year in Tortuguero National Park, about 30,000 turtles migrate to this turtle sanctuary to dig their nests into the beach and lay their eggs in the sand for safe keeping. Under the care and protection of the park, you can actually witness this phenomenon and watch these little turtles waddle up to the beach at night. Tortuguero National Park is also home to jaguars, monkeys, tapirs, three-toed sloths, and more.


San Jose

landscape of san jose costa rica

San Jose, Costa Rica

Soak in the culture of Costa Rica’s capital, San Jose, population of just over one million. Check out the museums, like the Museo del Oro Precolombino (Precolumbian Gold Museum) and stop by the Mercado Central (Central Market) for some shopping.



For those ready to open your heart, ignite your sense of adventure, and pursue your love for nature, find yourself in Costa Rica. Our Intrepid Group of brands have incredible and inspiring tours for every kind of traveller. For more information, contact a Flight Centre Travel Expert by connecting with us online, calling 1-877-967-5302, or visiting your closest Flight Centre store.