Costa Rica is literally brimming with unforgettable destinations waiting to be explored. From beautiful beaches to rainforests and bubbling hot springs, the country has it all.
We at Adobe Rent a Car know the country inside and out. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite popular destinations in Costa Rica. This will help you decide the best places to visit and tours to take.
Speak with one of our professional bilingual agents for additional information when planning your itinerary. We’ll help you map the fastest and most scenic route and can even recommend great places to stay based on our customer’s reviews.
Visit our Adobe blog for additional travel tips about driving in Costa Rica, the best time to visit, what to bring, and much more.
The Pacific Coast
The Northwest Pacific Coast is popular for people flying into the Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport (LIR) in Liberia. It is home to several four- and five-star resorts such as the Four Seasons and J.W. Marriott.
This region is drier than anywhere else in the country. Lively beach towns dot the coast, including Tamarindo, Flamingo, Nosara, Samara, and several others. Surfing, sailing, sport fishing and adventure sports are the biggest draws.
Farther south on the Nicoya Peninsula are the scenic coastal towns of Santa Teresa, Mal Pais, and Montezuma. Wellness resorts offering yoga and surf retreats are numerous. The rugged and mountainous terrain of the peninsula’s southernmost tip makes it perfect for canopy and zipline tours, ATV adventures, and waterfall hikes.
Puntarenas is an old fishing village and maritime port, which today has become a regular stop for Cruise ships. It is also the launching point of several ocean-bound tours as well as passenger and vehicle ferries across the gulf to the Nicoya Peninsula. Most visitors to Costa Rica pass through Puntarenas on their way to other destinations missing out on what the city has to offer.
Puerto Azul Boutique Resort & Marina
Puerto Azul Boutique Resort & Marina is located on the peninsula between the Puerto Azul Marina and the open ocean. The resort is a quick 90-minute getaway from the capital city, San Jose. Guests will enjoy a private marina with boats available for rent, outdoor swimming pools, a gourmet restaurant, and top of the line amenities.
Central Pacific Coast
The Central Pacific Coast has been one of the best destinations in Costa Rica for decades. Jaco Beach is located just over one hour from the Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in San José. It’s known as Costa Rica’s original party town.
Professional sports fishermen come from around the globe to catch big-game species such as bill and sailfish, giant yellowfin tuna, and Mahi Mahi. Both Jaco and neighboring beach Playa Hermosa are visited year-round by professional surfers wishing to compete in the frequent international tournaments.
There are 28 national parks in Costa Rica, and Manuel Antonio is the most visited. In 2011 Forbes named Manuel Antonio National Park as one of the most beautiful in the world. Despite its small size, it offers a big variety of wild animals and birds. It is also home to three idyllic beaches. It is hailed as one of the best beach destinations in Costa Rica.
Hotel La Posada and Jungle
Hotel La Posada and Jungle is a clean and charming hotel next door to the park and a four-minute walk to the beach. Guests can enjoy an onsite swimming pool, restaurant, and bar. Birds and wildlife are often seen on the hotel property, enchanting visitors, and the staff alike.
South Pacific Coast
The farther south one travels in Costa Rica, the greener it gets. Dense and lush rainforest covers much of the land. And large portions of the coastline are a maze of winding rivers, estuaries, wetlands, and mangroves.
The idyllic beach towns of Dominical and Uvita are best known for their excellent surf and the exceptionally beautiful Marino Ballena National Park. At low tide, a nearly kilometer-long sandbar juts out into the Pacific. It forms a perfect whale’s tail shape that can be seen from space. Horseback riding, snorkeling, surfing classes, and canopy tour adventures are readily available and recommended.
Yabá Chiguí Lodge
Yabá Chiguí Lodge is a great option for travelers looking for a unique vacation experience. The lodge and bungalows were designed by architects specialized in Contemporary Tropical Architecture. Each is nestled in the jungle and designed to take in the natural beauty from every angle. Every detail is an experience, from the king size beds to the rainfall indoor and outdoor showers.
Guests are invited to a freshly made breakfast and use of the communal facilities, reception and dining hall, salt-water swimming pool, massage room, and gardens.
The Osa Peninsula on the southwest corner of the country is remote, wild, and astonishingly beautiful. For nature lovers it is the top “must visit” in Costa Rica.
On the northernmost flank of the peninsula is Drake Bay, named after the nefarious British Pirate, Sir Francis Drake. Legend has it that treasure stolen from the Spanish Main is buried somewhere in the area attracting history buffs and adventurers.
The quiet and idyllic bay can only be reached by plane or boat from the town of Sierpe. Sierpe is about a 1.5-hour boat ride inland from the coast passing through protected marshes and wetlands.
Drake Bay also borders the world-famous Corcovado National Park, which covers most of the Osa Peninsula. According to National Geographic, the park is “the most biologically intense area in the world when it comes to biodiversity.”
Among the thousands of bird, animal, and amphibian species are several endangered types. These include Tapirs, Jaguars, American Crocodiles, Giant Anteaters, and Harpy Eagles.
Costa Rica destinations in the interior of the country are just as geographically diverse as the coasts. Seven active volcanoes and hundreds of dormant ones adorn a chain of rugged mountains that dissect the country into two distinct hemispheres.
To the north, visitors will find the Miravalles, Rincon de la Vieja, and Tenorio volcanoes and national parks. Each is geographically unique. Rincón de la Vieja is known for its bubbling clay pots, fumaroles, hot spring rivers, and steam vents. Tenorio Volcano is renowned mostly for its Rio Celeste (Blue River), which is a startling turquoise color, the result of its unusual mineral content.
Rio Celeste Hideaway Hotel
The Rio Celeste Hideaway Hotel is ideally situated. It is close to all three national parks and offers adventure tours that keep all members of the family occupied. The hotel boasts a sparkling freeform pool, three hot Jacuzzis, and a swim-up bar. Each stand-alone villa looks out onto the gardens offering privacy, peacefulness, and full amenities. A gourmet restaurant serves traditional and international fare, and the game room provides fun for young and old.
In the central lowlands is the quaint town of La Fortuna and the iconic Arenal Volcano and National Park. The area offers some of the best Costa Rica hot springs to be found. La Fortuna and Arenal Volcano are perhaps the most frequented destinations by national and international tourists.
Just about every eco-tour or adventure can be booked around the volcano. These include river rafting, rappelling down waterfalls, canopy and aerial tram rides, nature excursions, hanging bridges, ziplining, ATV and bicycle tours, and so much more.
Visitors can even go sport fishing or sailing on the nearby Arenal Reservoir and Dam.
The Caribbean Coast
Last but certainly not least, is Costa Rica’s splendid Caribbean Coast. The lush and fertile lowlands are home to expansive banana and pineapple plantations, mysterious canals, and some of the most beautiful beaches around.
If you really want to know what “off the beaten path” means, you must visit the Tortuguero National Park on the Central Atlantic Coast. Visitors can only get there by boat or plane. And the boat ride option is by far the most recommended.
The town of Tortuguero is located on the wide and picturesque Tortuguero Canal. It is the gateway to the national park. Every year thousands of tourists, scientists, and ecologists come to the area to observe sea turtles.
The warm sands and scarcely populated coastline attract hordes of Green Sea and Leatherback turtles who come ashore to lay their eggs. It is also a great place to see wildlife attracted by the nesting activity. Exploring the watery canal system and jungle is another pastime. Rare marine animals such as otters and manatee can be spotted as well as hundreds of exotic bird species.
Far to the south near the border with Panama are some of Costa Rica’s most beautiful beaches and national marine parks. Puerto Viejo is the largest and most vibrant town. Its unique Afro Caribbean culture and dialect are music to the ears. And the world-famous Caribbean-inspired Creole cuisine is a huge draw.
The laid-back Caribbean vibe and culture combined with cool Reggae tunes make the Atlantic Coast a genuinely unique and worthwhile destination, especially if you want to stay awhile.
Caribbean Rentals Costa Rica
Caribbean Rentals Costa Rica is the answer to traveling independently while still enjoying luxury and comfort. They offer exclusive home rentals that can accommodate everything from couples to large groups. Guests can choose from an impressive menu of options. Each home is privately owned, beautifully orchestrated, and operated through Caribbean Rentals.
They offer customized all-inclusive packages, as well as individual tours, or just essential home rental services. It’s up to you to decide—an excellent option for travelers looking for something different.
Adventure tours – experience the top destinations in Costa Rica by boat
Bay Island Cruise
Some of Costa Rica’s most beautiful niche destinations are its islands. Bay Island Cruises, a Costa Rican-owned company, offers unforgettable day tours to several different destinations. These include the famous Isla Tortuga, where guests can snorkel over the offshore reefs or play on the white-sand beach.
Bay Island Cruises also offers tours to the historically significant San Lucas and Jesusita islands as well as sunset and night-time party cruises. One tour combines the mountainous cloud forests of Monteverde with a visit to beautiful Isla Tortuga.