Pope&Sons | Worldwide Luxury Travel

Holidays to Costa Rica for 2017

Three-toed Sloth

An introduction to holidays to Costa Rica for 2017

Small but beautiful, Costa Rica boasts a dramatic landscape that’s rich in natural wonders and biodiversity, making it perfect for family and also adventure holidays. With British Airways flying direct to San Jose in May, it is also more accessible.

You will find rugged mountains, wild rainforests, steep river valleys, open savannas, and chilly cloud forests, not to mention vast stretches of pristine Pacific and Caribbean coastline. These diverse ecosystems serve as home to a staggering amount of wildlife—from red-eyed tree frogs to scarlet macaws to howler monkeys—and attract visitors of all kinds, including families, adventure-seekers, and luxury travellers.

Costa Rica is a friendly, peaceful nation (it abolished its army in 1948) that goes to great lengths to preserve and protect its prolific natural beauty. In addition to fabulous national parks and nature reserves is a stellar selection of eco-lodges and boutique hotels—some world-renowned. Visitors will love the diverse array of outdoor experiences on offer: Raft raging rivers, explore lush forests, scale volcanoes, zip-line through treetops, or watch nesting marine turtles. There’s scuba diving, fishing, and plenty of palm-lined, white-sand beaches for relaxing (hermit crabs may be your sole companions on some). Experience “pura vida,” the Costa Rican phrase you’ll hear time and time again that serves as a reminder to celebrate the good things in life.

San José 

Founded in 1738 and declared Costa Rica’s capital in 1823, San José is a friendly, cosmopolitan city thSan Jose Costa Ricaat’s nestled in the Central Valley and surrounded by lush mountains and tall volcanoes, some active. It’s the nation’s cultural and political hub and nearly half of the country’s population calls it and the suburbs around it home. Known locally as “Chepe,” San José started out as a small village with fertile soils; the introduction of coffee transformed it into a prominent urban center. (Historic factoid: It was the third city in the world to use electric energy, after New York and Paris.) Most visitors to San José head downtown to explore the pedestrian-only Avenida Central and Plaza de la Cultura, a perfect peoplewatching spot that is home to cafés, flower shops, the National Theater (one of the capital’s finest historic buildings), and the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum, which houses a collection of ancient gold artifacts. The city boasts a nice assortment of restaurants and bars and a vibrant nightlife, too. It’s also an excellent base for exploring the Central Valley; nearby sit rainforests, coffee plantations, zip-lines, and rivers for whitewater rafting.

Tortuguero National Park 

La Fortuna Waterfall Distant ViewTucked along Costa Rica’s north-eastern Caribbean coast, Tortuguero National Park was established in the mid-seventies to protect green, hawksbill, loggerhead, and leatherback turtles, which nest in the area at different times from March through October. Accessible by boat or air only, the remote park is approximately 770 square kilometres (300 square miles) and boasts myriad habitats, from rainforests and mangrove swamps to beaches and lagoons. There’s tons of wildlife, too. Rivers are home to manatees, caimans, and crocodiles. Forests hide jaguars, three-toed sloths, lizards, and three of Costa Rica’s four monkey species. Birds include kingfishers, toucans, herons, parrots, and more than 300 other species. Although Tortuguero is the third-most visited park in the country, services are limited. Area accommodations (which are typically accessible by boat via a series of canals) are often pleasant but rustic and designed to minimize impact on the environment.

La Fortuna & Arenal Volcano 

For approximately 40 years, Arenal erupted near-daily, making it Costa Rica’s most active volcano. It has been dormant since 2010, but the area around it and the nearby town of La Fortuna still buzzes with activity. Adventurous travellers set out for this region of northern Costa Rica to hike stunning rainforests with hanging bridges, sky-blue waterfalls, and fascinating caves. They raft river rapids, horseback ride, zip-line through the jungle, and relax in natural hot springs. The town of La Fortuna itself is a great spot for delicious meals and vibrant nightlight where you can salsa the night away.

Monteverde 

In English, “Monteverde” means “green mountain” and is an apt way to describe this rugged, beautiful area, which sits atop Costa Rica’s continental divide and boasts cloud forests, rain forests, and high altitude coffee farms. Eco-tourism has grown exponentially here since the 1950s when local Quaker dairy farmers took note of the region’s abundant biodiversity and with the aid of ecologists established the Monteverde and Santa Elena cloud forest reserves. Today, visitors to this region will find misty forests filled giant trees draped in bromeliads and ferns, rare and wonderful birds like the resplendent quetzal, five cat species, more than two dozen types of hummingbirds, and an endless array of other plant, animal, and insect species. Zip-lines (some of the longest in the country) and hanging bridges (originally created for research purposes) are an excellent way to experience the region from above. Visitors can also enjoy peaceful walks, night hikes, coffee tours, and frog and hummingbird exhibits. The main town in the region, Santa Elena, offers myriad dining options.

Manuel Antonio 

Located in Costa Rica’s central Pacific region, Manuel Antonio is one of the country’s smallest and most popular national parks, attracting thousands of visitors each year. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, its rich, green rainforests blanket the hillsides of a craggy coastline that boasts white-sand beaches (some of Costa Rica’s finest) and small, rocky islands. It’s a particularly dramatic scene at sunset. Squirrel, howler, and white-faced monkeys live here, as do sloths, coatis, raccoons, iguanas, and myriad bird species. Manuel Antonio is a unique destination that offers a bit of everything: luxury accommodations, top notch restaurants, and plenty of opportunity for adventure, from sport fishing to hiking to snorkelling. Just a 3.5-hour drive from San José, it is easily added to an itinerary with other popular destinations, too.

Papagayo Peninsula 

fourseasoncostaricaLocated on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast and boasting dramatic bluffs, small coves and inlets, tropical forests, and plenty of pretty beaches, this narrow peninsula has become one of Costa Rica’s top luxury destinations. Here, visitors will find upscale private residences and resorts such as the Four Seasons, Occidental Allegro, Hilton, Andaz Peninsula, and El Mangroove, all of which tout high-end services and plenty of privacy. Visitors to the peninsula fish, play golf (excellent courses are on offer), scuba dive, snorkel, and explore nearby national parks. 

Punta Islita 

Gorgeous, secluded, and great for families, Nicoya Peninsula’s Punta Islita area comprises a rugged beach cove (head here for tidal pools and spectacular sunsets), mangrove swamps, and hiking trails, where those with a keen eye may spot howler monkeys and myriad bird species. At certain times of the year, sea turtles nest in the area, as well. The picturesque town located here is well worth a stroll, particularly if you’re interested in learning more about local art and culture.

Playa Ostional 

Part of the Ostional Wildlife Refuge, Playa Ostional is one of the world’s most important nesting sites for the endangered olive ridley sea turtle. These turtles nest here year-round, though numbers spike during the rainy season—from July to November—when hundreds of thousands of animals come to nest before each month’s new moon (these mass arrivals are called “arribadas”). In November 1995, a record 500,000 turtles reportedly laid eggs. Surprisingly, the harvesting of turtle eggs at Playa Ostional is legal and plays a part in a local sustainability project. Since most eggs laid during the first few nights of an arribada are trampled by subsequent waves of nesting turtles, the Costa Rican government allows the Ostional community to harvest the doomed eggs that are laid at the start. In return, villagers protect the turtles by keeping beaches clean and poachers at bay.

South Pacific/Osa Peninsula 

Osa PeninsulaIt is often hailed as the most pristine, picturesque, and perfect spot in Costa Rica. National Geographic magazine described it as “the most biologically intense place on earth.” It’s certainly remote. The Osa Peninsula is located on Costa Rica’s south Pacific coast and is an unforgettable destination. Here, intrepid travellers will find the Corcovado National Park, Central America’s largest virgin lowland rainforest. The park blankets a third of the peninsula and boasts some of the country’s most breath taking scenery and most abundant wildlife, including four species of monkeys, two- and three toed sloths, scarlet macaws, poison-dart frogs, and jaguars. The peninsula has two sides: the dramatic and wild Pacific side and the Golfo Dulce side, which is one of only three tropical fjords in the world and home to humpback whales and dolphins. Puerto Jiménez is the main town on Osa and comprises just a handful of streets. In the sixties, it was a draw for gold miners and loggers; today, it serves as the principal access to the peninsula.

If you would like to discuss our holidays to Costa Rica for 2017 then please get in touch on 01926 658797 or escape@popeandsons.co.uk.

 

 

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