A recent study by an independent group in Britain declared Costa Rica to be the happiest place in the world; so why not throw on your board shorts, grab your binoculars and head out to this sundrenched slice of paradise where Pura Vida (Pure life) isn’t just a slogan, it’s a way of life.
Costa Rica translates as ‘rich coast’ and the country contains 5% of the world’s biodiversity. The country is a leader in conservation with 25% of land in the form of protected national parks. A dream world for animal enthusiasts and beach bums alike; Costa Rica’s diminutive size means that you can go from beach to jungle, Pacific to Caribbean, within a day.
One of the main ‘must do’ activities in Costa Rica is a zip line tour which involve flying through the jungle canopy whilst attached to thin wires. Monteverde is the epicentre of zip line tours although they can be found throughout the country. Not as heart-thumpingly scary as it sounds; a zipline tour is a great way to get a truly panoramic view of the beautiful Costa Rican Scenery. One of the highlights of my trip was looking down upon a rainbow while zip lining through the Monteverde Cloud forest and it is certainly something that no Costa Rican travel experience should be without.
There is, of course, another thing which keeps the visitors flocking to Costa Rica: surf. The country is one of the world’s finest surf destinations and is home to the longest left break in the world at Pavones (on the Pacific Coast, near the border with Panama). Consequently, many Costa Rica vacations have an oceanic bent. Numerous companies offer lessons and surf camps with some adding interesting twists and extras to the traditional formula: learn Spanish and Surf allows you to combine your surfing holiday with Spanish Immersion whilst Venus Surf Adventures run ‘Surf and Purify: Bikini Boot Camp’ holidays near that aforementioned left break. Safari Surf School is located in peaceful surfer's haven Nosara and provides packages to suit all budgets.
During my trip to Costa Rica the small town of Dominical was the place that impressed me most. Dominical is the archetypal beach paradise with just the perfect level of development: a cash point and doctors, but no MacDonalds or monstrous beach front hotels. Bamboo Yoga Play is located on the high street (well, only street) and offers a sanctuary to the arts: yoga fiends can practice their downward dogs in a gorgeous, open air studio whilst birds, butterflies and iguanas play outside the netting. Waterfall Villas is a romantic eco hotel located on the outskirts of Dominical and boasts of private waterfalls, a beautiful spa (top treatments include Bamboo Massage and Lava Stone Therapy) and gourmet, sugar free, cuisine.
Hotels in Costa Rica range from eco-fabulous beach shacks to unbridled luxury. The majority have a hippie luxe or ‘eco lodge’ feel in keeping with the ethos of the country. Ojo del Mar prides itself on sustainable, environmentally friendly building and aims to allow its guests to engage with nature and ‘reconnect to the essential’. The complex encompasses both jungle and beach and is located on the Osa Peninsula; often considered to be the country’s ‘last great wilderness’ and home to the staggeringly beautiful ‘Drake Bay’ which is believed to be the location of one of Sir Francis Drakes famous hidden treasures. Whilst staying in an authentic Tiki tent you can expect daily sightings of monkeys, sloths, macaws and toucans (in Costa Rica this isn’t just marketing speak – the amount of animals you will encounter on a day to day basis is staggering).
Here are some other great links I found to get you started on planning your Costa Rican getaway:
Beacon South America: specialists who will help you fulfil all your needs to ensure you have an unforgettable South American or Central American holiday
Costa Rica Attractions Discover the top five things to see in Costa Rica!
Samasati Described by American Way magazine as 'A Tropical Gem on the Caribbean Sea', Samasati is located near the reggae flavoured beach town of Puerto Viejo and provides daily yoga classes and the chance of a total escape.
Named by Forbes one of the top 10 most beautiful beaches in the world, stars such as Mel Gibson and Giselle Bundchen have built their own houses here on houses on Mal Pais beach.
Frank's Place is the oldest hotel in the area and one of the very few remaining 'tico' operating business. It is the hotel with the most capacity in the area (28 rooms) and is very popular with families, group of surfers and friends.
Azucar Restaurant is located inside the hotel and is run independently from the hotel. It is a meeting point for tourists and locals because it is located right at the center of everything, yet away from the hustle and bustle of the street making it an ideal place to have a relaxing lunch or dinner.
Vida Asana is a yoga retreat located on the beautiful beach of Playa Hermosa on the Pacific Coast.
Healing Arts Paradise is a comprehensive guide to everything body and soul related in Costa Rica.
Anamaya Resort is a boutique hotel which is also a Costa Rica yoga retreat centre.
Hacienda del Sol is another jungle sanctuary offering raw food workshops, detox cleanses and craniosacral therapy.
Ashtanga Yoga Costa Rica offers first class yoga from an Authorized KPJAYI teacher as well as yoga teacher training and is located in the capital city of San Jose.
Cano Divers run trips and Padi Courses at the incredibly bio-diverse Cano Island
Pirate Cove Hotel is a small hotel located in the beautiful Drake Bay.
Byblos Resort and Casino is located amid Capuchin Monkeys near Manuel Antionio National Park
Tango Mar is a hotel, spa and golf resort located on the Pacific Coast.
Costa Rican Trails provide guided tours and packages.
For more information check out www.malpaisbeach.com, for information on santa teresa and malpais hotels as well as costa rica vacation rental homes.
Small group bird/wildlife photo tours (4-8 persons) led by professional bird photographers to Central and South America for people who want to get the most out of an international tour at an economical price. Every tour is accompanied by one or more expert birding guides who find subjects for our photography. Photograph spectacular tropical birds while staying in preferred accommodations near the best locales for making images of a wide variety of different species.