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Where to watch American sports in Quepos?

Americans are big sports fans. Real fans can be so hardcore that a few are willing to give up traveling, dinner out or even some family time in order for them not to miss the game. This can make it challenging for parties to travel outside of the US since some restaurants and/or rentals don’t broadcast some important games. Well, you do not have to worry about that here in Quepos. Here are 3 places to watch major US sports games:

Double Hook

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This sports bar is located at the world-renowned Marina Pez Vela. Not only does it have a great view of the ocean for sunsets, it’s surrounded by many TVs so you don’t ever miss out on the action from any angle. In this spot you can find the majority of dishes that you would find at most American bars, like fried pickles, wings, quesadillas, chilli fries, etc.

Bar Jolly Roger

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The specialty of this bar, located in Manuel Antonio, are wings. There are over 20 different sauce flavors for you to choose from, all while enjoying the game in one of their 2 screens. Make sure to try their hot honey garlic or their troubadour sauces if you’re a fan of spicy. If you’re not a big fan of wings, they also serve burgers, pizza and some other grub. Make sure to try one of their signature drinks like their bohemian, a gin-based drink with strawberries and jalapeño peppers.

Bar El 506

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This dive bar in downtown Quepos is a favorite of the local expats. The deli food they serve is great with everything from pastrami sandwiches to home-smoked bacon BTLs. It’s a fully air-conditioned space and so you don’t have to worry about the tropical Costa Rican atmosphere making you sweat, leaving your focus only on the heat of the game.

Lastly, an event worth mentioning on this list and not to miss if you’re in Quepos for the Super Bowl. Marina Pez Vela always hosts a giant screen in the mid plaza for the big game. Chilli dogs, beer and other food is served in little stands placed around the marina.

It’s a great experience and a fun place to watch it as your background view is the many yachts and generally a sunset. You can sit under the stars or enjoy the game sitting from one of the 4 restaurants’ balconies.

Start packing your bags, now you have all the information you need not to miss any of your favorite team’s games.

What to do in Quepos/Manuel Antonio on a Pandemic Friday?

The pandemic has changed life for us all in many ways, from the way we travel to the way we shop and socialize. Since the pandemic started, Costa Rica has been working hard to prevent the spread of the disease from large vaccination campaigns (with so far 67.21% already vaccinated [1] ) to migration of certain services into online systems. Restrictions for driving and business operation times have also been imposed, currently restricting cars to drive one day during the weekdays and one of the weekend days, and for driving and places only being able to do so between 5am and 9pm. Driving restrictions do not apply for rental cars. So what do you do on a Friday now?

Don’t worry! There are still many things to do in the area that will allow you to enjoy the local scene, gorgeous views and overall beauty that makes Manuel Antonio the magnificent place that it is. Here are a few of our favorites places to hit this coming Friday:

Farmers Market

One of the nicest things to do on a Friday afternoon is to visit the local farmers market. It’s held in downtown Quepos and you can go as early as 3pm. Here you can spot many tropical fruits and vegetables that are endemic to Latin America, and the best, they taste incredible! Forget the bland flavors of the fruit you might have encountered back at home, here you can find the fruit freshly picked and naturally ripened, it will be like nothing you have ever tasted before.

The produce is available depending on the season, and so even when having visited the market before, you might encounter on your next visit a fruit or vegetable that you might have not tasted or even seen before.

There are many shops that sell products other than produce, like the Menonite stand that sells the traditional Pennsylvania-Dutch whoopie pies, apple pies, granola, goat milk’s yogurt and homemade peanut butter; the German butcher stand who sells grass-fed-hormone-free meats like ribeye, prosciutto and wursts, and you can even buy a freshly made German hot dog with horseradish mustard right from the butcher; the cheese stand that sells locally made cheese and many souvenir jewelry and clothes.

Make sure not to miss this experience and don’t worry if you can’t make it on Friday, it’s held until Saturday morning, but make sure to get there early so you don’t miss some of the stands who run out of product or leave earlier.

Cafe Agua Azul

This spot is worth visiting for either lunch or dinner. Our recommendation since the pandemic, is to go here for lunch. One, it’s less busy than their dinner service so you won’t risk not being sitted or having to wait too long (they do not take reservations) and two, you can spot the incredible view that the place has to offer and eat some of the best food in Manuel Antonio.

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Make sure to try their calamari appetizer, the tuna or shrimp tower or their delicious pollo napolitano.

If you’re not in the mood for food but some good drinks, make sure to try their amazing passion fruit margaritas or Paige’s monster drink. They also have happy hour specials so make sure to ask them for those.

Ape Bar

This chic and eclectic bar has an amazing atmosphere and even better food! It’s just a short walk from Café Agua Azul and so you can easily move from one place to another. Most Friday nights they have a DJ (or great music) and it’s open from 6pm on to 9pm (in non pandemic times it was 2am -oh the good old times!).

If you’re a fan of decadent yet affordable food, you are going to love this place! Make sure to try their cheese bourekas, vegetarian carpaccio, dolmas (rice stuffed grape leaves) or Moroccan cigars. All the dishes are designed for sharing so you can start with at least a few and go from there.

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Drinks here are also tasty and they have plenty of options, from top shelf whiskey to whiskey sours and delicious mojitos.

Yes, the pandemic has certainly made the nightlife of Manuel Antonio a bit slower and earlier but certainly not dull, there’s still plenty of cool fun things to do in town. Make sure to give these recommendations a try.

1 As of October 4th, 2021

The healthy food of Costa Rica

Did you know that Costa Rica has one of the blue zones of the world? If you’re not familiar with this term, blue zones are regions where people tend to live longer than the average. There are a total of 5 blue zones in the world, one of them is located in Nicoya, Costa Rica. Many factors influence this longevity in citizens, from the climate, to lifestyle to food.

Costa Rican food may not be known worldwide but the staple of our cuisine and the most traditional dishes we have, originated from the Guanacaste area, where our centenarians live. Their food consists of a lot of legumes, home grown vegetables like corn, green beans, and local leafy greens, a moderate amount of animal products and lots of fresh herbs like oregano and cilantro. When visiting Costa Rica make sure to try the gallo pinto, casados and tamales, all dishes ingrained in millenary culture.

Gallo Pinto

Freshness is always one thing that you can certainly count on when it comes to our cuisine. Many fruits that foreigners don’t like in their own country become a favorite of theirs when visiting Costa Rica. Papaya is a great example. Never say you don’t like papaya until you’ve tried a good ripe Costa Rican papaya, or the real sweetness of a picked-directly-from-the-tree Costa Rican mango. Our fruit is grown here for local consumption and has the opportunity to reach its ripeness in their local environment as opposed to the a lot of tropical fruit and vegetables that are shipped from our country out to different places in Europe and the US which, to help it make the long journeys, is send green and tends to taste like a bland version of the local one.

Costa Rica is a multicultural country, therefore we find influence from the many different cultures that have rooted here. Contrary to the Pacific side, our Caribbean side is predominantly influenced by Afro-descendants who came from Caribbean countries like Jamaica and Haiti. The food in this part of Costa Rica tends to be richer, with bolder flavors and spices like cumin, thyme and coconut. When you visit this part of the country, you must try the decadent rice and beans, Caribbean chicken and for a quick grub some pati or enyucados and -for those more daring foodies- make sure to try the locally-made hot sauce, you will love it.

Pati

Of course you can’t leave Costa Rica without trying ceviche. A perfect balance of local flavors combined for a simple yet delicious dish. The more traditional one is the fish ceviche but you can find ceviches made of shrimp, shellfish and even plantain.

Leaning into less traditional and more adventurous venues, Costa Rica serves food from many different parts of the world. Here in Manuel Antonio, for example, you can find Indian, Israeli, Thai, Italian, Japanese food and many more, not the typical Costa Rican cuisine but what makes those particular places wonderful is the fusion of their culture with the local produce and products that you can find here. In the need for many to bring flavors from their home here, they end up creating a new version influenced by the freshness and goodness of our country.

Ceviche

Not many places in the world are like Costa Rica. Make sure to try the local food, you won’t regret it!

5 Things You Have to Do When Visiting Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio is an incredibly dynamic destination that offers visitors a wide variety of activities, While famous for its beaches, Manuel Antonio is rich in landscapes and entertainment. Mountains, rivers, waterfalls, and rainforests offer visitors a myriad of options to have the vacation of their dreams, all in the same place. If you’re planning on vacationing in Manuel Antonio, be sure to do these 7 things to enjoy your trip to the fullest!

1. Snorkeling

The beaches in Manuel Antonio are some of the most beautiful in the world. White sand, turquoise waters, and lots of trees providing shade create the perfect setting for an afternoon stroll or sunbath. But one thing you can’t miss when visiting the beaches is snorkeling. No matter if you decide to book a tour or venture out yourself, the experience is guaranteed to be one of the best of your life. Our personal recommendation is to visit Playa Manuel Antonio,  situated inside the national park. The beach is set inside a cove with cliffs on either side and volcanic rock below the water; you’ll find that brightly colored fish and numerous other species are easy to spot near coral reefs.

2. Guided hike in Manuel Antonio Park

Hiking in Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the best things you can do when visiting the town. While going by yourself will surely be an exciting adventure, hiring a guide will enhance your experience to a league of its own. Guides have a great eye for wildlife spotting and know all the ins and outs of each species. Plus, the national park offers universal hiking trails with wheelchair access, signs in Braille, and fun vantage points with amazing views of the coastline. 

3. Sportfishing in the Marina Pez Vela

Manuel Antonio is one of the best destinations in Costa Rica to practise sport fishing. Quepos is known as the Billfish Capital of the World, so booking a sport fishing tour will guarantee you the affair of a lifetime. No matter if you’re a beginner or an expert angler, the amazing flatwater fishing on this side of the Pacific Coast will surely amaze you.  You’ll find plenty of options with well-equipped fishing boats that can take you on charters for half a day and even an entire week.  Don’t miss out on the fun!

4. Visit the Rainmaker Reserve

The Rainmaker is one of the must-see destinations in Manuel Antonio. This reserve offers hiking trails, hanging bridges, and platforms that meander through and hover over the lush rainforests. Filled with all types of wildlife, the hiking trails sprawl over 4 kilometers, reaching all the way to the ridgeline of the Fila Chonta mountain range. The pathway continues until you reach a lookout point and then drop into the canyon, and by the end, you’ll enjoy a refreshing plunge in the waterfall pool. The Rainmaker is also a project geared towards conservation, so your visit will contribute to the preservation of this natural beauty.

5. Parasailing

Not for the faint of heart! If you’re looking for adventure and adrenaline, then make sure you include a parasailing tour in your itinerary. There is no experience that can compare to flying 600 feet over Manuel Antonio’s coastline, and taking in some of the most impressive views you’ll ever lay your eyes on. One cool thing about parasailing in Manuel Antonio is that you get the chance to take off from the beach and not a boat, which makes the experience that much more thrilling!

Are you ready to experience the best of Manuel Antonio? Contact us to book your luxury vacation rental! 

Manuel Antonio National Park: Visitors’ Guide

Discover why Manuel Antonio is Costa Rica’s Most Popular National Park!

Situated in the Central Pacific Coast, Manuel Antonio is home to one of the world’s most beautiful national parks. This protected area garners more than 600,000 visitors every year who are looking for the ultimate tropical paradise: white sand, warm waters, and astounding natural landscapes.

The Manuel Antonio National Park spans over 1,983 hectares of land and 55,000 hectares of sea surface. Exuberant rainforests embedded between towering mountains meet the sea in a setting that is the home of more than 109 species of mammals and 352 species of birds. Universal hiking trails, paradisiac beaches, and myriad wildlife sightings characterize any visit to this conservation area. Continue reading to know what to expect when visiting the Manuel Antonio National Park.

Beaches at Manuel Antonio National Park

  • Playa Gemelas: This beautiful beach is called “Gemelas” which is the word for “twins” in Spanish. It is divided in the middle by a rocky formation that sprawls into the ocean, and due to the marine currents and the movement of the tectonic plates, Playa Gemela is unique in its kind as it never stops changing. 
  • Playa Manuel Antonio: Manuel Antonio Beach is perhaps the most beautiful beach in the conservation area. The reef and rocky formations on either side of the stretch of sand are ideal to snorkel and witness the richness in marine life. 
  • Playa Espadilla Sur: This beach is known for having a stronger tide which makes it the least visited of the national park. Nonetheless, it is still strikingly beautiful and perfect to sunbathe thanks to its width.

Lookout Points at Manuel Antonio National Park

  • Punta Catedral: This area of the national park was once an island. Nowadays, the accumulation of sediment has created a natural bridge of sand. Walking to Punta Catedral you’ll find three different vantage points that overlook neighboring islets. 
  • Punta Serrucho:  This lookout point is poised over a tectonic fault, and due to constant movements, the shape resembles a saw, which is the literal translation of the word “serrucho”. 
  • Puerto Escondido: This is one of the best lookout points of the park and showcases a lovely phenomenon during low tide. Head out here if you want to see the surrounding islets connected by natural sand bridges.

Other Attractions at Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio also features other bodies of water including the mangrove swamp and a small waterfall. The swamp is a combination of sweet and salty water that spans over 18 hectares and showcases three different species of halophytes. Moreover, the waterfall is a phenomenon that happens only during the green season. 

There is also a site called  “La Trampa” (The Trap) which can be found on the right side of Manuel Antonio Beach, next to Punta Catedral. Archeological remains form a circle that can be appreciated during low tide, which legend says was used by the indigenous people to capture fish.

Services at Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio offers universal trails with signs, which are easy to follow and enable children of all ages and people with disabilities to enjoy the beauty of the site. There are essential services like potable water, showers and dressing rooms,  and restrooms. Additionally, you can also hire the services of a tourist guide, and there are a few shops selling souvenirs, snacks, and even lockers.


Do you need help booking a tour to Manuel Antonio National Park? Book one of our vacation rentals and let us plan your dream vacation.

December is here!

December is here, and that means our summer season is just around the corner. As the Green season rains recede in the Quepos/Manuel Antonio area, the tropical sun takes over. Blue skies and warm breezes are a welcome daily occurrence, topped off with an array of picturesque sunsets. The surrounding rainforest is at its peak, lush and green, and colorful scarlet macaws and toucans grace the skyline. Down below, monkeys frolic while sloths hang out in high perches. The palm-studded Manuel Antonio beach hosts small groups of families, enjoying their surroundings responsibly, along with the usual assortment of surfers and sunbathers.

While there is of course no snow, nor roaring fires in fireplaces, Christmas is still a festive celebration in Costa Rica. A tropical Christmas has its own unique vibe– decorated cypress trees, home made tamales, and plenty of rompope (eggnog), all under the warm summer sun. While most years would see families thronging to the beach, this year is different and celebrations will be more at home with one’s own family bubble.

There is plenty of action off-shore as well. For the anglers, the recently concluded Marina Pez Vela open kicked off our 2021 fishing season. Numerous sailfish and blue marlin were caught and released, and plenty of mahi mahi and yellowfin tuna were reeled in and taken to local restaurants to be prepared and eaten. Next up is the Pelagic Rock Star tournament on January 16th and 17th, followed by the ladies only Pescadora tourney in February, as we thankfully put 2020 behind us and look to brighter days in the coming year.

If you have ever wanted to experience a Costa Rican Christmas celebration, flight prices are drastically reduced for this time of year. For families and groups we still have space in some of our luxury houses for the week of December 19-26. It is not too late to escape the cold dark days of the north and head down for some sunshine and a warm Costa Rica welcome. Feliz Navidad!

A November to Remember

It’s a November to remember! On November 1st, Costa Rica reopened to the world. Come enjoy our beautiful beaches, lush rainforests, and spectacular wildlife. Experience Costa Rica with your family or social bubble, in one of our luxurious, fully equipped private villas. Take advantage now of our discounted prices and come see why a vacation to Costa Rica is on the bucket list of travelers worldwide.

In addition to our villas in Manuel Antonio, we can arrange private transportation from and to the airport, private chef services and private tours, to ensure an amazing and secure experience. Now is the perfect time to leave the dark days of 2020 behind for our sunshine and blue skies. Costa Rica awaits you. We invite you to see for yourselves what Pura Vida is all about. 

Don’t forget to check the travel requirements and our FAQ section. And if you still need help from us please contact us, we are here to help you!

Costa Rica’s Best Waterfalls

When people ask me about Costa Rica they often ask for the best beaches, best ecolodges or most thriling ziplines. For some reason they rarely ask about the best waterfalls. Here is a stunning collection of waterfalls to be one of the country’s highlights.

Costa Rica’s rugged mountains and abundant rainfall create a geography that’s literally overflowing with rivers. By some estimates only New Zealand has more rivers per square kilometer. As water races down Costa Rica’s mountains on its way to the sea, it often leaps over sheer drop-offs, resulting in dozens of world-class waterfalls.

No matter where you go in Costa Rica, there’s a waterfall nearby. But seek out the very best and you’ll be glad you did. Some are great for swimming, others are famous for jumping. Others are simply drop-dead gorgeous. Some waterfalls are located on private land, others in national parks, but all have the power to transform you. The combination of thundering water, cool spray and lush vegetation washes away the outside world, placing you squarely in the moment and inducing a deep state of pura vida.

Rio Celeste

That’s not Photoshop—the Rio Celeste really is that blue. According to local legend, when God finished painting the sky he dipped his brush in the Rio Celeste. Or maybe it’s all those aluminosilicates that naturally occur in the water. Quien sabe, mae? Thanks to social media Rio Celeste is no longer a secret, but its remote location in Tenorio National Park helps keep down the crowds. The waterfall is reached via a 1.5-km (1-mile) hiking trail, so plan on spending at least half a day in the park. Although tour companies run day trips from Arenal, I prefer spending the night at one of the wonderful ecolodges just outside the park. Note: The river often loses its brilliant blue color during the rainy season when the water runs muddy, so it’s best to visit during the driest months (Jan – March).

Nauyaca

Located a short drive from the Pacific beach town of Dominical, Nauyaca is one of the biggest waterfalls in Costa Rica. Divided into two stunning tiers, it tumbles down 65 meters (215 feet) into a large pool that’s perfect for swimming. Guided horseback tours of Nauyaca are offered by the local family that owns the surrounding property. Some guides thrill in swan diving off the tall ledges. Mere mortals should stick to the pool at the waterfall’s base.

Llanos de Cortes

Llanos de Cortés is a broad curtain of water that tumbles into a large, shallow pool. Although big, it’s more delicate than powerful, with silky ribbons of water flowing over hanging plants. Located just 22 km (13.7 miles) east of Liberia, it makes a terrific day trip if you’re looking to escape the clutter of downtown. The turnoff, marked by a small wooden sign, is located about 4 km (2.5 miles) west of Bagaces on Highway 1 (The Inter-American Highway). From the turnoff, head 600 meters down the road, turn right at a small gate and drive five minutes to the large parking area. Admission, which benefits the local school, is $2 per person.

Montezuma

Most of Costa Rica’s famous waterfalls are tucked away in the mountains, but this three-tiered stunner is just a short stroll from the mellow beach town of Montezuma. The waterfall’s lowest tier is the most accessible. To get there walk west on the main road from downtown Montezuma, and after about 10 minutes you’ll cross a short bridge in front of La Cascada Restaurant/Hotel. Just past the bridge a rocky trail heads to the base of the waterfall. If you’d like to reach the waterfall’s upper tiers, you have two options. The first, and most dangerous, is to follow the rugged path set back from the base of the waterfall. A better option is to head to Sun Trails, located up a steep hill just west of the parking area. Sun Trails charges a ₡2,000 entrance fee at the front desk to access their well-maintained trail system, which leads to the top of the waterfall. Although people do jump from the upper tiers, it’s definitely not for the faint of heart.

La Fortuna

This 70-meter (230-foot) waterfall, located just 5 km (3 miles) from downtown La Fortuna, is one of the most dramatic waterfalls in Costa Rica. From the entrance ($10 per person, all proceeds go to the town of La Fortuna), a steep trail descends nearly 600 meters (1,969 feet) to the base of the waterfall, a hike that takes 10–20 minutes depending on your fitness level. There are two observation platforms overlooking the waterfall, and swimmers can take a dip in the lovely, chilly pool. From the lower observation platform a short trail heads to a series of smaller, calmer pools located downstream. During peak season the waterfall can attract over 1,000 people per day, so visit early or late to avoid the crowds. Open 8am–5pm. Note: A free swimming hole, popular with locals, is located just below the bridge crossing the Río Fortuna, just south of the turnoff to the waterfall on the main road.

La Paz Waterfall Gardens

This privately owned property features 5 waterfalls, 3.5 km (2.2 miles) of hiking trails and a large wildlife refuge filled with over 100 Costa Rican species. A long descending trail heads from waterfall to waterfall, and guided tours are available. Located just 30 km (18.6 miles) north of Alajuela, the La Paz Waterfall Gardens makes a wonderful day trip if you’re looking to get out of the urban jungle and visit the real one. It’s also great after a morning trip to Poás Volcano, which is located nearby.

Osa Peninsula The most biologically intense place on Earth

Costa Rica has long been renowned for its incredible biodiversity; a small, yet environmentally rich country that is home to over 5% of the entire world’s animal and plant species. Lying along its south-western coast is the Osa Peninsula, a tiny strip of land measuring just 35 miles long and 20 miles wide and covered in magnificent, unspoiled rainforest. The Osa Peninsula is itself home to half of all the species in Costa Rica, that’s a staggering 2.5% of the entire biodiversity of the planet, living on a mere 0.00000085% of the earth’s total surface area.

Formed geologically by the same faulting system that extends to California, this patch of Costa Rica’s last remaining tropical humid rainforest embraces a complex system of freshwater and marine systems; there are 13 major ecosystems, ranging from sea level to 745 metres and encompassing mangroves, sandy beaches and elevated primary forests. As a result, the Osa Peninsula is home to over 700 species of trees, which is more than all the North temperate regions of the world combined. Trees that are comparable in grandeur to the best that the Amazon Basin and the South East Asian forests have to offer, with 80 endemic species and the largest tree in Central America, a giant Silk Cotton tree some 77 metres tall.

There are 117 species of reptiles and amphibians, 365 species of birds and over 120 species of mammals, (all with varying degrees of endemism). Its forests are home to endangered species such as Baird’s tapir, the white-lipped peccary, the American crocodile, the harpy eagle and the Central American squirrel monkey. It’s a place where jaguars still roam the jungles, scarlet macaws fly freely about the town and the enormous humpbacked whales swim close to its shores. The Osa Peninsula holds possibly the highest natural diversity on the planet, inspiring The National Geographic magazine to describe it as “the most biologically intense place on earth”.

Protecting this unspoilt wilderness

At least half of its rainforest and swamps are protected by Corcovado National Park and numerous private reserves, yet sadly, like the majority of the world’s most delicate ecosystems it is under threat. In addition to the challenges posed by climate change on delicate bio-systems, there are also the added threats of poaching and unregulated construction in an area that lacks adequate infrastructure to deal with the resultant rubbish, wastewater and sewage.

The good news for its future is that it also home to an active and committed community who work tirelessly to counter the negative effects of human impact. In addition to the establishment of recycling programmes and supporting the role of local producers, the Osa community also provides strong opposition to any proposals that might cause further damage to this fragile ecosystem. It is with some irony that tourism is also playing a major role in the protection of the Osa Peninsular. Many hotels and businesses are adhering to the standards set out by the Certificate for Sustainable Tourism and have even bought tracts of land with the sole aim of increasing the protected forest land

As a result, there is genuine hope that the Osa Peninsular will remain a beautifully wild and unspoilt wilderness; a unique and quite beautiful oasis in an increasingly over populated planet, a place where animals can roam freely with little or no fear of their human neighbours.

30 Photos That Will Make You Wish You Were In Costa Rica Right Now

How many of your vacatiosn days did you use in the last year? If you live in the United States, chances are the answer to that question is somewhere around half of them. Which means you could be taking paid time off to hang out in Costa Rica right now.

And Costa Rica is a pretty sweet place to be, whether you go for its unrivaled ecotourism opportunities, from watching sea turtles nest to ziplining through the rain forest; its 1,000 miles of coastline on both the Pacific and the Caribbean, and the spectacular beaches and surf that go along with it; or its 50 national parks, representing the nation’s unprecedented commitment to preservation and protecting a full 5% of the world’s biodiversity.

Not that anyone really needs convincing, but here are 30 images of Costa Rica that will inspire you to take your vacation time and put it to better use in the months to come. Here’s to restoring our work-life balance, one epic trip at a time.


RED-EYED TREE FROG

Costa Rica is small, just under 20,000 square miles—about the size of two Vermonts. And yet, this country that accounts for just .1% of Earth’s land area harbors 5% of its biodiversity. Costa Rica’s tropical mountain chains, rain forests, and various islands are home to species both highly endangered and more common, such as the red-eyed tree frog seen above.


CHOOSE YOUR OWN BEACH

Bordered by the Pacific to the west and the Caribbean to the east, Costa Rica has no shortage of beaches. The best part is that, no matter what time of year you visit, if conditions on one coast are less than ideal, all you have to do is travel a few dozen miles overland to access a completely different white-sand paradise.


CAÑO ISLAND BIOLOGICAL RESERVE

Caño Island Biological Reserve, just one of the country’s dozens of protected areas, is located off the Osa Peninsula in southwestern Costa Rica. If you’re into marine life and top-notch diving / snorkeling, this is where you should be.


ARENAL VOLCANO

Of Costa Rica’s 14 volcanoes, Arenal is probably the best known thanks to its near perfect pyramidal shape. The national park that surrounds it shares its name and is located a short drive north of the capital San José.


EMPEROR BUTTERFLY

The Emperor butterfly is common in Central America and can grow to have a wingspan of nearly 8 inches. Its iridescent coloration brightens the forests of Costa Rica.


SURF AT PLAYA AVELLANA

Thanks to its dual coasts and favorable features / conditions, Costa Rica has long been a surf destination. Pictured above is Playa Avellana, located on the Nicoya Peninsula. Its waves tend to be mellower than those of the popular Playa Negra farther south.


MANUEL ANTONIO NATIONAL PARK

Near the Pacific town of Quepos, Manuel Antonio draws lots of visitors for its mix of pristine jungle and palm-bordered beaches. Punta Catedral, the point you see in the distance above, is accessed via hiking trails.


THREE-TOED SLOTH

One of Costa Rica’s most iconic creatures, the three-toed sloth lives in the trees but is also a capable swimmer. Near Puerto Limón, you can arrange a boat tour for a chance of seeing this beloved animal in its jungle home.


FLOWER AT DRAKE BAY

Costa Rica’s biodiversity includes flora as well as fauna, of course. The colors and forms of plant life here are hard to match.


HAMMERHEAD, COCOS ISLAND NATIONAL PARK

Cocos sits 340 miles southwest of mainland Costa Rica (about halfway to the Galápagos) and is an uninhabited national park. If you manage to make it out here, you’ve probably done so for the diving—some of the best in the world.


BAJOS DEL TORO

Bajos del Toro is a private reserve, just north of San José, where this waterfall plunges 300 feet from a hole in the cliff face to the bottom of an extinct volcanic crater.


SUNSET, PLAYA HERMOSA

Guanacaste’s Playa Hermosa remains a laid-back alternative to some of the more popular beaches nearby. Find it just south of Culebra Bay on the north Pacific coast.


MANGROVE BLACK HAWK, PALO VERDE NATIONAL PARK

Palo Verde National Park is set in the valley of the Tempisque River in northwestern Costa Rica, protecting ecologically significant dry forests as well as mangroves along the river. It’s a great place to see birds, from macaws to ibis to wood storks, as well as the mangrove black hawk, pictured above.


SARCHÍ OXCART PAINTER

On the northern outskirts of San José, set in the foothills that lead up to the Poás Volcano, the town of Sarchí preserves traditional Costa Rican crafts. Chief among them is the oxcart, elaborately painted carriages that were once used to transport highland coffee to port.


WHALE WATCHING, CAÑO ISLAND

The coast around the Osa Peninsula, where Caño Island lies, sees multiple whale migrations each year, giving it one of the longest whale-watching seasons anywhere in the world.


POISON DART FROG

If you need evidence of Costa Rica’s tremendous biodiversity, consider this: The nation is home to 133 known species of frog, many of which are endemic. This poison dart frog was photographed in the rainforests of the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, near the border with Panama.


MONTEVERDE CLOUD FOREST ZIPLINE

Costa Rica’s forests are nearly as diverse as the creatures that live within them. Blanketing the lower reaches of the Tilarán Mountains in the northwest, the Monteverde Cloud Forest stands in near perpetual mist and harbors an extraordinary abundance and diversity of life. Its unique topography and wildlife attracts many tourists, who can choose from a variety of ecotourism excursions and adventure activities such as ziplining through the forest canopy.


CACAO PODS

If you’ve ever wondered exactly where chocolate comes from, you can find out in Costa Rica. The country’s indigenous people were trading in cacao long before Europeans arrived, and today many operations continue to produce high-quality chocolate from local beans.


BRIBRI CHILDREN

The Bribri are one such indigenous people, residing in Costa Rica’s Limón Province. Multiple organizations can arrange voluntourism trips to Bribri communities, where you can learn firsthand about their traditional beliefs and practices.


NOSARA SURF

Nosara, a small city located on the mountainous Nicoya Peninsula, abuts some pretty awesome Pacific surf.


LEATHERBACK TURTLE

Both of Costa Rica’s coasts provide vital nesting grounds for endangered populations of sea turtles. Tortuguero National Park, on the Caribbean north of Limón, is recognized as a world leader in turtle conservation and study.


RAFTING THE PACUARE

You can have fun on the water away from the coasts as well. The Río Pacuare flows for some 70 miles from the highlands east of San José to the Caribbean just south of Tortuguero National Park, creating some excellent whitewater along the way.


TOUCAN

Few animals scream “tropical paradise” as loudly as the toucan. The bird above was photographed at the La Paz Waterfall, north of San José on Highway 126.


LIFE BELOW THE PACIFIC

The abundance of wildlife below the waves is nearly as impressive as that above, which makes Costa Rica one of the world’s premier destinations for diving and snorkeling.


SANTA ROSA NATIONAL PARK

Costa Rica’s oldest national park (established in 1971) covers the peninsula that forms the northern boundary of the Gulf of Papagayo, in Guanacaste province. Originally created to protect the site of a military battle, the park also contains a wide range of habitats and wildlife.


CAHUITA NATIONAL PARK

Cahuita mainly draws tourists with its excellent reef diving / snorkeling and sea turtle nesting grounds, but its land-based attractions, which include wildlife such as tree sloths, eyelash vipers, and capuchin monkeys, also make it worth a visit.


SANTA TERESA BEACH

Near the tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, just north of the Cabo Blanco Natural Reserve, you’ll find this beach, which epitomizes everything that makes Costa Rica’s shores so great.


POÁS VOLCANO

Arenal might strike a nice pose from a distance, but you’ll want to look Poás right in its face. In the national park of the same name, you can follow a mile-long (round trip) paved trail to the top of the volcanic crater and peer down over eerily colored lagoons.


WELCOME!

Costa Rica’s pioneering decision to set aside more than 25% of its territory as protected area rather than develop it means that tourism is a vital component of the national economy. Unlike in other countries around the world, where the effects of tourism are more dubious, Costa Ricans know your visit is helping enable them to preserve their unparalleled natural wonders. You will be welcome here.


SUNDOWNER

No matter where you are in Costa Rica, an epic beachside sunset over the Pacific is just a short drive away. Sure beats wasting your vacation days in the office, doesn’t it?