Not Your Average Trip: 7 Costa Rican Attractions You’re Not Planning on… But Should

Catarata del Toro Costa Rica

You are here: Catarata del Toro, one of our favorite Costa Rican attractions | By Steve Jurvetson [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

We off-the-beaten-path kind of travelers are kindred spirits: We feel an intense need to infuse our travels with at least a few unique sights, authentic experiences, and no-one-else-did-that check lists. That’s just how we roll. Luckily, when it comes to Costa Rican attractions, we’ve been there, done that – we’ve both traipsed the tourist trail and forged our own path, zig-zagging the entire country in the process.

Along the way, we’ve discovered more than a few awesome destinations. And, no matter how many times it happens, we’re always surprised when we’re the only (or almost-only) ones there. How can so few want to hike this trail, or swim under this waterfall, or boat this canal? It’s a conundrum, but one we’re glad to be on this side of.

Mind you, we’re not talking about best-kept secrets; we’re staying firmly on the beaten (albeit sometime dirt-road) path, but taking you to a few less-common Costa Rican attractions that have climbed onto our favorites list. We won’t pretend we’re the first ones to make these recommendations, but we will encourage you to go. Like, really. If you can fit all seven into your trip, do it! We promise – your resulting Costa Rica travel tales will be like nothing like the same old stories other travelers tell!

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9 Costa Rican Foods You Simply Must Try

these Costa Rican foods are delicious

Ceviche and patacones (fried plantains) are two of our favorite Costa Rican foods! | By Soytavin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re anything like us, food is a big part of your travels. You love to taste new things. You look forward to trying new dishes. You view your destination through the lens – or, at least a lens – of food. And so, you’re looking forward to trying traditional Costa Rican foods: rice and beans, exotic fruit, and all the tropical drinks you can stomach.

Yep. We feel the same! That’s why we’ve tasted, sampled, sipped and enjoyed hundreds of Costa Rican foods, fruits, and traditional dishes – every day, every meal since we first arrived. Now it’s your turn. Here’s where we suggest you start:

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Only in Costa Rica: 5 Incredibly Cool Things to See & Experience

Tenorio Volcano waterfall

Only in Costa Rica: Rio Celeste. And yes, it’s as beautiful as it looks!

Costa Rica is a special place where dynamics flip-flop: the reality is greater than the expectation, and photos always pale in comparison to your real-life experiences. Indeed, there are so many things we could dub “only in Costa Rica” experiences, and yet we’ve done our best to narrow it down to just a few. Five, to be exact. At least, for now.

And sure, “only” might be a bit of a stretch, as you can experience some of these things in other parts of the world. But we challenge you to find all of them in one place, especially in a place as tiny as Costa Rica. Because here, you really can fit your entire bucket list into one vacation.

You could, although we bet you won’t want to; you’ll prefer to come back. And back. And back! Costa Rica is just that kind of place. To whit:

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Off the Beaten Path in Costa Rica: Guide to Rincón de la Vieja

Rincon de la Vieja Volcano

Costa Rica’s Rincón de la Vieja National Park is a favorite!

Known as the park with a watery skin and a fiery heart, Rincón de la Vieja National Park is one of Costa Rica’s steamiest and coolest attractions, in every sense of the words. Here, still-active volcanoes and boiling mud pots meet cold-water cascades and misty cloud forest – a startling and striking combination of many natural wonders, conveniently distilled into one awesome national park.

And yet, for all its delights, Rincón de la Vieja National Park remains one of Guanacaste’s best-kept secrets. On any given day, you’re likely to meet only a few other tourists at the park. The reason? Access. Located a hop, skip, and more than a few bumps up rustic gravel roads, Rincón de la Vieja is not the easiest drive in Costa Rica. But is it worth it? You bet.

Rincon de la Vieja National Park Overview:

Location: 17 miles northeast of Liberia; 62 miles (2 hours) northeast of Tamarindo

Founded: May 10, 1974

Maximum Altitude: 6,286 feet above sea level

Area: 34,908 acres (divided into two sectors: Las Pailas and Santa Maria)

Hours: Las Pailas: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday; Santa Maria: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday-Sunday

Telephone: 2666-5051

Entrance Fee: $15 adults / $5 children

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5 of the Best Waterfalls in Guanacaste

Llanos de Cortes is one of the best waterfalls in Guanacaste

Llanos de Cortes is considered one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Costa Rica, and is easily one of our picks for best waterfalls in Guanacaste

There are few simple pleasures more delicious than hiking to a deserted waterfall in the middle of paradise, peeling off your walking shoes, and then jumping into a cool, mountain-fed swimming hole. In fact, we love this simple pleasure so much that we make it practically our job to scope out the best waterfalls in Guanacaste, Costa Rica (and beyond). Hey, it’s a tough gig but someone’s got to do it!

After long days of arduous hard work, we’ve whittled this list down to five of our favorites, all within a few hours’ drive of Tamarindo. And now, if you’ll excuse us, we’re off to hike and swim more of the best waterfalls in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. As we said, it’s our job.

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Favorite Restaurants: The Best Pizza in Tamarindo

5 best pizza restaurants in Tamarindo

The best pizza in Tamarindo is cheesy, fresh-baked, homemade, and always hits the spot!

Bonnie and Clyde, gin and tonic, yin and yang – the world is full of perfect pairings. And here’s one more: pizza at the beach. We know from experience – there are few simpler and more delicious pleasures than diving into a perfect pie after a day with your toes in the sand and your feet in the Pacific. And that’s why we’ve rounded up a few more of our favorite restaurants, this time those offering the best pizza in Tamarindo.

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