What are the most beautiful Costa Rica must sees? And what are the best things to do in Costa Rica? With our 4-week road trip through Costa Rica an absolutely dream came true for us. For almost a month we could breathe the humid air of the deep green jungle and experience one Costa Rica must see after the other. From lonely hours in the rainforest, to the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, an impressive volcano and lots of crazy animals. Costa Rica has so many things to do that it was not easy for us to choose the right ones for our itinerary. You can find our tips and highlights for Costa Rica in the following list.
We are Sabrina and Andreas, two adventurous travelers who never miss an opportunity to discover the world. Whether by plane to distant countries or with our campervan Bruno, we just love to travel. We hope to give you helpful tips for your next trip on our blog.
Sabrina & Andreas Globetrotters, Travelers, Adventurers
#1 Bolita Rainforest Hostel
A hostel as Costa Rica must see and also on the first place? Yes, exactly! Because the Bolita Rainforest Hostel is not just any hostel but a very special one near one of the many beautiful national parks of Costa Rica and also directly in the middle of the lush green jungle.
One of the most beautiful national parks of Costa Rica is clearly the Corcovado National Park*. During our research about the park it became more and more clear that we had to go there. However, we were deterred by the horrendous prices of about 100 euros per person per day.
That’s about how much the entrance fee plus a (mandatory) guide costs per person. But we didn’t want to spend that money. That was really too much for us. Besides, after our experiences in the jungle of Sumatra, we find it much cooler to walk alone through the jungle.
Fortunately, I came across the Bolita Rainforest Hostel*, which is a perfect alternative to the Corcovado National Park. The hostel is located right on the border of Corcovado National Park and offers a total of 15 kilometers of trails on its property that can be walked for free and without a guide. The reviews showed that everything flora and fauna is represented there that we were hoping for from our visit to the jungle, and for only 30 Euro a night.
Bolita Rainforest Hostel in Costa Rica
- borders directly on the Corcovado National Park
- you will experience the flora & fauna of the park without the entrance fees
- hostel is located in the middle of the jungle
- from your rooms you look directly into the rainforest
- there are no other buildings or streets for miles around
- there are mango and avocado trees everywhere
If you prefer a guided tour through the Corcovado National Park you can book it at Get Your Guide*. The advantage of a guide is that you will not miss any animal and the guides usually have good telescopes and can tell you a lot of interesting facts about flora and fauna.
Read more about the Bolita Rainforest Hostel in our travel report:
#2 The Ficus Tree in Monteverde
Another must see in Costa Rica the ficus tree that you can climb through of the Monteverde region. You heard right: You don’t climb on the tree, but through the tree. This is possible because of the special shape of the tree trunk. The tree looks like a climbing facility in an adventure park. But it is real and completely natural.
At the bottom the tree is still quite wide and it is easy to get inside. The trunk is hollow inside and it looks like it is surrounded by huge wooden creepers. So it is also quite easy to climb up. It is like a big climbing scaffold. At the top at a height of about 50 meters, it is of course quite narrow. You can only fit through there by yourself. If you are agile enough, you can stick your head out of the top of the tree and look around. For every adventurous person (like me) an incredible experience and definitely a must-do in Monteverde!
➤ You can find the tree here on Google Maps.
Unfortunately you cannot access the ficus tree anymore in 2022. It is now on a private property.
#3 Tortuguero National Park
Tortuguero National Park covers approximately 20,000 hectares, was established in 1975, and is located in northeastern Costa Rica on the Caribbean coast. Its canal landscape, surrounded by dense rainforest, and oceanfront location make this place truly uniquely beautiful.
There is a diversity of plant and animal life here that can be found in few other spots in Costa Rica. About half of Costa Rica’s bird and reptile species live here. Sloths, iguanas, caimans, toucans, parrots, many species of monkeys, crocodiles, manatees and over 300 species of birds can be found here.
The village of Tortuguero is located on a narrow sandbank between the Caribbean Sea and the Rio Suerte, only 40 km from the Nicaraguan border. The village and the accommodations can only be reached by boat or plane. About 500 villagers live here mainly from fishing and of course tourism.
The reason for most tourists to come to Tortuguero is certainly the observation of turtles laying eggs. This is a unique spectacle that can be seen most months of the year at night on the beach of Tortuguero. Since a few years this is only possible with a certified guide. You are not allowed to take photos or video during this tour, for which you have to pay 25 USD, you are not allowed to use a flashlight and you have to be dressed in dark clothes. The turtles, despite the many tourists, should not be disturbed in the egg laying.
Here you can sunbathe on the beach and swim in the ocean in the afternoon and then walk a few meters over to the river side to watch the sun set behind the Rio Suerte. The best thing to do here is to take a tour with a guide* who can tell you a lot about the plants and animals of the national park.
If you want to know more about Tortuguero, then read our separate travel report:
#4 Manuel Antonio National Park
When it comes to Manuel Antonio National Park, we kept wondering whether we should visit it or not. The reviews on the net are often very negative regarding the mass of people. Far too many and loud tourists are supposed to overrun the park. We do not really want to go there. But we did and for us this is definitely a Cost Rica must see.
There were, despite low season, a larger number of tourists in the park. But the many animals, some of which could be seen right next to the paths, and the brilliant beaches have definitely compensated us for this.
Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the most famous national parks in all of Costa Rica. Here, the rainforest with its colorful wildlife combines with the pleasure of swimming on the white sandy beach. The infrastructure at the park and also in the adjacent town are well developed.
If you look at the reviews on Google, you always read about how crowded the park is by tourists. In the high season this may be the case, but in the low season and during the week you can spend a relaxing day in Manuel Antonio National Park. Even though we had doubts at the beginning, we did not regret the visit at all.
There were quite a few tourists there (and in high season there will be many more), but the number of animals you see in the park are definitely worth it. In no other park on our Costa Rica round trip have we seen so many (larger) animals so quickly and so close. In Manuel Antonio you also have the possibility to do a guided tour at night*. Here you get to see some other inhabitants of the parks and an insight into how a night in the jungle must feel.
If crowds don’t scare you and you want to see lots of animals, then you should definitely plan to visit this park on your Costa Rica road trip.
Read more about Manuel Antonio Park in Costa Rica in the following travelogue:
#5 Puerto Viejo
Puerto Viejo welcomed us with blue skies, sunshine, white beaches and a relaxed attitude towards life. You can definitely spend a few days here. After all, there is also a lot to see here. Nearby are two national parks, the Cahuita National Park and the Manzanillo National Park… one thing in advance. Although we were in Puerto Viejo for 5 days we didn’t manage to visit one of the parks. We were too much infected by the relaxed atmosphere and the idleness. Nevertheless, we were not completely idle.
Bicycles are one of the top means of transportation in the small Caribbean town. You can rent a well-maintained bike anywhere there for just under $5 and ride around. Since our hotel was just under 6 kilometers from the center of town, it was a good bit of riding, but with the cooling breeze in your face and the palm trees whizzing by, it was a great experience.
Puerto Viejo is a great place to surf, especially as a beginner. The numerous beaches in the area are also great for swimming. But the best thing to do here is just to relax The small town on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica simply has its own flair: quiet, relaxed, casual. Just Caribbean. A wonderful place to end a road trip through Costa Rica.
Need an itinerary for a 2 – 4 week road trip through Costa Rica? We wrote our own travelogue about our Costa Rica round trip with lots of important info and tips about our route and all the things we saw on the way:
In your opinion, are there places missing from the list of Costa Rica highlights? Which place would you add? Feel free to write us a comment.