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Costa Rica

Costa Rica: An Insider Guide

Guanacaste, sunset, travel
Beautiful nature experiences, rich wildlife and miles of beaches. Rikke Bank Egeberg gives her best insider tips for scenic Costa Rica.
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Costa Rica: An Insider Guide is written by Rikke Bank Egeberg.

Costa Rica, Monteverde, bridge, rainforest, travel

Experience scenic Costa Rica

Are you into wild nature experiences and monkeys waking you up in the morning? So is beautiful Costa Rica and obvious holiday destination. The country is in many ways a pioneer in terms of wind energy and nature conservation. As much as 25% of the country is protected and is today made into national parks. Here's what you should experience in Costa Rica. 

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Building, Costa Rica, San José, travel

First stop is San José

Most arrive in San José and spend a few days here recovering from their jet lag. Use the time to explore the Gold Museum and the National Museum with the pre-Columbian artefacts in the center to get a little insight into Costa Rican culture.

I would recommend staying in the Escalante area - especially if you are one foodieBut having said that, San José is not very fascinating. Off to reggae and beach country on the east coast. 

From San José to the Caribbean coast

With its 212 km of coastline, there are plenty of beautiful beaches to explore. Here I would recommend having a base in the town of Puerto Viejo, from where one can go on countless bike rides to the surrounding beaches. In Puerto Viejo you will find a lot of 'ticos', as the locals are called, along with backpackers, surfers and street art.

Tip: Rent a bike and go on a day trip to Punta Uva. Here you drive with the beach on one side and the jungle on the other in a beautiful subtropical climate. 

Tortuguero, birds, travel

River safaris and sea turtles in Costa Rica 

Now that you are on the east coast and are well relaxed after a few days in Puerto Viejo, I can recommend going on a river safari in Tortuguero. The area is reminiscent in many ways Amazonas with its rich wildlife.

Between July and October you can experience the huge sea turtles laying eggs here. You can only get to Tortuguero by plane or boat, but it is worth the whole experience. The boat trip itself is incredibly beautiful. 

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Costa Rica, Arenal, volcano, travel

From the subtropical climate to the highlands 

Although Costa Rica is only slightly larger than Denmark, it is impressive how the climate is changing from province to province. Puntarenas and Alajuela are both rainforest provinces. In Alajuela you can experience the majestic volcano Arenal with its hot springs. A perfect relaxation after a day on the go on either a hiking, mountain biking or zipline ride. 

In Puntarenas you will find Monteverde. Here you really get into the very special foggy forest that Costa Rica is world famous for. Monteverde is a real slaraffenland for extreme athletes. Here you should visit the city's insect and reptile museum. Warning: There are an insane number of snake and spider species in Costa Rica!

If you are also one of the brave, then of course there is also the opportunity for one night safari. I have been told that many of the creeps in the forest are luminescent. I nicely said no thank you. However, Tree House Restaurant was a place I dared to approach in the evening. Definitely worth a visit and feel free to book a table in advance.

Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio, beach, travel

Long-fingered fur animals

Manuel Antonio is another of the scenic national parks. This park is also a must on the trip to Costa Rica. My best advice is to bring as little as possible - and only something you would not be sad to lose. Here are many furry pickpockets… The raccoons and monkeys on the beaches are not shy of people and they are not pale to bite your objects. They are especially fond of packed lunches, and for the same reason, it is strictly forbidden to bring food into the park.

If necessary, eat a large breakfast before moving into the park if you want to be sure to be full all day. Here you have a unique opportunity to taste the typical Costa Rican breakfast plate. Gallo Pinto is a wonderful composition of rice, beans with fried banana, sausage and white cheese. If necessary, add a little Salsa Lizano, then it's just before you can call yourself tico

Corcovado National Park in Costa Rica

If nature is what you have come for in Costa Rica, then you will simply have to visit Corcovado. It is located in the southwestern part of the country and borders Panama.

The peninsula is called Península de Osa and is worth all the transport hours. Both on land and at sea there is something to experience, as there are also many whales and sharks in this area. On the beaches, it is not uncommon to meet tapirs on his walk. Many boutique hotels have been built here, which can be recommended as accommodation. 

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Guanacaste, sunset, travel

Howdy, Guanacaste 

Guanacaste is located in the northwestern province, which typically attracts surfers, backpackers and those who want to play golf. To me, Guanacaste is the province most reminiscent of Texas - in other words, a really proud cowboy province. You experience this best when you visit the cities inland. As a tourist, however, you often stay by the coast.

If the opportunity arises, you should visit a coffee farm in this area so you can feel the rural idyll. Ask on the same occasion if you may hear 'el grito'. Then you should probably get a special experience of the local culture, a good talk about community and being from Guanacaste. 

Santa Teresa, beach, travel

Surfer Paradise in Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa is surfers paradise with its long, wide beaches. A general tip is that wherever you are on the entire west coast, remember to go down to the beach and watch the sunset if you can. It is balm for the soul beyond the ordinary.

Santa Teresa is a small town and although it is beautifully located, I would only recommend it if you are willing to go far for good surfing.

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Playa Samara and Playa Carillo 

Playa Samara is a small beach town with good bus connection to Nicoya. A beautiful city that is also used a lot by the locals, and which has a nice relaxed atmosphere outside of many noisy tourists. Rent a couple of bikes and go to Playa Carrillo - a hidden paradise for tourists five kilometers away. There is not much to catch up on besides a long beach filled with palm trees. There should probably be a restaurant or two, but otherwise it is primarily a cottage area.

Remember to check if the crocodile is still alive in the small river that goes into it havet. The locals say it only swims in havet at night to catch food. I have my doubts, but that hasn't stopped me from swimming at the beach countless times. However, I skipped night bathing easily and elegantly... 

Tamarindo, beach, travel

Tamarindo in Costa Rica

If you are into golf and have teenage children, then Tamarindo is perfect. Yes, there are many tourists here who are contagious in the street scene. But having said that, it's also just a beach town where people come to relax and be on vacation. And here you can do everything: Surf, rent catamarans, try your hand at a banana boat or take a little out of town and play golf.

Here you will also find restaurants in all price ranges, bars and discos. From here you can also visit coffee plantations to get a little away from the pool or the beach. 

It was a small selection of some travel advice from an insider. In a utopian world, my best travel advice would be to move there. If you are just a little bit open to meeting the locals, you will experience the sweetest and most helpful people. It has contributed to the fact that I have never felt insecure traveling around the country. 

I have primarily used public transportation. However, I would recommend purchasing a pick-up tour in San José if you want to explore Tortuguero and Corcovado National Park.

If you travel with the whole family, it can also pay to rent a car. Be aware, however, that it must be a four-wheel drive, as there are certain places around Monteverde and Arenal - and probably many other places as well - where it requires extra horsepower to pass. 

See much more about traveling in Costa Rica here

Have a good trip, enjoy Costa Rica and pure Life!

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About the author

Rikke Bank Egeberg

Rikke, who studies intercultural market studies on a daily basis and with a bachelor's degree in Spanish language and culture from the University of Copenhagen, has always been very inquisitive in the world. Meeting new cultures and traveling to Spanish-speaking countries is always at the top of the wish list. In addition to local bus trips through banana plantations, where the door is always open and half farms are included as passengers, sailing is also one of her favorite modes of travel with an expectation of exploring the Caribbean by boat after graduation. Rikke has also lived in Costa Rica, Barcelona and Colombia.



  • Fantastic Rikke - really good and vivid descriptions, you are just good at describing all the places you have been

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