TRAVEL COSTA RICA
Irazu's top TEN favorite places to go while visiting Costa Rica.
Arenal Volcano, one of the ten most active volcanoes in the world, is a fascinating natural wonder and must visit destination for many travelers to Costa Rica. On almost a daily basis, red-hot rocks crash down its steep slopes and volcanic grumbles produce huge ash columns above the crater.
Set atop the spine of Costa Rica's continental divide, Monteverde is a world above the coastal towns that dot the country's famous shoreline. It is a place of cloud forests and coffee plantations, monkeys, mist, and friendly locals. The town of Santa Elena is small and quaint, filled with tasty restaurants and folksy artisan shops, while the nearby rainforest hosts a remarkable amount of biodiversity.
One of the protected parks within the Guanacaste Conservation Area (ACG), the Rincon de la Vieja National Park, is one of Costa Rica's most diverse ecological parks. Known for its stunning diversity of flora and fauna, this national park is home to two volcanoes, the Rincon de la Vieja and the Santa Maria, as well as six different volcanic peaks, and thirty two rivers and streams.
Drake Bay or Bahia Drake lies on the northern end of the Osa Peninsula in Puntarenas province. Probably one of the most well known destinations in the region, this tiny town by the bay is actually one of the most inaccessible places in the entire country. With a rich history of first being discovered by Sir Francis Drake in 1579 during his circumnavigation of the globe, Drake Bay is the gateway to visiting the Corcovado National Park as well as enjoying a plethora of other activities and tours in the region.
This wonderful beach town on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica holds many surprises. With its laid back attitude and Caribbean life style, you can be assured of a relaxing Costa Rican holiday. Naturally, for those of us who like a more active holiday, Puerto Viejo has it all. Long walks on pristine beaches, experiencing exotic flora and fauna in a wildlife refuge, snorkeling or diving among the many reefs in our crystal clear waters, world-class surfing, mountain biking, kayaking and cultural visits to indigenous peoples.
This park is just south of Quepos on the Pacific Coast, 132 km from San José. Perhaps It is so popular because of its expansive white sand beaches backed by an evergreen forest that grows right up to the high tide line. The principal habitants are primary forest, secondary forest, mangrove swamps, lagoons and beach vegetation. There is quite a varied fauna with 109 species of mammals and 184 of birds. The park includes 12 little isles just off the coast; these are a number of dolphins and, at times, migrating whales can be observed.
The Pacuare is the quintessential tropical river. Along its course lie several densely vegetated gorges which shelter jaguars, ocelots, monkeys, sloths, and an incredible variety of birds. Also found within these gorges is some of the best whitewater in all of Central America, ranging up to Class V in difficulty. The Pacuare is the only river in Costa Rica which contains these amenities, including virgin rain forest, while also being quite accessible. The lowland tropical forest here is remarkable for its luxuriant variety and the amazing abundance and diversity of wildlife found within it. Other rivers such as the Telire and the Chirripó Atlántico can match the attractions of the Pacuare but require either a multi-day carry-in or the services of a helicopter.
The tiny beach village of Playa Santa Teresa is located in the south of the Nicoya Peninsula in North of the Puntarenas province. This beach is renowned worldwide for some of the best surfing in the entire country. Private and secluded, Playa Santa Teresa lies on the central Pacific coast of Costa Rica, and is roughly 150 km west of the capital city San Jose.
Nestled among the lush green hills of the Central Valley, Turrialba is known for its beautiful mountains, rich shade-grown coffee and its whitewater rafting opportunities, said to be the best in Central America.
Turrialba was once a flourishing town and a direct stop on the train that ran between San Jose and the southern Caribbean hamlet of Puerto Viejo. In 1991, a terrible earthquake destroyed Costa Rica's rail system, and Turrialba residents lost much of their trading income. Instead of mourning its fate, the town went back to its coffee roots, and today produces some of the best beans in the world.
One of the most frequented national parks in Costa Rica is the Irazu Volcano National Park that lies around 32 km from Cartago, the country's former capital. Home to Costa Rica's highest active volcano Irazu, which stands at around 11,260 feet, this national park is conveniently located close to the city, and is a short car drive away. 'Irazu' is actually a derivative of an Indian word, which means 'thunder and earthquake mountain'. An active stratovolcano, Irazu has had a number of volcanic eruptions over the years.