With its diverse wildlife, humid tropical air, and lush landscapes from the coast to the rainforest, Costa Rica offers a world of experiences. Each region or area of this small, Virginia-sized country, is unique with different climates and species. With so much to explore in one small country, which region of Costa Rica is your perfect match?
Know the regions
Did you know Costa Rica boasts 5% of the entire world’s biodiversity? This abundance of species spreads across the regions of this small but mighty Central American country, with some areas more diverse than others – but more on that soon.
The regions of Costa Rica are Guanacaste, Alajuela, Heredia, Limon, Puntarenas, Cartago, and San Jose. Cartago and San Jose are the most heavily populated with more attractions. Each is graced with a plethora of natural beauty, along with different climates, rainy seasons, and wildlife.
Guanacaste is perfect for relaxing & sunbathing on the Pacific Coast
Guanacaste has made a name for itself as a tropical paradise destination with a gleaming shoreline, lovely mountain ranges, and fascinating volcanoes. It’s also one of the most popular regions of Costa Rica, so there are numerous excellent accommodation options from luxury to laid back.
The region’s resort area is prominently on the beautiful Papagayo Peninsula, just a short 30-45 minute drive from the Liberia Airport. Along the peninsula, you’ll find buzz-worthy hotels like Secrets Papagayo and the Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Hotel & Resort.
There are many wonderful things to do in this Pacific Coast region. Wander through the lush, oceanside terrain of the Santa Rosa National Park with mangroves, beaches, marshlands, and forests.
One of the best things to do in Guanacaste, however, is to see the majestic hues of Río Celeste that lead to the iconic Celeste Waterfall. Cross quaint wooden bridges and a dense forest to discover the allure of this Costa Rica must-see!
Then, catch views of incredible volcanoes – both active and inactive. Rincón de la Vieja Volcano boasts a great nearby hiking trail with incredible views of the area and volcano.
Alajuela & Heredia is ideal for lovers of coffee and natural scenery
Both regions, Alajuela and Heredia, are inland in the north of Costa Rica, bordering Nicaragua. These are ideal regions for those wanting to immerse themselves in nature, visit coffee plantations, experience Costa Rica’s cloud forests, and see one of its most famous active volcanoes.
You’ll find many restaurants and accommodation options in the cities of Alajuela and Heredia, and San Jose is only half an hour away from these cities. Yep, the regions’ capital cities have the same names as the regions themselves. However, one of the best places to stay in Costa Rica is La Fortuna. Here you’ll have easy access to waterfalls, volcanoes, canopy tours, a chocolate museum, and so much more.
See native wildlife all over the region, explore the famous Arenal Volcano National Park and see an active volcano burst red lava by the evening, and visit the majestic La Paz Waterfall Gardens along with La Fortuna. Other exciting activities include touring a coffee plantation and ziplining through the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.
If being by the beach isn’t a priority and you’d rather explore mountainous forests, rivers, and volcanoes, Alajuela or Heredia is ideal for your trip to Costa Rica.
Limon is perfect for the “pura vida” lifestyle on the Caribbean Coast
If you want a combination of Costa Rican and Caribbean lifestyles, the Limon province is a must. Here you’ll get reggae vibes, ecotourism experiences, traditional chocolate makers, rainforests that hug the beachy coastline, and cool small-town charm.
This region consumes the entire portion of Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast and offers a chance to see many of the country’s most popular wildlife like howler monkeys, sloths, and turtles.
Tortuguero National Park is a vast and entangled wilderness with green and leatherback turtles, birds, insects, reptiles, monkeys, sloths, and more to discover. If you want to see wildlife, this is a fantastic park to explore.
Further south, Cahuita offers coral reefs, toucans, and white sandy beaches. However, the most popular place to stay on Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast is Puerto Viejo. This is a relaxed beach town with Afro-Caribbean flair, where the beachside lifestyle takes center stage. People spend the entire day hanging out at the beach and evenings are spent dancing the night away at an outdoor discoteca.
In Puerto Viejo, visit animal sanctuaries, kayak to a tiny island, explore the forests to see wildlife like monkeys and sloths, and even experience the indigenous Bribri way of making chocolate.
If you are looking for diverse wildlife with chilled-out towns and fantastic beaches, the Limon province is the way to go.
Puntarenas is the region for surfing & the ultimate biodiversity
Home to the Osa Peninsula, known as the most “biologically intense place on Earth” by National Geographic, cramming 2.5% of the planet's biodiversity into just 0.001% of its surface area. Beyond the lushness of the Osa Peninsula, Puntarenas is also a surfer’s paradise with fantastic beaches and strong breaks.
Puntarenas takes up the majority of the Pacific Coast, and its southern and most biodiverse areas are a little further out of the way when flying into San Jose. However, it's worth the long drive when you get to revel in the beauty of places like the Manuel Antonio National Park. Discover the park’s abundant wildlife like three-toed sloths and white-faced capuchin monkeys, plus flora and fauna, waterfalls, and hiking trails.
In the northern part of Puntarenas, the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve boasts thousands of species from mammals to amphibians and reptiles. Plus, activities like walking across suspension bridges, horseback riding, and ziplining are popular.
If you want to connect with nature, have a mindful travel experience, and be by the Pacific Ocean, Puntarenas is the perfect match for you!
Interested to know more about any of these dreamy regions of Costa Rica? Book a free consultation with us today!