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11 Incredible things to do in Costa Rica

by | Apr 15, 2020

2020 was the end of a decade. This decade brought with it a lot of ups and downs in life…more ups though – Thankfully! And with it came immense learning and a lot of gratitude and hence I wanted to end a great year and ring in the new decade at a very special destination…one that I will remember for a lifetime!
I spent almost 3 weeks exploring which place to go to and which country would make my trip really memorable and I finally zeroed in on Costa Rica! I am so glad I did cause I don’t think I could have spent 2020 New Year’s Eve at a better place.

Costa Rica is the land of Pura Vida and everyone swears by it. People even greet each other with that phrase. It means “Living life in the moment” and that’s exactly what we did while we were there as well.

How to get to Costa Rica: Costa Rica has 2 international airports – San Jose & Liberia and they have flights daily from Canada and the United States.

We flew from Mumbai to New York and spent Christmas there, after which we flew Spirit Airlines from Newark to San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. It was an 8 hours flight with a 2 hours layover in Fort Lauderdale. United Airlines does have direct flights to San Jose which takes around 5 hours. The ticket price usually is anywhere between $400-500. We paid a lot more since we were going during the peak season.

Best Time to visit: The best time and the peak season in Costa Rica is from December to April which is the dry season and you get plenty of sunshine.

Getting Around: We rented a car at the airport which cost us around 650 USD for 8 days. Car rentals are quite expensive in Costa Rica.

Rent a car in Costa Rica (this wasn’t the car we rented though)

Costa Rica has a lot of volcanoes and rainforests and of course, has the Carribean on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other side. We planned to spend 4 days in the rainforest and 4 days on the beaches. So after spending a night in San Jose, we drove to Arenal National Park and then to Santa Teresa beach/Montezuma beach and spent New Year’s eve in Tamarindo beach.

Where to Stay: While we were at Arenal national park we stayed at Selina Fortuna which is right at the centre of the town and walking distance from all the restaurants there. When we hit the coast, we stayed at Nantipa resort & Airbnbs in Santa Teresa/Montezuma & Tamarindo.

Selina Fortuna in Arenal

Things to Pack: Carry a light jacket, rain jacket and your hiking boots since you will definitely need that when you are in the rainforest.

Here are the things that you absolutely must do when in Costa Rica:

1. Do the Gravity Freefall with Desafio Costa Rica is an adventure-lovers paradise and trust me it doesn’t get better than Desafio. After having been to 64 countries and having tried all kinds of adventure sports, I hereby claim that I have never ever tried something as daring and scary as this. I have always believed that adventure sports push you out of your comfort zone and unless you push yourself you won’t remember the trip! This was clearly the highlight of our trip.

We started early at 6:30 AM and finished at 2 PM. We drove deep into the forest and here is what we did:

Part 1: Rappelled down a cliff with a waterfall which was 150 feet high. 

Rappelling down a 150 feet high cliff-I am just smiling for the camera, I was super scared.

Midway down the cliff, we had to let go of the rope and fell backwards in the water…FREEFALL. 🧗‍♀

Freefall

Part 2: We jumped into a 5 feet waterfall ‍♀

Part 3: Another jump into a 10 feet waterfall and here as we jumped they pushed us under the raging waterfall flow and like a washing machine we were turned under the water.🤸‍♀

Part 4: We held onto a rope and swung into the middle of a river and jumped.

Part 5: We climbed up a cliff with the help of a rope.

Part 6: THE BIG DADDY – Free fall into a 35 feet waterfall!!!

This was the scariest shit ever but super, super fun!!!

After this, they take you to a superb property for lunch where I met the super sweet owner of Desafio Adventures, Christine and she gave me a tour of a hidden waterfall in her backyard.

The most awesome adventure sport ever! All thanks to Desafio for making this the highlight of my trip

Christine of Desafio Adventures at her private waterfall

This by far will be one of the most memorable days in my history of adventure sports.

2. Bathe in the Natural hot Springs in Tabacon Costa Rica is filled with hot springs since there are so many volcanoes around. There are Free Natural hot springs as well but I strongly recommend the Tabacon HOT springs. It’s totally an Alice in Wonderland setting and you can spend an entire day there. They have different kinds and levels of hot springs and it’s such a relaxing and rejuvenating activity. The day passes cost 85USD with either lunch/dinner included and is absolutely worth it.

Bathing in the natural hot springs of Costa Rica

Tabacon resort has the best hot springs

3. Go ziplining with Sky Adventures Another awesome activity in Arenal. There are 7 different lines with one being 150 metres long. You are ziplining high above the rainforest and in a few seconds, you just disappear into the clouds. You can have a look at the videos in my Costa Rica Story highlights on Instagram.

Ziplining with Sky Adventures

Gearing up

And off we go…woohoo!

Just before I disappeared into the clouds

4. Walk on the hanging bridges in Mistico Hanging bridges park This is best done earlier in the morning when it’s less crowded and you have a higher chance of spotting wildlife. It was a superb experience walking the 3.2 km trail which has 15 bridges, 6 of them hanging.

The hanging bridges of Mistico

5. Go on a Sloth watching trail in Arenal – Costa Rica has sloths in abundance and there are these specific trails where you can spot them on trees. We went on one too and looking at these cute not so little creatures was a simply awesome experience! And while I say this, here are a few fun facts about Sloths…

** The reasons why sloths, sloth so much is because they feed on leaves and since leaves cannot provide as much nutrition and get digested quickly, sloths have a very slow metabolic rate and they sleep to conserve energy

**They climb hardly once a week back to the ground and that is mostly to defecate.

**They can give a run for their money to most swimmers.

**They cannot sustain beyond their usual environments where they are usually found and hence if you are thinking of, you will most probably not be able to pet them!

Looking out for Sloths

A Mamma and baby sloth eating leaves

6. Day trip to Irazu Volcano – Since Costa Rica has so many volcanoes, you must definitely visit one of them during your stay. The Irazu Volcano is a 1.5 hours drive from the capital city of San Jose and it has a very easy walk to the crater of the volcano. It is a 10 minutes hike from the parking lot and you can easily spend a couple of hours here admiring the blue lake of the crater.

The Volcanic soil of Irazu

The gorgeous blue crater lake

The first view of the crater after the hike

7. Visit Rio Celeste waterfall and trek your way to the hot river – This waterfall makes for one of the most perfect waterfalls in Costa Rica, however, you have to be ready to hike for at least 30 mins till you get there. Also, you need to walk down a huge number of stairs to get to the waterfall. You may also want to trek till the end of the trail to see the Hot river which has bubbling water since it’s connected to a volcano. This trail is a very difficult one and is extremely muddy so do wear your rain/hiking boots.

The trek to the hot river in Rio Celeste

Rio Celeste Waterfall

8. Stay in Nantipa resort at Santa Teresa beach Our best stay at Costa Rica. Nantipa and its owner Mario totally pampered and spoilt us while we were there. We had the most delicious lunch, and superb cocktails at their Manzu restaurant and watched a gorgeous sunset, lazed on the hammocks on the beach and overall had a wonderful time and lived the Pura Vida life :-).

Pura Vida!! Living in the moment

Sunset at Nantipa

Sipping cocktails by the beach at Nantipa

A perfect place for a sundowner

9. Go restaurant hopping at Santa Teresa – Santa Teresa is known for its good seaside restaurants & bars. Few of the ones I would recommend are Ranchos Ituana, Habaneros, The Bakery. Do not miss eating the Gallo Pinto (a local dish) while you are there. On your way to Santa Teresa from Arenal, you could also stop for night sea Kayaking to see Bioluminescent water at Bahia Rica.

Gallo Pinto

Bioluminescent Night Kayaking tour with Bahia Rica

A beautiful sunrise at Santa Teresa

Another glorious sunset

10. If you are there for New Years ….definitely spend NYE on Tamarindo beach watching the fireworks – dine at Pangas Beach Club . After having a sumptuous meal at Pangas, we walked on Tamarindo beach and the entire beach turns into a beach party during New Years. The fireworks at the stroke of midnight are absolutely stunning. The energy is contagious!

Ringing in the decade in Tamarindo Beach

11. If you are a dog lover, meet the cute dogs all over Costa Rica – Costa Rica has so many cute dogs, be it at our Airbnb, on the beach or on our stops during the road trip, these dogs were just adorable!

In love with this pup

The pup at our Airbnb in Santa Teresa Beach

Planning a trip to Costa Rica soon? Let me know if you need any help.

The first sunset of 2020

Thanks for reading this. If you liked what you read, please leave me a comment below.
You could also follow me on Instagram, Facebook to stay updated about my travel adventures around the world.

56 Comments

  1. Suresh Krishnan & Christine Larson

    What a wonderfully-written article! Anindita crafted the perfect vacation in Costa Rica and managed to tie in the absolute, must-see places! It is a true honor to have our Gravity Falls Waterfall Jumping make the #1 spot! Thank you for letting your readers know about our special little part of the world!

    Reply
    • Daina Daruwalla

      Wow, that’s really an adventure. Your article takes me on a virtual tour, thanks Anindita for sharing every detail with the readers, that’s a lot of effort.

      Reply
    • Anindita - TravelChatter

      Hi Suresh/Christine, You guys absolutely deserve being right on top of my things to do in Costa Rica. The Gravity Free Fall was definitely the highlight of our trip and we will remember that day for a lifetime! Thank you so much for the wonderful hospitality and the mind blowing experience.Loved every bit of it. Take care and lots of love to both of you.

      Reply
    • Debjani lahiri

      I would drool over those prawns I tell u .. costs rica is famed for its stunning landscapes n now as u mentioned the adventure activities .. would love to make it there someday .

      Reply
      • Anindita - TravelChatter

        Hey Debjani , it’s more than stunning ! A must must visit. Thanks for taking time out to read this.

        Reply
  2. Chaand

    What a vivid description of an awesome adventurous holiday. While reading it I could almost feel that I was there. Thank you for the holiday in the comfort of my home.

    Reply
    • Anindita - TravelChatter

      Thanks a lot Aunty .

      Reply
  3. Anirban Chaudhari

    What a well crafted blog Anindita!! Costa Rica was never too high on my travel list but now it has certainly climbed up the ranks. Thanks for sharing your travel experience. When I plan a vacation there I know where to refer to for all the tips & details without spending weeks on doing my own research. Just perfect, thanks 😀

    Reply
    • Anindita - TravelChatter

      Thank you so very much Anirban. I am totally flattered! You must visit Costa Rica , its stunning! If you need any further information on planning your trip, please do reach out to me. I am so happy that my blog will be your official Costa Rica guide!! Yayyyy! 🙂

      Reply
    • Zenia D'Abreo

      Costa Rica seems like a heaven for the adventurous souls and you’ve captured the essence of it so well throughout the post. I’m not the adventurous type but the rainforest and those thrilling activities surely make me wanna go there and try it! That private waterfall was something.. I’m gonna save this post for future.

      Reply
      • Anindita - TravelChatter

        Hey Zenia, Thanks so much for reading this ! It is a stunning country and you will love every corner . I could sit by that private waterfall for hours 🙂

        Reply
  4. Raj Gupta

    Detailed report. Thanks for sharing the tour journey. Will help all readers planning for trip to Costa Rica for ready reference. Amazing scenery and Perfect picture shots.

    Reply
    • Anindita - TravelChatter

      Thanks a lot Raj, Very happy that you liked it.

      Reply
    • Navneeth & Shishira

      Thank you for this very impressive article Anindita! Costa Rica has been high on our list for a long time now – but hopefully, after the pandemic subsides, we get to visit someday! Like you’ve suggested, NYE on Tamarindo sounds amazing – will come back here when we plan a visit! 🙂

      Reply
      • Anindita - TravelChatter

        Hey , Thanks so much for reading this! Yes NYE in Tamarindo was an amazing experience and I would love to go back anyday. Let me know if you need any help with the planning 🙂

        Reply
  5. Joydeep Sanyal

    Really well written Anindita. It surely helps me with my wish list with Costa Rica travel plan.

    Reply
    • Anindita - TravelChatter

      Thanks a ton Joydeep, am so glad you liked it.

      Reply
      • Avantika Chaturvedi

        Visiting Costa Rica sounds like an absolute dream! Glamping in a rainforest, bathing in hot springs and the crater lake were my top takeaways from this blog. Loved reading about this dreamland so far away!

        Reply
        • Anindita - TravelChatter

          Hey Avantika, Thanks for reading this! It is a dreamland Indeed 🙂

          Reply
  6. Nilesh

    Great experience and big thanks for sharing. Your every blog forces me to think about holiday. I truly admire the way you organize your itinerary and cover most part of the country or city. Have already booked the tickets for Russia on which you have given me so much of guidance but unfortunately with this mess of corona we won’t be able to make it. Look forward to see the free world again. Cheers.

    Reply
    • Anindita - TravelChatter

      Thanks a lot Nilesh! You are too kind. Yes, I agree, cant wait for normalcy to be resumed in the world. Hope your Russia trip happens soon and let me know if you need any help with planning anything. Much love.

      Reply
  7. Ramesh Narayan

    Detailed information.
    Lovely pictures.
    Enjoyed Costa Rica through your experiences.
    Now I’ll have to visit the place myself.

    Reply
    • Anindita - TravelChatter

      Thanks a lot Ramesh. This, coming from you, I am totally honoured!

      Reply
  8. Sudhanshu Kelkar

    Wow, that’s superb Summary. Very helpful for travellers, you covered all must visits along with Fab dining places.
    Keep sharing very helpful..

    Reply
    • Anindita - TravelChatter

      Thanks a lot Sudhanshu.

      Reply
  9. Santosh lohan

    Thanks Anindita
    I guess it’s a perfect place for my son who is going to be marry soon.
    Very helpful indeed🙏

    Reply
    • Anindita - TravelChatter

      Thanks a lot Santosh, I hope it will help your son. He can reach out to me if he needs any help with planning.

      Reply
  10. Janki

    It was an absolute delight to read about your experience. So refreshing. Looking forward to more such stories.

    Reply
    • Anindita Chatterjee

      Thanks a lot Janki!

      Reply
  11. Deep Chakraborty

    At a time when we are all confined to our homes, it’s lovely to virtually visit a place that I wouldn’t normally hear mentioned much. With all the beauty, avenues for adventure and the lovely dogs, this definitely looks like a great place to visit. While the pictures are great, it’s reading about the experiences that let me vicariously travel through this wonderful place. If I’m ever able to make it there, this will be an excellent guide!

    Reply
    • Anindita - TravelChatter

      Hey Deep, Thanks a ton! I am so glad you enjoyed reading it. If you are planning a trip to Costa Rica and need more information, please do reach out to me. Happy to help.

      Reply
    • Anindita - TravelChatter

      Yes, and I hope the confinement ends soon and normalcy is resumed. Stay safe.

      Reply
  12. Rajiv pahuja

    That was a just amazing so well explained that now I’m looking forward to read more of your travel blogs

    Reply
    • Anindita - TravelChatter

      Thanks a lot Rajiv!

      Reply
  13. Saugata Bagchi

    This read just made a trip to CR compulsory. Anindita, I’m a big fan of the passion you put into your words, translating into serious energy for the reader. Keep travelling my friend & keep writing. One day, we shall do a trip together :). Stay Safe!

    Reply
    • Anindita - TravelChatter

      Saugata, I am totally honoured! Everytime I write an article , I am always awaiting your feedback.I still remember the constructive feedback you gave me on my very first article 🙂 I am so glad you liked this one too. And, yes we have to travel together sooooon. Lots of love to you and your family!

      Reply
  14. RITESH TIWARI

    Wow wow, place looks amazing and you Seem to have taken the best from there for the world to peep in. Thanks for sharing

    Reply
    • Anindita - TravelChatter

      Thanks a lot Ritesh..so happy that you liked reading it. Now plan Costa Rica soon!

      Reply
  15. Anand

    Your Costa Rica travelogue shines forth your Pura Vida! Maybe that should be your mantra going forward, having said that it was an interesting and fascinating read. My heart rate was slightly elevated reading all that you did, both in anticipation of when I would get to do the same but also in trepidation on whether I would do it if the opportunity presented itself. Crisp and clear… Cannot wait for your next trip and the picturesque travelogue that follows… May the Gods fuel your wanderlust and keep you safe!

    Reply
    • Anindita - TravelChatter

      Thanks a lot Anand! Love all the support and your kind words always. Your comments always makes me want to write a lot more! Yes, you must push yourself out of your comfort zone whenever you can. You live in Oman and you have tons of adventure activities there too.Go for it!!!

      Reply
  16. Neha

    Loved reading it and definitely this is going to be my next holiday destination. You have covered it so well . Such beautiful pictures!!. Love your passion for travel and your enthusiasm .Keep it up !! You are simply amazing .

    Reply
  17. Divyakshi Gupta

    I have followed all your exciting Costa Rica updates on Social media and they have been successful in making me long to visit this diverse country 🙂 LOVED that this country has so much to offer for adrenaline junkies. The Rio Celeste waterfall and trek and Gravity Freefall is such a delight!! As a wildlife lover, I am definitely adding the visit to the sloth sanctuary on my bucket list!

    Reply
    • Anindita - TravelChatter

      Hi Divyakshi, thanks so much for reading this! The Gravity Freefall was super special and was the highlight of my trip. You will also fall in love with the sloths there , they are super cute. I am so happy this article made it on your bucket list now.

      Reply
  18. The Exploring Eyes

    Heard a lot about adventures in Costa Rica and the waterfalls one is surely going to be added in our list.
    How is the visa scene for Indians?

    Reply
    • Anindita - TravelChatter

      Hey , awesome ! You must visit. If you have a valid US visa , then you don’t need a separate visa for COsta Rica .Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  19. Ami Bhat

    Adventure and nature is what seems abundant here. Loved the volcanic crater – kind of reminded me of Indonesia. I am all game for the rappelling adventure too.

    Reply
    • Anindita - TravelChatter

      Hey Ami, so glad you liked it. The Volcanic crater was amazing and the hike was super exciting too. The Rapelling was one of the scariest ever.

      Reply
  20. Shoestring Travel

    Gravity free fall activity looks so nice… Costa Rica is a beautiful country and so colourful and you have truly done justice in capturing those

    Reply
    • Anindita - TravelChatter

      Thanks a ton !

      Reply
  21. Nishu

    Really loved the whole article. This blog is pinned for reference whenever I plan for Costa Rica. Looks like it is a place for any adventure lover which I am. Can’t wait to see the blue lake in the middle of the mountains. You have explained the whole place so well.

    Reply
    • Anindita - TravelChatter

      Hey Nishu, Thanks a lot for taking time out to read this. Yes , it’s a must visit for all adventure lovers!

      Reply
  22. Diana Samuals

    Costa Rica was never on top priority for us but after reading how much this country has to offer for adventure lovers, definitely putting it on our list.

    Reply
    • Anindita - TravelChatter

      Hey Diana, I am so so happy you enjoyed reading it. Let me know if you need any help with the planning 🙂

      Reply
  23. Amrita

    Wow! That was some holiday! The freefall after rappelling sounds just amazing. Water is something I am scared of. I can do bungee jumping, paragliding and all those adventurous stuff, but when it comes to water, I literally get the cold feet! But I loved seeing the video. Costa Rica is surely an adventure lovers’ destination. The blue crater lake looks amazing. I would love to visit the place for all the adventure it promises.

    Reply
    • Anindita - TravelChatter

      Thanks a ton Amrita, yes you must visit Costa Rica. It is awesome and a must visit for all adventure lovers.

      Reply
  24. Dr. Bijal Sheth

    Costa Rica has been on my tentative list now confirmed 👍🏻
    Anindita , u r doing a great job , keep it up

    Reply

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About Me

Hey there travel bugs! Glad you made it to my blog. The journey is going to be worth it—I promise.

I am a fearless, unguarded and fun loving traveller. The word ‘cannot’ doesn't often appear in my life’s dictionary. I was bitten by the travel bug a long, long time ago and it has taken me to more than 60 countries and countless destinations ever since. A born networker—I have met and made a gazillion friends across the world and the experiences so far, has more often than not, left me speechless. The more I travel, the more I realise that how much there is left to travel.

So hop on and be a part of my explorations and adventure tales right here on Travel Chatter.

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