If you’re planning a trip to Costa Rica, you likely already have a list of must-see locales…places like Arenal Volcano and Manuel Antonio National Park. And, while these destinations are certainly worth seeing, there are a number of places in Costa Rica that are not well known to tourists but are equally lovely.
So, if you’d like to add a couple of less crowded options to your list of sightseeing attractions, we’ve gathered info on 4 of our favorite, best-kept secrets in Costa Rica.
Tirimbina Rainforest National Wildlife Reserve
If you’re looking for a more secluded rainforest tour, you won’t do better than this rainforest reserve located just a few hours north of San Juan. The Tirimbina trail system is extensive, and hanging bridges allow you to walk among the rainforest canopy where you’ll likely spy kinkajous and may even see the endangered northern olingo.
Birding in San Gerardo de Dota
If seeing beautiful birds is on your Costa Rica bucket list, plan a trip to the town of San Gerardo de Dota, a hamlet famous for the variety of birds that call the surrounding cloud forest home. The illusive and colorful quetzal can be seen here, especially if you plan your trip to San Gerardo in the month of May. But no matter when you visit, you’re sure to see a variety of beautiful birds including emerald toucanettes, hummingbirds, and tanagers.
Stop by any of the lodges in town to pick up a trail map and consider hiring a local guide…they’re experts at spotting hiding birds!
Catarata Del Toro Ecological Reserve
When it comes to stunning waterfalls, Costa Rica is not short on incredible options. But we love visiting the one at the Catarata Del Toro Ecological Reserve for a couple of reasons—it’s located on a private ecological reserve, so it tends to be less crowded, and the waterfall itself is located in an ancient volcanic crater.
A word of advice: while the trek to the waterfall is considered a moderate hike, trekking poles may come in handy on parts of the trail.
Spend a dreamy day on the beaches in Mailpais
Located in the province of Puntarenas, Malpais is a sleepy fishing and farming village. The beaches here are a destination for surfers and fishing enthusiasts, but many spend the day lounging on the beaches, wading in the many tide pools found along the shore, and snorkeling in the crystal waters. Quaint restaurants here serve up delicious food in laid-back atmospheres and visitors will leave with a better understanding of the pura vida lifestyle embraced by the locals.
There is so much to see and do while visiting Costa Rica that it’s best to accept you will run out of time before you’re able to enjoy all that this beautiful country has to offer. We hope this list inspires you to explore some of the roads…and beaches…less traveled. And try to look on the bright side—not seeing everything on your bucket list just means you’ll have to come back again. And that, friends, is never a bad thing!