I'm planning to go to Costa Rica from March 6-10, 2014. I have no idea which city to visit, but I'm interested in the beach, hiking, and dancing. I am also really interested in the local culture; food and crafts. I'd like to stay in mid to high level accommodations, but not a huge resort. Suggestions?
- Instituto Estelar Bilingue200 metros sur de la Antigua Gobernacion, Calle Real, Liberia, Costa Ricarecommended Instituto Estelar BilingueI studied at Instituto Estelar in January of this year. I planned to stay for one week, but ended up staying for one month and advancing 4 levels! It was an amazing experience - I really did learn A ... read moreLOT (I can more than get by now when I travel in Latin America) plus I got to do trips with the school, take extra classes (like dance and cooking), made new amazing friends, and even volunteer! I will never forget my experience and I am already planning my next classes with them =) If you are wanting to study during your trip, Instituto Estelar Bilingue is the best Spanish school in Costa Rica (in my opinion, of course). It's located in Liberia and I fell in love with this city - it's historical, the people are incredibly friendly, and it hasn't been overrun by tourists like many of the other cities in the country..Comment.5 months ago. Report
recommended Playas del CocoSuper cute town with beach, bars, and nature right in the backyard, You can visit the greatest parts of Costa Rica because they are so close by. And if you want to study Spanish while you are there, ... read morecheck out Instituto Estelar Bilingue in Liberia (about 45 minutes from Coco). It's an awesome school with a lot to offer. http://www.estelarcr.com/ Have a great trip!.Comment.5 months ago. Reportrecommended Playas del CocoA small beach town with howler monkeys in the trees, and dive boats and fishing boats ready to take travelers around the area. Most of the reef I saw was dead, but we also saw some big morays, and ... read moresharks ans the visibility was good. Supposedly there are some islands a couple hours off shore where there are schools of hammerheads to see. I did not make it out there though.
recommended Puerto ViejoNice beach, nice people, nice music. You can find everything in Puerto Viejo, from local culture as Rasta man and Bribri natives, to sushi and international cuisine.Dafne
This is a great place to go hiking, dancing and know more about the local culture that it's not the typical local culture tourism agencies will show you.
recommended ManzanilloGreat place if you love white sand beaches and reggea music!
recommended MonteverdeAmazing place, if you love nature you have to go to Monteverde, diversity is everywhere from nature to cultures!
- Cocomar Residences & Beachfront HotelPlaya Palo Seco, Parrita Parrita Costa Rica 60901recommended Cocomar Residences & Beachfront HotelThis is a great place to stay, great rooms, great pool, close to the beach and very friendly staff!
- Hotel CararaMain Street, Tarcoles, Costa Ricarecommended Hotel CararaEarly in the season we had this neat hotel almost to ourselves. Close to the Carara National Park and the Tarcoles River with the famous crocodile bridge. In the garden of this hotel are almond trees, ... read morewhich gives you a great chance to spot the beautiful Macaws here!
- Arenal Volcano Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Ricarecommended Arenal VolcanoYou can take a nice walk near the volcano and there are a lot of things to do in the area of this volcano.
- Tarcoles BridgeHwy. 34recommended Tarcoles BridgeThe only crocodiles that we saw in Costa Rica we have seen from this bridge. Great attraction for free!
recommended TamarindoFun little surf town.Arlo Hemphill
Another area you might consider is Tamarindo. This is a fun, semi-touristy area with great beaches and lot of diversity in lodging accommodations. Great access to natural areas, as well as a good shopping and nightlife scene - but without being "too much"...
- Manuel Antonio National ParkManuel Antoniorecommended Manuel Antonio National ParkCosta Rica's most accessible rainforest park. Stationed right on a beautiful stretch of Pacific coastline, Manuel Antonio is also one of the country's most visited natural areas - enjoyed by beach ... read moregoers and nature lovers alike.Arlo Hemphill
The dominant natural attraction in the Quepos / Manuel Antonio area is the Manuel Antonio National Park. This is Costa Rica's most accessible rainforest protected area, where you can enjoy hiking and encounters with wildlife such as monkeys and macaws, all in an easy walk from the beach, nightlife and nice accommodations.
- Hotel Mono AzulApdo 297 Quepos, Costa Rica 6350recommended Hotel Mono AzulIf I could keep this place a personal secret, I would. However, that wouldn't be fair to the charming Braman family who make this quiet retreat a home away home. Tucked into one of the most beautiful ... read more(and climatically comfortable) rainforests in the world, the "Blue Monkey" is a hidden oasis with luxurious comforts. I could spend an entire trip to Costa Rica simply lounging around their jungle-rimmed swimming pools and dining in their open-air restaurant - brimming with quality Tico (local) and American fare. However, this hotel is too ideally located to simply waste away the hours in a private paradise. It's in walking distance from the shops and bars of downtown Quepos, and just a few minutes drive to some of the most spectacular beaches and wilderness areas in Costa Rica. It's also a bargain for your budget, making it an ideal base of operations for exploring Costa Rica's central Pacific coast.Arlo Hemphill
For what you are looking for, the Manuel Antonio / Quepos area might be perfect for you. It has a great combination of nice lodging, nightlife and amazing wildlife and hiking. Also, this is not a big box resort type area - most of the accommodations are on the boutique scale and very nice. Hotel Mono Azul is a good mid-range hotel that I can recommend. However, there are a number of good high-range / luxury options in this area too.
- Hotel Banana AzulPlaya Negra, Puerto Viejo, Costa Ricarecommended Hotel Banana AzulHotel Banana Azul is a great little resort located on a black sand beach just north of the popular surfer/backpacker town of Puerto Viejo. The hotel is a laid back place with lush grounds, a new pool, ... read moreand a large cool-water Jacuzzi. There's a good range of reasonably priced rooms--from basic garden level to a two-bedroom apartment--that feature rich local hardwoods and artful decor; a full breakfast was included in the rate the last time I checked. The only bummer, which is kind of random, are the bamboo beds frames, which creak at the slightest movement (the owners definitely are aware of the situation, though, and are dealing with it). It's also located next to Cahuita National Park, which in combination with Puerto Viejo, has tons of outdoor options beyond snorkeling and diving: hiking, animal-spotting, zip lines, river rafting, kayaking, fishing, and of course, surfing. It's easy to plan your own excursions but if you prefer to let someone else do the work (it's your vacation afterall!), there is a recommended tour operator on-site, Gecko Trail Adventures.