Unless you’ve been consciously avoiding your Instagram, chances are you’ve heard of Costa Rica.

It’s no surprise. The name calls to mind tropical jungles ripe with fruit along with long sandy beaches complete with palm trees.

So where is Costa Rica? This tiny paradise is located smack dab in the middle of Central America, in between Panama and Nicaragua.

To the east lies the scenic Caribbean Sea, to the west the balmy Pacific Ocean. Although small, Costa Rica (literally translated as Rich Coast) offers an abundance of wildlife through tons of breathtaking scenery.

Should you go? Of course! We’ll help you out with the basics of where to go and what to do while you book your flight.

Exploring the Natural Beauty of Costa Rica

The Costa Rica map is small, making up just .01 percent of our Earth’s landmass. Yet it contains 5 percent of the earth’s biodiversity.

Are you ready to see some of it? Volcanoes, rainforests, beaches — Costa Rica offers visitors the chance to immerse themselves in some of the most beautiful nature found anywhere in the world.

So where exactly should you go?

1. Monteverde: Costa Rica in the Clouds

No visit to Costa Rica would be complete without a walk in the Cloud Forest of the Santa Elena Reserve. Here you can hike through the highest of jungles, seeing, smelling and even touching the growth around you.

Take in one of the most sought-after destinations on the Costa Rica map as you meander through the clouds.

2. Manuel Antonio National Park

Manual Antonio is a must-see for those looking to relax and enjoy the sights. This Pacific Coast park offers a wide variety of activities to suit any taste.

Manuel Antonio offers quiet beaches shaded by luxurious palms. Horseback ride along beaches and through jungles here, or take a windsurfing lesson.

3. Papagayo Offers an Experience Like No Other

The gulf of Papagayo and the Papagayo peninsula are one of Costa Rica’s best kept secrets. This area isn’t frequented by too many, but is home to some luxurious resorts perfect for a getaway.

You won’t find any surfers on these quiet beaches, so come ready to have a relaxing vacation and a dip in the incredibly warm waters of the pacific.

San Jose is the Place to Experience Costa Rica Culture and Art

The capital of Costa Rica is San Jose, the largest city with the biggest population. Here you’ll find a vibrant city life and culture to rival cities in developed countries around the world.

Make sure to check out historic sectors of the city like Barrio Amon, where you’ll find old colonial mansions looming over the city streets. Nowadays these mansions don’t house colonists but collections of contemporary art, which you can feast your eyes on during operating hours.

Barrio Escalante is a must-see as well. Here you’ll be treated to fried plantains, seafood, rice and meat as you stroll through the neighborhood admiring the sights. Escalante is home to many festivals and celebrations, as well as the city’s main bar district.

Are you into shiny things? Pay a visit to the Plaza De Cultura (Culture Plaza) where you’ll find an interesting collection of museums. The Plaza is home to the famous Museum of Gold, where you’ll be able to gaze upon ancient artifacts (many made of gold) as well as a few contemporary art pieces.

Across the plaza, take a tour of the National Theater. This classical building is one of the oldest in all the country, featuring paintings of classical life and statues of classical figures like Beethoven.

Hot Travel Tips for a Costa Rica Adventure

To have the best experience possible in Costa Rica, just go with the flow. The relaxed vibe allows for free movement and a slow pace as you discover everything you want to see.

It’s a good idea to learn a few phrases in Spanish when you visit Costa Rica, as not everyone around speaks English. However, the people are friendly and eager to help. Consider purchasing a phrasebook and taking it with you to converse with taxi drivers and the like.

Carry small currency with you in Costa Rica if you plan on making small purchases or taking the bus. Having change (cambio in Spanish) is a good idea, as not everyone has change for large bills. It’s also a good idea to carry cash with you, as not every restaurant or bar accepts credit cards outside of the bigger cities.

Costa Rica is an exciting place to spend your vacation or even plan a future life if you’re partial to island-style living. The gorgeous natural beauty of the country will open your eyes to new experiences and pleasures.

The most important thing to remember when exploring the mountains, jungles and volcanos of this great land is to have fun.

Feature image via Volaris

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