Here’ s a list of places you might like to consider before or after our Happy New You! yoga retreat in Costa Rica.
The one thing we are not going in depth about in this post is that San Jose, the capital, has great museums, restaurants and sightseeing to offer.
But, if you were to wander outside of the city, this list is for you. Note that we are mentioning places that are conveniently located on the way or near Blue Osa, where the retreat will take place. The list goes from North to South. Enjoy!
About three hours North of San Jose. Positioned within Costa Rica’s fertile northern lowlands, the Arenal Volcano is tall, imposing and has a reputation that precedes itself. Arenal’s perfectly symmetrical shape and abundance of outdoor activities make it a sightseer’s dream.
Thanks to geothermal activity beneath Arenal, the area surrounding the volcano is home to a number of hot springs. There are springs for every budget and style, and many serve up unobstructed views of the volcano.
2. Volcan Poas, La Fortuna Hot Springs, Rio Celeste
Located about 1½ hours from San Jose, Volcan Poas is a very popular day trip. Poás Volcano is one of the major attractions in the Central Valley region and one of the most visited national parks in all of Costa Rica. Considered by most to be one of the most breathtaking sites in the entire country, the Poas Volcano sits high above 14,000 acres (5,666 ha) of various habitats and life zones.
Hot spring like the ones at La Fortuna are popular locales offering a relaxing spa-like experience among rainforest-inspired settings.
The Río Celeste is one of Costa Rica’s most spectacular rivers. This river’s light blue color – the result of sulphur and calcium carbonate mixing – has earned it a unique place in Costa Rica.
3. Playa Hermosa-Jaco
An easy hour and a half drive from San Jose, on your way South is Playa Hermosa ( a few Km down the road from Jaco) offers an excellent vibe with chilled out surfers and pretty beach sunsets. Be aware that while Jaco offers great beginner waves, Playa Hermosa can pump monster swells. Still, even if you’re not a pro, you can sit back and watch!
4. Manuel Antonio
Manuel Antonio National Park, on Costa Rica’s central Pacific coast, encompasses rugged rainforest, white-sand beaches and coral reefs. Manuel Antonio is one of only two locations in Costa Rica where you can see all four types of monkey; spider, howler, white faced and the endangered squirrel monkey, many of which can be visible from your hotel window. The area is also a prime destination for spotting sloths, both in and outside of the national park.
Between the main town and the national park there are several world-class beaches in the area. Here, you can swim, hike the park, or simply relax. Plus, available are all the amenities you would come to expect as well as a jumping nightlife.
5. Catarata Nahuyaca
The Nauyaca Waterfalls are one of the most beautiful places in Costa Rica’s South Pacific.
One of the falls is forty-five meters high and the other twenty meters high. There are also other smaller natural pools where tourists can walk, swim, climb, jump, take photographs and spend a marvelous day in the warm waters of Rio Barucito, enjoying one of the most beautiful places in Costa Rica’s South Pacific.
6. Dominical, Uvita, Parque Marino Ballena
Dominical remains the sort of place where it’s best to just slow down, unwind and take things as they come.
Dominical offers sweet barrels, motley crew of surfers, backpackers and affable do-nothings alike. Dominical has no significant cultural sights, no paved roads and no chain restaurants, and if you’re not here to learn to surf or swing in a hammock it might not be the place for you. Pacific Edge is highly recommended as a hotel for a more pampered stay.
Uvita is a tiny town further South that is best known for its National Park, Parque Marino Ballena. At low tide, you will be able to see the mystical wale tail shape where the two beaches connect. It’s worth it!
7. Drake Bay
Resting on the northern side of the Osa Peninsula, Drake Bay (Bahía Drake) is an adventure-seekers paradise. It is named after Sir Francis Drake who is believed to have ventured here in the late 16 century. With scattered hotels and lodges, Drake Bay is the ideal vacation spot for those wishing to relax and escape from it all. While Drake is best known for scuba diving and snorkeling on Cano Island, other activities include swimming, kayaking, horseback riding, hiking (Corcovado National Park), sport fishing, bird-watching or exploring the miles of deserted picturesque coastline.
8. Playa Zancudo
A long stretch of black sand backed by coconut palms and almond trees forms the idyllic setting for Playa Zancudo. Located along the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica in the Golfo Dulce, Playa Zancudo is a beautiful and untouched area that sees significantly fewer tourists than other parts of the country. The atmosphere here is laid-back, and if you are into fishing, this is the place to be.
Pavones is a small town located in the southern Pacific Zone about 1 1/2 hour drive from Golfito. The little pueblo exists almost entirely for surf tourists who make the journey for the left point break that runs the entire length of the village of Pavones. Pavones is definitely at the end of the road and a little out of the way. However for the opportunity to catch rides that will make your legs ache it is well worth the journey. There you can also find the Yoga Farm Pavones at Punta Banco, a rustic yoga center and sustainable living project centre.
10. Finca Bella Vista, Piedras Blancas
Finca Bellavista is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Finca Bellavista is a residential treehouse community located in the south Pacific coastal region of Costa Rica. They are a rustic, yet comfortable, private retreat off the beaten path where owners and limited numbers of guests can explore the natural wonders of the rainforest canopy.
They are located in a relatively untouched portion of Costa Rica that is removed from many of the influences of the outside world. Their neighbors and friends are indigenous families and hard-working farmers. No souvenir shops, no mini-malls, and no rowdy bars.
Near Finca Bellavista is Piedras Blancas National Park. The Piedras Blancas National Park, located along Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast just outside the town of Golfito, protects over 34,595 acres (14,000 hectares) of evergreen primary forest and a great number of indigenous plants and wildlife. Today, the park offers visitors the chance to explore its thriving rainforests and immaculate beaches, winding rivers and powerful waterfalls
For the Adventurous at Heart
Mt. Chirripó, the highest mountain in Costa Rica (and second highest in Central America) stands tall at 3,820 m (12,532 ft.). Climbing 19 km up Chirripó is one of the best ways to experience the beauty of Costa Rica. Monkeys roam the forests; the terrain continues to change every hour; the flowers come in every color. But the most motivating reason hikers put themselves through this rigorous trek is its collection of amazing views, one of which includes a view of both the Pacific and Caribbean Oceans from the summit.
Carara National Park
Carara National Park is located just 9.3 miles (15 km) north of Jaco and about an hour from San Jose. Several miles of hiking trails are open for visitors. Early morning, or around sunset is often the best time to see the wealth of birds living in the park, especially scarlet macaws. due to its close proximity to the capital city, however, if you can beat the crowds, the experience and wildlife which runs rampant throughout the park will impress any nature enthusiast.
The Tarcoles River, which borders the park and flows into the Pacific Ocean, is an amazing place to witness the American crocodile close up. Boat tours are available to see them, as they can be up to several meters in length!
This is just a little glimpse of all that the beautiful and diverse country of Costa Rica can offer. Make the most of Costa Rica while you’re at it! 🙂