Meeting the sea turtles
Do you dream of nature which is wild and untouched? Located to the north-east of San José, Tortuguero National Park is a paradise of greenery for lovers of eco-responsible travel. This reserve covers an area of more than 5,500 km2 on the edge of the ocean. There, small rivers and lakes wind between copses which are home to 300 or so bird species. Put on your wellies and climb aboard a river taxi which awaits you in the village of the same name, Tortuguero.
In the middle of a dense rainforest, your craft winds its way through creeks and lagoons. You will spy some howler monkeys swinging from tree to tree. When night falls, head for the park's beaches. There, except in January, three species of turtles lay their eggs then slowly dig into the waters of the Caribbean. A magical show.
Tortuguero National Park
The majestic dance of the whales
Open your eyes wide. The Marino Ballena National Park is one of the most beautiful places in the world to go whale watching. Climb aboard a boat with a local guide to admire these gigantic mammals which swim in the waters of the park. Some have travelled thousands of kilometres from the Antarctic. With a bit of luck, you will see the large dolphins which accompany them.
Do like exploring the seabed? This fantastic reserve invites you to snorkel. Kit yourself out with goggles and snorkel before setting off to explore the exquisite coral reefs and the most beautiful specimens of maritime wildlife such as the fascinating sea anemones whose little colourful tentacles wave in the currents. All the wonders of the ocean seem to have come together in this spectacular location.
Marina Balleno National Park
Bahia Ballena, Puntarenas Province
+506 8946 7134
Dive into the thermal waters of Tabacón
Take the National Park road to the Arenal volcano for a memorable trek around its man-made lake. The numerous pathways across the site offer magnificent panoramic views of the volcano and the valley. After two hours walking amidst the volcanic rock and forest, you will deserve a reinvigorating break. Lulled by the song of tropical birds, revive your body in one of the five springs naturally heated by the magma of the volcano. Along the river Tabacón, in the heart of the jungle, you can admire a multitude of little waterfalls surrounded by lush vegetation. Settle down next to one of them and enjoy the swirling waters, while admiring the incredible view of the Arenal.
Arenal Volcano National Park
Calle Real el Castillo
Monteverde: the forest of a thousand wonders
With 2.5% of world biodiversity, Monteverde is one of the most popular attractions for ecotourists in Costa Rica. There, walking shoes and a camera are a must. During your exploration, you will not think twice about crossing the hanging bridges and braving weightlessness attached to a zip-line. On your athletic jaunt, you will discover gardens of butterflies, a jungle of bats, a pond of frogs and hundreds of species of mammals, reptiles, batrachians and birds. With your senses awakened, you can surreptitiously observe a hummingbird with its shimmering plumage discreetly perched on a branch. Everywhere around you, mysterious wild species are in hiding.
Monteverde biological reserve
Like a fish in water at Caño
Off the coast of the Osa peninsular, the island of Caño is considered to be one of the best scuba diving spots in the world. It is encircled by five coral reef platforms and home to diverse and astonishing wildlife. Dive in to the turquoise waters and admire the breathtaking marine biodiversity: eels, lobsters, sea turtles, whales, sharks, manta rays, bigeye jacks, amberjacks and other species which you have doubtless never met before.
On your return to dry land, do not miss the many archaeological treasures scattered around the island. In the middle of the jungle, standing in lush terrain, you can see some perfectly spherical stones, hand-sculpted out of magma rock with ochre glints. With a diameter of 2 metres on average, these remains of the pre-Columbian Diquis culture are still a real mystery for experts. Researchers do not know why they were created, leaving lots of scope for the imagination and the most bizarre theories.
Trek to the waterfalls of Rincón de la Vieja
Less than 30 kilometres from Liberia, follow the hiking trail of Senduro Encantado. In three hours, you cross the lowlands and enter the cloud-capped forest of Rincón de la Vieja, a volcano rising to an altitude of more than 1,900 metres. On the way, you can see exceptional fauna and flora and many hot water springs. The path winds between nine craters, one of which is still active.
On the return journey, freshen up in the little stream which runs alongside the road and stretch your legs by swimming in one of the many pools at the bottom of the enchanted waterfalls. There, in the heart of Costa Rica, rest for a while, lulled by the continuous sound of the waterfalls.
National Park of Rincón de la Vieja