The name of this Central American country is translated from Spanish as “rich coast”. Costa Rica attracts tourists who prefer an active and educational holiday. There are several national parks in the country, interesting museums are open and natural attractions compete with the architectural monuments of the colonial era, so you will certainly not experience a lack of answers to the question of what to see in Costa Rica.
TOP-10 Costa Rica Attractions
The Treasure Island prototype from Stevenson’s novel and Desert Island, where Robinson Crusoe was cast in the book by Defoe, known to all from childhood, is, it turns out, off the coast of Costa Rica. Coconut is the largest uninhabited in the world. It is located 600 km. from the country’s west coast and to watch the unique flora and fauna more than a thousand tourists come every year. Organized tours usually include guest pickup by sea from the port of Puntarenas. The majority of those who arrive in Cocos are divers.
In addition to the underwater world of the island, several unique ecosystems deserve attention, protected by UNESCO, including exceptionally valuable natural areas. Due to the remoteness of the continent, the island has a special system of vegetation belts. It is covered with tropical rainforests unparalleled in this part of the Pacific. One third of the world’s flowering plants are found only on coconut. In the coastal waters you can see humpback whales, dolphins, sea lions and other representatives of the animal kingdom that have chosen the waters off the coast of Costa Rica for their permanent residence.
Tropical rainforests are the main focus of protection and care for workers in La Amistad National Park, which was established in 1988 on the border with Panama. Most of the reserve is occupied by the Cordillera mountain range and the park’s highest peak is 3500m. Above sea level.
La Amistad is characterized by a wide variety of biological species that live there. During the excursion you will meet many primates, including the rare Geoffroy’s fur; a giant anteater with a body length of more than one meter; the largest representative of the trogon-like birds – the issue and many other, no less unique and interesting animals. In La Amistad you will find absolutely all kinds of South American representatives of the cat family.
The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Among 170 volcanoes on Costa Rican territory, you can just go down into the Turrialba crater and observe the secondary activity, as experts call it, right from the scene. The volcano is located 30 km east of the country’s capital and its peak is 3,340 m above sea level. Turrialba ranks second in the list of the largest properties of its kind in Costa Rica.
Although the last serious Turrialba eruption occurred in the mid-19th century, it regularly worries people in the area. For example, in the spring of 2015, the mountain began throwing out so much ash that the San Jose airport had to be closed and people from surrounding areas were evacuated.
Another volcano in Costa Rica is known to tourists for its perfectly regular cone. The altitude of the mountain is 1670 m. And in the evening on the slopes and at the top, the lights come on and effectively illuminate everything around. Tourists from all regions of Costa Rica come to see the scenic surroundings at dusk.
However, Arenal is not always and will not always be so peaceful. Eruptions occur quite regularly with interruptions lasting for centuries, the last serious one occurring in the 1960s. Last century, and insignificantly – more recently in 2008.
Arenal’s surroundings are tropical forests with rich vegetation. The slopes of the mountain are also home to dozens of species of animals and birds, found only in this part of the planet.
In 2011, Forbs magazine named Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica one of the 12 most beautiful parks in the world. The reason for this is the impressive landscapes, secluded beach coves with white sand and of course the biodiversity of the species of animals and birds that live in the region: more than a hundred species of mammals and almost two hundred – representatives of birds. The vegetation of Manuel Antonio is also remarkable: the park is home to hundreds of species of trees, grasses and flowers.
Manuel Antonio is Costa Rica’s most visited natural park. Up to 150,000 people visit it every year. For tourists in the park, the infrastructure is constantly being developed and updated, new hiking trails are being built, parking lots, mountain bikes, kayaks and diving equipment rentals are being organized.
The very name of the Tortuguero Park on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica suggests that turtles are protected in the reserve. The park’s beaches have long been a breeding ground for endangered species. Founded in 1975, Tortuguero cares for the metre-high pinniped turtles: hawksbills with elongated heads; green turtles, whose weight often exceeds 200 kg; leatherbacks – the largest representative of the turtle genus among the survivors on Earth.
The evergreen forests of Tortuguero Park are home to jaguars, sloths, ocelots and tapirs, and among the 375 species of birds that live in the reserve, kingfishers, parrots and toucans are particularly notable.
The vegetation is represented by only 400 tree species, while there are a total of around 2500 species of flora representatives in the park.
Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels
The famous basilica in the town of Cartago was built in 1639, rebuilt after a terrible earthquake and is today considered one of the most beautiful sights in Costa Rica. The story of its appearance is linked to the legend of the acquisition of the image of the Mother of God, which was found by a village girl and which indicates where the temple will be built.
The stone statue of the Virgin is the basilica’s most important relic, preserved in a golden bowl. Thousands of pilgrims come to the basilica on 2 August, the day of Costa Rica’s patron saint. They bathe in a fountain that flows out of the mountain, where the statue of Our Lady of the Angels was once found.
The Jade Museum
Jade belongs to the family of ornamental stones and is widespread in Central America. It is valued for its variety of shades – from white to dark green – and its excellent processing properties. Jade was used by the Indians, and in San Jose you can see the richest collection of mineral artefacts in Costa Rica.
Around 7,000 objects for different purposes are presented on the stand. The oldest found by archaeologists was created by the people of Central America during the 5th to 3rd centuries. BC AD, when stone was the main material for tribal trade and highly valued. Jade was even sold to North America to the Olmec and Maya.
Most of the exhibits are depictions of animals and birds, statues of gods and mythical characters, shamanic accessories, jewellery and household items.
Jade was used in absolutely every sphere of life by the ancient inhabitants of Costa Rica. It was used at birth as amulets and at funerals, and jade handicrafts were sent with the deceased on their last journey. The mineral was used to make dishes and knife handles, to decorate houses and altars.
The museum is located on Central Avenue in San Jose, and the building resembles an untreated block of freshly mined jade.
Pre-Columbian Gold Museum
The collection of the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum in the country’s capital, San Jose, is part of a larger exhibition by the Central Bank of Costa Rica. The museum is known for its unique collection of objects made of gold and other precious metals found throughout Central America. The exhibition clearly shows the level of competence of the tribes that inhabited the region in the pre-Columbian era of the Americas.
The collection consists of 1,600 objects from the period 1500 to 500 B.C.E. The exhibition presents technologies for the extraction and processing of gold, jewellery tools, the method of making objects and individual techniques by which stones were fixed and inlays and engravings were carried out.
Among the Central Bank’s exhibits in San Jose is also an archaeological collection. The oldest exhibits date back to 300 B.C.E. Particularly rare are the tools and stone figurines found in the ceremonial temples of the Indian tribes who lived in the region.
An ethnographic exhibition shows the daily life of modern indigenous peoples. You will see textiles and baskets, machines and equipment for making wine, hunting weapons, musical instruments and costumes.
San Jose Children’s Center
If you’ve arrived in Costa Rica with children, you can spend an interesting and eventful day with the whole family at the capital’s Science and Culture Centre. Among other items on the centre’s territory is the Children’s Museum, which was opened in a historic building that was once a prison.
Today, the old fortress, painted in bright yellow, does not even remotely resemble its former purpose. The 3000 m2. m. you will find many entertainment venues and attractions.
Interactive exhibits are open in the children’s recreation centre, where young visitors can study the structure of the universe, planet Earth and the human body, get acquainted with precise science and playfully understand the basic laws of physics and chemistry.
The children’s centre has a café with a variety of dishes on the menu, perfect for young travellers. The museum hosts parties and themed events for children, but the language of communication is mainly Spanish.