This post was most recently updated on December 17th, 2015
Costa Rica, among many other things, is a surfers’ paradise, a wildlife haven, a country of adventure, a tropical beach destination. If you didn’t already know the definition of Costa Rica, now you do. And if you really want to get technical, it also translates to “rich coast”, and I’m definitely not questioning that proclamation either.
If, someday, you’re lucky enough to find yourself on a Costa Rican beach with a fruity drink in your hand, then you’re doing pretty well for yourself. Life is good. And when you find yourself on said beach with said fruity drink, your biggest problem will be this: “There are so many amazing things to do here that I can’t even choose.” Yes, I heard you, you can’t even. Now, that’s a first world problem if I’ve ever heard one. But don’t worry, that’s why I’m here. I will help you with your (first world) problem and come to your rescue.
You can’t leave Costa Rica without endeavoring on an iconic ziplining adventure. Breathe in the fresh rainforest air and sense your heart beating a little faster as you push off the platform, into the open air. Soar through the treetops, as waterfalls crash below and butterflies flutter by. Keep your ears open for the sounds of howler monkeys’ shrieks and your eyes open to take in the entire experience. Also, record it with a GoPro so you can watch yourself screaming like a maniac later.
Watch Baby Sea Turtles Hatch
Watching baby sea turtles hatch on the beach under the moonlight in Costa Rica is a magical experience. You will never forget the sight of baby sea turtles all hatching together, uncoordinatedly sifting through the sand, trying to find the ocean. Keep your eyes out for big momma sea turtles laying their eggs too. If you’re lucky like I was, you’ll see both in one night. But a quick note for those lovely creatures’ safety: be very quiet, don’t use flashlights or flash photography, and keep a good distance.
Hike in the Jungle
You must hike through the jungle in Costa Rica; ziplining in the jungle is, simply, not enough. Hike through the paths, in search of beautiful waterfalls and swimming holes, while also on the look out for native Costa Rican critters such as coatis, spider monkeys, sloths, and jaguars.
Bar Hop on the Beach
Grab a couple of pals, find a beach, then find a bar. Then drink. Then walk along the beach for a bit, get your feet wet. Then go to the next bar. Then drink. Then go to the next bar and do what? Oh yeah, drink. Question: How does that sound? Answer: Freakin’ awesome.
Experience an Epic Sunset
If there’s one thing that Costa Rica is known for (besides all of the other amazing things it’s known for), then it would be its unbelievable sunsets. Do yourself a favor and make a point of watching each and every sunset during your Costa Rican adventure. You won’t regret it!
Hang Out with the Locals
And by locals, I mean monkeys. But the human locals are actually really great too. So either way, you can’t go wrong. I met some white-faced capuchin monkeys who tried to steal my granola bar out of my hand, while looking deeply into my eyes, silently begging me to hand it over. One of the little guys even bit me! I decided to forgive them on account of their cuteness. I also met a few humans by the names of Santos, Andrey, Fabian, and Jairo, all of whom were incredibly fun to be around, absolutely hilarious, and also helpful when it came down to important travel logistics. I know that I say this about just about everywhere I go, but this time I mean it: you will never find locals as nice and friendly as the ones you’ll meet in Costa Rica.
Snorkel on a Booze Cruise
Snorkeling? And drinking? In Costa Rica, no less? And did you mention that an open bar and good music also exist on this magical boat? Yes, yes, yes, and yes! But really, doesn’t that sound like a good time? While I can’t vouch for the best snorkeling in the world (try Belize instead), I can pretty much guarantee you a rocking time at sea (literally, too!) with a bunch of other fun-loving, adventure-seeking travelers.
Get a Massage on the Beach
Yeah, this is a must in pretty much every tropical destination. But in Costa Rica, you can head to a public beach, hand over about $15 USD (plus a couple more for a tip) to a nice Costa Rican woman, and she’ll give you the best hour massage of your life, meanwhile you lay there, listening to the waves crash and smiling because you’re in COSTA RICA (and because you’re getting a really awesome massage)!
Live the “Pura Vida” Lifestyle
Pura vida directly translates to pure life, but it means so much more than that. It’s a greeting and a farewell, it’s a way to say things like life is good, everything is good, take it easy, and it is what it is, among many other things. Not only is pura vida a saying with many meanings, but also, to every Costa Rican, pura vida is a way of life. The deeper meaning that resonates with all Costa Ricans is the idea that they have very many reasons to be happy, and they should remember that, because no matter what, life could be much worse. During your visit to Costa Rica, remember to greet everyone you see with a friendly “Pura vida!”, remember to be grateful for the life you have, and know that your life is short, so you should enjoy it while you can.
So there you have it, my friends! 9 things to do in Costa Rica. Rather, 9 things you must do in Costa Rica. Costa Rica is an incredible place with the best people, delicious food, beautiful beaches, and so much more, that you really can’t go wrong no matter what you do; but if you want to do Costa Rica the right way, follow this list of nine things to do in Costa Rica!