Number one on the Happy Planet Index, Costa Rica has it all. This tiny nation is the original eco-tourist mecca, where five percent of all Earth's species reside on only .01% of the planet's land mass. Breathtaking landscapes, lush jungle, an endless array of adventure activities, and postcard-worthy beaches along two seductive, snaking coastlines.

What more could you ask for?

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Popular destinations in Costa Rica

Arenal

Costa Rica's adventure capital. Wildlife-filled jungles in the shadow of Arenal Volcano's perfect cone.

Once the most active volcano in Costa Rica, Arenal drew crowds to see nightly shows of red-hot lava spewed from its crater. Today, the volcano’s activity is limited to rumbles and an occasional puff of steam, but its majestic silhouette still cuts one of the most striking landscapes in the country. There is something for everyone here – rainforest, wildlife, natural hot springs, romantic hideaways, and plenty of room for an adrenaline rush. White water rafting, zip lining, waterfall rappelling – the list goes on and on.

Learn more about Arenal.

Monteverde Cloud Forest

A mystical, magical realm of coffee plantations, crisp alpine air and mist-shrouded mountains.

Monteverde, the birthplace of the Costa Rican eco-tourism movement, is one of the most visited destinations in the country, a bird and wildlife watching mecca, with visitors arriving to explore this place where exotic creatures abound, a cool fog hangs low on the ground, and moss clings to every visible surface. Green on green on green. 

Learn more about Monteverde.

Santa Teresa

A tranquil beach community at the southeastern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula.

Framed by a broad strip of forest on one side and ocean waves on the other, Santa Teresa is a surfer’s dream, home to epic swells that make even the most seasoned surfers drool. With a charming, end-of-the-road allure, Santa Teresa offers boutique hotels in place of chains and high rises, and local eateries instead of franchises. One more thing? The sunsets here are like nowhere else – flaming displays that light up the sky in shades of molten orange, gold, fuchsia and soft, cotton-candy pink. To die for.

Learn more about Santa Teresa.

Manuel Antonio

One of the country’s prettiest beach locales – sugary white sand beaches backed by jungle.

Nestled on the Central Pacific Coast, Manuel Antonio is one of the nation’s smallest national parks, but the old adage that good things come in small packages is certainly true here. With perfect, powdery beaches, calm turquoise waters nearly unheard of on the Pacific, and thick swathes of rainforest with visible, friendly (perhaps too friendly) wildlife, Manuel Antonio is the perfect way to dip your toes into the pura vida vibe with a little rest, a little relaxation and a big dose of fun in the sun. 

Learn more about Manuel Antonio.

Tortuguero

A labyrinth of waterways, channels, and canals running through wild, untamed jungle brimming with wildlife.

Tucked away in the wilderness, accessible only by boat or plane, Tortuguero sits on a narrow finger of land between the Atlantic Ocean and Tortuguero Lagoon. Its pristine dark-sand beaches are a key nesting site for four species of sea turtle, and its rainforests are just as astonishing, home to monkeys, jaguars, tapirs, 300 bird species, and many, many more.

Learn more about Tortuguero.

Osa Peninsula

Nat Geo calls the Osa Peninsula "the most biologically intense place on Earth". Need we say more?

On Costa Rica’s South Pacific exists a remote, rugged, and seemingly enchanted place, where jungle meets sea, nature is king, and the modern world ceases to exist, if only for a moment. Monkeys play in the trees overhead, while toucans call (an odd, frog-like sound) and scarlet macaws squawk as they cruise by. You could wind along the coastline for hours – days even – without seeing another soul, and that is the real magic of this place: it forces you to disconnect with your cell and reconnect with yourself.

Learn more about the Osa Peninsula.

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