Eco Traveler’s Guide to Costa Rica’s Best National Parks & Fun Activities

Jan 19, 2024

Zipline through Manuel Antonio straight to the cloud forests of Monteverde – sound impossible? It probably is – but your dream vacation in Costa Rica isn’t.

On a normal day, if you wake up to the sound of howler monkeys and the sight of lush green canopies, you're a) still dreaming, b) running a fever of around 40 degrees Celsius, or c) losing your marbles. But, when you're in Costa Rica.... it just means you left the window open, or fell asleep under a lush green canopy - or both (?). In any case, it's not a figment of your imagination; you're there - with the monkeys, and the canopies.

Of course, if you're here (reading this), you're probably not there    •but you should be there. Costa Rica is one of the most popular travel destinations - and for good reason.

A country that embraces eco-tourism, Costa Rica has a lot to offer to any nature lover - whether you're looking for a relaxing hot spring or an exciting walking tour on suspension bridges. You could be birdwatching in the Arenal Volcano National Park one day and ziplining through the Manuel Antonio National Park the next.

Just make sure you're prepared for the trip by planning your itinerary. You don't wanna miss out on some of the most breathtaking sites because you were too lazy to plan properly!

With that in mind, here are some things you definitely want to put on your bucketlist...

Admire Wildlife at Manuel Antonio National Park

For such a small national park - Costa Rica's smallest - Manuel Antonio sure has a lot to offer. It's famous for its biodiversity, so you really can't miss this one.

The park is home to 109 species of mammals and 184 species of birds - so keep your eyes peeled for white-faced capuchin monkeys, sunbathing iguanas, and of course the most adorable - and relatable - animal on the planet, the sloth. (What, just me? You gotta respect the sloth! They've got life all figured out...)

All those beautiful animals live surrounded by some of the world's most breathtaking beaches and waterfalls. To say that these sites are picturesque is doing them a disservice - they're simply surreal and something you need to see and experience for yourself. Of course that doesn't mean you shouldn't take photos - after all, mom will expect a slideshow of no less than 100 images. Better get snapping!

Plenty of activities for you to try too - from hiking and snorkeling to ziplining and surfing. And, don't forget to get a guided tour. Trust me, you don't want to just walk through this place - you want someone to help you spot all the creatures and teach you about the history of the park and the ongoing conservation efforts.

Walk Through the Clouds (literally!) in Monteverde Cloud Forest

If you've been googling Costa Rica, you've probably seen the photos of people walking literally through the clouds - and if you're anything like me, you thought to yourself: Well shit - this I gotta try!

Well shiiiit, no reason you (we!) shouldn't! I'm booking one of these tours right after I book my flight.

With low-hanging clouds hovering around the upper canopy, hazy mist all around you, the trailing foliage creating a magical forest setting, and the sound of wildlife unlike anything else on this planet, you'll feel like a character in a fantasy novel or an adventurer in a D&D campaign.

While you traverse these mystical lands, pay close attention to your surroundings. There are 500 different orchids in the Monteverde region. No other place on Earth has that many.

You also wanna keep your eyes peeled for the elusive Quetzal bird. You can only find it in the cloud forests of Central America, so if you're an avid birdwatcher.... you probably know this, but this is your shot.

Soak in a Hot Spring in Arenal Volcano National Park

This being a national park with not one, but two, volcanos, there's a lot of geothermal activity going on - which means... yes, of course, volcanic eruptions; but also - and more to the point! - natural hot springs.

And there's all kinds of them, too! If eco-friendly tourism is your first priority - and you want to experience one of the best hot springs Costa Rica has to offer, then head to Tabacón Hot Springs. You can try five pools with different temperatures, take a cold plunge in the river, and enjoy the water slide too - and you don't even have to be a guest.

If, when I say "hot spring" the first word that comes to mind is "luxury", then Titoku Hot Springs is for you. Surrounded by lush gardens and ambient light in the evening, you can enjoy eight pools and a full-service bar.


Surf the Waves in Tamarindo and Jacó

If you want to surf the waves in Costa Rica, you can’t go wrong with Tamarindo and Jacó. Might be hard to hit both - but I definitely recommend both, if you can.

Located in the Guanacaste province, Tamarindo is packed with surfers - so you’ll be among your own. And when you're not surfing, you can explore the restaurants and bars, and take a nice (romantic or not romantic) walk along the coast. The beach is famous for its sunsets - so definitely put that on your bucketlist.

Known, equally, for its dark brown sands and its party atmosphere, Jacó is the place to go if vibrant nightlife is on your must-have list. And, of course, it's great for surfing. (duh!) Located in Puntarenas, Jacó mainly draws a younger crowd, while Tamarindo is more family-friendly.

Either way, great waves await!

Start Planning Your Eco-Tourism Vacation in Costa Rica

Of course, those are just some of the places you should visit - there are many more fun things to do in Costa Rica, especially for eco-travelers. Before you pack your bags, get your plane tickets - and your cloud forest tour tickets! - make sure you have it all written down.

To get started on your itinerary, check out Ever Wonder Adventure    •they're all about sustainable lifestyle and eco-tourism, so you might find some extra tips that I forgot to mention.

Start planning your trip at

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