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ARENAL :: CORCOVADO :: GUANACASTE :: MANUEL ANTONIO :: MONTEVERDE :: SAN JOSE :: TORTUGUERO
One of the most active volcanoes in the world, Arenal is an enthralling natural wonder. Almost daily, visitors can witness it grumble, spew red-hot lava rocks, and blow columns of ash high above the crater. A wide range of activities are available here: take a dip in the famed Tabacon Hot Springs; travel through the cloud forest on a network of suspension bridges and platforms; watch for the many varieties of birds at Arenal Lake; go horseback riding, whitewater rafting, canoeing, fishing, waterfall repelling, hiking, or spelunking through Venado Caves. And, of course, keep your camera ready to capture photos of area wildlife, like jaguars, sloths, white-faced monkeys, and coati.
Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula is the crown jewel in a vast system of national parks and preserves across Costa Rica. The largest primary tropical rainforest on the American Pacific coastline, it features more than 500 species of trees and has been dubbed by National Geographic the "most biologically intense place on Earth." Here you may encounter the endangered Baird's Tapir, the rare Harpy Eagle, jaguar, ocelot, puma, all four Costa Rican monkey species, American crocodiles, spectacled caiman, scarlet macaws, pelicans, coatis, two- and three-toed sloths, four species of sea turtle, and 220 species of butterflies.
On the North Pacific region of Costa Rica, Guanacaste is a haven for birders and nature lovers, with its hundreds of white-sand, unspoiled beaches, pristine rivers, volcanoes, and untouched nature reserves. One of its protected areas, Rincon de la Vieja National Park—known as Costa Rica's Yellowstone—is a refuge for birds and wildlife, including toucans, monkeys, and more. With its refreshing waterfalls and steamy, sulfur water ponds, it is a popular attraction for visitors to this region. Other Guanacaste activities include rainforest canopy tours, river rafting, horseback riding, snorkeling, watching breathtaking sunsets, hiking, and more.
The smallest of Costa Rica's national parks, Manuel Antonio is the country's second-most visited conservation area. Located on the Pacific Coast, it is the natural habitat of species including the endangered endemic squirrel monkey, white-faced capuchin monkey, three-toed sloths, coatis, pelicans, and kingfishers. Dense mangrove swamps filled with three different species-red mangrove, buttonwood mangrove, and white mangrove-add to the biodiversity of the region. Activities include Naturalist-led jungle walks, canopy tours, deep-sea fishing, diving, kayaking, and mountain biking.
Straddling the Continental Divide at an altitude of 4,662 feet, Costa Rica's Monteverde Cloud Forest is a fascinating wildlife sanctuary full of ferns, vines, mosses, 420 types of orchids, and other lush plant life. With attractions like zip lines and suspension bridge tours along the forest canopy, Monteverde is one of the most famous ecotourism areas in Central America-and home to more than 120 species of mammals, such as the jaguar, ocelot, and Baird's tapir, and over 400 bird species, including the elusive Resplendent Quetzal.
Nestled high in the central valley between verdant volcanic mountains is the Costa Rican capital of San José. As the country's cultural hub, San José has at its heart the National Theater, Plaza de la Cultura, the Cathedral, and the Gold Museum, and is home to many fine museums, parks, restaurants, a national symphony, nightclubs, and casinos. Near-perfect weather is a big attraction, with temperatures consistently in the low- to mid-70s. The city's central location makes it an ideal jumping-off point for visits to nearby beaches and national parks.
Monograms provides travelers access to a Local Host®, so you will have someone on hand to answer those vacation questions pertaining to San José. No waiting in line at the concierge desk or trying to ask your waitress at breakfast directions to the shopping district. Simply ask your Local Host® about San José and you'll be on your way in no time. Plus, your Local Host® will share local San José insights and share suggestions for getting off the beaten path, leaving you more time to create lasting vacation memories that are yours alone.
Created just twenty years ago as the place for art lovers to see contemporary Costa Rican painting and sculpture, this museum offers modern art in every medium imaginable.
Located in the old Bellavista Fortress, the National Museum houses Costa Rica's past surrounded by bullet-riddled stone walls. The National Museum is situated on 17th Street, between Central and Second Avenues, on the Cuesta de Moras. It is adjacent to the Plaza de la Democracia. The National Museum offers a brief overview of the country's history, beginning with pre-Columbian artifacts, traveling through the time of the conquistadors, and gradually merging into the present. A small butterfly museum rounds out the collection.
Located beneath the Plaza de la Cultura, this museum is home to the most valuable collection of pre-Columbian gold in the world. More than 2,600 gold artifacts are on exhibit, as well as a history of Costa Rica's currency and a collection of rare coins and bills.
It's not all jade, though the beautiful green stone takes center stage at the aptly-named museum. In addition to pre-Columbian jade jewelry, carved artifacts and display objects, you will find ceramics, precious stones and gold miniatures from different cultural areas of Costa Rica.
Learning is fun at this interactive museum, where kids play with hands-on exhibits that focus on science and technology, as well as traditional culture, art and literature of Costa Rica.
You’ll find the largest collection of American jade in this black glass building. You’ll also enjoy panoramic views of the city on the 11th floor of this stunning structure.
For an experience that’s truly “golden,” don’t miss the Gold Museum. Housed beneath the Plaza de la Cultura, this underground museum has more than 2,000 pre-Columbian gold objects on display.
If you’re looking for a brief respite from sightseeing, nothing is more soothing than this butterfly garden in the heart of the city. Learn about native species and enjoy a pick-me-up in the coffee shop.
Costa Ricans eat black beans at almost every meal, including breakfast. For a taste of native cuisine, head to Lukas for the black bean soup or the Gallo Pinto, a dish made of black beans, rice, and usually accompanied by fresh eggs, cheese, and fried plantain.
Regional cuisine with an adventurous twist is served at La Luz. The menu features fresh local ingredients prepared with ethnic influences. The beef tenderloin in strawberry-balsamic reduction is one of its most popular dishes.
This 2-story specialty shop in the Hotel Don Carlos carries a selection of jewelry, books, art, leather goods, and local crafts that you’ll find nowhere else. You may go in seeking souvenirs for others, but you’ll walk out with treasures for yourself.
This isn’t a café but a Costa Rican coffee liqueur that makes for an excellent souvenir. For the best prices, skip the boutiques and head straight to a local grocery store.
San José is disco central and this club is where the locals go for hot Latin and international music. The dance floors are large and the drinks flow freely.
For a quieter evening, try the Shakespeare Bar. Live blues, soul, and jazz provide the perfect backdrop at a place where you can sit back with friends, order a drink, and enjoy the atmosphere.
Probably Costa’s Rica’s most authentic market, the San José Central Market features more than 350 booths selling everything imaginable, from spices and fish to hammocks and flowers. Open daily, it is located on Central Avenue in the heart of the city.
Although it can only be reached by plane or boat, Tortuguero is one of the most visited parks in Costa Rica. Situated on the Caribbean coast, the park includes rainforests, swamps, and beaches, which are key nesting grounds for endangered sea turtles. Caimans, crocodiles, and freshwater turtles make the rivers within the park their home, while the forests provide prime habitat for jaguars, three-toed sloths, and Spider, Howler, and Capuchin Monkeys. Poisonous frogs can also be found in the area, along with 375 species of birds and bountiful flora that includes more than 400 species of trees and about 2,200 species of plants.
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