An Eden with active volcanoes and rivers channeling through green valleys and jungles, Costa Rica lures eco-minded travelers eager to revel in nature. The compact Central American nation has numerous natural and historic attractions. To start, there’s Puerto Limon, near where Christopher Columbus anchored his hurricane-battered ship during his fourth tour of the Americas. From there, visitors can stroll sun-drenched beaches, savor Caribbean-inspired cuisine and shop for souvenirs before venturing into Costa Rica’s eco-rich interior for a grand adventure amid cloud forests, active volcanoes and rain forests.
Less than an hour from Puerto Limon, Veragua Rainforest offers endless panoramic views on an aerial tram ride through the treetops. Along with miles of walking trails leading to towering waterfalls, this research and adventure park has live exhibits, including one of the largest indoor nocturnal frog displays in the world, along with a butterfly garden, aflutter with blue morphos.
On the Pacific coast, Puntarenas bustles with activities on the weekend. This once-sleepy fishing village has rustic bars and businesses ideal for mingling with the locals. Situated between the beaches of Golfo de Nicoya and some of the country’s highest peaks, Puntarenas is a half-hour drive from the Carara Biological Reserves, with more than 11,750 acres of unspoiled tropical forest inhabited by colorful parakeets, toucans and macaws. Slightly drier and less dense than the rain forests farther south, it’s easier to spot wildlife here, making Carara a favorite destination for bird-watchers.