COSTA RICA, THE JEWEL OF CENTRAL AMERICA

costa Rica occupies 0.035 per cent of the world’s landmass but contains five per cent of its biodiversity with twelve thousand species of plants and animals.  These species dwell among Costa Rica’s picturesque rainforests, volcanoes, mountains, beaches, mangrove forests, and cloud forests. The country landscape has fascinated travelers for centuries, establishing it as a popular tourist destination known as one of the premier destinations to experience high-altitude tropical cloud forests and nature conservation. The country has seven provinces, each with its own characteristics:

Limón

L

imón is spread across the country’s eastern half and holds the Caribbean coast and an array of attractions. Limón extends over 3,547 square miles of humid lowlands and lush mountain slopes and is bordered by a long Caribbean coastline, making it the country’s fourth-largest province. Within that area lie gorgeous beaches and several protected areas, among them Tortuguero National Park, the Parque Nacional Manzanillo, and the Playa Puerto Viejo. Limón is a cultural giant that befits its tropical climate, with strong indigenous, Afro-Caribbean, and Chinese influences interacting amidst enchanting landscapes.

The gorgeous Manzanillo 

The tropical white sand beach of Limon (Punta Uva)

Guanacaste

The lovely Coast of Samara in Guanacaste,  beautifully shot by Robin Canfield on Unsplash 

The country’s northwest corner belongs to Guanacaste province, famous for its beaches and holds more hotels and tourism infrastructure than those of other regions. Guanacaste became part of Costa Rica in 1824 when its inhabitants voted to join the country in the so-called Annexation of Nicoya. Like Limón, the peninsula is bordered by a long coastline, with an array of beaches washed by the Pacific Ocean’s warm waters.

The stunning Playa Hermosa in Guanacaste 

The Picturesque Samara Beach 

 Guanacaste stretches eastward from the coast to the misty peaks of several volcanoes, such as Rincón de la Vieja, Miravalles, and Tenorio Volcano National Park. Between those peaks and coast lies a vast savannah that has been a cultural cradle for countless centuries. Guanacaste was once the territory of the Chorotega Indians, whose heritage can be found in its traditional cuisine, handicrafts, and folklore.

The lovely Rio Celeste at the Tenorio National Park 

Puntarenas

The beautiful greenery of Manuel Antonio National Park

Stretching to the south of Guanacaste is Puntarenas, the largest province which comprises the rest of the country’s Pacific coast, one of its principal ports, and an array of national parks. The Manuel Antonio National Park is one such park, a combination of tropical forests, beaches, and the aquamarine sea. Another is the country’s largest Corcovado National Park, to the south, which is one of the country’s biologically richest areas.  Puntarenas also holds the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.

Capuchin monkey at Manuel Antonio National Park 

 

Squirrel monkey  at Corcovado National Park

Alajuela

The Alajuela, known by Costa Ricans as the “City of Mangos”.  It has rich farmland, and a warm climate, that facilitates the cultivation of tropical fruit. Alajuela province covers 19% of the national territory and holds popular natural attractions such as Poás Volcano National Park, one of the country’s most visited sites. 

The Botas Lagoon at Poás Volcano National Park

To the north lies the Arenal Volcano National Park, known for its active volcano and nearby are Tabacón Hot Springs and Lake Arenal. A little farther to the north is Caño Negro Wildlife Reserve, a great spot for bird watching.  Alajuela also holds some prime examples of Costa Rican culture, such as the painted oxcarts of Sarchí and the bits of history preserved in the Juan Santamaría Museum, named after its national hero.

Tabacón Hot Springs

Arenal Volcano

Cartago

Cartago was the first city established in Latin America by the Spanish conquistadores in 1562, once the heart of colonial Costa Rica.  Cartago was Costa Rica’s original capital, but after it was severely damaged by an earthquake, the seat of government was moved to San José. In Cartago, found the Ruins of Santiago de Apóstol, a church that was under construction when an earthquake hit in 1910. Other historic buildings include the original library, the Colegio San Luis Gonzaga, Quircot Church and the Pirie Building.  

Historic ruins in Cartago (photo by Emmanuel Appiah on unsplash)

To the north of the city towers Irazú Volcano, the country’s highest Volcano. The slopes are covered with the vegetable and dairy farms for which Cartago is known. The province also holds Tapantí National Park, Turrialba Volcano National Park, and the Guayabo National Monument, one of the country’s largest and most important archaeological sites.

Irazú Volcano (photo by Juliana Barquero on Unsplash)

Heredia

While it may be one of Costa Rica’s smallest provinces, Heredia has no shortage of treasures. Just north of the city of Heredia, a town called Barva, for example, holds a picturesque collection of colonial houses. The province’s natural assets include the vast wilderness of Braulio Carrillo National Park, the smaller protected areas of the adjacent Sarapiquí region, and Barra del Colorado National Wildlife Reserve, near the country’s border with Nicaragua.

Tunnel entrance at Braulio Carrillo National Park

Besides Heredia’s grand wealth of colonial and natural sites, it also holds one of the principal coffee production regions in Costa Rica. The city’s picturesque coffee farms are attractions in their own right and hold both an important economic and cultural role in the nation’s history.

El antiguo fortín in Heredia

 

San José

San José is the country’s transportation hub, from where travelers can easily reach its other provincial capitals and natural attractions. It is thus a convenient point of departure for exploring Costa Rica’s varied and beautiful regions. The Costa Rican capital is also its smallest but most densely populated province. It is home to nearly 1.5 million inhabitants and day visitors.  And consequently, the country’s most diverse province.

Its people share a friendly nature that visitors are quick to note. San José is surrounded by hills and mountains covered with a verdant mantle of coffee farms and forest patches that counterbalance the urban sprawl and hustle-bustle. As the capital city, it has the country’s best museums and various architectural gems, such as the National Theater.

Museo Nacional De Costa Rica

Make this golden destination your next place for Vacation, Baecation, Staycation and top of your bucket list to explore.  You will not regret choosing this lovely, secluded, and sustainable destination of greenery, gorgeous beaches plenty adventure and eco-friendly places to stay.     

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1 Comment

  1. Picturesque place….very lmpressive to visit


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