- Written by Dan
Outpost Travel Planner: Costa Rica
The Outpost travel planner with the what, where, when, why and how of all things travel to Costa Rica
When To Go
The dry season, between December and April, and the beginning of the rainy season, between May and July, are the best times to visit. During the rest of the rainy season it can be harder to get around as dirt roads become muddy and flooding and mudslides are known to occur. If you’re a surf nut, the Pacific Coast offers superior waves in the rainy season, and on the Caribbean coast, the best swells occur from November to May.
The majority of flights arrive at Juan Santamaría International Airport in Alajuela, about 20 minutes from San José. There are direct flights from Canada though most connect through an American city such as Atlanta, Charlotte and Miami. Within Central America, it’s easy to reach San José by bus, as a comprehensive bus system links the Central American capitals together.
Costa Rica is small, which means flights within the country are short and not too expensive. There are two domestic airlines, Sansa and Nature Air. Nature Air, a recent partner in the UN’s World Heritage Alliance for Sustainable Tourism, is the world’s only carbon neutral airline www.natureair.com. It compensates 100 percent of its emissions by giving funds to local landowners for the preservation of tropical forests. Travellers can chose among daily flights from san José to 17 destinations in Costa Rica and Panama. Public transportation is easy and affordable. Buses go to almost every city and town in the country, and taxis are easy to find and inexpensive. Driving can be tricky—most roads are muddy, single lanes riddled with potholes that wind around mountains and are prone to flooding and mudslides.
What to See and Do
Our writer travelled to the Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge (playanicuesa.com), an eco-travel destination accessible only by boat. The area contains 2,600 varieties of plants, making it Central America’s largest remaining rainforest on the Pacific Coast. The lodge is built from naturally fallen trees and recycled materials, and uses solar power. Visitors can spy on more than 250 bird species, fish for Pacific Marlin, play sous chef for a meal and kayak and snorkel in the Golfo Dulce. Packages are for three to seven nights.
For surf fiends, Jacó, pronounced “ha- ko,” is one of the best places to surf in the country and, located midway along the Pacific coast, it is the closest surf town from Juan Santamaría International Airport. Surf lessons are available for those wanting to learn, as the beach’s mellower sections offer waves that suit even the most timid of beginner.
Arenal is one of the most fascinating destinations in Costa Rica. Arenal Volcano has been spewing lava almost every day for about 40 years, and the pyrotechnics are best viewed at night. While the most popular attraction is the view itself, the area also offers volcano hikes, horseback riding, mountain biking and river rafting. Or try a canopy tour—strapped into a harness, you zip along a cable that connects a series of treetop platforms, allowing you to immerse yourself in the rainforest.