Costa Rica luxury vacations map & highlights
MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR TIME
Costa Rica may be small, but it’s crammed with ecosystems, activities and adventure. It also offer vacations to suit all budgets, so if you’re after a real treat, rest assured that Costa Rica can serve up its wild forests, adrenaline adventures and beautiful beaches with luxury knobs on, too. In common with most trips to Costa Rica, luxury packages tend to take in at least three locations, so you can experience coast, volcanoes and national parks, for example, staying for at least two nights in each and hopping on internal flights to trim out slow trips along bumpy roads.
Arenal is the most famous of Costa Rica’s 16 volcanoes, rising above a national park packed with wildlife and adventure. Take the sky tram up then ride seven zip lines down through the trees, or walk nature trails to discover birds, howler monkeys, waterfalls and barren lava fields. Luxury accommodation here sits discretely amongst the trees for an authentic rainforest experience.
Manuel Antonio National Park
Protecting coastal forest, mangroves, beach and ocean, Costa Rica’s smallest national park is one of its most diverse, hopping with 109 mammal and 180 bird species. It’s an adventure playground, too – try surfing, paddle boarding and kayaking, or hike the coastal path deep into the rainforest. The park is popular, but luxury trips steer away from crowded beaches in favour of remote, secluded accommodation.
Monteverde Cloud Forest
Shrouded in mist almost all the time, Monteverde’s forest features trees sprouting orchids, mosses and bromeliads, which thrive on the moist, chilly air. Around 400 bird species live here, including the elusive quetzal. Visitor numbers are capped, but it’s still one of Costa Rica’s busiest spots, although its infrastructure is excellent, with great canopy walkways, zip lining and well maintained trails.
The Pacific coast features on most luxury itineraries; its extensive coastline, wind and waves delighting surfers and windsurfers. This is Costa Rica’s driest region, so sunny beach days are a delight, and it’s home to the country’s highest concentration of luxury resorts. If here during the rainy season, take a night tour to Ostional to see thousands of turtles nesting before each new moon.
This primary rainforest was once something of a hidden gem, but now features on many luxury itineraries. It’s an activities hotspot, offering hikes to waterfalls, guided walks, zip lining and canopy tours, and the Pacuare River has grade II-V rafting. Sitting at its heart is a superb luxury lodge, accessed only by raft, with eco-friendly bungalows providing an electricity-free stay.
Tortuguero National Park
The Amazon of Costa Rica, Tortuguero boasts lush rainforest echoing to the call of howler monkeys, which shelters otters, manatees and sloths. Rivers meander to the Caribbean shore where green turtles nest between July and September. The only way into this region is by boat, and a handful of luxury hotels, each with its own private dock, sit near the park entrance.
Costa Rica luxury travel advice
TIPS FROM OUR FRIENDS IN COSTA RICA
Why book a luxury trip to Costa Rica?
“Costa Rica is a model for sustainable tourism in every way, so one of the best things about traveling there is knowing you are doing so responsibly. There are some truly spectacular hotels and villas around the country, as well as some totally once-in-a-lifetime experiences and activities out there. It has such a rich and varied ecosystem, so you have everything: adventure activities, lying on the beach, hiking in the rainforest... The possibilities are endless.”
When to visit tips
“You can travel to Costa Rica pretty much throughout the year if you’re not bothered by sporadic rain. There is a rainy season, but the rains tend to be limited to a few hours in the afternoon so it’s still fine to travel around. Christmas and January can get very busy, though, so if you’re looking for something a bit quieter, it’s best to avoid traveling there in those months.”
Tips from our travelers in Costa Rica
ADVICE FROM THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN THERE
Photo credits: [Map topbox: Rick McCharles] [Arenal Volcano: Justin Jensen] [Manuel Antonio NP: travelmag.com] [Monteverde Cloud Forest: Peter Hook] [Nicoya Peninsula: Marissa Strniste] [Pacuare: Chadica] [Tortuguero NP: Global Water Forum] [Why book lux: Vytautas Š?rys] [When to visit: travelmag.com] [Tip1: Andy Morffew] [Tip2: Mike Goren]