- Locations: 15
- Villas: 56
- Private Islands: 0
An Eco-Friendly Escape
Costa Rica – literally “Rich Coast” – is one of the most bio-diverse regions in the world. The area is home to over 32 National Parks, over 150 wildlife reserves, active and dormant volcanoes, tropical forests, and spectacular beaches. Learn about endangered species, support conservation efforts, and soak in the region’s natural treasures as you snorkel, hike, raft, or zip-line your way through the landscape – and do it all from the comfort of your own private retreat.
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- Make sure to arrange transportation from the airport to your villa beforehand. That way, you can start relaxing from the minute you land.
- To see many of Costa Rica’s natural wonders, you’ll have to get a little dirty, so make sure to bring loose-fitting, breathable clothing you wouldn’t mind getting muddy or sweaty.
- Off the beaches and hiking trails, Costa Ricans tend to dress more formally than North Americans. Shorts, flip-flops, and tank tops are not acceptable in these dining situations, with the exception of inexpensive restaurants by the beach.
- The official currency in Costa Rica, the colón, is approximately 500 to the U.S. dollar and you can change money at all banks. MasterCard, Visa, and American Express credit cards are also widely accepted in many hotels and restaurants in tourist areas. Airport taxis do accept U.S. dollars, so you don’t have to stress about exchanging your money the moment you land.
- Decide if you’ll want to rent a car or if you will book excursions including transportation and rely on taxis to get you elsewhere. Both options are just as easy, but it helps to plan beforehand.
- Costa Rica doesn’t have a tipping culture, so you should only feel compelled to tip for good service. Make sure to tip in colónes, as that’s easier for the recipient.
When to Go
Peak season in Costa Rica, also known as the dry season, runs from late November to late April. You’ll find the best beach weather during these months, making this the perfect spot to spend Christmas, New Year's, Easter, school spring breaks or to simply escape winter weather. If you want to travel during this popular season, keep in mind that you’ll need to make your villa reservations well in advance.
For the best deals and fewer crowds, visit Costa Rica from May through mid-November during the rainy season, aptly named the “green season”. You’ll see the most lush vegetation during this time. Since it typically only rains for a few hours in the afternoon, you’ll still get plenty of beach time during this season.
Costa Rica has protected a larger portion of its land than any other country in the world, so make sure to visit the National Parks, with stunning rainforests, beautiful beaches, and exciting wildlife. Corcovado National Park should be at the top of your list. Covering 11,000 acres, the rainforest is brimming with exotic birds, indigenous insects and beautiful wild animals like jaguars, howler monkeys, macaws and tapirs. Be sure to set your alarms before you go, as the best time to view some of the most unique species is in the early hours of the day.
Explore the narrow canals of the rustic Tortuguero Village while keeping your eyes out for herons, monkeys, and three-toed sloths. If you visit between June and October, you’re in for an awe-inspiring treat: green turtle nesting on the small stretch of Tortuguero beach.
For an evening unlike any other, visit Arenal Volcano and Tabacon Hot Springs for a soak in a natural hot spring—while sipping a drink from a nearby swim-up bar—and watch the sun set behind the fiery Arenal Volcano. Up until 2010, Arenal was the most active volcano in Costa Rica and regularly emitted lava and smoke. Today, on a clear day, you can still see smoke rising from the peak and covering the top of the mountain with a cloud of debris.
Explore the plethora of flora and fauna in the Río Sarapiquí Region, a protected tropical forest, on a smooth, relaxing river boat ride.
The varied landscape and climate of Costa Rica makes it a wonderland of active pursuits, with a myriad of activities for every type of traveler. Experience the region’s stunning tropical forests on an array of hiking trails or zipline through the treetops on a canopy tour. Canoe or whitewater raft through canyons, gorges, and rivers or spend the day watching for incredible wildlife, like migrating sea turtles, spider monkeys, and toucans. The waters are home to large sport fish, like tuna and marlin, making for bountiful fishing opportunities. Of course, the surrounding seas are also home to stunning diving, swimming, and snorkeling, with many reefs, caves, and underwater life to see. From beachside horseback riding to biking along waterfalls, there’s no shortage of exciting adventures here.
If you've never experienced what it's like to glide along the waves on a surfboard, then you're obligated to get a lesson while you're here. Along Manuel Antonio Beach, which is known for being the perfect beach for beginners, you can take a private or group lesson with trained professionals who know all there is to know about the waters along Costa Rica's shores. Although many of the nation's Pacific beaches cater to advanced surfers, Manuel Antonio's calmer waters provide just the right amount of break for you to catch your very first wave.
The thrilling zipline canopy tours, available in a variety of Costa Rican rainforest locales, are not to be missed. On a zipline tour, you’ll typically get to enjoy a short hike through the rainforest before flying through the treetops.
If you’re longing to enjoy a relaxing game of golf on your Costa Rica villa vacation, there are a variety of courses to choose from. Here, you’ll enjoy everything from mountain or ocean views to wildlife sightings while you play.
Like everything Costa Rica, there is no shortage of choices when it comes to beautiful beaches. Villa vacationers can enjoy over 750 miles of stunning shorelines and crystal clear waters on both the Pacific and Caribbean coast.
Set to swaying palms and lush cliffs, the white-sand Playa Carrillo Beach is just the spot for swimming, snorkeling, or simply sunbathing—and there’s not a single building in sight. There’s also a good chance you’ll have this quiet, deserted beach all to yourself.
Playa Montezuma stretches on for miles, leaving you with plenty of empty spots to explore and relax. And. view the enchanting waterfalls along the beach.
Perfect waves make Malpais and Santa Teresa beaches a surfer’s paradise—with plenty of white sand and stunning, verdant wilderness that everyone else will enjoy, too.
This black-sand of Playa Negra sparkles in the sun, with turquois barrel waves that make it popular among surfers. Protected areas for swimming make this beautiful spot perfect for families and non-surfers, too.
Coral reefs, powdery sand, calm turquoise waters, and shady coconut palms make the beaches of Costa Rica’s east coast, including Punta Uva and Manzanillo, the ultimate locale for a day spend swimming and sunbathing.
Whether you want to watch the sunset with a cool daiquiri or dance the night away, Costa Rica offers a wealth of exciting ways to spend your nights. The Puerto Viejo district has one of the most lively nightlife scenes in Costa Rica. This beach town on the Caribbean Coast boasts bonfires, dance clubs, and plenty of happening bars. Located in San Jose’s university district, San Pedro features a variety of bars and cafes. While many cater to a young crowd, there are plenty of spots to enjoy an outdoor table or listen to live music. Tamarindo is one of the most developed tourist areas in the Guanacaste region, offering fun clubs, open-mic nights, and lively bar scenes.
Even if the bar scene isn’t for you, there’s plenty to experience in Costa Rica after the sun goes down. Tour Monteverde, Tortuguero, and the Osa Peninsula for a glimpse of nocturnal wildlife. Or, take a tour of some of Costa Rica’s stunning volcanoes after dark.
In between nature hikes, coral reef snorkeling, and sunbathing by your villa’s private pool, make sure to stop by the handcraft shops and art galleries in Costa Rica. Visit the town of Guaitil in the Guanacaste region to browse a variety pottery workshops and studios. Many of these low-fired ceramic wares feature local indigenous designs, making for unique souvenirs or gifts.
Keep your eye out for the painted carved masks of the indigenous Boruca people, which can be found in many gift shops around the area. Just make sure they’re signed by the carver if you want to take home an original work rather than a reproduction. If you’re looking for especially lovely gifts, you'll find pre-Columbian gold jewelry or carved-stone figurines.
Of course, local coffee also makes for a don’t-miss purchase, as Costa Rican coffee is some of the best in the world.