It’s easy to see why eco-friendly Costa Rica has been rated the happiest country on earth by the Happy Planet Index. Situated in tropical Central America, it is home to markedly friendly people, vast rain forests, sandy beaches, exotic wildlife and volcanoes.
Costa Ricans, or Ticos as they affectionately call themselves, start and finish most conversations with the phrase, ‘Pura Vida’, meaning ‘Pure Life’, which perfectly reflects the ease of daily life in this part of the world. From soaring mountain peaks to coastal plains, Costa Rica is the ultimate land of outdoor adventures, wellness retreats, vibrant culture and extraordinary biodiversity.
With around 25% of the country’s landmass made up of protected jungles and national parks, nature lovers and adventurers are in for a treat. The Tortuguero National Park in the northeast of the country is a world-renowned destination for seeing a variety of turtles (including the endangered green turtle), sloths and over 300 species of birds, while the lesser-known Bajos del Toro Cloud Forest in the Central Valley is home to the illusive puma and one of Costa Rica’s most impressive waterfalls. This elevated part of the country is also famous for being a rich coffee-growing region with lush coffee plantations stretching high into villages that seem to disappear into the clouds.
Travellers come from far and wide to see Costa Rica’s 100 plus volcanoes, particularly the awe-inspiring Arenal Volcano, which until recently spewed large amounts of lava from its crater on a regular basis. This cone-shaped giant volcano is situated in the heart of the Arenal Volcano National Park where visitors can enjoy treetop canopy trips, horseback riding, river-rafting expeditions, aerial excursions through the forest and mineral-rich soaks in natural hot springs.
For a relatively small country, Costa Rica boasts a wide variety of altitudes, landscapes and attractions. Its misty highlands give way to 800 miles of majestic coastline stretching along the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. The Guanacaste Peninsula, situated on the Pacific side, reveals some of the country’s most spectacular sandy beaches, surf swell, jungles and cultural attractions, including traditional clay pottery produced by the indigenous Guaitil people.
From tropical wilderness areas teeming with wildlife to marimba rhythms and warm hospitality, vibrant Costa Rica is undoubtedly an explorer’s answer to the pure life.
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