With tropical rainforests, live volcanoes, and long blond beaches with perfect surf, Costa Rica packs incredible diversity into a tiny space. It’s just two-thirds the size of Scotland, and yet contains over 5% of all the world’s plant and animal species: there are more birds here than in the whole of the United States.
A ridge of mountains runs northwest to southeast, and the seedy capital San José lies in the lush green Central Highlands, where coffee plantations created wealth long before tourism arrived. In the north, volcanoes spout red hot lava, just a short hop from cloudforests where monkeys howl and birdsong fills the air. The Pacific coast has wonderful beaches on 2 peninsulas - the famous Nicoya and the more tranquil Osa - while the laid-back Carribean coast remains the preserve of backpackers. Spot the spectacular quetzal bird, then go zip-lining above the forest canopy or whitewater rafting into the depths of the jungle. An emerging flock of chic small hotels offers serious pampering amidst this spectacular natural beauty.
Best of all, the native Ticos welcome you warmly wherever you go, making Costa Rica one of the few Central American countries which is safe and easy to travel in.