Costa Rica

The best Costa Rica bucket list with 75+ activities

This Costa Rica Bucket list is a fun way to explore the beautiful country, checking off the things you have seen! The country has a vast amount of things to do and see, so depending on the time you have to visit, you need to pick the most enjoyable things based on your interest.

Costa Rica is known for its beautiful tropical beaches and incredible national parks, where you can enjoy some thrilling activities like river rafting, canyoning and zip lining. It also is one of the best places to discover interesting wildlife like macaws, sea turtles, and adorable sloths. People visit Costa Rica to get back to nature, so if you’re looking for a trip filled with lush greenery and amazing wildlife, you won’t be disappointed.

This Costa Rica bucket list allows you to indulge all your senses at one of the most beautiful countries of central America. In January 2022 I will be visiting Costa Rica for 3 weeks and will let you know if I found any more interesting must see’s and do’s.

Can you tick them all off?
Make sure to save this list for your trip to Costa Rica!

Costa Rica nature bucket list – Can you tick them all off?

There are currently 30 national parks and over 230 mammal species alone that call Costa Rica home. Discover the unique ecosystem of Costa Rica and gain an appreciation for how nature, wildlife, and locals have learned to co-exist for so many years. The Costa Rica bucket list activities that are related to nature are divided in well-known areas:

La Fortuna area:

✔ Walk around the base of Arenal Volcano
✔ Visit the La Fortuna waterfall
✔ Soak in a hot spring
– Hike up to the top of Cerro Chato
✔ Explore Mistico hanging bridges Arenal

Monteverde area:

– Explore Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
Zipline through the tree-tops of Monteverde National Park
✔ Explore the local town of Santa Elena to find good food, shops and local entertainment
✔ Photograph awesome street art in Santa Elena
– Visit Santa Elena Rainforest

Rio Celeste area:

– Hike your way through Tenorio Volcano National Park
– Visit the Rio Celeste Waterfall for magical rainforest scenery

Manuel Antonio area:

✔ Go whale watching at Uvita, Guanacaste or the Osa Peninsula
✔ Visit Manuel Antonio National Park
✔ Hike the El Manglar Trail in Manuel Antonio
✔ Enjoy the white sand beaches at Espadilla Sur
– Visit Barba Roja, a restaurant in Manuel Antonio known for cocktails and coastal sunset views
✔ Eat at the converted schoolbus in Manuel Antonio

Uvita & Dominical area:

✔ Swim under the lower falls of the Nauyaca Waterfalls
✔ Visit Marina Ballena National Park to see mangrove forests and wild coastline
✔ Join a whale watching tour close to Uvita
✔ Check out Uvita Waterfall
– Drink a craft beer a the Fuego Brewing Company

Puerto Viejo area:

– Visit the Jaguar Rescue Center close to Puerto Viejo
– Go white-water rafting on the Pacuare River
– Visit the secluded beaches like Playa Negra and Punta Uva
Cycle from Puerto Viejo to Manzanillo and visit the beautiful beaches along the way
– Go for a walk through the Cahuita National Park

Tortuguero area:

– Observe the sea turtle nesting from July to October at Tortuguero National Park
– Walk up to Tortuguero Hill for panoramic views of Tortuguero National Park
– Visit Tortuguero National Park for a true mangrove excursion

Montezuma area:

– Visit the Montezuma waterfalls
– Stroll through the Reserva Natural Absoluta Cabo Blanco
– Hike to the unique cemetery on an island in the town of Cabuya
– Take a day trip to Isla Tortuga and go snorkeling

Nosara area:

– Enjoy the pristine beach Punta Pelada

Osa Peninsula area:

– Go bird watching at Corcovado National Park
Kayak in the mangroves near Puerto Jimenez

Other areas in Costa Rica:

– Visiting the Blue Falls
– Visit la Catarata del Toro waterfall
– Hike the most challenging hike in Costa Rica: Mount Chirripò
– Hike the Las Pailas Loop Trail in Rincon de la Vieja
– See the Sendero Catarata la Cangreja waterfall
✔ Go on a unique jungle night tour to see rainforest creatures come to life after dark
– Hike around the geysers and crater lakes at Poas Volcano National Park
– Visit a wildlife reserve to see monkeys, coatis, scarlet macaws, and hundreds of other species of tropical and migratory birds
– Head to Playa Grande or Playa Ostional where you can watch sea turtles lay eggs
– Explore beautiful beaches like Playa Flamingo, Playa Conchal, and Playa Del Coco

Costa Rica cultural bucket list – Are you ready to explore it all?

Famous for being the happiest country in the world, the people of Costa Rica are welcoming and friendly, yet sophisticated and proud. The culture is a vibrant blend of indigenous heritage and Spanish colonial influence. Throughout the entire country you can find a laid-back vibe with friendly and happy people.

Here are my favorite cultural activities that you can do in Costa Rica:

– Stroll through the Mercado Centrale for local art and food in San José
– Visit the Gold Museum in San José
– Explore the Museo de Arte Costarricense (Museum of Costa Rican Art) in San José
– Visit The National Theater on a guided tour
– Experience the nighttime vibe of Costa Rica’s capital during a food and culture night tour
– Visit a coffee plantation (near San josé)
– Join a rainforest chocolate tour
– Take a Costa Rican cooking class

Other amazing bucket list activities in Costa Rica

Next to all the amazing nature- and culture related activities from above, there’re also other fun activities and experiences that I think should be added to your Costa Rica Bucket List. Here’s an overview:

✔ See a sloth
✔ Visit the beach hotspot of Jaco
– Go on a boat safari at Las Baulas National Park
✔ Improve your Spanish
✔ Learn to surf
– Grab a paddleboard and try stand-up paddle boarding
– Go on a sunset sail and snorkeling tour
– Spend the night in an Airplane Hotel also known as Hotel Costa Verde
– Take a yoga class
– Go scuba diving in the Caribbean Coast (colourful reefs, warm waters, better suited to beginners) or in the Pacific Coast (abundance of marine life, strong currents, advanced divers). Great scuba diving places are The Gulf of Papagayo or Caño Island in Drake Bay.

Food bucket list Costa Rica – Traditional Costa Rican food and drinks

A trip to Costa Rica is not complete without having tried the national dish gallo pinto, a dish of black beans and rice with onions and cilantro. Other famous dishes are casado, gallo pinto and arroz con pollo. Costa Rican food is tasty rather than spicy. Make sure not to miss the traditional Costa Rican food and drinks from the list below:

✔ Try gallo pinto (tasty breakfast of rice, beans, eggs, fried plantain and tortillas)
✔ Eat ceviche Tico (fish dish with red onion, pepper, cilantro and citrus juice)
– Enjoy chifrijo (consists of beans, rice, pork, avocado and tomato. Is often served with tortilla chips)
– Finish your meal with arroz con leche (rice pudding)
– Or finish your meal with amal asado (looks like cheesecake)
– Eat some Costa Rican Pancakes: arepas
✔ Try patacones: crushed and fried banana slices
✔ Order casado (meat/fish often with rice, beans, salad, picadillo and a tortilla)
✔ Eat the always tasty empanadas
– Drink agua dulce: sweet hot drink made from tapa dulce (from sugar cane)
– Try traditional tamales (traditional version mainly consist of corn dough, potatoes, pork, rice and vegetables all wrapped in banana leaves)
– Have some rondon (spicy coconut fish soup)
✔ Order some picadillos (diced vegetables, such as chayote squash, that are precooked and then sautéed with onions, carrots, garlic, and sometimes a little ground meat)

As you can see, Costa Rica has a vast list of things to see and do. Do you know any other fun Costa Rica things to see or do that I should include in this list? Let me know in the comments below!

Author: Daphne

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