Irazu Volcano National Park

Irazu Volcano National Park in Costa Rica, offers visitors a unique chance to see a live volcano. Just 38 miles from San Jose and driving over good roads, makes the park a perfect day trip. Established in August of 1955, the 5,705 acres of Irazu Volcano National Park is home to Irazu Volcano, the tallest volcano in Costa Rica, which towers over the land at a height of 11,260 feet (3,432 meters).

The most spectacular of the volcano’s multiple craters is Diego de la Haya. Visitors come to view this 300 feet deep crater because of its mineral lake that has the ability to change color from a deep emerald green to striking crimson red. The color change is caused by the minerals that are present in the crate lake.

Irazu Volcano National Park, Costa RicaThe last activity of the Irazu Volcano was recorded in 1996 and the last eruption occurred in 1963. The park is located in the higher elevations above the frost line and in some places above the tree line. The higher elevation, which is usually above the clouds, brings chilly temperatures that are near freezing at the rim of the volcano. Visitors to Irazu are warned to prepare for cold wind and freezing temperatures, but the danger of sunburn still exists because of the areas proximity to the Equator, where the sun in more intense.

Tourists to the Irazu Volcano National Park can take the half mile hiking trail path, which winds between the multiple craters of the Irazu Volcano, and loops around giving hikers a closer look at the pyroclastic cone and each crater.

Indigenous wildlife that makes this rugged volcanic terrain their home includes the Volcano Junco, Volcano Hummingbird, Agouti, Armadillo, Coati, and Spiny Green Lizards. There is a great opportunity to see a Three Wattled Bellbird or even a Chestnut Mandibled Toucan when hiking in the park. The lower elevation of the volcano is rich in vegetation which supports indigenous squirrels, rabbits, coyotes, foxes, owls and birds like robins and woodpeckers.

The Irazu Volcano National Park has a small Visitor Center where visitors can learn about how a volcano functions and about the local wildlife of the Irazu Volcano. Inside the park, visitors will find public restrooms, tourist information, drinking water, and a gift shop. After hiking in the park, visitors can get a meal at the park snack bar and eat at nearby picnic tables.

Arenal Volcano National Park

Arenal Volcano, in the heart of Arenal Volcano National Park, is located approximately 90 kilometers northwest of San Jose, Costa Rica. Formed over 7,000 years ago, the volcano was thought to be extinct until a massive eruption occurred on July 29, 1968, which obliterated the small village of Tabacon, killing 78 residents. Arenal Volcano, measuring approximately 5,437 feet with a crater spanning 460 feet, is considered one of the ten most active volcanoes in the world, with eruptions occurring approximately 40 to 45 times per day. The perfect conical shape of the volcano offers astounding views of volcanic activity at the summit and vibrant lava flows from the crater.

Mount Arenal Volcano Costa RicaArenal Volcano National Park, spanning over 30,000 acres, is home to Lake Arenal, the largest artificial lake in Costa Rica. The lake was enlarged in 1979 during construction of the Lake Arenal Dam and development of a national water resource system, which currently provides hydroelectric power to the country. Lake Arenal has become a worldwide travel destination for water sports, including wakeboarding, boating, kayaking and fishing. The lake is one of the premier windsurfing destinations in the world, with thousands of enthusiasts partaking in the sport throughout the year.

Arenal Volcano National Park, as a natural wildlife sanctuary and rainforest, is home to over 2,000 species of plants, as well as several species of mammals and exotic birds. The area is one of the foremost bird watching sanctuaries in the world, with species including hummingbirds, kingfishers, woodpeckers, parrots and toucans. Hiking trails course through the park, all with astounding views of Lake Arenal and the Monteverde Cloud Forest. Walking tours begin in the early afternoon, reaching El Mirador, the ideal location for viewing evening volcanic eruptions.

The Arenal Butterfly Conservatory, containing exhibits of exotic butterflies, frogs and insects is a must for visitors to the park. Several atrium habitats, scientific laboratories and greenhouses are open daily, including the exotic frog sanctuary and orchid atrium. The park includes multiple volcano-heated natural hot springs, including 16 hot springs at Baldi and the multi-level hot springs at Tabacon.

A visit to Costa Rica would not be complete without a trip to Arenal Volcano National Park. Although it is only 90 kilometers from San Jose, the roads are primitive and not well marked. Travel by automobile can take up to four hours and can be frustrating. Direct bus travel and private shuttle services are available from many hotels and tourist centers in San Jose. In order to fully experience the wonder and natural beauty of the area, several days should be allocated for a visit to Arenal Volcano National Park. Lodging is available inside and surrounding the park.


Golfito is a small town that is located near the Pacific Ocean on the southern coast of Costa Rica. Golfito became a very prosperous city in Costa Rica due to location on the water. Fruit companies used Golfito to ship bananas in and out of the country. Golfito remained a major port town for nearly 50 years until 1985 when the fruit companies decided to leave Golfito. This resulted in a severe depression for the city, but was quickly resolved by the government of Cost Rica. The Costa Rica government decided to change several laws in the area and heavily promote the city to tourists. This resulted in cheaper shopping areas and the construction of several resorts for tourists. Golfito may be a small town, but it remains a popular destination for tourists due to its beautiful weather, location and great attractions.

Golfito, Southern Pacific, Costa RicaGolfito, Costa Rica features a relatively warm climate that is consistent throughout the year. The temperatures rarely changed through the year, but the rainfall in the area is determined by the time of year. The high temperatures for most days of the year will generally be between 25 and 28 degrees Celsius. Average low temperatures for each day in Golfito will usually be between 15 and 18 degrees Celsius. The months of December, January, February and March are the driest times in the city. Very little to no rain will fall during these four months. The months of May, June, July, August, September and October will see the most rain during the year. During these months, 9 to 12 inches of rain will fall each month.Since Golfito is located on the ocean, most of the attractions revolve around the water. The city is known for is beautiful beaches and great fishing locations. The most popular beach in Golfito is Playa Zancudo, which can be reached by boat or car. Playa Zancudo is a great place to either swim in the water or relax on the peaceful beach. There are several small restaurants and bars located around Playa Zancudo that offer a great place to experience the local cuisine and culture.

There are several different sport fishing operators that will allow tourists to experience the sport fishing. The operators will captain the boat and assist with the fishing if needed. Most of the fish that will be caught in the area surrounding Golfito include sailfish and marlin. There is also a small nightlife in Golfito that can be experience after the sun goes down. There are several small bars and clubs in the area that are always a good time.

Drake Bay

Set your adventurous spirit free and start an adventure in the tiny town at Drake Bay in Costa Rica. Drake Bay, also known as Bahía Drake, is only accessible by boat or airplane and was discovered by Sir Francis Drake in 1579. The seclusion of Drake Bay has preserved the natural beauty and wildlife lives in a natural unspoiled environment. Hiking, boating, snorkeling gives visitors the opportunity to explore this untouched land.

Getting to Drakes Bay can be a little bit of an adventure, yet worth the trip. For those coming from San Jose, there is a small airport offering service to the capital.

Drake Bay, Osa Peninsula, Costa RicaIf you are driving, you will head south from Palmer Norte about 9 miles to a small village called Sierpe. Located on the Rio Sierpe, a water taxi will find you taking a 2 hour ride to Drakes Bay.

A dirt road to Drakes Bay is often flooded and often unreliable, thus the better choice is the water taxi.

Corcovado National Park
Located on the nearby Osa Peninsula, the Corcovado National Park is a great place for visitors to explore a tropical rainforest. The area gives shelter in untouched landscape and tropical forests to a wide variety of wildlife and plant life, including many endangered species. Over 140 distinct mammal species, nearly 120 amphibian and reptile species, including Harbor Squirrel Monkeys, Harpy Eagles, the rare poison arrow frog, crocodiles, species of wild cats, and Tapier (the largest terrestrial mammal in Central America and South America) inhabit the varied ecosystems in the Corcovado National Park. Visitors can hike through the dense tropical jungle to the pristine virgin beaches or take the guided tour and experience more of the unspoiled nature and wildlife.Cano Island
The perfect day trip from Drake Bay is a short boat ride to uninhabited Cano Island which is home to the Reserva Biológica Isla del Caño (Caño Island Biological Reserve). Cano Island is famous for the best snorkeling to be found. The location of the Park Ranger Station is a great place to snorkel, but life jackets are required. The Ranger Station has a restroom and an outdoor shower open to the public. There are a large number of secluded beaches where visitors can snorkel unsupervised.

Along the shoreline peppered with volcanic rocks there are numerous tide pools to discover. The beaches have dark volcanic sand which gives the virgin beaches a dramatic look. Hike into the heart of the island on guided trails to explore the natural undisturbed beauty of the dense forest and see wildlife including birds, lizards, turtles, and exotic plants and trees. Occasionally hikers may see a perfectly round stone sphere which is believed to be an ancient grave marker from pre-Columbian times when local Indians used the island as a burial ground. Pottery was found on this island paradise dating back to 220 t0 800 A.D. After a day of hiking or snorkeling, the boat returns you to Drake Bay and your hotel accommodations.

Volcan Poas National Park

Costa Rica’s pleasant climate and beautiful scenery has led this country to become a popular tourist spot for travelers from all over the world. With numerous beautiful parks and culture rich cities, Costa Rica has something for everyone. The Volcan Poas National Park is one of the many spectacular tourist destinations. Located about one and a half hours from the capital city of San Jose and less than 30 minutes from Alajuela, Volcan Poas is easily accessible by vehicle and makes for a pleasant day trip on holiday.

The Volcan Poas National Park is home to an active volcano that still bursts out with small geyser and lava eruptions from time to time. The last significant eruptions were recorded in 1952 to 1954. With an interactive visitor’s center and handicap accessible routes, this national park is a great family outing for people of all ages and various abilities. The main crater of the volcano is a mere 15 minute walk from the visitor’s center. Visitors can enjoy the various wildlife and plant life along the way. If you spot a green yellow squirrel, do take note. This is the Poa green yellow squirrel and is only found in the Volcan Poas National Park, no where else in the world. Over 14,000 acres of lush habitat provides for many animals such as the coyotes, skunks and weasels as well as numerous birds including hummingbirds and the splendid quetzal.

Volcan Poas National Park, Costa RicaWith the captial of Costa Rica, San Jose, only about 90 minutes away, this park is easily reached for a day’s outing when staying in one of the many city hotels. San Jose is a bustling, busy capital that is rather utilitarian in design and appearance. However, beneath the industrial look are interesting museums, delicious restaurants and many fun things for tourists to explore. The city of Alajuela is closer to Volcan Poas National Park and is often more popular than the country’s capital. This is due to the smaller city being less crowded and prettier in general, drawing tourists from the busyness of San Jose to a slower pace of vacation. The climate for both cities is pleasant all year around with very few occasions of rain.

The accessibility and many short walking trails in the Volcan Poas National Park make for a great holiday outing, away from the cities and crowds as well as the daily routines of work and school. Rich in flora and fauna, the park is a beautiful destination for tourists and locals alike.

Puerto Limon

Puerto Limon, Costa Rica, is on the Caribbean coast. It is the capital city of the province of Limon. The city was founded in the 1870s when a railway between the city of San Jose and Puerto Limon was completed. The railway was built so coffee could be transported from the center of Costa Rica to the coast.

Puerto Limon is close to the site where Columbus landed in Costa Rica in 1502. A festival is held in the city every year in October to commemorate this event. It is held close to the anniversary of the day Columbus first landed in America in 1492. The festival celebrates a variety of Caribbean cultures including African, Spanish, Chinese and Italian. The Chinese and Italians worked on the railroad that connected San Joseand Port Limon. Parades, dancing, music and food are part of the festival celebration.Puerto Limon, Costa RicaThe Ethno Historic Museum has exhibits on the history and culture of the Puerto Limon area. The building that houses the museum is an example of the area’s architecture from the colonial period.

There are plenty of things to do outside in the Puerto Limon area. Playa Bonita Beach is two and half miles from downtown Puerto Limon. Surfers, sunbathers and swimmers will enjoy this beach.

The Tortuguero National Park is north of Puerto Limon. A boat ride on the national park gives visitors a chance to see aquatic plants, birds, bats and caymans. Caymans are similar to alligators.

Visitors can see tropical fruits, flowers and spices growing at the Botanical Gardens. The gardens are on a working farm.

Tourists can shop and eat outside in Puerto Limon. Jewelry, leather goods and wood carvings are sold at the outdoor market.

Customers can dine on the beach at the restaurant at the Hotel Playa Westfalia. This hotel has a pool and a spa. The Hotel Cocori Puerto Limon is also on the beach. The Park Hotel is in the center of Puerto Limon.

Travelers can take domestic flights to Puerto Limon from Tobias Bolanos International Airport in San Jose, Costa Rica. There is bus service to Puerto Limon from San Jose and several other cities in Costa Rica.

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica

Located on the shores of the Caribbean Sea in Limon province, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is a vibrant seaside town with magnificent beaches. It has quickly become one of Costa Rica’s number one tourist destinations. International surfers from all over the world come to defeat the famous Salsa Brava waves. Simply referred to as Puerto Viejo by the locals, this quaint village has a relaxed atmosphere with a unique blend of Bribri, Afro-Caribbean and Latino indigenous cultures.

Puerto Viejo features a wide variety of restaurants, discos and bars throughout the village. In addition, there are many good shopping venues. Besides the golden sand beaches and tropical vegetation, there are many interesting attractions, such as the Gandoco Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, the Talamanca Indian Reserve and the Cahuita National Park. Although most of the roads are dirt paved, it adds to the rustic charm of the village.

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa RicaWhile many surfers flock to Puerto Viejo for the great surf, there’s a plethora of activities is you’re looking to enjoy the outdoors in the great tropical climate. Horseback tours, scuba diving, snorkeling, mountain biking and kayaking are just a few of the fun activities available in the village. Puerto Viejo’s tropical temperature is approximately 80 degrees year round, which makes it a pleasure to be outdoors.

It was difficult to reach the Talamanca coast until the 1970s. The far distance of San Jose and difficulty of travel by canoe caused the coastal villagers to be somewhat isolated from the mainstream of Costa Rica. As a result, the villagers developed customs and cultures that were unique to themselves. Roads were built in 1979 and connected the village to Limon. Today, it is only a 3 hour drive from San Jose.

In the 1800s, English speaking Afro-Caribbean people came from Jamaica to settle along the Talamanca coast. They brought an African based culture of culinary arts, fishing, and farming that are reflected in Puerto Viejo today. British colonial customs from generations of slavery were retained and cricket and May Pole dances still played a role in their activities. These Caribbean farmers also brought cacao, coconuts and cola nuts. They planted the coastline with these cash crops and facilitated local development by establishing commercial ties.

The interesting cuisine in Puerto Viejo seen today was greatly influenced by the Afro-Caribbeans. Patacone, a French fried style, is still a favorite of the locals and tourists. Spicy patti and jerk chicken is commonly offered by street vendors and restaurants.

With its beautiful beaches and quaint charm, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is a great retreat for a perfect vacation.

Gandoca, Costa Rica

A tiny coastal village that gazes on the Caribbean Sea, Gandoca, Costa Rica may be one of the tropic’s most untapped treasures. Tucked amid lush jungle foliage, silky-sanded beaches and unspoiled wilderness, it is near Panama’s border and home to commercial banana plantations that serve as the area’s main employer and represent an industry that has been present in Central American for over 100 years.

Gandoca is best known for the Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refugeand is located at the southern end of it. Here is where some sole survivors of Costa Rica’s wildlife and rain forest ecosystems are protected. Residents include crocodiles, sea turtles, manatees, dolphins, eagles, toucans, lobsters, exotic fish and numerous other inhabitants of sea, land and air. The refuge has several rare habitats including a natural mangrove swamp and a lowland rain forest.

Rocky Coast, Gandoca- Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, Costa RicaFrom March through July, a visit to Gandoca offers an opportunity to witness turtle nesting season, one of nature’s most fascinating events. A nighttime stroll on the beach may come to a mesmerized halt as huge leatherback sea turtles emerge from the turquoise water and use their flippers as shovels to dig pits into the pristine sand. These large holes are where they settle their 1000 pound bodies to lay as many as 80 to 120 eggs before returning to their tranquil, underwater world. This has drawn a turtle conservation project to Gandoca, where turtle eggs are a delicacy and vulnerable to human poachers. Project members relocate the eggs to safer ground, patrol the site from dusk to dawn, keep the beach clean of debris and build hatcheries. Prior to this project commencing in 1986, almost all eggs fell prey to poachers. The survival rate is now 90 percent, making Gandoca’s beach one of the world’s few to see nesting numbers rise. Volunteers are welcome to join the project’s mission to help hatchings make a safe run to the sea.

Gandoca is a humid rainforest with February, March, June, September and October comprising the dry seasons, making them the recommended time for nature lovers, hikers, dolphin watchers, kayakers and snorkelers to visit the area and refuge.

Located a short seven miles from the popular tourist town of Puerto Viejo, Gandoca is close to restaurants, accommodations and shopping. Gandoca itself, though, truly is a secluded and remote paradise that some might say is best experienced in a hammock.

Cahuita National Park

Costa Rica is world renowned for its bio-diversity which is showcased in the Cahuita National Park. This diverse habitat of pristine beaches, mangroves, marshland and lush rainforest was originally opposed by the local populace. They were persuaded by Alvaro Ugalde to create this sanctuary of botany, culture and wildlife.

One of the least developed areas in Costa Ricais the Cahuita National Park. It is home to numerous species of birds, animals, marine life and is the nesting ground for three species of turtles. Eco-tourists will be awestruck by the endemic flora and fauna. Hike the trails of this nature preserve and catch a glimpse of iguanas, sloths, capuchin monkeys, green ibis, kingfishers and herons. Water enthusiasts can charter a boat and dive on the multicolored reefs that teem with an extraordinary variety of sea creatures such as the blue parrotfish, sea urchins and angel fish. You can also imagine yourself as a treasure hunter while exploring two sunken wrecks that are believed to have carried slaves from Africa. Established in 1970 to protect the offshore coral reef, this sanctuary now includes lowlands, shoreline and rainforests.

Beaches of Cahuita National Park, Costa RicaCultural tourists will enjoy exploring the nearby villages of Puerto Viejo and Cahuita. The multicultural backdrop is influenced by a Caribbean flare. The diverse community includes locals and expatriates from North America and Europe. This results in an eclectic mix of cuisine and music. Diners can enjoy French and Italian delights or sample the local spicy seafood dishes while being serenaded by Caribbean rhythms.

To reach the park, rent a car and travel the main highway from the capital of San Jose to Limon before turning south to Cahuita. You can also take one of several daily buses that connect San Jose and Cahuita. The main entrance to the park is approximately four hundred meters south of the village. You can walk, drive or take a local bus to the entrance. There is a secondary gate near the Puerto Vargas Administrative Center. The tropical climate is hot and humid with the dry season extending from mid-February through April.

Cahuita National Park is located in one of the most beautiful and scenic areas along Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast. Visitors to the park will be amazed by the mix of white sand beaches, coconut groves, wildlife and underwater wonders.

Cahuita, Costa Rica

Cahuita is a small, secluded village in the southern part of Costa Rica on the Caribbean coast and it is 43 kilometers or 27 miles from Puerto Limón. Most of Cahuita’s 4000 people are of Jamaican heritage, many having migrated in the early part of the 20th century to work on the banana plantations.

Weather in Cahuita is very rainy and hot but there is a period of time when it is a little less rainy. Between the middle of February and April there is less rain, and sometimes it rains less during September and October. The sun shines more than 12 hours a day in Costa Rica.Cahuita National Park, Cahuita, Costa RicaOn the coast, there is a beach with black sand and a beach with white sand. Between them is one of the best coral reefs in Costa Rica. Cahuita is the gateway to Cahuita National Park which is 2,635 acres, with one tenth of that being offshore. It was formed in 1970 in order to protect the coral reef there. It contains a beach with white sands and marvelous coral reefs. Snorkeling is excellent here and there are hiking trails. Camping is allowed in one section of the park but there are no facilities. The habitat there is a rain forest and some of the animals are: blue fiddler crabs, herons, toucans, ibis, iguanas, monkeys, sloths, tamandua, and coati.The Tree of Life Wildlife Rescue Center and Botanical Gardens rescues displaced animals, rehabilitates them, and returns them to the wild, if possible. They also breed turtles and iguanas and place them in the wild. There are 10 acres of gardens that include native plants, palms, bromeliads, heleconias, and more. They are closed in May, June, September, and October.

11 kilometers from Cahuita is the Aviarios del Caribe Sloth Sanctuary. It was established to protect and rehabilitate sloths. During the tour, you will go on a canoe ride in the rainforest, return to the education center to learn about sloths, and then meet some of the babies.

Another attraction is Willie’s Tours where you can tour the Bri Bri Reserve and learn about pre-Columbian culture and cocoa processing. Another choice is rafting on the Pacaure River or hiking through the rainforest. Other guided adventures include snorkeling, fishing, or dolphin watching.

If you wish to spend the night in Cahuita, you will find five hotels there. They are the Atlantida Lodge, Hotel Magellan Inn, Hotel National Park Cahuita, Playa Negra Guesthouse, and Suizo Loco Lodge.

Limon, Costa Rica

With the setting of hammering breakers, and primeval rainforests, Costa Rica Caribbean’s coast is a place for beach goers to enjoy. This part of Costa Rica, set off from the rest of the nation, provides visitors with beautiful white sandy beaches with rows of coconut trees. This area has diverse geography with rainforests that stretch from the beaches inland. The north has marshy lagoons and the Talamanca Mountains are on the south.

The Costa Rican coast extends 125 mile between Nicaragua and Panama with the total area being within Limon province. Christopher Columbus was the first to discover the locale when arriving in 1502. This part of Costa Rica has fewer visitors than the rest of the country.

Sae Turtle, Tortuguero, Limon, Costa RicaThe climate is tropical with hot and humid weather. The region has Costa Rica’s highest rainfall totals, with most of the heavy showers between both May and August and then December and January.

Limon is one of the most verdant areas of Costa Rica. Visitors will find many opportunities for water sports such as exceptional diving, surfing in the amazing waves, and sport fishing when the weather is favorable.

Limon is the locale of Tortuguero National Park known for its nesting turtles and Cahuita National Park. The last indigenous native tribes, the Bribri, Cocles, and Talamanca Cabecary villages are in Limon.

Visitors can get to Puerto Limon, capital of the Limon Province, by driving from San Jose. Take Highway 32, also called the Guapiles Highway that joins Limon Province with the rest of Costa Rica.

Puerto Limon was a banana port, but has become a center of Costa Rica’s Afro-Caribbean society. The carnival turns Puerto Limon into a lively party.
Visiting Puerto Viejo de Talamanca and Manzanillo gives tourists a view of life in Limon.

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, on the Caribbean, is a center for beach fanatics. It is identified with beaches, crystal blue water and surfing. It is turning into one of Costa Rica’s leading tourist towns primarily with surfers.
Puerto Viejo is 30 miles to the south east of Puerto Limon and ten miles south of Cahuita.

Manzanillo is a small fishing village found within the Gandaco-Manzanillo Wildlife and Marine Refuge and is south of Puerto Viejo. It is on Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast and is south of Puerto Limon. The key feature of the village is the white beaches with palm trees.