Where to Stay in Costa Rica: Areas & Experiences

The thing about little Costa Rica is that it has a giant list of options for you to choose from when deciding where to stay. It will all depend on what you want to discover and enjoy, but be assured that Costa Rica has something for you, no matter what interest you.

From adventures like white water rafting, canopy, hiking or surfing, to luxurious and relaxing lodges to all-inclusive resorts, you can find it all in Costa Rica, maybe the one thing you won’t see here is snow, but let’s be honest, that might be the one thing you are actually running away from!

where to stay in costa rica (relax / hammock)
Deciding where to stay in Costa Rica can be relaxing with the right advice.

It’s not a secret that when it comes to tourism, Costa Rica is a very well developed country, but don’t think that that only means big hotels and giant pools, it actually means great quality lodging and attractions, top of the line service and unforgettable experiences.

The only problem with this is that you might find it overwhelming to find that perfect place for you. We suggest a series of areas to consider and provide more detail about each one of those destinations so that you can find more in-depth information.

Know that expert advice makes life easier during the planning process, and we invite you to contact us if you decide that having a trip itinerary provider help you plan a smooth trip, filled with adventures, is best for you.

What is the Best Area to Stay in Costa Rica?

It will all depend on what you prefer. If you are into hiking in the Cloud Forest, consider Monteverde, where not only you can enjoy an incredible amount of trails in different reserves and private protected areas, but you can see the Cloud Forest from above on a canopy tour, visit butterfly gardens or enjoy amazing cheese at the Monteverde Cheese factory.

Monteverde Cloud Forest
The Monteverde Cloud Forest is a magical place

Now, if you are looking for a warmer forest, you have to hike in the rainforest, and we suggest you visit Sarapiquí, a more rural area, and slightly-off-the-beaten-path but still has terrific accommodations for you to choose from and many activities.

Another famous attraction in Costa Rica are the volcanoes, and to enjoy one in all of its appearances you have to visit Arenal. This is one of Costa Rica’s most developed tourist areas, especially La Fortuna, so it has for sure accommodations and activities that will fit all kind of budgets and interests.

What Part of Costa Rica has the Best Beaches?

Now, when it comes to beach destinations, the options are also varied.

If you are interested in surfing, then you have a tough decision to make, there are excellent surfing beaches in all of the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica and also in the south Caribbean Coast. Some of the all-time favorites are Pavones, Dominical, Hermosa, Santa Teresa, Nosara, Tamarindo, and Playa Grande, and Cocles in the Caribbean. Therefore, you should match your choice with other interests.

 playa-pelada-beach-nosara-costa-rica
Blue Skies, water & sandy beaches Playa Pelada Beach in Nosara, Costa Rica

Dominical, in the South Pacific, has fantastic white sand beaches to enjoy plus a great variety of activities and a good selection of restaurants.

Another well-known destination in Costa Rica is Manuel Antonio, where you can also find something for everybody and every budget, but that makes it a bit crowded at certain times of the year.

Malpaís and Santa Teresa are very well known destinations in the south end of the Nicoya Peninsula. This was once a small fishing village, but today you can find shopping centers, restaurants, boutique hotels and private villas, which has made this destination a multicultural one.

Now, if you change the ocean, in the Caribbean Coast you should consider visiting Puerto Viejo and all the beaches around it. This is a very laid-back area, where colors, flavors, and rhythms will make your visit extra special.

What is the Most Beautiful Place in Costa Rica?

You can find beauty anywhere in Costa Rica. If you are doing your research, you might have read already about amazing places like Arenal, beaches in the North Pacific, Manuel Antonio, Dominical and Uvita, and Cahuita and Puerto Viejo, some of which have already been mentioned.

Arenal Volcano
Arenal Volcano is a sight to behold

However, we would like to call your attention to several incredible destinations in Costa Rica that are often overlooked even though they also offer top of the line accommodations and activities.

One of our favorites is the Turrialba area, a place we call home. Here you can enjoy from impressive pre-Columbian ruins to white water rafting at the amazing Pacuare river to incredible views of an active volcano, the Turrialba Volcano.

turrialba volcano active
Turrialba Volcano sits majestically above the beautiful town filled with eateries and local culture

Another of our favorite spots in Costa Rica is Drake Bay, a small fishing town in the Pacific Coast, right where the Osa Península takes roots. At Drake Bay, you can find some of the most beautiful and secluded luxury lodges in Costa Rica.

Tenorio National Park, in the northern part of Costa Rica, is an amazing National Park where turquoise waters give the name to its most renown treasure, Río Celeste. To stay in this part of the country, you can choose from a series of small lodges that pride to be run by locals and which have top of the line touches.

What is the Best/Coolest Place in Costa Rica?

If you are looking for a place that is different, therefore very cool, here are a couple of suggestions.

In the Northern Caribbean Coast, you must visit Tortuguero, a town where there are no cars, people travel around by boat and foot and jaguars, and sea turtles speckle beaches while all kinds of other wildlife share the forest and the river canals.

Tortuguero river canal
River canal floating in Tortuguero is both relaxing and gorgeous

In the Northern Pacific Coast, another very cool stop is Nosara, a paradise for yoga and surf. In this part of Costa Rica, you can also find incredible top of the line lodges and yoga retreats close to incredible uncrowded beaches, as well as delicious health food restaurants and cafés and alternative shopping stores.

Matapalo in the Osa Península is another fantastic destination where you can also enjoy or learn how to surf at the same time as you experience one of the most biodiverse places in the world.

And last but not least there is Cahuita, in the south Caribbean of Costa Rica, where you can enjoy the laid-back reggae life in a less crowded setting.

Where to Stay in Costa Rica with Family?

At Costa Rica Escapes, we pride ourselves on knowing the best places for your family to stay at, we have already put together a series of itineraries to show you what we are talking about, but what we love to do the most is customize the experience to your family needs and desires.

Two of our favorite places are Arenal and Manuel Antonio because they offer something for every member of your family, including a great selection of accommodations for all tastes and budgets. Learn more about our ideas for places to stay in Costa Rica with your family, review our family vacations itineraries and get insider tips on planning a family adventure vacation. We even have kids travel advice, and yep…even tips on traveling to Costa Rica with toddlers.

Where to Stay in Costa Rica All-Inclusive?

If you are looking for an all-inclusive resort for your vacation in Costa Rica, the areas of the country with more options are the Central and Northern Pacific Coast. Consider looking into all-inclusive resorts in towns like Jaco, Herradura, and Puntarenas in the Central Pacific, and Tamarindo and Papagayo in the Northern Pacific.

But before you settle on this idea, read our suggestions for families in our article, All-Inclusive Costa Rica Vacation Experiences: Authenticity vs Resorts. We encourage our travelers to seek out more authentic experiences.

Best Place to Stay in Costa Rica for Couples?

When it comes to planning a Costa Rica honeymoon with your loved one you want privacy, romance and just the perfect amount of adventure. If you look at the itineraries we have specially designed at Costa Rica Escapes for couples, you will see that we use areas that we have suggested several times in this article like Arenal and Manuel Antonio, but the secret is to find the perfect lodging for couples.

Another area that we like a lot for couples is Drake Bay and one of its secluded and private luxury lodges that will make your trip feel even more like an adventure without sacrificing comfort.

Plan a Trip to Costa Rica!

Want help? That’s what we do. We have time-tested Costa Rica itineraries and can plan the most unforgettable trip for your family vacation, your honeymoon, or the adventure vacation of your dreams. We can even help plan your wedding in Costa Rica! Contact us using the form below.

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