Despite Costa Rica’s small size, the country offers amazing diversity across its landscapes, climate, and culture. This is particularly true for Costa Rica’s countryside, which encompasses tropical jungles, small beach towns, and rolling farmland. For tourists interested in a quiet vacation experience, Costa Rica’s countryside is a great place to stay.
Although primarily known for its tropical climate and popular beach towns, the countryside of Guanacaste is also home to Costa Rican cowboys and expansive ranches. For this reason, tourists visiting the province have the option of two very different rural experiences.
On the coast, Guanacaste’s countryside is characterized by lush vegetation and a humid climate. The culture of the coast perfectly encompasses the Costa Rican saying of ‘Pura Vida’, with a relaxed pace, beautiful beaches, and bohemian influence. Many visitors opt to stay in the Guanacaste’s mountainous jungles, where a variety of secluded housing and retreats are available. Other tourists prefer the small beach towns lining Guanacaste’s coast, such as Montezuma or Nosara.
Near Libreria, Guanacaste’s countryside changes considerably. This area has some of the largest ranches in Costa Rica and home to the Costa Rican cattle industry. For this reason, the countryside near Liberia is often characterized by extensive grasslands and fields that are best suited for grazing. These farms are run by authentic Costa Rican cowboys. For tourists interested in learning more about the country’s ranchers, head to a local rodeo, attend a ranching tour, or pick a pair of handmade cowboy boots.
Central Pacific Coast
Most well known for its popular beach destinations and resorts, the Central Pacific Coast also offers a pleasant atmosphere in some of its small beach towns and rural areas. The province of Puntarenas has a tropical climate with intense heat year round. Visitors seeking a cooler climate can benefit from moving inland towards the Monteverde Cloud Forest.
The majority of the region’s populations reside along the coast. Since the area is easily accessible from the capital of San Jose, the Central Pacific is a popular tourist destination for both foreigners and Costa Ricans. However, for tourists seeking a quieter experience the central coast does still offer a variety of surf towns and remote jungle lodging. The towns of Bejuco and Dominical are a great place to stay for visitors interested in small town life. The countryside around the popular expat destinations of Uvita and Playa Hermosa would also be a great place to stay, readily accessible to goods and services.
For travelers interested in getting off the beaten path, jungle lodging and retreats near Monteverde Cloud Forest are a great way to experience Costa Rica’s secluded jungles.
South Pacific Coast
Travelers seeking a quiet and regenerative experience can take advantage of the South Pacific’s seclusion from busier areas of the country. The South Pacific is one of the least visited regions of Costa Rica, known for its rare wildlife and lush jungles. For this reason, tourists visiting the countryside can remain largely off the grid. The seclusion of this region is often considered the South Pacific’s greatest asset. In particular, the Osa Peninsula is an incredible example of the country’s lush rainforests, expansive mangroves, and unbroken coastline. The accommodation in this region varies significantly from rustic housing to luxury eco-lodges. For visitors interested in the region’s small towns and villages, Ojochal, Golfito, and Drake’s Bay all offer a charming experience.
The Central Valley is Costa Rica’s most populated region thanks to the large cities of San Jose, Cartago, and Alajuela. However, the Central Valley is also home to some of Costa Rica’s most pleasant countryside and charming towns. Many tourists and expats have chosen to stay in the Central Valley thanks to its preferable climate and close location to international airports. For this reason, expat populations can live in the countryside while also sustaining a rich social life with other foreigners.
Due to the Central Valley’s cool climate and fertile soil, the region’s main industry is coffee and agricultural products. For tourists interested in the countryside, plantation tours are a great way to learn more about the coffee harvesting processes. In addition to the incredible coffee, the surrounding hillsides and patchwork agriculture make for a lovely experience in the countryside.
Located along Costa Rica’s Northern border with Nicaragua, the Northern Plains Region is composed of flat farmland, flowing rivers, towering volcanoes, and large parks. Tourists flock to the countryside to enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities in Arenal Volcano National Park and the surrounding area. Choose from hiking in the jungle, rafting down a river, or horseback riding through forest trails.
Pleasant small towns dot the landscape of the Northern Plains. While La Fortuna and Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí remain the most popular, tourists interested in viewing rural Costa Rica should also stop in some of the smaller villages. This region is home to a strong cowboy and ranching culture, which can be seen at rural festivities such as horse parades, livestock shows, and concerts.
Tourists interested in indigenous culture should also visit the Maleku Indigenous Reservation. Here visitors can learn more about the spiritual, artistic, and societal practices of this culturally unique group. Today, only 600 Maleku remain in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast is a culturally rich and naturally beautiful part of the country. Located between Nicaragua and Panama, the province of Limon extends across Costa Rica with nearly 125 miles of coastline. Limon is also a culturally distinct area of Costa Rica thanks to the region’s unique history. For this reason, visitors to the region’s countryside will have the opportunity to experience both Afro-Caribbean and Indigenous culture, as well as some of the country’s best national parks.
The countryside on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast is hot and humid, with a significant amount of rainfall throughout the year. As a result of this climate, the majority of the Caribbean coast is lined with thick vegetation and beaches. Tourists that visit the countryside in this area can expect to find a prominent Afro-Costa Rican culture. The province of Limon is known for its unique cuisine, music, festivals, and language dialects that have been heavily influenced by populations from the British Caribbean. Many visitors opt to stay in the Limon’s jungles, where a variety of secluded housing and retreats are available. Other tourists prefer the small beach towns lining Guanacaste’s coast, such as Punta Uva and Manzanillo.
The countryside in Limon is also home to the majority of Costa Rica’s indigenous populations. These groups live across 22 different reservations and mainly support themselves through agriculture.
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