Now, let’s think about this. Where in the world do you think you will find stunning tropical beaches, nature, rainforests and extraordinary culture, all in one country? Oh yes, don’t forget a place where families can enjoy some amazing adventures, too?
Head in the direction of Central America, and you will be on track. Knock on the door of Costa Rica, and there you have it, a rugged, rainforested country boasting coastlines on the Pacific and the Caribbean.
Sandwiched between Panama and Nicaragua, there is little wonder that thousands of tourists head to this extraordinary playground each year, joining another half-a-million species, for the country plays host to approximately five per cent of the earth’s biodiversity. With around a quarter of the country made up of protected jungle, biodiversity has played a key role since the country abolished its military almost seventy years ago, army fatigues giving way to colourful flora and fauna.
With the rest of the world playing catch-up, Costa Rica allows the visitor to experience nature in the raw, with its lush rainforests and tropical dry coastlands. Whether you want to hit the ground running in this outdoor paradise, or laze away the afternoons with a hammock and a good book, there are plenty of rental Costa Rica luxury homes to choose from, making for an unforgettable travel experience.
Avellanas, Nicoya Peninsula
So where shall we start? If you are craving a beachfront vacation, then head for Avellanas, on the Nicoya Peninsula, the most visited part of the country. Here, on Costa Rica’s stunning Pacific coast, you will be dazzled by white sand as you gaze out to the turquoise ocean. From the doorstep of your beachfront rental you might even catch sight of a migrating whale. The long ribbon of beach unfolds to Tamarindo’s Playa Langosta in the north, and Playa Negra in the south. Take a stroll along the powdery white coral sand and discover rocky outcrops with tidal pools. The biggest draw of Playa Avellanas lies off shore, however, as it boasts some of Costa Rica’s best surf spots.
Surfs up in Tamarindo
Aquatic lovers should check out the town of Tamarindo in the Guanacaste Province. Water takes centre stage, with beaches well known for their surf, such as Playa Tamarindo and Playa Langosta. Playa Tamarindo is a mile-long crescent beach, and serves as the front yard of the town. Take a front-row seat in one of the many restaurants and lounge bars that line the beach and watch the surf life unfold in front of you. Head here in the evening to catch a magnificent sunset over the bay. Walk south from Tamarindo to reach Playa Langosta with its white-sand dunes and the scenic estuary of the Rio San Francisco. If you are a novice surfer, then Tamarindo is the place for you, as the waves and the wind are known to be consistent. You can always sign up for some surf lessons to show you how to ride the crest of a wave. From the town pop along to the Marino Las Baulas National Park. A protected area, leatherback sea turtles use the park as a nesting site, without fear of being captured or having their eggs stolen. The park consists of four beaches, Playa Ventanas, Playa Grande, Carbon and Playa Langosta, as well as the mangroves at the mouth of the Matapalo River and the San Francisco River Estuary. After a fun day out, head back into town and cruise the centre with its souvenir, art and fashion shops. You will find plentiful restaurants serving traditional cuisine.
If you want to mix things up a little, and enjoy pristine beaches alongside a lush jungle backdrop, then head for the Papagayo Peninsula on the northwestern coast. Despite its eco credentials, watersports abound here, with scuba diving, stand-up paddle boarding and swimming all on the agenda. Grab yourself a kayak and paddle to some idyllic inlets and coves that are dotted like confetti along the emerald green waters. Never fear if the silence is broken, because it will most likely be the booming cries of the nest-building howler monkeys in their densely forested habitats.
Rincon de la Vieja
From the Papagayo Peninsula you can spend a day out at a national park, such as Rincon de la Vieja, one of the protected parks within the Guanacaste Conservation Area. Apart from the wonderful array of flora and fauna, the park is also home to two volcanoes, the Rincon de la Vieja and the Santa Maria, as well as six different volcanic peaks. Oh yes, then there are the thirty-two rivers and streams. You can hike here, and bike here, and go horseback riding here, and if the adrenalin juices are really flowing, then you can zipline through the trees, rappel down waterfalls or try whitewater rafting.
Manuel Antonio National Park
This may be the smallest national park in Costa Rica, but it is also one of the most popular for wildlife watching, from three-toed sloths and endangered white-faced capuchin monkeys to hundreds of bird species. Situated on Costa Rica’s central Pacific coast, the park encompasses rugged rainforest, three stunning white-sand beaches and coral reefs, and is criss-crossed with hiking trails, which meander from the coast up into the mountains. The main trail within the park is a 1.3-mile flat, sandy route which links the park’s beaches, and is perfect for visitors of all ages. If you are pondering where to stay, then check out the curated collection of Manuel Antonio villas tucked away in the jungle.
There is little wonder that Costa Rica translates as ‘Rich Coast’. With its array of stunning beaches, volcanoes, rainforests, river valleys, flora and fauna, it offers the visitor a sensational sensory overload. It’s time to discover for yourself.
More information at www.costarica.com and www.luxuryretreats.com/vacation-rentals/central-america/costa-rica