When people ask me my favorite place in the world my answer is always the same; Costa Rica. It also happens to be the very first country to which I traveled. That is if you don’t count Windsor, Canada. Costa Rica gets a bad rap sometimes, but it also gets lots of hype. What I’ve found is that it totally lives up to the hype. There is just SO much beauty crammed into that smallish country. There isn’t a place, outside of San Jose, that didn’t take my breath away. You can find sleepy little towns, alligator pits, surfing meccas, volcanoes, wildlife, Rastafarians, etc. etc. You name it, it’s got it. It has something for everyone.
I love to be a beach bum most places I go, but my favorite place in Costa Rica is actually the La Fortuna area which is not a beach. It’s home to the Arenal Volcano and La Fortuna waterfall. You can hike, ATV, bike ride, or just sit in the biggest hot spring ever as you watch the volcano erupt and swim up to the bar. I took my boyfriend there last summer and even though it was his first visit to Costa Rica and we were there less than a week, he bought a house just outside of Nuevo Arenal. Guess he loved it too.
Puerto Viejo de Limon is also a very cool place to visit. It’s been years since I’ve been there, but whenever I’m trying to pay a local rate, I break into my Spanish and tell people I’m from there. You see, it has a heavy influence from Jamaica and is hence the “darker” part of the country. But it is certainly unique with its own Creole in addition to Spanish. The beaches go from black sand to white sand and the backdrop looks like you’re on an episode of Lost.
I’ve been to Costa Rica five times, including two summer study abroad programs and I still haven’t come close to seeing everything. I especially recommend it to people traveling outside of the United States for the first time.