Colonial-era church in San Rafael de Escazú. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Spending Time in Escazú, Costa Rica

Though officially part of metropolitan San José, Escazú is divided from the capital by a hill range and river canyon and is so individualistic that it functions virtually as a sister city. On top of that, there are actually three Escazús, each with its own church, patron saint, and character worth exploring. Learn about the individual vibes of San Rafael, San Miguel, and San Antonio, and the sights to see.

A woman crosses a hanging rope bridge amidst lush green trees.

Exploring Monteverde’s Cloud Forest

Monteverde means “Green Mountain,” an appropriate name for one of the most idyllic pastoral settings in Costa Rica. The Monteverde cloud forest is home to more than 100 species of mammal, 400 species of bird, and has eight miles of trails to hike either on your own or with a guide; expect to spot more wildlife with a guide. Here’s what you need to plan a fulfilling visit.

Miravalles volcano rises above a thermal area on its SW flank. Photo © William Melson (Smithsonian Institution) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Exploring Miravalles Volcano, Costa Rica

Volcán Miravalles is enshrined within the Zona Protectora Miravalles (Miravalles Protected Zone). Landscapes here range from deep canyons licked by ancient lava tongues, with fumaroles spouting and hissing and ground covered by savannah scrub to luscious forests replete with wildlife. Expert author Christopher P. Baker talks about what to see and do, including exploring a walkable live crater and indulging in adventure travel alongside a very sophisticated resort, restaurant, and spa.

At the bottom of a steep crater is a lake with water that is emerald green.

Costa Rica’s Most Active Volcanoes

Costa Rica lies at the heart of one of the most active volcanic regions on earth and is home to 7 of the isthmus’s 42 active volcanoes, plus 60 dormant or extinct ones. Here are the histories of three of the country’s most active volcanoes.

Judy Arroyo with rescued sloths at the Sloth Sanctuary. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Costa Rica Nature Reserves: Puerto Limón to Cahuita

Nature reserves south of Puerto Limón in Colombia tend to be remote and undeveloped, making them perfect for adventure travel. The one exception is the world’s only sloth sanctuary, an education and research center based around rehabilitating rescued sloths that amounts to a highly-fulfilling experience for visitors.

A Houlletia tigrina orchid.

Costa Rica’s Ingenious Orchids

Costa Rica is home to an incredible variety of orchids; orchid lovers should head for the cloud forests; there the greatest diversity exists in humid mid-elevation environments. Here are examples of some remarkable varieties.

A blue morpho butterfly sits in a person's hand.

Spotting Butterflies in Costa Rica

With nearly 1,000 identified species of butterflies (approximately 10 percent of the world total), Costa Rica is a lepidopterist’s paradise. You can barely stand still for one minute without checking off a dozen dazzling species. Here’s more about the amazing and unique species you’ll spot, along with the best times to go searching.

Fire Ginger at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge in Piedras Blancas National Park, Costa Rica.

All About Piedras Blancas National Park, Costa Rica

Centered on the village of La Gamba, Piedras Blancas National Park was split from Parque Nacional Corcovado in 1999. The rainforest has no shortages of unique plants to admire, wildlife to watch, and plenty of other ways to spend your time. Here are suggestions for your visit, along with the best places to stay.

Closeup of a Heliconia rostrata flower.

Costa Rica’s Incredibly Diverse Plant Life

Costa Rica’s tropical location, in combination with its remarkable diversity of local relief and climates, has resulted in the evolution of a stupendously rich biota. Some habitats, such as the mangrove swamps, are relatively simple. Others, particularly the ecosystem of the tropical rainforests of the Caribbean lowlands and the Nicoya and Osa Peninsulas, are among the most complex on the planet.