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Costa Rica Travel Guide

Explore a microcontinent of travel opportunities.

Discover Costa Rica

Dry deciduous forests, lush wetlands, open savanna, and both Pacific and Atlantic beaches, tiny Costa Rica contains the full potential of the tropics. By simply starting on the coastal plains and walking uphill, travelers can journey from the Amazon to a Swiss alpine forest. For outdoor adventurers, the nation’s 12 distinct ecological zones offer endless opportunity to explore land, sea, and sky–think rugged plains by horseback, crocodile safaris, and zipline adventures–while the party crowd will thrive in urban San José, the Afro-Caribbean cultural beat along the coastline, and Jacó, Costa Rica’s most developed resort.

To relax, unwind, and adventure, Costa Rica truly offers something for everyone. Cover every corner of the country with the best of Costa Rica in two weeks, or if you want to experience its beauty and diversity without breaking the bank, start with these helpful tips for how to travel, dine, and explore Costa Rica on a budget. For those hoping to make the move abroad, spend a whirlwind ten days hitting expat hot spots while getting to know the rhythm of life in Costa Rica.

From the thriving nightlife of San José to hiking in the crisp, cool cloud forests of Monteverde to the white-sand beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula, experience the incredible diversity of Costa Rica.

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Travel Maps of Costa Rica

Download free, printable maps of Costa Rica for your personal use.

Currently available from the pages of our travel guides are over sixty maps of Costa Rica. These free planning maps cover all the major regional destinations of interest to travelers including San José, the Caribbean Coast, and the Nicoya Peninsula.

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Color map of Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Map of Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica

Arenal Volcano National Park

Get Inspired With Our Most Recent Costa Rica Articles

Just getting started planning? Here are our four most recent articles to help you find your way, or dig deeper and browse the latest Moon travel articles for all of Costa Rica or check out our living abroad content if you're considering moving to Costa Rica.

Río San Juan near El Castillo. Photo © Elizabeth Perkins.

Río San Juan: Whose River Is It?

Nicaragua has long disputed Costa Rica’s territorial rights to free use of the Río San Juan, while Costa Rica disputes Nicaragua’s claim that the river is entirely Nicaraguan territory. Despite both countries accepting a ruling by the International Court of Justice in 2009, the conflict continues.

Red-eyed tree frog at Parque Reptilandia. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Things to Do in and Around Dominical

Dominical is a tiny laid-back resort favored by surfers, backpackers, and the college-age crowd. The beach is beautiful albeit pebbly, and the warm waters attract whales and dolphins close to shore. If you overdose on the sun, sand, and surf, head into the lush mountains inland of Dominicalito or head east on a paved road that leads to San Isidro, winding up through the valley of the Río Barú into the Fila Costanera mountains, where you may find yourself amid swirling clouds.

Punta Piñuela in Ballena Marine National Park. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Costa Rica’s Ballena Marine National Park

Parque Nacional Marino Ballena protects the shoreline of Bahía de Coronado and the waters surrounding Isla Ballena. Wildlife and bird watching are rich here, but perhaps the most pleasant draw are the places to stay near the park, with beautiful bungalows and rustic cabins surrounded by acres of forest trails. After a day spent snorkeling, watching dolphins frolic, and exploring the park, you’ll be treated to incredible meals.

A small red eyed frog sits perched on a broad leaf.

Protecting Costa Rica’s Land

While much of Costa Rica has been stripped of its forests, the country has managed to protect a larger proportion of its land than any other country in the world. Today, one-third of land is legally set aside as national parks and forest reserves, “buffer zones,” wildlife refuges, and indigenous reserves. Throughout the country, representative sections of all the major habitats and ecosystems are protected.