Things to do in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is one such dream destination, that narrowing down to the best of all the fun activities becomes quite a task. The lush green jungles, the exotic bird life, pristine unspoilt beaches and the spectacular scenery all go into making this country a paradise for holiday makers and nature lovers alike.

 

This striking and diverse terrain which is a heady combination of sun, outdoor fun and nature offers something or the other to every traveler, right from the Pacific coast to the Northern plains. Stunning Costa Rican villas amidst jungles and beautiful valleys, make for perfect retreats.

 

To make it easy for the first time visitor, some of the leading attractions of this enchanting country are highlighted here.

 

NICOYA PENINSULA

 

A four hour drive from San Jose will bring you to the northwestern tip of Costa Rica where the Nicoya Peninsula extends right up to the Pacific coast. The sparkling shoreline which is all of 80 miles long, offers a plethora of fishing, cattle ranch communities, mixed with trendy restaurants and hotels which have sprung up to cater to the influx of the increasing number of tourists that throng here round the year.

 

ARENAL VOLCANO

 

Every year, between the months of February and April, visitors come in hordes to have some of the best undisturbed views of one of the most active volcanoes of the world, namely, Arenal Volcano. Standing 5000 feet above sea level, this constant spewing mountain can be viewed in its splendor from the Arenal Observatory Lodge, which occupies a vantage point.

 

The base village of Fortuna, offers perfect opportunities to viewers to access Arenal, and fog or no fog, travelers come here in numbers to enjoy the experience.

 

BIRDWATCHING

 

From toucans,macaws, parrots and a host of tropical birds, Costa Rica with around 800 different bird species, is a mecca for birders. The top bird spots around the towns of Arenal, Puerto Viejo, Osa Peninsula and Montverde are all a haven for naturalists. Many hotels provide conducted tours with an expert guide to take enthusiasts bird watching either through forest hikes or from observation towers.

 

TORTUGUERO NATIONAL PARK

 

Accessible only by boat or a light airplane, the TORTUGUERO NATIONAL PARK is located in the North Eastern part of Costa Rica and is an extremely popular tourist destination. The major attraction here are the phenomenal sightings of endangered species of turtles, like the green turtle, hawksbill and other varieties that come onshore during the breeding season in their thousands to lay their eggs.

 

CORCOVADO NATIONAL PARK

 

This biologically rich rainforest area is home to some of the most exotic animal species like the jaguar, anteaters, tapirs, a diverse bird life with the water bodies sheltering crocodiles and bull sharks.The abundance of mangrove swamps are reminiscent of scenes from any popular nature film.

 

GUANACASTE

 

Nestled on the border with Nicaragua, this area is home to sleek resorts and luxurious retreats along the Pacific coast. Rainforest, Savannah and an active Rincon de la Vieja volcano, leaves visitors spoilt for choice while visiting Guanacaste.

 

TRAVEL ON HORSEBACK

 

Simply one of the best way to see the beaches and mountains of Costa Rica is on horseback.Though locally a common activity, visitors today can visit almost any popular destination, especially in Guanacaste. Horses can be hired from the local farmers at a nominal charge and are great options while visiting beach towns, such as Samara, Tamarindo or Montezuma.

 

SUNSET CRUISE

 

One of the most relaxing and romantic activity along the Pacific coast is to go on a sunset cruise along the many beautiful beaches. Towns like, Playas del Coco,Playa Tamarindo and many others offer this excursion to let visitors get a feel of the ocean and view marine life. Snorkeling equipment, water, snacks and drinks are all included in this super romantic activity.

 

GO ON A ROAD TRIP

 

Embarking on a journey by road through Costa Rica is a breathtaking experience. It allows one to venture off the beaten path and explore the cities and its surroundings in a more natural and authentic manner. A trip through Central Valley for example, offers stunning landscapes and let’s the motorist experience the small town life and taste local cuisine which otherwise is not possible in the more touristy zones.

 

FINCA 6

 

Located in the Osa Peninsula, is a unique UNESCO world heritage site dedicated to spheres made of stone. Though their origin and purpose have still not been established even till today, this mysterious site is a great attraction and of incredible interest.

 

CATARATA DEL TORO

 

Dropping from a height of 270 feet, this stunning waterfall is the tallest in Costa Rica. Located inside an extinct volcanic crater in the Central Valley, the steps down the waterfall offer a great walk and close-up views of the cascading water. The waterfall can be reached while driving to La Fortuna from San Jose. Private cabins are available for overnight stay at this reserve.

 

RAINFOREST BY TRAM

 

This is the ideal way to see the rainforest from close for those who cannot hike or endure strenuous excursions. The tropical jungle unfolds a variety of bird and animal life and the guide is always ready with the names of the different flora and fauna. The tram passes through many vantage points which offer stunning views of the rainforest. This facility is available at Arenal and Monteverde, while there is one on the Caribbean side and Jaco as well.

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Diverse Outdoor Activities for Children

Engaging kids in outdoor activities has loads of benefits not only to the physical growth of children but it also reinforces cognition and learning, promotes social and emotional development. Children who are always around people and nature have a better sense of social interaction, empathy, and has a stronger concept of self identity and self-worth.

We have been trying our best to expose our children outdoor and encourage them to be active and interact with peers. The need to be active is especially important for our children as they are asthmatic; they say asthma is a modern-day disease.  Although modern medicine has provided us with effective asthma treatment, having a sound body and a healthy lifestyle would certainly make a load of difference.

Going out is something that my husband and I are not accustomed to doing as we are home-buddies and introverts. However, having children is a whole new story, especially that the kids have a rather outgoing personalities. The activities below are those that are available around our community. Some may not be possible with you however we hope that these could give you some ideas.

So here are some few of the things that we have been doing to get the children out of the house and catch some rays.

 

Kayaking. is another great family outdoor activity. It is something different from what children usually do, so they would find this exciting.  Although there are few risks to think about, but if the water is not too rough, it is pretty safe for kids.

kayaking @Satun Thailand

 

Bicycle around the house or neighborhood. Now that my son already knows to ride a bicycle,  he’s excited to go out of the house and go on an adventure as he would call it.

Walk along the beach and collect some shells. Our house is just a block away from Chalatat beach.  So it’s so easy to stroll on the beach, collect some shells, and breathe in some fresh sea air after school.

Figurine painting with water color. Another favorite activity that my children love is painting at the beach.

Plant some vegetables. I’m keen on growing our own produce and so I thought of a garden in the city.  Our place is tiny,  but we managed to turn a portion of the patio into a mini garden.  My kids caught up and planted their own vegetables. Now one of their favorite household chores is watering plants.

Go spelunking caves. Thailand is extremely abundant with natural resources like caves,  jungle,  and waterfalls.  These are great places to explore and experience the beauty of  nature with your family. In one of our trips in Satun Thailand, we visited Phu Pha Phet Cave or the Diamond Cave.  Unlike Tham Luang Cave in Chiang Rai, where a young soccer team was trapped for 18 days, this cave is big and super spacious inside, as well as dry and dusty.

Spelunking Phu Pha Phet

Enjoy a waterfall. As mentioned there is no shortage of waterfalls in Thailand.  One particular waterfall we like is the Wang Sai Thong in Satun Thailand, the entire waterfall basin and paths have high deposits of calcified limestone.  So the place is not slippery. Pretty safe for super active children.

Wang Sai Thong Falls: Satun Thailand

Chill out at the beach. Whether the purpose is to swim or simply hang out there, a beach is an awesome place and children love it.  Aside from swimming, my kids love to feel the sand and build sand castles. A nice way to reconnect with earth, and boosts your child’s immunity by contact with microbes living in sand.

Going to museums. A museum is a great place to learn so many things about history, arts and crafts, sciences,  and many others.  What’s awesome with some of the museums here,  is that they are situated in pretty interesting sites like on top of a hill,  park,  and temples.

Explore and Experience

Family time at the park. For city dwellers city parks are the closest to nature one could get. And there are so much stuff kids could do, like play with their Frisbee, fly kites,  bike around,  explore the place and find different plants and insects,  or may be just run around while Mom and Dad are chilling out with their read.

Camping, may it be day camp or an overnight camping, is an exciting outdoor activity that would surely encouraged children and adults alike especially if they do this together with peers. This is a great venue for them to interact with others and exercise their learnt interpersonal and social values.

Songkhla Thailand
Day Camp @Samila Sheep Farm

 

Nature photography is another great outdoor activity families could engage to bond, learn, and have fun.  Our daughter is showing interests in photography and is following dad’s footsteps. Below are some of her photos during a day trip to the zoo.

Empowered Kids Corner: Following Dad’s Footsteps

 

Take self-defense lessons like Taekwondo. Apart from self-defense, children can also develop motor coordination and balance.

Play basketball, football, or any sports your kids are into.

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