Guest Post by Jenny Hartin

I traveled to Costa Rica with 3 of my girlfriends and we had such an amazing adventure. I am Jenny and I have been to 26 countries and Costa Rica is in my top 5. I am a travel enthusiast and write my travel stories on wanderingtravelerblog.com

Costa Rica is located in Central America. With its lush green jungles, beaches, cloud forest and volcanos it’s no wonder it’s a traveler paradise. 

Here are the top places you should consider when booking your next vacation to Costa Rica.

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Costa Rica Punta Uva Beach
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Puerto Viejo is located on the Caribbean side just South of Limon. This small town is a backpacker’s paradise as it is cheap and easy to get to. Not to mention it has a very chill, relaxed vibe to it. This is a safe town but as always be aware of petty theft and other travelers.  

Getting here

From San Jose

  • By Bus– it is 5 hours from San Jose to Puerto Viejo and costs about 12 usd (7000 colones)
  • Shuttle– There are a few choices for shared shuttles from San Jose. Caribe, Interbus and East Ride are among the more popular. 
  • By Car– From San Jose, the fastest and most direct route is by route 32 through Braulio Carrillo National Park. Follow that road through Siquirres and in Limon,  then turn onto Route 241 towards Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, continue all the way to Rio Banano and then turn right onto Route 36. Follow Route 36 all the way to Puerto Viejo.

This route is about 4 hours straight and without traffic. You will run into busy areas and with it only being a one lane road expect around 5-6 hours. Plus, it is a very scenic highway so expect to make a few photo stops.

  • Once in town think about maybe renting a bike for 5 USD a day and make less of a footprint on the earth.

Where to stay

Puerto Viejo Air BnB
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  • Backpacking? There are many hostels to put your feet up all day and party all night. The most popular is Rocking Js located on the main road. Or check out The Lazy Loft Beach Hostel also on the main road but more centrally located.
  • AirBnB– This is what we booked. We had a great place in town about a 5-minute walk to the main area. The place is no longer available but there are plenty great ones to choose from. 
  • Hotel– Adults only Umani Hotel has amazing reviews and is walking distance to the beach. 

Things to do

Jaguar Rescue Center
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  • Jaguar Rescue Center– The center was created by Encar Garcia in 2008. Encar, the employees and volunteers have not only rescued but have rehabilitated ocelots, monkeys, sloths and many other mistreated, orphaned and injured animals.
  • Beaches– There are a few great beaches here to check out. Punta Uva is a 15 min car ride or about a 45-minute bike ride east of town nice beach and good snorkeling. Playa Cocles is a 20-minute bike ride from town and a good spot for surfing. 
  • Chocolate Tour– Take a tour of a Cacao farm. The most popular tour is the Caribeans Chocolate. 
  • Bocas Del Toro– Take a day trip to beautiful Bocas Del Toro Pamana. Being not far from the border it is a great way to see another country.

Where to Eat

Hot Rock Bar and Resturant
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  • Hot Rock Bar and Restaurant– It was not only great for breakfast and dinner but a great place for nightly entertainment
  • Salsa Brava Rasta Bar– Looking for the Caribbean feel this is the place. Great food and laid-back atmosphere.

La Fontuna

La Fontuna is North of San Jose and East of Liberia. Its major attraction is the Arenal Volcano getting 1.5 million visits per year. The best way to avoid the crowds is to go off the beaten path.

Arenal Volcano
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Getting here

From San Jose

  • Shuttle– There are a few choices for shared shuttles from San Jose. Caribe, Interbus and East Ride are among the more popular. 
  • Car– Now there are two routes to take both are 3hours. First is through Braulio Carrillo National Park up route 32. Turn left onto Route 4 on stay on it for 95 km. At this point you will follow the signs into town. The second route is the same amount of time but going through more winding roads. Take route 1 out of the city north to the 702 it will take you right into La Fortuna. 

Where to Stay

  • Backpacking– Arenal Backpackers located on the west side of town is a great place to camp and they already have the safari style tent set up.
  • AirBnB– We stayed at Anthony’s place (Hotel Villa Fontuna) as it was a last-minute booking. Great location and reasonable price.  
  • Hotel– Hotel Lomas del Volcan is a beautiful hotel with great views of the volcano. 

Things to do

La Fortuna Waterfall
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  • Arenal National Park– Spend a day hiking the lava trail from the 1992 eruption or the 1968 eruption.
  • La Fortuna Waterfall– This 70-meter cascading waterfall is at the bottom of 530 steps and a small hike. Treat yourself to a great coffee afterwards at the Restaurante Rio Lounge.
  • Ecotermales Fortuna Hot Springs– Take a day or evening to relax and soak up some hot minerals. If you have a sunburn I would not suggest going here.

Jaco Beach

Jaco Beach is a surfing town on the Pacific Side. Great night life and even better waves for those wanting to learn how to surf. 

Jaco Beach Night
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Getting Here

From San Jose

  • Shuttle– There are a few choices for shared shuttles from San Jose. Caribe, Interbus and East Ride are among the more popular.
  • Car– 2 hours- Take Route 27 West out of the city for 45 km. Turn left (North) on 34 and follow to Jaco.

Where to stay

Jaco Beach Costa Rica Air BnB
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  • Backpackers– Salina Jaco & Surf school has great vibes and is in the center of town on the beach.
  • AirBnB– We stayed just outside of town near Playa Agujas. Beach Front Villa Ken was a great host (look up Beach Front Villa with Jeep and Kayaks)
  • Hotel– Hotel Club del Mar is located at the end of town on the water with 4-star service and great views

Things to do

Jaco Beach Surfing
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  • Learn to surf– Check out Andre at Surf Factory for any lessons you may need. This area is a great place to learn. 
  • Zip Lining– Take a half day trip and fly through the jungle.
  • Nightlife– Jaco Beach is very well known for having a great night life. 
  • Monteverde Day Tour– Escape to the cloud forest of Monteverde. Take a day tour to suspended bridges and ziplining. About a 2.5-hour drive from Jaco Beach it will be worth it.

Where to Eat 

  • Tacobar Jaco– A cute place in town. Great food and atmosphere. Love the décor. 
  • El Hicaco Seafood– Amazing food with an even better view. Head here for some dinner and sundowners. 
  • Los Toneles– This beautiful place is about 18 minutes north of town. I loved breakfast here and the service with phenomenal. 

Pura Vida~

Pura Vida Costa Rica
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