10 must-do activities in Costa Rica known only to locals

Costa Rica is a country filled with diverse culture and landscapes, but the most unique things one can do are those endorsed even by its locals.

Costa Rica has diverse tourism, a mix of wildlife, rainforest, mountain ranges and the beautiful blue waters of the Caribbean and Pacific. Undoubtedly, tourists will find a mixture of leisure and adventure in this wonder. Costa Rica has so much to offer solo and group travelers, and some are known only to locals. As a rough guide, here are the best must-do activities in Costa Rica that only the locals know about.


ten Try the Costa Rican dessert

Costa Rica boasts of its beach desserts, Copa and Churchills, the perfect local treats to beat the Costa Rican heat. These beach desserts are crushed ice cream with powdered milk, cola syrup and condensed milk. Churchills are special because they have ice cream and fresh fruit as toppings. These desserts are available at nearly every city beach, but the best place to try Churchills is in Puntarenas.

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9 Enjoy festivals and parties

Costa Rican festivals and fiestas are on another level, which will surely give a memorable time to tourists. Local fiestas organize different activities such as games, rides, different events to enjoy like fire dancing and musical events. If tourists are adventurous enough, it costs between $10 and $15 to participate in the traditional bull riding. In this activity, participants will be chased by the bull along with the locals. Many festivals are held in Costa Rica throughout the year, so tourists can truly enjoy them any time of the year.


8 Take a cooking class

Another way to explore and learn about Costa Rican tradition and culture is through their food. Costa Rica offers different cooking classes, but La Fortuna offers a more interesting cooking workshop. Tourists will learn about the Costa Rican cooking method, their specialties and also learn about obtaining ingredients on the farm. The tour is a combination of cooking classes and farm visits, which is also known as one of the best cooking classes in the country.


seven Learn more about the Costa Rican Coffee and Chocolate Tour

Costa Rica serves as a haven for coffee lovers as the country produces some of the best coffee in the world. There are plenty of coffee farms in Costa Rica and one of the best includes Doka Coffee Estate, Finca Rosa Blanca, and Starbucks’ coffee plantation, Hacienda Alsacia. The best time to visit a coffee farm is during harvest season, from October to March. The country is also rich in cocoa cultivation. Take a Chocolate Rainforest Tour in Sarapiqui and Puerto Viejo.

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6 Visit traditional restaurants

Traditional restaurants in Costa Rica are called “soda”, which are mostly open-air restaurants. The perfect time to visit a soda is during breakfast and try the traditional Costa Rican breakfast called “Gallo pinto”, a combination of rice and beans and normally accompanied by eggs. Gallo pinto is also served with a Costa Rican sauce called “Salsa Lizano”, a perfect sauce for pinto. These are also served at an affordable price, which is why it is especially recommended for backpackers on a budget.


5 Soak in the hot springs

Costa Rica has active geothermal areas, which is why there are many hot springs and natural pools. One of the towns with the best hot springs is La Fortuna, where its natural hot water came from the Tabacon River. Popular hot springs in Arenal include Baldi, Springs, Tabacon and Ecotermales. While other hot springs are sometimes located in private hotels, locals have free access to some hot springs.


4 Be hypnotized by the local wildlife

As mentioned, Costa Rica is rich in wildlife, it is popular for housing sloths and different species in some parts of the country. Sloths are mainly located in Tortuguero, Manuel Antonio National Park and some in Puerto Viejo. Meanwhile, crocodiles are best seen in Rio Tarcoles while there are also some in Tortuguero. Costa Rica has a diverse geography and ecosystem, which is why many endangered birds can be found here. Some include the quetzal, jewel-toned tanagers, scarlet macaw and chirping cuckoos.

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3 Visit the caves of Barra Honda National Park

One of the most unique and adventurous things to explore in Costa Rica is to visit the caves at Barra Honda National Park in the Nicoya Peninsula. Tourists need local guides to be able to explore this wonder, there are more than 42 caves in this park but only 19 have been discovered by locals. The interior of the caves consists of ancient artifacts and even human remains. Tourists can learn a lot about history by visiting these caves.


2 Night Tour In National Parks

To add spice to a visit to the national park, visit at night for other nocturnal species. Nighttime is the perfect time to spot jaguars, frogs, and snakes. Most national parks that offer night walks include Manuel Antonio National Park, Osa Peninsula, and Tortuguero National Park. This is a guided tour, so tourists need not worry about their safety. The tour also lasts up to 2 hours, which includes a boat ride and a hike of approximately 2.5 kilometers.


1 Volunteer in the sanctuaries

The most unique thing to do in Costa Rica is to be a sanctuary volunteer, where tourists will have first-hand experience of interacting with animals. Many rescue centers and sanctuaries operate in Costa Rica looking for volunteers, and sometimes they are tourists! This is a great opportunity to take care of our animals such as sloths, dogs, native monkeys, wild cats, etc. Popular sanctuaries that accept volunteers are Jaguar Rescue Center and Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary.

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