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Three Perfect Days: Costa Rica

This eco-paradise is the perfect place to embark on a Central American safari, and if you plan well, you can even have the monkeys mostly to yourself

Author Jacqueline Detwiler Photography Al Argueta

A surfer pulls tricks in Dominical

Picture 1 of 12

IF YOU'RE ACQUAINTED WITH any budding ecologists, chances are you’ve heard about the many charms of Costa Rica. Visiting this tiny Central American country—which is roughly the size of West Virginia—is like being inside the world’s best zoo: The question is not if you’ll see a wild animal on your travels, but whether it will be a sea turtle, a sloth or a monkey.

Interest in Costa Rica, and in adventure travel in general, has exploded over the last couple of decades, so it’s no surprise that the beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula and the slopes of the Arenal Volcano are seeing the arrival of yoga centers, bars and luxury hotels with golf courses. As these developments have proliferated, there’s concern that they may have tarnished Costa Rica’s appeal as a place of simple pleasures, where the most common response to “¿Como estas?” is “Pura vida,” which translates as both “excellent” and “full of life.”

With almost a third of Costa Rica under some form of environmental protection, pura vida can still be found, of course. The country’s pockets of paradise range from the breeding spots of precious turtles on the Caribbean coast to the depths of unpopulated rainforest near the Panamanian border. The Osa Peninsula, a tropical lowland bordered by mangrove swamps, reefs and lacy caves, is a fantastic place to start looking. Here, at breakfast, you’ll be just as often disturbed by a toucan on your table as by your waiter.

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4 Responses to “Three Perfect Days: Costa Rica”

  1. Costa Rica Curious Says:
    December 1st, 2013 at 7:59 am

    Thanks for the great 3 day tour. I love reading about all of the beach areas. I retired early with my wife to the hills of Grecia, a small coffee farming community, in June of this year and other than Jaco have not ventured too far out. Your descriptions are motivating.

  2. jay friedman Says:
    December 8th, 2013 at 9:20 pm

    great article. we have owned our home in ojochal since 2007. very well written and researched. just scratched the surface of the costa ballena. you should have eaten with marcella at citrus! anyway, our little 25 mile stretch from Dominical to Ojochal, is, as the author suggests “magico”!

    pura vida.


  3. Nikki Whelan Says:
    January 13th, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    Great article about our area! Keep it coming! Check out more about our area: http://www.ballenatales.com. The local news and travel guide magazine!

  4. sibbald doan Says:
    February 12th, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    So great to read an accurate promotion of the central Pacific. It is such a glorious lace with the best people in the world

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