North & Central Pacific Coast


  • Great beaches for a little “R&R” after a full trip of forest hiking and wildlife viewing
  • Hang out with squirrel and white-faced capuchin monkeys in Manuel Antonio National Park
  • A number of National Parks offer the opportunity to seek out crocodiles, spider monkeys, scarlet macaws and poison arrow frogs
  • Take a whale watching trip to see humpbacks and their calves in Ballena Marine National Park
  • World Class surfing to suit all levels of experience
  • See nesting Giant Leatherback Turtles at Playa Grande (November – March)


While in Manuel Antonio, you should take the “Santa Juana Mountain Tour”. This fantastic trip takes you up into the Fila Chonta Mountains, birthplace of the Rodeo and Paquita rivers, for a full day of walking forest trails, swimming under waterfalls, horse riding and learning about coffee and sugar production whilst surrounded by tremendous birdlife.

You can try your hand at fishing for tilapia and even add on a white knuckle zip-line experience. A delicious Tico campesina lunch is included to recharge the batteries. On a clear day, you have views from the mountain top down to the coast.


The Pacific Coast stretches from the Nicoya Peninsula in the north to the Osa Peninsula in the south. This coastal plain rises up to become the Talamanca and Tilaran mountain ranges. Scores of fishing hamlets and villages dot the coastline, which is easily accessible from San Jose and consequently a popular beach choice for both Costa Ricans and visitors.


The Guanacaste province in the north comprises of arid lowlands and the Nicoya peninsula, that sweeps some 140kms to its tip, boasts some of the most secluded beaches in the country. Tropical dry forests such as Carara National Park give way to the greener Central Pacific zone and tropical rainforest. The wildlife is abundant in both ecosystems and are common commuters between the two. Heading further south, the lively surfing town of Jaco with its long stretches of golden sand and bustling nightlife is popular with surfers.

Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio National Park, one of Costa Rica's leading attractions, is situated just south of Quepos on the Central Pacific Coast, and is less than three hours by road from the capital. This is the country’s smallest nature reserve and one of the few remaining habitats of the endangered squirrel monkey. The park is also home to the two-toed sloth, pacas, agoutis, iguanas and a vast array of bird species. Manuel Antonio offers that rare combination of a few days at a tropical sandy beach with crystal clear waters and a National Park of tropical forest teeming with wildlife.

Ballena Marine National Park  

Continuing south of Manuel Antonio are the smaller coastal communities of Matapalo, Dominical and Uvita, between which can be found long stretches of deserted coastline. Ballena Marine National Park is host to bottle nosed dolphins, turtles and is a good spot to see humpback whales (December to April and August to October). Frigate birds, white ibis and brown pelicans nest on Las Tres Hermanas and Isla Ballena.

Activities along the North and Central Pacific Coast include whale-watching, bird-watching, horse-riding, surfing, kayaking, snorkelling and swimming in the azure waters of the pacific.


Carara National Park was once part of the largest hacienda in Costa Rica before it was protected in 1978. It contains many pre-Columbian archaeological sites, some of which date back to 300BC. It is also host to an amazing diversity of plant life with over 750 recorded species.


For most visitors, sea and sand is an important element of time spent here and both look best under sunshine and a clear blue sky.  January to March is your best bet for these conditions with temperatures in the high twenties. For the rest of the year, some rain is likely but often falling in sharp tropical bursts followed by sunshine.



Holiday Ideas in Costa Rica

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