Humpback Whale, New England, USA

North & Central Pacific 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.

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.

Views to the Gulf of Nicoya, Monteverde, Costa Rica
Senda Monteverde Hotel, Monteverde, Costa Rica


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. The lively town of Jaco with its long stretches of golden sand and bustling nightlife is popular with surfers.

Flycatcher, Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica
Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica

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.

Humpback Whale, Marino Ballena National Park, Costa Rica
Costa Rica

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.

Biking, Rio Perdido, Costa Rica
Mountain biking, Liberia, Costa Rica

Our Specialists' "Must Do"

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.


What do you really love doing? We’ll tailor your itinerary to suit you.

Keel-Billed Toucan, Costa Rica

Wildife of Tortuguero

Peacefully meander down the waterways of Tortuguero National Park by canoe, getting up close and personal with birdlife, colourful frogs and lizards, playful monkeys and sloths. You are surrounded by the warm Caribbean sea, where you can watch baby turtles taking their first steps towards the sea.

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Green sea turtle hatchling

Turtle Conservation

Visit Tortuguero, one of the world’s major nesting sites for Atlantic green turtles.

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Lubaantun Mayan Ruins

Toledo’s Archaeological Sites

Visit the archaeological sites of Lubaantun, home of the famous ‘crystal skull’, and Nim Li Punit with tallest stelae in Belize.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Underground cave system in Belize

Cave Exploration

Going Underground – dip into an ancient network of caves that were sacred places for the Maya

Suggested Holiday Idea

Manta Ray off Cano Island

Snorkel Adventure

Snorkel with manta rays and turtles.

Suggested Holiday Idea

El Silencio Lodge & Spa, Waterfall, Bajos del Toro, Costa Rica

Adventures in the Tree Canopy

Raft and zip line through the jungle canopy and abseil down waterfalls.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Cheese board, farm to table, Senda Monteverde Hotel, Costa Rica

Cookery Class

Join a local family for a cooking class, extract juice from sugarcane, milk a cow and make cheese.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Poas Volcano crater, Costa Rica

Volcano Adventure

Walk up to the ridge of the active Poas volcano for a peek into the steaming abyss of its caldera, the largest in the world.

Chocolate making course in Costa Rica

Chocolate Making

Discover how to make chocolate, from bean to bar.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Morgans Rock Hacienda & Ecolodge, Two Bedroom Ocean View Villa Private Terrace, San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

Stay in an Eco-Lodge

Tucked into the forest canopy, stay in an eco-lodge with views of the ocean below.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Need Holiday Inspiration?
Browse our Costa Rica holiday ideas.

Our Costa Rica experts have created and curated these holiday ideas to get you started. Take the time to search through them and find something to spark ideas for a unique adventure.

Meet our experts

A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.

Rachael Tallents

Adventure, discovery and my curiosity for people and the natural world is what drives my love of travelling.  I am grateful for my parents’ desire to explore, and from an early age my eyes were open to diverse landscapes, cultures, and underwater worlds.

For the last 16 years, I have worked for a leading luxury tour operator designing incredible journeys for discerning clients and travelled to some magical places. I am excited to have joined Steppes Travel, and to be working for a company with such strong ethical and sustainable values.

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Clare Higginson

It was my passion for languages that first encouraged me to leave the UK behind and grab my rucksack. Since then, it’s been a mixture of intriguing cultures, jaw-dropping landscapes and the wonder of seeing animals in their natural habitat that sees me continuously extending my travel wish list.

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  • 01285 880 980

John Faithfull

Costa Rica is simply the best spot in Central America for nature lovers, and is always John’s top recommendation for those wishing to hike, swim, zip, raft, ride or float through outstanding scenery and rich biodiversity.

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  • 01285 880 980

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