10 Essential Activities in the Northern Plains of Costa Rica

    Tourism in Costa Rica has presented the interactive guide to the different areas of the Northern Plains with a wide range of activities and alternatives for the traveler

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    Costa Rica is one of the countries with the most biodiversity on the planet, since it groups more than 6.5% of the world’s biodiversity and has 26% of protected areas. The lush natural wilderness can be experienced throughout the country and is easily accessible to visitors. Costa Rica offers dreamlike landscapes, friendly people willing to share their culture, and a safe country to experience natural wonders.

    The Costa Rican Tourism Institute, ICT, has produced an interactive guide to the Northern Plains region that includes the tourist attractions of the destinations of Guatuso, Los Chiles, San Carlos and Upala. Likewise, the document has three mini-guides of the communities of Bijagua, Caño Negro and La Fortuna, each of these with their respective tours and activities.

    The Plains of the North region offers a wide range of ecotourism, adventure, rural tourism, wellness and health activities, visits to indigenous peoples, or simply leisure and rest.

    Its extensive list of things to do includes its national parks such as the Tenorio and Arenal volcanoes, its wetlands, as well as various adventure activities, well-being, bird watching, relaxation, rural tourism, traditional cuisine, culture, history, and recognized natural wealth.

    Ten essential activities in the Northern Plains:

    The guides of the Northern Plains have a tourist-cultural calendar with the monthly activities of each area such as popular festivals, carnivals and international festivals. They also include a tour of the biographies of famous people from each locality, information on regional artistic groups, wellness tourism, agro-productive farms and the region’s historical legacy.

    In addition, you can find the Ten essential activities to do in the Northern Plains:

    1. Visit the Arenal Volcano and Tenorio Volcano National Parks

    The Arenal Volcano National Park has an area of ​​more than 12,000 hectares. It is located in the northwestern region of Costa Rica, between the foothills of the Cordillera de Tilarán and the Plains of San Carlos, 15 km from Fortuna.

    It is one of the most visited destinations in the Northern Plains. On the other hand, the main attractions in the Tenorio Volcano are: the Río Celeste Waterfall, the blue lagoon, the hervideros or borbollones (fissures and cracks through which the gases typical of the volcanic activity of the place escape), and El Teñidero (the point where the phenomenon that gives the river its celestial color begins).

    2. Visit the Caño Negro wetlands and observe birds throughout the region

    The Caño Negro National Mixed Wildlife Refuge is a wetland with an approximate area of ​​10,000 hectares that is home to migratory birds, many mammals, reptiles such as alligators, and some endemic freshwater fish, such as the gaspar fish. Among them there are a large number of endangered species. In addition, there are swamps and lagoons throughout the reserve, its main attraction being the lagoon and the wetland of more than 880 hectares.

    3. Boat ride through the Arenal reservoir and enjoy a sunset at the destination

    The reservoir is the main source of energy and irrigation in the country and of tourism development in the area, and contains a freshwater lake of some 8,317 hectares.

    4. Experience rural tourism

    Northern Plains is a place of rest and tranquility, and its charming rural towns are an oasis of peace from the chaos of the big cities. The area offers a series of very attractive alternatives to enjoy rural culture, where you can learn about the production processes and the culture of local communities in agricultural, agricultural, and agro-industrial farms. It is essential to live the experience of waking up with coffee, gallo pinto, tortillas or the typical chorreadas of Costa Rica in a unique and authentic environment.

    5. Relax with wellness tourism, spa and hot springs

    There are a variety of options for tourist centers with hot springs of different temperatures, where it is possible to rest and relax while contemplating the Arenal volcano and the natural landscapes of the area.

    6. Experience Adventure activities

    Lakes such as Arenal are located in this area, where it is possible to navigate and practice adventure activities. There are also rivers such as the Frio River, Peñas Blancas, San Carlos, Toro and Puerto Viejo, which allow adventure activities and nature observation to be developed.

    Some are known for their thermal waters and others attract for their impressive light blue color. The falls are no exception and are surrounded by an impressive flora and fauna.


    You can also enjoy a visit to a cave such as the Venado Caves, which make up an underground system with unique geological characteristics of at least 2,000 meters in length.

    7. Enjoy local towns and their traditions

    The Northern Plains region is made up of the extension of the four border cantons of that province: San Carlos, Guatuso, Upala and Los Chiles. In them are attractive picturesque towns that are a must for those who want to delve into the local culture and get to know it up close.

    8. Cool off with a visit to the waterfalls of La Fortuna and Rio Celeste

    Celeste River's waterfall is simply astonishing.
    Celeste River waterfall

    The waterfalls of Costa Rica are surrounded by flora and fauna that make them an earthly paradise. The Celeste River Fall with its turquoise blue waters and the imposing La Fortuna Fall with a height of 70 meters are essential places in the region.

    9. Buy local crafts

    In the Northern Plains there is an organization of local artisans called ‘Northern Craft Collective’, who produce handicrafts inspired by the culture, flora, fauna and traditions and identity of the northern part of the country.

    This artisan collective brings together artisans from the cantons of Guatuso, Upala and Los Chiles that are located in the northwestern part of the province of Alajuela. In the region there is a great cultural wealth maintained by indigenous populations such as Maleku or Guatuso.

    10. Learn about and share traditional practices of the Maleku indigenous people

    In this region you can enjoy the culture, agricultural production and handicraft production of the Maleku. The Guatusos indigenous territory has 600 inhabitants, distributed in three communities: Tonjibe, Margarita and El Sol, all of them located on the banks of the El Sol River.

    These communities are accessible by gravel roads and are located a few kilometers from the center of Guatuso. Another essential activity is to enjoy the experience of visiting cocoa plantations, which have been part of the Maleku indigenous culture since time immemorial, who consider cocoa to be a sacred element with a purifying and medicinal function.

    This new guide on the Northern Plains and another 10 additional ones on other areas of the country can be downloaded from a specific internet site.

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