With its exotic wildlife, sun-soaked coasts and dramatic mountains, this Central American playground offers trips for all types of explorers.

Catch a wave

Surfing enthusiasts from around the globe will be focused on Costa Rica this August, when the Billabong World Surfing Games are held at Jacó’s Hermosa Beach. While this Pacific stretch’s notorious breaks are mainly for experts, novices can learn to hang ten along the calmer shores of Manuel Antonio Beach, at the Manuel Antonio Surf School (lessons from $65). Just a short stroll away are the 38 quiet and spacious rooms and suites of the Arenas del Mar Beach & Nature Resort (doubles from $260).

Hit the trails

Clouds perpetually blanket the upper reaches of the 26,000-acre Monteverde Reserve, home to pumas, jaguars and thousands of plant and tree species, including 300 types of orchids. Selvatura Park (506-2645-5929, hikes from $40) arranges two-hour guided natural-history walks through the low-lying rain forest.

Touch the sky

A 1.7-mile zipline network in the Monteverde Reserve operated by Costa Rica Sky Adventures (tours from $65) gives airborne guests close-up glimpses of forest-dwelling mammals, like the fuzzy brown martilla, as well as views of the smoldering Arenal Volcano. A nighttime tour offers views of the volcano’s brilliant orange lava flow.

Ride the river

Float quietly past the howler monkeys, green iguanas, crocodiles and toucans that reside on the thickly forested banks of Guanacaste’s Tenorio River while rafting with Ríos Tropicales (half-day trips from $95). Expert guides can lead you through adrenaline-pumping rapids or slower, meandering waters. Recover two hours away in one of the 310 dark wood-accented rooms — all have balconies — at the new JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa (doubles from $369).

Lend a hand

More than 500,000 species thrive in Costa Rica’s diverse landscape, an impressive 25 percent of which is under official protection. Eco-minded Green Magic Travel (pricing depends on project) organizes customized itineraries with volunteer activities — protecting green, hawksbill and leatherback turtle nests with park rangers in Tortuguero National Park, or counting species like the endangered rainbow-hued scarlet macaw in Corcovado National Park.

Guanacaste

One of Costa Ricas most visited destination is the Province of Guanacaste. It is located at the north west part of the country and has a great variety of attractions for every member of the family. Guanacaste has a lot to offer, but the three most important things are: its beaches, its volcanoes and its culture. The Pacific coast begins in Nicaragua and goes all the way to Puntarenas in the Central Pacific Coast and it has beaches of different sand colors, excellent for surfing, kayaking, snorkeling and sailing.

There are 4 active and inactive volcanoes such as Orosi, Rincon de la Vieja, Miravalles and Tenorio But one of the things that makes Guanacaste different from the rest of the country is its traditions mostly related to the agriculture and cattle farms. During the dry season and the month of July the “Fiestas” take place in almost every town. It is common to see horse parades, bull riding rodeos and “Chinamos” the local name for tiny little stores selling all king of things from clothes and souvenirs to toys and food.

If you come to Liberia during the “Fiestas de la Anexion” (on July 25th) make sure you visit the EXPO and have a “Vigoron con Chicharron” or a “Carne Asada” This are all typical meals from the region. And if you are interested in more exotic foods try the “Sopa de Mondongo” Keeping all this in mind, we wish you a memorable time in Guanacaste during your next visit.

Emilio Zuñiga C.
IL VIAGGIO TRAVEL