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Costa Rica Odyssey: Discovering Hidden Gems Beyond the Beach

By: Margie Connor, MLS Custom Travel

Certified Travel Counsellor (CTC)

Costa Rica is an all-year round destination with an average annual temperature of 80°-90° Fahrenheit on the coasts and 75°-80° in the countryside and on the mountainsides. December to April is the dry season and May to November is the “green” season.

When most travelers think of Costa Rica, they imagine a beach vacation in Guanacaste Province which borders the Pacific. You can enjoy the white sand beaches or Playa Conchal and Playa Flamingo or the calm waters of Playa Hermosa and Playa Panama.

I would like to share another vacation option in Alajuela Province located in the north-central part of the country. The province is the site of the Central Mountain Range (Cordillera Central de Costa Rica)in addition to several volcanic national parks


Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges

The pathways are well maintained with 1 to 3 route options you can enjoy. Some routes are accessible and you can rent appropriate scooters or strollers with larger tires on-site.

Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridge

Red-Eyed Tree Frog

Guided Night Walk on a Forest Trail

You can hear and observe nocturnal wildlife including mammals, birds, insects, reptiles, and amphibian animals that become active in the early evening hours.

Red-Eyed Tree Frog

Bird watching

Bird watching

With over 900 bird species in Costa Rica, you are sure to see some popular ones such as hummingbirds, toucans, tanagers, parrots and owls. Self-guided or guided tours are available.

Celeste Waterfall

Hiking in Tenorio Volcano National Park

The park is best known for the "Blue Lagoon" and the Celeste Waterfall. It is a 3 km hike on trails with incline/decline and stairs.

Note: There are 30 National Parks and Reserves in Costa Rica and a variety of experiences such as hot springs, wildlife & bird watching, canopy tours & ziplining, rappelling & climbing, rafting & kayaking and hiking.

Yes, the Celeste River & Waterfall is really that blue … No filters added!

Safari Adventure Tour

Enjoy a peaceful ride in a covered boat along the Rio Frio (Cold River) and be amazed by all the animals and birds you can observe.

Tip: Have your camera ready!

Jesus Christ Lizard

Two female and one male Jesus Christ Lizard. They are called that because it seems like they can walk on water.

cup of java

Farm Visit

Ever wonder where spices, sugar or your favourite cup of java comes from?

Costa Rica has several types of farm visits available. I walked through fields of vanilla, black pepper, ginger, turmeric, lemon grass, along with other medicinal herbs and trees to learn how spices are grown.

If only my picture had smell-o-vision😊

Arenal Volcano National Park

Arenal Volcano National Park

The Arenal Volcano is one of the seven active volcanos of the 183 volcanos in Costa Rica. Red hot lava has not flowed since 2008 and is currently limited to puffs of steam and a few deep rumbles.

Abrol de la Paz

"Abrol de la Paz” (The tree of peace)

The Tree of Peace is a majestic 400-year-old Ceiba tree near Tenorio Volcano National Park & Rio Celeste. The tree is over 20 meters thick in perimeter and almost 50 meters tall.

Ceiba Tree


Planning for your trip to Costa Rica is key to enjoying your Costa Rican adventure. Here is a list of what to pack:

  • Clothing: light, breathable, quick-drying fabrics, a light jacket or sweater, swimwear and a waterproof jacket or poncho.

  • Footwear: waterproof hiking boots, comfortable walking shoes and flip flops or sandals.

  • Sun Protection: sunscreen with SPF 30 (minimum), a brimmed hat and UV-protection sunglasses.

  • Insect Repellent & First-Aid Kit

  • Reusable Water Bottle: be environmentally friendly while staying hydrated.

  • Camera Equipment & Binoculars: such as a camera, spare batteries & SD cards, portable power bank and tripod so you can capture the beautiful landscapes, vibrant sunsets and exotic wildlife.

  • Daypack: a lightweight, waterproof backpack is handy for day trips and excursions to hold your essentials and keep your hands free for hiking and wildlife spotting.

  • Documentation: always carry your essential documents and keep digital copies for online access, if needed.

Costa Rica offers many types of vacation options such as all-inclusive beach vacations, guided tours or tropical forest hideaways. Contact your MLS Custom Travel Advisor to plan the perfect trip for you!


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