When considering the best places to visit in Costa Rica or even the top things to do in Costa Rica, there are many considerations.
For the sake of this post, we’ll simplify it down to a few of the most standout, awe-inspiring, spectacular experiences you can have in the country. We’re talking about the sites, the moments, and the destinations that fill you with wonder and imprint themselves on memory for years and stories and reminiscences to come.
Because to us, that’s what the bucket list is all about: filling your vacation, and days, and moments with as much joy and delight and curiosity as you can. And so, we offer up these six incredible experiences for your next vacation:
Tamarindo: Sunset Sailing
As far as adjectives go, “awe-struck” and “breathtaking” could have been invented after a Tamarindo sunset cruise. It’s that kind of experience.
On the surface, a catamaran cruise sounds like great fun: Board a sailboat in the early afternoon, motor to a secluded cove for swimming, snorkeling, and beach lounging. See if you can spot the odd octopus or tropical fish. Dig your toes into the sand. Float around in the Pacific. Then, board the boat and enjoy a tropical picnic – chips and guacamole, fresh fruit, veggies, and other snacks – before heading into the sunset.
And oh, what a sunset. While you’re just a few hundred yards from shore, it seems like you’re miles closer to the sun. It will make your heart pound and your soul soar. And it will be one of those memories you take with you into forever.
Upgrade: If you’re seeking a true bucket-list experience, consider reserving a private cruise. In addition to all the standard inclusions, your picnic includes cocktails and beer, and you’ll have greater input into your itinerary.
Stay Here: The Luxury Point
Tamarindo | 7 Beds | 9 Baths | 17 Guests
Welcome to your dream home in paradise – a bucket-list item and one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica, in its own right! The Luxury Point occupies rare and desirable beachfront in Tamarindo, immersing you into Tamarindo’s sights and nightlife, while surrounding you with Costa Rica’s exquisite natural beauty.
In addition to its incredible location, this Pacific Ocean-view home offers seven oceanfront suites, a state-of-the-art kitchen, an oversize swimming pool, indoor/outdoor living, an ocean-view private gym, and many other amenities – all, literal steps between two of Costa Rica’s most famous white-sand beaches (Playa Tamarindo and Playa Langosta).
Costa Rica’s north-Pacific coast is one of the world’s most sought-after sportfishing destinations, thanks to year-round, hard-fighting, record-setting fish. From inshore to offshore, from half-day to full-day, from shared to private – the fishing charters and tours near Playa Langosta are the kind you’ll tell yarns (true yarns, of course!) about for years to come.
Our waters teem with many of your favorites, including mahi-mahi, red snapper, yellowfin tuna, jacks, roosterfish, rainbow fish, sailfish, and much more. Know what you’d like to catch? We’ll help you plan your day around your goals: half-day, nearshore experiences for mahi-mahi and white mackerel and full-day excursions for sailfish, tuna, and more.
Stay Here: Villa Estrella Azul
Playa Langosta | 8 Beds | 6 Baths | 18 Guests
Far from the madding crowd (but just close enough to be convenient to everything), Villa Estrella Azul is more a private boutique hotel than a single-family home. It’s exclusive. It’s exquisitely equipped. And it’s gloriously spacious.
With eight luxury bedrooms, a custom infinity pool, and a gourmet chef’s kitchen, you could hole up here and never leave. In part, that’s thanks to the home’s private backyard oasis, where an infinity pool transitions slowly from shallow to deep, where you’ll avail yourself of a private yoga pavilion, where outdoor dining invites you to enjoy the moment, and where shady verandahs bid you relax and remember that this is vacation, after all!
Flamingo: Snuba or Scuba Diving with Giant Manta Rays
The underwater world is a showstopper for so many reasons but off the coast of Playa Flamingo and the Flamingo Marina, we have giant manta rays (Mobula birostris). One of the ocean’s most ethereal and stunning sights, these marine giants have a wingspan of 30 feet and can weigh up to 3,000 pounds. Just imagine the sight of one gliding between you and the ocean’s surface… yes, it’s easy to see why this one makes our list!
What’s more, they frequent our shores for half the year: giant manta rays are at the Las Catalinas Islands from January through March and the Bat Islands from June through August. And so, they both make our list of the best places to visit in Costa Rica. You can scuba dive at either location or, if you have children or inexperienced divers in your party, choose to snuba! (It’s the best of all worlds, allowing you to explore underwater while attached to an oxygen “leash.”)
Stay Here: Flamingo Blu
Playa Flamingo | 5 Beds | 6 Baths | 10 Guests
If you’re looking for a true point of pride – those just-for-you, everyone’s-asking-where-you-were bucket-list items – then welcome to your paradise found: Flamingo Blu, a unique beachfront property set on a hillside overlooking idyllic Flamingo Beach.
Open-air and even more open to the view, Flamingo Blu welcomes you to a mesmerizing panorama of ocean, sky, and mountain. And at your feet: the villa’s ocean-view terrace, curving sun deck, and an infinity pool, where you’ll while away your downtime, keep your eyes peeled for howler monkeys and parrots, and wait every night as another unforgettable sunset descends on your front yard.
Santa Teresa: Epic Surf
Santa Teresa’s surf is one of those almost-kept secrets. You know the kind: It used to be that only those in-the-know knew and now, it’s better known but still, it’s enough off the beaten path that many people still don’t go. And that makes it both perfect bucket-list fodder and one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica, especially for surfers. Yes, you’ll have to get there. And yes, you’ll have to forego a bit of nightlife and other conveniences. But once you’re there – oh, you may not ever want to leave.
That’s because, if you’re the boarder sort, you’ll learn that Santa Teresa has incredible surf. It’s consistent year-round. And the waves are killer: easy paddle-outs, clean water, and epic hollows that you’ll want to ride for ages. Plus, from Playa Hermosa south through Santa Teresa and into Mal Pais, you’ll find everything from beginner surf to waves that work themselves into the range of 10+ feet. Hang ten, friends!
Stay Here: Villa Vista de Santiago
Santa Teresa | 4 Beds | 3 Baths | 10 Guests
Think surf accommodations can’t be luxurious? Welcome to Villa Vista de Santiago, a perfect escape to stunning ocean views, luxury finishes, and a true nature experience. For here, amidst your outdoor kitchen, private pool, and comfortable living space, you’re surrounded by the great outdoors and breathtaking views over the ocean. It’s the perfect place to relax and just be… That is, when you’re not out enjoying the surf.
For here, you are a very short drive to both Hermosa Beach and Manzanillo Beach, as well as Santa Teresa, just 10 minutes away. for here, you are a very short drive to the surf that brought you here. The surf that you knew enough about to be willing to come all the way here. So, get out there and welcome the challenge. It’s going to be epic.
Manuel Antonio: Monkey-Watching at the National Park
In life, there are certain experiences that are innately extraordinary and there are others that ascend to the level of wonder, once you understand a little more about the context. Manuel Antonio National Park is a little of both: set into a wild and beautiful landscape where rainforest meets the sea, there’s much to love about this, one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica and a beloved national park.
And yet, once you know a little bit more about what you’re seeing, you’ll love it all the more. Because this incredible national park is also home to the endangered Central American squirrel monkey, which was once critically endangered and now, thanks to strong conservation efforts has recovered enough to be considered only endangered. Only endangered. And yet, they’re everywhere here: tiny monkeys that bedeck the trees. And yet, they’re only here – on this small coastal slice from Manuel Antonio to the Osa Peninsula. Enjoy the experience!
Stay Here: Villa Los Sueños
Manuel Antonio | 7 Beds | 7 Baths | 14 Guests
What’s in a name? Perched on a cliff overlooking Manuel Antonio and the Pacific Ocean, Villa Los Sueños is the Villa of Dreams – an escape so breathtaking and luxurious, you’d think you’d dreamed it into existence.
With more than 6,000 square feet of interiors and a spectacular 3,000 square feet of terraces and decks, this is a home that invites you to vacation outdoors and in total luxurious splendor. Magnificent views can be enjoyed on every level, thanks to nine-foot folding window walls. And speaking of, you’ll love the ocean-view, salt-sanitized infinity pool and indoor Jacuzzi.
Dominical & Uvita: The Whale’s Tail
Mother Nature can serve up wonderful surprises, but few are as serendipitous and apropos as Costa Rica’s own “whale’s tail.” Located on the south Pacific, between Manuel Antonio and the Osa Peninsula, this natural wonder – a sandy peninsula that looks just like a whale’s tail – sits within the confines of el Parque Nacional Marino Ballena.
Once translated, that’s Whale National Marine Park. As we said, it’s apropos. Because, while you may think that the park were named for its landmark, that’s the serendipitous detail. In fact, the park is named for the humpback whales that spend so much time here every year. It’s true: Home to one of the longest humpback whale seasons in the world, this part of the country hosts wintering North American whales (December-April) and then, wintering South American Whales (July-November). And they are quite the sight!
Stay Here: Villa Capuchin
Dominical | 6 Beds | 6 Baths | 16 Guests
An incredible, luxurious home located within a private nature reserve, Villa Capuchin overlooks Dominical Beach, welcoming you to Pacific Ocean views and mountain vistas.
Named in homage to the white-faced monkeys that are residents of the reserve (and possibly, your terrace) and hidden deep within the greenery of Costa Rican rainforest, this vacation home offers 270-degree vistas and stands as an invitation to indulge in Dominical surfing and nature explorations, any time you please. It’s also a short ride to our above-mentioned (and famed) “whale’s tail” beach – a perfect photo op to memorialize your trip!
Planning a Bucket-List Adventure? Looking for More Best Places to Visit in Costa Rica?
When you reserve a luxury villa with us, you’re booking more than just a spectacular home; your reservation also includes full travel concierge services.
So, what does that mean? Well, when you make your reservation, our skilled in-house concierge will get in touch. She is an expert in all things Costa Rica and her job is to get to know you that well, too. Share your desires and preferences, peruse our recommendations, and start building your must-do, can’t-miss lists.
Our concierge will tailor your vacation to your specific needs and interests. From the little details – airport pickup and a private chef – to all your activities and transportation, our concierge services are absolutely and always free for our guests. You dream, we take care of the details.
Please get in touch for more information about our Costa Rica luxury vacation villas and our concierge services.