Destination Inspiration: Costa Rica

CAA Travel Professional Carrie Carlton says there’s something for everyone in this coastal paradise

Costa Rica: a nation that’s home to flora and fauna you can’t see anywhere else. Carrie Carlton from the CAA Parry Sound Store knows and loves the country and is always quick to recommend it to her clients who are looking for an exciting adventure or even just a relaxing holiday on the beach.

“With volcanoes to hike, hot springs to relax in, legendary surf, miles of beaches and endless wildlife-watching, Costa Rica is my perfect vacation,” says Carlton.

All-inclusive resorts cater to the needs of beach-vacationers; escorted tours teach history buffs about culture, nature and cuisine; and independent travellers can easily rent a car, grab a map and explore—at 50,898 square km, Costa Rica is surprisingly easy to navigate.

And for the daring thrill-seekers?

“For the more adventurous explorer, I’d recommend a day at Rincon de la Vieja, where you can zip line, horseback ride and even river tube, says Carlton. “Afterwards, relax in the hot springs and mud baths, or chow down at one of the many delicious restaurants.”

The cloud forest in Monteverde is the birthplace of Costa Rica's ecotourism trade. Here you can go trekking at high altitudes, straddle your feet across the continental divide or enjoy canopy tours that offer a bird's eye view of over 100 species of mammals, 400 species of birds, tens of thousands of insect species and more than 2,500 varieties of plants. When the sun goes down, watching the red-hot lava erupt from Arenal Volcano is truly a sight to behold.

Costa Rica has numerous National Parks to explore, including Manuel Antonio where you can marvel at all manner of monkeys bounding through the forest canopy as you take a leisurely hike. Tortuguero National Park is the perfect place to paddle a canoe and search for wild life with its narrow canals that wind their way through pristine jungle and coastal wetlands.

If you’re searching for something that’s more off the beaten path, check out Puerto Viejo de Talamanca on the Caribbean Coast. It's Carlton’s favourite hidden gem.

“I would absolutely recommend it for its marvelous coast line, small resorts, quaint restaurants, and laid back vibe,” she says. “The atmosphere feels safe and the locals are friendly and treat tourists like long-lost friends.”

Her "must do" activity while visiting beautiful Costa Rica?

“Zip lining!”