The name of this Central American state translated from Spanish means "rich coast". Costa Rica is really rich from the point of view of a tourist who prefers an active and educational vacation. There are several national parks in the country, interesting museums are open, and natural attractions compete with the architectural monuments of the colonial era, so you will definitely not experience a shortage of answers to the question of what to see in Costa Rica.
TOP-10 attractions of Costa Rica
The prototype of the treasure island from the Stevenson's novel of the same name and the uninhabited island, where Robinson Crusoe was thrown in the book by Defoe, known to everyone from childhood, is, it turns out, off the coast of Costa Rica. Coconut is the largest uninhabited in the world. It is located 600 km. from the western coast of the country and to look at its unique flora and fauna, more than a thousand tourists come annually. Organized tours usually include picking up guests by sea from the port of Puntarenas. The majority of those arriving at Cocos are divers.
In addition to the underwater world on the island, several unique ecosystems are worthy of attention, protected by UNESCO, among other exceptionally valuable natural sites. Due to its remoteness from the continent, the island has a special system of vegetation belts. It is covered with tropical rainforests unparalleled in this part of the Pacific Ocean. A third of the world's flowering plants are found only on Coconut. In the coastal waters, you can watch humpback whales, dolphins, sea lions and other representatives of the animal kingdom who have chosen the waters near the coast of Costa Rica for permanent residence.
Tropical rainforests are the main object of protection and care for the workers of the La Amistad National Park, formed in 1988 on the border with Panama. Most of the reserve is occupied by the ridge of the Cordillera mountain system, and the highest peak in the park is located at 3500 m. Above sea level.
La Amistad is distinguished by a wide variety of biological species that inhabit it. During the excursion, you will meet many primates, including the rare Geoffroy's coate; a giant anteater, whose body length exceeds a meter; the largest representative of the trogon-like birds - the quesal and many other, no less unique and interesting animals. In La Amistad there are absolutely all types of South American representatives of the feline family.
The park is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Among 170 volcanoes on the territory of Costa Rica, you can descend into the Turrialba crater only and observe its secondary, as experts call it, activity directly from the scene. The volcano is located 30 km east of the capital of the country, and its peak is 3340 m above sea level. Turrialba is ranked second in the ranking of the largest properties of its kind in Costa Rica.
Despite the fact that the last serious eruption of Turrialba happened in the middle of the 19th century, it periodically makes people in the area anxious. For example, in the spring of 2015, the mountain began emitting ash in such quantities that the San Jose airport had to be closed, and people from the surrounding areas had to be evacuated.
Another volcano in Costa Rica is known to tourists for its absolutely regular conical shape. The height of the mountain is 1670 m. And in the evenings on its slopes and on the top, illumination is turned on, effectively illuminating everything around. Tourists from all regions of Costa Rica come to see the picturesque surroundings at dusk.
However, Arenal has not always been and remains so peaceful. Its eruptions occur quite regularly with interruptions of several centuries, the last serious one happened in the 60s. last century, and insignificant - more recently in 2008.
The surroundings of the Arenal are tropical forests with rich vegetation. The slopes of the mountain are also home to dozens of species of animals and birds, which are found only in this region of the planet.
In 2011, Forbs magazine listed the Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica as one of the 12 most beautiful parks in the world. The reason for this was the impressive landscapes, secluded beach coves with white sand and, of course, the biological diversity of species of animals and birds that live in the region: more than a hundred species of mammals and almost two hundred - representatives of birds. The vegetation in Manuel Antonio is also noteworthy: the park is home to hundreds of species of trees, grasses and flowers.
Manuel Antonio is the most visited natural park in Costa Rica. Up to 150 thousand people become its guests annually. For tourists in the park, the infrastructure is constantly being developed and updated, new hiking trails are being laid, parking lots, mountain bikes, kayaks and diving equipment rentals are organized.
The very name of the Tortuguero Park on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica suggests that turtles are protected in the reserve. The park's beaches have long been a nesting site for endangered species of marine species. Established in 1975, Tortuguero looks after the meter-sized bisse turtles; loggerheads with elongated heads; green turtles, whose weight often exceeds 200 kg; leathery - the largest representatives of the genus of turtles among the surviving ones on Earth.
The evergreen forests of Tortuguero Park are home to jaguars, sloths, ocelots and tapirs, and among the 375 bird species that live in the reserve, kingfishers, parrots and toucans are especially notable.
The vegetation is represented by 400 species of trees only, while in total there are about 2500 species of representatives of the flora kingdom in the park.
Basilica of Our Lady of Angels
The famous basilica in the city of Cartago was built in 1639, rebuilt after a terrible earthquake and is considered today one of the most beautiful sights of Costa Rica. The story of its appearance is connected with the legend about the acquisition of the statue of the Mother of God, found by a village girl and indicating the place where the temple should be erected.
The stone sculpture depicting the Virgin is the main relic of the basilica, kept inside a golden shell. Thousands of pilgrims come to the basilica on August 2, the day of the patron saint of Costa Rica. They bathe in a spring that gushes out of the rock, where the statue of Our Lady of the Angels was once found.
Belonging to the family of ornamental stones, jade is widespread throughout Central America. It is prized for its variety of shades - from white to dark green - and its excellent processing properties. Jade was used by the Indians, and in San Jose you can look at the richest collection of objects in Costa Rica, made from the mineral.
About 7000 items for various purposes are presented at the stands. The oldest ones found by archaeologists were made by the inhabitants of Central America in the 5th-3rd centuries. BC e., when stone was the main subject of trade between tribes and was highly valued. Jade was sold even to North America to the Olmecs and Mayans.
Most of the exhibits are images of animals and birds, figurines of gods and mythical characters, shamanic paraphernalia, jewelry and household items.
Jade was used in absolutely all spheres of life of the ancient inhabitants of Costa Rica. It was used at birth as amulets and at burial, sending jade crafts with the deceased on their last journey. The mineral was used to make dishes and knife handles, to decorate dwellings and altars with it.
The museum is located on Central Avenue in San Jose, and its building resembles an untreated block of freshly mined jade.
El Museo del Oro Precolombino
The collection of the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum in the capital of the country, San Jose, is part of a large exhibition belonging to the Central Bank of Costa Rica. The museum is known for its unique collection of items made from gold and other precious metals found throughout Central America. The exhibition clearly demonstrates the level of skill of the tribes who inhabited the region in the pre-Columbian era of America.
The collection consists of 1,600 items dating from 1500 to 500 BC. NS. The exhibition presents technologies for the extraction and processing of gold, jewelry tools, the method of making objects and individual techniques, thanks to which stones were attached and inlay and engraving were performed.
Among the expositions of the Central Bank in San Jose there is also an archaeological collection. Its most ancient exhibits date back to 300 BC. NS. Particularly rare are utensils and stone figurines found in the ceremonial temples of the Indian tribes that inhabited the region.
An ethnographic exhibition showcases the daily life of modern indigenous communities. You will see textiles and baskets, machinery and equipment for making wine, hunting weapons, musical instruments and national costumes.
San Jose Children's Center
If you flew to Costa Rica with children, you can spend an interesting and eventful day with the whole family in the capital's Science and Culture Center. Among other objects on the territory of the center there is the Children's Museum, which opened in a historical building that was once a prison.
Today, the old fort, painted in bright yellow color, does not even remotely remind of its former purpose. The 3000 sq. m. you will find many entertainment and attractions. In the children's recreation center, interactive exhibitions are open, where young visitors can study the structure of the Universe, planet Earth and the human body, get acquainted with the exact sciences and in a playful way comprehend the basic laws of physics and chemistry.
The Children's Center has a café with a variety of dishes on the menu, ideal for young travelers. The museum hosts parties and themed events for kids, however, the language of communication in them is mainly Spanish.