Costa Rica’s ever-changing landscapes have long been a natural playground for adventurous travelers and few regions offer as much variety as Guanacaste, where the palm-fringed beaches are hemmed in by sweeping cloud forests, a string of dormant volcanoes and swaths of verdant rainforest. Best of all, the northwestern province is on the doorstep of some of Costa Rica’s most famous National Parks, so whether you want to hike through the wilderness, scale a volcano or soak in a thermal spring, there endless opportunities for outdoor adventures in Guanacaste.
Costa Rica is more famous for coffee beans than cocoa beans, but the country also has a history of cacao production dating back to pre-Colombian times and the cocoa bean was once so important that the native Chorotega people used it as currency and proclaimed it ‘a gift from the Gods’. Today, cocoa plantations are dotted all around the country and with sustainable chocolate factories, chocolate-tasting workshops and chocolate tours, Costa Rica is a great place for chocolate lovers to indulge their sweet tooth.
With the misty cone of Arenal Volcano looming on the horizon and miles of lush forest hemming its banks, Lake Arenal is as striking in real life as it is on the postcards. Starting life as a small crater lagoon lying within the Arenal Volcano National Park , Lake Arenal was expanded in 1979 and is now Costa Rica’s biggest lake and an important hydroelectric dam, as well as a popular tourist attraction.
From whizzing though the jungle on a zip-line to diving amidst colorful corals and schools of tropical fish, Costa Rica has long been known as a top destination for thrill-seekers and the rainforests, waterfalls and cloud forests of Puntarenas form a natural playground. Canopy tours are among the most popular outdoor activities and Adventure Park Costa Rica is one of the biggest canopy parks in the country, where a network of aerial bridges, zip-lines and rappelling lines offer an exhilarating way to explore the rainforest.
Think of the world’s great beer-drinking nations and Costa Rica probably wouldn’t even cross your mind, but the capital has spearheaded a self-proclaimed ‘craft beer revolution’ in the past few years and today, San Jose has plenty to offer beer loving travelers. For a long time the only beers worth mentioning in Costa Rica were the ubiquitous Cerveza Imperial and Pilsen, but today beer drinkers can choose from a steadily increasing range of locally produced brews and there’s even a Microbrewery Beer Festival held in April in Avenida Escazu.
I’ve been on more than one ATV adventure during my travels, so it only seemed fitting to do one at the base of Volcano Arenal in La Fortuna, Costa Rica. I jumped at the chance to go on the Costa Rica ATV Adventure Tour from Arenal. With the rain \forest, streams, and close-up view of the conical volcano I knew it would make for a good outing. In this case I was looking as much forward to swimming in a cool, natural pool with waterfall and seeing toucans and other wildlife as I was riding the ATV.