10 Reasons Costa Rica Is The Most Underrated Country On The Planet

1. The beaches

Manuel Antonio

Playa Hermosa

Playa Los Cedros

Because the country is so small, you’re never too terribly far from one of its amazing beaches. Whether you like to surf, party, or just soak up the sun, you’re guaranteed to find a beach (or five) that suits your needs. Even better, there are very few Costa Rican beaches that are clogged with tourists, meaning that getting your own spot of sand and sea is completely within the realm of possibility.

2. The mountains

Cedral Tarbaca, Aserrí


Tres Cruces, Alajuelita

Hikers, nature enthusiasts, and photographers alike won’t be able to get enough of Costa Rica’s endless green mountains. If you know where to go, you can find some beautiful waterfalls and rivers nestled between them. Those looking to spend a few days (or more) away from society can rent out rooms in fincas (basically agricultural summer homes) and trade in the real world for some peace and quiet.

3. The fresh (and sometimes crazy-looking) fruit

Mamón Chino (Rambutan)


Caimito (Star Apple)

A trip to the feria, or farmers market, will make your visits to the produce aisle in the USA seem incredibly lackluster. In addition to having the sweetest, most flavorful “normal” fruits, such as bananas, mangoes, and pineapples, you can also find some pretty alien-looking treats in Costa Rica. Even if they look a bit crazy, trust me— they’re all delicious. And best of all, it’s dirt-cheap. Now that’s how you encourage people to stay healthy!

4. The animals

Three-toed Sloth

White Faced Capuchin Monkey


Some travel companies like to exaggerate the number of cool, exotic animals you’ll see while on vacation, but here, there is no exaggeration. A trip to Manuel Antonio National Park is guaranteed to get you up close and personal to sloths, colorful birds, raccoons, and monkeys (which may try to steal your food). But no matter where you go, chances are you’ll encounter some incredible fauna. After all, even though it covers only 0.03% of the Earth’s surface, Costa Rica contains 5% of the planet’s biodiversity!

5. The cloud forests


Traveling to the cloud forests of Monteverde might be the closest you ever get to walking through a fairytale forest. Their high altitude, abundant foliage, and chilly, damp air might surprise those who think that Costa Rica is all beaches. But the most beautiful characteristic of the cloud forests is the fog that rolls in over the trees and mountain tops. Sometimes, it’s so thick that you can only see up to a few meters in front of you.

6. The cuisine

Gallo Pinto


Olla de Carne

Like many Latin American countries, Costa Rican meals normally have a base of rice and beans. Gallo Pinto, which is possibly the country’s most famous dish, is a breakfast made of rice, beans, cilantro, peppers, onion, and the drool-worthy Lizano sauce. It’s normally consumed with corn tortillas, eggs, white cheese, and sweet fried plantains. Lunch and dinner also include rice and beans, frequently alongside chicken, pork, or beef. The dishes are all rooted in simplicity, but something about them tastes absolutely magical.

7. The towns

San Ramon


San Jose

Yes, Costa Rica is jam-packed with all the good stuff nature has to offer, but if you don’t visit the many small towns (and the capital, San Jose), you’re not going to get the full experience. Many of the towns have beautiful architecture, cute cafes, and lots of friendly people. This is where the true culture of Costa Rica is found, and chances are you’ll appreciate your time there almost as much as you’ll love your trips to the beach.

8. The volcanoes

Volcán Arenal

Volcán Poas

Volcán Irazú

You won’t see any of these volcanoes covering the region in ash and lava, but that makes it that much easier to get up close to them. Costa Rica is home to a few volcanoes, but the most famous one is definitely Arenal, which overlooks the small, touristy town of La Fortuna. The volcano hasn’t erupted in a few years, but it’s still a sight to behold… and you can still enjoy its heat in the form of the many hot springs around Fortuna that are naturally warmed by the volcano.

9. The traditions and celebrations

Pilgrimage to Cartago

Celebration after Costa Rica beat Italy in the World Cup

National tope (horse parade)

Costa Rica has a lot of national pride, and it can be seen in the many celebrations and traditions that take place throughout the country. The annual pilgrimage to the huge basilica in Cartago can involve nearly two million people, and the the national horse parade that takes place the day after Christmas brings out equine enthusiasts from around the nation. But one of the most amazing gatherings of people happened during the 2014 World Cup, when the streets were flooded with enthusiastic fans after beating Uruguay, Italy, and Greece (and even after losing to the Netherlands).

10. The people


You might come here for the relaxation or the fun activities, but ultimately, it’s impossible to come to Costa Rica without falling in love with the people. They’re as diverse as they are friendly, and you’d be hard-pressed to meet anyone here with a bad attitude. Their motto, “pura vida,” literally means “pure life,” but it encompasses the mentality of a culture that loves life and knows not to take anything too seriously.

If Costa Rica wasn’t on your bucket list before, it needs to be added right now. But be warned: Once you get a taste of life in Tiquicia, you might never want to leave!