Places to Go

Diversity and Beauty

The Zones of Costa Rica

Costa Rica can be divided into three zones: The Caribbean, The Pacific, and the Central (Mountain) Zone.


The Caribbean Zone is a zone with lovely beaches, great food and music, and one of the most important sea turtle reserves in the world.

Limon is the largest city and Cost Rica's largest seaport. If you ship anything to Costa Rica, it will likely enter the country through Limon. Limon has a reputation for being a classic tropical port town - hot, sweaty, and a little bit dangerous. If you like to drink in cheap bars with merchant seamen and carouse with women of ill repute, Limon is for you. Otherwise, give it a pass.

Cahuita is a nice little townabout an hour south of Limon with good restaurants and several nice little hotels. Swimming is good and beaches are pleasant.

Peurto Viejo is another cool town just south of Cahuita. Lots of restaurants and places to stay. If you are a reggae fan, you'll love Puerto Viejo - Bob Marley rules here!

The Pacific Zone is perhaps the most popular zone in Costa RIca. The northern pacific coast includes the Guanacaste Peninsula, which is home to many of the most popular resorts in Costa Rica. Hipsters congregate in Nosara, a gringo enclave.

The Central Pacific Coast includes Jaco, the favorite beach for Costa Ricans and young partiers. Further south is Quepos, one of the world's top fishing destinations, especially for flyfishermen who want to catch a billfish on a fly (which is a real rush, let me tell you!). Past Quepos is the bucolic 20 mile sand beach of Matapalo. Finally, the surfer hangout of Dominical anchors the end of the Central Pacific zone.

The Southern Pacific coast includes the Osa Peninsula, one of the world's best national parks for observing wildlife. On the south side of the Osa Peninsula is Puerto Jimenez, the largest town on the peninsula. Hipsters congregate at Playa Matapalo (yes, there are two different Matapalos), a gringo villlage towards the tip of the peninsula.

The Central/Mountain Zone includes San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, and a mix of volcanoes and montane rainforests.

San Jose is the city where 99% of the tourists enter Costa Rica. It is located in the central plateau, in one of the world's best climates. Like any urban area, you should keep an eye on your valuables. Most people spend a night in San Jose and then move on to the mountains or beaches.

Arenal volcano is a nearby attraction. Keep in mind that the volcano is obscured by clouds most of the time, so you may not be able to see much. Nearby Lake Arenal is scenic, and the Ladybug Gift Shop is a must-see.

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