For adventure-seekers & sight-seers, Guanacaste, Costa Rica is the perfect place for taking in nature's wonders on a luxury vacation. While Costa Rica is known for its superb beaches, there's much more for Beach Bums to do in the province of Guanacaste beyond sipping a piña colada from a hammock – from tours of lush national parks to sunset horseback rides.
Río Celeste A trip to the "Sky-Blue River," which runs within the Tenorio Volcano National Park, takes a one-hour hike through the rainforest, but it's well worth the trek. Because of its relatively isolated location, Río Celeste is one of Costa Rica's best kept secrets. The river's dazzling turquoise hue comes from a unique chemical reaction between sulfur and calcium carbonate. Remember to bring your swimsuit because after the long journey, you'll want to take a dip in the pool at the base of the waterfall, where the mineral-rich waters rejuvenate your skin. Once returning to the main trail, you can continue on to a lookout point, which offers expansive views of the nearby Tenorio Volcano.
scenic canopy of trees alive with curious white-faced monkeys, colorful red poison dart frogs, singing birds, and fluttering blue morpho butterflies.
Monteverde National Park You could spend an entire day exploring Monteverde, which boasts a highly unique biodiversity & the stunning Cloud Forest Reserve. In fact, it's advisable to spend several days here. At 4,2662 feet above sea level, the park receives a steady supply of clouds, which hold a moisture that promotes a rich ecosystem of over 100 species of mammals, 400 species of birds, tens of thousands of insect species & over 2,500 varieties of plants. Guided hikes of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve let visitors get an interactive introduction to the variety of animal species, including sloths, jaguars & several types of monkeys. Later, take in the area's rich culinary & cultural history with a visit to the coffee plantation, where you'll observe the coffee-making process from beginning to end.
For a truly awe-inspiring journey, take a night tour, where you'll encounter mammals, amphibians & insects that only come out after dark. Just don't forget to wear comfortable shoes for the hike & insect repellant to prevent pesky bites.
Rincón de la Vieja Trekking through Rincon de la Vieja National Park feels like a journey to the inside of the Earth, & as you walk into the shade of ancient trees & observe the tropical forest wildlife, you might forget you are at the base of the most active volcanoes in the Guanacaste Mountains. Take the Las Pailas entrance for a short circuit trail that weaves through woods, past a small volcano toward the famous boiling mud pots. Thrill-seekers should take the eight-hour round-trip trek to the Santa Maria crater at the volcano's summit, which leads visitors across fossilized lava flows & loose lava rock to a view of Lake Nicaragua. Visitors can soothe sore muscles in Los Azufrales, the hot sulfur springs at the volcano's base & then cool off in a nearby stream.
Luxury travel is a lot more rewarding when you take a journey that leads you somewhere unexpected. Who knows – you might be surprised to discover a different side of nature, or even yourself.