Over the past few years, Costa Rica has become an increasingly popular destination for ecotourism. Many young people see in Costa Rica a safe place to have exciting and unique adventures. Backpacking in the country is great for many reasons especially because many of Costa Rica's attractions and towns are close to each other, due to the country’s small size. There’s no question - Costa Rica offers unforgettable experiences to travelers of all ages and interests. Here are the seven cities or towns backpackers to the land of ‘la pura vida’ should visit.
Backpacking Around Costa Rica: 7 Cities to Explore
1. San Jose
San Jose is the capital of Costa Rica and the entrance to the country for most visitors. San Jose is a good place to get acclimated with the Costa Rican way of good vibes and pura vida before heading out into the rest of the country and discovering that Costa Ricans are so nice - truly. Even though it is the capital of a country, San Jose still retains the charm of a small town. So much so that the streets have no signs or names, people just know how to get where they need to go. Unlike many Latin American countries that have dangerous urban areas, Costa Rica can boast having a very safe capital city. The architecture and history of San Jose are very interesting and I would recommend booking a walking tour.
If you love surfing or outdoor adventures, you need to visit Jaco. This beach on the Pacific coast offers waves that break perfectly and are just the right size for surfing. The surfing here is so good that it’s famous. There are many local surf schools in the area so if you are interested in learning Jaco is a great place to get started. The jungles around the town offer activities such as zip-lining, hiking and waterfalls. Ecotourism in Costa Rica is literally second-to-none in the western hemisphere and Jaco is close to many of the natural wonders of Costa Rica. Jaco feels like a relaxed small town while at the same time being large enough to provide backpackers with anything that they might need.
Uvita is a small village in the south of Costa Rica. At first the town was a stop for a handful of the tourists visiting the country, but over the past few years it has begun to develop into something of a commercial and touristic hub in the region. One of the most famous events in Uvita is the Best Fest and Envision Festival which combines music, art, yoga and more in an event that can only be described as “sick bro”. The festival in usually the last week of February. Aside from partying, you can enjoy the jungles from an atv as well as snorkeling and whale watching. Uvita has emerged as a really good place to visit for young backpackers.
The Nicoya Peninsula is a great destination for beach goers. The beaches around the city are pristine and beyond beautiful. From Nicoya you can also book all sorts of outdoor activities such as the ones that Jaco and Uvita have to offer. At night you can spy on nesting sea turtles trying to make it to the sea from their beach nests. The city itself is very beautiful and offers many restaurants and cute boutiques as well as relaxing spas that massage the pains from outdoor activities until they melt away. The beaches around Nicoya are arguably the most beautiful in the country, so don’t miss out on this stop.
The town of Puerto Jimenez is located near the Corcovado National Park which offers perhaps the best ecotourism in Costa Rica. The town has many places for backpackers to stay and the large amount of touring companies are there to help you find the best activities to do in the area. The jungles are teeming with wildlife that include tapirs, sloths and a few monkey-like primate species. The town itself is cute and inexpensive. It offers lovely food and local crafts. One place that is really worth visiting in Puerto Jimenez is the wildlife sanctuary that rescues animals from around the jungle and saves their lives.
6. Santa Teresa
Santa Teresa is the most popular beach destination in the country. The waters around the town showcase vivid blues and the sand is as soft as cotton balls. The surf is not as good as it is in Jaco, but it is still world renowned. Santa Teresa is a good place to take surfing lessons, to go fishing, to snorkel, to kite-surf and much more. Many people take advantage of the natural beauty of the beach to simply sit back and relax. To relax even more, some people practice yoga with local instructors while others visit near-by spas. Santa Teresa is the epitome of the Costa Rican beach and combines many of the great features of the other beaches in the country.
Puntarenas is a city on an island in the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Due to its proximity to San Jose, many locals visit the city during the weekends. However, during the week the city slows down to a more relaxing and enjoyable pace. The city is large enough to offer any of the amenities that a backpacker might need but it retains the small town feel that is present all over Costa Rica. There are promenades to visit as well as small informal restaurants by the beach. From Puntarenas you can also catch a ferry to many of the beaches along the pacific coast as well as to Nicoya.
This article was written by Amid Bennaim.
Hero image by Evan Kirby