High Season: Costa Rica’s Endless Sunshine and Abundance of Activity
High season’s top picks for places to stay and dine, as well as things to do in Costa Rica
Exploring Costa Rica during the high season is one of the best ways to experience the countryside in its days of endless sunshine. While you’re on the road in your rental car, you’ll have plenty of choices in where to sleep and eat, and things to do to dazzle the mind, endear the heart and get the adrenalin pumping.
Here are a few of our top suggestions.
Where to go
First-class service, ambiance, and amenities make all the difference after a day on the road, sampling all Costa Rica has to offer. These boutique hotels are a refreshing stop along the way.
Grano de Oro, in San José off Paseo Colón, is a Victorian mansion and a fine example of the tropical colonial style. Rooms are uniquely and luxuriously furnished to give you a taste of old San José.
There are many fine restaurants in San José, including the Restaurante Grano de Oro at the hotel, and if you’re feeling like a bit of nightlife you should check out Antik Bar + Restaurant in historical Casa Matute.
Villa Caletas, near Jacó on the Central Pacific coast, has panoramic views, a private beach, and awesome sunsets. There’s no better way to enjoy your time on the beach.
In Jacó, Lemon Zest Restaurant’s uniquely international menu gets rave reviews. If you want authentic Costa Rican, Soda Rustico, just off Playa Jacó, is the place. The cafeteria-style buffet will give you a representative sample of classic Costa Rican dishes.
Capitán Suizo is a luxury eco-hotel on Tamarindo Beach in Guanacaste. Well integrated with its surrounding landscape, its gardens are home to birds, howler monkeys, iguanas, and collared anteaters.
Tamarindo and the surrounding area have several good restaurants, as well as more casual dining. Abbocato is highly recommended for its intimate and elegant environment and its view of Golfo Papagayo.
What to do
In San José, a trip to the Central Market will have you rubbing elbows with the locals. Saturday mornings, you can stock up at the Feria Verde de Aranjuez in Barrio Aranjuez or Escazú’s market near the San Miguel de Escazú church. If you’re in Ciudad Colon of a Tuesday, visit the organic farmer’s market that is associated with Feria Verde.
Olive Ridley and green sea turtles begin nesting during the high season along the northern Pacific coast, while leatherbacks are just finishing up. Time it right and you can watch eggs get laid or the hatchlings emerge; if you’re very lucky, you can catch sight of both.
Go whale watching. From the central Pacific coast, California’s humpbacks are wintering over while their calves fatten up for the trip north. Farther south around Ballena Marine National Park, the Antarctic humpbacks have come north for the same reason.
Whitewater rafting is a great way to cool off on a hot day. The view from the river is a fresh look at the rainforest, waterfalls, and the local wildlife. River guides tell you what to do and when to do it, as well as provide safety equipment and instruction. The country’s Class III, IV and V rapids are as thrilling as they are beautiful.
Try zip lining through Costa Rica’s rainforest canopy. You get a different perspective of the canopy and the forest floor. Ziplining was born in Costa Rica as an aid to canopy research. One of the best in the country can be found in Monteverde Cloud Forest. Be sure to rent a four wheel drive if you plan to visit this area; getting through can be a bumpy ride, but very well worth it.
Whether you’re a planner or a fly by the seat of your pants kinda traveler, if you follow the road in your Costa Rica rental car, you’re bound to find delightful places to stop and enjoy the Costa Rican sunshine, wildlife, jungle and seashore along the way.