Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve#6 in Best Things To Do in Costa Rica
Imagine winding through a misty oasis; strikingly tall trees wrap you in a sea of green. Add to that more than 100 mammals, 400 types of birds and 2,500 plant species, and you have Monteverde's lush 25,700-acre reserve. While wandering along one of the hiking trails, you may spot a small hummingbird or a resplendent quetzal feasting on a ripe aguacatillo (a fruit similar to an avocado).
Although some travelers complain about the high frequency of tourists and the arduous trek to the reserve, most praise the forest as a must-see example of Costa Rica's rich wildlife diversity. Recent visitors recommended taking a Sky Walk (hanging bridges) or Sky Trek (zip lining) tour to avoid the crowds and see the reserve from an aerial view. For more information, consult Sky Trek's official website. If you'd prefer to stay on the ground, the reserve also offers guided walking tours year-round. Past visitors highly recommend hiring a guide if you've come to the reserve in search of wildlife.
Monteverde Cloud Forest is located in the Northern Plains, about a three-hour car ride northwest of San José. Admission to Monteverde Cloud Forest costs $20; prices are reduced for children. Guided tours cost extra. The reserve welcomes visitors every day from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, consult Monteverde's official website, run by Costa Rica's Tropical Science Center.
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#1 Nicoya Peninsula
The Nicoya Peninsula's sparkling 80-mile shoreline boasts beach-centric towns with cream-colored shores and dense forests. Half of the peninsula is found in the Guanacaste province, while the other half sits in the Puntarenas province. Nosara Beach's powdery sands line the Nicoya Peninsula's western edge. You'll also find fishing and cattle-ranching communities east of the rustic coastline. After a significant rise in tourism that began in the 1970s, an influx of restaurants and hotels have enticed visitors to the peninsula's sandy coast.
Recent travelers highlight Nosara Beach's gorgeous sunsets, colorful fish and turquoise waters as ideal for surfers and beach lovers alike. But be warned: shade is minimal (and it gets hot!) and the undertow can be challenging; sunset walks on the beach are highly encouraged. Other hot spots include Mal País and Montezuma, a charming coastal town that boasts affordable hotel accommodations and untamed splendors, like magnificent waterfalls and gentle cerulean waves.
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