Northern Costa Rica is celebrated around the world as a nature lover’s paradise. The variation in terrain, the changes in elevation, and the many unusual microclimates and habitats found here combine to give Northern Costa Rica one of the most diverse Costa Rican climates in this popular Central American vacation destination.
Costa Rica’s Northern Zone encompasses the area just north of San Jose from the Guancaste Province on the west to the Caribbean lowlands on the east. Home to some of the most famous National Parks in the country, Costa Rica’s Northern Zone includes Mount Arenal the nation’s largest volcano; Lake Arenal, one of the best windsurfing destinations in the world; the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve, a rare and delicate cloud forest habitat; and the Barra del Colorado Wildlife Refuge, home to some of the most unusual flora and fauna on planet Earth.
Lesser-known National Parks in Costa Rica’s Northern Zone include Volcan Tenorio National Park, home to a second Costa Rican Volcano and a completely different experience than Arenal; Braulio Carillio National Park; and Ricon Vieja National Park, a preserve that houses yet another volcanic wonder.
Exploring Costa Rica’s Northern Zone’s National Parks could easily consume every minute of a two or three week vacation, but most first time visitors confine their park time to Arenal and the Monteverde Cloud Forest. Both get very crowded as the day wears on, so try to arrive early and make sure to book reservations at your choice of hotel.
Nature lovers are drawn to Costa Rica’s Northern Zone for the guided adventures available there, including zip-line canopy tours, hiking the rainforest trails, rafting and kayaking, windsurfing, boat tours, and horseback tours. On any of these excursions visitors are likely to see tapirs, ocelots, rare exotic birds like the Monteverde quetzal, monkeys, crocodiles, and a panorama of lush tropical plant species and flowers.
Lake Arenal is also a popular fishing site, with its most popular catch being the Costa Rican guapote. The Tabacon Hot-Springs Resort offers an opportunity for a long, rejuvenating hot soak, and if you’ve ever dreamed of sleeping in a rainforest tree house, this is your chance. Many of Costa Rica’s Northern Zone lodges are actually elaborate tents deep in jungle terrain, or amazing tree house structures up high in the canopy, where guests can experience sweet slumber up in the treetops.
Don’t be surprised if you find yourself returning to Costa Rica’s Northern Zone again and again. Here you will find so much to see and do that it just isn’t possible to accomplish all of it in a single visit. Costa Rica’s Northern Zone ecosystems are so lush and rare, so unforgettable, that you will find yourself dreaming of rainforests and waterfalls for months after returning home.