Being in social isolation doesn't stop us dreaming of all the places we'd like to visit; in fact now we've got even more time to daydream. Escape on a virtual vacation to bring a little piece of Costa Rica to your living room.

From the verdant-green treetops in the cloud forest to the misty volcanic peaks to the rough surf crashing on sandy beaches, Costa Rica is a place where adventurers go. Whether your mode of transport is a zipline, surfboard or mountain bike, this Central American country is always ready to provide a good time. And until these outdoor playgrounds open again, here's a virtual vacation to sample it all. 

Our editors independently select the best products to help you have amazing experiences. If you purchase through links on our site, Lonely Planet may earn a commission from the retailer.

Poster from the movie 'Of Love and Other Demons" depicting a man seemingly kissing the cheek of a young woman with red hair.
Del amour y otro demonios (Of Love and Other Demons) is a movie adapted from a popular Gabriel Garica novel © Eliza Triana / Alamy Stock Photo

Best movies 

Del amor y otro demonios
 (Of Love and Other Demons, 2009): The adaptation of Gabriel García Márquez’s magical-realism novel about a 12-year-old girl and the priest who is slated to perform an exorcism on her.
Presos (Imprisoned, 2015): Director Esteban Ramirez probes various meanings of “imprisonment” in this film about a young woman who secretly befriends an inmate in a San José prison.
Entonces nosotros (About Us, 2016): Directed by Hernan Jimenez, this film centers on a couple trying to repair their relationship on a beach getaway. 

Princesas Rojas (2013):
Semi-autobiographical flick about a husband and wife who flee to Costa Rica with their two daughters after fighting for the Sandinista cause in Nicaragua.    
Hombre de fe (2017): Real-life story about Costa Rica's Keylor Navas' rise to soccer goalie greatness. 
First Lady of the Revolution (2016): Documentary of American Henrietta Boggs and her role in Costa Rica's political history. 

Maikol Yordan de Viaje Perdido (2014):
A naive Costa Rican farmer travels through Europe in hopes of preventing an evil businessman from taking his family's farm. 
El Fin (2011): A pair of friends prepare for the end of the world. 
Por las plumas (All about the Feathers, 2013): A black comedy about a lonely security guard's attempt to get into cockfighting. 


Contemporary Costa Rican tunes

Costa Rican classics  

Best Novels

Tycoon's War - Stephen Dando-Collins: 
tale of US business tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt's epic struggle to maintain his economic stranglehold over the Central American isthmus. 
Bananas: How United Fruit Company Shaped the World - Peter Chapman: a story about the meteoric rise and inevitable collapse of the megalith known to locals as “el pulpo” (the octopus) for its far reach into the echelons of power in Costa Rica and Central America.
Green Phoenix - William Allen: details the ultimate victory of a cohort of Costa Rican and US scientists alongside several volunteers in halting deforestation and establishing the over-600-sq-mile Guanacaste Conservation Area.

Única Lookin at the Sea - Fernando Contreras Castro: a story about how a community of castoffs survive in a giant landfill in Costa Rica. 
The Year of Fog - Michelle Richmond: Set in San Francisco and Costa Rica, this thriller centers around grief, guilt and one major mystery. 
The Scent of Jade - Dee DeTarsio: An adventure tale that centers on heroin, Julie Fraser, as she's chased through the rainforests of Costa Rica after accidentally stealing an ancient artifact. 

Best Podcasts

Costa Rica Pura Vida Lifestyle Podcast: a daily podcast with bite-size features highlighting every aspect of living in Costa Rica.

The Costa Rica experience: an 18-year ex-pat shares his experiences running a business and living in Costa Rica.

Learn the Local Language

  • Pura vida - pure life
  • Qué pereza- what a drag
  • Por dicha - how fortunate / thank goodness 
  • Más Tico que el gallo pinto - More Costa Rican than gallo pinto (popular rice and bean dish)

Spanish language resources
Duolingo: specializes in bite-size, quick lessons 
Lonely Planet Costa Rican Spanish phrasebook: a handy tool filled with popular slang and vocabulary


When it comes to traditional Costa Rican cuisine, it's all about comfort. Many of the most popular dishes consist of rice and beans, fried plantains and a protein like fish, beef or chicken. Gallo Pinto is your introduction to the country, here's a recipe to try at home. 

Best Videos

Introducing Costa Rica

Costa Rica for solo travelers 


Who doesn't love a cool cerveza on a warm day, but Ticos (natives of Costa Ricans) have a passion for coffee. Find out how to make coffee the Costa Rican way courtesy of the country's most popular brand. 

Cultural Highlights

Virtual tour of the Jade Museum 

Tamarindo Beach

Epic Landscapes

Arenal Volcano

Monteverde Cloud Forest

Shop online

Do some online browsing with these Costa Rican shops who ship internationally (please note there may be some delays or restrictions due to COVID-19).

Bogaspaccio Boutique: high-end fashion retail store that offers everything from summer dresses to swimsuits. 

Cueropapel & Tijera: Specializing in handmade Costa Rican items that range from leather purses to jewelry. 

You might also like:

Surfing, hiking, kayaking and more: Costa Rica's best adventure activities 
Costa Rica's best coffee tours
In pursuit of pura vida: peaceful escapes in Costa Rica 

Get more travel inspiration, tips and exclusive offers sent straight to your inbox with our weekly newsletter. Make sure you're ready for anything with travel insurance from our trusted partners.

Explore related stories

Waterfall at Rincón de la Vieja Volcano in Guanacaste Province.

It will be easier for vaccinated tourists to visit Costa Rica in August

Jul 16, 2021 • 2 min read