If you aren't sure where to begin tackling everything Costa Rica has to offer, here's a list of 20 can't-miss sites, from volcanic cascades to surf breaks for all skill levels.
Parque Nacional Volcán Arenal
Parque Nacional Volcán Arenal is approximately 17km west of La Fortuna. Hikers routinely spot sloths, coatis, howler monkeys, white-faced capuchins and even anteaters here.
In 2017 a new 'sector peninsula' set of trails opened, with 1.2km of trails, an observation tower and scenic lake overlook.
If you're traveling between Monteverde and Arenal, there's no good excuse for skipping this stop. Viento Fresco is a series of five cascades, including the spectacular Arco Iris (Rainbow Falls).
There are no crowds or commercialism to mar the natural beauty of this place. You’ll probably have the falls to yourself, especially if you go early in the day.
Museo de Oro Precolombino y Numismática
This three-in-one museum houses an extensive collection of Costa Rica's most priceless pieces of pre-Columbian gold and other artifacts, including historical currency and contemporary regional art.
The interactive 360-degree videography display of Bribrí cultural hierarchy in the basement is worth the admission price alone.
Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio
Featuring lush jungle, picture-perfect beaches and craggy headlands, this tiny park (680 hectares) absolutely brims with wildlife (and often visiting humans).
As you wander its lovely trails, you'll catch a glimpse of dangling sloths, squawking toucans and playful monkeys, and stumble on breathtaking views of the sea and nearby islands.
Costa Rica Surf Camp
This fantastic locally owned surf school prides itself on a two-to-one student-teacher ratio, with teachers who have CPR and water-safety training and years of experience.
The amiable owner, Cesar Valverde, runs a friendly, warm-hearted program including surf lessons and accommodation. Single lessons and board rental is also available, and boards are great quality.