Costa Rica might not spring to mind as a top holiday destination but it's a place that offers much more than you might think.
Whether you love sun, sea and sand, wildlife, cultural pursuits, or just relaxing, Costa Rica has something for you.
This Central American location has both a Pacific and a Caribbean coast, so there are hundreds of miles of beautiful beaches to choose from. The eastern coast is the place to go for picture-perfect pure white sand, while the western coast offers some spectacular waves, great for watersports enthusiasts. The tropical climate means the waters are lovely and warm all year, whichever coast you go for!
There are several large and scenic National Parks within Costa Rica, including the Manuel Antonio and the Tortugero. The biodiversity is amazing, containing hundreds of species of exotic and colourful birds, mammals and reptiles within a relatively small country. Highlights include the opportunity to spot rare spider monkeys and nesting turtles.
Costa Rica is packed with opportunities to try water-based sports. The stunning rivers are great for white-water rafting and the beautiful lakes such as Arenal are perfect for kitesurfing and windsurfing. For something a little more sedate, the coral reefs of the Caribbean coast are the ideal environment for snorkelling and angling. Or if you're in one of the rainforest areas you can even take a zip-line tour of the tree canopy!
Something you might not have considered is visiting a volcano there are several in Costa Rica's National Parks, such as the towering 11,000 foot Irazu. These spectacular features of the natural landscape are not just scenic, they are actually still active so can provide a stunning view at night, particularly the Arenal Volcano.
One of Costa Rica's major industries is built around the cocoa bean it is of course chocolate. The Timbirina Biological Reserve tours can tell you everything you ever needed to know about the ecology, history and manufacturing process of chocolate and of course you get to eat some of it too! Another tour, at Finca Kobo, offers the chance to learn more about the cacao fruit itself and the organic farms it is grown on, plus an extra bonus of a taste of chocolate fondue at the end.
The Guayabo National Monument is a fascinating archaeological site within Costa Rica, with evidence of settlements dating back as far as 300 B.C. There is even a functioning aqueduct which is over 700 years old, showcasing the ingenuity of Central America's ancient peoples. There are also chances to soak up the country's history and culture in the capital city, San Jose the Museum of Costa Rican Art and the National Museum are particular highlights.
If you fancy a bit of pampering and total relaxation, why not try a luxury spa. The eco-spa Tabacon Grand Thermal Resort in Alajuela offers treatments such as volcanic mud wraps and coconut exfoliations, all administered in open-air bungalows. Or alternatively, at Los Altos de Eros in Guanacaste you can bathe in chocolate-infused waters while gazing out at the beautiful ocean waves.
After visiting Costa Rica why not head over to Cancun where you can experience some beautiful sights on the coast of the Caribbean Sea.