5 Hidden Gems in Costa Rica You Need to Visit

Costa Rica, known for its lush rainforests, stunning beaches, and incredible biodiversity, has become a popular destination for travelers seeking adventure and natural beauty. While many flock to well-known spots like Arenal Volcano and Manuel Antonio National Park, there are plenty of lesser-known destinations that offer unique and unforgettable experiences. Here are five hidden gems in Costa Rica that you need to visit.

1. Río Celeste and Tenorio Volcano National Park

Nestled within the Tenorio Volcano National Park, Río Celeste is a stunning river known for its vibrant turquoise-blue waters. This natural wonder, often overlooked by tourists, owes its striking color to a unique chemical reaction between volcanic minerals and the river’s water.

To reach Río Celeste, visitors embark on a moderately challenging hike through lush rainforests, encountering waterfalls, hot springs, and diverse wildlife along the way. The highlight of the trek is the breathtaking Catarata Río Celeste, a waterfall that plunges into a serene blue pool. The park also offers opportunities to explore bubbling thermal springs and fumaroles, providing a glimpse into the region’s volcanic activity.

For a truly immersive experience, consider staying in one of the eco-lodges near the park. These accommodations blend seamlessly with the natural environment and offer guided tours that provide deeper insights into the area’s ecology and geology.

2. Osa Peninsula and Corcovado National Park

The Osa Peninsula, located in the southwestern part of Costa Rica, is a pristine and remote area that is home to the incredible Corcovado National Park. This region, often described as one of the most biologically intense places on Earth, is teeming with wildlife, including jaguars, tapirs, and scarlet macaws.

Exploring Corcovado National Park requires a bit of effort, as it is accessible mainly by boat or small aircraft. However, the journey is well worth it for the chance to experience unspoiled rainforests, deserted beaches, and a remarkable array of flora and fauna. The park offers several ranger stations where visitors can embark on guided hikes to explore different ecosystems, from lowland rainforests to coastal mangroves.

Staying at an eco-lodge on the Osa Peninsula provides an excellent base for adventure. Many lodges offer guided tours, including night walks to observe nocturnal wildlife and boat trips through mangrove forests. This area is perfect for eco-tourists seeking a truly immersive and off-the-beaten-path experience.

3. Cahuita and Cahuita National Park

Cahuita, a small Caribbean coastal town, offers a laid-back vibe and a taste of Afro-Caribbean culture. The nearby Cahuita National Park is a hidden gem that combines beautiful beaches with rich biodiversity. Unlike many other national parks in Costa Rica, Cahuita National Park does not charge an entrance fee, although donations are encouraged to support conservation efforts.

The park features a well-maintained trail that winds along the coastline, offering stunning views of the Caribbean Sea and access to pristine beaches where you can swim, snorkel, and sunbathe. The coral reefs just offshore are home to vibrant marine life, making snorkeling a must-do activity. On land, you can spot howler monkeys, sloths, and a variety of bird species as you hike through the tropical forest.

Cahuita’s relaxed atmosphere and friendly locals make it an ideal destination for travelers looking to unwind and connect with nature. Enjoying fresh seafood at one of the local eateries and exploring the nearby black sand beaches are perfect ways to round out your visit.

4. Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

While Monteverde has gained some recognition, it remains less visited compared to Costa Rica’s coastal attractions. The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is a magical place where misty forests are home to an astonishing array of plant and animal species. The reserve is famous for its biodiversity, with over 400 bird species, including the resplendent quetzal, as well as countless mammals, insects, and plant species.

Walking through the cloud forest trails feels like stepping into another world. The dense canopy, hanging moss, and abundant epiphytes create an ethereal atmosphere. The reserve offers several well-marked trails of varying difficulty, catering to both casual walkers and serious hikers. The Sky Walk, a series of suspension bridges, provides a unique perspective of the forest canopy and is a highlight for many visitors.

In addition to hiking, the Monteverde region offers activities such as zip-lining, coffee tours, and visits to butterfly and hummingbird gardens. Staying in one of Monteverde’s charming lodges or eco-friendly hotels ensures a comfortable base from which to explore the cloud forest and its surroundings.

5. Tortuguero National Park

Tortuguero National Park, located on Costa Rica’s northern Caribbean coast, is often referred to as the “Amazon of Costa Rica” due to its extensive network of canals and lush rainforests. Accessible only by boat or plane, Tortuguero offers a unique and tranquil escape from the more frequented tourist spots.

The park is a critical nesting site for several species of sea turtles, including the endangered green turtle. Visiting during the nesting season (July to October) allows you to witness the incredible sight of turtles laying their eggs on the beach or hatchlings making their way to the sea. Guided night tours provide an unforgettable opportunity to observe this natural spectacle while ensuring minimal disturbance to the turtles.

Exploring Tortuguero’s waterways by boat or kayak is a must, as it offers the chance to spot caimans, river otters, monkeys, and a variety of bird species. The village of Tortuguero itself is a charming place to explore, with small shops, local eateries, and friendly residents.

For accommodation, numerous lodges cater to different budgets, many of which include guided tours of the park and its surroundings. Staying in Tortuguero allows you to fully immerse yourself in the serene beauty of this remote area.


Costa Rica’s hidden gems offer a chance to experience the country’s incredible natural beauty and biodiversity away from the crowds. Whether you’re trekking through the turquoise waters of Río Celeste, exploring the untamed wilderness of the Osa Peninsula, or discovering the serene landscapes of Tortuguero, these destinations promise unforgettable adventures and a deeper connection with nature. Make sure to include these hidden treasures in your Costa Rican itinerary for a truly enriching travel experience.

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