Travel Review Costa Rica

It's not hard to have a tropical beach all to yourself in Costa Rica.
It's not hard to have a tropical beach all to yourself in Costa Rica.
Adventure-seekers head to Costa Rica to get their adrenaline pumping, but it's not all zip-lining and bungee-jumping. The lush Central American country has a quiet side, too. It's home to tropical rain forests, hot springs, volcanoes, deserted beaches, waves, secluded yoga retreats, treetop bridges and many, many monkeys. It straddles the Central American isthmus with mountains in the middle and coasts on both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. Both coasts are beautiful but with different atmospheres. You'll find swanky resorts and salty-haired surfers on the more-visited Pacific side and a reggae-infused, laid-back vibe on the Caribbean shores.
Wows and Woes
A rain forest canopy tour is a don't-miss Costa Rican experience.
A rain forest canopy tour is a don't-miss Costa Rican experience.

Wows: The natural beauty of Costa Rica is simply stunning. There are few better experiences than walking across a canopy bridge through a rain forest. The capital, San Jose, sits in the middle of the country, which makes for easy travel in all directions.

Woes: It can be touristy, especially on the Nicoya Peninsula where towns like Tamarindo are filled with American college kids, European backpackers and increased prices. Traveling by bus is cheap, but hot, bumpy and crowded, and it can take hours. Pickpockets also abound, and the food might not agree with you.

Insider Tips
Montezuma is a colorful town where you can be as adventurous or as relaxed as you want.
Montezuma is a colorful town where you can be as adventurous or as relaxed as you want.

Make your way to the town of Montezuma, on the bottom of the Nicoya Peninsula, and stay at Hotel La Cascada. The hotel is clean and cheap and sits right next to the trail that will lead you to Montezuma's famous waterfalls. Then rent a car and drive along highway 160 up the coast of the peninsula, stopping at other gems like Mal Pais and Playa Negra.

Author's Most Memorable Moment
Watch out for sneaky Costa Rican monkeys.
Watch out for sneaky Costa Rican monkeys.

I was eating lunch in a cafe in Montezuma when the owner of the cafe placed a couple of bananas on a table next to us. A monkey quickly swung down from the trees above and swiped the bananas. People had told me to watch my belongings and my food because monkeys are known to grab whatever is on your plate, or your purse. They were right.

Bottom Line
You'll find bliss in Manzanillo, on the Caribbean coast just north of the Panamanian border.
You'll find bliss in Manzanillo, on the Caribbean coast just north of the Panamanian border.

Costa Rica is worth your time and money whether you go all out with organized tours and luxury hotels or skimp by using public buses and eating beans and rice.

Resources
Leah Still has written about travel, fashion and home design since 2003. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications, including "SKI" magazine, Southernaccents.com and Gusto.com. She has a journalism degree from the University of Missouri and broadens her education with both domestic and international travel.
Photo by Sebastian Joll
Photo by Leah Still
Photo by Leah Still
Photo by Leah Still
Photo by Leah Still