Costa Rica is a Central American, Spanish-speaking country that is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the planet. In fact, tourism fuels the country's economy. There is an abundance of exquisite natural scenery in Costa Rica, including beaches
, volcanoes, rainforests, lakes and mountains. If you are planning to visit Costa Rica, there is no shortage of exciting things to see.
Costa Rica's volcanic formations (approximately two hundred of them) go back an astounding 65 million years in history. Now, only approximately ten of them have any kind of volcanic activity whatsoever. If you want to look at Costa Rican volcanoes, the country's northern region and central highlands are the best places to visit. Not only are the volcanoes exquisite, but they contribute to fertile soil, which supports wildlife and many bird species. The volcano areas are also terrific for recreational activities such as whitewater rafting, hiking, sportfishing, horseback riding and kayaking. One notable volcano in Costa Rica is Volcan Irazu, which is well-known for the bluish-green lake that sits within one of the craters.
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Another stunning natural sight in Costa Rica is its cloud rain forest, located in the town of Monteverde. Cloud rainforests are highland forests that have high humidity year round. The Monteverde cloud rainforest is full of vegetation and a diverse variety of creatures, including many types of mammals, amphibians and insects. The forest has a very lush and mysterious appearance, and the branches and trunks of trees are usually covered with mosses, lichens, liverworts and epiphytes.
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Costa Rica is the home of many lovely parks, such as the famous Manuel Antonio National Park, which also includes a picturesque beach. Located on the Pacific Coast just south of the town of Quepos, this park is well known for its soft, white sands and evergreen forest. The park is home to a diverse array of flora and fauna (184 bird species and 109 mammal species), and is full of natural beauty in the form of lagoons and secondary forest. There are twelve small isles located off the coast. You might be lucky enough to spot dolphins and even migrating whales.
Costa Rica is also the home to many beautiful lakes, notably including Lake Arenal. The magnificent lake is also the largest one in the nation. Its proximity to the volcano Arenal contributes to its popularity. The lake is surrounded by rolling hills and forestation. Lake Arenal is also a great area to participate in recreational activities, such as windsurfing, kayaking, boat tours, fishing, horseback riding and mountain biking.
Perhaps what makes Costa Rica so popular is its marvelous beaches, which are perfect for water activities, including swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving and surfing. Jaco Beach (Playa Jaco) is one the country's Central Coast and is one of the best surfing destinations in Costa Rica. Full of surfing breaks, this beach also is close to jungles and is excellent for those interested in hiking, canopy tours and horseback riding.
Isabel Prontes is a freelance writer and traveler residing in Manhattan, NY. She has traveled to five continents and counting. Her work has appeared on a number of websites, such as Travels, eHow.com and "Happy Living Magazine." Prontes has a professional background in public relations; she received a bachelor's degree in communication studies from Pace University.