Destination Discovery Costa Rica: Where to Stay, Spa & Snack
Beautiful Costa Rica thrives on tourism and offers something to suit every traveler—in an absolutely breathtaking environment made up of 20 natural parks and biological reserves comprised of rainforest, volcanoes, waterfalls, and bodies of water. From thrilling eco adventures to idyllic beaches to therapeutic hot springs, this country in Central America provides countless ways to travel and play.
Where to Stay
Tucked into a hillside, with views of the active Arenal Volcano, Nayara Hotel, Spa & Gardens captivates with a variety of casita, suite, and villa lodging (some rooms have private gardens, outdoor rain showers, and private terraces with Jacuzzis); local and worldly cuisine; and a jungle forest-enveloped spa poised on a cliff.
Bordered by two of Guanacaste province’s beaches, Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo is all-encompassing as well. Spa therapists have degrees in physical therapy, there are multiple swimming pools and restaurants, kids’ and teens’ clubs, and an Arnold Palmer-designed championship golf course. Plenty of eco adventure permeates the property, including 10-plus miles of hiking trails, sea sports, and even treehouse-style canopy suite accommodations with infinity-edge plunge pools.
Where to Spa
Grand Spa at Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort is a famed hot springs destination at the foot of the Arenal Volcano. Take a treatment in an open-air bungalow, complete with a private Jacuzzi, then enjoy complimentary access to the hot springs, which are heated to 102° F.
The natural environment is also the epicenter of Onda Spa at Andaz Peninsula Papagayo. Outdoor and indoor treatment rooms with private relaxation areas and views of the Culebra Bay rest upon a tree canopy; relax amidst the sounds of howler monkeys and exotic birds while partaking in services that use indigenous organic ingredients like dry rice, beans, sand, mud, and clay.
Where to Snack
Costa Rica’s capital of San José is a good place to restaurant hop (be sure to try gallo pinto, the national dish of rice and beans, at least once). Authentic traditional Costa Rican fare is available at “sodas,” known for their affordability; you’ll find plenty of them, along with other great eats, at the city’s downtown Mercado Central, i.e., Central Market.
What to See
San José is where you’ll find a wide array of nightlife, cultural venues like theaters and museums, casinos, and an eight-block pedestrian-only shopping district, all centered around the Plaza de la Cultural, or Central Plaza, where street performers take center stage. The nearby cities of Alajuela and Heredia are also hotspots for tourists; Alajuela for the Arenal Volcano and Poás Volcano, and Heredia for its coffee plantations, colonial heritage, and Braulio Carrillo National Park. Guanacaste province is filled with gorgeous beaches.
Where to Sweat
The tops of tree canopies in the forest, the black- and white-sand beaches, and everywhere in between…nearly all wellness activities in Costa Rica take place amidst the natural environment. Take your pick: Engage in canopy excursions like ziplining in Monteverde, surf along the North Pacific Coast, trek through Arenal Volcano National Park, horseback ride in Guanacaste province, and bathe in hot springs in the La Fortuna area.