7 Incredible Hidden Gems To Visit In Costa Rica In 2024

Known for its incredible natural beauty, tropical beaches, safety, and positive and chilled lifestyle, Costa Rica is probably Central America’s most popular holiday destination. When you’re traveling there for the first time, it’s natural that you won’t want to miss the country’s top sights.

However, there is much more in Costa Rica than the famed Arenal Volcano National Park, Tamarindo Beach, and San Juan. If you’re an explorer at heart, you will surely also like to visit some places off the beaten path.

Read on to find the 7 hidden gems of Costa Rica to embrace the authentic Pura Vida.

Mal Pais

Set on the tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, Mal Pais is a pretty unexplored fishing village. While the neighboring town – Santa Teresa – became a popular tourist spot, Mal Pais has managed to keep its rural charm and chilled vibe, and you still have a chance to experience it.

What’s more, it offers excellent surfing conditions, and plenty of snorkeling, diving, and fishing opportunities. Wanna rather stay on the ground? Take a day trip to Cabo Blanco Absolute Natural Reserve and engage in some bird watching.

Zarcero Church

Zarcero is a picturesque mountain town set in the Alajuela Province. It’s known for its quaint atmosphere, local artisan market, and the iconic Iglesia de San Rafael Arcángel, aka Zarcero Church. 

It’s gorgeous both out and inside. It creates a stunning backdrop to the gaudí-style arches of the fairytale Evangelista Blanco Brenes Park, while its interiors are decorated with impressive pastel-color chalk paintings and colorful windows.

Los Campesinos Ecolodge (Only Accessible By Hanging Bridge Over Waterfall)

Tucked away in the lush nature of Quebrada Arroyo, about an hour’s drive from the beaches of Manuel Antonio, Los Campesinos Ecolodge is a sustainable rural complex that will captivate all outdoor aficionados

It consists of ​​several hiking trails, hanging bridges, natural pools, waterfalls, and various viewpoints. There is also a restaurant and cozy cabins to stay at. A night or two there will help you disconnect.

Bahia Ballena (Whale Tail Shaped Peninsula)

Best Beaches in Costa Rica on Pacific Side + MAP

Bahia Ballena (translated as Whale Bay) is a beautiful stretch of sand in south Puntarenas. It’s named like that for two reasons. Firstly, it’s because of the whale tail shape of the coastline. And secondly, it’s a place where you have the opportunity to observe humpback whales giving birth.

They arrive at the coast typically between December to April and July to October. On the other hand, from June to September, Bahia Ballena offers the best waves for surfing.

Poas Volcano

When talking about the marvels made by Mother Nature, we simply must mention Poas Volcano. This active volcano is nestled in the forests of Poas Volcano National Park and is surrounded by amazing landscapes and pristine nature, that you can discover via numerous hiking trails. Furthermore, it features the second-largest crater in the world, which makes a visit to this place truly spectacular.

Hot Springs

Costa Rica is known for its geothermal activity, and a visit without a dip in one of its hot springs would be considered a crime. Luckily, there are dozens of them scattered around the country. So no matter where you’re vacationing, there is always at least one nearby.

Some of the most popular ones include Tabacón Thermal Resort & Spa, Baldi Hot Springs, and Ecotermales Hot Springs. Choose one or hit them all. You won’t regret it.

Tortuga Island

Renowned for exquisite white sand beaches, turquoise waters, fascinating nature, and great snorkeling and diving opportunities, Tortuga Island makes a fantastic day trip full of relaxation and fun.

You can either reach it on an organized tour from nearby coastal towns, such as Jacó, Montezuma, or Puntarenas. Another option is to take a scenic cruise. Unfortunately, spending a night there isn’t possible, but even just a day is worth it.