Diving in Costa Rica has much to offer, from diving in Cocos Island, the largest uninhabited island in the world, over 300 miles offshore, it takes a day and a half on a live-aboard dive boat just to reach it. But for hardcore divers, the voyage is worth it - Central America scuba diving truly doesn't get any better than this. Undisputed dive expert Jacques Cousteau famously called diving at Isla del Coco the best in the world. As added attraction, Jurassic Parkwas set in Coco National Park (though it was filmed in Hawaii). Venture inland for a truly wild experience - minus the dinosaurs, of course.
Just 12 miles offshore, Isla del Caño is like Isla del Coco's closer - and cheaper - little sister. Having pretty much the same underwater life as Cocos Island, here you will encounter both pelagic and reef fish, large schools of jacks and barracudas, sting rays and manta rays, and sharks.
Playas del Coco, not to be confused with Isla del Coco, is a popular beach in the Guanacaste region of northern Costa Rica. It is a great launch pad to explore the nearby Catalina Islands (manta ray territory) and the Bat Islands (bull sharks galore), while the curvy Coco Bay offers low-key Costa Rica Scuba diving.
Don't miss Tortuguero, a village on the Northern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica in the Limón Province. It gave its name to the neighboring Tortuguero National Park, famous for turtle nesting and hatching. The main reason why most people travel to this area is to see turtles lay eggs on the beach. Turtle watching tours are offered by nearly everyone during the egg laying season, which spans April to May for leatherback turtles and July to October for green turtles.
Costa Rica is now well situated on the list of popular tourist destinations due its amazing wealth of natural beauty, with many national parks and government protected areas taking up over 24% of the country's surface, it's no wonder why nature lovers are flocking here every year to immerse themselves in these wonderful surroundings.
Flying into San Jose from many international destinations is the best and cheapest way to get to Costa Rica and the bus system once in the country will get you around without a hitch. Hiring a car is easy but may actually work out more expensive than the bus, or even a budget flight to another domestic destination. Accommodation options are vast, whatever your budget you're surely find something suitable.
There is a huge variety of activities, whatever your interests may be. Surfing is very popular on the Pacific Coast, or you can hike through one of the many national parks on offer and try to spot the incredible wildlife. There are volcanos, pristine beaches to relax on or if you're an adrenaline junky the zipping through the forrest on a canopy tour is just the thing for you.
If you've only got a couple of weeks then start in San Jose and head to the Tortuguero National Park near Limon for the turtle nesting season, then to the jungle of Sarapiqui for some birdwatching. The Arenal Volcano is the most active in Costa Rica, you can then relax in the hot poolls of La Fortuna before heading to the Cloud Forest Reserve in in Monteverde. A few days around the Manuel Antonio National Park is a must do on your list.
Of course if you have longer then you can really immerse yourself in this wonderful country and the treasures that it holds. There's nothing like it anywhere on the planet and it's waiting for you to discover.
(By Kelly Luckman)