Costa Rica is a famous tourist destination many people desire to visit. The small country has been thoroughly explored, and yet there are still places off the beaten path that only the most determined adventurers get the pleasure to enjoy.
Everyone wishes they had a local to show them all the hidden gems that elude visitors. Sure you can go to a tourist location and fight the crowds, but wouldn’t it be nice to know all the secret spots before you go?
Chances are if you book a hotel or vacation home you will be on your own. That is if you do not want to pay big bucks for a private guide. So, here are our top 5 secret Costa Rica stops. These recommendations come from a Costa Rican insider, and they are sure to get you off the well-traveled paths.
PLAYA PALO SECO
Hidden deep in the heavy lush vegetation, Playa Palo Seco is off the main road yet close to Manuel Antonio. This uncrowded, almost solitary, enchanting piece of paradise stretches over 5 miles. Walking along the beach, you will be surrounded by a thick line of Palm trees on one side and the immense Pacific Ocean on the other.
A visit to Playa Palo Seco gives you a chance to deeply connect with nature and enjoy the sweet sounds of Mother Earth.
Take long walks along the shore, relax in a hammock or ride some great waves; whichever activity you choose, you will be totally in peace with only the company of just a few locals.
The Public Elementary School runs a Turtle Sanctuary which cooperates to protect and release thousands of Baby Sea Turtles. The best time to see these little creatures running from the sand to the Ocean will be from August through November.
The sunsets are an absolute show of nature, with unique colors reflecting in the soft, clean, dark sand.
This remote corner of heaven is one of the few areas in Costa Rica that remains undiscovered and undeveloped by foreigners. Playa Zancudo is located near the old banana port of Golfito in the South Pacific. Venturing along the coast of Playa Zancudo will truly take your breath away. A trip here offers you a unique experience in the wild.
The black sand beach stretches as far as the eye can see. The combination of fascinating savage life and sea life will give you the sensation of being the only human being on Earth. During a big south swell, the surfing is fun with long lefts and only a few locals riding them.
The Coto River is truly an eye-opening jungle scenery. The river mouth creates a tropical dreamland, inhabited by different creatures such as huge crocodiles, curious monkeys and colorful species of birds just to mention a few.
The sleepy and picturesque village of Zancudo welcomes you with friendly bars, tasty restaurants, and cozy accommodations.
For those looking to get a real taste of Costa Rica, the rural village of Bijagual is the place to go. Located approximately 20 minutes away from Jaco Beach and hidden among green hills, it overlooks the Central Pacific coast. Here you will discover stunning views and cool refreshing breezes.
Travel back in time and discover how the entire country used to be before it was developed and urbanized by foreigners. You will be back in a time when it wouldn’t be unusual to see Cowboys cruising around on their horses, stopping to get cold beers at the only bar in town.
Here you won’t find souvenir shops or fancy restaurants, just traditional little places where classic Costa Rican dishes cooked on wood can be savored.
The area also features one of the largest waterfalls in the country measuring 600 plus feet tall. Composed of many natural springs and swimming pools running through the Rain Forest, the waterfall is a wonderland for hiking enthusiasts. Delightful tropical nature can be admired, along with wildlife and gentle sounds from the birds.
Enjoy a full day of intense tradition, majestic nature, and astonishing views.
A dirt road from the well-known beach town of Montezuma heads south all the way to Cabuya, which is a part of the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve nested in the Peninsula of Nicoya. Along the short journey, you will be amazed by the grace and charm of nature.
Massive ancient trees, white sand beaches, crystal clear water and small rivers plunging all the way down to the beach create a surreal experience. Playa Los Cedros has a left point reef break that works only with a massive swell. Usually, locals are the only ones surfing during the winter.
Cabuya Island is located at the end of this enchanting scenic littoral landscape. You can reach the island by walking through dead coral during low tide. The island is beyond spooky and mysterious. It is even rumored that ghosts haunt the island.
On the island, there is an old graveyard. The legend says that natives used to bury their dead in this graveyard and the locals keep the tradition alive by using it as a cemetery.
All around the island, you can enjoy some upscale snorkeling. In fact, this is one of the best spots in Costa Rica for snorkeling. You can find several different types of multicolored sea life.
Mar Azul is a surfing point named after a local restaurant and cabin, whose remains still face the rocks. Adjacent is the only sandy beach in Malpais. Despite being well known by locals, the waves here tend to be pretty uncrowded. The waters are fun with easy lefts breaking from different levels. It is best to surf during high tide, due to the rocky bottom.
Before sunset, you can buy fresh and cheap fish. At sunset, the fisherman head back to shore after a hard day of work.
Jason Mueller is an entrepreneur that relocated to Costa Rica. His Business Jaco Ropes keeps him busy, but in his free time, he enjoys to surf and work on his farm.