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Costa Rica Regions

The Regions of
Costa Rica

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Guanacaste Province and the Northern Pacific Beaches

Guanacaste Province is located on the Pacific Ocean south of the Nicaraguan border. The area is named after the shady trees that shelter herds of cattle that roam the savannah.

Aside from cattle ranches, Guanacaste has semiactive volcanos, lakes, and one of the last tropical dry forests left in Central America.

Guanacaste also has Costa Rica’s most popular beaches including Bahia Salinas, Naranjo, Gulfo de Papagayo, Panama, Hermosa, Coco, Ocotal, Pan de Azucar, Potrero, Flamingo, Brasilito, Conchal, Grande, Tamarindo and Langosta.

Northern Zone and Arenal

The Northern Region of Costa Rica is highlighted by four magnificent attractions: the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve, Arenal Volcano, Lake Arenal and Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge.

Located north of San José, between Guanacaste province on the west and the Caribbean coast on the east, the Northern Zone is home to the world's most abundant diversity of flora and fauna.

Here you will find rainforests, cloud forests, rivers, lakes, hot springs, marshes, and an incredible variety of birds and other wildlife.

Lake Arenal is one of the best windsurfing spots in the world. It's also the location of Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica's most active volcano

For a trip into the mountains, the Monteverde Preserve is one of the more successful biological sanctuaries in the world. Comprised of over 10,500 hectares of land, more than 90% virgin forest, the area has over 2,500 plant species, 100 species of mammals, 400 bird species, 120 reptilian and amphibian species, and 1000's of insects.

Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge is of interest particularly to bird-watchers, and nature lovers, as it has a large population of endangered mammals, including jaguars, tapirs, and ocelots. The Rio Frio, cuts through the wildlife refuge & makes a perfect waterway for guided boat tours into Caño Negro.

Atlantic / Caribbean Coast / Limon Province
Known as the Caribbean Zone, this region is located between the coast of the Caribbean Sea and the borders of Nicaragua and Panama. The Caribbean coast runs 200 kilometers between Nicaragua and Panama and extends inland as far as Braulio Carrillo National Park and narrows in the south where the Talamanca mountain range turns toward the coast.

The Caribbean coast offers world-class fishing, bird watching, horseback riding and all types of water activities including white-water rafting, ocean and river kayaking, surfing, diving and snorkeling.

The Caribbean region has a vastly different culture to the rest of Costa Rica. Life here is a mixture of influences where the Indigenous heritage combines with African, Oriental and Spanish culture offering an enchanting combination reflected in the spicy foods, language and dance.

The city of Limon is capital of the province of the same name and marks the border between the north and the south. The city is the main port of access to the country on this coast and one of the preferred destinations for cruise ships navigating the Caribbean. The number of parks in the area make Limón a good base for travel up and down the coast.

The small village of Tortuguero, meaning the "Region of Turtles", is located on the northeastern Caribbean coast, approximately 50 miles north of the principal Port of Limon. The region surrounding Tortuguero is called the Tortuguero Plain, which is a vast low lying area of little topographic relief covered by a large expanse of tropical rainforest .

Whether you kayak, boat, or hike through forest trails, Tortuguero National Park is a perfect example of tropical rain forest, made up of more than 18.000 hectares and protecting a wealth of exotic wildlife including those that gave it its name - turtles.

Tortuguero beach is the most important nesting site of the endangered green turtle in the Western Hemishpere. Giant leatherback, hawksbill, and loggerhead turtles also nest here.

South of Limon is the town of Cahuita which adjoins the Cahuita National Park. The town is best known for its off-shore life as the Cahuita's reef is is an example of one the of the greatest varieties of live coral in the world. Cahuita is a pleasant park to hike through since it runs along the beach. The hike takes you through this often swampy forest on a well - defined path.

South of Cahuita is Puerto Viejo, an ideal spot to relax with miles of gorgeous beaches both north and south of the town.

South of Cahuita National Park is Manzanillo, which literally means the "end of the road". Part of Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, this area is one of the prettiest regions in Costa Rica and one that enjoys year round great weather.

Central Zone / San Jose / Heredia / Cartago & Alajuela
The Central Valley comprised of the provinces of San José, Heredia, Cartago and Alajuela is the smallest region in Costa Rica though the one with the highest population. The majority of people live in San Jose, Costa Rica's capital city. San Jose is where Costa Rica's banking system, larger hospital, universities, museums and the theaters are concentrated.

San Jose offers many interesting attractions to entertain visitors. There are several museums; the National Theater, a centennial architectural jewel depicting the cultural level of this society, churches, parks, and an active nightlife..

San Jose is the perfect gateway to access not only the Central Valley but the entire country as well.

Central Pacific / Quepos & Manuel Antonio
South of Puntarenas down to Quepos / Manuel Antonio National Park, the Central Pacific Region stretches along the Pacific coast line, forming the transitional zone between tropical dry forest and evergreen humid and rain forest.

The Central Pacific Region is one of the best vacation areas in Costa Rica. The region offers beaches that are excellent as well as a diverse mixture of other attractions.

Quepos is a quaint village that offers adventure and good amenities. It has a natural, relaxed village lifestyle and is surrounded by the beauty of Manuel Antonio National Park.

Manuel Antonio is one of the most beautiful beach and jungle areas of Costa Rica. With two white sand beaches, emerald blue seas and a background of green, tropical jungle that offer excellent walking trails that will allow the visitor to get glance at the different types of monkeys, a great opportunity to get some great bird-watching done and a great amount of hotels and Inn in all categories makes it a must for the tourist to visit.

The park includes 12 islands located a short distance from shore. Most of them lack vegetation and serve as excellent seabird sanctuaries. The are an especially important nesting site for the brown booby. The seas contain numerous dolphins and at times, migrating whales are sighted.

Manuel Antonio/Quepos are is very easy to access from San Jose driving time is approximately 3 hours the area has a small airport that had many daily flight from Sansa and travel air.

One hour drive from Quepos is Jaco and Herradura bay. Jaco is famous for its beaches, surfing and nightlife. Because of the attractions, it attracts a lot of the younger population.

Southern Pacific Zone and the Osa Peninsula  

The South Pacific region of Costa Rica is known for its biological diversity, natural beauty and complex ecosystems. National Geographic magazine called the area "the most biologically intense place on earth".

The region has lush rain forests, abundant wildlife, unspoiled beaches and Costa Rica’s highest mountains.

The "Peninsula de Osa" is located at the extreme south western corner of the country. The Osa Peninsula, is one of the planet's most spectacular areas. The Peninsula is bordered on all sides by water. To the east is the the Golfo Dulce, to the west the Pacific Ocean, and to the north one of the largest expanses of mangroves on the earth.

The Osa's bio-diversity is comprised of 8 different habitats including cloud forest and the largest and most exuberant lowland wet tropical forest remaining in all of Pacific Central America as well as the longest stretch of protected beachfront between Alaska and Chile.

The Osa is home to Corcovado National Park, considered by many to be the crown jewel of Costa Rica's National Park system. With over 100,000 acres in National Preserve, including he Golfo Dulce Wildlife Preserve, with more than 200,000 acres in private ownership, many endangered animal and plant species thrive here. The Corcovada is home to jaguars, Scarlet Macaws, and 4 kinds of monkeys. The Corcovado is a naturalist's paradise.

Nine of the most important national parks and protected areas, and half of the nature reserves in Costa Rica are located here. The coast is beautifully forested and lined with almost perfect beaches. Surfing, tanning, horseback riding and many other options are available.


Costa Rica Regions Map

Image source http://wikitravel.org/en/Costa_Rica