cities in costa rica

23 Cities in Costa Rica (That Travelers Love!)

Well known for its pristine rainforests, incredible biodiversity, and the one-of-a-kind eco-resorts and ecolodges that dot its most beautiful landscapes, Costa Rica has long been a dream destination for travelers looking to escape.

Costa Rica isn’t particularly known for its cities – many travelers skip them entirely on their way to beach towns and yoga retreats – though they offer easy access to the best of the country’s treasures.

In this ultimate guide to the best cities in Costa Rica for travelers, you’ll discover the best destinations for your memorable Costa Rica trip. From the bustling capital of San José to villages and towns that barely appear on the map, these are the best places to visit in Costa Rica.

Best Places to Visit in Costa Rica

Looking to fill your itinerary with some of the charming fishing villages and vibrant coastal cities in Costa Rica that have made this country such a popular destination with travelers? We asked travel bloggers about the best places to visit in Costa Rica and found some interesting answers! These are some of the best spots in Costa Rica to consider.

While some of these cities in Costa Rica are little more than tiny towns, these are the places to visit in Costa Rica you won’t want to leave off your itinerary! Check out our clickable map as you plan your itinerary – you can even download it for your trip!

manuel antonio

Cities in Costa Rica

1. Manuel Antonio

Among the best places to visit in Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio is one of the most notable cities in Costa Rica because of its combination of incredible beaches and its stunning national park.

The city of Manuel Antonio itself is fairly small and is a bit of a unique beach town in that most of the city is located on a hill. Most hotels and accommodations in Manuel Antonio are located in the middle of the jungle and on the edge of the hill, overlooking the ocean from above. You’ll also find some of the best resorts in Costa Rica nearby.

The beaches in the city are lovely, with soft sand, tropical palms swaying, and beautiful blue-green water.  However, the main attraction here is Manuel Antonio National Park, which has been named one of the most beautiful national parks in the world. In Manuel Antonio National Park, you can enjoy hiking trails through the jungle and along the oceanfront.

There are several beaches contained within the national park as well that are, unsurprisingly, absolutely breathtaking.

The park is also known for its incredible biodiversity, which includes several species of monkeys (monkeys are everywhere in Manuel Antonio!), sloths, tropical frogs and snakes, coati, toucans, iguanas, dolphins, and many other birds, mammals, insects, and reptiles. 

2. Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Located on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, Puerto Viejo is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to this beautiful country. This small town has a unique and laid-back vibe, making it a perfect place to relax and unwind, and among one of the increasingly popular cities in Costa Rica for travelers.

One of the main draws of Puerto Viejo is its beautiful beaches. The town is home to several stunning beaches, including Playa Cocles, Playa Chiquita, and Punta Uva. These beaches offer clear blue waters, white sand, and opportunities for snorkeling, swimming, and surfing.

In addition to the beaches, Puerto Viejo is known for its vibrant culture and delicious food. The town has a strong Afro-Caribbean influence, and visitors can sample delicious dishes such as rice and beans, plantains, and fresh seafood.

Plan your itinerary to Puerto Viejo and definitely include a day trip to Cahuita National Park, where they can hike through the rainforest, spot wildlife such as monkeys and sloths, and snorkel in the crystal-clear waters of the park’s coral reef.

Furthermore, Puerto Viejo is the gateway to Panama for many backpackers who travel over land. It takes around 2 hours by public bus to reach the border and costs only a few dollars per person.

3. Tamarindo

Tamarindo is easily one of the best cities in Costa Rica to add to your itinerary if you’re looking for a beach holiday. This small city sits on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, offering some of the most spectacular sunsets you’ve ever seen! The waves are gentle enough for swimming and those learning to surf, but there are also spots perfect for surf pros. 

Besides the ocean, there are plenty of other fun things to do and see in Tamarindo. The foodie scene is amazing here, and you’ll find plenty of top-rated restaurants to visit just by wandering the busy little streets.

There are also lots of nice bars on the beach (perfect for enjoying that spectacular sunset) as well as the local craft brewery, Volcano Brewing Co. You can also visit the local markets to buy some locally made souvenirs. 

Ziplining is easily one of the best adventure activities in the area, as is ATVing. If you’re a wildlife lover, then you simply must visit Playa Grande where you can sometimes see baby turtles hatch. Otherwise, join a turtle nesting tour to increase your chances of seeing turtles! Honestly, Tamarindo is such a fun destination offering a ton for travelers to enjoy!

4. Nosara

Nosara is a surfer’s paradise and among the most memorable cities in Costa Rica not to be skipped over.  The lush jungle meets perfect peeling waves at Playa Guiones, just one of the main stretches of pristine beach in Nosara.  

Located on the Pacific coast of the Nicoya peninsula, Nosara is a 2-hour drive south of Liberia International Airport making this Costa Rican town fairly easy to get to. Costa Rica is dotted with surf towns, but Nosara feels special.  

Besides the surf, Nosara boasts a great culinary scene with restaurants like La Luna, Harmony Hotel, Coyol, Rosi’s Soda Tica, and a surf shop/brewery Alo Alaia that is not to be missed!

Swap out crowded and busy main roads for neighborhoods with small dirt roads dotted with restaurants and shops. There is plenty to do in Nosara, including taking surfing lessons, zip lining, discovering the beautiful neighboring beaches, and taking a guided tour through one of Nosara’s nature preserves.

arenal costa rica

5. La Fortuna

Located around 2.5 hours from the capital San Jose, La Fortuna is located in the Northern Highlands of Costa Rica. The town itself has plenty of restaurants and bars, but the real draw is its famous backdrop, the remarkable Arenal Volcano. 

This active volcano provides plenty of opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, wildlife spotting, and relaxing in the thermal hot springs that surround it. For adrenaline junkies, there are plenty of experiences on offer, from exploring La Fortuna waterfall to canyoning and rappelling, white water rafting, quad biking, and zip-lining.

For wildlife enthusiasts, be on the lookout for toucans and sloths, and those looking for some culture can visit a coffee or chocolate farm for a tour and tasting!

La Fortuna is also great for those looking for unique stays as it is home to some of the best treehouses in Costa Rica, where you can expect epic views of the lush rainforest and wildlife encounters.

6. Grecia

Grecia is a small, traditional town located about an hour’s drive from the capital city of San José, or 30 minutes from the San José airport. 

This charming town is known for its unique church, Iglesia de la Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes. Built in the late 19th century, this large red metal church stands in the center of town and is unique as it’s the only metal church in Central America. 

Take a tour of the church and learn about its fascinating history, then stroll around the central park which surrounds the church. There are also plenty of local restaurants, cafes, and shops in the town where you can sample local Costa Rican cuisine or purchase some handmade souvenirs.

Visiting Grecia is an easy day trip from San Jose, or it can be combined with a visit to the nearby Poas Volcano, La Paz Waterfall Gardens, or coffee plantations such as Doka Estate. 

7. Heredia

Less than 30 miles outside of the capital city of San José is one of the best cities in Costa Rica: Heredia. Some skip over Heredia on their Costa Rican itinerary for the larger San José. However, choosing this smaller city means that you can walk easily to local markets, restaurants, and nightclubs. 

The city’s highlight is its colonial center. The city square boasts the beautiful Church of the Immaculate Conception, built in 1797. Nearby is the Fortin de Heredia, a military fort that has never been used by the military. Look closely at the windows and you’ll realize they were put in backward. Mistake? No one is sure. The fort is iconic and a symbol of Heredia.

Near the Plaza Major is the Mercado Central. Visitors stop here for fresh produce and inexpensive food at local sodas. Don’t miss La Sorbetera, a traditional ice cream shop with plenty of delicious (and novel) flavors.

For outdoor enthusiasts, Braulio Carillo is a large national park with excellent hiking and bird watching. Most go to hike to the extinct Bravo Volcano. Located just 30 miles from Heredia, the area is the perfect place to get away from the bustle of the city and spend time in what Costa Rica does best: pristine nature.

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san jose costa rica

8. San José

The capital city of Costa Rica doesn’t get much love from travelers. Despite being well located for exploring the rest of the country and having plenty of great amenities, it’s undeniable that most travelers in Costa Rica are looking to kick back on a beach or in a remote rainforest, and quickly head elsewhere.

It’s not for lack of things to do in San José! Take a tour of the city and visit memorable spots like the Teatro Nacional Costa Rica with its lavish interiors, the Museo Nacional de Costa Rica (Costa Rican National Museum), or take a food tour to give traditional Costa Rican dishes a try.

San José is increasingly a popular city in Costa Rica for digital nomads; many find that basing themselves here allows them the convenience needed for remote work, which can’t be said of every picturesque beach town along the waves.

Whether you just pass through San José at the start of your Costa Rica itinerary or opt to base yourself here for a few easy day trips, you might just be surprised will all that the largest cities in Costa Rica – like San José! – have to offer.

Read More: 11 Best Day Trips from San José

9. Dominical

Dominical is a small, laid-back beach town on the Central Pacific coastline of Costa Rica. While the town may be small, between its beautiful beaches, waterfalls, delicious restaurants, and lush jungles and rivers, Dominical is one of the best small cities in Costa Rica for travelers.

One of the best things to do in Dominical is to enjoy the beach, considered among the best beaches in Costa Rica. Dominical is one of the best surf spots in Costa Rica, and you can surf anywhere along the long, black-sand beach. There are a number of vendors set up right next to the beach selling beautiful textiles, souvenirs, and jewelry. 

Another incredible thing to do in Dominical is to visit the 200-foot Nauyaca Waterfalls and swim in their refreshing lower pools. To reach the Nauyaca Falls, hike for about an hour through lush forests or take a guided tour to the falls in either a truck or on horseback.

Dominical also has several delicious restaurants, including the treehouse-style Fuego Brewery and Cafe Mono Congo which overlooks the wild Baru River in Dominical. If you’re looking for a town or small city in Costa Rica that’s rich in nature and mellow vibes, Dominical is a fantastic place to visit. 

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10. Santa Teresa

The surf haven of Santa Teresa is one of the smaller cities in Costa Rica nestled into the country’s wild western coastline.

As an up-and-coming destination on the Nicoya Peninsula, Santa Teresa offers a great balance of hippie and hipster influences. With avocado toast and matcha lattes popping up in trendy cafes and cool Santa Teresa hotels dotting its main strip, the town attracts a younger international crowd.

What started as a sleepy seaside village, is now one of the top spots for surfing in Costa Rica. As its main drawcard, you can find a plethora of locals offering surfing lessons all along its expansive golden beaches. From the vibrant namesake Santa Teresa Beach to the quieter Banana Beach and Playa Carmen, there are world-class surfing conditions to be had all year round.

Alternatively, you can venture into Santa Teresa’s verdant jungle. Rent an ATV and explore the bohemian town of Montezuma and its stunning waterfall of the same name. Or for the epitome of paradise, take a day tour to Tortuga Island for snorkeling and adrenaline-rushing water activities. 

11. Puerto Jiménez

Puerto Jiménez is a small coastal town located on the Osa Peninsula in southwestern Costa Rica. It is often referred to as the gateway to Corcovado National Park, as it serves as a popular base for visitors exploring the park’s pristine rainforests and rugged coastline.

Puerto Jiménez is known for its rich biodiversity, stunning natural beauty, and laid-back vibe, making it a popular destination for eco-tourism and adventure seekers.  

The town of Puerto Jiménez offers a range of amenities for visitors, including accommodations, restaurants, shops, and tour operators that cater to those looking to explore the surrounding natural wonders. Despite its small size, Puerto Jiménez has a vibrant local community, and visitors will certainly experience the warmth and friendliness of the local Tico culture.

Nature lovers and adventure-seekers visiting Puerto Jiménez will definitely want to check out Corcovado National Park, this Coast Rican city’s main attraction. Corcovado is a world-renowned national park in Central America known for its incredible biodiversity and pristine rainforest ecosystems.

Visitors have a unique opportunity to spot a wide variety of wildlife, including jaguars, monkeys, sloths, and an array of colorful birds. Guided hikes with experienced naturalist guides can enhance your chances of spotting these elusive creatures and provide fascinating insights into their behaviors and habitats.

Truly a haven for wildlife and nature lovers, Puerto Jiménez and Corcovado National Park are bucket list destinations you’re definitely going to want to add to your Costa Rica itinerary!

drake bay costa rica

12. Drake Bay

When you wish to go wild in Costa Rica, there are few better places than Drake Bay.

Hidden away in the country’s lesser-visited southwest, it’s the destination for laid-back travelers looking to enjoy pristine Pacific waters and stunning paradise beaches while stepping foot in the world’s most biologically revered rainforest.

Part of the mainland but with the sense and spirit of an island community, Drake Bay is only accessible only by speedboat or tiny plane. This remoteness adds to its appeal, and the ride along the river through the mangrove forest is a memorable experience all on its own.

Saved from the level of tourism development witnessed elsewhere on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast, Drake Bay caters to both budget travelers and those looking for secluded, luxurious ecolodges deep in the canopy or steps from the cluster of virgin sand beaches lining the coast.

Whatever the budget, all who come to Drake Bay are united by a love of nature. One of the country’s best whale-spotting picks and an emerging diving hub, it’s also the best jumping-off point for Corcovado, Costa Rica’s largest national park.

13. Limón

Limón, along the Atlantic coast, is one of the larger cities in Costa Rica and a fascinating destination to experience Costa Rica’s distinct Caribbean culture. Mostly inhabited by people of African and indigenous descent, Limón has a rich history and has evolved to have a unique culture to the rest of the country.

Limón, also known as Puerto Limón, is one of the oldest cities in the Americas; its port has been used since 1870 for the export of grains and bananas. The port is still often used, and today there are port markets with vendors selling food, clothing, jewelry, and other items. This is a great place to buy fresh fruit and beautiful wooden hand-carved souvenirs.

For a glimpse into Limón’s history, take a stroll through Vargas Park, which has some interesting statues and architecture. As a bonus, you may see some sloths hanging from the trees!

While strolling through the bustling downtown of Limón, be sure to check out G&E Chocolate Adventure Company in town. Learn about turning cocoa beans into delicious Swiss chocolate, and find a tasty treat to take home.

Being a Caribbean city, Limón is a gateway to countless beaches surrounded by thousands of acres of protected waters. Take a 20-minute walk to Playa Piuta from downtown or a short drive to Playa Bonita, just two miles north of town.

You can drive to Limón in just 4 hours from San Jose on Highway 32.

14. Monteverde

Monteverde, Costa Rica is a magical spot in the heart of the cloud forest of Costa Rica.  It is an absolute must for nature enthusiasts or visitors who want to experience some of the world’s most beautiful and lush rainforest scenery.

While there are plenty of things to do in Monteverde, exploring Monteverde’s cloud forest is by far the most remarkable reason to add a trip to Monteverde to your Costa Rica itinerary.  With over 26,000 acres of protected forest, Monteverde is home to stunning flora and fauna you have to see to believe, including the quetzal, a beautiful iridescent bird found in the jungles.

There are many trails and hanging bridges to explore, and a number of zip line courses that crisscross the mountains for unmatched vistas over the canopy. A guided night walk through the cloud forest is a must for anyone curious to see the jungle come alive at night.

Monteverde is more than just a destination; it is an enchanting escape with incredible biodiversity and immersive experiences that will make your trip to Costa Rica truly special.

15. Cahuita

One of the best places to visit in Costa Rica is Cahuita, one of the small coastal cities in Costa Rica located in the province of Limón. Cahuita is particularly well known for its natural beauty, vibrant culture, and laid-back atmosphere. 

The town itself is located on the Caribbean coastline and is surrounded by lush rainforests, pristine beaches, and coral reefs that are home to a diverse range of marine life. It’s a photographer’s paradise with amazing photo opportunities at every turn so make sure you bring along your best Costa Rica Instagram captions.

One of the main attractions is the Cahuita National Park, where you can hike through the rainforest and along the coastline to observe a variety of wildlife, such as monkeys, sloths, and even iguanas. You can also go snorkeling in the park’s coral reefs where you can see a variety of colorful fish amongst the crystal-clear waters.

The town has a lively music and dance scene where music can often be heard playing in the streets and at bars/restaurants. You can also sample traditional dishes including fried plantains and spicy seafood stews.

Cahuita is one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica; it’s a destination for anyone looking to experience the natural beauty and vibrant culture of Costa Rica.

costa rica city

16. Jacó

One of the best cities in Costa Rica has to be Jacó! Situated on the country’s west coast on the Pacific Ocean, Jacó is the perfect destination for anyone looking for authentic Costa Rican culture and friendly locals. 

For a little relaxation, check out Jacó Beach, considered by many to be among the best beaches in Costa Rica. What is there not to love about sitting on a beautiful beach, listening to the waves crashing, and watching the world go by with a book in hand?

However, if you love to keep active, Jacó has one of the best surf spots in the whole country. Locals come from across the country just to ride the waves. You can rent boards from beach renters or from more formal providers in town. 

What makes Jacó a great place to stay is the abundance of restaurants and food stalls to eat at. Jacé Walk has all the cuisines you can imagine and all at a really good price. From international food to Asian food and tasty Latin American cuisines, you won’t be short of choice as the atmosphere here is just incredible! 

Jacó is also really easy to get to, making it a favorite for travelers among other coastal cities in Costa Rica. There are loads of buses going from San Jose’s downtown bus station. Each ticket costs between $5-$10 and takes two hours to the Playa Jacó bus station. Alternatively, there’s a bus direct from Quepos if you’re visiting Manuel Antonio.

17. Tortuguero

Similar to charming travel destinations like Bacalar in Mexico and El Paredon in Guatemala, Tortuguero is a hidden gem of Costa Rica. Due to its remote location, Tortuguero is rarely included in travelers’ itineraries, which only adds to its allure.

Tortuguero is located on the north Caribbean coast of Costa Rica and can only be reached by boat. The town itself is situated along an expansive network of waterways and lagoons, offering visitors a unique experience that’s rich in wildlife.

What makes Tortuguero so special is its turtles. Every year from July until October, giant leatherback turtles come to Tortuguero’s beaches to lay their eggs. This is a prime opportunity for visitors to witness these incredible creatures in their natural habitat – an experience that should not be missed!

If you’re visiting Tortuguero outside of the turtle season, you can still enjoy its rich and fascinating wildlife by taking an early morning kayak tour and exploring the waters of the Tortuguero National Park. Here you can observe caymans and crocodiles peaking out of the water, iguanas chilling in the sun, and hundreds of birds, including colorful tucans and macaws.

18. Puntarenas

If you’re looking for a city that’s got it all, then Puntarenas is one of the cities in Costa Rica you don’t want to miss! It’s a place where you can get a taste of authentic Costa Rican culture while also enjoying some urban and natural attractions.

With a population of over 35,000 people, this bustling port city is like a colorful kaleidoscope that’ll keep you entertained for hours. As soon as you step foot in Puntarenas, you’ll be greeted by the warm and welcoming locals who are happy to show you the ropes of this beautiful city.

One of the main attractions here is the Paseo de los Turistas, a long boardwalk that’s perfect for strolling, sunbathing, or just taking in the breathtaking views of the ocean. You can even watch the local fishermen in action and maybe even learn a thing or two about their trade.

Another unique experience that you simply can’t miss is a visit to Isla San Lucas, which was once a prison island and is now a nature reserve. You can take a guided tour of the island and learn about its fascinating history while surrounded by stunning natural beauty. It’s like getting a glimpse into the past while also taking a break from the hustle and bustle of modern life.

Lastly, visiting some famous Costa Rican beaches is a must to put on your Costa Rica Itinerary. Playa Doña Ana is a beach in Puntarenas that offers golden sand, calm waters, beautiful sunsets, and local cuisine. What more could you ask for?

If you’re looking for a place to unwind, soak up the sun, and immerse yourself in the local culture, Puntarenas is a perfect choice for your Costa Rican vacation.

19. Playas del Coco

Playas del Coco is just 25 minutes from the Guanacaste International Airport, making it one of the top cities in Costa Rica to visit on a hassle-free vacation, not only in Guanacaste but in all of Costa Rica. Once a small fishing village, Playas del Coco is now a bustling town filled with expats, tourists, and locals.

There are many things to do in Playas del Coco, from relaxing on the beach to day trip adventures, but there are a few things that the town is known for. First and foremost, Playas del Coco is one of the best places to go deep-sea fishing in Costa Rica. 

Companies like Dream on Sport Fishing and Gonzalez Sport Fishing are among the best of the best and the area is known for world-class sports fishing of marlin, sailfish, and roosterfish – plus tuna, mahi mahi, and other fish you can take home for dinner.

Playas del Coco also has some of the best diving in the country. In addition to local dives, you can visit the famous Bat Islands, known for being one of the best (and most ethical) destinations to dive with bull sharks, as well as Las Catalinas, known for the manta rays. 

If you’re neither an angler nor a diver, don’t worry. There’s still plenty to do in Playas del Coco, like heading out on a sunset sail, going ziplining at the nearby Diamante Eco Adventure Park, visiting the Llanos de Cortez waterfalls, or just relaxing on the beach.

samara costa rica

20. Samara

Samara is among the charming, smaller cities in Costa Rica on the Nicoya Peninsula. While not a huge tourist spot (yet), Samara is full of activities for travelers of all interests – plan your visit now before it becomes like other cities in Costa Rica more overrun with travelers.

Families in Samara will love horseback riding on the beach, body-boarding, or surfing on the perfect, beginner-friendly waves of Playa Samara.  There are multiple surf schools to choose from, all of which are great for helping kids learn.

Travelers looking for a laid-back vibe will love the slower pace of Samara.  Samara offers many yoga studios and plenty of healthy restaurant options for post-practice.  You can also make the short drive to the neighboring beach Playa Carrillo.  Here you’ll find a huge, undeveloped beach to really find peace and relaxation.

While families will love all that Samara has to offer, Samara is also great for single travelers and backpackers.  There are plenty of hostels to choose from, taxis, ATMs, grocery, and even a language school.

This small town doesn’t have any chain hotels, but rather small local hotels that help keep its charm.  Some are beachside, but non-beachfront hotels have only a short walk to the waters of Playa Samara.

21. Liberia

Located in the province of Guanacaste, Liberia is a major hub for international tourism in Costa Rica. Its proximity to Guanacaste Airport makes it an easy access point for tourists visiting the stunning North Pacific Coast.

Despite being primarily a gateway city to explore the region’s white sand beaches, nearby rainforests, and volcanoes, Liberia itself has plenty of things to offer for anyone who wants to spend some time there. The city itself has a variety of great restaurants and shops to explore, as well as the Guanacaste Museum, where you can learn about the history of the area and the fascinating story of Costa Rica.

For nature lovers, Santa Rosa National Park is one of the oldest parks in the country and boasts excellent bird-watching opportunities and plenty of wildlife to discover. The park is also home to the Hacienda Santa Rosa monument, a memorial to the peasant army that fought and won against William Walker and his mercenaries.

Rincón de la Vieja National Park is another attraction in close proximity to the city, with ample space for horseback riding and hiking, as well as hidden treasures of rivers and waterfalls concealed within its tropical rainforest.

Read More: 12 Best Resorts in Costa Rica

22. Uvita

Uvita is a small coastal town in the province of Puntarenas in Costa Rica. It is mainly known for the giant pods of humpback whales that pass by here every year between July and March and for the beautiful Marino Ballena National Park.

Travelers who visit Uvita are spoilt for choices of things to do. One of the main draws is the vast “whale tail” of Marina Ballena National Park that pops out of the ocean at low tide. While you can’t really witness the magnificence of the whale tale from the beach, it’s a spectacular site seen from the sky. 

Whale-watching tours are another activity on offer in Uvita. Boats leave Uvita beach every day during the migrating period and last for 2,5 to 4 hours.

Add some hiking to your itinerary in Uvita, as the waterfalls in and around Uvita are simply sublime. If you don’t have your own transport, you can visit Uvita waterfall, which is a short walk from the town center. The El Pavon waterfall and the Naucaya waterfalls are also easily reachable from Uvita in half an hour by car.

23. Mal País

Mal País is located on the Southern Tip of the Nicoya Peninsula. It is accessible by bus from San José to Puntarenas then ferry to the peninsula, or by bus to Jacó Beach and then by boat taxi to Montezuma.

Bordered by the sandy beaches of Santa Teresa to the North, and Cabo Blanco National Park to the South, Mal País is an excellent destination for travelers looking for an off-the-beaten-path experience among the cities in Costa Rica that aren’t much more than a tiny town!

Mal País, sometimes spelled Malpaís, is the definition of Pura Vida – the Costa Rican slang term for a peaceful, easy-going, and laid-back vibe. Visitors can expect to find excellent surfing on beautiful beaches and not much else. 

While tourism has commercialized other towns in the Nicoya Peninsula, Mal País remains much as it was, which is why it’s one of the best cities to visit in Costa Rica for an authentic traveler’s experience.

In addition to incredible surfing, visitors often come to Mal País for water sports such as world-class fishing, snorkeling, and diving. Horseback riding and hiking are also popular, especially at the national park next door, Cabo Blanco.

carley rojas avila

Carley Rojas Avila is a bilingual New York-based travel writer, editor, content marketer, and the founder of the digital travel publications Explorers Away and Home to Havana. Carley is an expert on all things Latin America, the Caribbean, and Cuba, having lived and worked in four different countries in the region. Her writing has appeared on the Associated Press wires and in Travel + Leisure, Yahoo, MSN, Euronews, The Weather Channel, and more. When she's not writing about her travels, find her front row at a Bad Bunny concert, befriending street cats, and taste-testing every pizza in Havana.