Costa Rica

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Costa Rica may be one of Central America’s safest and most stable destinations, but dangerous driving conditions, the language barrier, and potentially hazardous jungle attractions conspire to make traveling with a tour operator a smart idea.

Costa Rica Tours

Adventures By Disney

Adventures by Disney takes guests on guided tours of destinations around the globe, from discovering the fjords in Norway to roaming New York City's concrete jungle. Experience one-of-a-kind adventures with one of the most renown travel companies. 

, 800-543-0865, www.adventuresbydisney.com/
Tags: family | editor pick | tour | adventure

Avanti Destinations

This Oregon-based operator peddles a pretty thorough catalog of Costa Rican adventures, from coffee plantation day trips to jungle kayaking in Tortuguero.

, 800-422-5053, www.avantidestinations.com
Tags: hiking | tour | adventure | sports

Costa Rica Birding Journeys

Although Costa Rica is small (around the size of West Virginia), it’s inhabited by nearly 900 bird species, more than the total number in the U.S. and Canada combined. Randall Ortega Chaves, who runs Costa Rica Birding Journeys, loves taking guests out to spot his country’s feathered wildlife. Be on the lookout for the scarlet macaw and the endangered quetzal, revered by the ancient Mayans.

, 011-506-8889-8815 (970-315-4023), www.costaricabirdingjourneys.org
Tags: tour | wildlife

Costa Rica Expeditions

Celebrating 30 years in 2008, this San Jose-based tour operator is the oldest and most experienced in the country. In addition to ecological, adventure, and sightseeing tours, the firm owns and operates three exceptional, well-run lodges in the Monteverde Reserve and Corcovado and Tortuguero National Parks.

, 011-506-2257-0766, www.costaricaexpeditions.com
Tags: editor pick | tour | adventure | sports | diving

Go to Isla Tortuga

This one-day catamaran excursion to Isla Tortuga may be touristy and pricey, but the picture-perfect island destination just off the Pacific coast makes the indignity of going along with the crowd worth it. Choose a weekday trip to have more white-sand beach to yourself.

Calypso Cruises, 800-887-1969, www.calypsocruises.com
Tags: beach | cruise | editor pick | smart splurge | things to do | tour

Latin Destinations

Extensive selection of special-interest Costa Rica vacations, from adventure, beach, and honeymoon trips to tours focused on turtle-nesting, spa stays, and volcanoes.

, 866-645-2846, www.latindestinations.com
Tags: hiking | biking | tour | wildlife

National Theater

This opulent theater modeled on the Paris Opera was built in San Jose between 1891 and 1897 with proceeds from coffee taxes. Take a guided tour of its lavish salons, savor a coffee and pastry in the café, or catch a performance by Costa Rica’s national symphony or opera company.

Plaza de la Cultura, Ave. 2 between Calles 3 and 5, 011-506-2221-1329, www.teatronacional.go.cr (Spanish only)
Tags: historic | theater | things to do | culture | tour

Pan-American Highway

Gutsy types might brave steep car-rental premiums and speed-demon Tico drivers to tour the country on their own via Highway #1, Costa Rica’s main cross-country route. You’ll traverse rain and cloud forests across valleys, mountains, and plains. A popular drive is the so-called Route of the Saints, a 15-mile, half-hour drive from Santa Maria de Dota to San Pablo de Leon.

Budget Car Rental, 011-506-436-2000, www.budget.co.cr
Tags: things to do | tour | adventure

Rain Forest World

This small ecotourism outfit based in the whitewater-rafting hub of Turrialba offers escorted multi-day tours, one-day excursions, and customized vacation itineraries.

, 011-506-556-0014, www.rforestw.com
Tags: hiking | tour | sports

Volcanoes

Hotfoot it to one of the country’s volcanoes, many of which – including Arenal, its youngest, and Irazu, its tallest – are still active. As many as eight such hot spots can be visited independently or on tours. If you have to pick just one, head to La Fortuna; nighttime displays of spewing lava are particularly spectacular. Fortuna Welcome runs guided tours to the area (www.fortunawelcome.com).

Ranger station; 2 miles east of Lake Arenal, La Fortuna, 011-506-2461-8499
Tags: editor pick | things to do | outdoors | tour | adventure

Zoom Vacations

Company capitalizing on Costa Rica's growing reputation as one of Latin America's most gay-friendly destinations, it directs travelers to hotspots like the bars and clubs of San Jose and La Playita Beach near Manuel Antonio, home to a number of gay and gay-friendly resorts.

, 866-966-6822, www.zoomvacations.com
Tags: tour | gay | sports

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