What makes Costa Rica such a unique country?

Costa Rica is without a doubt one of the most exotic and unique places on Earth and it’s quite hard to understand how such a small country located in the middle of Central America has so much diversity and offers tourists that visit it from all over the world thousands of special experiences and unparalleled beauty!

This beautiful place, where you can travel from the Pacific Coast to the Caribbean in under 3 hours’ drive certainly has something for everyone! Historical cities, forests, stunning beaches, volcanoes, wildlife, adventure tourism and sporting activities, delicious food…. You ask for it… you’ll find it here.

At Volunteer Encounter we are extremely proud of the work we do in this spectacular country to help preserve its natural beauty, its species and we play a huge role in assisting local communities in need. We encourage all potential volunteers to visit this natural beauty and go M.A.D (make a difference). These experiences will stay with you forever.

In order to share with you our love for this country, our Destination Specialists have put together a list comprising the top 10 reasons why Costa Rica is such a unique and exotic country and if you don’t believe us, just keep reading… we are sure to change your mind!

The Pacific Ring of Fire

As part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, Costa Rica has 7 active volcanoes, 61 dormant or extinct ones and a total of 112 sites where an eruption has occurred! These volcanoes are some of the most mesmerizing in the world, with the Arenal Volcano being the most popular one. Now a National Park, you can also visit and enjoy thermal hot springs, hiking trails and stunning lookout points.

Volcanoes are scattered everywhere throughout Costa Rica. There’s even one just minutes away from its capital city, San Jose, called Irazu. This particular volcano is 3432m above sea level (the highest in the country) and from its peak, you may be lucky enough to see both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans at the same time!

It’s quite easy to reach its summit by vehicle and the view of the main crater that hosts a sulfurous, turquoise-green lagoon is something truly unique and beautiful you cannot miss out on!

A surfer’s paradise

Costa Rica is a country that attracts surfers from all over the world. Its stunning beaches offer year-round waves and warm water. The weather is consistently pleasant, and you are greeted by friendly people and reasonable prices.

Both coasts in the Pacific or the Caribbean are ideal for surfing and there is nothing better than travelling around the country visiting the amazing beaches all around Costa Rica with your surfboard!

Wildlife and plants all over the country

There’s something quite unique about this country. Although it is one of the smallest in the World, covering only 0.03 % of the Earth’s surface, it ranks among the 20 most bio-diverse countries in the world! Keep in mind that over 25% of its territory is protected under National Parks, Reserves or protected areas.

Costa Rica hosts half a million species, representing 4% of the planet’s biodiversity so it could take us a while to list every species you can find here, but to give you an idea, be on the lookout for some unique species such as sloths, monkeys, jaguars, pumas, toucans, tree frogs, sea turtles, whales and scarlet macaws!

Costa Rica’s own little Amazon

Being such a small country, Costa Rica still has so many locations to visit that will have tourists and volunteers wanting to stay longer to see it all. On the Caribbean side, there’s a special place you cannot miss out on!

Tortuguero National Park has been compared to the Amazon on plenty of occasions since it offers an exuberance of natural wildlife and a beautiful river that acts as a giant mirror reflecting the lush foliage all around. It’s also one of the most important places worldwide for the protection of the green turtle and hosts some other unique species such as manatees, the American crocodile and the Gaspar fish, which is considered a living fossil. Majestic birds such as the Great Blue Heron, and the Northern Jacana also frequent the park.

But this place is not only about nature. It’s also home to the larger population of Afro-Caribbean culture in the country (most of them of Jamaican origin) that are eager to show their dances, culture and traditions to visitors.

Turtles, turtles, turtles!

Again, despite being such a small country, Costa Rica is home to 5 out of the 7 species of marine turtles in the world and they can be found both in the Pacific and the Atlantic Coast.

Every year hundreds of turtles make their way to Costa Rican beaches to nest and ensure the survival of their species and it is a beautiful thing to watch!

Marine turtles have inhabited the Earth for over 100 million years, but some of these species are under threat of extinction and that’s why we must ensure their protection. We have a specific volunteer project that focuses on their survival, so if this interests you, don’t hesitate any longer and come join us!

The original canopy tour!

Costa Rica is also home to the first Canopy Tour that was inaugurated in the 90s, which was then taken to many other countries around the world.

This amazing way of discovering the beauty of the forest from above, while having a great adventure is further proof of Costa Rica’s interest in protecting its environment, as the tour has almost no impact on the forest.

This series of suspended cables attached from tree to tree over 100 feet above the forest floor allow people to glide along effortlessly using pulleys.

This concept has now been implemented all over the country in different environments and landscapes, including mountains, canyons, rivers, waterfalls and cloud, dry and tropical forests.

A diver’s dream

Being bordered by both the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean, Costa Rica is not only a paradise for surfers, but for divers as well! Costa Rica’s marine surface is 10 times bigger than its terrestrial one, and the country’s efforts to protect its environment and the huge biodiversity it boasts can also be seen underwater too.

Coco´s Island National Park and World Heritage Site on the Pacific Coast is one of the best destinations in the world for diving. Here you will find hammerhead sharks, humpback whales, bottlenose dolphins, hawksbill turtles and a large variety of coral species.

The Caribbean side is also amazing for diving, and locations such as the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge are among the most popular ones as scientists have discovered 600 species of molluscs, 10 per cent of which are unique in the world, in only five square kilometres of coral reef.

Indigenous mystery

Costa Rica is not well-known for its indigenous communities and the architectural structures they left compared to its Central American neighbours with their Mayan inheritance.

Nevertheless, they did leave behind elaborately carved stone spheres whose meaning still remains a mystery to this day. There are 235 registered stone spheres in Costa Rica, all of them equal in perfection, measuring anywhere between 20 centimetres and 2 metres in diameter.

Lots of theories have circulated around their origin, but the reason for their existence is still unclear, making it into one of Costa Rica’s unique mysteries.

The secret to longevity

There’s a beautiful location in the Pacific Coast in the Nicoya Peninsula (where we actually have some of our most amazing volunteer projects) that became famous not only for its stunning landscapes, white beaches and lush vegetation, but because many of their elders are over 90 years old, this makes them some of the most long-lived people in the world.

Many demographic studies have been conducted in the region, searching for reasons as to why the mortality rate in this area is over 10% lower than in the rest of the country!

Reasons may include good genes, calcium-rich water that strengthens bones, a diet rich in fruits and hominy, as well as engaging in physical labour. 

But it seems that the main factor has to do with their lifestyle that brings only happiness, which in turn raises endorphin levels and strengthens the immune system. It seems that Nicoyans are not only concerned with their own lives but also see themselves as connected to others and stay active and seek to learn new things throughout their lives!

An adrenaline junky’s dream

In case Costa Rica’s volcanoes, forests, beaches, oceans, wildlife, history and culture all together condensed in a small place weren’t enough to make this country unique, it is also considered one of Latin America ́s adventure capitals! Every adventurer and nature lover would love this country and everything it offers including, for example, some of the best white-water rafting locations in the world!

Water sports are huge, and surfing, diving, tubing, windsurfing and kayaking are among the most popular!

If you aren’t into water sports, but still interested in adventures on the ground or high above, Costa Rica won’t disappoint you! Ziplining, canopy tours, biking, hiking, climbing and canyoning rate amongst the best sports to try and they can be done all over the country!

Listing only 10 reasons to visit Costa Rica is challenging as there is so much more to learn and discover about this beautiful and unique country.

So, the best we can do now is to invite you to join our projects in this marvellous place that ranks among the most peaceful ones worldwide and discover its uniqueness for yourself!

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