There's never been a trendier time to visit Latin America.
A collective of nations with a common History, inestimable cultural wealth, huge biodiversity, and attractive prices, it is soaring in popularity with Americans seeking a warmer, friendlier environment for their international vacations.
One country, in particular, is leading this resurgence, as it is by far and away the most popular destination in the Central American isthmus, which connects the Northern and Southern halves of the New World, and it's been the go-to spot for backpackers and young adventurers for years.
Now, not only is it diversifying the tourist offer and branching out into new categories, but it's been officially named one of the hottest destinations for 2024:
Costa Rica Is The Top Destination For The Next Year
It might have been a surprise to some when the small Central American state of Costa Rica took home the ‘Destination of the Year 2024' accolade at Travel + Leisure's yearly awards ceremony, especially when there are far bigger competitors in the field, like Mexico or France.
Unlike these two, it is nowhere to be found in the list of the world's top five most sought-after tourist destinations, and prior to the health crisis, it had hosted an all-time high of 3.37 million visitors annually; meanwhile, Latin giant Mexico is known to receive tens of millions of tourists.
There is still something about Costa Rica that keeps foreign visitors, and Americans in particular enthralled, as it offers the wild nature and vast open spaces they crave desperately after years of being stuck at home, and it is a relatively affordable sunny getaway after all.
Costa Rica is best known for its forested reserves, dense rainforests dotted with majestic, cascading waterfalls, volcanic landscapes, and unspoiled coastlines.
Yes, in the plural, as this nation, albeit tiny and the size of a state in the U.S., has privileged access to both the deep azure Pacific Ocean and the turquoise Caribbean Sea.
What Are Some Of The Best Destinations In Costa Rica?
One of the best dual destinations on the Northwestern Pacific is the lesser-known twin towns of Samara and Carrillo, connected by an elongated golden-sand strip that rarely sees crowds, even in the peak tourist season.
It is the perfect place for winding down, as the sea is tranquil and the nature abundant, and there are plenty of week-long stays to choose from, such as the romantic Locanda Samara Beach, right on the shoreline, with open access to the sands, and the Nammbu Beach Front Bungalows.
This four-star accommodation with an outdoor swimming pool has prices starting from $205 per night this winter, while Locanda is cheaper to stay at only $135.
More affordable options include the BellaVista Suites by Villas Verdes ($90) and the budget-friendly Samara Lodge ($58).
Surf hotspot Tamarindo and Guanacaste's Playa Hermosa are two other quaint beach zones worth checking out on the Pacific side.
Don't Forget About Those Gorgeous Caribbean Beaches
Over on the Caribbean Coast, the Tortuguero National Park is a leader in bookings, as it encompasses a large rainforest cut through by rivers and tourist-friendly pathways that lead to the oceanfront, making it popular for wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers.
You should beware that this is a rainforest, and a perfectly sunny day is rare.
Additionally, the beaches lining Tortuguero are not exactly appropriate for swimming, as the currents are strong and big-toothed sharks are frequent visitors to the bordering waters.
If it's swimming in crystal-clear waters you want and that undeniable Caribbean feel, Puerto Viejos is a pretty safe bet: a well-equipped town with tons of restaurants, guesthouses, and its own version of a party scene, it is the perfect spot for a weekend getaway.
On Booking.com, you will find a total of six five-star properties within the municipality or the wider province.
Le Cameleon Boutique Hotel is the top-rated one, located within walking distance of the lively downtown area and offering ocean views for $177 per night.
If you're the all-inclusive type, then the mega-resort Hotel Aguas Claras is waiting for you, with its lagoon-style outdoor pool, rustic ambiance, sumptuous breakfast spread, and exclusive airport shuttle at the convenience of guests.
This will set you back by $561 per night this season.
Is It Less Crowds You're After?
Looking to beat the crowds?
A few of the hidden gems in the Costa Rican Caribbean are the fishing town of Cahuita, about an hour from Puerto Viejo, and the small, authentic Manzanillo, easy to reach if you simply walk along the beach from Puerto Viejo for around two hours.
Inland, you should expect to find a plethora of natural attractions, from volcanos to jungles to hot springs.
The most visited volcano in Costa Rica is Arenal, rising high above the picturesque town of La Fortuna, sitting at its base, and arguably the country's most famous postcard view.
La Fortuna itself is a spa destination due to the high concentration of hot springs and watercourses in the vicinity. If staying here for a day or two, make sure you pay one of the termales a visit, as besides being the epitome of relaxation, they are believed to have medicinal qualities.
Costa Rica Is Safe For Tourists
Unlike its immediate neighbors, Costa Rica is also a very safe country, and the most stable nation in Central America.
It is defined by the U.S. State Department as a Level 2 destination, which means risks are only moderate, as opposed to high or very high, and Americans are not at all discouraged from visiting.
When traveling in Costa Rica, however, they must not display unnecessary signs of wealth, keep an eye on their personal belongings, and not verge too off-path unless they are accompanied by a trusted local guide, or as part of an organized activity.
↓ Join Our Community ↓
The Travel Off Path Community FB group has all the latest travel news, conversations, and Q&A's happening daily!
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR LATEST POSTS
Enter your email address to subscribe to Travel Off Path's latest breaking travel news, straight to your inbox.
This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com
Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.