Costa Rica is a place of pure beauty, and a country with a lot of places to explore. There is something exciting to do, no matter which province you visit. Here is an overview of each province, and the most highly­-rated activity to do while visiting each.

Alajuela Region Map
Alajuela Region Map

1. Alajuela

This province is Costa Rica’s second largest, and it doesn’t disappoint in its vastness for attractions. There are many natural, and some man-­made, attractions to take in when you are in Alajuela. One thing you’ll be excited to see is the Cordillera Central mountain range. There are also national parks on the province with volcanoes. Culturally, Alajuela will offer you a metro area that features the laid back attitude of the regional people. When visiting Alajuela, you’ll notice that the weather is warmer than the other close­by provinces, but the atmosphere is smaller. It’s really easy to get to Alajuela, too, since one of the country’s major airports is located here.

Eastern Side of Arenal Volcano
Eastern Side of Arenal Volcano
Can’t miss activity: Hiking the Arenal Volcano National Park.

This hike is sure to be one of the highlights of your trip. Be careful though, this tricky volcano was once believed to be dormant but erupted in the late 1960's. Of course, you’ll be safe since the volcano area would close if another eruption was suspected. It is quite active though, and that is one of the things that draws so many people to the area.

Heredia Region Map
Heredia Region Map

2. Heredia

This small province is in the north-­central region of the country, and the first thing that you’ll notice is that the beauty in this area is largely untouched. Because of this, you can bet that you’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors when you’re in Heredia. It’s easy and convenient to get to Heredia, since it’s not far from the capital San Jose, where the country’s largest and main airport is located. This province is known for its historical value, and for being a laid-­back urban area. While visiting, you’ll want to visit the coffee plantations.

Amazing La Paz Waterfall, Heredia
Amazing La Paz Waterfall, Heredia
Can’t miss activity: Waterfall Tour

La Paz Waterfall Gardens are a breathtaking experience. There is an admission to get into the park, but the unmatched beauty will be well worth the admission fee. One of the most fascinating aspects of this area is that much of it is untouched by civilization. Take a hike here, and you’ll end up seeing about five waterfalls total!

Cartago Region Map
Cartago Region Map

3. Cartago

If you’re looking for some of Costa Rica’s most amazing architecture, combined with a culture that just can’t be compared, then you’re going to want to head to Cartago. While Cartago is the smallest province in square miles, it is one of the biggest in terms of landscape. Cartago is a great place for history buffs to visit, and it’s just an added bonus that it is easy on the eyes. The province’s namesake city was once the capital of the country, but its proximity to the Irazu Volcano made people nervous so it lost the honor.

Irazu Volcano Cater from above
Irazu Volcano Cater from above
Can’t miss activity: Irazu Volcano National Park

While that volcano was the nail in the coffin for Cartago’s capital status, it is one of the reasons that tourists love to visit this area. If you’re going to be in Cartago, you must head to Irazu National Park. The volcano is active, and in fact is one of the most active volcanoes in Costa Rica. While you’re there, you should climb the Deigo de la Haya crater.

Limon Region Map
Limon Region Map

4. Limón

Limón is paradise on the coast. This province lies along the Caribbean Coast, and it offers some of the most pristine views you’ll even see of Mother Nature. Complete with white sand beaches, we dare you not to find your own version of a coconut tree paradise. Limón has a great biodiversity too, featuring everything from wetlands to mountains. While tourists do explore this area, there are rainforests in Limón that are largely unexplored and untouched by modern civilization and architecture.

Tortuguero Canals
Tortuguero Canals
Can’t miss activity: Sailing at Tortuguero canals

Limón is home to Tortuguero National Park, which is a protected nesting spot to a population of endangered turtles. When visiting, you should head out on a boat to watch the turtles – this way you are getting see these amazing creatures without disturbing them!

San Jose Downtown Map
San Jose Downtown Map

5. San José

As the capital city of Costa Rica, San José has a lot to offer. It’s easy to get to because it is home to the airport. It’s also a convenient gateway to other location in Costa Rica. In general, this province is culturally diverse, and boasts a large population. San José, being such a popular place to visit, features a lot of civilization, like paved roads, that you won’t find in all the provinces. You’ll find yourself with lots to do here, including visiting museums and national parks.

Beautiful front view of Children´s Museum
Beautiful front view of Children´s Museum
Can’t miss activity: San José Museum Tour

When in San José, you should go on a tour to all the museums, which include: Gold Museum, Jade Museum, Children’s Museum.. The Gold Museum is pretty much what you’d expect – a large collection of gold – but it is worth seeing. Most of the pieces are indigenous gold jewelry.

Guanacaste Region Map
Guanacaste Region Map

6. Guanacaste

If you’re looking for a hot spot in Costa Rica, Guanacaste is the place you want to be. This province is a shoreline paradise, that also offers mountain views and volcanic exploration. There is really an endless amount of activities to do in Guanacaste. You can spend your days outside exploring the exotic wildlife, or taking on an adventure.

Having fun tubing on the Rio Negro
Having fun tubing on the Rio Negro
Can’t miss activity: White Water Tubing in Hacienda Guachipelin

One of those adventure is of course white water tubing. Hooking up with a tour group like Hacienda Guachipelin helps ensure that your tour will be the best it can be.

North Puntarenas Map
North Puntarenas Map

7. North Puntarenas

The north area of Puntarenas is really the every-­traveler place. There is just something for everyone here, from surfing towns to B&B for honeymooners. There is plenty of amazing nature to see, evident in the flora and fauna, and there are also plenty of opportunities for an outdoor adventure.

Surfers walking out at Playa Hermosa
Surfers walking out at Playa Hermosa
Can’t miss activity: Surfing

If you’re already a surfer, or have just always wanted to surf, don’t miss the opportunity to surf in Playa Hermosa. The waves here are world­-renowned, and the beach has received awards for its cleanliness.

South Puntarenas Map
South Puntarenas Map

South Puntarenas

There is no shortage of natural beauty in the South Puntarenas areas in Costa Rica. If you’re looking for a secluded beach, you’ll find it. If you’re looking for hot spots that cater to tourists, you’ll find it. If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure, you’ll find that too. The climate here is tropical, which means it is hot and gets a lot of rain. That rain just keeps the area nice and green!

Humpback Whale breaching near Uvita
Humpback Whale breaching near Uvita
Can’t miss activity: Whale Watching & Corcovado National Park

If you’re in South Puntarenas, you should find a local tour business that does whale watching tours. This is an unbelievably awesome experience that will be the crown jewel of your trip to Costa Rica.