Paraíso, Cartago

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Paraíso translates to “Paradise” in Spanish, and there’s no truer example of that than the town of Paraíso in southeast Cartago province. Renowned for the beauty of its beaches, Paraíso is more than a paradise; it’s a home away from home, a haven that offers many stunning riches to discover and attractions to entertain. If you go nowhere else on your Costa Rican vacation, make Paraíso your priority for an unforgettable experience.

Local Cuisine at the Farmer’s Market

Paraíso’s central farmer’s market allows you to explore the panoply of Costa Rican food and trade goods, as well as take part in the unique dining experience of small local sodas. You may be thinking of the carbonated beverage, but in Costa Rica a “soda” is a family-run restaurant that allows you to sample authentic cuisine while welcoming you into an atmosphere like home. Sodas make you part of the family, and treat you like close friends with offerings of delicious food and unique dishes.

Take in the surrounding stores as well, including the recently built Paraíso Shopping Center. Offering modern conveniences and amenities, the Paraíso Shopping Center features a pharmacy, a movie theatre, grocery stores, and fast food. If you’re staying in one of Paraíso’s comfortable hotels, you’ll find many necessities within easy walking distance.

Lankester Botanical Gardens

A central attraction of Paraíso is the 11-hecater Lankester Botanical Gardens, named for British botanist Charles Lankester. While Lankester may have come to Paraíso in the 1900s to plant coffee, the Lankester Botanical Gardens are a flourishing haven for 600 of the 1,400 species of orchids native to Costa Rica. Microhabitats turn the entire garden into a series of environmental experiences tailored to meet the needs of the selected fauna, with small self-contained ecosystems hosting bromeliads, orchids, and other plants. This make the gardens an unforgettable attraction for eco-tourists and those interested in the study of rare species and biodiversity in plant life.

While the gardens are managed by the University of Costa Rica, they are open to the public year-round. We particularly invite you to visit during the flowering season between February and April, when thousands of blooms burst into full color and create a brilliant carpet of lush flora filling the air with their aromatic scent. The blooming season also attracts a number of birds of varying species, making it the perfect time for bird watchers to catch sight of a few rare finds.

Get Involved With Local Sustainability Practices

The Association for the Development of Environmental and Human Consciousness, or ASODECAH, operates the Finca la Flor de Paraíso – a non-profit organic farm 7 kilometers northeast of Paraíso. Roll your sleeves up and contribute to local farming and sustainability with a hands-on education on sustainable agriculture and reforestation. ASODECAH has been instrumental in fostering non-GMO practices, and Paraíso recently became Costa Rica’s first city to become free of transgenic/GMO crops. Take part in ASODECAH’s efforts to bring sustainability to Costa Rica, and leave knowing you contributed to Costa Rica’s growth as part of your vacation.

Easy Travel From Cartago City and San José

It’s only 45 minutes from the national capital to Paraíso on the Inter-American highway, which also links to nearby Cartago City, the former capital of Costa Rica. Paraíso is literally only a drive away, with access via the Cola Cola Bus Station or via private transportation. The beautiful scenery you’ll encounter along the way is one of the many reasons early Spanish settlers gave the town the name of Paradise.

Join the throngs of others who have discovered the beauty of Paraíso and uncover for yourself what it truly means to find tranquility.