Lonely¬†Planet‚ÄĒthe¬†world‚Äôs biggest and most successful travel guide¬†series‚ÄĒranks¬†Costa Rica‚Äôs lush Caribbean coast as one of 2016‚Äôs best vacation destinations. The respected publication claims the region offers unbeatable value, and a taste of everything that makes Costa Rica one of the greatest places for a family vacation or romantic escape.
Caribbean coast garners praise from Lonely Planet
Lonely Planet writer Tom Hall is a veteran globetrotter and knows the inherent benefits of getting off the tourist trail for a more authentic travel experience. In places like Cahuita and Manzanillo, he claims you‚Äôll discover ‚Äúa still-evolving destination that‚Äôs likely to become a big noise over the next few years.‚ÄĚ In sum: the entire¬†coastal region, both north and south of Limon, boasts¬†all of the natural beauty of Costa Rica but without the heavy crowds.¬† Hall‚Äôs other destinations that made the cut for best value¬†included Vietnam’s¬†Ho Chi Minh¬†City,¬†Estonia, Galicia in Spain, East Africa, Quebec¬†City, and¬†Western Australia.
Ideal for surfing, snorkeling and beach lovers
While the Caribbean draws its share of visitors each year, most are independent travelers, birdwatchers or die-hard surfers who come to test their mettle on the pounding waves churning off the coast of Puerto Viejo and Playa Cocles. Beyond wild surf, the coast is dappled with gorgeous black and white sand beaches. For extraordinary underwater explorations, head to Manzanillo and book a snorkeling tour of the coral reefs. Or, swing by Cahuita National Park where tour guides offer a combo trip that includes a short hike along sandy trails followed by a¬†glass-bottom-boat¬†tour.
If the reggae beats of Puerto Viejo and neighboring beaches isn‚Äôt quite your scene, set your sights northward to the river town of Tortuguero, where black-water canals and rugged beaches host incredible biodiversity. In all, five species of endangered sea turtles nest on Tortuguero‚Äôs beaches, with most of the action happening between July and October. When you‚Äôre not watching 350-pound reptiles lay eggs by moonlight, you can relax and enjoy the copious wildlife that inhabits the protected wetlands, including spider and howler monkeys, basilisk lizards, sloths, herons, toucans and spectacled caimans.
Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica
Lonely¬†Planet pays special tribute to one notable tourist¬†attraction‚ÄĒLimon’s¬†Sloth Sanctuary near Cahuita. Admission fees go toward the veterinary care and feeding of injured and orphaned sloths. Tours feature a guided canoe ride through the sanctuary‚Äôs tropical lowland rainforest and visits with resident two and three-toed sloths, including the beloved mascot named Buttercup. Their coveted behind-the-scenes tour even includes a trip to the Slothpital¬†clinic, and¬†a chance to see adorable babies in the on-site nursery.