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A luxury travel guide to Costa Rica

  • Adventure
  • By Francesca Brooking
  • Published 21 March 2023
  • Revised 22 March 2023

‘We went to visit this national park that had hummingbirds. You put your hand out to where they’re feeding and if you stay really still, they’ll come and rest on your finger,’ recalls Claire Baker, our travel concierge, as she chats to us about her favourite memories of her trip to Costa Rica.

As one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, Costa Rica is a well-known magnet for nature lovers – but what about those seeking luxury? 

We asked Claire to share what luxury travel is like in Costa Rica, the best places she stayed, and how a travel concierge can enhance your trip. 

From the jungle to the beach

Costa Rica is an ideal destination for outdoor activities and with the South Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea on either side of the country, it offers ample beach time too. 

‘The perfect combination for your trip,’ Claire says ‘is to spend five days doing activities then take a small internal flight down to the south. You can find some of the most amazing beaches in the world on the South Pacific coast - right on the Osa Peninsula.’ 

Some top beaches here include Playa San Josecito with its soft golden sand and excellent snorkelling spots. Pan Dulce is another pristine beach where you can go horse riding and whale watching. For extra exclusivity, Lapa Rios Lodge is right around the corner from Pan Dulce and there, you can benefit from a private beach club service. 

So, what activities can you do during your five days before hitting the beach? Monteverde is a must. ‘Definitely do the canopy walk in Monteverde’ recommends Claire. The famous canopy walks take you up above the cloud forest on suspension bridges and ziplines. You get ‘the most amazing view’ and see phenomenal wildlife. 

Another top place to go in Costa Rica is Arenal Volcano National Park, home of one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Here, you can find more canopy walks, volcano treks, and hot springs. 

Ultimately, you’re in the arms of nature. ‘When you stay in Monteverde or Arenal you do feel like you’re staying in the wilderness with the wildlife all around you,’ says Claire. 

Arenal Volcano National Park is most famous for Arenal Volcano

Arenal Volcano National Park is most famous for Arenal Volcano

Cultural experiences through food

In Costa Rica, five-star restaurants offer plenty of fine-dining options. However, if you’re feeling adventurous, incredible culinary experiences can be found when you eat locally. 

One of Claire’s top tips is embracing local restaurants if you can. ‘The restaurants might not look like the best to go to from their exteriors, but I definitely urge you to come out of your hotel restaurant and go and eat locally.’ 

Some of the best places to try the regional food are La Fortuna and Monteverde. ‘We went and ate out locally in La Fortuna. There wasn’t an abundance of posh restaurants because it was more about eating local food.’ She recalls. ‘And then once we finished eating, they pushed back the tables and started doing some Latin American dancing!’

From dancing to food, connecting with local people is part and parcel of dining out in the small towns of Costa Rica. 

If you would rather bust some moves in the kitchen rather than on the dance floor, El Silencio Lodge & Spa facilitates cooking classes with Doña Olga in Bajos del Toro. There, you’ll learn the traditional way of making fresh tortillas and afterwards dine on your handiwork. 

Traditional Costa Rican tortillas

Traditional Costa Rican tortillas
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Where luxury meets the outdoors

The concierge plays a key role in enhancing the Winged Boots’ clients’ trip to Costa Rica. Luxury is in the little things whether it’s arranging an airport meet and greet or organising trips. 

‘Costa Rica is not the sort of destination you want to go to without having anything pre-planned,’ advises Claire. ‘Therefore, we would work closely with our agent on the ground to arrange private transfers and offer advice on experiences.’

‘For example, we would recommend seeing the hanging gardens and the Cloud Forest of an evening rather than when they’re busy during the day,’ she continues. 

Some of Costa Rica’s most beautiful natural attractions can be enjoyed with the luxury of privacy with Winged Boots. ‘We can arrange something special whether that’s going off to do a private tour, experience a wildlife encounter or an early morning trek to see the sunrise as a private excursion rather than with other people.’ 

And of course, a luxurious trip to Costa Rica wouldn’t be complete without a stay in one of its top hotels surrounded by nature. 

Winged Boots concierge Claire enhances your luxury Costa Rica trip

Winged Boots concierge Claire enhances your luxury Costa Rica trip

Luxury hotels with the Pura Vida spirit

Costa Rica’s Pura Vida spirit is embodied in its gorgeous luxury hotels which take you from the beach to the heart of the jungle. 

A Winged Boots recommendation is El Silencio Lodge & Spa by Relais & Chateaux located in Bajos del Toro, a small, remote town in the Cloud Forest. 

The hotel offers rooms and villas, complete with private balconies and pools that look out towards the forest. As for experiences, ‘you can do a lot of things like yoga in an amazing rainforest setting which feels so unique,’ says Claire.  

Another favourite is Nayara Tented Camp in La Fortuna. Voted the number one resort in Costa Rica by Travel + Leisure in 2022, the luxury camp is presented in the form of safari tents with plunge pools and views of Arenal Volcano. 

For beach lovers, Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo is a top choice to end your trip. You’ll be treated to beachside adventures, a golf course, spa, and beautifully furnished villas with a private plunge pool. Experience the very definition of relaxation here. 

Nayara Tented Camp

Nayara Tented Camp

An ideal destination for adventure lovers

Costa Rica is suitable for anyone who likes adventure. ‘It’s very much about getting outdoors in nature,’ says Claire. 

If you’re thinking of a family trip, Claire recommends going with older children because of the time it can take going from one place to the next. ‘You can be travelling in between your destinations for two hours.’

Kids and big kids alike are certainly catered for with activities ‘such as zip lining, horse riding, and wildlife encounters’ too. 

Costa Rica is also a great choice for people who want to explore this part of the world without having to take lots of internal flights. ‘You can explore beach, city, jungle, and local villages all by road – rather than if you went to Argentina, for instance, you would have to take internal flights to see every part that you want to go,’ Claire comments.  

‘The great thing is that you can finish your trip on a beach. All you need to do is take a small internal flight from, say Monteverde, and then go down south to the beach.’ 

Canopy walks in Monteverde Cloud Forest

Canopy walks in Monteverde Cloud Forest

Costa Rica tips for first time visitors

Costa Rica’s climate is tropical with a dry season that lasts from January to March. These months are the best time to go if you want to experience the least amount of rainfall. 

The summer months can be a particularly wet time to visit but on the plus side, that’s when all the flora and fauna look their best too. 

Nature is, without a doubt, one of Costa Rica’s biggest draws. With just 0.03 per cent of the earth’s surface, it contains almost six per cent of the world’s biodiversity. ‘Costa Rica is the sort of destination where you will be taking hiking boots rather than flip flops,’ Claire says.  

‘If you’re going to see the place it does entail walking and some level of physical ability rather than sitting in an escorted air-conditioned Mercedes.’ 

‘You’ve got to enjoy the walking and the outdoors. It’s part of experiencing the country, you know?’ she adds. 

And if you’re interested in sustainable travel, Costa Rica is one of the best destinations in the world for ecotourism thanks to its 26 national parks, 58 wildlife refuges, 15 wetland areas, 32 protected zones, 11 forest reserves, and eight biological reserves!

Rio Celeste Waterfall

Rio Celeste Waterfall

Costa Rica is a country where luxury meets the outdoors and where treasured memories are captured in encounters with its abundant wildlife. 

This destination is all about discovering the pleasure of being in the moment whether it’s a traditional cooking class or allowing a hummingbird to rest on your outstretched hand. 

If you’re thinking of booking a trip to Costa Rica as a family, don’t miss our eight-night Costa Rica itinerary. 

Or why not call our expert personal travel managers and create your own bespoke trip. Our concierge Claire will help ensure Costa Rica holiday is an unforgettable one. 

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