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Hidden Gems of Costa Rica

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Do you ever wish you could travel with your own local guide, and have them take you to their favorite places? Perhaps it would also be helpful to talk to a local before you go, and gather advice and recommendations from people who really know the country – not just from other tourists who have been there for a short vacation.

Well, that’s exactly what booking with GreenSpot allows you to do, and in celebration of our 10 year anniversary this month, we are sharing a few of these Costa Rica hidden gems with our GreenSpot friends.

We are extremely proud to be listed as a Conde Nast Top Travel Specialist for Costa Rica, and to be on Wendy Perrin’s WOW list of trusted travel experts. This means that over the past 10 years our expertise and GreenSpot style has won the hearts of our clients time and again.

Without further adieux…here are few places and experiences that you probably won’t find on the average Costa Rica travel guide.

Luckily, you know some locals…

Playa Biesanz – Manuel Antonio National Park is one of Costa Rica’s most popular tourist destinations. During high season, the beaches can become very crowded. Biesanz beach is a nearby, mostly secluded beach that is a favorite with locals and offers excellent snorkeling or kayaking (bring your own gear). Your best bet for getting there is to ask a local where to find the trail along the side of the road, which winds through wildlife inhabited jungle. It’s highly likely you’ll spot a squirrel monkey, and two and three-toed sloth are also often visible along the trail.

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Lunch at Villa Caletas – Ideally located halfway between San Jose and Manuel Antonio, this is the perfect place to pause for a good meal and sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean. We hear time and again from our clients that the food and exceptional view were a bright highlight of the day.

Cerro de la Muerte – This is one of Costa Rica’s highest peaks, and on a clear day you can see both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. This beautiful place gets its disturbing name (translated to mean Hill of Death) from pre-highway days, when travel by horseback or on foot was extremely treacherous. These days, it is still a rather adventurous route, but you can drive to the summit and hike down through several different ecosystems, finishing in the charming village of San Gerardo de Dota. Your chances of spotting the resplendent quetzal are high in this area and compared to touristy Monteverde, this cloud forest remains raw and authentically beautiful.

Park Café and Antique Shop – Housed inside an old-world hacienda, this remarkable place combines antiques, interior design and a fabulous restaurant. Becoming increasingly popular with locals, this place is receiving rave reviews for its exquisite food, prepared by an acclaimed master chef. Combining great food with an abundance of charming antiques, this is a unique place you won’t soon forget.

Marina Ballena National Park – Named after the humpback whales that migrate to this region, this off-the-beaten-path spot along the Central Pacific coast, includes 9 miles of protected coastline and ocean. Not only an excellent spot for whale watching, there is peaceful rainforest, quiet beaches, wildlife viewing opportunities and prehistoric sites in the area. Ask us about some fabulous hotels from where to base yourself within this incredible biologically diverse setting.

Doña Mara– We believe that the local people are the true hidden gems of any country. So in true GreenSpot style, Doña Mara easily concludes this list. This is where having local friends comes in handy. If you want a truly genuine experience and perhaps the opportunity to practice your Spanish (or a guide will translate), you are welcomed into Doña Mara’s home with a smile and a hug. Here you can enjoy a delicious authentic lunch and also try your hand at making tortillas, tamales or even a full cooking or dancing lesson. It won’t take long to feel at home.