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Costa Rica’s Hidden Gems: Tips to Get Off the Beaten Path

Costa Rica

10 Off-the-Beaten-Path Destinations to Discover

Costa Rica is known for its stunning beaches, lush rainforests, and abundant wildlife, but there are also many hidden gems waiting to be discovered. From secluded waterfalls to charming mountain towns, Costa Rica is full of off-the-beaten-path destinations that offer a unique and authentic travel experience. Let’s explore the top 10 hidden gems in Costa Rica that are sure to delight any traveler looking for something different. So, grab your suitcase and get ready to discover some of the best-kept secrets of this beautiful country!


Ojochal is a small coastal village located in the southern Pacific region of Costa Rica. It is known for its beautiful beaches, lush tropical forests, and laid-back atmosphere, making it a popular destination for travelers seeking a quiet, off-the-beaten-path experience.

One of the main draws of Ojochal is its stunning beaches, which are some of the most picturesque in Costa Rica. Playa Tortuga, Playa Ventanas, and Playa Ballena are just a few of the beaches located within a short distance of the village. These beaches offer pristine white sand, clear blue waters, and plenty of opportunities for swimming, sunbathing, and snorkeling.

Another reason why travelers visit Ojochal is its proximity to the Marino Ballena National Park, a protected area that is home to a diverse range of marine life, including whales, dolphins, and sea turtles. Visitors can take a boat tour of the park to see these creatures up close or explore the park’s hiking trails to discover its stunning natural beauty.

Finally, Ojochal is renowned for its culinary scene, which is considered one of the best in Costa Rica. The village is home to a variety of restaurants and cafes that specialize in local cuisine, including fresh seafood, tropical fruits, and other traditional dishes. For foodies, a visit to Ojochal is a must.

Rio Celeste

Rio Celeste is a stunning natural attraction located in Tenorio Volcano National Park in northern Costa Rica. It is known for its vivid blue color, which is caused by a chemical reaction between volcanic minerals and water.

The river’s bright blue color is truly a sight to behold and has made it a popular destination for travelers seeking to experience Costa Rica’s natural beauty. Visitors can hike along the river’s banks and marvel at its turquoise waters, cascading waterfalls, and lush rainforest surroundings.

In addition to the river itself, Rio Celeste offers a range of other natural attractions to explore, including hot springs, mud baths, and hiking trails. The Tenorio Volcano National Park is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including howler monkeys, toucans, and sloths, making it a great destination for nature lovers.

For adventurous travelers, there are plenty of activities to enjoy in the area, including whitewater rafting, zip-lining, and horseback riding. With so much to see and do, a visit to Rio Celeste is an unforgettable experience that is sure to leave travelers in awe of Costa Rica’s natural beauty.

Punta Uva

Punta Uva is a small coastal town located in the Limon Province of Costa Rica, known for its pristine beaches, turquoise waters, and lush tropical surroundings. It’s a popular destination for travelers seeking a tranquil, off-the-beaten-path getaway with a focus on nature, relaxation, and outdoor activities.

One of the main attractions of Punta Uva is its gorgeous beaches, which offer pristine white sand, clear waters for swimming and snorkeling, and a wide range of water sports activities such as kayaking, paddleboarding, and surfing. The town is also home to a vibrant coral reef system, which is a great place for snorkeling and diving.

Apart from the beaches, Punta Uva is surrounded by lush tropical rainforest, making it an ideal place for hiking and wildlife watching. Visitors can explore the nearby Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, which is home to a wide variety of exotic flora and fauna, including monkeys, sloths, toucans, and parrots.

Other popular activities in Punta Uva include fishing, horseback riding, yoga classes, and visiting the local farmers market to sample fresh fruits, vegetables, and seafood. Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, or a combination of both, Punta Uva offers a perfect destination for a memorable Costa Rican vacation.
Cahuita National Park

Cahuita National Park

Cahuita National Park is located on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica and is one of the country’s most beautiful national parks. It covers an area of 2,711 hectares, with more than 600 hectares of coral reef and crystal-clear waters. The park is home to an abundance of wildlife, including monkeys, sloths, raccoons, and a variety of bird species.

The park’s main attraction is its stunning beaches, which are backed by lush tropical vegetation. Visitors can explore the park’s trails, which lead through the forest and along the beach, and spot wildlife along the way. The park also offers a range of water-based activities, including snorkeling and diving in the coral reefs, and swimming in the calm, turquoise waters.

In addition to its natural beauty, Cahuita National Park is also an important site for cultural heritage. The park is home to the Afro-Caribbean community of Cahuita, and visitors can learn about the community’s history and traditions at the nearby village.

Overall, Cahuita National Park is a must-visit destination for nature and beach lovers, offering a stunning combination of natural beauty, wildlife, and cultural heritage.

Bajos del Toro

Bajos del Toro is a small town located in the heart of the Central Valley in Costa Rica. The town is nestled in a valley between two mountains and surrounded by lush forests, waterfalls, and rivers. Bajos del Toro is known for its natural beauty, eco-tourism activities, and its position as a gateway to several natural attractions in the area.

Travelers visit Bajos del Toro for its breathtaking scenery, which includes a variety of waterfalls and hiking trails. One of the most popular attractions is the Catarata del Toro waterfall, a 270-foot waterfall surrounded by dense jungle. The town is also home to several other waterfalls, including the Bajos del Toro waterfall and the La Paz waterfall.

In addition to its natural attractions, Bajos del Toro offers visitors a glimpse into Costa Rican rural life, with its small-town atmosphere, friendly locals, and traditional Costa Rican cuisine. The town is also home to several eco-lodges and sustainable tourism initiatives, making it a great destination for those interested in responsible tourism practices.

Overall, Bajos del Toro offers a peaceful and serene retreat from the hustle and bustle of more touristy destinations in Costa Rica, and is a great place for nature lovers, hikers, and those looking for a more authentic Costa Rican experience.


Samara is a small coastal town located on the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica. It is known for its pristine beaches, laid-back atmosphere, and a wide range of activities for travelers of all interests. The town has managed to retain its traditional Costa Rican charm while still providing visitors with modern conveniences such as excellent dining options, comfortable accommodations, and a variety of adventure activities.

One of the main draws of Samara is its gorgeous beach, which stretches for miles and boasts calm waters, making it a great spot for swimming, surfing, and kayaking. The town is also surrounded by lush jungle, making it an ideal location for nature lovers who want to explore the abundant wildlife and flora of the area.

Visitors to Samara can also take part in a wide variety of activities such as hiking, snorkeling, horseback riding, and fishing. For those who prefer a more laid-back approach, there are plenty of opportunities to relax on the beach, take yoga classes, or simply wander around the town’s charming streets and sample the local cuisine.

Overall, Samara is an ideal destination for travelers seeking a mix of adventure, relaxation, and natural beauty in a peaceful and authentic Costa Rican setting.



Turrialba is a charming town located in the Cartago Province of Costa Rica, known for its picturesque views of the Turrialba Volcano, lush green landscapes, and outdoor adventure activities. Travellers visit Turrialba for a range of activities, including white water rafting, hiking, birdwatching, and exploring the nearby Guayabo National Monument, an archaeological site that provides insight into the country’s pre-Columbian history. Turrialba is also home to coffee and sugarcane plantations, and visitors can take tours to learn about the production processes and even participate in coffee tastings. With its laid-back vibe, welcoming locals, and stunning scenery, Turrialba is a great destination for travellers looking for an off-the-beaten-path experience in Costa Rica.

Barra Honda National Park

Barra Honda National Park is a hidden gem in Costa Rica that is worth visiting for adventurous travelers who love to explore unique landscapes. This park is located in the Nicoya Peninsula, about 30 kilometers from the town of Nicoya. The park is known for its impressive underground cave system, which features limestone stalactites and stalagmites, as well as several species of bats and other wildlife.

Visitors can hike through the park’s dry tropical forest and discover the park’s many hiking trails that lead to the caves. The park’s main attraction is the Barra Honda Caves, which can only be accessed with a guide. The caves are formed from ancient coral reefs that were lifted out of the ocean by tectonic forces. The park is also home to several species of wildlife, including howler monkeys, white-tailed deer, and a variety of bird species.

Barra Honda National Park is a great destination for those seeking a unique outdoor adventure. With its stunning natural beauty and fascinating underground caves, this park is an ideal destination for anyone interested in exploring the natural wonders of Costa Rica.


Bijagua is a small town located in the province of Alajuela in Costa Rica. It is a charming village that offers visitors an authentic Costa Rican experience. Bijagua is located near several natural attractions, making it an ideal destination for nature lovers.

One of the main attractions in Bijagua is the Rio Celeste, a bright blue river that is a must-see for visitors to the area. The Tenorio Volcano National Park, where the Rio Celeste is located, is also nearby and offers visitors the chance to hike through the rainforest and see a variety of wildlife.

In addition to its natural beauty, Bijagua is known for its friendly locals and laid-back atmosphere. The town has a number of small restaurants and cafes where visitors can try traditional Costa Rican dishes.

Overall, Bijagua is a great destination for anyone looking to experience the beauty of Costa Rica and immerse themselves in the local culture.

San Gerardo de Dota

San Gerardo de Dota is a small and picturesque village located in the Talamanca Mountain Range, about 2.5 hours southeast of San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital city. This charming destination is an off-the-beaten-path spot that offers travelers a peaceful and tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of urban life. The main draw of San Gerardo de Dota is undoubtedly its stunning natural surroundings, which are home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including the resplendent quetzal, one of the most sought-after bird species in Costa Rica. The area is also known for its excellent hiking trails, crystal-clear rivers, and waterfalls. San Gerardo de Dota is an ideal destination for nature lovers, birdwatchers, and anyone seeking a serene and relaxing getaway in a beautiful mountainous setting.

Costa Rica has so much to offer beyond the typical tourist destinations. By visiting some of these hidden gems you can experience the country’s rich culture, natural beauty, and unique wildlife in a more authentic and off the beaten path way. From the secluded beaches of Punta Uva to the stunning waterfalls of Bajos del Toro, there are countless hidden treasures waiting to be discovered in Costa Rica. So next time you plan your trip to this beautiful country, consider exploring some of these lesser-known destinations to make your experience even more unforgettable.

Book Your Trip to Costa Rica

Book Your Flight

Find a cheap flight by using Expedia. It's one of my favourite search engines because it allows you to search for and compare flights from multiple airlines.

Book Your Accommodations

You can book your hotel with as they have the most comprehensive inventory so they are best for booking a hotel. If you want to stay in a vacation rental or cottage in Costa Rica, use VRBO to find the perfect place for the whole family.

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