The Best Hidden Gems in Costa Rica

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Looking for the best hidden gems in Costa Rica? Let us show you the secret spots that Costa Rica has to offer.

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The Best Hidden Gems in Costa Rica

You don’t need us to tell you that Costa Rica is a beautiful, magical place. But perhaps you want to get away from the tourist traps, to escape the big resorts and to find the hidden gems in Costa Rica. 

We’re all about that. 

In fact, pull up a chair and let us talk about those hidden gems in Costa Rica. No gemstone mining involved…

Costa Rica Hidden Gems

Ready to uncover some of the most spectacular landscape in the world? Let’s take a look at these special secret spots in Costa Rica!

Isla Tortuga

La Isla Tortuga, or Turtle Island, has that Robinson Crusoe vibe with white sand shores and crystal clear waters. The boat ride from the shore on the Nicoya Peninsula takes around 90 minutes and once you’re on the island, you have to book a return trip. There are no hotels and you are not allowed to sleep there. 

Probably the closest accommodation to stay at is the Anayama Yoga Center or Crocs Resort and Casino on the mainland.

Costa Rica Hidden Gems - Bajos del Toro

Bajos del Toro: amazing waterfalls

Bajos del Toro

Home to some of the most spectacular waterfalls in the country, it’s hard to believe that Bajos del Toro is only 90 minutes from the capital city of San Jose. Bathed in tropical flora and fauna, this private nature reserve sits just next to the Juan Castro Blanco National Park. 

The name Bajos del Toro translates to mean “low bull” and the waterfalls also play with language as well as water and light. Toro Amarillo means yellow bull, while the Tesoro Escondido literally translates to mean hidden treasure.

Playa Bahia Bellena

Whale Bay or Playa Bahia Bellena has a great aerial trick up its geographical sleeve: when seen from above, at low tide, the beach has the shape of a whale tail. 

You’ll find it on the Southern Pacific Coast in South Puntarenas. And there, you can kick off your shoes and take part in the typical beach activities of swimming, snorkelling and gazing at the sky. 

However. It also has a reputation for being something of an adventure spot, so you can add kayaking, horse riding and scuba diving to the list as well. 

And finally, as the name also suggests, you can go whale watching too.

Costa Rica Hidden Gems - Rio Celeste

Stunning turquoise water in Rio Celeste

Rio Celeste

With a name that seems to hail from the heavens, Rio Celeste rewards visitors with supremely turquoise water. The river, or rio, runs through Tenorio Volcano National Park and borders hot springs and waterfalls making for an idyllic escape to nature. 

From the park’s entrance, it takes just over an hour to hike to the waterfall. As you’ll be hiking through hot and sticky vegetation, make sure you follow this useful list of what to pack for the jungle.

Isla del Coco

One of the most romantic hidden gems in Costa Rica is Isla del Coco or Cocos Island in the Pacific Ocean. 

It lies around 550 km southwest of Costa Rica’s mainland and is the only island in the southeast Pacific with a tropical rainforest. 

This fact has caught the eye of UNESCO, who made Cocos Island a World Heritage Site in 1997.

With so much unspoiled marine vegetation, it’s also a diver’s paradise.

Costa Rica Hidden Gems - Nosara Bay

Sunsets. Some of the best hidden gems in Costa Rica.


Surfing, sea turtles and yoga retreats. That’s the Nosara vibe.

Local regulations forbid high rises and so all you can see in the sky are sunsets (and sunrises, if you’re up for your sun salutation.)

The three beaches, Playa Guiones, Playa Nosara and Playa Pelada, provide plenty of opportunities to surf or splash around. With a backdrop of soothing natural views.

Costa Rica Hidden Gems - Playa Conchal

Playa Conchal – a slice of paradise

Playa Conchal

Clear waters, soft sand, shells and a slice of heaven. Playa Conchal is the stereotypical postcard pretty Central American beach. It’s perfect for swimming and soaking up that Costa Rican vibe.

If you’re looking for more of a party scene, then just along the coast, you’ll find Tamarindo. Find all the details you need about travelling from San Jose to Tamarindo here.

Costa Rica Hidden Gems - Poas Volcano

The smoking Poas Volcano

Poas Volcano

Standing 2,697 metres tall, the Poas Volcano bubbles away as an active volcano in Central Costa Rica within the Poas Volcano National Park. Since 1828, scientists have recorded more than 40 eruptions and the bubbling surface with its green rain is a powerful symbol that it could all happen again. 

While not exactly one of the most secret hidden gems in Costa Rica, enough visitors skip the stunning site to earn it its place on this list.

Hidden gems in Costa Rica - Palo Verde

Palo Verde in Costa Rica

Palo Verde

Where can you find dry tropical forests and spectacular wetlands? In the curiously beautiful Palo Verde National Park, that’s where! Roam around by boat or, if you’re highly skilled, tackle the walking trails after chatting with a ranger. Palo Verde is one of the most biodiverse parks in one of the most biodiverse nations on earth. So remember to pack your binoculars.

Secret Spots in Costa Rica - SAN GERARDO DE DOTA

San Gerardo de Dota

San Gerardo de Dota

A paradise for bird watchers, the small town of San Gerardo de Dota sits on the foothills of the Talamanca Mountain Range, off the beaten track and abuzz with hummingbirds and woodpeckers.

Rincon de la Vieja

Rincon de la Vieja is a large, complex and still live volcano in Rincon de la Vieja National Park. In fact, it’s the largest and most active volcano in the Guanacaste region. Combined with its sister, the dormant Santa Maria, they form the highlight of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Guanacaste Conservation Area.

With over 300 bird species, it’s one of the most beautiful hidden gems in Costa Rica. And that’s saying something. 

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