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  • Writer's pictureCrystal Norris

Our expat family's must-see destinations in Costa Rica

Our family has already been living in Costa Rica two months and while we still have a lot to learn and get used to, Costa Rica is starting to feel more like home.

Now that we have gotten used to our new surroundings, we have started looking to check out new destinations inside Costa Rica. There is so much to see in this country and we want to see as many places on our Costa Rica bucket list while we are here.

expat family Costa Rica

So check out our expat family's must see-destinations while we call Costa Rica home!

Nauyaca waterfall

Costa Rica has some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world, and one of its most famous ones sits right at our backdoor. Nauyuca is located in the mountains of the southern zone and privately owned. Its 200 feet tall and the water pools into a stunning swimming hole below. While you can take a shuttle to the Nauyaca, there are options to hike or go by horseback.

Nauyaca is a place we've been wanting to visit ever since we started traveling to Costa Rica back in 20012. With it less than 30 minutes from our house, we hope we will visit this beautiful waterfall in the near future!


Beaches of Guanacaste

One of the most popular destinations in Costa Rica is the Guanacaste Province, and for good reason. Its gorgeous with some of the most pristine beaches of Costa Rica. From our house in Dominical, its a good 5 hour drive. So while we'd love to visit the beaches at the spur of the moment, we need to plan a longer trip to Guanacaste. A quick weekend trip wont' allow us to explore the multiple beaches and see why this area is so popular among tourists and locals.


Tortuguero National Park

This Costa Rican park on our must-see list comes at no surprise for my family and friends. My favorite animal is the sea turtle and Costa Rica has some of the best places in the world to spot them in the wild. Tortuguero National Park is tucked away on the northern Caribbean coast and is connected to the mainland by canals and wandering rivers. Its a very remote part of the country and is a nature-lovers paradise, especially for those who love turtles like me!

Throughout the year you can spot various sea turtles (green, leatherback, hawksbill and loggerhead) and other types of wildlife. For our future trip we hope to rent a boat and explore the rivers in the park to see another side of Costa Rica.


Monteverde Cloud Forest Hanging Bridges

The hanging bridges of Costa Rica is one of my favorite activities. Being fully surrounded by the forest, dangling high above the floor among the clouds is a surreal experience. Monteverde Cloud Forest is a lush reserve and the most popular hanging bridge destination.

Its a shining example of the rich biodiversity Costa Rica has to offer and being fully immersed in nature. While Monteverde is usually overrun with tourists, its still a place we would like to explore. The iconic image people share of the hanging bridges of Costa Rica is the Sky Walk bridge in Monteverde. Its an incredible experience and a perfect weekend trip from Dominical for our family.


Hiking Cerro Chirripó

Our family is pretty outdoorsy, but I wouldn't call us avid hikers or extreme adventurers. This is important to note because hiking to Cerro Chirripó is not for the faint of heart. The highest mountain in Costa Rica, Cerro Chirripó offers an intens, and grueling hike that provides sweeping views of the surrounding area.

The hike is roughly 12 miles that climbs over 7,000 feet in the Talamanca Mountains. Its a fairly rugged part of Costa Rica but the journey to the peak is said to be quite the experience. You hike through cloud forests and unique ecosystems and can overlook dozens of valleys and lakes. And even better, on a clear day you can see the Pacific and Caribbean oceans!

Ryan and I are not in the perfect shape so we are first focusing on our conditioning and endurance before we take on this hike. Also, its suggested to spend a night or two on the mountain which wouldn't be ideal for Milena. So this trip will need to be well-panned and a babysitter booked well in advance.

Cerro Chirripo

El Salto del Calvo

Moving to a new location always awakens the explorer in me. I want to see lesser-known sights and discover interesting destinations you won't find in a tourist guide. Since we've moved here, our family has wanted to check out as many of Costa Rica's secret locations and El Salto del Calvo has made it to our must-see list.

Nestled among thick vegetation, El Salto del Calvo is the tallest waterfall in Central America reaching 1,150 feet high! Its hidden among the jungles of the Guanacaste province and unknown to most visitors of Costa Rica. You can reach the waterfall by foot or horseback and will take anywhere from 40 minutes to over an hour.

We plan on hiking it ourselves as the trails are rich in flora and flauna and very remote. Exploring a hidden secret of Costa Rica is a journey I can't wait for!

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