Northern Costa Rica
In Northern Costa Rica you’ll find vast countryside, miles of rice and sugarcane plantations, cattle pastures and authentic cowboys. The Northern Zone is the agricultural center of Costa Rica where the fields and plantations outnumber the people. Although the population density is lower in the Northern Zone than other regions in Costa Rica, you’ll still find a lot of people and activity in La Fortuna, The Arenal Volcano National Park, Monteverde and Sarapiquí.
Northern Costa Rica is best for nature lovers looking for incredible hiking, birding, wildlife spotting and adventure tours in the rainforest. Although you won’t find any beaches, you’ll find incredible spas around the Arenal Volcano and thousands of tropical plants and animals in the Monteverde Cloud Forest. You’ll forget about the beach and become fully immersed in nature on your Costa Rica vacation in the Northern Zone of Costa Rica.
The Arenal Volcano is, by far, one of the most beautiful locations in Costa Rica. It hasn’t been active since 2010, but smoke can still be seen on a clear day. The magnificent volcano towers over the 30,000 acre Arenal Volcano National Park and Lake Arenal. Hiking, white water rafting, canyoning, zip lining and soaking in geothermal hot springs are just a few of the activities you can enjoy in Arenal.
The Monteverde Cloud Forest is THE eco-tourism destination in Costa Rica. With three separate nature reserves protecting the beautiful forests, there is an unlimited amount of hiking available in addition to birding and wildlife observing. You also have the opportunity to see the gorgeous canopy from above on hanging bridges or from a zip line. Other popular tours include ecological night walks, coffee and chocolate tours and scenic ATV tours.
Sarapiquí is famous for its incredible biodiversity and amazing nature reserves. Here you’ll find the Braulio Carrillo National Park and the endangered Green Macaw. It is also produces bananas thanks to the large rivers that flow through it. While you hike, white water raft or visit a nature reserve you’ll see some of the most beautiful scenery in Costa Rica. Maybe you will even spot the Green Macaw!
Nature lovers and adrenaline junkies will love the wide variety of tours offered throughout Northern Costa Rica. With endless tropical forest available you’ll find nature walks and hikes, birding tours and wildlife reserves. Travelers seeking adventure will be pleased with all the zip lines, canyoning, kayaking and white water rafting throughout the area. You’ll also find coffee tours and geothermal hot springs to relax in after a long day of nature and adventure tours.
Northern Zone Weather
Costa Rica is home to 12 different climate zones, many of them in the Northern Zone.The weather tends to vary a lot, especially between Arenal and Monteverde. Monteverde is cooler and wetter than other parts of Costa Rica, which also makes the vegetation pop with color. Arenal on the other hand, is a bit warmer all year round. Temperatures are usually in the 70s. The dry season in Arenal is January-March and January-April in Monteverde.
Northern Zone Nature
There is so much biodiversity in the Northern Zone that eco-tourists are likely to be overwhelmed. Northern Costa Rica is home to volcanos, tropical rain forests, cloud forests, rivers, nature reserves and thousands of animal and plant species. For example, in Monteverde there are 755 species of trees and over 400 species of birds. Go on a guided tour through any of the forests and you’ll see snakes, spiders, sloths monkeys and more!
Northern Zone Culture
The culture across the Northern Zone varies almost as much as the climate. While the majority of the land is based on agriculture, you’ll also find a strong culture of conservation. As tourism in the region grows, Costa Rica works hard to develop new and modern ways to conserve and maintain the flora and fauna of the Northern region. It is one of the most biodiverse areas in the entire world and Costa Ricans are determined to keep it that way while still welcoming tourists with open arms.
International Airports: Daniel Oduber (LIR) and Juan Santamaria (SJO)
There are many different ways to get to the Northern Zone of Costa Rica. Depending on your destination, either of the International Airports could serve you well. From there you can rent a car or take a shuttle or private transfer. The roads to Monteverde aren’t as developed as the roads to Arenal so be aware of that if you plan to rent a car. Talk to one of our expert Travel Agents today to talk Northern zone transportation on your next Costa Rica vacation!
Map of Costa Rica’s Northern Zone