Costa Rica is no doubt one of the most beautiful countries in Central America — especially when you experience Costa Rica off the beaten path.
It’s hardly any wonder then that tourism is massive in Costa Rica – 2022 saw over 2 million tourists, breaking a record for the country. That’s half their entire population!
And yet . . . what is so special about Costa Rica is that even the popular tourist places in Costa Rica to visit feel quaint and secluded. And, there are so many hidden gems in Costa Rica that are a bit more authentic and rugged and a true reflection of the jungle paradise, away from the busy tourist spots.
So, are you ready to get deep into the jungle and discover sights and experiences in Costa Rica you might not have heard your friends or other travelers discuss?
Costa Rica Off The Beaten Path: The Top 10 Places To Discover
Calling all trailblazers . . .
We’ve compiled a list of our favorite parts of the country for off-the-beaten-path travelers coming to Costa Rica. Let’s dive in!
The Osa Peninsula
The Osa Peninsula is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful parts of the Pacific coast and is one of the best Costa Rica vacation spots. With its wide open beaches, lined by the greenness of the jungle, the Osa is pure magic. It may not be somewhere you have heard about before, but it’s worth every minute of planning to see.
The beaches on the Osa are nothing short of an ideal, movie-esque vision of what you might imagine when someone tells you to think of your “happy place.” You’ll see waves splash against huge, exposed rocks near the shoreline, macaws, lizards, and the most beautiful sunrise and sunset the sun can create.
The Osa Peninsula is full of wildlife, and what’s so serene is that there aren’t rows upon rows of restaurants, bars, and hotels. You’ll likely meet other travelers during your visit, but you won’t feel surrounded by tourists.
This is, hands down, the best place to see wildlife in Costa Rica – or perhaps anywhere. The tiny peninsula holds over 2.5% of nature worldwide, making it one of the most biodiverse places on Earth. The peninsula is very rural, and you’ll find much of its coastline so quiet it’s like having your private beach. Corcovado National Park is also on the peninsula, known as one of the best national parks in the world.
Thinking about coming to the Osa Peninsula? Make your reservation at Blue Osa today, and we’ll show you around!
We’ll be honest . . .
It doesn’t get more wild and untouched than the Osa Peninsula. However, if you have a few extra days to add to your yoga vacation, check out these other spots for Costa Rica off the beaten path:
El Castillo is a small neighboring town of La Fortuna. It is definitely an option to look into for people who prefer to have access to Costa Rica’s natural wonders away from the tourist places of Costa Rica.
It sits about 45 minutes from La Fortuna, and the drive there is bumpy, along a treacherous unpaved road filled with potholes, which steers many people away. However, those who take the more complex route are rewarded with one of the most serene and beautiful little rainforest towns in Costa Rica.
El Castillo is right on the expansive Lake Arenal, right on the edge of miles and miles of primary rainforest that lead to Monteverde, and from many parts of the town, you have better views of the volcano as well. It’s the perfect middle point between some of the country’s most famed natural destinations. It’s a small community with few amenities, but it makes up for that with its charm and hospitality.
This cute little town is a base for tours that are more authentic and less expensive than those offered in other, more popular areas of Costa Rica, such as horseback riding, kayaking, waterfall hikes, zip lining, volcano hikes, and more.
El Castillo is a great stop to take before or after visiting the Osa Peninsula! You’ll get the jungle of the Osa and the volcanoes of El Castillo, so you’ll see much of what the country has to show you.
Dominical is south of Jaco, and it’s a lot more of a quiet surfer paradise, so it quickly makes the list of the best vacation spots in Costa Rica. It sees enough tourists to offer some tours, yoga, and your basic amenities, but not so many that the pleasurable aspects of the town have been ruined. It’s a short drive from Uvita, Costa Rica’s “whale’s tale” beach – another lovely stop to make!
Dominical is directly on the way to Blue Osa, so if you’re making the drive, it’s a great place to spend a few nights. You’ll want to tour the Nauyaca waterfalls, hike through the Hacienda Baru Wildlife Refuge, and take a SUP through the mangroves. And, of course, anyone who appreciates nature will enjoy Parque Reptilandia.
Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary will show you some of Costa Rica’s most exotic wildlife up close. This organization is dedicated to rescuing and rehabbing animals and birds that have been injured or found left astray and then nurses them back to health so they can be released back into the wild. White-faced capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys, white-nosed coati, sloths, armadillos, kinkajoos, and anteaters are among some wildlife you’ll see here!
North of Puerto Viejo lies Cahuita, a tiny town with a fantastic beachside national park. We consider Cahuita Costa Rica off the beaten track because it’s tucked away. While unseen, it’s home to the Caribbean’s most idyllic beaches, the best snorkeling, and great hiking as well.
Chocolate is an integral part of Costa Rica’s culture and economy, so take a chocolate tour! You’ll learn about the process of making it and getting it ready for consumption, and of course, the best part is getting to taste it at the end of the tour.
If you’re a wildlife lover, plan a visit to the Sloth Sanctuary. Here, abandoned and injured sloths are cared for and rehabilitated before returning to the wild. The aim is to protect the sloths and educate visitors on how they can conserve wildlife to protect these animals and others.
The Jaguar Rescue Center is another interesting and educational Costa Rica off-the-beaten-path stop.
If you’re visiting the Osa and want to experience the Caribbean side of the country as well, Cahuita is a phenomenal place to go. There are plenty of local options to rent a car, take a shuttle or bus, or fly from one side to the other.
If you’d like to continue your laid-back Costa Rica vacation after the Osa Peninsula, Montezuma on Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula is an attractive option. While it takes a little longer to get there, the beaches are lovely and lined with cliffs and mountains of lush jungle. The town itself is small but active, a mixture of youthful bohemian types from Costa Rica and abroad and a brief drive from Santa Teresa and Malpais’s more lively (and posh) beach towns.
The beaches of Montezuma are easily navigable on an ATV, which is a super fun daytime activity. Cabo Blanco Nature Preserve has monkeys, birds, and other wildlife here, and you’ll also find a remote beach nearby to enjoy after you spend time with the animals.
Perhaps the biggest must-see is the waterfalls of Montezuma. There are a set of 3 cascades, and you can either sit and relax or, for the more adventurous type, jump off the cliffs into the water!
Playa Avellanas is close to Tamarindo and takes about 20-30 minutes to arrive. The drive is part of the experience as the roads are unpaved and gravel-ridden. On your way in, you’ll pass through small Tico towns and get a sense of life beyond the prominent tourist destinations.
At Playa Avellanas, you’ll enjoy light brown sand and beautiful blue waves. This long beach stretches from Hacienda Pinilla, north of the river mouth, south to Playa Lagartillo. This beach is charming because it doesn’t see the same crowds as Tamarindo, so it’s typically pretty easy to find a place to camp away from other beach-goers and groups of tourists.
Of course, at Playa Avellanas, surfing is one of this beach’s biggest draws. It’s perfect for the seasoned surfer or the first-timer. Locals know the most giant wave as Little Hawaii, and you’ll catch it near the river mouth. It has a left and right-hand break that can top 12 feet on a good day.
Beginners are usually near the parking lot and Lola’s restaurant. This is a popular spot for surf companies to take people for lessons. If boogie boarding is more your thing, this is a great Costa Rica off-the-beaten-path spot.
Drake’s Bay is situated in southwestern Costa Rica on a tract of land called the Osa Peninsula, so it’s super convenient if you’re on your way to Blue Osa! The beauty of this area qualifies it as one of the best Costa Rica destinations.
The village sits on the Pacific side of the peninsula but is pretty protected from ocean swells as it’s situated on a wide cove. Snorkeling and diving are popular activities here, as is a visit to Corcovado National Park. Or, perhaps, pass through Cano Island Biological Preserve. For a more rugged experience, rent an ATV and take it for a tour of the jungle’s incredible wildlife.
Drake’s Bay is quaint and has a small-town vibe, so it feels extra welcoming and warm. This is one of the most beautiful parts of the Osa and a sure-fire locale for those seeking Costa Rica off the beaten path, so it’s worth the visit.
The Orosi Valley is probably the best place to go if you’re searching for vast open space. It’s secluded and tucked away and doesn’t attract as many travelers as other parts of Costa Rica. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do, however.
Orosi is one of the eight regions of coffee production in the country. Its steep valleys are full of coffee terraces, and the best brews can be found in this area. There are several hotels you can stay here with viewing parks perfect for resting your mind. The Orosi Valley is also home to Tapanti National Park, with less-visited trails for birding and hiking.
If you love history, you’ll find ruins of the first church in Costa Rica nearby, nestled in a tranquil garden of butterflies, birds, and colorful tropical flowers. And stop by the hot springs!
Celeste River – Tenorio Volcano
The Celeste River was difficult to reach for a long time, so it remains a top spot for Costa Rica off the beaten path. The river is unique because of the curiously bright blue color it exudes. The phenomenon of the optimal effect is caused by the water’s composition. Colloidal silica is suspended in the water particles and shines bright blue when light reflects off it.
It’s located in the country’s Northern region, bejeweled by the Tenorio Volcano and is one of the most beautiful parts of the country. It’s mainly untouched by human activity, providing a somewhat surreal experience.
You can access the river by a long hike in Tenorio National Park; however, you can’t swim there. Some hotels have access to parts of the river where you can swim and enjoy the cooling water and natural healing.
You’ll want to visit the volcano during your trip, too! It’s the perfect backdrop for a nature hike or birdwatching tour.
Turrialba is accessible by way of Costa Rica’s capital and is not far. This little town makes it on our list of places to go because the Turrialba Volcano is one of the most active in the country. The national park is closed to visitors when it’s active, but it’s still visible from the entrance of the park.
Turrialba is great for Costa Rica off-the-beaten-path land travel. Biking, hiking, and canyoning are popular activities here. Guayabo National Monument is a must-see, and its ruins date back to 1000 AD, making it one of Costa Rica’s most significant markers of history.
In Turrialba, you’ll definitely want to hike through La Marta Wildlife Refuge and white water raft through Pacuare and Pejibaye Rivers. The Pacuare River is one of the best experiences for novices and experienced and a beautiful experience for even advanced rafters. The river runs through valleys and canyons, making adventurers feel utterly secluded in this remote paradise.
Common questions about visiting off-the-beaten-track Costa Rica
Here are some of the most common questions we hear visitors ask about visiting Costa Rica.
What is the least touristy beach in Costa Rica?
When you vacation to Costa Rica to escape the world, you want a particular vibe. Seclusion and isolation is the best way to detach and disconnect from the business of life at home.
Here is a list of some of the most secluded beaches in Costa Rica, many of which are just a stone’s throw from Blue Osa!
- Playa Hermosa
- Playa Los Suecos
- Playa Quesera
- Playa Pan Dulce
- Llorona Beach
- Playa Carate
- Playa Biesanz
- Playa Macha
- Manuel Antonio Beach
- Playa Espadilla Sur
The Osa Peninsula remains one of the most enchanting and secluded regions in Costa Rica. It’s a place where nature reigns supreme and the beauty of the natural world is on full display. Here, you’ll find unspoiled beaches perfect for escaping the crowds and enjoying life’s simple pleasures.
If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path experience in Costa Rica, the Osa Peninsula is the place for you. You won’t find the usual tourist traps or crowded beaches here, instead, you’ll discover a world of tranquility and natural beauty that will leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
What is the most beautiful part of Costa Rica for off-the-beaten-path Costa Rica travel?
It’s hard to pick just one spot in Costa Rica that stands out as the most beautiful because every inch of this tropical paradise is breathtaking — a land of raw and untouched beauty.
Whether you are a jungle lover or beach lover (or both!), Costa Rica is a place you’ll want to see.
The country offers so many different sights to its visitors and never fails to inspire wonder in the eyes of those who come to see it — especially Costa Rica off the beaten path.
At Blue Osa, we’re passionate about sharing the beauty of Costa Rica with travelers worldwide. We’ll help you plan your perfect getaway and we promise that when you leave, you’ll be forever changed by the experience. Costa Rica is waiting for you – discover its magic for yourself.
If you’re ready to plan your trip, we’re ready to greet you! Book your vacation to Blue Osa today.