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For a country that could fit into Alaska 30 times over, Costa Rica punches way above its weight. It has the planet’s greatest biodiversity and micro-climates ranging from tropical beaches on both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts to impenetrable jungles and lofty, 12,000-foot peaks. “Pura vida,” indeed. And while you may tire of hearing this national catchphrase—used to mean “hello,” “goodbye,” and everything in between—it’s undeniably true. In Costa Rica, life is sweet and savored slowly, and everyone seems to have figured out the secret to contentment—thus making it the perfect honeymoon destination.
One of the first countries to embrace eco-tourism, it’s a leader in environmental protection. Hunting was banned in 2012, meaning that visitors stand a good chance of seeing a wide array of wildlife—from brilliantly colored butterflies and improbable-looking birds to the country’s unofficial mascot, the sloth, and packs of howler monkeys. Although it feels like a world away, it’s easily reached from most places in the U.S., and it delivers two honeymoon vibes for the price of one if you split your time between the beach and the jungle.
Here, we consult with two experts to compile an array of options for creating itineraries that will appeal to adrenaline fiends and beach lovers alike. Read on for our guide to planning the perfect Costa Rica honeymoon.
Meet the Expert
Barbara Broutin is the owner of Costa Rica’s premier party planning firm, Four Nineteen Weddings, and a native of San Jose, Costa Rica's capital.
Planning Your Costa Rica Honeymoon
Barbara Broutin, the owner of Costa Rica’s premier party planning firm, Four Nineteen Weddings, says, “One of the things I recommend to our clients is to add some variety to their honeymoon. If they’re spending a few days in the country, they should move around and experience different locations.” In fact, choosing from all the variety—in both topography and activities—is probably the biggest challenge in deciding where to go and what to do. Just remember: Like anywhere else, you can’t see it all, and if you try, you’ll probably end up driving yourself and your new spouse crazy. With that in mind, here are useful tips to consider:
Language: Although Spanish is the country’s official language, Broutin points out that, “Costa Ricans are super-friendly and most speak English, so getting by and communicating is easy.”
Currency: The Colon is Costa Rica’s legal tender, and colorful bills are printed with beautiful depictions of the country’s wildlife. You may want to save a few bills as souvenirs.
When to Go: The dry season lasts from December to April, while May through November are green and lush. Broutin says, “The weather is nicer during high season (roughly Christmas through Easter), but prices are considerably higher, so it’s important to have this in mind when making plans.” That said, autumn is generally the best time to visit the Caribbean side of the country, where October, oddly, is the driest month. “It can rain in Costa Rica anytime between April and December,” Broutin says, “and while it most likely won’t be crazy, travelers should expect and plan for some sprinkles, particularly in the afternoon or evening.”
How Long to Spend: Because it’s relatively accessible, you could go for a week, but it’s so completely beguiling, you’ll be happy to stay longer. The only sure thing is that you’ll be sorry to leave when it’s time to go home.
Getting There: United, American, Delta, and JetBlue all offer direct flights from various U.S. hubs, but check discount carriers like Spirit and Alaska, or foreign airlines like Avianca and Copa, which sometimes offer better deals.
Transportation: Most hotels and resorts offer airport transfers and shuttle services for off-site activities. However, Broutin cautions, “Make sure to book all your in-country travel arrangements in advance. Most of the rural and coastal areas do not have reliable, last-minute transportation, with limited taxis and no ride-sharing services.”
Must-Pack: You’ll need everything for a tropical vacation, but Broutin points out: “Costa Rica has a lot of microclimates, and while the temperature is generally quite pleasant, make sure you’re prepared for changeable weather. If you’re going to the mountains or a volcano, make sure you have a sweater and a raincoat.”
Where to Stay During Your Costa Rica Honeymoon
Because the mountainous terrain makes Costa Rica unwieldy to drive around, things might be nearby as the crow flies, but the snaking, hairpin, two-way highways make reaching them time-consuming, so keep this in mind as you plan. Regardless, most of the resorts and hotels that cater to honeymooners are destinations unto themselves and given their remoteness, they’re also generally self-contained. Many are all-inclusive.
Nayara Springs Hotel
Consistently voted one of the world’s top resorts, this luxury eco-lodge is adults-only, with expansive suites that feature a dense garden terrace with a private geothermal swimming pool. The on-site naturalists can point out colorful (sometimes poisonous) flora and fauna while exploring the property, while the yoga pavilion and spa are like treehouses in the rainforest. The mesmerizing views of Mount Arenal occasionally reward guests with the sight of the volcano spewing out chunks of rock the size of an SUV.
Four Seasons Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo
This exceptional waterfront resort on the Pacific boasts two spectacular beaches: One fronting the ocean and the other on the calmer Bay of Culebra. Four swimming pools, tennis, golf, and a dizzying assortment of outdoor activities will keep you busy but don’t forget the spa—one of the country’s best. We recommend the 120-minute Volcanic Purification Ritual. Pure Bliss.
A favorite of Broutin’s, they have two properties: One in Las Catalinas, overlooking a storybook village of the same name, and the other in Mal Pais, tucked away in a remote part of the jungle. Both are all-suite, adults-only boutique hotels, with amazing views and private plunge pools. As Broutin says, “Just perfect for a romantic getaway!”
This toes-in-the-sand resort in Santa Teresa is another amazing option chosen by Broutin, catering to couples seeking access to a comprehensive yoga program, natural foods, meditation, and superb surfing. The all-villa property, located on the famous Nicoya Peninsula, is nestled between the pounding surf and susurrating palm trees.
“For a cloud forest experience, I personally love Hotel Belmar in Monteverde,” Broutin enthuses. “It’s a lodge with a bit of a rustic feel and understated luxury. Great service, great food, great drinks.” The elegant Tyrolean-style guest house is located within a nature preserve, on nine acres that encompass a pond, stream, and waterfall, with hiking trails throughout.
Hotel Aguas Claras
Located in Puerto Viejo, on the Caribbean side of the country, this stylish hotel comes highly recommended by Broutin. “Most of the rooms are traditional, Caribbean-style bungalows, and their kitchen focuses on local ingredients but with an international flair.” Unlike many neighboring properties, it’s located directly on Playa Chiquita, where the DaLime Beach Club serves up divine food and chill Calypso vibes.
A 20-suite eco-lodge on the banks of the Pacuare River, this little-known hideout takes its architectural cues from the local Cabecar people. White water rafting is merely one of the diversions they offer, and it’s one of the few Costa Rican resorts with an emphasis on meaningful immersion into the rural indigenous culture. They also make it easier to get there with private Cessna charters from San Jose to a near(ish) landing strip.
Kura Boutique Hotel
An Auberge property, Kura Boutique Hotel is an intimate, adults-only hotel in the Unvita rainforest, with eight luxury suites and an ultra-modern design. Overlooking the iconic “whale’s tail sandbar,” it’s been called “the most glamorous resort in Costa Rica,” and with good reason. It’s the type of place you might run into one of the Kardashians.
Things to Do During Your Costa Rica Honeymoon
You can be as sedentary as you like, but as Broutin points out, “Costa Rica is a place for adventurous honeymooners, for sure. You can check out Sensoria, which is a really cool activity to do in the Guanacaste area, a bit different from the typical horseback riding, ATV, and ziplining combo. I personally love being out on the water, too, so chartering a small sailboat for a private sunset cruise would probably be top of my list if it were my honeymoon.”
Hiking to magically beautiful waterfalls, soaking in ecotermales with a pina colada in hand, or exploring a mangrove swamp with a trained naturalist is a mere taste of what’s available. Kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing, and horseback riding are a few more, but one activity for which Costa Rica is justifiably famous is ziplining, which was supposedly invented there by a U.S .biologist doing fieldwork in the rainforest during the 1970s.
Can't-Miss Romantic Experience: Book a catamaran cruise and sail off into the sunset.
Places to Eat During Your Costa Rica Honeymoon
For restaurants, Broutin suggests Father Rooster in Playa Ocotal, “a great local beachfront restaurant” and one of the last remaining oceanfront haciendas on Costa Rica’s north shore. “They have the option to do a romantic setup for a honeymoon dinner on the beach, and there’s a decidedly laid-back, local vibe, while the food, drinks, and service are top notch.”
For one of the best views and great food, she steers people to Sentido Norte at Casa Chameleon in Las Catalinas. Otherwise: “Most of the really good restaurants are in San Jose,” she says, “but that’s certainly not a place I’d recommend for honeymooners.”
In other words, if you don’t feel like dining at one of your resort’s options, your best bet might just be room service.
Budgeting for a Costa Rica Honeymoon
Due to its popularity, Costa Rica has become one of the most expensive countries to visit in Central America, but the dollar still goes a long way when it comes to day-to-day basics. Also in the plus category: Flight routes are highly competitive, with numerous options, and there are always deals to be found on airfare. With respect to the cost of staying at one of the top resorts, timing is everything. For example, Nayara Springs might creep up to $1,500 a night during the high season, but it can go as low as $695 at less popular times of the year.