Costa Rica is an incredibly beautiful country that features a huge range of wildlife. In a place just about the size of West Virginia, you can see active volcanoes, rain forests and surf the warm waves of the Pacific Ocean. Though the country has many all-inclusive resorts, you can get a much broader cultural experience out of your trip if you add some educational experiences into your trip instead. Don't worry — there's still plenty of time for the beach, and you can do it all in just a week long vacation!
Costa Rica is popular with English-speaking tourists and students, and there are many programs available to learn Spanish and practice your skills among native speakers. This is a wonderful way to experience Central American culture by interacting with residents instead of hiding out in a fancy hotel the whole time. One of the best choices is the Adventure Education Center in Dominical, where you can spend your mornings learning Spanish and your afternoons taking surfing lessons at one of the best surf breaks in the country. The AEC teachers are all native Spanish speakers who will have you talking in no time, even if you're just a beginner. You'll also be able to learn about Central American traditions, food and lifestyle in a relaxed atmosphere is a tropical beach setting. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Getting to Costa Rica means flying into Juan Santamaría International Airport in the capital city of San José. Once there, you can rent a car to drive to Dominical. The highways from San José to the Pacific coast are in excellent condition, and you can find vehicles with both manual and automatic transmissions. Choosing a four-wheel drive vehicle is a good idea for country roads near the beach.
Taking classes at the AEC in Dominical means that you can stay in cabanas just 75 yards from the ocean for your stay, and the rates are highly competitive for such a prime location — catch some early morning surfing or a quiet walk on the beach before classes. You can also book a home stay with a local family to sample traditional Costa Rican meals and authentic culture.
If you'd rather stay in a hotel with more traditional amenities, Villas Río Mar has a pool and is within walking distance to the ocean. Hotel Cuna del Angel has a wonderful on-site restaurant, and offers additional activities like whale watching and kayaking tours.
The Dominical area is popular with travelers because it offers so much to see and do in one great beach location. If you take advantage of the AEC's on-site surfing school, you'll enjoy a week's worth of Spanish lessons in the morning and surfing lessons after lunch. If you'd rather do something different each afternoon, try these great activities:
Just a few kilometers north of Dominical along the Pacific highway is Hacienda Barú, where you can take a zipline tour of the rainforest on a route known as "The Flight of the Toucan." On this guided tour, you'll hike through the rainforest to see local sloths, poison dart frogs and monkeys, along with cacao trees and other native plants. Eight separate zip lines provide a bird's eye view of the rainforest canopy on the way back.
Follow an expert rancher and horseman on a 12 kilometer trip on horseback to the Nauyaca Waterfalls. There's no more peaceful way to enjoy the lush scenery of Central America than on horseback, and once you get there, you can enjoy a refreshing swim in the crystal-clear waters of the falls.
If all the water sports, high-flying adventures and long walks on the beach at dusk have worn you out, don't forget to have a massage at the Alegría Soul Spa. The experts here use local coconut oil for a truly luxurious spa experience.
Dominical has many great restaurants to sample and a variety of cuisine to try. There are enough options in this small town to try something different every day — you won't have to repeat during a week's vacation unless you want to! Best bets include:
No matter what adventure you choose on your Costa Rican vacation, Allianz Travel insurance can cover all your activities and travel plans. Whether you're looking to learn something new, get some quality rest and relaxation or get your adrenaline rush, Costa Rica has something for everyone.