Filled with natural beauty and an easy-going way of life, there are many ways to enjoy time spent in Costa Rica. If you’re going on vacation here, check out these 12 things you shouldn’t miss.

See Volcanoes

Costa Rica is home to six active volcanoes and around 60 dormant or extinct ones.  Even if you’re not a geology expert, it’s still fascinating to see these volcanoes up close.

Zip line through the rainforest

Have you ever wondered how it feels to fly through the rainforest like a bird?  If you go zip lining, you’ll know the feeling firsthand.  I’ve been twice- once in the cloud forest, Monteverde,and once on the Pacific Coast in Jacó.  I recommend Monteverde because the views in the mountainous region are to die for, but it is considerably out of the way from civilization, so you’d have to dedicate an entire day for the excursion.  You can also do nature walks on suspending bridges through the forest while in Monteverde, so it would be well worth the journey there!

Horseback riding

Back in the day, I lived on a horse farm, so riding horses through the mountains and along the beaches of Costa Rica was a no brainer.  For those of you who have never ridden a horse, you should definitely give it a go!  The businesses have a local guide who accompanies you.  Our guide also spotted out wildlife better than I ever could.

Tortuga Island

If you’re looking for a great one-day excursion to a beautiful island, Tortuga Island is the place for you. The boat ride to the island provides gorgeous views of the Costa Rican coastline, and once you get to the island, you can snorkel or simply lie on the beach and soak up the sun

Hike through nature

Usually when one thinks of Costa Rica, he or she imagines waterfalls, beaches, and overwhelming amounts of natural beauty.  What better place to go on a hike than the country known for its immense biodiversity?

Go out dancing

Salsa, merengue, bachata, you name it. San Jose has some of the best dance clubs in the country and they’re a lot of fun.  Take a group of friends and dance the night away!

Manuel Antonio National Park

Another great way to enjoy Costa Rica’s natural beauty is by going to the Manuel Antonio National Park. You can hire walking guides who point out well camouflaged animals in the forest, or you could casually stroll past the people who paid for the tour and glance at whatever the guide is pointing out to his/her group (because college budget, ya feel me).

Crocodile River Tour

Cruise through the Tárcoles River and you’ll see crocodiles and rare species of birds the whole way through! This is a great thing to do for people of all ages.

Learn the language

Ticos (aka Costa Ricans) have an extremely clear accent that’s easy to understand, especially compared to Spanish speakers from Andalucia. If you’ll be in Costa Rica for a while, I recommend Intercultura, which is where I spent five weeks studying Spanish a couple years ago. Even practicing short phrases or ordering your food in Spanish would be beneficial. Every time I tried to speak Spanish with the locals, they were extremely kind and patient with me! Sometimes it’s better to adapt to the culture and practice their language-they appreciate more than you know!

Eat TRITS

TRITS are an amazing, delicious little ice cream treat that can be found at any convenient store/grocery store around the country. They’re incredible!! You should definitely try them while you’re in Costa Rica.

Check out the Caribbean coast

There’s an easy-going, Rasta atmosphere in the air on the Caribbean Coast. My friends and I took a bus from San Jose to Puerto Viejo, and it took a little more than four hours. We stayed at the most hippie hostel called Rocking J’s. Hippie meaning there were hammocks for rent at $7 a night and tents for $10. The beaches are gorgeous with clear blue water, but REMEMBER- wear bug spray!! Learn from my mistake. The mosquitoes are no joke in this region, peeps.

Adopt the ‘pura vida’ way of life

“Pura vida” literally means “pure life”, yet the Ticos use this phrase as a life philosophy.

It’s like, “How are you today?”

“Pura vida!” meaning life is great, nothing could be better.  That’s what I loved most about Costa Rica. It seems like everyone I met was super laid back and happy. In America, we’re always rushing to the next meeting or scarfing down lunch during a 30-minute break. I tried my hardest to adopt this relaxed, happy-go-lucky lifestyle. And you should, too!

Have you ever been to Costa Rica? Did I miss anything? Are you planning on visiting? What’s on your must-see list?