Costa Rica is about the size of West Virginia, which means you can drive from the northeast coast (where Liberia International Airport is located) to the southern tip of Santa Teresa (insert most romantic activities story) in a good five hours. Let’s just say that it’s a little more scenic than the Mountain State. All the regions are stunning yet none of them are truly alike.
That said, it’s important where you decide to call home base on your honeymoon. Do you want to be in the rainforest? On the beach in the far south? Near the volcano? Thankfully, because the country isn’t geographically huge, getting around by rental car is fairly practical. If you’re not digging the prospect of long drives, there are daily puddle jumpers that fly region to region with flights that last no more than 30 minutes.
Honeymooners can explore the country conveniently, and it’s common to visit at least two regions. Here’s a breakdown of the four main regions that are home to the majority of resorts. They serve as the best bases for experiencing all the other regions during your Costa Rica honeymoon.
GuanacasteGuanacaste, Costa Rica
In the Northwestern Coast, Guanacaste is on the border of Nicaragua (you can drive to the border in less than an hour). If you’re planning to honeymoon in Guanacaste, you will definitely fly into Liberia International Airport. While the region touts amazing beaches it’s also known as the most “highbrow” area thanks to Papagayo, an upscale resort community that’s home to five-star resorts like Four Seasons Costa Rica, Villa Manzu, JW Marriott, Auberge and Andaz (insert most romantic resorts story here). Guanacaste is also known for natural hot springs (insert most romantic activities story here) that are less crowded than Arenal. Honeymooners who want to put on hiking shoes will also discover great rainforests to trek (it’s a dry region so it’s not as amazing as the other rainforest regions but still fantastic). Most resorts hug pristine beaches. Some are intimate and some sprawl for miles, but they’re never crowded. You won’t ever find yourself shoulder-to-shoulder or towel-to-towel with anyone else.
PuntaarenasPuntarenas, Costa Rica
At the southern end of Costa Rica, Puntarenas (one of the most biodiverse regions) is sprawling with sleepy beach towns, hotel gems (like Tango Mar, insert link to best resorts story), and the mother lode of surf schools due to the best surfing in the country. It’s the least developed region but it has the biggest draw for tourism, and you’ll find everyone from backpackers and hippies to millennials and jetsetters exploring the breathtaking region. Puntaarenas is home to Santa Teresa (insert best romantic activities story), one of Costa Rica’s best beach towns, known for its authentic, bohemian flair and primetime sunsets. A true highlight is the national parks located here, like Corcovado National Park (insert most iconic Costa Rica adventures story), one of the most well known attractions in the country.
San JoseSan José, Costa Rica
Making up the Central Valley, San Jose is the capital region. It’s the most vibrant area concentrated with the majority of the population, and it feels like a true South American metropolis with high-rise buildings, a strong dining scene, galleries, and a ton of shopping. Couples can find all the comforts of modern living here, including the nightlife, which doesn’t really exist anywhere else in the country other than Santa Teresa. San Jose is where passengers most likely fly into. At Juan Santamaria International Airport, visitors can rent a car, take a shuttle or private hire, or take a puddle jumper to explore the other regions. Ultimately, San Jose is an easy launching point. Don’t spend more than two days here. It’s urban and you’re looking for nature. Although you can still get some cool sites in before taking off, like farm towns in the countryside and destination restaurants like Maxi’s by Ricky (insert best restaurant story).
Arenal, Northern ZoneArenal, Alajuela, San Carlos, Costa Rica
Arenal sprawls low with all sky, so visitors can’t help but feel completely immersed in natural beauty. The main draw is Arenal volcano—which is still active (yikes)—a soaring, natural landmark that helps fuel the surrounding thermal hot springs that most travelers make a beeline to. Several resorts offer hot springs facilities (day passes are available) right in the rainforest. Most couples either drive in or take a puddle jumper, whether they’re coming for a day trip or spending a few days chilling out in the hot springs or a luxury resort like Nayara (insert most romantic resorts story). Organized hiking tours are also arranged in and around the volcano. Arenal is in-land, so there are no beaches here. To cool off, visitors take to watersports on Lake Arenal, like windsurfing, chill out at their resort pool, or spend the entire day decompressing at the hot springs. Arenal is the closest region to Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, one of the top national parks (insert most iconic activities story).