Luxe Holidays to Costa Rica

‘Pura vida’ is Costa Rica’s national motto, and for good reason. Visitors to this beach-enclosed paradise can enjoy the pure life in some of the most biodiverse jungles, rainforests and coastlines in the world.

Costa Rica’s name alone hints at the country’s most beautiful scenery: its pristine shores. The country is book-ended by beaches on its Pacific and Caribbean sides, hence the laid-back surfer ethos that characterises coastal life. Inland, nature holds sway: a quarter of Costa Rican land is protected. It’s as though the landscape has been prepped for a Nat Geo photo shoot, with smouldering volcanoes, dense emerald jungles, and rainforests towering into the clouds. The Afro-Caribbean culture that dominates the east brings reggae and Rastafarianism, and in the highlands, farms and plantations produce delicious, gem-bright tropical fruit, as well as some of the finest coffee ever to grace your espresso cup. Not a place for museum-trudgers or city-break addicts, Costa Rica is where you go to come face to face with Mother Nature, gloriously undressed.

Pacuare Lodge Costa Rica with Smith Hotels (Shop Now)

Peeking out from between the parrot-green palms of the dense Costa Rican rainforest is Pacuare Lodge, a remote, back-to-nature eco-stay with plenty of pampering perks. Prepare to disconnect (rooms are electricity-free), surrender to shaman-inspired spa treatments and zip, raft or hike your way to outdoor thrills.
Pacuare Lodge certainly makes the most of the 25,000 verdant acres of primordial rainforest that surround it by offering a range of outdoor activities led by local guides. Rise early to the trills of the black-cheeked woodpecker and the red-throated ant-tanager and explore the grounds with a naturalist on a daybreak activity tour in search of the area’s delicate flora and exotic fauna. Hike the trails traveled by the native Cabecar people and visit with a Zutkia, or medicine man, to learn about the tribe’s ancient customs and rituals. Adrenaline-addicts will be kept busy on canyon tours, horseback rides through the thick jungle, kayak paddles or a more rambunctious white-water rafting ride. 

Latitude 10 Costa Rica with Smith Hotels (Shop Now)

The ocean is never far from sight at Latitude 10 hotel on the Nicoya Peninsula.The six breezy, bohemian beachfront casitas are within earshot of crashing waves, and almost every seat across the property has sea views. Glimpse the big sparkling blue during massages in the open-air spa, or over a dinner of ocean-fresh fish from the day’s haul.
After you’ve spotted rare birds, lounged by the pool and sought out a hot-stone massage, head for one of the nearby beaches, such as Malpais or Santa Teresa. Both attract surfers from around the world. Spend the day hanging out and exploring the tiny surf bars and cafes nearby. Those who aren’t ready to tackle the perfect curls can sign up for lessons through the hotel, or get a workout paddle-boarding instead.
Ready for adventure? Costa Rica can easily oblige. Sail above the treetops on a mile-long zip-line canopy tour of Malpais, or zip through Montezuma, then plunge into the park’s famous waterfall. Alternatively, go for a horseback ride along the beach or rent ATVs and zoom through the forests.
A 30-minute boat trip from Montezuma, Isla Tortuga off the Nicoya Peninsula is an uninhabited island with excellent snorkelling and pristine white, sandy beaches

The Harmony Hotel Costa Rica with Smith Hotels (Shop Now)

Howler monkeys signal sunrise at Harmony Hotel, where surfers catch some of the best waves on this side of the Pacific. Those who don’t hang 10 can laze on hammocks with smoothies from the juice bar or explore the ferns, palms and flowers that make up this tropical paradise.
Wave-riders travel from around the world to surf the swells around Guiones. Get in on the action by bringing your own board or renting one from the shack next-door to Harmony. Even newcomers can get in on the action: the long breaks are perfect for less-experienced surfers. The hotel offers lessons in classic surfing and paddleboarding, with available gear storage just off the sand. The beach is one of the most striking in the area, owing in part to the hotel’s driftwood sculpture, which resembles a giant reclaimed Christmas tree. The icon is a good way for drifting swimmers to mark the hotel’s location, and its wood ‘branches’ double as pegs that keep towels safe from errant waves.
Thrillseekers can zoom through the air on a high-speed zipline over the world’s longest canopy, Guanacaste's tropical dry forest, for expansive views of rivers, waterfalls and the ocean.
Seven kilometres north of the hotel is a protected beach where tens of thousands of sea turtles nest, typically at high tide during the new moon. Guests whose visits to Harmony coincide with the subsequent hatchings can visit and see all the hatchlings make their way from their nests to the water. The arribada, or nestings, take place year-round, but the highest concentrations take place in October and November.

El Mangroove Gulf Of Papagayo, Costa Rica with Smith Hotels (Shop Now)

Fun and family-friendly, El Mangroove in the Gulf of Papagayo is perfectly placed for a coastal Costa Rican adventure. Take to the seas to spot stingrays, dolphins and turtles (and humpback whales if you’ve timed your visit right), or settle in for sunset with sand underfoot at the beachfront restaurant Matiss. Massages are performed out in the mangroves, under cover of a cabana, but with Mother Nature all around. She’s kind of a big deal around here, and even the decor pays homage, with lots of wood, big windows to frame her leafy glory and plenty of neutral tones.
Head to the hotel’s Azul Ocean Adventures shack to get kitted out with whatever form of board you prefer (paddle-, wake-, surf-…) then take to the water. There are four national parks nearby, where you can hike waterfalls, birdwatch or ride horses.

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