Tourist Attractions
in the Northern

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Tourist Attractions in the Northern Plains

A canton in the Guanacaste province, Tilaran is known as the “city or port of many waters.” Situated at 561 meters above sea level in the Sierra de Tilaran, the city enjoys cool temperatures and lovely landscapes from its irregular topography. A wide variety of tourism and commercial services is available. Interesting destinations include San Jose hill and Pelado Volcano, which offers impressive views of the pampas of Guanacaste. Tilarán is a departure point for Monteverde, La Fortuna, Arenal volcano and reservoirs, as well as the rest of the Guanacaste province.

Eolic energy is obtained by harnessing the force of the wind. Over the last few years, parts of the Tilaran area have been converted into eolic plants, impressive facilities with gigantic towers. There are several projects in Tierras Morenas. The last plant, built by the Costa Rican Electricity Institute, is known as Tejona.

An 87.8-square-kilometer artificial lake at an elevation of 546 meters above sea level, the Arenal reservoir is perfect for trips on large boats fitted out for visitors, fishing or waterskiing. It is also well known among windsurfers as the windsurfing center of Costa Rica, with winds reaching an average speed of 72 kilometers per hour.

This lake is situated at 680 meters above sea level and has a diameter of approximately one kilometer. Many Costa Rican scientists believe the lake is a crater due to its geological characteristics. Recreational activities here include boat tours and fishing.

Located seven kilometers from Fortuna, Arenal Volcano has an area of 33 square kilometers. The volcano has experienced constant activity since July 29, 1968. Its landscape has two faces: one covered with lush vegetation sheltering a variety of wildlife and the other rugged with lava tracts and sand. Arenal offers daytime and nighttime viewing opportunities and is considered the area’s main attraction.

Located in the vicinity of Arenal Volcano, this river features the Tabacon hot springs. At a constant temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, these waters are known to relax muscles and reduce stress.

Located southeast of Arenal, this volcano rises 1,140 meters above sea level. Its crater is 550 meters in diameter and features a stunning lake fringed by lush greenery. Visiting it requires a bit of a climb, but the reward is well worthwhile with views of forests, birds, the northern plains and breathtaking Arenal Volcano.

This stunning attraction is located just 5.5 kilometers from Fortuna. A steep trail allows visitors to view the 70-meter-tall waterfall. Funds from entry fees to the waterfall are used to support various projects and activities benefitting the region.

The city has a vibrant center as well as a lovely surrounding landscape, including the picture-perfect cones of Arenal Volcano and its eternal companion, Chato Volcano. Fortuna offers visitors a full range of services and is a primary departure point for Caño Negro, the Venado caverns, Monteverde, Tilarán and other destinations.

Discovered in 1962, these caverns are located three kilometers from the town of Venado. Approximately 2,000 meters long, the cavern system contains unique geological features, many of which have yet to be explored. Spelunking in these caves is an adventure not to be missed by nature-lovers. With good access facilities, the caves are easily visited; several tourism outfitters offer tours through the cavern system.

The seat of the Guatuso canton, San Rafael sits at 50 meters’ above sea level. Located on the banks of the Frío River, and from here, trips can be arranged to interesting destinations such as Caño Negro and the Margarita, Tonjibe and El Sol indigenous territories. River trips may also be enjoyed.

Centuries ago, the Maleku—a branch of the Chibchas—spread out over 23 villages. Over the last 100 years or so, the population has shrunk, and today only around 600 Maleku remain in the palenques (straw huts) of El Sol, Margarita and Tonjibe.

One of the region’s most stunning tours, the Celeste River trip cannot be missed. A combination of adventure, nature-watching and geological features, the voyage includes a visit to a place called “Teñidero” (Dyer’s Shop), where the clear waters are naturally dyed turquoise-blue and a forest hike leading to the extraordinary Celeste waterfall.

Visitors can rent boats to visit Caño Negro, tour the river enjoy the scenery or fish in the region’s generous waters.

Trips such as Boca Tapada–San Juan River allow visitors to view natural landscapes, birds, caimans, crocodiles river communities and more.

The seat of the San Carlos canton and main entryway to the country’s Northern Zone, Quesada City is located 100 kilometers from San Jose, at an altitude of 656 meters above sea level. A community under impressive development, the city features the striking Municipal Market, where visitors can sample the local fare and other impressive buildings.

Reaching 2,183 meters above sea level, this volcano is located eight kilometers southeast of Quesada City, forming part of Juan Castro Blanco National Park. The imposing feature can be seen clearly from much of the city.

The current site of this livestock show is the community of Platanar de Florencia. The show takes place in April, and showcases the best livestock in the region as well as from the rest of the country. Awards are given to the best animals. Various activities complement the event, including topes (horse parades), concerts and auto shows.

Located in the Palmera district’s marina, between Quesada City and Aguas Zarcas, this zoo houses more than 200 species of birds, mammals and reptiles and develops protection and breeding programs for animals in danger of extinction.

Situated at 400 meters above sea level, eight kilometers from San Miguel de Sarapiqui on the road to Venecia, this lake covers 40 hectares and is approximately 75 meters deep. Many scientists believe the lake fills a volcanic crater. Owing to its rich biodiversity, the area has great geological and biological interest to appeal to visitors.

At an altitude of 1,442 meters above sea level, this community is perfect for visitors who enjoy combination of nature and rural life. Its attractions include rivers, waterfalls, hydroelectric projects, nature preserves and agricultural landscapes. Visitors can enjoy cycling, trout fishing, hiking in the mountains, climbing and rappelling down waterfalls, hot springs and simply enjoying nature.

Located in the outskirts of Varablanca and Cinchona on the road to Sarapiquí, this extraordinarily beautiful series of waterfalls is set in a gorgeous natural environment. Two small cascades and one large and imposing waterfall crown La Paz, which can be seen from the highway right by a lovely wooden bridge which is considered a work of art on its own. Trails and viewpoints have been put in in place so that visitors can enjoy the spectacular natural landscape surrounded by forest, river, waterfall and wildlife.

Located in Cinchona on the route from Varablanca to San Miguel de Sarapiqui, this 70-meter tall waterfall can be seen from the highway, set in the thick forest that forms part of Braulio Carrillo National Park.

This waterfall can be seen from certain parts of the highway (La Isla), and may be visited by following a trail along the banks of the Angel River on the outskirts of Cariblanco. Though the waterfall is approximately 100 meters, only the upper part can be seen easily

Many years ago, when highways did not exist, the only way to journey through Central America was via the Sarapiqui River. The enchanting scenery along its banks is a delight for those who want to get close to nature. The Sarapiqui runs through 84 kilometers of diverse landscapes, and is a good place to see birds, monkeys, turtles, caimans and more. The river has become a destination for nature- and wildlife-watchers, and allows visits to the San Juan River, Barra del Colorado and Tortuguero.

The seat of the Sarapiqui canton is located in Puerto Viejo in the Heredia Province. Puerto Viejo is a typical river community surrounded by forests, agricultural plantations, rural architecture and many hanging bridges. The town is situated at 37 meters above sea level. In recent years, Puerto Viejo has seen significant commercial and tourism development that has converted it into a well-visited ecotourism destination, with several biological stations and preserves located on the outskirts of the community.

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