With hot sunny weather year-round, fresh tropical fruit at every corner, miles of coastline, and a laid back no-rush approach to life, Costa Rica is a place where life is good. Come here and you’ll soon learn why Ticos so often greet each other with the phrase “Pura Vida!”
While the capital of San Jose leaves much to be desired, there is no shortage of beautiful destinations in the country. Costa Rica may be small, but its cities are as diverse as its ecozones. From the Nicoyan Peninsula in the northwest to the Caribbean Coast in the east, each part of the country has a unique history, culture, and cuisine. Traversing across hilly terrain you’ll see rainforests, cloud forests, beaches, and volcanoes all with their own flora and fauna.
With excellent healthcare, a focus on eco-tourism, the improvements the country has made to its infrastructure (like faster WiFi), a new digital nomad visa, and a penchant for coffee, Costa Rica is an easygoing place many remote workers choose to call home for a few months or more.
READ MORE: 6 Best Waterfalls in Costa Rica
Just outside of San Jose, Heredia has the feel of a small mountain town but is just a short drive to the big city. Colorful and modern Esencialmente makes for a great coworking spaceto and is just above the delicious Esencia Mercadito. Studio Coworking & Learning is another good option for working with a slick design and friendly hosts. The last coworking space in the city is Beeworking which offers monthly talks and events for entrepreneurs. Kawah Cafe with mouthwatering desserts and Estadero Bistro and Cafe, an artsy Colombian spot. Both have good WiFi and are nice places to hunker down for aproductive afternoon
If you’ve been hiding out in the coworking spaces in the outer areas of town, head to the center where you’ll pass El Fortin, an old watchtower, and stop by Armonia cafe for a mug of coffee. Soberano's may have the best Asian fusion food in Costa Rica and is a good choice for lunch or dinner. Perhaps the most interesting spot in the city is Park Cafe which is part cafe, part antique store, and part fine dining establishment. For nightlife, many bars are sprinkled around the main streets in the center of town. Beer lovers will especially like hanging around Artisan Brew Pub.
One of the most attractive things about Heredia is how easy it is to get out and explore the surrounding area. Not far from the city, the Britt Coffee Tour is a great place for caffeine addicts who want to learn about Costa Rica’s most famous coffee producer while sampling the product. Braulio Carrillo National Park, featuring the Barva Volcano, is just a short drive away and nature lovers should make a special trip to Toucan Rescue Ranch where you can take a sloth and coffee tour.
Sometimes referred to as Miami South, this popular party town is right on the water but has all of the amenities of a big city. A lack of Costa Rican culture turns off a lot of expats, but those who love it, really love it. For coworking, Sand and Surf have private offices for rent. Just a few blocks down from Sand and Surf, Selina Tamarindo is a great place to meet other remote workers. In the Shade, a combo hotel and coworking space, have excellent WiFi in a bougie setting. Visitors who buy a day pass are welcome to use the pool. With local coffee, açai bowls, and WiFi, Nordico Cafe is a nice spot to plug in the laptop for the day.
For food, early birds won’t be able to resist Breaking Bread—it’s an excellent bakery and the only place open before 7 a.m. Jardin Tamarindo is an outdoor space with international food trucks—perfect for lunch or dinner. For a more upscale version of this check out Mercadito de Tamarindo. On the beach, Pico Bistro and El Chiringuito both serve up fresh seafood with good wine and even better views. Dragonfly Bar and Grill in the heart of Tamarindo has excellent steaks. The two places to party are Crazy Monkey’s Bar and Pacifico Bar. These lively spots are busy every night of the week and will give you a chance to let loose on the dance floor.
If you love the outdoors there’s plenty to do in Tamarindo. Bird lovers will enjoy a trip on the Mangrove and Estuary Boat Tour or a visit to Palo Verde National Park. Yet maybe the most beautiful thing to do is take a day trip to Rio Celeste, where you can hike, raft, or swim in the river and find hot springs to soak in just outside the park entrance.
Sitting under the looming Arenal Volcano, La Fortuna is an enchanting town and a prime spot for adrenaline junkies. This small village is popular with tourists, expats, and locals, but there is only one proper coworking space—Selina La Fortuna. Any Selina outpost is always a safe bet for those craving social energy and reliable WiFi. Organico Fortuna is also a great place to work with vegan and gluten-free options.
For eating, wander along the main road to Pollo Fortuneno, a local spot with tasty roasted chicken or Soda La Horminga for typical Costa Rican food. Continue down the street to Mercadito Arenal where you’ll find international food stalls in a funky open-air setting. For something a little different, head to the site of the 1968 Arenal Volcano eruption and snack at their cafe with amazing views and lava trails you can hike. Those with a finer pallet might want to check out the five-star experience at Don Rufino’s. For the party people, Voodoo Bar and Cocktails brings a unique and spooky experience to the cocktail scene and Lava Lounge is a great local spot to grab a cocktail and dance the night away.
A visit to the area wouldn’t be complete without hiking around Arenal Volcano National Park. The Baldi hot springs are well worth the entrance fee to take a soak in the aguas termales and enjoy the jungle surroundings. The Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges are not for the faint of heart but the views are top-notch and a walk through Sloth’s Territory gives you a good chance of getting to see the sleepy creatures. Foodies should take a trip to either the Don Olivo chocolate tour, a great spot for chocoholics who want to visit a family-owned cacao farm, or North Fields Coffee and Chocolate Tour for those who can’t decide between their two favorite caffeine sources. You can also save some money at the free El Choyin hot springs which are just across the street from the ritzier Tabacon Hot Springs. This river is hot on one side and cold on the other.
A once-sleepy beach town that was only accessible by water plane, Samara is now one of the coolest places you can end up in the Nicoya Peninsula. The town is super walkable with a long beach made for leisurely strolls. There’s only one coworking spot in town, Locoworking, but you could also work at Cafe Iona, an open-air cafe on the river, where the staff is friendly and they roast their own coffee. For a spot on the beach, Gusto Beach has decent Italian food and big breezy tables where no one will mind if you want to hang around on your laptop all day. You can also check out the Roots Bakery and Cafe which has nice pastries and empanadas.
Most restaurants and bars are located around the four main streets of town or on the beach. El Lagarto has excellent grilled surf and turf. Sherriff Rustic on the water has a big menu of traditional foods. Continue down the beach to Lo Que Hay for friendly (if slow) service. Further along the water in Matapalo, Las Palmitas is a no-frills chiringuito and has the cheapest lobster dinner in the area. In an unassuming parking lot, you’ll find Rosa with an ever-changing menu of fresh meat and seafood. One of the most unique meals in the town is the lobster tacos at Cantina de Baco. When you’re ready for a drink, Microbar has lots of beer options and friendly bartenders while Las Olas is cheap, cheerful, and popular with locals. If you’re craving a different kind of night out Que Mas is a nice French wine bar.
During the day, walk along Samara beach and join one of the many surf classes or a kayak and snorkel trip to Isla Chora or drive south down the coast to find black sand and turtle nesting area at Camaronal Beach. Further south you’ll find Punta Islita which is home to the Macaw Recovery Network—a great place to see the colorful birds and support an incredible mission to restore a once endangered species. Inland from Samara on the road to Nicoya, is Hojancha where you can take a tour of the Diria Coffee Farm, one of Guanacaste’s only local coffee suppliers.
While Quepos town is touristy, it’s hard to beat the location right next to Manuel Antonio Park where the jungle and beach collide. Both JungleVilla Workspaces and Selina Manuel Antonio are good coworking and coliving options. Selina, located in Manual Antonio town, has more of a party vibe and JungleVilla tends to be quieter, but both are good spots for meeting other remote workers.
There are a few lovely places to eat and drink in Quepos and Manuel Antonio. El Avion Restaurant and Bar is a unique restaurant located inside an old fighter plane with the perfect sunset view. Rico Tico Jungle Grillhas excellent meat and seafood. For more laid-back options, Emilio’s Cafe serves free-range meat and delightful coffee and Cafe Milagro roasts their own coffee beans and has fish tacos on the menu.
Quepos is the perfect launch point for exploring one of the world's most beautiful national parks. However, for something other than Manuel Antonio National Park, day trips to Manuel Antonio Hot Springs or Campesinos Waterfalls both provide a quieter day out in nature. A little further afield but worth the drive are the Tres Pilas Waterfalls, with three pools and a favorite local spot, and the Divina Vida Chocolate Tour which takes place on a cacao farm where you can learn how to make chocolate from pod to bar.
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