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The Sunday Times Travel writers Mark Hodson and David Wickers.

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Costa Rica

Our verdict:

With more protected land than any other country in the world, more bird species than the whole of North America and more butterflies than Africa, Costa Rica could have been put on the planet as a living classroom for natural historians. Enjoy rainforests and river rafting, volcanoes and cloud forests plus beaches on both the Pacific and Caribbean.

Recommended tour operator: Rainbow Tours

Rainbow Tours says

With its raw and beautiful Pacific and Caribbean coasts, lush jungle-rich interior, active volcanoes and unique wildlife, Costa Rica is a natural paradise.

  • Group tours
  • Tailor made private tours
  • Year-round destination

We’ve been arranging tailor-made and group holidays in Costa Rica for many years and our customers go back year after year. With non-stop British Airways flights from Gatwick, it’s now even easier to get there.

We offer a range of private and small group tours as well as family holidays, honeymoons and bird-watching holidays.

For an introduction, Costa Rica Highlights is hard to beat. This 12-day private tour takes in the Tortuguero Jungle Reserve, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Arenal volcano and both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts.

If you like your creature comforts with a generous dollop of romance, our two-week Costa Rica in Style holiday is a gem. Staying in luxury hotels and lodges throughout, highlights include a night on beautiful Caño Island (with the chance to spot dolphins on the boat trip en route), down time in a forest lodge on the Pacific coast and a spa resort at the foot of the Arenal volcano.

Wildlife enthusiasts will love our Sustainable Wildlife holiday, a unique private tour staying in small guest houses and hotels, all of which hold the respected Certificate of Sustainable Tourism (recognised by the World Tourism Organisation). Get up close and personal with Costa Rica’s incredible bio-diversity, not least its rare orchids, butterflies, birds, reptiles, insects and mesmerising sloths.

If you’re passionate about avian life, our bird-watching holiday will be hard to resist – it’s a private tour with some driving involved but we can also accommodate a group who want to travel together.

Bring out your children’s inner David Attenborough on our Costa Rica for Families holiday, where the range of activities on offer – including zip lining, white-water rafting, boat trips, kayaking and horse riding – are matched by the wealth of wildlife and time to relax on the beach.

If you would prefer to travel with a small group of like-minded travellers, our expert-guided tours include Natural Wonders of Costa Rica.

We can also combine Costa Rica with other Central American countries such as neighbouring Panama – a cruise along the Panama Canal is one of many incredible experiences on this private tour.

We’ve hand-picked a wide range of hotels and lodges and our expert team can tailor-make your experience to suit your budget and tastes.

You can visit Costa Rica at any time of year. The driest months are between December and April but the “green season” in May, June and September is also a great time to go, particularly for wildlife viewing.

Find out more about our holidays in Costa Rica, and see the best time to visit Costa Rica.

Note: All the travel companies featured on this site are personally recommended by our editors. Companies pay us a flat annual fee; we don’t get any additional payments if you click on their sites or make a booking. Those fees pay for the upkeep of our site, so we can keep it current and reliable. See more about how we work.