There is no better way to appreciate Costa Rica’s natural wonders than by seeking out the best viewpoints, and luckily for you, we’ve prepared this guide for Budget Adventurers seeking the best instagram pics from their Costa Rica trip. Let’s hop on a journey and discover the most awe-inspiring Costa Rica viewpoints, ensuring your visit is filled with memorable vistas and photo opportunities.
Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
Our first stop is the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, one of the most famous eco-tourism destinations in Costa Rica. This remarkable cloud forest is perched on the continental divide and offers various hiking trails, each leading to unique viewpoints. While you can explore the reserve by foot, you can also take a drive up to the Monteverde Reserve’s entrance, where you’ll find the famous Hummingbird Gallery.
From the Hummingbird Gallery, you can admire the mesmerizing cloud forest canopy, home to a stunning array of flora and fauna. The verdant mountains and mist-shrouded forests create a mystical atmosphere that’s best experienced during the early morning or late afternoon hours. You may even spot a quetzal, a rare and beautiful bird that’s a must-see for nature enthusiasts.
Arenal Volcano National Park
For a dramatic display of natural power, make your way to the Arenal Volcano National Park. Located just a few hours from San Jose, this active volcano is a prime destination for those seeking breathtaking Costa Rica viewpoints. The area offers several well-maintained trails, allowing visitors to hike through lush rainforests and reach elevated platforms.
The most popular viewpoint is the Arenal Observatory Lodge, perched high on the hills. Here, you can take in stunning views of the symmetrical Arenal Volcano, the verdant rainforest, and the serene Lake Arenal. This viewpoint is particularly beautiful at sunrise and sunset when the volcano’s silhouette is contrasted against the colorful skies. Be sure to check the volcano’s activity status before visiting; while it has been less active in recent years, it’s still an incredible sight.
Poás Volcano National Park
For another volcanic spectacle, head to Poás Volcano National Park, which boasts one of the world’s largest active craters. Located less than two hours from San Jose, this site offers one of the most accessible Costa Rica viewpoints. A winding road leads to the Poás Volcano’s crater rim, where you’ll be mesmerized by the incredible emerald-colored lagoon below.
The park offers well-maintained trails that guide you through a variety of ecosystems, including cloud forests and paramo vegetation. The park’s unique surroundings make it a haven for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts. Due to its proximity to the capital city, Poás Volcano National Park can be visited as a day trip, making it an excellent addition to your Costa Rican adventure.
Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio National Park, located on the Pacific Coast, is a natural gem with an abundance of stunning viewpoints. Drive to the park entrance, and you’ll find several hiking trails leading to breathtaking vistas. One of the most popular trails, the Perezoso Trail, offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and the lush coastline.
Another must-visit viewpoint in Manuel Antonio is the Cathedral Point, a rewarding 2.5-mile hike that takes you to a mesmerizing natural balcony overlooking the pristine beaches and islands. It’s an ideal spot to capture pictures of the park’s renowned biodiversity, including capuchin monkeys, sloths, and colorful birds. Remember to keep an eye out for wildlife on your way to these viewpoints – you never know what you might encounter in this tropical paradise.
Santa Elena Skywalk
In addition to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve provides another incredible opportunity for Costa Rica viewpoints. Located a short drive from Monteverde, the Santa Elena Skywalk takes visitors through a network of suspension bridges and treetop walkways. These skywalks allow you to explore the cloud forest canopy and enjoy panoramic views that extend as far as the Nicoya Peninsula.
This ecotourism project provides a unique perspective of the cloud forest’s remarkable biodiversity and stunning landscapes. As you traverse the walkways, you’ll be greeted by the sounds of tropical birds and the mesmerizing scenery below. The Santa Elena Skywalk is a fantastic way to witness the mystical beauty of the cloud forest from above, making it a must-visit for nature lovers and photography enthusiasts.
Cerro de la Muerte
Cerro de la Muerte, which translates to “Mountain of Death,” may sound ominous, but this viewpoint in the Talamanca Mountain Range offers some of the most incredible vistas in Costa Rica. It’s the highest point on the Inter-American Highway and provides stunning views of the surrounding cloud forests, mountains, and valleys.
The viewpoint is a fantastic spot for a quick stop as you drive through the highlands, but be prepared for cold temperatures. At an elevation of over 11,000 feet, it can get quite chilly, so dress accordingly. The sight of the misty mountains and rolling hills stretching out before you is a truly unforgettable experience.
Mirador de Orosi
If you’re exploring the Central Valley, be sure to make a stop at the Mirador de Orosi. This viewpoint offers a spectacular view of the Orosi Valley, which is known for its emerald-green landscapes and picturesque surroundings.
The viewpoint is easily accessible by car, and once you arrive, you’ll be treated to a panoramic view of the valley, the Orosi River, and the Irazu Volcano in the distance. This is a perfect spot to take a break, enjoy a picnic, and soak in the beauty of Costa Rica’s Central Valley. As an additional bonus, the Orosi Valley is home to the stunning Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels, which you can visit after enjoying the viewpoint.
The Tarcoles Bridge is an unexpected but exhilarating place to experience wildlife and picturesque landscapes. As you drive through the Tarcoles Bridge, which connects the Central Pacific to the Nicoya Peninsula, take a moment to stop and admire the view.
The Tarcoles River flows beneath the bridge, and it’s famous for its large population of crocodiles. Park your car rental safely and walk to the bridge’s edge to witness these prehistoric creatures basking in the sun. The sight of these massive reptiles is both thrilling and unforgettable. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for other wildlife in the area, including various bird species.
Costa Rica is a paradise for nature lovers, and discovering the best viewpoints is an essential part of your journey. Have the freedom to explore the country’s diverse landscapes, with Budget Costa Rica. Pack your camera, hit the road, and get ready to soak in the beauty of Costa Rica from its most awe-inspiring vantage points.
Remember to check our guide for the best rental option according to your plans and needs here.