Places to Go - from our Readers

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Recreo Verde - Hot Springs and lodging

By Diane Cooner
This hot springs and hotel is an old favorite of locals. It features hot and cold pools, hiking trails, cabinas with cooking facilities and refrigeration, each with enough beds to sleep 12 people comfortably. Located near Venezia, access via Ciudad Quesada or Varra Blanca highway. If you don't want to cook on your holiday, they have a restaurant as well.

Finca Libertad Pura - San Ramon

Recreation area offering hiking, horseback riding, bird watching, outdoor movies, tractor rides, star-gazing, and more!

Self-guided walking tour of Grecia

You can pick up this handy guide to historic houses in Grecia at the local municipality (Northwest corner of central park). Scan the QR code that is inside the brochure for information about each of the houses. Very cool and easy way to learn more about Grecia and it's history (besides the Metal Church!)

Sarchi Tour Map

This map features a full listing of places to go and things to do in Sarchi area. You can pick up a copy at the Municipality of Sarchi, located behind the football field off the main drag.

Off the Beaten Path - Travels with Joan and Iain

by Joan Ritchie Dewar

We’ve been here 14+ years and loved all of our travels throughout Costa Rica, often to places a little out of the way from normal tourist traffic. Here are a few ideas for the next time you are touring with visitors or simply want to learn about your newly adopted home. 

Updated 10/28/2021

Pre-Columbian and Indigenous Costa Rica

Guayabo National Monument Park, An Ancient Pre-Columbian dig near Turrialba in Cartago province, just 85 km east of San José - the fascinating 3000-yr-old site of cobblestone roads, petroglyphs, tombs, aqueducts and water storage tanks (still functioning) of an agricultural people ruled by cacique chiefs and shamans.

Along the way, visit the famous Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels in Cartago (home to tiny La Negrita, the black Virgin Mary) and the Cartago Ruins from 1732 when the city was devastated by a volcanic eruption.

Many also like to meander the peaceful Orosi Valley’s ruins at Ujarrás and the Cachi Dam (west of Paraiso on Ruta #10), spending a night there or in Turrialba before touring Guayabo the next day.

Guaitil,  home of Chorotega Pre-Columbian Pottery on the Nicoya Peninsula
Guaitil is a Chorotega native pueblo, unique in Costa Rica, where pottery is produced in the Pre-Columbian tradition, using clay deposits that are fast depleting. The shops around the town square offer pottery demonstrations and specialty wares to decorate your home.  We have found them open 7 days/week and can’t resist something new to treasure.

Turn off Ruta #21 onto #150 at the gas station just south of Santa Cruz, travel 14 km on a good road through Santa Barbara, and start watching for native homes & kilns.

We like to visit Guaitil after an early morning Palo Verde boat tour, just 15 minutes away, to view exotic birds, monkeys, etc. - the next best thing if your guests don’t have time to visit the Tortuguero Canals.

The Mysterious Stones Spheres of Costa Rica

A UNESCO World Heritage Site  
12 minutes west of Palmar Sur in the Diquis Delta of the Pacific Southern Zone is the excellent Finca 6 Museum, home to the spherical granite stones, known as Las Bolas or Diquis Spheres, that date back thousands of years and are commonly attributed to the extinct Diquis culture. Scientists are still baffled as to how perfectly spherical the stones are, and exactly why they were created. While the largest can weigh as much as 13,000 kg, some are as small as bowling balls.
The museum is the second archaeological site opened to the public by the Costa Rican government (after Guayabo). It is well worth a visit for the trails featuring spheres
(some still in situ, others recovered),
historical video & more.   More info
Without venturing that far, you can also see examples of the mysterious Spheres at the National Museum in San José (Calle 17 y Ave 2), which in itself had an extremely interesting beginning as Fort Bellavista and still has bullets lodged in the walls from the 1948 civil war.

Boruca People – high in the
Talamanca Mountains

The village known as the Boruca People is reached 8 km up an unpaved road with spectacular views above the Terraba River (best travelled by SUV) - turning off Ruta #2 25-km east of Palmar Norte in the Pacific Southern Zone. 

Attached to a small, interesting museum, we found a co-op with extensive offerings of Boruca (aka Brunka) masks, weavings, drums and artwork. We love our new mask! 

You can find out much more about visiting the Boruka people and their famous celebration day, Fiesta de los Diablitos,

Maleku Indigenous Reserve – near Arenal

My first Costa Rican indigenous tour was a wonderful visit to a Maleku Palenque (community) at Guatuso (42 km north on Ruta # 4 from La Fortuna in the province of San José). Visitors are welcomed to tours that include land reforestation, medicinal plants, indigenous ceremonies, bird watching, lunch, souvenirs & more.  

Be sure to make reservations for a fascinating visit, especially if you’re on the way to the turquoise waterfall of Rio Celeste.

Maleku Indian Reserve Costa  Rica 
Montezuma Surprise

Hotel El Jardin

by Gerry Atchison

Last week we had visitors from Missouri. We decided to take them someplace new to us. David suggested Montezuma, a beach town located at the southern end of the Nicoya Peninsula. He booked us 2 deluxe rooms at a hotel called El Jardín. $95/night for deluxe rooms.

It took us about an hour to drive to Puntarenas where we picked up the ferry. The hotel sent us a ferry schedule in advance. (You will need to get there about 45 minutes to 1 hour before the ferry departs as vehicle space is limited and is on a first-come-first served basis.) On the way over to Montezuma, the ferry was packed. So, I'm glad we got there early. We had eats and drinks on the ferry and it made the 70-minute ferry ride go quickly.

Upon arrival on the other side of the bay, we followed the signs to Montezuma -- an interesting drive. The roads were not bad but a bit curvy. A small portion of the road (about seven kilometers) was gravel, but in pretty decent shape and easy to drive.

We found our hotel, El Jardin, by following the hotel signs. It was a nice place--small and quaint. Hotel receptionist, Mariel Urban, was very helpful. The hotel setting was nestled in large trees and plants--very secluded. It had a nice sized pool and spa. The rooms were equipped with A/C, a small refrigerator, soap, shampoo and towels. If you book a room there, do not book a room on the first floor, because we could hear everything the folks above were doing. Room #9 had a view of the ocean plus a queen size bed and a large bathroom. I suggest asking for this room.

The hotel did offer morning coffee at the reception desk. (English was spoken at the hotel.) It was only a short walk to the town and the beach. We had breakfast at two different locations. We had fresh fruit, egg omelets with rice and beans while enjoying the ocean view.

Montezuma and environs seems to cater to backpackers, divers and snorkelers. Beware, the weather is quite hot in Montezuma, but the sandy beach was nice and not crowded. ATVs are available for rental and many water and land tours were offered. Many of locals are on the street selling their wares--nothing too expensive. There are a number of nice restaurants to choose from offering dinner at reasonable prices.

Our guests just loved the 2 1/2-day excursion. If you have not been there, I suggest you give it a try.

Updated 10/28/2021
San Jose

Museo de Jade, Costa Rica's Best Museum

By Ticonuevo

The Museo del Jade Fidel Tristan (Jade Museum) sponsored by INS has a beautiful new home and completely upgraded and revamped exhibits. It is located downtown San Jose, across the Plaza de la Democracia (Democracy Plaza) from the Museo Nacional (National Museum). It’s an imposing six-story building with a stone façade and no windows. On the inside, is a five-story atrium with separate exhibit space on each floor. The Museum is beautifully designed and lighted.
The floors of Day and Night halls on the third floor are lighted and actually are part of the exhibit. 
There is backlit signage in English as part of the exhibits. Much of the museum is an immersion of sights and sounds.

The exhibits are divided into theme descriptions of the area of the ancient indigenous tribes, the mythology, sources of jade, creation and artistry of jade artifacts, uses of jade and gold and other precious materials plus a visitable collection on the fifth floor of thousands of pre-Columbian urns, vases, pots and jade jewelry not on display on the floors below. Not to worry: there’s plenty of incredible jade, gold, and ceramics on display in the exhibits.

This is our second visit and the museum has been tweaked, improved and perfected since our first trip a few months ago. This time, there was even a wonderful temporary exhibit of paintings, drawings and sculpture by Costa Rican artists with a human figure theme. A cafeteria is now under construction and the gift shop is open, but also still under construction.

The museum is open every day from 10AM to 5PM and is easily worth several hours of your time. There are free lockers for purses and shopping bags. (Purses and large bags are not allowed in the exhibit halls.) Admission: citizens and residents, 1,000 colones; residents under 12 and residents over 65 with a Cuidadanos de Oro card are free (probably free even without the card); non-resident visitors are 8,000 colones; Wednesdays and the first Saturday of the month admission is also free. Keep your admission receipt with you and handy as we were asked for ours at the entry to every exhibit hall. 
Click here for more information.  Phone: 2287-6034.

Updated 10/28/2021
San Ramon

San Ramon Regional Museum

Due to the presence of the University of Costa Rica campus, there are a lot of cultural outlets that we don't find in Grecia, which is still very much an agricultural community.
Hence, the San Ramon Regional Museum. 
In 2014 the museum hosted a display with a giant, 15' tall sloth, a former denizen of Costa Rica. The display changes annually. Displays of traditional Costa Rican life and more.
There is no charge for the museum. Open 10am-6pm Tues-Saturday.
In front of Parque Central, south side.
Phone: 2447 7137

Updated 10/28/2021
Sarchi's HIdden Gem

Sarchi Botanical Garden, aka Else Kientzler

by Ticonuevo

Only modestly promoted in the area, the Jardin Botanico de Sarchi (the Sarchi Botanical Garden) is truly a hidden gem and not to be missed. It was started by the late Else Kientzler, a German native and Sarchi resident. The garden is maintained today by her family as part of their larger ornamental plant nursery export business.

A tropical version of Victoria B.C.'s Butchart Gardens (nowhere near as flashy), this garden covers around 17 acres with over 2,000 native and imported plants and trees. The site includes a children's playground, nature trails, and picnic areas, so take a lunch. The garden is open seven days a week. It is also a popular place for cultural events, usually on weekends. There is a nice gift shop with a good selection of garden/nature books and some crafts. Sometimes there is a small selection of plants to purchase. Allow, at least, two hours, but "plantophiles" could easily spend all day there. Adult admission is $8.00. If you are a pensionado, Sarchi resident or frequent visitor, I believe there is a deeply discounted admission. Reservations are recommended as you must drive through the commercial nursery to get to the garden. (Call: 506 2454-2070 and someone is usually available on the other end of the line that speaks English.)The garden is located on your right about 400 meters north of the Sarchi municipal pool and soccer stadium. Go to their English language website for photos and more information:

Updated 10/28/2021
Bajos del Toro - Grecia/Sarchi

Costa Rica's Biggest Waterfall

By Jen Seymour
[note: Catarata del Toro is not open on Sundays]

Wow – what an AHHHH-MAZING day we had at Catarata del Toro (translated:  “Waterfall of the Bull”).  This was a spur of the moment, day-before decision.  Our friends told us about it, and asked if we wanted to go.  It was supposedly not too far away – in the mountains of Bajos Del Toro Amarillo, Sarchi, Alajuela, and evidently the biggest waterfall in Costa Rica, but not known to many (we had never heard of it).  We had no plans for that day, and when you don't have a car, you can't hesitate too long on an opportunity like this - so of course we said YES!

We started out early in the morning, and the drive was beautiful.  It was a longer drive than we thought, with no signs for the waterfall, and we stopped and asked local people twice for a point in the right direction.     We drove - up, up, up the mountain.  It was a very narrow and curvy road, but surprisingly well paved.  The views were incredible.  We only encountered other vehicles a few times, and they slowed down nicely and both of us got over as far as we could to let the other pass (our friend Steve did a GREAT job driving!).  After reaching the top of the mountain, the road oddly started heading back down...  But, after driving down a ways we started seeing signs - we were all happy to see this place really DID exist! - and then we finally arrived at our destination. 

posted Jan 7, 2014
Santa Gertrudis Sur

Los Trapiches - Something for the family

by Diane Cooner

If you have family coming to visit from the US, or just want to discover a great place to spend the day, visit Hacienda Los Trapiches, located in Santa Gertrudis Sur, about a 25 minute drive east from central Grecia.

A trapiche is a facility where sugar cane is processed. This trapiche is well-known as it has been run by the same family since 1925. They offer regular Sunday demonstrations of how sugar cane is processed and have some great vintage equipment to look at – presses, a waterwheel, ovens, cauldrons – and they are enthusiastic about sharing their tradition.

The full restaurant facility (open on weekends) is available for rent for private parties and has smaller side rooms for rent as well. It adjoins the demonstration area. All covered, all located along a small river surrounded by giant bamboo, so even in the heat it feels cool and refreshing.

I recently went to Los Trapiches for the first time with family and friends and found it to be a gem. We went on a Tuesday and had the place to ourselves – there were less than 2 dozen people there. If you go on the weekend, though, go early (before 10am), as the place is popular and space fills up quickly. Cost is ₡2500 for adults, weekends charge a bit more for extranjeros.   
Besides the cane processing demo (Sundays at 11), the landscaped grounds offer 2 swimming pools, changing rooms, bathrooms and showers, loads of picnicking spaces including tables and BBQ grills, play equipment for children, wide open spaces for running and playing or just throwing out a blanket to take a nap. There is a football plazo, and ponds with boats to float around in. The river that runs around and thru the facility becomes Los Chorros further downstream, a beautiful waterfall park currently closed (best to drive a little past Trapiches to get to Los Chorros, unless you really want a long walk).


updated 10/14/2021

Espiritu Santo Coffee Tour

by Irina Just

Not quite in Grecia, but the closest coffee tour we have (Coope Victoria does not do tours, as far as I know) is Espíritu Santo, named after the nearby mountain in Naranjo. Check out their website for directions, tour times and other details.

La Garita

Chocolate Tour Costa Rica

Located in nearby La Garita, Chocolate Tour Costa Rica offers this info from their site:

"We try and provide a close encounter to CACAO and it´s 4500 years of history, through a maze garden that takes you indulging the senses with tastes and smells and sensations so delicious...."

The Chocolate Tour is a full-immersion tour created by a group of professionals from the gastronomical, historical and natural backgrounds as to provide a unique round experience... a delicious experience. 

Please come and meet us... Let´s talk CHOCOLATE.
​BOOK 48 hours in advance. 

ChocoTour Costa Rica is located 500 mts east of ZOOAVE in La Garita de Alajuela
(506) 2433 2730   or  (506) 6193 0555

updated 10/14/2021 

Various Tours Available
From Tree to Bar through 4000 years of mystery...
Adults $30 Kids 6-12 $10
Nacionales con cédula c7000
9am - 11am - 1pm
DURATION: 90 min 
Bean-to-Bar Workshop
Create Chocolate from cacao beans to bars.
Crash course $250 
Also onsite:
Vivero and Super Foods
Visit the Medical herbs and super foods garden.

Chocolate Tour Costa Rica - about 20 minutes drive from Grccia
San Ramon

Horseback Riding and Quetzel Watching
in Bajo la Paz San Ramon 

by Susan James

Often referred to as "little Monteverde", Bajo La Paz, about 20 min outside of San Ramon, makes a wonderful day trip to a place of serene and magical beauty. The horse rides are on healthy, loved and well trained horses and the trails offer incredible vistas of the surrounding reserves, through forests, pastures, and across streams. Good saddles - and helmets are also available if desired.

A 2 1/2 hour ride costs 10,000 colones. A longer ride includes a hike on foot visit to a remote waterfall, and costs 15,000. Nacho, the owner and guide, has lived there all his life and is delightful. He also offers birds walks in the reserves - March thru May quetzals and bell birds abound, as well as trogons, guans, etc etc. Nacho is incredibly knowledgeable about the birds and is often able to call them in. The bird hikes cost 10,000 and are easy walking on good trails. 

After your ride or walk, have a yummy lunch at Florie's Soda right in the little village - it is totally charming, has great food, and they always have bananas hanging out for the birds. After lunch visit the wood-fired trapiche next door (usually only open on Thurs) and watch how they make tapa dulce the old fashioned way. For more info, please call Susan at 2454-5897 or call Nacho direct (Spanish only) 8875-1498.