Costa RicaCosta Rica

       isolated three shack family cabecar village pacuare
  - Costa Rica

Rural Tourism

Rural Tourism

Get a first-hand look into the day-to-day life of Costa Ricans with rural tourism, which focuses on the preservation of local culture while encouraging sustainability. Give back to the people and places that make your trip unforgettable as you learn about local traditions and cultures. Enjoy the most authentic Costa Rican experience possible – sit down for a typical family dinner, stretch your Spanish skills, or help collect farm-fresh eggs for your breakfast. Community tourism is respectful tourism – preservation of local customs, a nod to history, and consideration for the local environment.

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As a rural tourist, your dollars bolster the local economy and directly benefit the communities you visit. On the Nicoya Peninsula, rural tourism monies help protect private reserves and develop environmental education programs. In the north Pacific, your tourism dollars help support a youth collective and a women’s crafts cooperative. Visitors to rural communities will share in true Costa Rican hospitality. Sit down for a family dinner of homemade gallo pinto, fresh cheese, locally farmed chicken, and sip a fruit drink made from backyard bounty. If you’re interested, learn how to make the cheese and choose the ripest, juiciest fruit. Use the trapiche, or sugar press, to make a delicious sugar cane drink. Participate, enjoy, make lifelong friendships – you’re a rural tourist. 

Sustainable Living

Travel to Puriscal, a town of picturesque, green mountains and deep valleys just 30 miles west of San Jose. Explore Costa Rica's great outdoors in a way you never have: meet farmers, learn to herd cattle at a local ranch, or learn to fish with just a hook and line. Later, dive into Central Valley traditions with a visit to Don Franklin’s Trapiche Tour where you can learn how sugar cane is transformed into granulated sugar, make your own sugar cane juice, and dig into some sweet treats. Later, visit the Vegas de Santiago Tobacco Tour and discover the process of cigar making and how tobacco traditions have had a positive socioeconomic effect on this mountain town. Located in the tiny village of Mastatal de Puriscal, the family-run La Iguana Chocolate Farm has produced organic chocolate for more than 25 years. The sustainable farm offers daily tours and welcomes volunteers to assist in cocoa production and local community service projects.

Community Farming

Finca La Bella offers its guests a look into its 122-acre community-farming project located just three miles from Monteverde. Here, you’ll stay with local farming families – wake up with the roosters, help milk the cows, and try your hand at making traditional foods. Learn about the Finca’s farming projects that include organic arabica coffee, beans, sugar cane and bananas. Share in daily activities and learn what it’s like to be part of a Costa Rican family – by the time you leave, you’ll feel like you’ve made friends for a lifetime.

Delicious Dairy

Take a trip to the Juanilama Reserve, located in Santa Rosa de Pocosol, around 20 miles from Arenal. The town’s friendly residents gladly share their traditional knowledge with guests – start by milking a cow, then help turn your freshly-squeezed milk into a mouthwatering cheese. When you’re done, fry up the queso tierno, or young cheese, grab some bread, and sit down to snack with your new friends. Juanilama Reserve also offers hikes to the beautiful La Leona Waterfall, horseback rides, and tours of their agro-industry, which produces yucca and ginger, among other edibles.

Hometown Visit

Head on up to La Casona, or The Big House, located in downtown Tortuguero. You’ll be welcomed with warm smiles and plenty of hospitality from a Costa Rican family who shares the house with their guests. Dine on Costa Rica’s favorite dishes – heart of palm lasagna, chicken with rice, and other delicious goodies – and lounge in hammocks under thatched roofs. Explore the canals like the residents do, in a dug-out canoe, and hike through Tortuguero National Park with a local guide. You’ll enjoy Tortuguero as if it were your hometown, too.

Indigenous Culture & Conservation

Known as the cradle of Costa Rica’s remaining indigenous cultures, the areas surrounding Cahuita and Puerto Viejo offers many chances to visit traditional communities. The Kekoldi Indigenous Reserve is an ideal place to begin your quest for ancestral wisdom as well as Bribri and Kekoldi traditions. Visit the reserve’s green iguana breeding and preservation project, take a chocolate tour, dine on traditional foods, or climb to the birding tower and observe one of the largest raptor – vultures, osprey, kites, hawks, and falcons – migrations in the world. As you become one with nature, you’ll feel the tug of ancient traditions and begin to understand the knowledge that has been passed on for generations.

Rural Traditions

Visit Reserva Los Campesinos, or the Peasant’s Reserve, just east of Manuel Antonio to experience the rural traditions that have sustained Costa Ricans for centuries. Wander through the reserve’s 80 acres of protected rainforest, meander through a maze of hanging bridges, learn about medicinal plants, take a basket ride on the river, or jump into natural swimming holes for a refreshing dip. You’ll dine on traditional dishes cooked on a wood stove, nibble on organically-grown greens, and talk with men and women who make their living in the same ways as did their great-grandparents.

Wild Wonderland

Named after an indigenous legend much like Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Curubanda Lodge is one of the north Pacific’s most successful rural tourism initiatives. Located between Rincon de la Vieja and the Gulf of Papagayo, the lodge offers exquisite views that stretch as far as Lake Nicaragua and the Caribbean coast. Hike to hidden gems like Cacao Volcano and untouristed waterfalls, participate in twice-daily cow milkings, and investigate the area’s prolific flora and fauna. 

Chocolate Delights

Located near the Osa Peninsula's Puerto Jimenez, Finca Kobo is dedicated to sustainable farming, chocolate production, and showing tourists a great time. Meaning "Dream Farm," Finca Kobo is divided into four sections: primary forest, secondary forest, regeneration areas, and biological cooridors. While you learn about local ecosystems, your guide will provide insight into chocolate production and the history of cacao in Costa Rica – including its signifcance to early indigenous groups and ongoing importance to modern agriculture and the local economy. Best of all, the tour ends with a delicious feast – chow down on fresh cocoa beans, homemade chocolate, home-baked sweets, and fresh fruits.

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