hidden gems in Costa Rica

My favorite hidden gems in Costa Rica!

If you are planning a trip to Costa Rica, you probably already know that this is the most touristy country in Central America. While most famous attractions in the country are visited by the tourist crowds, especially during high season, the country still has some incredible hidden gems to offer.

In this blog post, I will introduce you to my TOP 6 hidden gems in Costa Rica, so you can explore off the beaten tourist path during your trip!

hidden gems in Costa Rica

1. Catarata Vuelta del Canon

Easily my favorite hidden gem in Costa Rica and even my favorite waterfall in all of Costa Rica.

The beauty of this waterfall is incredible and the best thing about it is that it is not well visited at all. The area Bajos del Toro in general (also a hidden gem on this list) is not very well visited, compared to other regions in Costa Rica.

The hike to the waterfall is about 5 kms long and takes a bit less than 2 hours. While the trail is mainly flat, it is very muddy in parts and requires 14 river crossings in total. It is recommended to visit as part of a guided tour, however I have done the hike by myself and it has worked out great!

I did not see a single other person on my hike there and while I spent about an hour at the waterfall. Only on the way back, I came across a small group of people making their way there.

If you are into adventures and waterfalls – I cannot recommend this place enough!

Definitely check this hidden gem out, if you have the chance to.

In THIS blog post, I am sharing everything you need to know before visiting Catarata Vuelta del Cañón.

Catarata Vuelta del Canon

2. Playa Bejuco

One of my favorite beaches  and a great hidden gem in Costa Rica!

While this beach is not exactly a secret, it is still definitely much less visited than some popular options along the Pacific coast.

Playa Bejuco forms, together with some other beaches like Esterillos beach one long stretch of beautiful beach! The beach is as pretty as it gets in Costa Rica, with fine, brownish sand and many, many palmtrees.

The water is great for swimming, even though on some days the waves might be a bit strong.

It is quite well visited, especially for sunset, however due to the size of the beach, you hardly see anyone throughout the day.

My favorite part was that it is possible to camp right under the palmtrees with the most beautiful ocean views. I spent days here, just taking beach walks, swimming, eating coconuts and making campfires and admiring the sunsets!

Definitely a hidden gem in Costa Rica that you should check out, if you are a beach lover like me!

Playa Bejuco
Playa Bejuco

3. Kinkara Luxury Retreat

One of my favorite glamping experiences I ever had! I have visited Kinkara Luxury Retreat as part of a collaboration and I loved my stay so much that I decided to add it to the list of my favorite hidden gems in Costa Rica.

The property is HUGE and located far off the usual tourist route, about 1 ½ hours drive from Uvita.

The glamping accommodations are beautiful belltents without electricity but with an amazing vibe and super comfortable beds!

They offer an amazing farm-to-table cuisine and I enjoyed every single meal I had during my stay.

My favorite part of Kinkara is it´s beautiful nature surroundings. The property is full of tropical plants and has it´s own walking trails and even a little waterfall that you can explore.

They are mainly targeting group retreats, which is why not many tents are usually booked when there isn´t a whole group around. However, they do rent out individual tents as well.

If you are looking for an authentic glamping experience and a great hidden gem in Costa Rica – I highly recommend staying at Kinkara and spending some relaxed days here.

They also just started offering some cool signature retreats, in case you are interested. Check out their website for more information!

Kinkara Luxury glamping
Kinkara glamping tent

4. Paraiso Manantiales

This hidden gem in Costa Rica consists of a total of 8 beautiful waterfalls. They don´t have any fancy water color, but they are still very beautiful and worth a visit. Compared to other waterfalls in the country, these ones are hardly visited.

To see the waterfalls, a short but steep hike is required. The total round trip is only about 2 km, but basically steps all the way.

The trail also features a spiral staircase, hanging bridge and lookout point.

There are some spots for swimming as well, so make sure to pack your swim wear and a towel!

The most impressive waterfall here is Catarata La Mica, a huge drop with multiple water streams – like out of a fairytale!

This place is, like the region itself, an amazing hidden gem. I had the place all to myself and only a few google reviews let me guess that it is not very well visited in general.

I kind of found this place accidentally on the IOverlander app, when I was looking for a campsite and this place popped up and had some really great comments, so I camped here and then explored the waterfalls the next morning. The round trip hike took me about two hours with multiple photo stops along the way. Highly recommend stopping at this hidden gem!

Paradiso Manantiales
hanging bridge and waterfall at Paraiso Manantiales
hanging bridge

5. Playa Aguja

What a find!

Certainly not the prettiest beach in Costa Rica, but I loved so many things about this place!

This was the very first beach I visited once I got to Costa Rica. After having some problems with my car when I picked it up, it felt like heaven arriving to this beach, having a cold beer and going for a swim!

I ended up staying here for several nights, just enjoying long beach walks, going for a swim, watching the WILD macaws in the trees and making campfires!

Yes, there are a bunch of wild macaws living in that area. I was lucky enough to spot them several times, snacking on the trees just above my campspot.

Again, this beach is not exactly the most beautiful one but it´s super calm and has such a special vibe.

During low tide, you can walk around the corner to another beach and also get some fresh oysters off of rocks along the way. I had oysters for lunch on many days, still making my mouth watering just thinking of it!

Especially if you are looking for a nice place to camp, I recommend visiting. Also if you are not into camping, it´s well worth stopping here for a day and enjoy this wonderful beach!

having Playa Agujas all to myself
wild macaws at Playa Agujas in Costa Rica

5. Bajos del Toro

The above mentioned waterfall hidden gems in Costa Rica, are located in and around this area.

Bajos del Toro is home to dozens of beautiful waterfalls and compared to other areas of Costa Rica, it´s much less visited.

Due to the fact that there are so many more waterfalls and swimming holes located here, I decided to add it to the list of my favorite hidden gems in Costa Rica.

Bajos del Toro is a tiny town about 1 ½ hours North of San Jose. It´s surrounded by a magical cloud forest and enjoys a much cooler climate than most other parts of the country.

My very favorite waterfall Catarata Vuelta del Canon is also located here and there are MANY more.

Some more waterfalls in the area include: 

  • Catarata del Toro
  • Blue Falls
  • Catarata Tesoro Escondido
  • Catarata Caida del Cielo
  • Catarata Rio Agrio
  • Cataratas Finca Dos Rios
  • Cascada Poza Azul

If you are interested to learn more about this area and it´s waterfalls, make sure to check out this more detailed blog post about this hidden gem in Costa Rica HERE.

Blue Falls in Bajos del Toro
Catarata del Toro
Catarata Vuelta del Canon

Added some of this incredible hidden gems in Costa Rica to your To-Do list? 

Make sure to check out other Costa Rica blog posts to help plan your perfect trip: