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Living Large in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is Spanish for "rich coast.” Spanish explorers called it that because of the rich biological diversity and extreme variety in landscapes. Sparkling beaches along both the Caribbean and the Pacific, active volcanoes, cloud forests and tropical rain forests make this tiny country a one-stop vacation destination.

In the past decade or so, "rich coast" has taken on new meaning. Accommodations have grown from being a back-packing vacation to a new crop of luxury resorts and hotels. The country has a progressive environmental policy and you may see the words eco-lodge or eco-resort when looking for Costa Rica accommodations. However, don't let these terms fool you. Eco-friendly is not at the expense of luxury for accommodations in Costa Rica. Here are areas to consider for luxury in Costa Rica.

Gulf of Papagayo

The Papagayo peninsula has developed into one of the most luxurious destinations in Central America with posh resorts, fine restaurants, golf courses and spas.

Manuel Antonio

The nightlife, restaurants and tours make this an excellent honeymoon destination. It is Costa Rica's original luxury resort area. Visitors here can find upscale accommodations within walking distance of Manuel Antonio National park.

Santa Teresa

The wide, sandy beaches of Santa Teresa are a playground for celebrities and surfers. It has been chosen as Central Americas best best. A ferry or small plane is the only way to get to this isolated spot with its luxury condo rentals and boutique hotels.


The volcano at Arenal was the country's most active until 2011. Around a dozen upscale properties are available for good prices. Find one with natural steaming water feeding luxurious gardens and spas.


Tamarindo is Costa Rica's most popular beach town. The surf shacks and beach bars here have grown into five-star restaurants and attractive accommodations. Despite paved roads and high-rises, the nearby beaches of Las Baulas National Park are unspoiled and known for their nesting turtles.