Margaritas, mariachi bands and the Mayan Ruins. These are just a few reasons why Mexico is one of Latin America’s most prized possessions. Did we mention the cactus state is full to the brim with gorgeous beaches and world-class nightlife, too? Head further south, though, and you’ll find its biggest rival, Costa Rica. This place majors in nature-filled forests, amazing volcanoes, and a dense landscape which makes it ideal for days out exploring. Keep reading to find out why if you liked Mexico, you’ll love Costa Rica…
Mexico is nestled in the middle of the Pacific and Caribbean Oceans, making it the ideal place to grab a board and take to the waves. And because Mexico is home to a wealth of surf-perfect beaches, places like Nuevo Vallarta, Sayulita, and Punta de Mita are all great for beginners and pros alike thanks to excellent southern swells.
Just like Mexico, Costa Rica is surrounded by the Caribbean and Pacific Oceans, meaning bath-warm waters, coral reefs and long belts of sand are within easy reach. Tamarindo Beach on the Pacific Coast gets full marks for serving up all the right waves in Costa Rica. It’s flanked by hippy beach bars and tonnes of water sport shops, so it’s practically a surfer’s paradise. The main attraction here is Witch’s Rock. This huge boulder pokes out of the sea, creating the ideal backdrop for when you’re filming your twists and turns with a trusty GoPro.
Hot right now
It wouldn’t be a holiday to Mexico without visiting the world-renowned Mayan Ruins. This ancient city held huge significance between 600-1,200AD, and its remaining structures are just as interesting as they are hashtag worthy. The Temple of the Jaguars and macabre Tzompantli bench top most holidaymakers’ must-visit lists, where the heads of sacrificial victims are displayed – spooky stuff.
Over in Costa Rica, there’s another legend that’s really hot right now. Rincón de la Vieja is both a volcano and a national park, so it’s one not to be missed. Its cloud-like steam was once believed to have cast a spell over the thick jungle below, and the cone-like caldera sits almost 2,000 metres above sea level. You’ll find this super-sized volcano simmering in Guanacaste – but don’t worry, it hasn’t actually erupted since 1998.
The Garden of Eden
Holidays to Mexico aren’t just about stretching out on the beach with a cocktail in hand. Okay, we do admit there are some amazing places to do exactly that – but that’s not all the cactus state has to offer. Take our Tulum Jungle Maya excursion, for example, where you’ll get to spend the day snorkelling in the world’s longest river, trundle rainforest in a 4×4, and exploring underground caves on foot.
Costa Rica takes exciting days out to the next level, though. Did you know you can go zip lining through Montverde Cloud Forest? As the name suggests, the mountain-come-jungle is covered in a blanket of mist, so you’ll be really high up in the trees. While you’re there (and if you’re brave enough), you can cross eight hanging bridges which are strung from treetop to treetop and resemble the Ewok village from the Star Wars: Return of the Jedi film. Alternatively, if you’re after something less nail biting, why not lace up your hiking books and go on a trek through the jungle? You’ll likely spot toucans, hummingbirds and sloths. No wonder Costa Rica has been renamed the Garden of Eden…
Costa Rican food is the new Mexican
Dramatic scenery isn’t the only thing pulling UK crowds towards Costa Rica. This Latin American country serves up some of the best cuisine, too, and is giving Mexican cuisine a real run for its money. In terms of food, you can expect menus that are nothing short of mouth-watering. We recommend tucking into a sizzling dish of arroz con pollo. This chicken and rice dish is slow-roasted and oozes a really smoky flavour, so it’s perfect for keeping you fuelled up while spending the day exploring. When it comes to national dishes, though, ceviche definitely takes the crown. The fragrant dish is made from slices of raw white fish marinated in herbs and lime juice. In fact, the dish is so popular among holidaymakers that it’s now being dished up at restaurants in London – perfect for foodies.
Cocktail-wise, Costa Rica is all about a traditional guaro sour. This small-but-mighty tipple is Costa Rica’s most famous, thanks to its powerful punch. The recipe is a mixture of guaro cacique liquor, lime juice, basil and coriander.
Mexican beaches are well-known for being some of the best on earth. On the Caribbean Coast, you’ll get countless picture-perfect stretches of sand, and crystal-clear waters that turn snorkelling into your main daytime activity. Over on the Pacific side of the country, though, excellent waves and a laid-back atmosphere mean it’s a haven for surfer dudes and chicks.
Costa Rica is also renowned for having an impressive portfolio of tropical beaches. One of the most popular is Playa Flamingo Beach. It comes with Blue Flag status, so its credentials are as good as it gets. This strip of sand is everything you could hope for if you’re after some much-needed relaxation. Think pale-coloured sands that stretch out as far as the eye can see, and a gorgeous yacht-filled bay which is perfect for giving your Instagram followers holiday FOMO. No wonder this beach is one of the best in the region.
Now you know everything about Mexico and Costa Rica, it’s time to book. Browse our First Choice holidays.