When you’re in the mood for a vacation filled with adventure, head straight to Monte Verde. This guide on what to do & eat in Costa Rica (Monteverde edition) will help you plan an unforgettable trip.
Monte Verde, Costa Rica is one of the coolest places on this entire planet. Granted, I haven’t come close to going everywhere on this planet, but of the maybe 0.5% of the world that I have been to, this is one of the best! How’s that for a selling point?
Seriously, though, there is so much to do in Monte Verde. If you love to explore, go on adventures and take in all the beauty and wonder that is the rainforest, make this one of your must-visit destinations and use my handy-dandy What To Do & Eat In Costa Rica (Monte Verde) guide as your guide. (Also be sure to check out my What To Do & Eat In Costa Rica (Pacific Coast) guide!)
WHERE TO STAY IN MONTEVERDE
We opted for an Air BnB for this part of our trip, and I couldn’t have been happier with the place my friends found: Treetop House. It was a very unique, crafty and artsy home at the top of a hill. It seemed to sit on top of the trees (hence the name). It felt like we were staying in a treehouse. The pictures I have below don’t do justice to how cool it was.
The location was great! We were able to walk to a few restaurants and a little market, and we were a quick car ride away from the main village of Santa Elena. And since we were basically in the trees, we saw a bunch of cool birds and monkeys!
Our Air BnB host helped set us up with a few tours (more details on those below), which was super helpful.
I suggest staying at this Air BnB if you have a big group. If not, there are a ton of hotels in the area. If you don’t have a car, stay near the village of Santa Elena so that you can walk to a lot of places for food and drinks. I’m sure most of the hotels will help you with transportation to and from tours, as well.
A word of caution: Getting up to Monteverde is no easy feat. You’re at the top of a mountain, so you’ll be going up a lot of twisty, turny unpaved roads. Plan ahead if you get carsick and be sure to get a car with four-wheel drive if you’re driving.
WHAT TO DO IN MONTEVERDE
Oh, where to start?! There is so much to do around here. There are a bunch of hiking trails. We hiked along the trail this company provides tours for, but we did it on our own vs. having a guide. It was an awesome trail! There are huge fig trees, beautiful water falls and gorgeous views.
We also did a night tour, which I’d recommend to anyone. A tour guide led our group through the rainforest with flashlights and helped us spot all the night creatures. We mostly saw a bunch of creepy crawly things, but they were still pretty cool to see. Our guide knew so much about all the life in the rain forest. It gave me a whole new appreciation for bugs!
You never know what creatures will be out and about at night, but here’s a list of what we spotted:
- Pygmy rain frog
- Mexican hairy porcupine
- Blue-crowned motmot
- Scarab beetle
- Cockroach (at least they weren’t in my apartment!)
- Ground crickets
- Orange-kneed and brown tarantulas
- Daddy long legs
- Stick bug (see picture below)
- Wolf spider
- Orb spider
- May beetle
- Mymph cricket
- Blue-throated toucanet
- Leaf cutter ants
In Monteverde, zip lining is a must! It is incredible to zoom across the sky above the trees. You look around and all you see is nature. It’s breathtaking. We went up to Selvatura Park where you can zip line, swing on a Tarzan swing and hike on your own (or guided) across all the canopies.
After all that hiking and adventure, it’s good to plan a lower key activity. We decided to tour one of Costa Rica’s coffee plantations. It was interesting to learn how their process is different from others around the world and what makes their coffee so unique (and delicious).
If you want the highest quality coffee, look for one labeled as Peaberry! These are single bean coffees, which means the beans are more resistant to temperature and can be roasted for longer periods of time. Yum!
Another fun thing to do is shop around the village of Santa Elena. There are a bunch of touristy shops, bars and restaurants.
WHAT TO EAT IN MONTEVERDE
The local cuisine is the same in Monteverde as it is on the Pacific Coast. You can’t go wrong with Casado (a Costa Rican dish consisting of rice, beans, plantains, salad and a protein), and the coffee is delicious. During our coffee tour, we also learned about arracache, a root vegetable that looks like ginger and is delicious when cooked up with ground beef and potatoes.
Below are some of the restaurants we tried during our trip:
- Stella’s Bakery – This was our breakfast go to. They made a mean Huevos Rancheros.
- Tree House – A neat restaurant in Santa Elena that has a tree growing right through the center of it. The food was delicious, though definitely more expensive than some other restaurants around.
- Tico y Rico – Inexpensive and great for a traditional bite.
- Bar Amigos – Fun for a night out. There was live music on Friday night, the dance floor was packed with both tourists and locals and there are pool tables downstairs.
- Whole Foods – Don’t be fooled. This isn’t the Whole Foods you know. However, they do have a lot of allergy friendly options if you’re looking for a snack or have a kitchen to store things. It’s right across the street from Stella’s Bakery.
BONUS TRAVEL TIPS
- All the same tips from the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica apply.
- You aren’t supposed to flush anything down the toilet except your pee and poop! That includes toilet paper. It goes in the trash can.
- Watch out for scorpions. Yes, for real. Don’t worry, though. After we found the first one, we did our research and learned that the ones in Costa Rica aren’t deadly. They might sting you and it might hurt, but they’ll usually only sting you if provoked. They like dark places, so if you’re nervous, you may want to keep the lights on. Just saying!
What adventurous things have you done (or worn) lately? Share them in this week’s Fit & Fashionable Friday Link Up (full rules here).
Have you ever been to Monteverde? Would you go?
Which activity would you do first?