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If you’re looking to validate a burning desire to escape to the Central American natural playground of Costa Rica, then you’ve come to the right place. Check out these nine life-changing things you can only experience in Costa Rica, but beware, you will be left with a strong drive to book a vacation.

Gawk at the most concentrated biodiversity in the world

Nature lovers flock to Costa Rica for its incredible flora and fauna. The place is literally teeming with life, containing almost six per cent of the world’s biodiversity. Take it all in on a scenic walk through the rainforest for an experience you won’t soon forget.

Get your adrenaline pumping and raft Tenorio River

Thrill seekers, listen up. The white water rafting at Tenorio River is some of the best in these parts. With eight miles of powerful currents, sudden turns and, yes, even waterfalls, brave visitors can count on getting wet on these rapids.

Find your Zen at Sensoria Land of Senses

If something relaxing is more your speed, a tour through this protected wildlife sanctuary should definitely be on your must-do list. A lush jungle trail will lead you through Blue Springs, thermal pools and gorgeous waterfalls for an experience like no other.

Soak in some hot springs in a jungle next to a volcano

Various hot springs located around the base of Arenal Volcano (don’t worry, it’s dormant) are kept warm by the magma boiling not far beneath the earth’s crust. Start with a hike on the volcano’s slopes before soaking up the restorative minerals in one of the many hot springs.

Discover La Pura Vida

There’s an expression in Costa Rica that’s more of a way of living than a mere colloquial phrase. La Pura Vida translates to “the pure life,” and locals and visitors alike tend to take it to heart. It’s about the beauty of the country, the richness of the culture, the welcoming nature of the people, and so much more. To discover its deepest, truest meaning, however, you’ll have to experience the country for yourself.

Ditch the jungle for the ocean

The rainforest in Costa Rica is a must-see, sure, but the beaches are also where it’s at. Snorkeling excursions provide some of the best fish-watching out there in waters that are so comfortable you won’t want to leave. Visit the country’s Tortuga Island in the Nicoya Gulf. Its crystal clear azure sea means you’ll spot your first fish within seconds of strapping on your mask and jumping in.

Tuck into a traditional casado for lunch at a local soda

Rice and beans have a pretty bland rep in much of Canada. But Costa Rica’s staple lunchtime meal “casado,” which translates to “married man,” is usually a diverse and filling plate of rice, beans, meat, greens and often plantain. Find the most genuine versions at traditional sodas, a.k.a. local, traditional restaurants. With everything there is to do in this country, you’ll definitely be working up an appetite.

Make a furry friend at an animal sanctuary

Want to get up close and personal with some of the country’s incredible wildlife? Diamante Animal Sanctuary is a stellar option, where you can take in the amazing landscape while learning about animals like sloths, toucans, jaguars, pumas and more.

Treat yourself to a Trits

Perhaps the best way to describe Trits, the go-to ice cream treat in Costa Rica, is as an ice cream sandwich in a tub. But that doesn’t do it justice. It’s vanilla ice cream and ribbons of gooey chocolate syrup in between graham-ish cookies. Don’t leave the country without trying one (or a dozen). It’s the perfect treat after a busy day of adventuring.

Vacation like a star at a resort like no other

The only hotel of its kind in the Caribbean, Planet Hollywood Beach Resort Costa Rica offers guests the star treatment like nowhere else. With themed experiences and a variety of all-inclusive bars and dining venues, including Guy Fieri’s Burger Joint, it’s the closest you’ll get to living like Hollywood royalty.