Costa Rica Map: Detailed Description of All Areas

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This Costa Rica map guide will give you a better idea of everything you need to know about the geography, regions, and towns, throughout the country.

Costa Rica is a small country, but it is filled with tons of amazing destinations.  And with so many great things to see, it can be difficult to find the best locations.

We have traveled extensively throughout Costa Rica and have a good understanding of every town and village.

Let’s get to planning!

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Costa Rica on the World Map

costa rica world map

Costa Rica is located in Central America directly south of Nicaragua and north of Panama.

The country borders both the Pacific Ocean on the west coast and the Caribbean Sea on the east coast.

In total, Costa Rica has a land area of 19,710 sq mi (51,060 km sq). 

The country is so small that it is possible to drive from the Caribbean coast to the Pacific coast in about four hours. 

If you visit Costa Rica you can start your day with the sunrise on the Caribbean and end it with the sunset on the Pacific.

Clickable Map of All Places to Visit in Costa Rica

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Here is a clickable map of all the popular towns to visit in Costa Rica.

By clicking on your desired destination you will be taken to our detailed guide to that location which includes transportation tips, seasonal info, great hotels, the best restaurants, and much more!

What Is the Capital of Costa Rica?

san jose Costa Rica map

The capital of Costa Rica is San José. The city is located in the center of the country.

It takes about 1.5 hours to drive to the Pacific Coast and 2.5 hours to drive to the Caribbean coast.

San Jose is a busy city. It is estimated that approximately 333,980 people live in the capital and around two million people reside in the surrounding metropolitan area.

Costa Rica as a whole only has a population of about 5 million inhabitants.

So, as you can see, a high percentage of the population lives in this central area.

Where are the International Airports in Costa Rica?

costa rica airports maps

There are two international airports in Costa Rica.

These are the Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) located in San Jose and the Liberia Guanacaste Airport (LIR) located in Liberia.

The San Jose airport is the most visited airport, but more and more flights are going to Liberia. 

We suggest flying into San Jose if visiting the Caribbean coast, Central Valley, Central Pacific, or Southern Pacific. 

Liberia is a great option for visiting Guanacaste Province, the Nicoya Peninsula, and La Fortuna. 

You can find out more in our guide to Costa Rica airports. For flights, we suggest checking out Skyscanner. We consistently find the best deals and flight options there.

Where are the Domestic Airports in Costa Rica?

There are several domestic airports located throughout the country.

Flying from one of the international airports to a domestic airport is a great way to get to your travel destination because it is much faster than driving.

What Are the Regions of Costa Rica?

Costa Rica Map: Detailed Description of All Areas

Here is a map of Costa Rica’s regions. 

There are seven regions in the country. 

Let’s go through each one so you can better understand the vibe of each place.

Note that the Central and South Pacific make up one province called Puntarenas. We like to split them up because there is so much to see in this province!

San Jose and the Central Valley

central valley of costa rica map

The San Jose Province is home to the country capital, San Jose, as well as the surrounding Central Valley.

This area is home to beautiful views, dormant and active volcanoes, the major international airport, plenty of coffee farms, and most of the major cities in the country.

The popular towns in this region are…

Alajuela

This town is great for visiting the nearby Poas volcano, touring coffee farms, and more!

San Jose

The capital city in Costa Rica and home to many nice parks, museums, restaurants, and nightlife.

San Gerardo de Dota

A cold cloud forest town that is perfect for bird watching and eating a lot of fresh trout.

Cartago

Cartago is home to Irazu volcano, beautiful views, coffee plantations, and hiking opportunities.

Orosi

A relaxed mountain village with volcano views and a lot of nature.

The Central Pacific

central pacific map

This is the most popular beach area in the country mostly due to how close it is to the San Jose International Airport. This area is great for mostly calm waters on the beaches, visiting the Manuel Antonio National Park, and plenty of adventure options.

Jaco

A bustling beach town. In our opinion, this isn’t the nicest town, but it is a good jumping off point for adventures.

Manuel Antonio

A popular beach town and home to Costa Rica’s most popular national park.

Herradura

Home to some very nice resorts and one of the only golf courses in the country.

Quepos

A bustling town that serves as a gateway to Manuel Antonio. The marina is a popular spot for fishing and catamaran trips.

Esterillos

A series of small villages located along wide stretches of beaches.

Hermosa

A small surfing village located next to Jaco. This is a good place to stay for relaxed vibes.

The South Pacific

south pacific map

This area is perfect for beaches of raw beauty backed up by dense jungle. The most popular activities in this area are surfing, whale watching tours, and hiking in Corcovado National Park.

This area is also often referred to as the Osa Peninsula. 

Uvita

Uvita is best known for its whale’s tail pictured above. It is a beach town with plenty of things to do.

Dominical

A small village with several nice restaurants. Once a year, this town fills up for the Envision Music Festival.

Puerto Jimenez

Located on the Gulfo Dulce, this is a good town to stay in if you plan to visit Corcovado National Pak.

Drake Bay

It is difficult to get here, but it is a great peaceful place to stay for exploring Corcovado National Park.

Ojochal

A beach village that extends into the jungle. It is home to many nice boutique resorts.

The Caribbean Coast

Costa Rica Map: Detailed Description of All Areas

This side of the country has a completely different vibe than the Pacific coast.

Here you can expect a Caribbean vibe, turquoise waters and many darker sand beaches.

Some popular things to do in this area are; seeing sea turtles in Tortuguero, hiking at Cahuita National Park, and beach hopping near Puerto Viejo.

Puerto Viejo

A popular town with backpackers and surfing enthusiasts. There is also a good nightlife scene here.

Cahuita

A fun Caribbean town that is best known for its amazing national park.

Manzanillo

This small village is a chilled out of destination with a nice national park located near the Panama border.

Tortuguero

Tortuguero is only accessible by boat. It is a small town that is a must-visit spot to see sea turtles laying their eggs.

Bocas del Toro

A series of islands located in Panama just over the border. This place is paradise on earth.

The Nicoya Peninsula

nicoya peninsula map

This remote little corner of the country is filled with beautiful beaches, world-class surf, fishing, and great hiking spots.

It is not the easiest to get to this region, but that contributes to its charm.

Also, don’t tell the rest of Costa Rica, but this is our favorite spot.

Santa Teresa

A popular surfer and backpacker town with some seriously chilled-out vibes.

Montezuma

A great place to enjoy long walks on the beach and hiking.

Samara

A medium sized town that is good for surfing and beach activities. This is a good spot for families.

Mal Pais

A tiny fishing village that is perfect for getting away from it all.

Nosara

A small town that is popular for yoga, surfing, and it is close to where sea turtles lay their eggs.

Tambor

A small town with a domestic airport and one of the few golf courses in the country.

Paquera

The town where the ferry lands. A nice spot to visit for a night or two.

The Guanacaste Province

guanacaste map

This area near the Nicaragua border is home to the city of Liberia, one of the country’s two international airports, several nice beach towns, volcanoes, and waterfalls.

It is a great place to visit for snorkeling, diving, luxurious resorts, and family friendly activities.

Flamingo

Often considered the nicest white sand beach in the country, Flamingo is a popular town for nice resort stays.

Tamarindo

If you are looking for plenty of action from surfing to ATV tours, Tamarindo is the place for you.

Papagayo

The most popular area for all inclusive resorts in the country. A beautiful beach area.

Playas del Coco

A busy town that is popular with expats. It’s a great place for fishing and diving.

Playa Hermosa

A quiet beach area that is perfect for families. The water is calm enough to swim and there are several nearby activities.

The Northern Mountains

Costa Rica Map: Detailed Description of All Areas

The northern mountains are perfect for jungle and cloud forest adventures.

Some fun things to do here are; zip lining, relaxing in hot springs, hiking, hanging bridge exploration, enjoying volcano views, and visiting waterfalls.

The best time to visit this area is between December and late April for the best volcano views and least rain.

La Fortuna

La Fortuna is a popular jungle destination that is made for adventure. Here you can zip line, go white water rafting, swim under a waterfall, and more!

Monteverde

Monteverde is the perfect place for a unique cloud forest adventure. We love this spot for moody days, hiking, and zip lining!

Plan Your Itinerary Route

If you are visiting Costa Rica for one week we suggest visiting one jungle destination and one beach destination. 

This will give you the perfect feel for the country.

We don’t suggest visiting more than two places in seven days because although it is a small country, driving between destinations can take a long time.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, we completely understand. Check out our ready-made itineraries for tons of suggestions.

Here are three good itinerary map options.

Best of Costa Rica One Week Itinerary

Get a feel for Costa Rica in a short amount of time. Fly in and out of San Jose International Airport and see beautiful Pacific beaches and lush jungles.

Caribbean Dreaming Two Weeks Itinerary

Head to the Caribbean coast for two weeks and even visit Panama. Some of this itinerary can be done by bus. 

Pacific Beaches Three Weeks Itinerary

Soak up all those Pacific Coast vibes with three weeks of beach hopping. Enjoy surfing, swimming, relaxing, and more!

How Can I Use Costa Rica Maps to Get Around?

When you start to map out your trip we suggest using Google Maps to see how long it will take for you to drive between destinations. However, keep in mind that driving times typically take longer than quoted on maps.

It is not unusual to get stuck behind a big truck and have difficulty passing on narrow stretches of road. We suggest adding an hour on to any driving time that you are quoted on maps.

When it comes to actually getting directions between Costa Rica locations we suggest the free app Waze. It is the most widely used app for directions throughout the country. 

We don’t suggest using paper maps.

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Costa Rica Map: Detailed Description of All Areas

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Where Can I Rent a Car in Costa Rica?

cr map adobe

Here is a map of all the Adobe offices throughout the country. 

If you don’t feel comfortable driving long distances you can always opt to take a private transfer and then rent a car in your destination for day-to-day exploration.

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How Can I Cross the Costa Rica International Land Borders?

costa rica borders map

The two easiest places to cross the border are in Sixaola (if heading to Panama) and in Penas Blancas (if heading to Nicaragua). 

For more information, we suggest checking our guide to the Nicaragua border and our guide to the Panama border crossing.

Map of Costa Rican Resorts

There are so many great places to see in Costa Rica that we always suggest combining a stay at a resort with a few days of exploring on your own as well.

There are tons of resorts throughout the country, but we included our favorite 15 places throughout the country in this map.

For more options check out our guide to Costa Rice resorts.

Costa Rica Map of Beaches

Costa Rica is filled with beaches on both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts.

Keep in mind that by law all beaches in Costa Rica need to be free to enter and have access to the public.

That means the thousands of miles of coastline are yours for the taking!

This map shows some of our absolute favorite beaches in the country. Some places are great for surfing, some for swimming, and some for relaxing.

For more beach tips, check out our Costa Rica beach guide.

Costa Rica Map of National Parks

Costa Rica has 30 national parks located throughout the country which encompasses 25% of the land in the country. 

These national parks consist of volcanoes, sea turtle breeding grounds, areas of dense wildlife, waterfalls, and more.

Click on the map above to find out more about the national parks in the area you are visiting.

We also have a guide to national parks to give you more info.

Map of Costa Rica Waterfalls

This waterfall map of Costa Rica includes the most popular falls to visit.

Keep in mind that sometimes you will get lucky and find waterfalls on private properties or in other parks throughout the country.

For more information check out our waterfall guide.

Map of Costa Rica Volcanoes

Costa Rica is filled with impressive active and dormant volcanoes. 

For the best volcano pictures, head to Arenal Volcano in La Fortuna. 

For active volcanoes in which you can see the crater up close, we suggest Poas or Irazu in the Central Valley region.

Map of Costa Rica Golf Courses

If golfing is your thing, here is a map of all the major golf courses in the country. Keep in mind that some of these are located in private resorts and may not be open to non-guests.

You can find out more with our guide to golfing.

FAQ: Costa Rica Maps

Where is Costa Rica on the world map?

On a world map, Costa Rica is the country directly north of Panama and south of Nicaragua. It is located in Central America and has an extensive Pacific and Caribbean coast.

Does Google Maps work in Costa Rica?

Yes, Google Maps is great for driving directions within Costa Rica. However, the preferred GPS app for most people in Costa Rica is Waze.

What side of Costa Rica is nicer?

That depends on your preference. The Pacific coast is more popular with tourists and is known for having nicer beaches. But, the Caribbean coast has a more raw authentic feel.

Is Costa Rica an island?

No, Costa Rica is not an island. The country is located in Central America and has land borders with Nicaragua and Panama.

If you have more questions regarding Costa Rica maps please leave them in the comment section below.

We are always happy to help you out!

You Might Also Like:

Costa Rica Travel Details: What You Need to Know

🚗 Should I rent a car in Costa Rica?

Having a rental car will give you the most flexibility when traveling in Costa Rica. This will also allow you to take fun day trips on your own.

🏄🏽 How can I book things to do?

We find that Viator tends to have the most comprehensive selection of activities with secure booking and good cancellation policies.

🍍 I’m overwhelmed with planning. Can you help?

Of course! I suggest joining our Facebook group for specific questions and head to our Start Here Page to get started planning.

✈️ What is the best way to book a flight?

Usually, we have the best luck finding great prices with Skyscanner. Check for flights to both San Jose Airport (SJO) and Liberia Airport (LIR).

🛏️ What is the best way to book my Costa Rica hotels?

We highly suggest Booking.com for hotel bookings and typically use VRBO for Costa Rica vacation rentals.

🗣️What is the main language in Costa Rica?

The main language in Costa Rica is Spanish. Most people working in tourism speak at least some English.

💰 What is the currency in Costa Rica?

The currency used in Costa Rica is the Costa Rican colón (CRC). However, the US dollar is widely accepted in most tourist areas

📞 What is the best way to stay connected?

An eSIM from Airalo is the easiest way to get 4G data while traveling in Costa Rica.

🌴 Is Costa Rica safe?

Generally, Costa Rica is considered safe for tourists. However, like any travel destination, it’s best to use caution and be aware of your surroundings.

🛂 Do you need a passport to go to Costa Rica?

Yes, Costa Rica is its own country. You will need a passport to visit.

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