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Photograph courtesy of Wildland Adventures
Coast Confidential

With Costa Rica’s Pacific coast looking more and more like Southern California’s—overdeveloped and overcrowded—it’s a far cry from the adventure getaway of 15 years ago. And until recently, the country’s other coast, the Caribbean, simply wasn’t a viable alternative. But the extension of a paved road to CR’s far east has unlocked the area’s beaches and parks, and inspired one outfitter to launch a new trip. Wildland Adventures’ nine-day excursion begins near the Panama border at Selva Bananito Lodge, a family-owned eco-retreat on a private, 2,000-acre preserve. You can hike through rain forest, rappel down an 80-foot waterfall, and help reintroduce a tropical hardwood forest to the area by planting trees on a rundown 19th-century banana plantation. Caribbean culture runs deep here, and you’ll get a taste of it—literally—during cooking classes in the beach town of Puerto Viejo (coconut rice, fried plantains, and fresh fruit shakes are all staples). Then it’s time for serious wildlife viewing at Kéköldi Indigenous Reserve, one of the world’s best places to watch the great raptor migration (prepare for up to 500,000 hawks, ospreys, falcons, and vultures), as well as a refuge for iguanas and giant leatherback turtles. This being a coastal trip, you’ll have plenty of time for the water too. From March through September the reefs light up with blue tangs, grunts, and parrotfish, and corals with names like “fire” and “elkhorn.”

Outfitter: Wildland Adventures;
Price: $3,415 ($$$)
Length: 9 days
Departs: February–November

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