When deciding what to incorporate in your Costa Rica itinerary, likelihood is Monteverde or La Fortuna are in your record of locations to go. These two locations are among the many hottest within the nation, and their mountainous terrain and abundance of out of doors journey actions trigger many guests to check them. I visited each, and may give some perception on which one to choose if it’s nonetheless a toss-up for you:
It’s extra reasonably priced
This is perhaps a controversial opinion, however Monteverde is cheaper than La Fortuna when you think about the price of lodging, transportation, and meals. I discovered a really reasonably priced lodging in Monteverde that was only a fast bus experience from the city heart and the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. It can save you cash by taking the bus forwards and backwards, while not having to splurge on a rental automotive to get from place to put. I additionally observed that the costs at eating places have been barely decrease in Monteverde than La Fortuna, though not by a lot.
Relating to the value of actions, each Monteverde or La Fortuna will be costly. All of it is determined by what you’re searching for, however general I believed Monteverde had extra budget-friendly choices, like visiting the Orchid Gardens or the Sloth Sanctuary versus the pricier white-water rafting and rappelling which can be extra widespread in La Fortuna.
It has one of the best birdwatching
I’m not a lot of a birdwatcher myself, however recognizing so many uncommon and exquisite species in Monteverde made me wish to take it up as a passion. From colourful quetzales to spooky-looking owls, I noticed every kind of birds in Monteverde. This isn’t to say I didn’t see any in La Fortuna, however I did discover fairly a distinction between the 2, with extra of a wide range of birds in Monteverde.
Many attention-grabbing species of birds are greatest seen at night time, so I like to recommend becoming a member of a Cloud Forest Night time Strolling Tour. Even when you weren’t tremendous into the birds, the night time tour is nice for seeing different critters like frogs, spiders, snakes, and extra.
The climate is cooler
After being on the seaside in Manuel Antonio, I used to be excited to commerce my bikini for some leggings and a rain jacket. Monteverde was the coldest place I visited in Costa Rica, with chilly evenings dipping into the low 60s. I beloved the moody, foggy climate and the excuse to huddle within the blankets at night time, however in case you are hoping for a hotter getaway, this may not be your cup of tea.
It’s extra laid-back
Since Monteverde is barely much less touristy than La Fortuna, it has extra of a laid-back vibe. There normally aren’t large crowds; there have been no traces after I went (in July, in the course of the wet season). And the locals have been tremendous pleasant and right down to earth. Monteverde feels extra like an precise city the place folks reside versus a vacationer lure, which is how La Fortuna felt to me.
Monteverde is good for nature lovers who love peace and quiet. There have been so many moments whereas I used to be mountaineering within the cloud forest the place I used to be the one particular person round, a sensation that I crave when locations get too busy.
It’s in a cloud forest
Talking of the cloud forest, my favourite a part of Monteverde was seeing the astounding number of plant species. Right here you’ll be able to anticipate to see vibrant inexperienced moss hanging from the bushes, trickles of mist within the air, and thick jungle canopies for so far as the attention can see. I beloved the serenity of the forest, in addition to the paranormal high quality it takes on due to the fog.
The mountaineering is supreme
The Cloud Forest Reserve is only one of a number of locations in and round Monteverde which can be prime for mountaineering. Right here you’ll discover over eight miles of trails — sufficient to spend a complete day exploring. Different locations that have been improbable to hike have been the Kids’s Everlasting Forest, the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve, and Curi Cancha Reserve.
A quintessential a part of mountaineering in Monteverde is crossing the huge hanging bridges. In comparison with La Fortuna, I believed the Monteverde hanging bridges have been higher, as a result of a lot of them stretched above the forest cover and supplied beautiful mountain views.
Drawbacks of Monteverde
It’s a lot rainier
This isn’t a lot of a shock, contemplating that Monteverde is at a better elevation and surrounded by rainforest, however there was positively extra rain right here than in La Fortuna. There have been uncommon moments when it wasn’t moist, however even when it wasn’t pouring rain, there virtually at all times appeared to be mist or sprinkles. Although this generally is a huge turnoff for some vacationers, I didn’t thoughts it, as I used to be ready with waterproof gear. I discover the rain to be charming, whereas others may not.
There’s not any nightlife
Saying that Monteverde is useless at night time is an understatement. There’s just one bar on the town, and eating places sometimes shut round 10pm, so don’t anticipate to bounce the night time away right here. In case you’re touring solo and wish to meet different vacationers, think about staying in a hostel moderately than non-public lodging, because it is perhaps robust to department out in any other case.
You could want a 4×4 car
This varies relying on what you need to do in Monteverde, however simply getting there might be difficult in case your automotive doesn’t have 4×4 drive. The roads main into city are fairly bumpy, and I even noticed an enormous part washed away after I was en route. Clearly, in case you are taking public transportation, you received’t have to fret about driving — simply anticipate a rocky journey.
Another excuse why a 4×4 car could also be crucial when visiting Monteverde is that it will get fairly muddy in the course of the wet season. In case you’re renting a automotive with out four-wheel drive, there’s a threat you’ll get caught within the mud, or what’s worse, injury the automotive.
La Fortuna Highlights
It’s a lot simpler to get to
Since La Fortuna is nearer to San José and fewer distant basically, it’s a lot simpler and faster to get to from most different components of Costa Rica (as compared with Monteverde). The roads main into La Fortuna are smoother as nicely, so that you don’t have to fret about journeying hours on a bumpy highway filled with potholes. You may even go to La Fortuna on a day journey from San José when you’d like!
Scorching springs…dare I say extra?
One other large perk of visiting La Fortuna is the abundance of sizzling springs. Heated by geothermal exercise from the Arenal Volcano, these springs are each man-made and pure. The person-made ones are much less spectacular, however nonetheless good to soak in and form of jogged my memory of an grownup water park with sizzling tubs as an alternative of wading swimming pools. The pure sizzling springs come from the Arenal River, and there are a few spots the place you’ll be able to take a dip without cost (learn how right here).
There are extra adrenaline-pumping actions
La Fortuna is legendary for its daring actions. Some embrace excessive zip-lining, white-water rafting, canyoneering, and off-roading on ATVs. Positive, Monteverde has a few of these actions as nicely (zip-lining and ATV excursions), however the general vibe in La Fortuna lends itself to having a extra thrilling expertise geared toward getting your adrenaline pumping.
The waterfalls are spectacular
There’s no denying that the waterfalls in and round La Fortuna are completely well worth the hype. My two favorites have been La Fortuna and Río Celeste. Each of them have been insanely lovely and about the identical measurement, however you’ll be able to’t swim beneath Río Celeste like you’ll be able to at La Fortuna.
Monteverde has some waterfalls, however they’re not almost as spectacular as these close to La Fortuna, and the one one that might probably stack up is a 2.5-hour drive away. In case you’re tremendous pumped about swimming and chasing waterfalls, La Fortuna is perhaps one of the best decide for you.
There are higher probabilities to see mammals and reptiles
If you wish to see sloths within the wild, you’re way more prone to in La Fortuna, versus Monteverde. There are even excursions devoted to recognizing them of their pure habitat. La Fortuna can be higher for catching howler monkeys and different mammals, a lot of which come out round twilight (see them on this tour).
There are extra eating places and nightlife
La Fortuna is an even bigger city than Monteverde, so there are extra eating places to select from and a much more thrilling nighttime scene. Not like Monteverde, which appeared to close down at 10pm, La Fortuna stayed awake, with small bars and late-night bites as choices. As a solo traveler, it was simpler for me to satisfy different vacationers in La Fortuna, because the ambiance was extra social general.
Drawbacks of La Fortuna
It’s way more touristy
This was an enormous draw back for me, as I want extra low-key spots. Although I visited in the course of the wet season in July, La Fortuna was packed. In all places I went, it was tough to discover a second to easily be in nature with out so many individuals round. Some vacationers don’t thoughts this, however I hoped it will be extra laid-back. In case you go to in the course of the excessive season (December via April), be sure that to e book your actions and lodging nicely prematurely.
Usually, it’s costlier
General, I observed that costs have been larger in La Fortuna for nearly the whole lot. Probably the most notable distinction was for lodging, with even probably the most fundamental resort rooms beginning round $60 per night time. For reference, my lovely cabin-style room in Monteverde was solely round $30 an evening. Costs at eating places have been barely larger right here, too. Since lots of the actions in La Fortuna are extra excessive, they are typically costlier as nicely. An evening tour, for instance, that supplied virtually the identical expertise was $55 in La Fortuna in comparison with Monteverde’s $28.
It’s not precisely the “actual” Costa Rica
La Fortuna felt extra like a resort than a Costa Rican city. I observed that everybody, from the bus drivers to the wait employees, spoke excellent English and have been nicely skilled to cater to vacationers. I skilled great hospitality in the course of the entirety of my journey to Costa Rica, however right here it felt much less genuine and extra compelled. In case you’re hoping to study Costa Rican tradition, La Fortuna isn’t set as much as offer you that form of expertise.
So, Monteverde or La Fortuna?
The reply to this query is determined by a couple of key issues: your finances, what actions you wish to do, and the way a lot solitude you’d like. If you wish to save a pair bucks, do some extra chill actions, and have a slice of nature to your self, go to Monteverde. In case you don’t thoughts splurging a bit of for some added luxurious otherwise you wish to dive into some heart-pounding actions, La Fortuna is your greatest wager.
Each of those locations are utterly value visiting, so in case you have time to suit each of them into your itinerary, do it!
Now that you’ve got the whole lot you might want to select Monteverde or La Fortuna, which one made the reduce for you?