Costa Rica is broken up into seven provinces that all come with varying features. Three provinces are along the coast, and four of the provinces are landlocked.
The Central Valley area can be considered the sprawling domain of the capital city of San Jose. This area includes much of the province of San Jose, but is also made of parts of the provinces of Cartago, Heredia and Alajuela. This is where much of the country’s economy works from, and it is where many major events take place.
The three provinces that make up the coastline of Costa Rica are Límon, Puntarenas and Guanacaste. Límon is on the Caribbean side, and has an interesting history regarding its banana plantations and the railroad. Puntarenas is the southernmost Pacific province. It borders Panama to the south, Guanacaste province to the north and San Jose Province, Cartago Province, Alajuela Province and Límon Province are east of Puntarenas.
Guanacaste is bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Alajuela Province to the east and Puntarenas Province to the south. There are many beaches, good surf and other water related activities to be found in Puntarenas, Guanacaste and Límon, and all three are home to some exceptional national parks.
The landlocked provinces are also home to national parks with volcanoes, rivers, waterfalls and hot springs among some of their attractions. Other attractions like the Poás Volcano in the Province of Heredia, for example, consist of the La Paz Waterfall Gardens and the Doka Estates Coffee Plantations on the hills going up to the volcano. The Turrialbe Volcano, on the other hand, has attractions at the base of its slopes such as the Pacuare River valley which is frequented by rafters.
The provinces all have certain things to offer visitors. In Límon, you might learn about the culture of the Afro-Caribbean people that it is populated by, whereas in Puntarenas you might spend all your time looking for the next big break at Playa Hermosa or Playa Esterillos. You can go for fresh coffee in Heredia, and visit the iconic Arenal Volcano in Alajuela. San Jose has more metropolitan pursuits, and Cartago showcases the Spanish Colonial history of Costa Rica. There are plenty of places and things to see and find out about in the different provinces of Costa Rica.