The Rainforests, Volcanos and Beaches of Costa Rica Draw Ecotourists

The Rainforests, Volcanos and Beaches of Costa Rica Draw Ecotourists

There are good reasons why Costa Rica is a prime ecotourism destination for North American tourists. It has hundreds of breathtaking waterfalls, peaceful lakes, and roaring rivers.

But the lush rainforests covering the country draw many of the tourists. Once there though, you’ll also find eerie and beautiful cloud forests in the Central Highlands, as well as dry tropical forests in the north, and 300 stunning beaches along its Pacific and Caribbean coasts. There are nine major volcanoes, too.

View of the Arenal Volcano in the province of Alajuela in Costa Rica
Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica

Costa Rica is served by two airports: Aeropuerto Internacional Juan Santamaría in the capital of San Jose, and Aeropuerto Internacional Daniel Oduber Quirós in the northwestern city of Liberia. San Jose is centrally located, and a better destination if you plan to explore most of the country.

Getting to Aeropuerto Internacional Juan Santamaría

There are not a lot of airlines from the major alliances flying between the U.S. and San Jose. These are your options.

American Airlines and the oneworld alliance:

  • American Airlines flies to San Jose from Dallas, Miami and New York (JFK)
  • US Airways flies from Charlotte and Phoenix

United and the Star Alliance:

  • Avianca Costa Rica flies from Los Angeles and New York (JFK)
  • United Airlines flies from Chicago, Houston, New York (Newark) and Washington, D.C.

Delta and SkyTeam:

  • Delta Airlines flies from Atlanta and Los Angeles, and seasonally from Minneapolis-St. Paul

There are also budget airlines that fly between the U.S. and San Jose:

  • Frontier Airlines flies seasonally from Denver
  • JetBlue Airways flies from Orlando and Fort Lauderdale
  • Southwest Airlines flies from Baltimore beginning March 7
  • Spirit Airlines flies from Fort Lauderdale, and starting May 28 from Houston

Getting to Aeropuerto Internacional Daniel Oduber Quiraós

If you can’t find a flight to the airport in San Jose, or if you are primarily interested in seeing the northern part of the country, then Liberia’s Airport is a good option. Here are the airlines that fly between the U.S. and Liberia.

American Airlines and the oneworld alliance:

  • American Airlines flies to Liberia from Dallas and Miami
  • US Airways flies from Charlotte

United and the Star Alliance:

  • United Airlines flies from Houston, and seasonally from Chicago and New York (Newark)

Delta and SkyTeam:

  • Delta Airlines flies from Atlanta, and seasonally from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Los Angeles and New York (JFK)

The low-cost carriers flying to Liberia are:

  • Frontier Airlines flies from Denver, and seasonally from Chicago and St. Louis
  • JetBlue Airways flies seasonally from New York and Boston
  • Sun Country flies seasonally from Dallas and Minneapolis-St. Paul

Early morning on Jaco beach, Costa Rica
Jaco Beach, Costa Rica

What It Costs to Get There

For all of the major domestic carriers and partners in their respective alliances, you’ll pay the following for a one-way award seat:

  • 17,500 for coach
  • 30,000 for business class
  • 40,000 for first class

Two caveats: You can’t buy a first class seat with miles from Delta, and if you’re able to fly during the low season, you can get an off-peak award ticket in economy from American or US Airways for only 15,000 miles.

Since most budget airline loyalty programs are revenue-based (meaning your award seat redemption rate is directly linked to the cost of a cash ticket), it’s impossible to predict how many miles your flight will cost, but check average prices for the time you want to travel to get a better idea. If you have miles in these programs, it’s worth trying to book a flight to see if you come out better than with the legacy carriers.

No matter which airline you use, Costa Rica’s natural beauty makes it worth the time to find an award ticket to get you there.