This content has been created in collaboration with British Airways.
Whether you're looking to kick back on pristine beaches, surf some of the world's best waves, hike through untouched cloud forest or just lounge with a cocktail or five, Costa Rica is the dream destination that has it all.
The kind of place that you daydream about on a rainy Tuesday in February, this small slice of Shangri La is stacked full of diverse wildlife, rugged adventure and endless good times. There's a reason that the national catchphrase is Pura Vida (Pure Life).
As BA announces its new direct flight to the capital San José from £499*, we break down the 10 reasons why Costa Rica should be next on your hit list.
1 | It's The Happiest Country On Earth
The Pura Vida way of life courses through Costa Rica, with the famously cheerful locals - who refer to themselves as Ticos - using it as a greeting, farewell and general philosophy in day-to-day life. And with a country so full of sunshine, clear waters and good living, it's no wonder that Costa Rica was voted the happiest place to live on earth ...seriously, there was a poll and everything.
2 | It's Small In Size But Big In Diversity
One of Costa Rica's biggest draws is that, for a country that's roughly a third the size of England, it has a bafflingly vast array of sights, sounds and adventures to get caught up in. Whether you're carving a path through the bustle of San José or just looking to take it easy in a jungle retreat - with more than 800 miles of coastline to discover, chances are you're going to find something that suits your getaway tastes.
3 | It's The Birthplace Of Eco Tourism
With 26 national parks and more than 3 million acres of protected landmass, Costa Rica has been at the forefront of ecotourism well before it became a trendy buzzword. While some countries take their natural beauty for granted, the country has led the way in preserving its coral reefs, rainforests and jungles, meaning you can enjoy unparalleled nature without that pesky environmental guilt.
4 | It's The Perfect Time To Visit
With British Airway's recent announcement of two direct flights a week from London Gatwick to the capital of San José, starting from as little as £499 return, there definitely hasn't been a better or more accessible time to visit Costa Rica. And with flight times clocking in at a pleasingly manageable 11 hours, you're only a couple of gin and tonics and a snooze away from the crown jewel of Central America.
5 | You Can Hike Up A Smoking Volcano
A short trip from the capital, Poás is one of Costa Rica's most iconic natural monuments, an active volcano surrounded by stunning nature. If you're looking for a trek with a bit more bite than usual, then you can take a trip up one of its temperamental slopes, or if you prefer, relax in one of the spas dotted along the hot springs nearby.
6 | You Can Embark On Some World Class Rafting
With year-round warm water and 14 major river systems that flow all the way from volcanic canyons to the mouth of the Caribbean, rafting in Costa Rica is definitely not to be missed. Popular spots include Reventazon, Pacuare and Sarapiqui, with the intensity of the water ranging from gentle meanders beneath jungle canopies to white-knuckled, bullying rapids.
7 | You Can Chill Out In An Eco Lodge
As the daddy of eco tourism, it comes as no surprise to hear that Costa Rica is teeming with earth-friendly accommodation that places you right in the heart of the country's natural action. Whether it's an old farm or a solar-powered jungle hut, a stay in an Eco Lodge offers an opportunity to enjoy home comforts in a completely untarnished location.
8 | You Can Go On A Jungle Safari
Scarlet macaws, sloths, poison dart frogs, capuchins, crocodiles, ocelots and toucans; the jungles and rainforests of Costa Rica are said to be the most biodiverse in the world, teeming with more than 500,000 different species of animal. (300,000 of those are insects, but who's counting, really?) Making a tour through one of the country's inimitable conservation areas probably the most vital part of your itinerary.
9 | You Can Relax On Manuel Antonio Beach
The kind of beach that you could visit once and settle in for life, Playa Manuel Antonio is an absurd natural wonder of crystal water and white sands bordering on verdant rainforests and sleepy villages. The area is also home to some of the nation's best hotels and eco lodges, as well as being the spot to see sloths lazing about in the trees above.
10 | You Can Surf In Party Town Tamarindo
If you're looking to fish, surf or party - or all three - then Tamarindo is the place. Once an idle fishing village, this west coast haven has slowly transformed into one of the main draws of Costa Rica, with travelers coming from all corners to lap up its unspoiled beaches, fantastic restaurants and laid-back vibe. More than just a simple party town, Tamarindo also forms part of the Parque Nacional Marino Las Baulas de Guanacaste (good luck saying that after a rum), meaning that you can lose your hangover in more unspoiled Costa Rican wildlife and cloud forests.
Book now with British Airways and you can be on your way to Costa Rica from just £499 return from London Gatwick. Don't waste another second.
Costa Rica ranks number one in the 'Happy Planet Index happyplanetindex.org (correct as of 4 May 2016). Fare subject to availability and must be booked by 21 June 2016. Availability may be extremely limited, particularly during peak periods. Price is based on a return World Traveller (economy class) fare, departing from London Gatwick only to Costa Rica (San José – SJO), and includes taxes, fees and charges. Correct as of 4 May 2016 but is subject to change at any time. Fare available on select dates for travel between 1 November 2016 – 13 December 2016 inclusive, 12 January 2017 – 11 February 2017 inclusive and 2 March 2017 – 29 March 2017 inclusive and is subject to availability at the time of booking. Some payment methods attract a handling fee. See ba.com/costarica for details and full terms and conditions.