Literally Green Mountain, set atop the continental divide, Monteverde is home to one of the largest cloud forests in the world. The misty and chilly town with crisp air helps grow a diverse vegetation and hosts a thousand varieties of wildlife. The tiny and quaint town of Santa Elena is home to artisan shops, nice restaurants and bars, and friendly locals.
Due to its high altitude, it gets a constant supply of clouds often in the form of misty fog that creates a moist atmosphere that nourishes a complex ecosystem containing hundreds of species of animals, plants and orchids. Coffee and cocoa plantations are common as well due to the moisture, temperature and the soil.
During our stay here we explored some of the parks and reserves in the area and hiked through the clouds and atop hanging bridges to witness the biodiversity. Below are the ones that should not be missed. Read more about the cloud forest experience here.
- Santa Elena Reserve – A privately owned park near the Selvatura Adventure Park, and is quite small in size. A nice relaxing walk around nevertheless to soak in the misty clouds of the forest.
- Monteverde Cloud Forest-After Dark – It is a must try while in the rainforest or cloud forest to see some of the nocturnal wildlife around.
- Monteverde Cloud Forest – Fairly large park with a number of trails of varying effort levels. The continental divide can also be seen from here, and with luck can witness both coasts from the top of the Swamp trail. Read our review in Tripadvisor here.
- Curi Cancha Bioreserve – Probably one of the most underrated parks, and hands down the best chance to spot wildlife.
We stayed in one of the environment friendly eco-lodges just outside the main strip of the town, with views of the valley.
Food, Coffee and Nightlife
Experiencing the coffee and chocolate plantations in Monteverde are something to not miss out. Although we found a couple of cafes and shops that sold amazing coffee beans, coffee and chocolate that were less expensive than the tours. Right in the heart of the plaza is Beso Espresso with a great selection of coffee products and coffee. Liked the ambience and the customer service from the bilingual staff. We got cappuccinos and brownies. Also bought carpalillo coffee beans for its flavor and intense body.
Food-wise, we explored a few of the local Tico restaurants and definitely Sabor Tico won our hearts with great service and amazing local cuisine. Also, for lunch we ate at a couple of local sodas but the food variety was not great yet some tasty options were available.