Cuba vs. Costa Rica

Cuba and Costa Rica have been consistently part of twin-country vacations of tourists. This is because the two make a great combination when it comes to the ultimate vacation experience. Both countries are unspoiled and famous tourist destinations that no one wants to miss. However, despite the similarities that the two countries have, each one offers a unique kind of experience.
Cuba vs. Costa Rica

Table of Contents

Cuba is a country that mainly showcases its unfiltered and unspoiled beauty. Cuba is colorful even without the modernization that other countries have undergone. This country is the perfect mixture of vibrant culture and spectacular views. There’s nothing else you will look for if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of your busy, everyday life.

On the other hand, Costa Rica is much like Cuba with its natural beauty. The country focuses on its biodiversity and ecotourism because that’s exactly what it offers. However, beyond the beauty that will treat all your senses, adventure awaits. Costa Rica is for the adventurous and courageous traveler that wants to take in everything that nature can offer.


If you want a holistic experience when traveling, Cuba will do it right for you. Cuba is a place where everywhere you go, parts of you will be satisfied. Your eyes, body, soul, and not to mention, your stomach, will all be in for a treat. However, the main draw of Cuba is in its atmosphere: it’s relaxing and will take you far away from your worries.

Of all the Caribbean islands, Cuba is the only one that’s bursting with energy despite not being commercialized like the others. Being the biggest Caribbean island there is, you can tell that there is a lot to explore in Cuba. From the sights to the food to the culture, there’s a lot to make you astonished and excited.

Step into Cuba and see just how staying true to nature and steering clear of modernization can do wonders to a place.

What Makes Cuba Unique?

The Best Beaches You’ll Look At

Of course, tropical vacation destinations aren’t complete with picture-perfect beaches. Caribbean beaches are some of the best you will find, and Cuba does not fall short of that. With some beaches known as the best in the world, Cuba has a lot to offer to beach lovers.

Because of how beautiful Cuba is, it’s one of those places where you will be able to find soft, white sands and towering palm trees everywhere.

Here are some of the best beaches in Cuba:

Playa Giron

Peaceful and laid-back. These two words perfectly describe what you should expect once you set foot in Playa Giron. However, what really makes Playa Giron a special gem is that it’s in a small village where everyone knows everyone. It’s surely a treat to spend your time here.

Playa Giron isn’t only a breathtaking arc filled with silky white sand and clear waters to match, there’s also a great history behind this beach. And you can know more about it, and Cuba in general, on the beach itself.

On the beach, you can find a little museum, Museo de Playa Giron, that houses and displays the history of the area. One big part of its history is the infamous Bay of Pigs invasion.

When you’re not learning about the history of Playa Giron, you can go snorkeling or scuba diving. Playa Giron is blessed with abundant marine wildlife that will be a feast for your eyes. However, if you’re not one to go on this kind of adventure, simply relaxing by the waters can already give you a deep sense of calm and enjoyment.

Playa Ancon

Playa Ancon is hailed as one of the finest beaches on Cuba’s south coast. With its striking white sands, it is one of the most inviting places in Cuba. However, it’s not all beauty. There’s adventure and history that goes along with the beautiful and stunning facade of Playa Ancon.

Near Playa Ancon, you can find the city of Trinidad, which is the most mesmerizing colonial city in Latin America. The city of Trinidad has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1988, so it’s definitely worth a look.

The adventure doesn’t stop there, because, in Playa Ancon, there’s a whole lot of watersports to keep you busy for the whole day. If you’re not one to just laze around by the beautiful waters, Playa Ancon is the place for you. Sailing, fishing, and scuba diving are just some of the activities that you can do to truly immerse in the beauty that the beach has to offer.


Varadero is easily one of the most popular beaches in Cuba. Varadero is known as one of the beaches that stands at the forefront of Cuba’s tourism. What with all its hotels, shops, and endless activities, there’s nothing more than a tourist could ask for.

Varadero is 15.5 miles (25 kilometers) of fine white sand and sparkling clear waters. If you want to be constantly entertained, there is a lot to keep you company here in Varadero. Whether it’s yoga or some sailing that you want to do, there’s definitely something for every kind of traveler.

Despite the fact that Varadero is crowded because of how popular it is, it maintains its beauty and charm. You certainly should not miss going to the lively beach of Varadero when visiting Cuba.

Playa Paraiso

It’s all in the name. Playa Paraiso is a paradise on Earth. The beach of Playa Paraiso may just be the most mesmerizing and stunning beach you see in Cuba. With bright white sands that are perfectly complemented by crystal clear waters, there is nothing more stunning. That is why it’s not a surprise to know that Playa Paraiso is constantly ranked as one of the most beautiful beaches in the whole world.

The real charm of Playa Paraiso is the fact that it manages to be untouched because of its secluded nature. If you’re looking to kick back and relax, there is no doubt that Playa Paraiso should be your destination.

The beach is underdeveloped, but the waters are welcoming enough to keep you relaxed and entertained for your whole stay. Despite the tranquil atmosphere in Playa Paraiso, you can still enjoy a number of activities such as snorkeling and swimming.

Vibrant and Colorful Culture

Cuba is one of the places with a culture that will bring you so much energy and vibrance. Cuba’s culture can take your breath away.

From their music to their food and festivals, you should not miss any of these things. The culture of Cuba is what makes the experience of traveling to it so fulfilling and memorable.

Here are some of the best aspects of Cuba’s culture:


Because Cuba’s culture and heritage are a mixture of different groups and cultures, they have a rich flavor when it comes to their cuisine. Cuban cuisine is the fusion of Chinese, Spanish, Caribbean, and African cuisines. Despite being a fusion of several cuisines, it manages to strike a balance and avoid going overboard. In fact, that is the main draw of Cuban food: powerful but simple.

From their sandwiches to their rum, whether it’s food or drink, Cuban cuisine is something memorable. There’s something you can find that will fit your tastes well.

Cucurucho, Arroz con Huevo, Ropa Viejo, Vaca Frita, and Lechon Asado are some of the most notable dishes in Cuba that you should not miss when you visit. These dishes are the ones that truly give you an idea of the fusion that went into Cuban dishes.

Music and Dances

If there’s one thing that Cuba is very known for, it’s its vibrant music and dances. The richest part of Cuba’s culture is music and dance. They are a musical country, after all! Wherever you find yourself in Cuba, you will hear music and see people dancing.

Afro-Cuban music is rich, and like many parts of Cuba’s culture, it’s a mixture of different genres and instruments from different cultures. Whether it’s music playing from speakers everywhere in Cuba, or live performances that are a regular sight, music is everywhere. Cuba is a place for the music-lover who enjoys feeling the music pulse through them.

Of course, since Cuba is filled with music, dance follows. Cubans are very passionate about dancing. It’s not uncommon to see groups of people dancing in Cuba. If you’re up for it, you can join them, too. Cubans love their traditional dance so much that it seems like they have rehearsed it for an extended period of time even when they haven’t.

Cuba is the kind of country where you’ll see everyone so passionate about the music they create.


What showcases the beautiful culture, music, dance, and art of Cuba more than festivals? Nothing else. Through the many festivals of Cuba, Cubans are able to express the very vibrant and unique culture that they have.

The Havana Biennial Festival is one of the most popular and can’t-miss festivals in Cuba. It happens around April or May when artists from everywhere in the world come together to showcase and appreciate art.

Regardless of whether you’re into art or not, this festival is not to be missed because of the astounding display of artistry. You will be greeted by all kinds of booths and exhibits even if you’re just passing by. You will leave the festival with a love of art.

Another great festival that Cuba has is the Trinidad Festival which happens every June. During this time, parades, costumes, music, and food fill the street. It’s a time when Cubans party until their heart’s content. It’s one of the most lively and colorful events in Cuba that showcases everything Cuba has to offer.

Unspoiled Beauty

A visit to Cuba feels like a visit to the past. This is because Cuba has managed to stay unspoiled and unmodernized. The hint of being unspoiled shows not only in nature but also in the architecture and even in the cars.

Cuba is the only place in the world where you’ll see so many American vintage cars that you feel like you’ve transported back in time. What’s really great about this is that these vintage cars have a vintage backdrop, too. Many of Cuba’s buildings are old but have been restored over and over to last as long as possible.

More than that, the landscapes and sceneries in Cuba are beyond stunning. Once you step foot in them, you will think that no one has come to the place before because of how serene and clean they are. You will see just how much effort Cuba puts into maintaining the unspoiled beauty that their natural wonders have.

Every part of Cuba proves something important. It proves that a place can stay beautiful without going through the modernization happening around the world.

Ideal Vacation Weather

Vacations are the best when you know that the weather is on your side. If you want a vacation destination where you don’t have to worry about the weather at all, then Cuba is the right place to go to.

In Cuba, most of the time, the weather is warm and sunny. It’s always the perfect day for a hike or a beach trip. It is only from January to March that the weather is colder than usual (but you can still enjoy a vacation during these months). For the rest of the year, it’s a completely warm and sunny vacation paradise.

Cuba also has a wet season around May to October, but even during these times, there’s not a lot of rainfall to expect. Sometimes, during the wet season, the atmosphere can still feel humid. This means that you really shouldn’t worry about the weather in Cuba. Every time is a great time to head to the beach or seek adventure.

Warm and Welcoming People

The people you will meet in Cuba will be some of the most welcoming and hospitable ever. They are so hospitable that many tourists opt to live with the locals instead of booking a hotel. It’s a common practice for tourists to rent rooms from locals’ private homes. This is because these individuals give the best ideas for the best experience in Cuba.

In Cuba, it’s common to walk through the streets and have the locals smile at you and greet you. They are very kind towards tourists, which really adds so much charm to the experience.

Costa Rica

Everything is in Costa Rica, and that’s no exaggeration. Great food, adventure, breathtaking sceneries, and warm and welcoming people – they are all in Costa Rica. Regardless of what kind of person you are, you will enjoy experiencing what Costa Rica has to offer.

Costa Rica is best for travelers that love the outdoors and nature. However, it also offers a peaceful paradise for those looking to just laze and get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Because of everything that Costa Rica has, it has become one of the people’s most sought-after tourist destinations. It has steadily grown in popularity in the past years, and it will only grow more. You can expect to see a lot of other tourists immersing in the culture and nature of Costa Rica.

What Makes Costa Rica Unique?

The People of Costa Rica

Costa Rica is best known because of its people. The Costa Ricans, or Ticos, are the happiest people in the world. This is because they follow the philosophy of “Pura Vida” or pure life. Pura Vida is Costa Rica’s national slogan, but the people of Costa Rica stay true to it. They always inject it into their daily lives. Simple living has made their lives more joyous.

Pura Vida is all about living as simply as possible. They are one with nature. And although they are open to the modernizations that the world has, they have a strong emphasis on simplicity. This applies to everything: from their food to their daily life choices and simple pleasures.

Because Costa Ricans are happy with the simple life they lead, travelers become happy, too. The happiness does not only stay within the locals. They also share it with tourists that immerse themselves in their culture and philosophy. They believe that Pura Vida should be practiced in all aspects of life, so they share this philosophy with everyone they meet.

An Adventurer’s Sanctuary

Thrillseekers are more than welcome in Costa Rica. Unending adventure is what will meet you in Costa Rica. It doesn’t matter what kind of adventure you’re into, you’ll find one that’s the missing puzzle piece for you.

Whatever you want to focus on, you can find tour companies that specialize in the activity you want to try. Some of the various activities you can do in Costa Rica are surfing, trekking, and swimming.

Of course, because of the unique landscape that Costa Rica has, there are more adventures that await you. Even more than the common aforementioned activities. Swing jumping, exploring caves, and zip-lining through rainforests sound like fun, right? These are just some of the most memorable adventures in Costa Rica.

Wherever you find yourself in Costa Rica, you will be able to find an adventure that will make your experience more unforgettable than the last.

The Land of Volcanoes

Volcanoes may not be the main draw of Costa Rica but volcanoes are some of the most eye-catching features of Costa Rica. Costa Rica has over 60 volcanoes, and 5 of them are still active volcanoes.

Because of the many volcanoes around Costa Rica, you will find that there are also many activities that you can do around these volcanoes. It’s thanks to the volcanoes that some hot springs and rich biodiversity has been born. These two things, among others, have consistently drawn tourists to Costa Rica.

Here are some of the best volcanoes in Costa Rica:

Poas Volcano

The Poas Volcano is one of the biggest active volcanoes in the world. Towering at over 8,000 feet (2,000 meters), it is one of the most popular destinations in Costa Rica. The northern part of the volcano has a lake called Laguna Caliente. Laguna Caliente is one of the most acidic lakes in the whole world.

The main attraction of the Poas Volcano is its crater. It’s one of the largest craters in the whole world, and it’s a stunning sight to see. The combined view of the volcano, its crater, and the surrounding forest make up a magnificent view.

Arenal Volcano

Arenal Volcano is the most popular volcano in Costa Rica, no doubt. It is what locals call an unavoidable presence in the northern part of Costa Rica. This is because it towers at almost 8,000 feet (2,000 meters).

What draws people to Arenal Volcano is its perfectly symmetrical shape, which is unlike any other volcano. What makes people stay is the abundance of adventures to do around the volcano.

By the Arenal Volcano, you can relax in the hot springs, fish in the lakes and rivers, and hike the surrounding mountains. There is not a deficiency of things to do. The adventures, paired with the awe-inspiring view, are enough to get you content and fulfilled throughout the day.

National Parks

Costa Rica houses 28 national parks in total. Three of these national parks are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. All of these national parks are made up of rich virgin rainforests and an intricate system of marine and freshwater resources.

These national parks were established for the purpose of maintaining what Costa Rica has been blessed with. The bountiful landscape and wildlife truly make Costa Rica unique. Going to these national parks is definitely something that should be on your list when visiting Costa Rica.

Here are some must-see national parks in Costa Rica:

Corcovado National Park

The Corcovado National Park is the largest national park in Costa Rica. Almost half of the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica is covered by the Corcovado National Park. Because of the size and nature of the national park, it’s continuously hailed as the most exhilarating forest in the world.

What’s really amazing about the Corcovado National Park is that it has one of the last remaining lowland tropical rainforest areas in the world. In fact, it is the only one in Central America. Species such as the Scarlet Macaws, Harpy Eagle, and the endangered Jaguar can also be found in this national park.

Palo Verde National Park

Compared to the other national parks in Costa Rica, Palo Verde seems to be overlooked by many. This wetland wonder in the middle of tropical dry forests is a spectacular sight to see. That is what makes Palo Verde unique: it’s a dichotomous area in Costa Rica, housing both wetlands and dry forests.

The biggest attraction in the Palo Verde National Park is the birds. Inside the national park is the mangrove island called Isla de Pajaros, where many species of birds can be found. This is because they consider this island a safe space for them. Herons, storks, and egrets are some bird species that you can find in this area of Costa Rica.

Forgotten Food Destination

Because Central America is rich in countries with unique and amazing food, Costa Rica tends to be overlooked. It’s a forgotten destination when it comes to cuisine. You don’t see many people talk about the delicious dishes that Costa Rica has to offer.

Although many of the dishes in Costa Rica are staple Central American dishes, the preparation in Costa Rica makes the dishes more alive. The tastes of Costa Rica are a treat to the taste buds. In Costa Rica, you can also find some of the healthiest food in Central America. Their dishes are prepared fresh, and most of your options are really healthy options.

Vuelve a la Vida, Arreglados, and the Casado are some of the dishes that you must try when visiting Costa Rica. Of these dishes, the Casado is the most traditional. It’s unique because it’s not just one dish, but a marriage of many different foods.

Which Is Better – Costa Rica or Cuba?

Cuba and Costa Rica are two countries that have been blessed by nature, and both have done great jobs at keeping these wonders intact. The fact that these two countries are so beautiful and exciting makes it hard to choose which one to visit for a vacation. Choosing which country is better is not an easy choice to make!

Cuba is the place to go to if you’re looking to have a local-like vacation. It’s the place where you will be most able to immerse well with the locals and their culture. Everything is vibrant in Cuba because of how diverse their culture is. If you’re looking for a more colorful and entertaining vacation, Cuba is the better option.

On the other hand, Costa Rica is teeming with adventures and energy. If what you’re looking for is a place to experience adrenaline and thrill, there’s no doubt that Costa Rica is the better option. With all the unique activities you can do, it’s impossible to leave Costa Rica without a core and unforgettable memory with you.

In the end, all that really matters is knowing what you want out of the destination you want to go to. Both Cuba and Costa Rica offer beautiful and stunning sceneries. However, they differ in terms of experience and atmosphere. The similarities are there, and both are the type of countries that anyone can enjoy.

However, it’s their differences that make each one truly unique. With how beautiful and welcoming both countries are, the real question really is: which country should you visit first?


How Are the Governments of Cuba and Costa Rica Different?

The government of Cuba is a socialist country. It is a republic with a one-party system ever since 1959. The constitution of Cuba allows for only the Cuban communist party to exist.

On the other hand, Costa Rica is a presidential democratic republic. Most of the power is with the president. In Costa Rica, there are two vice presidents and 15 cabinet members.

Is Cuba Part of Costa Rica?

No, Cuba is not part of Costa Rica. In fact, they are not even located in the same area. Cuba is a part of the Caribbean, which is in North America, while Costa Rica is in Central America. Cuba and Costa Rica are two different, independent countries.

Is Cuba Near Costa Rica?

The two countries are not far away from each other. People consider Cuba and Costa Rica to be conveniently close to each other. This is why many people always have tours that have both countries as the destination.

Cuba is only approximately 902 miles (1,451 kilometers) away from Costa Rica.

Which Country Is Bigger – Cuba or Costa Rica?

Cuba is the bigger country in terms of territorial area. Cuba is around 42,811 square miles (110,880 square kilometers) while Costa Rica is approximately 19,730 square miles (51,100 square kilometers). This means that Cuba is more than twice as big as Costa Rica.

Can You Travel From Costa Rica to Cuba?

Yes, it is possible to travel from Costa Rica to Cuba. Although there is only one way to go from Costa Rica to Cuba, and vice versa, it is convenient to go from one country to the other.

How Do You Get From Costa Rica to Cuba?

The only way to get from Costa Rica to Cuba is through an airplane ride. There are no other means of transportation from Costa Rica to Cuba or vice versa. This is mainly because there are no ferry rides to and from Cuba anywhere.

Can You Fly From Costa Rica to Cuba?

Yes, flying is your only transportation option if you want to go to Cuba from Costa Rica.

Can You Fly Direct From Costa Rica to Cuba?

Yes, there are many direct flights from Costa Rica to Cuba and vice versa. There are a handful of airlines that fly from Costa Rica to Cuba.

How Long Is the Flight From Costa Rica to Cuba?

A flight from Costa Rica to Cuba can range anywhere from 8 hours to 12 hours. There are many airports in Costa Rica, so the total travel time depends on which airport in Costa Rica you will be coming from.