Lifestyle and Community

Points of Interest in Santa Barbara Costa Rica.

Santa Barbara is home to one of the most unique tours in Costa Rica: The Ark Herb Farm. This destination is usually off-the-beaten path for tourists, but extremely popular with the locals.  The Ark Herb Farm is dedicated to perma-culture, education, and research, and consists of a 17-acre farm with over 600 species of medicinal and culinary plants, many indigenous to Costa Rica and from around the world.  This guided and informative walking tour will delight the senses, providing a plethora of sights and smells. One of the first farms in Costa Rica to offer culinary herbs throughout the country, The Ark Herb Farm tour is a moderately strenuous hike and is recommended during the drier months, December through April.  Available to the general public, one can purchase fresh lettuces and greens as well as edible flowers and other plants that are grown on the property.  Tips: bilingual tour guides are available and, for a small additional fee, a delightful luncheon will be served, tasting samples of the farm's bounty.

Speaking of eating…one of the most popular places to chow down is located at Santa Barbara Marisco's Seafood House just outside of town towards Alajuela. Great service and fresh food, this family style restaurant owns their own fishing boats and refrigerated trucks, making the seafood some of the freshest to be found in the central valley. Sunday brunch is almost a social event and the large dining room can be packed with patrons by 12:30 p.m. Tip: For a more peaceful ambiance, request a table on the pretty patio.

Volcanos are a major attraction in Costa Rica and Volcan Poas is nearby Santa Barbara. In fact, one drives through Santa Barbara to get there.  At an elevation of 2,700 meters above sea level, the best time of day to view the volcano is in the morning hours.  Be prepared: it can get wet and chilly. Finally, on the road down from Poas, another “don't miss” attraction are the La Paz waterfalls.

Accommodations in Santa Barbara are mostly boutique hotels with stunning grounds and/or vistas of the valley below or distant mountains.  The very first such B&B in Costa Rica, the Finca Rosa Blanca, offers guests individual and family suites with artful, unique décor, a gourmet restaurant prepared from local foods, coffee tours, hiking and a lovely oasis of a swimming pool.