Plenty of cruises call at Costa Rica’s ports but the only way to get really close to the wildlife is to visit on a small ship. Windstar bases one of its yachts in Costa Rica for the winter, with visits to the Curú National Wildlife Refuge and hiking in Manuel Antonio National Park, where you can step out of dense rainforest on to exquisite beaches. Wildlife here includes capuchin and howler monkeys, raccoons, anteaters and sloths, while just offshore there is spectacular marine life just beneath the surface (dolphins often race the ship, just for fun).
As well as wildlife-spotting, there are opportunities to learn surfing at San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua; to try ocean kayaking; and to experience ziplining over the rainforest canopy.
- From $2,199 for a week on the 212-passenger Star Breeze (formerly Seabourn Spirit), round-trip from
Puerto Caldera, departing Jan 14, 2017 (+1 877 466 1494, windstarcruises.com). Flights not included but British Airways flies direct to Costa Rica (ba.com).