PHOTO BY MATTHEW JOHNSON
The charms of Costa Rica are seemingly limitless, from the suddenly hot nightlife scene in San José to the Endless Summer–worthy Pacific Coast. The truest way to get to the source of the country’s ubiquitous pura vida mantra, however, is by driving through its mystical Valle Central to Volcán Arenal.
From San José—the capital, once derided as a glorified pit stop, is now worth a couple of days of your time for its indigenous food restaurants and rooftop cocktail bars—jump on the Inter-American Highway headed west. (Fun fact: This road is part of the Pan-American Highway, which originates way up in Alaska.) About an hour into the drive, veer north on Route 141. You’ll soon be cruising through a lush, emerald-green valley teeming with hot springs, your only distraction the sight of 8,885-foot Volcán Poás on your right. Be careful on these winding curves, though; you never know when a wandering cow from one of the surrounding farms will appear around the bend.
Prefer your animals a little less domesticated? Make a stop at Proyecto Asis, a wildlife rescue center and sloth sanctuary about an hour shy of Parque Nacional Volcán Arenal. Snap a couple of shots of the brilliant toucans and macaws to send your bird-nerd friends into Instagram-commenting conniptions.
Don’t linger at the preserve, though, because you’ve got one more magical stop: Místico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park. On your two-mile walk through this cloud forest reserve, you’ll cross 16 bridges (six of them hanging in the canopy, with the highest at 148 feet), take in panoramic views of Volcán Arenal and Lago Arenal, and get up close to one of the world’s most biodiverse areas—home to jaguars, tapirs, more than 350 species of bird, and more than 700 types of flora. Is that roar the sound of a howler monkey … or the beating of your heart?
2020 Lexus RC F Track Edition
While most of today’s supercars—and even many commuter models—lean on turbochargers for their acceleration, Lexus’s high-performance “F” line stands in rebellion. The naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8 these cars are built around is defiantly unboosted, and the banshee howl the RC F Track Edition releases as its 472 horses tear down Costa Rica’s pristine new highways feels lifted from a teenage dream. Even at high velocity, the F-Adaptive Variable Suspension will keep your tires glued to the curves, and should a stray animal cross at the wrong time, the Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes scrub speed like a magic eraser. From $96,800, lexus.co