The key word I used in the first paragraph is the word “tourist” as these two areas are loaded with tourist. Now if you consider yourself a traveler and you want to visit the not so touristy areas but at the same time just as beautiful I can suggest two places to replace the Monteverde Cloudforest and the Arenal Volcano.
First of all it is important to remember that in 2010 the Arenal Volcano stopped erupting and although it is still active it is simply not what it use to be. Funny how things work because as the Arenal Volcano began calming down the Turrialba Volcano began acting up. The Turrialba Volcano offers breath-taking views of a smoking volcano in an area that is not crowded by tourism. You also see the Turrialba volcano clear more days out of the year than the hit or miss Arenal Volcano. There are many activities and hotels in Turrialba just not as over crowded as in the Arenal area.
The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is one of the busiest tourist attractions in Costa Rica and still is not the easiest to get to. As beautiful as it is there are other cloud-forest in Costa Rica and one that you might find very similar to Monteverde is an area called San Gerardo de Dota and nearby lodges such as the Trogon or Savegre Lodge. Staying here with a good naturalist guide that we provide here at Costa Rican Resource will give you a sense of being in Monteverde 30 years ago.
Costa Rica is on the map and a little extra research is always worth making your trip the standard Costa Rica vacation or something a little bit different that I can assure you will be just as enjoyable if not more.