Prices include airfare, fuel surcharges, airport taxes and fees. Air & land tour prices apply from the gateway airport or city specified in the Package Highlights. Prices will vary from alternative gateway airports or cities and may be higher. The total price will be clearly displayed prior to any deposit being required. Additional baggage charges may apply. CST#: 2051249-40
Chocolate in Costa Rica has a long history and dates back to before the cultivation of coffee. The original beans grew in the Brazilian Amazon and traveled north by bird migration, human trade, or both. Chocolate was even used as currency between neighboring civilizations due to its coveted qualities until the arrival of the Spanish in the 15th century. Costa Rican chocolate remains a delicacy as the country produces organic, fair-trade chocolate made with all natural ingredients and competes with other Central and South American countries, along with many African nations, in the production of quality cacao cultivation.
The Pachira Lodge is conveniently located just minutes from the world famous Tortuguero National Park. One of the highlights of the property is a stunning turtle shaped pool where you can relax, slice open a fresh coconut and enjoy the crisp air. Guests who visit between July and September can join an organized turtle nesting tour where you will witness thousands of green turtles lay their eggs on the beaches of Tortuguero National Park. Since it is difficult for sea turtles to navigate across sand, they become easy targets for predators during the egg laying process. The national park aims to protect the endangered turtles from predators during this highly susceptible time. For guests looking to experience the wonders of the green sea turtle and other Costa Rican wildlife, Pachira Lodge is an ideal place to stay.
What better way to learn Spanish than by spending time in a Latin American country? Costa Rica offers the most variety when it comes to language institutes, however most are located in the capital city of San Jose. But there are options to study on the beautiful beaches, while still being able to participate in all of the adventure Costa Rica has to offer.
Oh how we love truchas! This is one of those hidden gems of Costa Rica that most tourists don’t experience, but totally should. The concept is you go to a place with a small freshwater lake. An employee will give you a line with a little piece of bait on the end. You then stand around the lake and try to catch a fish (usually trout). Once you catch a fish for every person in your group you will go into the restaurant located on the property and they will cook up your fish for you.
Costa Rica has one of the highest levels of social care in the world. Its doctors are known worldwide as some of the best. Many people from U.S, Canada and Europe go there to be treated, not only because the quality of the service but for the cost. First class Hospitals can be found in the capital. There is a public/private hospital system. There is excellent care in each. The public system has much longer waits, while the private system has shorter waits. If you are unfortunate enough to have a very sick child requiring hospitalization, the child will be transferred to the only children's hospital in CR, located in the capital. This children's hospital is public.
Because of safety concerns for the prospective applicant, as well as security and communication issues, the CIA Recruitment Center does not accept resumes, nor can we return phone calls, e-mails or other forms of communication, from US citizens living outside of the US. When you return permanently to the US (not on vacation or leave), please visit the CIA Careers page and apply online for the position of interest.
If you like culture, I recommend flying into San Jose. There are a handful of museums and cultural sites in the city that are really interesting and the city is really the only place in Costa Rica with that many excellent museums and historical/cultural sites. Then head down to the South Pacific towards Panama. The SOuth Pacific area: Dominical, Uvita and Ojochal are really beautiful and full of nature, here are some things to do in Uvita: Things to do in Uvita and Dominical and here is our San Jose guide: Things to do in San Jose
As of March 2017, the exchange rate was 554 colones per US dollar. Money exchange is provided at most banks; however, it is recommended to do so at the state banks, especially the Banco Nacional, since they have better rates. There is also a money exchange service at the airport, but it is outrageously expensive. But note that the use of US dollars is quite common; in the tourist setting, almost everything is priced in dollars (but sometimes prices are cheaper in colones). Note that when a price is quoted in "dollars", the speaker may be thinking of a dollar as 500 colones; so it is always worth checking whether this is what is meant.
As for swimming at the beach, definitely don’t leave your valuables at the beach unattended. Find a place where there are a lot of people and try to bring minimal valuables as possible. You can ask people near you to keep an eye on your stuff and always swim close to your things, don’t swim off far away and always look at it every couple minutes, if it’s a popular beach with lots of people. We don’t recommend swimming and leaving your things at a beach where there is nobody because it only takes a minute for the thieves to take your stuff and unfortunately, beach theft is something to be concerned about if you are going to an empty beach.
Despite its small size, Costa Rica is home to nearly half a million species, making it one of the world’s most biodiverse countries. It has a richly varied landscape of mountains, volcanoes, tropical forests and idyllic black and white sanded beaches. The country is known for its progressive environmental policies and is the country with the highest proportion of protected areas in the world. But we won’t only take you to see its array of multicoloured wildlife – we’ll introduce you to its polite, family-orientated, peace-loving people too.
According to the UNDP, in 2010 the life expectancy at birth for Costa Ricans was 79.3 years. The Nicoya Peninsula is considered one of the Blue Zones in the world, where people commonly live active lives past the age of 100 years. The New Economics Foundation (NEF) ranked Costa Rica first in its 2009 Happy Planet Index, and once again in 2012. The index measures the health and happiness they produce per unit of environmental input. According to NEF, Costa Rica's lead is due to its very high life expectancy which is second highest in the Americas, and higher than the United States. The country also experienced well-being higher than many richer nations and a per capita ecological footprint one-third the size of the United States.
Rising to an elevation of 2,194 meters, one of the top things to do in Costa Rica is a trip to the Talamanca Mountains. The journey is worth it, especially as you step into a paradise filled with the lyrical humming of more than 170 bird species. Spot a quetzal, or take snapshots of other remarkable birds as you wander into a cloud forest blessed with the crisp mountain air.
Tourists are unaware of this system. Some even have the notion that they can get a discount on a ticket if they go straight to the desired attraction to buy it; short answer is no, the attractions will not give you a discount if you purchase directly from them but they will make a greater profit on your visit. If you are with a large group and make all of your arrangements through one hotel or travel provider, you are generating a substantial amount of commissions. Be aware of this in your planning and negotiations. You as the tourist cannot have an impact on the commission spigot, but you should be aware of its power… Ask questions and make sure the recommendations you receive align with your needs/desires.
After relaxing in the rainforest lodges and on the pristine beaches of Costa Rica, it is time to get into the party spirit. Visit in October and you may just coincide with carnival in the Caribbean coastal city of Puerto Limón, an explosion of extravagant colourful costumes, dancing in the streets and spicy creole dishes. This is where the Caribbean culture of the country comes to life, celebrating its West Indian roots and inviting everyone to join the party.
Adventure vacations are one of the best reasons to go to Costa Rica! If you’re going to visit somewhere new, why not get as many fun experiences out of it as possible? If you haven’t tried surfing, head on over to Tamarindo and take a few lessons. Any adrenaline-junkie will love the rush of canopy zip lines – what could be better than a bird’s eye view as you glide over the rainforest? The Pacuare River has some of the best whitewater rafting in the world, and rafting adventures can be planned for just the day or for the next three. When it comes to getting your heart racing, you can’t beat Costa Rica!
The people of Costa Rica, who call themselves “Ticos,” are the proud stewards of this natural heritage. In contrast to the rest of Central America, which suffered a series of ruthless dictators and bloody civil wars throughout the 20th century, Costa Rica is a stable democracy that abolished its army in 1949 and invested in its people. Today its citizens are among the most educated and prosperous in Latin America.
Population growth rate: The average annual percent change in the population, resulting from a surplus (or deficit) of births over deaths and the balance of migrants entering and leaving a country. The rate may be positive or negative. The growth rate is a factor in determining how great a burden would be imposed on a country by the changing needs of its people for infrastructure (e.g., schools, hospitals, housing, roads), resources (e.g., food, water, electricity), and jobs. Rapid population growth can be seen as . . . more
Another Costa Rican tour highlight is the Arenal Volcano, considered one of the most active volcanoes in the world. You may witness the red lava streaming down the sides as you hear the volcano’s grumbling. Relax as you soak in the ecothermal hot springs and perhaps watch the lava flow down the volcano—a spectacular sight! In Monteverde, visit the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve, home to forest fauna such as jaguars, resplendent quetzal, monkeys, ocelots, and many species of birds—not to mention the large diversity of plant species.
This quiet – often deserted – stretch is known for the distinctive “window” formations that punctuate an otherwise nondescript headland jutting out into the waves. At low tide, it’s safe to walk through the window, pausing only to marvel at little critters temporarily marooned in tidal pools. At high tide, stand back and admire the ocean’s awesome power as the waves tear through the waning void.
Make conversation with locals on the bus so that they can see that you are competent in Spanish and comfortable in the Spanish speaking environment. (You'll enjoy yourself plus this may make them feel friendly towards you and more willing to alert you if someone is snooping in your stuff. Or it might warn them that if they steal from you, you will talk to the bus driver and police and make a full report.) Even some Spanish is better than none – use what you have! It's great practice and the more you improve the safer you'll be!
For a water-adventure equivalent, white-water rafting is also one of the most popular things to do in Costa Rica. The Pacuare River is a favorite rafting spot for its proximity to eco-lodges and stops at waterfalls and swimming holes along the way. Suit up and row your way through class four rapids in between sandy coves and rocky ledges where you can jump into the river’s calmer spots. The Pacuare Lodge staff leads guests on white water rafting expeditions often—rafting is the easiest way to get to and from the property.
South Pacific Eco Extreme will engage you in an epic adventure exploring places few have dared to go! You’ll stay in African style safari tents, a cave behind a waterfall (yes, you read that right!), and a jungle ecolodge on the South Pacific coast. This 9-day extreme adventure includes mountain hiking, horseback riding, waterfall rappelling, plus whitewater rafting, and will undoubtedly be the most memorable vacation you’ve ever experience!
We get a lot of e-mails especially from budget travelers asking what there is to do for free in Costa Rica. Turns out not much is totally free, but if you stretch your budget to a few bucks per person it opens up more possibilities. Our list of cheap or free things to help keep kids entertained also might be worth a look if you’re young at heart.
Population: This entry gives an estimate from the US Bureau of the Census based on statistics from population censuses, vital statistics registration systems, or sample surveys pertaining to the recent past and on assumptions about future trends. The total population presents one overall measure of the potential impact of the country on the world and within its region. Note: Starting with the 1993 Factbook, demographic estimates for some countries (mostly African) have explicitly taken into account t . . . more
The park’s highlights are its beaches, parts of which double as nesting and spawning grounds for threatened Atlantic sea turtles. Turtles lay eggs in vast numbers in July and August, but nesting season technically runs from March through October, so you have some leeway. If you visit the right beaches during nesting season, you will see turtles and their eggs. The $25-per-person guided tour is well worth it.
Travel with someone else when possible. A trusted friend is best, of course - not just someone you met last night at the hostel, but he or she will do in a pinch. (Trust your gut feeling with new friends – most are great, but some may be con artists!) Traveling with a friend makes the journey more entertaining and more fun: you can talk and share travel stories and each of you can take turns sleeping on long bus rides. Also, there is the fact that "two heads are better than one" and it's always good to be able to brainstorm if you aren't sure what the answer to your travel question or concern is.
Living up to environmental virtues and sustainable development remains a constant battle throughout the country, whether due to lucrative contract offers, corrupt politics, or illegal poaching and logging. Nevertheless, Costa Rica has largely resisted opportunities to exploit its vast natural resources for valued commodities, despite having a high density of precious metals in the South Pacific, oil along the Pacific Coast, and rare hardwoods in the rainforest. Instead, Costa Rica has opted for an ethic of sustainable development and a commitment to develop renewable energy. Already, Costa Rica is on track to become the first carbon-neutral country, with 99 percent of the country’s energy needs meet through a combination of geothermal, hydroelectric, and wind power. Read more
Market value of publicly traded shares: This entry gives the value of shares issued by publicly traded companies at a price determined in the national stock markets on the final day of the period indicated. It is simply the latest price per share multiplied by the total number of outstanding shares, cumulated over all companies listed on the particular exchange.
Located in the heart of San Jose, La Sabana Metropolitan Park is an oasis of a green recreational space nestled in the concrete jungle of high-rise office blocks. The park is very popular with walkers and joggers as well as office workers, who escape into the open air to enjoy their lunch hour. At the heart of the park lies a scenic lake, where you can hire a paddle boat, and there are also tennis courts, a football field, and roller-skate paths. Children can enjoy pony rides, a children’s playground, and lots of open space for running around and letting off steam. La Sabana is also home to the National Football Stadium.
Exchange rates: This entry provides the average annual price of a country's monetary unit for the time period specified, expressed in units of local currency per US dollar, as determined by international market forces or by official fiat. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 4217 alphabetic currency code for the national medium of exchange is presented in parenthesis. Closing daily exchange rates are not presented in The World Factbook, but are used to convert stock values - e.g., the . . . more
Not a beach person? Costa Rica is rife with waterfalls and hot springs. Arenal Volcano’s La Fortuna Waterfall is one of the best things to do in Costa Rica for a reason—this visitor-favorite offers an easy hiking path to a massive blue pool at the base of chaotic, 270-foot falls. About 90 minutes outside San Jose, Bajos del Toro cloud forest is home to a 300-foot waterfall accessible by foot—but rather than swim, you can get up close and personal on a foot path to get soaked by the falls’ mist.
Weather Appropriate Outerwear: If you’re sticking to the beach, you can get by with beach wear: shorts an dresses, short-sleeved shirts, bathing suits. At altitude, including in San Jose, expect chilly evenings and mornings. At certain times of year, stiff winds contribute to the chill, especially in the mountains. I got by with a windbreaker and warm jeans, though we didn’t venture above 6,000 feet. At higher altitudes, you may need a heavier jacket.
The sovereign state of Costa Rica is a unitary presidential constitutional republic. It is known for its long-standing and stable democracy, and for its highly educated workforce, most of whom speak English. The country spends roughly 6.9% of its budget (2016) on education, compared to a global average of 4.4%. Its economy, once heavily dependent on agriculture, has diversified to include sectors such as finance, corporate services for foreign companies, pharmaceuticals, and ecotourism. Many foreign manufacturing and services companies operate in Costa Rica's Free Trade Zones (FTZ) where they benefit from investment and tax incentives.