Parque Nacional Guanacaste is one of the best places in Central America to experience a pristine Pacific dry forest. Perhaps because the dry forest lacks the jungle’s charisma, it’s under relentless attack by prosperous cattle ranchers hungry to expand their holdings elsewhere in northwestern Costa Rica and western Nicaragua. Just bear in mind that it’s not particularly scenic during the dry season, when most trees lose their leaves and the understory turns various shades of brown and yellow.
Combine adrenaline and relaxation as you view Arenal Volcano and soak in Baldi Hot Springs on this rejuvenating day trip from San Jose! Your expert local guide will pick you up at your hotel and take you to Arenal Volcano National Park. En route to La Fortuna, stop for approximately 30 minutes in the artisan town of Sarchi, where you’ll have an opportunity to admire the colorful oxcarts or shop for souvenirs.When you reach the park, experience the thundering Arenal Volcano from a safe viewing area. Since a major eruption in 1968, this stratovolcano has been one of the most active in Costa Rica, with mild and nearly continuous explosive activity from the conical crater, whose summit reaches an elevation of 5,436 feet (1,657 meters). As you watch for any lava flows, clouds of smoke or ash, your guide will share information about the park’s thermal features.After your thrilling show, enjoy a complimentary lunch at the Arenal Volcano Inn Resort or La Perla Restaurant. Spend your afternoon soaking in the region’s rejuvenating thermal baths and mineral pools at Baldi Hot Springs Hotel and Spa. This family-friendly spa consists of several therapeutic pools of varying temperature, allowing people of all ages to steep in relaxation.Later, enjoy a gourmet dinner under the stars at the hot springs and continue admiring one of the world's most active volcanoes!
“Alajuela: [the district] where the airport actually is. It is a bit warmer that San Jose typically. Here you’ll find the volcano Poas. The national park around it was closed for a while last year due to the volcano being active. But it has been reopened recently and the place is well maintained. You can get the largest strawberries in this area.”—GMYoW
Costa Rica requires valid Yellow fever certificate if arriving from most neighbouring countries. If such is not presented you would not be allowed to enter/board the flight. At Bogota airport - if you have certificate you can have it emailed to the airline and then proceed to the local vaccination authority for duplicate certificate to be issued free of charge. The critical part is to get the printed version on time. If you don't have certificate or cannot get it on time you will probably be approached by friendly police officers to arrange such for a fee. Keep in mind that the date of the vaccination should be at least 10 days prior entering the country from which you are flying.
Miles and miles of brilliant beaches are one of Costa Rica’s prime attractions on both the Caribbean and Pacific coastlines, beckoning visitors to come and enjoy a perfect beach vacation. The Peaks ‘n Swells Surf Camps are located on the renowned Nicoya Peninsula, which is blessed with some of the world’s most consistent surf breaks – a pure paradise for surfers of all levels. At Peaks ‘n Swells’ fully inclusive camps, you can enjoy professional surfing tuition for all ages, fresh organic meals, yoga workshops, and close proximity to a host of other holiday attractions, such as horseback riding, snorkeling excursions, and visits to a sea turtle sanctuary. The camps are located within walking distance of Montezuma, offering a unique family-friendly vacation.
Upon arrival to Costa Rica, we meet you at the airport and escort you to your transport. For guests arriving through San Jose, we offer a VIP meet & greet service which will help you navigate customs and escort you to your driver. From the minute you step off the plane, our friendly, bilingual drivers and tour guides will make you feel at home during your holiday.
There are several opportunities to engage in volunteer work in Costa Rica. Volunteer projects range from turtle conservation, building houses, teaching English and community development work. Some schools offer visits to Costa Rica as part of the World Challenge activity, which combines a Trekking expedition with some of the students time assigned to helping local people on community projects.
If marketing experts could draw up an ideal destination, Costa Rica might be it. The 'rich coast' has earned its name and stands apart from its Central American neighbors on the cutting edge of so many trends: surfing, farm-to-table restaurants, and sustainable tourism. Developing infrastructure is balanced by green energy such as wind and hydro. One of the world's most biodiverse countries, with half a million species – from insects to the giant anteaters that devour them – it also protects one-quarter of its wild lands through law.
Hi Stacey! Yes definitely that’s one of the greatest (and most confusing) thing about Cost Rica is that there are soo many places to go but it’s so hard to get around, even with a car because of times and schedules for places opening, traffic and long drives. Right now is rainy season so it does get pretty cold in the mountains and central Valley. Always best to bring a rain jacket!
Green and life are everywhere, from the 1200 species of orchids that garnish our trees to life sprouting on the beaches every year when millions of green turtles, leatherback and hawksbill sea turtles reach the Caribbean coast at the National Park Tortuguero to lay their eggs, traveling from miles away. Similarly, at Ostional, in the Pacific thousands of Lora turtles (Kemp's Ridley) reach the beach every year.
I’m not going to lie and say that Costa Rica is a cheap country because it isn’t. As far as Central America goes it is the most expensive country to travel. That being said, it is possible to travel in Costa Rica on a budget without skimping on fab vibes! I’ve been traveling in Costa Rica for a year now and have been able to see amazing things in this country while maintaining a tight budget.
Rio Celeste is one of the only places on the planet you can relish magical, turquoise waters. It is created by a natural chemical reaction when waters from two rivers, Rio Buena Vista and Rio Quebrada Agria, filled with sulphur and carbonate collide together at Tenidores. The short 6 km hike starting from the entrance to the national park, all the way to Tenidores is ideal for viewing these pristine blue hued waters as you hike through the lush tropical scenery and native wildlife. Hike a little further and you reach the Blue Lagoon where you can really admire the water’s blue hues.
The Rainforest Safari sends you cross country from the Caribbean to the Pacific seeking out wildlife found in incredible habitats. This 14-day quest starts by going to Tortuguero, only accessible by boat or plane, where you’ll cruise the famous jungle canals. Next you’ll explore the Arenal Volcano region, go on a river safari, and leisurely hike the base of the volcano. Afterward, you can soak in your eco-resort’s onsite hot springs. From there its up to the unique Monteverde Cloud Forest with a naturalist hike taking you over hanging bridges. Finally, you’ll relax at the beach and enjoy a guided tour of the abundant wildlife living in Manual Antonio National Park found over on the Pacific coast.
The primary language spoken in Costa Rica is Spanish, which features characteristics distinct to the country, a form of Central American Spanish. Costa Rica is a linguistically diverse country and home to at least five living local indigenous languages spoken by the descendants of pre-Columbian peoples: Maléku, Cabécar, Bribri, Guaymí, and Buglere.
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!
Tortuguero National Park protects more than 46,800 acres of pristine habitat, including 20 miles of coastline on which Olive Ridley, leatherback, loggerhead, and hawksbill turtles hatch. A surprising addition to the diversity of the protected waters’ is the West Indian manatee, which populates shallow estuaries near open water. Traveling in Tortuguero feels more akin to the raw wonders of the Amazon as the park is home to over 300 species of birds, along with jaguars, spotted caiman, boa constrictors, and common tink frogs.
We had a great time! Our tour guide Luis was amazing. The country is beautiful and we saw a lot of nature and got along well with the others in the group. We did all the optional side trips which were definitely worth it. Accommodations and food were very good and all in all it was a great trip. Thank you! Looking forward to the next Gate 1 vacation!
It was so great!! Costa Rica is very beautiful. We have had difficult experiences booking online before and it was very very easy through Gate 1. And everything was taken care of. I recommended gate1 to all of my girlfriends i went to Puerto Vallarta with in May. They were super impressed by the price and quality of my trip. So thankful to Gate 1 Travel. By the way I love the sample itinerary with recommendations for stops while we were driving to the locations. Thanks to that we got to stop off and see some amazing places we would've never stopped at!! Please continue that!
If you find yourself in the Central Valley, find a coffee plantation to tour. There are a few good ones on the way to Poas volcano. We recently went to Cafe Britt with my family and had a great time filled with wayyyy too much free coffee. We all felt a little caffeine drunk afterward. There are also TONS of smaller coffee plantations throughout the country which offer tours.
More than 25 percent of the country’s territory is considered protected land through a mix of private reserves and national parks, preserving resources for future generations of Costa Ricans and visitors from around the world. Panama creates the southern border and Nicaragua runs along the border to the north. The undulating landscape reaches its peak at Cerro Chirripo, the highest point in the country, which reaches 12,500 feet above sea level. The tropical climate brings year-round rains. However, the variety of mountains and volcanoes create unique microclimates in which the weather can shift dramatically.
The scenic landscape offers surprise and adventure, luxury and wonder across less than 19,800 square miles, and the country also supports nearly four percent of the world’s total species. Whether backpacking through the volcanic ridges north of the Central Valley or reveling in luxury on a secluded resort nestled between the Pacific Ocean and a protected rainforest, taking the time to tour Costa Rica will bring unparalleled experiences for both active adventurers and enthusiastic idlers. The country hosts more than 500,000 plant and animal species across 11 Conservation Areas. Local communities help to protect the wild lands and ensure the safeguard of natural resources and natural beauty based on grassroots, sustainable efforts.
The picturesque beach town of Jaco anchors one of Costa Rica’s busiest stretches of coastline. Here, you’ll find the other Playa Hermosa, a famed surfing beach that hosts the Quicksilver International Surfing Competition every August. If you visit in late summer, you’ll definitely want to head down this way to catch a glimpse of elite amateurs mixing it up with 15-foot swells. Or skip the crowds and seek out one of the area’s quieter black sand beaches – pristine reminders of the region’s volcanic origins.
All these areas are home to an inexhaustible biodiversity, one of the most abundant that represents 5% of the planet. More than 900 species of birds including hummingbirds, red macaws and toucans coexist with 208 species of mammals such as sloths, monkeys or felines such as jaguars. Insects, reptiles, amphibians and butterflies are also spread throughout the territory.
Many travelers who enjoy nature vacations have scuba-diving experiences at the top of their list. Among the coolest places to visit in Costa Rica there are lots of amazing spots to explore under the water. One of the top picks is Drake Bay. Located in the northern part of the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica, one of the most remote regions of the country, Bahia Drake, as it’s called in Spanish, was named after Sir Francis Drake. He discovered it in the 16th century, during his voyage around the globe.
The Latinobarómetro survey of 2017 found that 57% of the population identify themselves as Roman Catholics, 25% are Evangelical Protestants, 15% report that they do not have a religion, and 2% declare that they belong to another religion. This survey indicated a decline in the share of Catholics and rise in the share of Protestants and irreligious. A University of Costa Rica survey of 2018 show similar rates; 52% Catholics, 25% Protestants, 17% irreligious and 3% other. The rate of secularism is high by Latin American standards.
“And what a tour it is: Usually, travelers have to choose from among Costa Rica’s beaches, volcanoes and rain forests. This tour goes to all those places and includes every major sight, as well as three meals a day on all but two days, and excellent hotels and lodges. The cost is a remarkable $995 per person for everything other than airfare to the capital city of San Jose.
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.
The name is a bit misleading: I don’t think anybody ever saw any jaguars there (the center’s name is a dedication to the memory of an abandoned baby jaguar whose mother was murdered by farmers). Yet, the sanctuary does have wildcats, anteaters, owls, marsupials, sloths, monkeys, deer, parrots, toucans, snakes, and frogs, which make it worth supporting, a visiting is one of the nicest things to do in Costa Rica.
Activities – Entrance into most national parks is usually around 5,500 CRC (10 USD) with discounts available for students. Canopy tours and day trips are around 25,000 CRC (40 USD). A two tank dive can be between 30,000-53,325 CRC (55-90 USD). Surf lessons start around 11,000 CRC (20 USD) per hour. There are also lots of surf camps where you can spend the week learning how to surf (or honing your skills if you already know how to). Prices vary widely, though expect to pay at least 25,000 CRC (40 USD) for a week.
For those seeking a rejuvenating experience within a breathtaking natural setting, The Goddess Garden Yoga Retreat Center sets a tranquil space to begin your journey. This is a great option for travelers choosing to support eco-tourism, the property uses sustainable practices and is responsible for conserving 20 acres of local rainforest. The retreat is located with views of the enchanting rainforest and the dancing Caribbean Sea. Guests may enjoy ten miles of white sandy beaches and greenery that extends into the horizon providing a serene venue to practice yoga and meditation. Stay at The Goddess Garden to unearth your own harmony.
We are here in Coco Beach. A lovely town with over 65 restaurants! At least 3 grocery stores, and most palces have free wifi. We are here for 8 weeks, and have been here one. Coconutz is a favorite Gringo hangout with NFL games and specials every night. The best is Wednesday nights- 9.00 pp gets you all you can eat salad, spaghetti and pizza plus a new current movie. Last week was The Accountant and this week is Masterminds. We love Thursdays with a live band. Other good restaurants are the Z lounge and on the beach Bamboo. They also have live music on Sundays. It is only 40 minutes from Liberia airport and a lovely town. We were able to find sim cards at a local shop and are set for Pure Vida!
The literacy rate in Costa Rica is approximately 97 percent and English is widely spoken primarily due to Costa Rica's tourism industry. When the army was abolished in 1949, it was said that the "army would be replaced with an army of teachers". Universal public education is guaranteed in the constitution; primary education is obligatory, and both preschool and high school are free. Students who finish 11th grade receive a Costa Rican Bachillerato Diploma accredited by the Costa Rican Ministry of Education.
current situation: Costa Rica is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor; Costa Rican women and children, as well as those from Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, and other Latin American countries, are sex trafficked in Costa Rica; child sex tourism is a particular problem with offenders coming from the US and Europe; men and children from Central America, including indigenous Panamanians, and Asia are exploited in agriculture, construction, fishing, and commerce; Nicaraguans transit Costa Rica to reach Panama, where some are subjected to forced labor or sex trafficking
Christianity is Costa Rica's predominant religion, with Roman Catholicism being the official state religion according to the 1949 Constitution, which at the same time guarantees freedom of religion. It is the only state in the Americas which established Roman Catholicism as its state religion; other such countries are microstates in Europe: Liechtenstein, Monaco, the Vatican City and Malta.
Good, fresh fruit is abundant in variety and low in cost. Mercados provide an excellent place to sample fruit and other Costa Rican fare, with many including sit-down snack bars. You are encouraged to experiment because some of the local fruits do not "travel well" as they are bruised easily and or have a short shelf life. The mango found in store in North America are much more fibrous and less sweet than the mangos found in Costa Rica. The fingerling bananas are much more creamy and less tart than the ones found in North America.
We email you a detailed travel itinerary filled with info, pictures and videos. Your Costa Rica travel agent will work with you to adjust your vacation package until you are 100% satisfied. When you’re ready to book, we send reservations and payments to each hotel & tour provider for you. This makes for a seamless, worry-free experience that allows you to relax & enjoy the voyage.
This morning, head through Costa Rica's Central Valley. Stop at the artisan village of Sarchi, nestled on the slopes of the Central Mountain Range. Here you can shop for colorful, traditional Costa Rican handicrafts. Visit an oxcart factory where oxcarts are hand-painted with elaborate designs. Considered the national symbol of Costa Rica, oxcarts were historically used for the transport of coffee beans and supplies. Continue through Costa Rica's famous coffee growing region. Lunch. Enjoy a guided tour at a coffee plantation. Sample locally grown coffee. Costa Rica's climate and rich soil help create exceptional coffee. Visit a butterfly garden. Then, return to Costa Rica's capital, San José. Dinner. BLD
Costa Rica is a great place to learn Spanish as the "ticos" have a dialect that is easy to understand and digest for someone just starting to learn the language. There are many language schools that provide intensive instruction with group classes lasting 4 hours per day, Monday to Friday. Almost all Spanish schools will also offer host family accommodations and possibly some alternative such as a student residence or discounted hotel rates.
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.
Some of our favorites are El Salto where the Río Fortuna crosses the road to Tigra south of La Fortuna Arenal, on the Río Toro east of Pital, Piscina Natural 1 km north of Cahuita, 1 km upstream from Dominical on the Rio Barú, the Río Claro 1 km north of Playa San Josecito on the Osa, Montezuma waterfall, the rope swing by the bridge on the Río Rincón 1 km west of La Palma on the Osa and too many others to mention.
Nature and Costa Rica tend to go hand in hand. 25% of the country is protected land, and the variety of wildlife is as astounding as the beauty of nature. Imagine: a birdwatching excursion into the rainforest, when suddenly you come upon the unrealistically blue waters of Rio Celeste. There are stunning landscapes no matter where you visit, from the looming Arenal Volcano to the tranquility of the Monteverde Cloud Forest. When it comes to pure natural beauty, Costa Rica is in a class of its own!
Matute is a small cafeteria, or coffee shop, that can be found in the celebrated coffee-growing region of Tarrazu. The baristas here are known for their infectious excitement about coffee and produce unique combinations of flavors enhanced by the noticeable quality of the local beans cultivated on the local micro-mills. The baristas also use their talents to produce delightful coffee and rum cocktails.
Located in the heart of Santa Elena, the Monteverde Orchid Garden offers visitors the chance to feast their eyes on a huge collection of over 460 species of orchids against the backdrop of their natural forest habitats. The collection is on display all year round and regardless of when you visit you can be assured that at least a quarter of the collection will be in flower. You can join a guided tour in either English or Spanish, which will introduce you to the history of the magnificent blooms and teach you how to care for them at home. The garden boasts wide paved pathways that are wheel-chair and push-chair friendly so that everyone can come and enjoy the beautiful collection.
San José’s Juan Santamaría Airport (SJO) sits smack-dab in the middle of the country and makes a convenient, centrally located arrival and departure point for most visitors. But if you’re spending all your time in northern Costa Rica, say, lazing on a north Pacific beach with a trip to the Arenal volcano, you have a second option: Daniel Oduber Airport (LIR) lies just outside the small northwestern city of Liberia and receives flights from all the major airlines too. Fares do skew slightly higher to Liberia, but you’ll save a lot of overland hours to and from San José. Both airports are capricious places—upon departure, you might breeze through check-in and security in 15 minutes, or you may encounter lines stretching out the door. Whether or not you abide by the recommended three-hour advance check-in depends on your aversion to risk.
Please note civil archives recording land titles are at times incomplete or contradictory. Coastal land within 50 meters of the high tide line is open to the public and therefore closed to development. The next 150 meters inland (“Maritime Zone”) cannot be owned by foreign nationals. Land in this zone is administered by the local municipality. Expropriation of private land by the Costa Rican government without compensation considered adequate or prompt has hurt some U.S. investors.
If you’re in good shape, you can easily climb Chirripo without technical equipment. That said, you’ll need to spend at least one night on the mountain, likely at Crestones Base Lodge, which (confusingly) is actually pretty close to the summit and takes most of a day to reach from the actual base of the range. If you’re worried about the altitude, consider spending a few days on the mountain to properly acclimate. And pack clothing for any weather conditions you can imagine: you’ll move from the tropics to the tundra as you head skyward.
People come to Parque Nacional Braulio Carillo to hike, marvel at the Costa Rican jungle’s stunning biodiversity, and swim (if they’re feeling adventurous) in an alpine lagoon. The crown jewel is Barva, a 9,500-foot volcano cloaked in dense montane forests that change drastically as you ascend. Use the Barva Sector Ranger Station as a staging ground for easy summit hikes, like the 1.5-mile crater walk. Cacho de Venado trail, another quick high-altitude jaunt, is the best birdwatching spot in the park – if you’re lucky, you’ll see a rare quetzal.
As I mentioned in the beginning, we created this list of activities in Costa Rica with budget travelers in mind. However, there are plenty of other amazing things to do in Costa Rica that will be a bit of a splurge on your budget. For example, we think that zip lining in Costa Rica is a must do activity, but it is not so budget friendly. If you are interested in zip lining we suggest going to La Fortuna or Monteverde for the best views.
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.