With the mind-boggling amounts of biological and cultural variety in Costa Rica, visitors often find themselves wanting to go back to experience something they missed on their last trip. From its classic Latin American beaches to its diverse jungles and cultures, Costa Rica is a destination that families, newlyweds, adventure-seekers and nature lovers alike can enjoy again and again.
It’s also not particularly touristy, which is part of its appeal. Tilaran is an affordable overnight alternative for visitors who want to continue on to La Fortuna or Monteverde, but don’t want to pay tourist premiums in either locale. Our place in Tilaran was awesome: a motel with a nice pool, free breakfast, great WiFi, and tons of satellite TV channels for $35 per night.
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.
Much of the historical machismo of the Central American culture has changed over the past 30 years. Where women once stayed in the home tending to the children and housework, they now pursue careers and occupations with salaries equal to men. It is still common for men to stare, whistle, or tout pickup lines at passing women, but is often considered complimentary by both the men and women involved. Confrontations are rare and considered ill-mannered in a society that prides itself on serene ambiance and politeness. Ticos say please and thank you whether speaking to servers at a restaurant, staff at a shop, or friends inside the home, formality remains integral to the culture.
I mentioned above that zika is of significant concern for pregnant and planning-to-become-pregnant visitors. Zika infections are often mild (low fever, chills) or entirely asymptomatic, so you won’t necessarily know that you’ve been afflicted. And it’s not just women who have to worry: though more research needs to be done, it appears that sexual transmission is possible.
Bus – The cheapest and easiest way to get around Costa Rica is by bus. The public bus system runs frequently throughout the day, including the harder to reach areas. Short bus trips (under 3 hours) are around 2,000 CRC (3 USD) while longer trips will cost closer to 5,500 CRC (10 USD). The Costa Rica tourism board has a really comprehensive schedule and guide.
Pro Tip: Spanish is a pretty diverse language with dozens of regional dialects. Most U.S. students learn either Mexican or Castilian Spanish, both among the most commonly spoken variations. Though comprehensible to other Spanish speakers, the Costa Rican variation has some interesting idiosyncrasies, such as voseo – the use of the second person singular pronoun, vos, and its plural, vosotros, in place of the more common tú.
The diversity of Costa Rica is not limited to the ecosystems and the microclimates but is also embodied in the range of accommodations that allow visitors to experience the jungle terrain, the stunning cloud forests, the vibrant rainforests, and the secluded beaches as they desire. With a range of four and five-star resorts, along with boutique eco-friendly lodges, the remote countryside could be as luxurious and opulent as the bustling heart of the capital city. Travelers in search of relaxation can find comfort in the form of resplendent soulful retreats hidden in the mountains or listening to crashing waves on the Pacific while thrill-seekers discover gorgeous eco-luxury resorts reachable only by traversing whitewater.
More than the wide variety of coastal tours in Costa Rica, however, is the draw of the quality of these adventures! Costa Rica is dedicated to providing a pristine environment for thrill-seekers of any kind, and the beaches are of noticeable importance. The Blue Flag Ecological Program tracks beach cleanliness, safety, and community outreach annually – a beach that has been awarded the Ecological Blue Flag is a good bet!
There are approximately 8 different national beers available (and most international), which are sold in cans, bottles and even kegs. The most common beers in the country are Pilsen and Imperial: all bars and restaurants serve both. Bavaria, "Bavaria Negra" (dark) and Bavaria Light are considered higher quality but more expensive, Rock Ice and Rock Ice Limón (lemon flavor) has a higher alcohol percentage. Heineken is locally made under license and is more expensive as well.
Or skip cash altogether. Every brick-and-mortar merchant we patronized, including hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Liberia, accepted major credit cards. Because they’re dollar-denominated at contemporaneous exchange rates, credit card transactions with foreign-transaction-fee-free cards are cheaper than cash transactions, which require withdrawals from ATMs charging 2% to 3% for the privilege. If you rent your own car and avoid the informal economy, you can get by without touching a paper note.
Country name: This entry includes all forms of the country's name approved by the US Board on Geographic Names (Italy is used as an example): conventional long form (Italian Republic), conventional short form (Italy), local long form (Repubblica Italiana), local short form (Italia), former (Kingdom of Italy), as well as the abbreviation. Also see the Terminology note.
This is a country of extremes due to the mountainous terrain. From sea level on the coasts to the highest peak at Cerro Chirripo, there is a difference of 3,810 meters in elevation gain. To put this in perspective, Cerro Chirripo is located only 40 kilometers inland from the coast. It can be a balmy 85 degree morning on the beach and there can be frost covered slopes on the highest peaks on the same day.
Visiting chocolate plantations is a fun and informative experience and offers new views to the tediousness of drying the beans and the seductive aromas produced as the beans roast. The country produced nearly 700 tons of dry grain in 2013, but it was not enough to cover the domestic demand. Many chocolate tours will allow you to grind the beans yourself for a better insight into the process of crafting smooth, velvety chocolate mixed with a small amount of sugar to make 70 percent dark chocolate.
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.
Alright, I’ll be honest. National Costa Rican beer is pretty much the equivalent of BudLight, but on hot days there is nothing I enjoy more. If you are into the craft beer scene like we are, have no fear! The craft beer culture is slowly making its way into Costa Rica and it is possible to find breweries in most tourist destinations. Two of our favorites are Fuego Brew Co. in Dominical (that is where the picture above was taken) and Wilk Craft Beer in San Jose.
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.
Price is per person, based on double occupancy, and includes hotel rates, hotel taxes, roundtrip airfare, and gov't taxes/fees applicable to airfare based on specified departure city. Price may vary for other departure cities. Price shown is sample price found 11/10/15 on jetblue.com/vacations for travel departing JFK on 1/23/16 - 2/6/16 and may not represent current savings. Package/price subject to availability; may change without notice; valid for new bookings only; capacity controlled; may not be available on all dates or with all flights; and may be restricted to certain hotel room categories.
During your morning at leisure, you may wish to go on an optional horseback ride or float trip. Or, you can take advantage of your resort’s amenities by walking along the shaded trails nearby. Later this afternoon, visit ARENAL VOLCANO NATIONAL PARK, where your guide takes you on a walk through lava trails of the volcano and shows you how nature has found a way to recover from past lava flows. Next, enjoy a walking tour of the town of La Fortuna de San Carlos, offering spectacular views of the active Arenal Volcano. This evening, drive to nearby famous TABACÓN HOT SPRINGS for a dip in the curative and relaxing pools. Later, enjoy a dinner at the hot springs.
* Prices include airfare, fuel surcharges, airport taxes and fees. All prices are per person based on twin occupancy. 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.
Hotel Belmar is located in Monteverde's cloud forest where guest will experience the best of nature, luxury, and sustainable practices. This world-renowned hotel offers a wide range of amenities including handmade organic soaps with biodegradable shampoos, locally made snacks, and fresh Costa Rican brewed coffee delivered to the exquisite rooms. Guests will experience only the best at this peaceful accommodation.
Due to its rich bio-diversity, pure beauty, and close proximity to Mother Nature in unison with its small ecological footprint, Costa Rica offers an experience like none other. Whether diving or snorkeling the crystal clear offshore protected waters, to zip-lining hundreds of feet above a giant old growth rainforest, you’ll be surrounding yourself with tropical beauty. Marveling at sunsets and sinking your feet in the warm sand, you’ll likely experience a complete detoxification, ultimately feeling the embrace of a carefree state of mind.
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.
First, check on international flights—sometimes you will be able to find some very good deals on airfare flying to either San Jose or Liberia. San Jose usually offers the best options, and it’s a great place to start your vacation if you are interested in seeing the Arenal Volcano, Monteverde or the Central Pacific. If, on the other hand, you are able to find a good deal to Liberia (which are becoming more common), it’s perfect for a beach vacation as Liberia is much closer to all the beaches in the North Pacific of Costa Rica. Even if you wait to get flights until after you plan your trip, it’s good to know what to expect for availability and cost. And if you find an amazing deal, don’t sleep on it—they don’t last long!
Visitors seeking metropolis-aimed vacations can enjoy San Jose's colonial-era architecture juxtaposed with the city's urban street art - the dichotomy creates a dynamic beauty that no other city can quite encapsulate. The sweet smells of Costa Rican bananas, fresh coffee beans and chocolate can be found at the Central Market, and if you'd like to pick up a souvenir, everything from artisan leather goods to handmade musical instruments can be found here.
From the tall viewing platform, zipliners then start riding down on a track that stretches across canyons, sits in between treetops, and heads down mountainsides. There are seven zip lines in total, which can get up to around half a mile long, and the duration of the experience is two and a half hours all together. To me, it is one of the most incredible things to do in Costa Rica.
Can you imagine waking up in a full-of-nature country, where you can make a thrilling white water rafting tours after breakfast and an incredible canopy tours before dinner? Well, if your idea for your next vacations are days filled with adventure, where you can explore every corner of Costa Rica with the adrenaline at your maximum, our adventure packages are waiting for you!
In Costa Rica, you can wake up to the sound of howler monkeys or toucans chatting with one another, then spend the afternoon learning about the mysterious stone spheres that weigh up to 15 tons. Nature enthusiasts, environmentalists, surfers, history buffs - no matter what your personality or hobby, a vacation to Costa Rica can provide something amazing to explore or uncover.
Tortuguero National Park – the name Tortuguero can be translated as "Full of Turtles" – is home to spider, howler, and white-throated capuchin monkeys; the three-toed sloth and two-toed sloth; 320 species of birds; and a variety of reptiles. The park is recognized for the annual nesting of the endangered green turtle, and is the most important nesting site for the species. Giant leatherback, hawksbill, and loggerhead turtles also nest there. The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is home to about 2,000 plant species, including numerous orchids. Over 400 types of birds and more than 100 species of mammals can be found there.