Costa Rica has a rich and vibrant history that first marked the history books on September 18th 1502. This date was when the land mass was first discovered by Christopher Columbus. Originally the land belonged to the four tribes of Carib, Boruca, Chibcha and Diquis Indians (The Carib met Columbus as he landed there and showed him the island). There is also further evidence to suggest that the country had human life up to 10,000 years prior. Although it cannot be pinpointed to an exact date this is the closest scientists can estimate intelligent lifeforms living in the territory. The name Costa Rica (Rich Coast) was given to the land by a Spanish man who noticed the heavy golden jewelry that the Indians wore. When the Spaniards started to move into Costa Rica to colonize the territory in 1524, many of the indigenous people died from disease or moved away. This did not lead to a huge rise in immigration because there was not many resources from the land to make a profit on. The people there lived a simple life with the bare minimum and worked to sustain themsleves. Many only moved there to further their claims in Central America where the gold and silver was heavily mined. Others used it as a stepping stone to reach Mexico, Central America and North America. Juan Vasquez De Coronado created the first city in 1562, before that it had only been small communities and towns. Later on in 1821 Costa Rica successfully declared independence from Spain and two years later after disputes in the capitol declined to be a part of Mexico. In 1848 "Don Pepe" took charge of the country and Costa Rica became a republic. This granted voting right to minorities and established rules and regulations to check and balance the country when needed. It then hit a peaceful period which some would call "neutral." Peace and stability reigned over the land and prevented uneccessary conflicts. This is when Costa Rica constitutionally and permanently abolished its army in 1949. Finally in the 1970's the economy there took a serious hit and instead of relying on exports, the country now looks to the mass tourism it receives every year.
Despite its small size, the country has more than 800 miles of coastline, and its tallest mountains rise more than 12,000 feet above sea level. In many cases, just a few miles separate dry tropical savannas and scrublands from montane grasslands, lush rainforests, and breathtakingly diverse marine ecosystems. The Costa Rican government protects much of this natural bounty from human development, having littered the countryside with national parks and wildlife reserves. Not surprisingly, Costa Rica has long been held in high regard as an ecotourism destination.
In the event of a traffic accident, do not move the vehicle. Both the traffic police and an insurance investigator must make accident reports before the vehicles can be moved. Drivers using rental cars should clarify their company’s policy in the event of accidents. Rental companies may levy additional charges on drivers for failing to file a report.
The road to Tenorio Volcano National Park where Rio Celeste is is pretty bad – it is definitely recommended to get a 4×4. If you get stuck, car rental companies have an emergency hotline you can call and they also give you an emergency kit with an extra tire, fire extinguisher and if you get the full insurance, most rental car companies have you covered 100% up to a certain amount, say $5 million.
Many Costa Rican roads are in terrible shape, and short distances can take a very long time. Even the only road in and out of popular tourist destinations are riddled with major potholes. To avoid potholes, drivers will often snake through the left and right lanes, usually returning to the right when oncoming traffic approaches. While this may seem erratic, you can become quickly accustomed to it. If you see a tree branch or pole poking out of the middle of a road, that is a "sign" that there is a deep sinkhole, pothole or manhole without a cover. Stay away from it.
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.
After a minivan pickup from your hotel in San Jose, your day trip begins with the 35-minute drive northwest to Sarchí, a Central Valley town famous for its crafts, particularly wood and leather furniture and decorated oxcarts. Pick up a souvenir or two from a local artisan before making the 2.5-hour drive further north to the town of La Fortuna, which sits below Arenal and offers an unobstructed view of the volcán on clear days. On arrival in La Fortuna, head to a local restaurant for a typical Costa Rican lunch of rice, beans, chicken or steak, and plantains, accompanied by a great view of Arenal. Then, continue your tour about 20 minutes down the road to Mirador Arenal 1968, a trail system on the edge of Arenal Volcano National Park (Parque Nacional Volcán Arenal) named for the 1968 eruption. Walk along the paths to find the best photo spots of the volcano and Lake Arenal (Lago Arenal), and watch for glimpses of bright orange lava flowing down the volcano. Finally, head a few miles back toward La Fortuna to the Tabacón hot springs — officially Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort — one of Costa Rica’s biggest and most luxurious hot springs resorts. Enjoy roughly 3.5 hours here to soak in the various pools, which range in temperature from 77 to 102°F (25 to 38°C).The resort is beautifully landscaped with waterfalls and lush vegetation and offers many ways to relax, from secluded pools to a swim-up bar (drinks at your own expense), so sit back and enjoy it until dinner is served. The resort’s buffet dinner lasts about 30 minutes and offers a selection of Costa Rican cuisine, similar to lunch. After dinner, head back to your hotel in San Jose (about 2.5 hours), where your tour ends.
Extremely popular, the 10-day Eco-Xtreme Adrenaline will have your heart pumping as you race from one ultimate sports challenge to another. Picture: Whitewater Rafting, Canyoning, Waterfall Rappelling, Zip-lining, ATVing, and Surfing! And it all rocks at Costa Rica’s top 3 adventure destinations: Arenal Volcano, Monteverde Cloud Forest, and Manuel Antonio Beach. Bring your Go-Pro!
And though I'm reluctant to see towns like touristy Tamarindo get even bigger and filled with still more traffic, I can't help but spread the gospel of Costa Rica—especially to my fellow Houstonians. The pristine beaches, animal-filled jungles and awe-inspiring volcanoes offer endless realms of exploration for the casual vacationers, the adventure-seekers and everyone in between, and getting to this Central American paradise has never been easier.
If we’d chosen Arenal we each would have paid $24 (unguided) for a daytime visit and another $47 (guide required and included) for a night time visit to the Arenal Hanging Bridges, plus $15 for the entrance fee to the National Park plus about $50 for transfers plus $35 each per night for a simple place to stay. A total of $280 for two nights lodging plus $394 for activities for the four of us.
How shall we put this? Those wonderful “con mucho gusto” Costa Ricans have a reputation for being some of the world’s most impatient and least compliant drivers. But don’t take that as license for you to do the same. Traffic fines are steep—a speeding ticket could set you back hundreds of dollars—and some evidence exists that the transit police target foreign drivers. Buckle up. Obey speed limits religiously. Don’t phone or text while driving. Don’t drink and drive. Place the kids in the back seat. And just because you don’t see the traffic cops doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Mounted cameras patrol the highways too.
On the Pacific side, heavy surf is a year-round phenomenon. In fact, it’s advisable to check weather and surf conditions before venturing out, since offshore storms can create dangerous rip currents even when beach-side conditions appear fair. Boca Barranca is renowned for its half-mile wave breaks, while Playa Escondida is popular with novice and intermediate surfers. Board rentals generally start around $10 and range up to $20 or more for high-end options.
No matter how well you intend to keep yourself covered with insect repellent, mosquitos are elusive and an inescapable part of the travel experience, whether visiting the lowlands, coastlines, and valleys across Costa Rica. It is important to wear long pants, long sleeves, a hat, shoes, and fresh repellent, most notably at dusk when the mosquitos are their most active.
Leave the crowds and enjoy the splendor of the tropical jungle at Cristal Azul Ocean-View Villas. The remote location allows guests to experience true Costa Rica as it once was before the crowds arrived. Guests will enjoy sea kayaking, zip lining, yoga or even visit a Macaw Sanctuary. Take in the pure simplicity and stunning surroundings of the Nicoya Peninsula. Those who prefer to stay off the beaten path will fall in love with Cristal Azul Resort.
Such wildlife abounds in Costa Rica as to seem almost cartoonish: keel-billed toucans ogle you from treetops and scarlet macaws raucously announce their flight plans. A keen eye will discern a sloth on a branch or the eyes of a caiman breaking the surface of a mangrove swamp, while alert ears will catch rustling leaves signaling a troop of white-faced capuchins or the haunting call of a howler monkey. Blue morpho butterflies flit amid orchid-festooned trees, while colorful tropical fish, sharks, rays, dolphins and whales thrive offshore – all as if in a conservationist’s dream.
Surrounded by the famous Volcan Tenorio National Park, the Rio Celeste Hideaway is a gateway to Costa Rica’s pristine nature and wildlife. Guests can explore the lush jungles teeming with wildlife through many of the activities offered on premise or simply take in the natural beauty in the comforts of one of the 26 luxurious bungalows in an ecologically friendly setting. If you are feeling adventurous, get lost on the trails the indigenous animals call home. For a relaxing day, swim in the bright blue river while listening to the musical sounds of the rainforest.
Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport (LIR), between Liberia and Playa Hermosa in Guanacaste province, is Costa Rica’s second-busiest airport. It’s convenient to the endless beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula and the inland parks and protected areas of northwestern Costa Rica, including Arenal, Monteverde, Rincon de la Vieja, Guanacaste, and on and on.
It helps when more than a quarter of your country is protected rainforest with more biodiversity than USA and Europe combined, and the rest is a jaw-dropping combo of bubbling volcanoes, Pacific surf beaches and laid-back towns like Quepos and Sarapiqui. Costa Rica tours are all about nature putting on a show –you’ll quickly become a pro at spotting keel-billed toucans in the cloud forests of Monteverde or listening out for the distant whoop of white-faced capuchins – but really it’s the pace of life here that gets you. ‘Hustle’ and ‘bustle’ aren’t really in Costa Rica’s vocab. Pretty much what you’d expect from a country whose unofficial motto is pura vida (the pure life).
Driving through country roads to the sub-tropical climate of La Guacima you will arrive at The Butterfly Farm, an ideal location for breeding butterflies. The journey then continues to Cafe Britts Farm in Heredia. In the midst of volcanoes, greenery and a working coffee farm, guests will participate in the awards-winning Coffee tour de Cafe Britt, Costa Rica's longest running theatrical production. Expert coffee tasters will share their knowledge of the art and science of gourmet coffee appreciation.
We had an amazing time and Geovanni our tour guide really enhanced our Costa Rica experience. It is amazing how much packed into one day. His stories and descriptions of the sites and the land and the history was phenomenal. His ability to relate to the children and engage them was also quite fantastic. We learned so much from Geovanni and had lots of fun. The driver Alex was great as well. I would highly recommend this trip to our friends & family. Thanks again Geovanni for making the trip memorable.
Marijuana traffic, distribution and commerce is illegal in Costa Rica, despite recreational marijuana use being quite popular among locals, as there is absence of law when you carry marijuana for personal use quantities only (a few joints) although police could try to get money from you or keep you in the local commissary for up to 12 hours. The United States DEA is also present in Costa Rica and they have been known to disguise themselves as tourists. There is a Costa Rican equivalent of the DEA as well. It is not advised to do illegal drugs in Costa Rica. It is also not advised to bribe a police officer. Do so at your own risk.
Like most of Central America, Costa Rican cuisine is influenced by Spanish, South American, Caribbean and American cuisine. In general, the food tends to be wholesome and tasty, but not very spicy. On the Caribbean side of the country, however, food has an Afro-Caribbean flair, with dishes featuring coconut milk, more spices, and lots of pork and goat.
San Jose bursts with liveliness and excitement that blends into the daily life of Ticos, Costa Rica natives. The capital of Costa Rica contains an ineffable charm that is strewn beneath the potholed streets and mishmash of corrugated metal and plaster homes. The chaos of rumbling cars, buses, and people reveal a connection to the capitals of Central America but give way to the mixture of traditional and historical buildings. The city was founded in 1737 but remained a forgotten settlement of the Spanish empire until the late 19th century due to the emerging coffee trade.
Our Sport Fishing Adventures will cast you into waters where numerous record billfish have been caught off the Pacific side and huge tarpon regularly reeled in off the Caribbean coast. Lake Arenal provides a freshwater hot spot for the elusive (and delicious!) Guapote. Costa Rica is home to some of the best sport fishing in the world. We utilize only the best captains plus top of the line equipment and boats for our famed fishing expeditions.
Beyond altitude-related temperature considerations, the biggest issue for first-time Costa Rica visitors is the timing of the rainy season. On the Pacific side, the rainy season runs from April or May through October or November, with a brief pause in June and July. Precipitation levels are highest along the southern Pacific coast, where late summer and early fall are washout seasons. The balance of the year is dry. At low elevations in the northwest, you’re unlikely to encounter anything more than a brief shower between December and April.
After pickup from your San Jose hotel in the morning, begin your 1.5-hour journey to Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui with your naturalist guide and pass through one of the most famous national parks in Costa Rica.Once you arrive, discover Costa Rica's beautiful tropical wildlife on a riverboat trip. Enjoy views of the magnificent rainforest on a 2-hour boat ride along the water, and look out for forest inhabitants such as toucans, monkeys, sloths, crocodiles and more!Arrive at the private reserve, where you’ll have the choice to horseback ride or hike up to the canopy. After receiving a safety briefing from your naturalist guide, embark on your canopy adventure. Using a special system of steel cables and professional climbing gear, you’ll roam through the treetops and leap from platform to platform in the tropical rainforest. No experience required for this unique experience! After an adrenaline-packed two hours, enjoy a home-style lunch at the private reserve before relaxing on a scenic drive back to San Jose.
This sustainable Costa Rica hotel is typical of San Jose colonial hacienda architecture and offers spacious, comfortable guestrooms and suites with the latest amenities. Enjoy total convenience in its location, personalized services, delicious cuisine, and facilities like the pool and fitness center. Let the friendly staff help you relax while catering to your needs and helping you see all that Costa Rica has to offer.
Did you know you can bring up to 5 liters of alcohol per person into Costa Rica? Yeap! It’s true. Alcohol is not that cheap here. If you plan on doing some drinking it may be best to bring your own (as long as you don’t mind lugging around alcohol bottles in your suitcase). You can buy alcohol from a duty-free shop in the airport at your departure location for some added savings. If you do buy alcohol in Costa Rica we suggest buying it at any of the mini markets you come across. As strange as it is, the hard at these mini markets is usually cheaper than in the supermarket. Also, if you like rum it is probably cheaper to buy it here than in your home country.
We’ve done several night walks in Costa Rica. In Arenal, we did a night walk with Jacamar (get 10% off this tour). In Osa Peninsula we did a night walk at Leona station with La Leona Eco-Lodge, in Braulio Carrillo we did a night walk with Rainforest Adventures and in Monteverde we did one at Finca Santa Maria. For night walks in Manuel Antonio, we recommend Si Como No Hotel which has a private reserve. We also did one in Bijagua at Tapir Valley which was absolutely amazing!
National anthem: A generally patriotic musical composition - usually in the form of a song or hymn of praise - that evokes and eulogizes the history, traditions, or struggles of a nation or its people. National anthems can be officially recognized as a national song by a country's constitution or by an enacted law, or simply by tradition. Although most anthems contain lyrics, some do not.
Merchant marine: Merchant marine may be defined as all ships engaged in the carriage of goods; or all commercial vessels (as opposed to all nonmilitary ships), which excludes tugs, fishing vessels, offshore oil rigs, etc. This entry contains information in four subfields - total, ships by type, foreign-owned, and registered in other countries. Total includes the number of ships (1,000 GRT or over), total DWT for those ships, and total GRT for those ships. DWT or dead weight tonnage is the total weight of c . . . more
Hi there! Visiting Costa Rica in about 2 weeks and I’m looking into the Selvetura Adventure Park for the ziplining tour! I was just wondering if one was able to do a self tour of the hanging bridges or if it was necessary to go through one of the parks in order to experience them? Your website has been so helpful in planning our trip! And also looking forward to using Adobe rentals for our car!
The La Fortuna Waterfall is one of the top waterfalls to visit in Costa Rica. There are multiple ways to get to the hiking trail, one being via horseback, where you will then walk down 500 steps to the basin of the waterfall; La Fortuna Waterfall is 230 feet (70 meters) high! The raw power of this waterfall is mesmerizing. After hiking down, you can swim in the pool beneath the cascade of water, which is an incredible experience in and of itself. The surrounding forest is stunning and it is likely that you will see toucans, butterflies, monkeys, and sloths.
Morning visit to Leatherback Turtle National Park. The leatherback is the largest marine reptile in the world, weighing over 1,500 pounds. Learn about Costa Rica's efforts to protect this endangered giant. The remainder of the day is free to enjoy your magnificent world class beach resort. Visit the elegant spa or swim in your hotel’s infinity pool, the largest in Central America. Lunch. Time to beachcomb while strolling your resort’s pristine beach. Dinner. BLD
Prostitution is legal in Costa Rica and can be a destination for those looking for more than sun and surf on their vacation. San Jose and Jaco are hot spots for this activity. As with any other sex destination, there are some tourists that hire minors. Prostitution with minors (less than 18 years old) is considered a crime in Costa Rica. The majority of sex tourists in Costa Rica are from the United States, and, if they engage in prostitution with a minor, are prosecutable by the Protect Act of 2003. This act gives the US government the power to prosecute US citizens who travel abroad to engage in sex tourism with children under the age of 18. Several other countries including France, Canada, the UK, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, and Australia have similar laws. Arrests, warrants and prosecutions are being made under these laws.
It really depends what part of the country you want to visit. Some parts, especially Guanacaste stay fairly dry for the majority of the year, so September or end of November would be good times to travel. It’s the lowest season and you’d find the best rates, but unfortunately for the same reason, you will find fewer options. Many hotels and restaurants close in Sept-Oct. South Pacific gets more rain and places like Monteverde for example, are rainy no matter what time of the year you visit. Generally, May to November is considered to be Green Season, so if you want a good balance of sun/value, plan a visit for the start or very end of the green season.
Enjoy the sights and the sounds of the nature and experience its peacefulness! Whichever package you choose, you will be accompanied by our expert bilingual nature guides. They will find the animals, point out indigenous rain forest plants, and educate you on the frequent sightings of wild species. Whether you are wandering near the coasts, paddling along a river in rainforests, striding on a peaceful park, or hiking on a lush forest canopy, the guides will share with you educational and interesting explanations and provide you a truly informative walk through.
Arenal Volcano National Park is one of the top three most visited national parks in Costa Rica and is the best place for those who want to see a “cone” shaped volcano. The volcano erupted back in 1968, leaving a wave of destruction in its path. Nowadays, the forest has grown back and visitors can hike through the remaining lava beds for beautiful views of the volcano and Lake Arenal.
Visit the Sloth Sanctuary on the South Caribbean coast to see sloths in rehabilitation and overnight in a rainforest treehouse. Venture to Tortuguero to explore the jungle canals and see sloths in their natural habitat. Finally, head to the Arenal Volcano region to stay in a luxurious rainforest casita with a family of sloths living right on the property!
You can also find luxurious houses, condos or apartments anywhere along the coast, in the jungles or on the hillsides overlooking the spectacular Central Valley. Some of these rentals might come with perks, like cleaning and laundry services, as well. These options are definitely something worth considering if you want to stay in Costa Rica long-term and worry free.
Taxis are available in most large cities. They are usually expensive for foreigners, charging you whatever they want. It is not recommended to use any cab, but if you have to, ask for help at your hotel or ask other locals who use taxis. The meter is called "la maria"; ask the driver to turn it on immediately upon getting in the car, or he may leave it off and make up his own, more expensive, price when you get to your destination. Also try checking it wasn't running before you got in, the initial fare shouldn't be higher than 600. Most Drivers know familiar routes such as San Jose to Santa Ana and you can find the rate by asking "Cuanto para ir a _____" and he will tell you the flat rate. This can keep you from paying too much because the driver will not make unnecessary detours. Official taxis are red with a yellow triangle on the side. They also have yellow triangles on the side of the car which will have a number in it. If the number matches the number listed on the license plate, it is an official taxi. Do not get in if the numbers do not match. "Pirate Taxis", though sometimes cheaper, are NOT SAFE. Do not risk it. If you are alone, especially. If you are female, ride in the back seat, as riding in the front with the driver can be seen as suggestive. Caution should be exercised when using this service, extra caution. Do not ride non-red cabs.
A longtime favorite, the 7-day Smooth Tropics Inclusive Adventure sends you first to the rainforest and river area surrounding Arenal Volcano, then over to one of Guanacaste’s beautiful beaches at Playa Flamingo. From hot springs to cool lagoon, you’ll enjoy a perfect balance of ecolodge jungle adventures and vegging out at the beach pampered by an all-inclusive resort.
In Playa Conchal, the water is very calm, it has very few waves, and the water is super clear. The water has a perfect temperature, It does not feel too cold in the morning and the in afternoons it's warm, which is ideal for enjoying snorkeling. You can see fish, in all their variety, small and full of beautiful colors. You can also see many black sea urchins; you can carefully play with them. You can also observe the beautiful ecosystems where they live. This is one of the things you can do in this Costa Rican beach, at no cost, the only that you need is a snorkel mask and you’re ready to enjoy.
One of the nicest places to visit in Costa Rica Tortuguero National Park, which is famous for turtle nesting. Both the park and Tortuguero village can only be accessed via boat – getting there is an incredible ride but it requires a bit of planning – going on a 3 day organized tour of Tortuguero from San Jose may be a good idea. Here’s a great one.
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.