Don’t be turned off by popularity. No two travelers will ever have the same experience on the trails, see the same wildlife, have the same guide, etc. Our popular packages are still uniquely yours. Furthermore, they can be customized to be exactly what you want them to be. Scared of heights? Pull the canopy zip line tour out of your trip. Have to swim in a rainforest waterfall during your visit? Add it on! Hotel and resort upgrades are available and highly encouraged. This is your trip. Do it your way!
Caravan's vacation packages include complimentary arrival transfers from Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in San José, Costa Rica to your hotel in San José on the day the tour begins. These transfers are only available on the day the tour begins. Please see Costa Rica FAQ’s “Airport Information” for more detailed information for all incoming passengers. Tour members arriving on earlier days will need to arrange transfers on their own. After you clear customs, Caravan’s representative will meet you at the taxi stand, about 20 feet from the international terminal, with a “Caravan” sign. You may have to wait a couple minutes as your representative might be transferring another client. Please be sure to call the Caravan office before your flight to make sure that we have received your correct flight information. The airport representative is available to meet all flights with Caravan passengers, but will only meet your flight if we have received your flight information and are expecting you on that flight. If you miss your flight please call the Caravan office at 800-227-2826 or 312-321-9800 to notify us. Driving time to your hotel can run from 30 to 60 minutes, depending on traffic. If you take a taxi, use “Taxis Unidos Aeropuerto,” the official taxi service, and expect to pay $25.00 U.S. Dollars per taxi, plus tip. To enter Costa Rica, you will need a U.S. passport valid for 6 additional months after the date of your arrival into Costa Rica. A 3 month tourist visa is automatically issued to U.S. citizens after clearing Costa Rica customs. Non U.S. citizens, please check passport and visa requirements. Note: It is recommended that children under 18 years old traveling internationally without both parents or legal guardians, carry a notarized letter of authorization signed by the missing parent(s) or guardian(s). A notarized birth certificate showing only one parent, a parent’s death certificate, or a court order of child custody may also be permissible. Failure to have proper documentation could result in denial of boarding by the airline, due to international child protection laws.
Combo adventure tours are one of our favorite things to do in Guanacaste. We love Guachipelin Adventure Park in the Rincon de la Vieja area which is a full day of ziplining, horseback riding, lunch, river tubing, hot springs and mud baths. It’s an awesome adventure in Costa Rica that allows you to experience the best of the volcano and dry tropical forest.
That’s an extreme example and the two experiences aren’t identical. Arenal Hanging Bridges is about 4 times larger (but also gets 50 times more visitors) and we did actually end up staying another night, going to the main entrance of Tenorio park and paying $15 to enter there and hike to the Celeste waterfall as well. Still it was less than half the price.
PK: Don’t believe that it won’t rain in the ‘dry’ season. Don’t leave all your reservations until the last minute-especially if you have your heart set on one particular place. Things fill up fast. Don’t worry if people don’t e-mail you back; call your hotel or tour operator instead. Make sure you have enough space on your phone for taking photos and videos; Use the plane ride to delete unnecessary space. Call your hotel before you arrive to ask about road conditions. Don’t follow the weather apps; in our area they are useless.
The location receiving the most rain is the Caribbean slopes of the Central Cordillera mountains, with an annual rainfall of over 5000 mm. Humidity is also higher on the Caribbean side than on the Pacific side. The mean annual temperature on the coastal lowlands is around 27°C, 20°C in the main populated areas of the Central Cordillera, and below 10°C on the summits of the highest mountains.
There is an extensive network of bus routes within the country with reasonable fares. Departures are very punctual, though routes often take longer than expected. Stop by the Tourist Office downtown (underneath the Gold Museum in the Plaza--ask anyone and they'll be able to help you out). The bus system is a safe and even fun way to see a lot of the country cheaply and not have to worry about car rentals. Getting around without Spanish is no problem.
Costa Rica is home to a rich variety of plants and animals. While the country has only about 0.03% of the world's landmass, it contains 5% of the world's biodiversity. Around 25% of the country's land area is in protected national parks and protected areas, the largest percentage of protected areas in the world (developing world average 13%, developed world average 8%). Costa Rica has successfully managed to diminish deforestation from some of the worst rates in the world from 1973 to 1989, to almost zero by 2005.
Third, don’t read too much. The amount of information you can find on line is overwhelming and you will end up getting totally confused about what to do and see. Have an initial idea in mind about an area or areas you want to see, and then start checking on hotel accommodations in each location so that you can start getting some rates as well. If you get confused or frustrated, it’s time for you to contact a local travel agent in Costa Rica; someone who knows the country and can guide you well.
Trade the humid Costa Rican jungle for the rare air of the Teatro Nacional Costa Rica, or National Theater, a stunning Neoclassical edifice in the heart of San Juan, Costa Rica’s economic and political capital. As Costa Rica’s foremost performance art institution, the National Theater puts on an eclectic array of shows, including orchestral performances, dance extravaganzas, mixed-media performance art, lectures, and more.
Apart from checking out the rainforest and surrounding lake and other lands while zipping along, not to mention spotting wildlife, the zipline tour gives a prime view of the Arenal Volcano. (Up until 2010 this volcano was one of the most active in the whole world, but its eruptive cycle has paused and it’s currently in a resting phase.) Arenal Volcano looms large over the hillsides surrounding it, and reaches close to 5,500 feet high.
For the best beaches, we suggest the North Pacific Coast. Tamarindo is one of the most popular beaches in this area. It can get pretty crowded, but it has lots of restaurants, shops, and other facilities. Alternatively, we love the quiet area near Playa Avellanas (just south of Tamarindo). It’s more rustic down here and less developed, but easily accessible by car and a great place to relax and enjoy the Pura Vida lifestyle!
Refrescos or simply frescos are beverages made from fresh fruit (cas, guayaba/guava, sandia/watermelon, mora/blackberry, fresa/strawberry, piña/pineapple, papaya), sugar and either water or milk (depending on the fruit). All sodas serve these. You can also easily buy the standard international soda pops; 'Fresca', 'Canada Dry' and the local 'Fanta Kolita' (fruit punch) are recommended.
The Barcelo San Jose Palacio Hotel is located 1 mile from downtown San José, amidst beautifully landscaped gardens in a quiet residential area. This five star hotel features two indoor restaurants, two bars, a casino, a large swimming pool and pool bar and restaurant, spa with Jacuzzi, steam bath, sauna, tennis and squash courts, massage therapists, hairdresser, and gift shops. Your hotel is fully air-conditioned. Internet access is available in the lobby internet cafe for a fee.
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.
Our Wildlife Safaris, with the very best bilingual naturalist guides, can escort you into a variety of protected natural habitats, such as pristine rainforests, coastal canals, tropical dry forest, wetlands, and cloud forests to name just a few. Whether you are wanting to travel way into the wilderness or prefer being led into easier areas for mountain birdwatching and lowland river cruises, we offer excellent wildlife observation opportunities to choose from.
“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
Few tourists make it this far down the peninsula, so you’ll have whatever beach or trail you choose to explore to yourself. Just don’t expect any true stunners: the closest broad beach is Playa Carmen, up the road a few miles. Stay the night at Hotel Vista de Olas or Hotel Moana, both rustic but comfortable properties within walking distance of the shore.
The tropical landscape provides stunning fruits most often associated with South America or Southeast Asia due to their introduction to Central America by historical trade. Dragon fruit, star fruit, and rambutan are examples of the delicious and distinctive produce once uncommon to the landscape and markets of Costa Rica, but can now be found growing on the plantations around pineapple or mango. Achiote is an example of a native fruit Costa Rican’s have harvested for millennia, often turning the scarlet seeds into a paste to use as food coloring.
Drive past Lake Arenal from Tilaran and you’ll eventually run into La Fortuna, the biggest and most tourist-friendly town in the Arenal area. This is a natural overnight spot for tourists continuing on to the volcano or the mountainous national parks between there and San Jose, and the hotel supply reflects that: you’ll find everything from $400-a-night luxury resorts built around hot springs to $30-per-night ecolodges half-hidden in the jungle here.
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.
As with any travel, it is best to book your stay ahead of time, for the best deals and for guaranteed space. Your rental vacation location will likely allow for other renters to book by the day, week, or month, so there might be certain blocks of time that are blacked out and unavailable. Instead of having to work your vacation around the availability of the place, plan ahead and get the exact days that you want.
Hi Chayanne, thanks for your kind words and glad the blog is helpful! I don’t know where your house is in Ojochal but many of the houses in that area are up in the mountains and the road into Ojochal is not paved, so a 4×4 is a good idea especially for that area. A lot of roads in the Costa Ballena up in the mountains are steep and unpaved so they do require a 4×4.
While you are in the country, our customer service team is on-call 24/7 throughout your stay. If you need a restaurant reservation, a travel tip or would like to make an adjustment to your vacation plan…just give us a call. No other Costa Rica travel agency can match our commitment to guest happiness, and we have over a decade of satisfied clients to prove it.
Sanitation facility access: This entry provides information about access to improved or unimproved sanitation facilities available to segments of the population of a country. Improved sanitation - use of any of the following facilities: flush or pour-flush to a piped sewer system, septic tank or pit latrine; ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrine; pit latrine with slab; or a composting toilet. Unimproved sanitation - use of any of the following facilities: flush or pour-flush not piped to a sewer system, septic tank . . . more
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.
Vegetarians will find it surprisingly easy to eat well in Costa Rica. There are several International cuisine options also. In addition to American style food, Italian, Mexican, Peruvian and Indian are also available. Indian food generally has vegetarian, vegan and gluten free dishes. Try Indian Naans & Curries dishes. They taste better in Costa Rica because of natural ingredients.
Disputes - international: This entry includes a wide variety of situations that range from traditional bilateral boundary disputes to unilateral claims of one sort or another. Information regarding disputes over international terrestrial and maritime boundaries has been reviewed by the US Department of State. References to other situations involving borders or frontiers may also be included, such as resource disputes, geopolitical questions, or irredentist issues; however, inclusion does not necessarily constitute . . . more
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.
Not a lot of musicians tour in Costa Rica, but maybe you will get lucky and a musician you love will be playing while you are visiting the country. The cool thing about seeing a concert in Costa Rica is that sometimes the tickets are way cheaper than in your home country. For example, I saw Justin Bieber at the national stadium for $35. I know, I know, please don’t judge me, I’m not a fan of the Biebs BUT it was cool to see a concert at the national stadium just for the experience. And no, he didn’t sing Despacito. And yes, the crowd was outraged.
Accommodations in the hotels and lodges are rooms with two beds and private bath or shower. A limited number of single rooms are available. Triple rooms are usually two beds, sometimes with a cot or rollaway. On your Costa Rica tour, Caravan sometimes uses more than one hotel or lodge in a given area. Although each property is wonderfully different and may have many unique features, Caravan's goal is to offer a comparable overall selection so that you can experience the same enjoyment regardless of which property combination you find on your actual tour departure. Scheduled Caravan sightseeing will be the same from all the hotels.
Catarata Del Toro is a private reserve in the central mountains of Costa Rica, near San Jose International Airport. The star of the reserve is a magnificent waterfall, the largest in the country, tumbling down into an extinct volcano crater. All around you is breathtaking beauty: The rock formations, the lookouts, and the incredibly diverse flora and fauna. Catarata Del Toro Adventures enables visitors to explore this lush area while they rappel, swim, hike, take photos, watch birds, or enjoy a fresh meal at the open-air restaurant. If you want to stay longer, the reserve offers simple, rustic rooms where you can replenish your energy and continue your exploration another day.
During most of the colonial period, Costa Rica was the southernmost province of the Captaincy General of Guatemala, nominally part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. In practice, the captaincy general was a largely autonomous entity within the Spanish Empire. Costa Rica's distance from the capital of the captaincy in Guatemala, its legal prohibition under Spanish law from trade with its southern neighbor Panama, then part of the Viceroyalty of New Granada (i.e. Colombia), and lack of resources such as gold and silver, made Costa Rica into a poor, isolated, and sparsely-inhabited region within the Spanish Empire. Costa Rica was described as "the poorest and most miserable Spanish colony in all America" by a Spanish governor in 1719.