With breakers that routinely reach 15 feet or higher, this south-southeast-trending stretch is one of Costa Rica’s best surfing spots. If you prefer to stay onshore, no worries: It’s rarely crowded, so you’re virtually guaranteed a spread of sand to call your own. Play your cards right and you might just run into Lola, the oversized hog who doubles as the area’s spirit animal.
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.
Lapa Rios Ecolodge - is located in a private nature reserve of over 1,000 acres of tropical rainforest near Corcovado National Park and overlooks the point where the Pacific Ocean meets the Golfo Dulce. Made from local materials, each bungalow has an intricately woven thatched roof. Guests can experience hiking, birdwatching, boating trips, dolphin and whale watching. VIsit on our Wild Costa Rica tour.
A common, and overlooked health risk to remember during your Costa Rica tour is the sun, especially when visiting the beaches, rainforest, or cloud forest. Protect your skin from the midday light with a wide-brimmed hat and ample sunblock of SPF 15 or higher. Use sunglasses to keep from bleaching your eyes and drink plenty of water, especially during long walks or hikes. The thinner atmosphere of the Central Highlands allows for cooler weather, making people think the sun is less harsh. However, the same precautions should apply traveling the trails through the summits in the higher altitudes.
Currency fluctuations can have an outsize impact on your overseas spending power. In the late 2000s, when the U.S. dollar was weak and the euro, pound, and Canadian dollar were all strong, it took lots of U.S. dollars to buy hotel rooms, transportation tickets, food, and souvenirs denominated in those currencies. For Americans, that meant traveling abroad was a pricey affair. British and European tourists flooded major U.S. cities and resort towns, snapping up hotel rooms and knickknacks at what seemed to them incredible bargains, while few Americans went the other way.
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.
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!
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.
hi! i love your site. i’ve gotten so much information from it. i’m heading to costa rica at the end of february for my birthday! im so excited and through my research i’ve found so many things that i’d like to do there. we will be renting a car and i think i have finally narrowed our trip down to 4 stops being, arenal, monteverde, manuel antonio, and uvitas. i would like to see a couple of waterfalls, probably la fortuna and nauyaca, hanging bridges, zipline, take a dip in the hot springs, hike, and scuba dive off cano island. now for the tricky part. i only have 7 full days! is it possible? how many days should i spend at each stop? i know that the trouble is that there are 4 stops instead of 3 which means one stop will have to be for one night only. do you think there is a way we can perhaps stop and pass through one of them? for instance when going from monteverde to san manuel. is there a way we can drive down to san manuel. spend the day at the park/beach and then drive on through to uvita? would it be safe to drive that route after sundown? many thanks for any insights you can provide.
One of the many benefits of travel is the opportunity to expand your perspective and explore new habitats and cultures. There are several ways to learn more about the people, places, and environments that make Costa Rica so special. In a guided tour of the cloud forest, you can discover fascinating plants and insects or search out rare birds. You might listen to...
Hi Alessia! Selvatura Park is super fun, you don’t have to have a guide with you for the hanging bridges, you can walk the ones in Selvatura on your own. If you want to do just do the hanging bridges, you have to pay for the entrance so for example if you go to Sky Adventures and you just want to do their hanging bridges, you’ll have to pay the entrance fee to that. At Selvatura you can pick which activities you want to do is you can do zipline + hanging bridges if you like.
The bridge is in the town of Tarcoles, a little bit before Jacoand it’s worth stopping to see the giant crocodiles. Warning: please be very careful walking on this bridge. There is no pedestrian path and the guard rails are not that high. Please don’t climb over the rails! Those crocodiles are waiting to be fed and you do not want to be their next dinner.
Beaches in Costa Rica are laid back and lovely. Swim, snorkel and even scuba dive in the turquoise waters. Other more adventurous activities you can enjoy on your Costa Rica tour are hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, canoeing and river rafting. Canopy tours are fun ways to get aerial views of the rainforest. And for those who like to pamper themselves on vacation, at some Costa Rican resorts, you can soak in natural healing hot mineral pools or try a mud massage.
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.
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.
You say you're more of a thrill seeker? Costa Rica is a nature lover's playground, and no matter what your mood, you'll find a great adventure to suit it. While here, you can fly through the canopy in Selvatura Park, hike to thunderous waterfalls or hot springs next to Arenal Volcano National Park or go white water rafting down the thrilling Pacuare River.
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.
An eco-tourist's dream, Costa Rica has become synonymous with all an unspoiled tropical paradise can be. Rarely does reality measure up to hype, but Costa Rica certainly comes close. The country's quiet history as a backwater free of colonial excesses has today become a boon, and Costa Rica has cashed in on its purity. And not without merit: blessed with beaches and biodiversity, this is a verdant land of misty volcanoes, roaring rivers, and lush jungles teeming with exotic fauna. Throw in the friendly, educated Ticos (as Costa Ricans are known) and you can see why down here they call it Pura Vida – "pure life."
Inaccessible by car, the remote coastal region of Tortuguero provides a sanctuary for rare wildlife. It is also a primary nesting site for several species of endangered sea turtles. Canals wind through the jungle allowing you to observe the untouched beauty. Supporting eleven unique types of biospheres, it may be the most diverse place in Costa Rica! A small colorful village sits on an island sandwiched between the river and the Caribbean coastline. Ideal for serious nature enthusiasts!
There are so many things to do and see while in Costa Rica that it is impossible cram it all into one trip. Fortunately, Costa Rica is so fabulous that you will definitely want to return more than once. Between national parks, volcanoes, waterfalls, rainforests, cloud forests, underground cave systems, more than 300 beaches, hot springs, animal sanctuaries, exquisite diving destinations, and adventure parks, there is always something new and exciting to do. With so many intriguing options, it is helpful to know what some of the best and must-visit attractions are.
Ummm how cool is this? Yeap, that’s Thomas living his best life sliding down a waterfall. Also, yes, I was too wimpy to try it. Anyway, this is the Uvita waterfall. If you are visiting the Uvita area, this waterfall is 100% worth a visit. Admission was only about $2 and the walk to the fall was only about five minutes long. Go here. You won’t regret it.
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.
Maritime claims: This entry includes the following claims, the definitions of which are excerpted from the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which alone contains the full and definitive descriptions: territorial sea - the sovereignty of a coastal state extends beyond its land territory and internal waters to an adjacent belt of sea, described as the territorial sea in the UNCLOS (Part II); this sovereignty extends to the air space over the territorial sea as well as its underlying s . . . more
It’s easy to get caught up in all the adrenaline-pumping things to do in Costa Rica, so make time to slow down for natural and affordable spa treatments as a relaxing counter activity. Chocolate, coffee, and volcanic mud treatments are popular at eco-lodges and hotels, and are used in spa treatments like massages, body wraps, and facials. Most hotels have a menu of indulgent services that start at surprisingly affordable prices—the benefit of a strong U.S. dollar in Central America. Try the spa at Finca Rosa Blanca inn and coffee plantation in Heredia for a multi-treatment session featuring a coffee and chocolate scrub that’s followed by a chocolate or coffee-based cocktail. It might be just what you need after a long day of adventure activities.
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 had a wonderful time! Rafael was a wealth of knowledge of the history of Costa Rica, all the wildlife that we saw, and his organizational skills were outstanding throughout the tour. The accommodations were amazing and we were so impressed with how clean all of the areas were and how friendly all the staff of the hotels were. More importantly all of the staff of Gate 1 were very kind and helpful. The bus driver Mauricio was outstanding driving that huge bus through those mountain roads, making sure the bus was spotless, and being helpful and friendly. We will definitely use Gate 1 Travel for other upcoming trips.
Tabacon, Baldi and Titoku are just a few places you can bathe in and enjoy the thermal waters. Baldi is best for kids, Tabacon is ideal for couples and Paraiso and Ecotermales are great for those who don’t want to be around a lot of people. If you’re visiting La Fortuna, going to the hot springs is a must! You can read more about the best hot springs in Arenal in this post.
It’s worth noting that anytime you eat out whether it be at a cafe, soda shop, or restaurant there will be a 10% service charge and 13% tax added to every bill. So don’t be surprised if your bill is 23% more than what you thought it was going to be. This also means that there is no need to leave an extra tip for your server unless you want to (looking at you Americanos)
For those looking for remote accommodations in search of romance or just for the excitement of reaching somewhere secluded and new, Costa Rica also features tree house lodges and glamorous camping retreats hidden in the rainforest canopy. There are few places more private than hanging out in a luxury camp in the trees with only the passing avifauna and active monkey troops as company. They are also perfect destinations for yoga getaways that connect each breath to the sounds of the surrounding rainforest terrain.
Liberia is the capital of Guanacaste province and, thanks to the nearby international airport, the first stop for most out-of-country visitors arriving in Costa Rica’s northwest. Many continue on to the beach or north toward the volcanoes, but Liberia is worth exploring for a day or two. It’s also an affordable alternative to staying right on the beach: our first night found us at Best Western El Sitio, where rooms cost less than $60 per night and dinner cost less than $8 per person.