Nature lovers can explore over 100 national parks, reserves, refuges and protected lands - which makes up about 25 percent of the country's land. Catch site of a scarlet macaw in Corcovado National Park, hang out with mantled howler monkeys at Manuel Antonio National Park or get lost in the beauty of native magnolias in Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.
Population growth rate: The average annual percent change in the population, resulting from a surplus (or deficit) of births over deaths and the balance of migrants entering and leaving a country. The rate may be positive or negative. The growth rate is a factor in determining how great a burden would be imposed on a country by the changing needs of its people for infrastructure (e.g., schools, hospitals, housing, roads), resources (e.g., food, water, electricity), and jobs. Rapid population growth can be seen as . . . more
Insect Protection: In rainforests and cloud forests year-round, and everywhere during the wet season, you’re likely to encounter nasty mosquitoes and other assorted biting insects. Though life-threatening tropical illnesses like malaria, dengue, and yellow fever aren’t super common here, zika is. Pregnant couples and those planning to become pregnant soon need to be fastidious about insect protection: repellent, tucked-in clothing, window screens. Remember the 3-ounce rule in carry-on baggage.

Studying in the San Jose area has many benefits. There is the luxury aspect of city life since it tends to be much more modern than the rustic beach locations. Host families and Spanish schools tend to have nicer facilities. San Jose also has fewer tourists so it is great from an immersion point of view as you can practice your Spanish in a setting where people are not automatically switching to English to accommodate your native language. It is much better that you struggle with your Spanish and force your brain to think in a different language so your communication becomes much smoother.
Gross national saving: Gross national saving is derived by deducting final consumption expenditure (household plus government) from Gross national disposable income, and consists of personal saving, plus business saving (the sum of the capital consumption allowance and retained business profits), plus government saving (the excess of tax revenues over expenditures), but excludes foreign saving (the excess of imports of goods and services over exports). The figures are presented as a percent of GDP. A negative . . . more
As for swimming at the beach, definitely don’t leave your valuables at the beach unattended. Find a place where there are a lot of people and try to bring minimal valuables as possible. You can ask people near you to keep an eye on your stuff and always swim close to your things, don’t swim off far away and always look at it every couple minutes, if it’s a popular beach with lots of people. We don’t recommend swimming and leaving your things at a beach where there is nobody because it only takes a minute for the thieves to take your stuff and unfortunately, beach theft is something to be concerned about if you are going to an empty beach.
The Butterfly Conservatory is located in El Castillo at the east end of Lake Arenal and has the biggest collection of butterflies in Costa Rica. There are six different atriums that mimic the natural habits of the variety of butterflies that live here. The beautiful and giant blue morpho butterfly can be seen here. There is a fabulous educational tour that takes you through the atriums where you will learn all about the different moths and butterflies of Costa Rica, along with the frogs and insects, too. This is a lovely afternoon activity; who doesn’t want to be surrounded by butterflies?
On balance, SJO is cheaper and more convenient than LIR, though seasonality plans a role here too. On a casual search of late-spring travel times, I found round-trips from East Coast cities like New York and Washington, D.C., for less than $300 – though all involved at least one layover that pushed total flight times north of eight hours. Expect to pay at least $500 during the high season, especially for weekend-to-weekend travel.
Household income or consumption by percentage share: Data on household income or consumption come from household surveys, the results adjusted for household size. Nations use different standards and procedures in collecting and adjusting the data. Surveys based on income will normally show a more unequal distribution than surveys based on consumption. The quality of surveys is improving with time, yet caution is still necessary in making inter-country comparisons.
If you plan on driving in Costa Rica it’s best to know that the roads can be pretty awful, some of the worst in all the Americas to be exact. It all depends on where you travel, but almost any road not part of the national highway we found to be pretty meh. The worst we personally traveled on was from Nicoya to Santa Teresa (I may or may not have had back spasms from the constant crater-like potholes).
Thanks for the input, Emilia. We have heard of Waze before, but haven’t given it a try yet. Google Maps has not let us done in Costa Rica yet! As for the price of gas, the small side of the road stall definitely overcharge (i don’t think they abide by the laws all that much), but that’s the “convenience tax” you pay to fill up in a small town without having to travel to a city with a real gas station.

Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (LIR) is near Liberia in the Guanacaste province. This airport is closest to the Pacific Northwest coast. Liberia receives flights from Delta, American, Southwest, Sun Country, United, JetBlue, Air Canada, Westjet, CanJet (charter), Sun Wing (charter), and First Choice (charter). Connecting the airport with Atlanta, Charlotte, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Houston, Dallas, Minneapolis, Newark, Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, London, etc. The new terminal is open and is a wonderful addition to this airport.
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. 
Rainforest Volcano Beaches will have you viewing wildlife from forest floor to treetops and along the jungle studded Pacific coastline. Perfect for families, a few days at Arenal Volcano include options for zip-lining or nature hikes, and the beach area of Manual Antonio never fails to excite visitors with the abundant wildlife found in its national park. Just as the name implies, this 7-day family getaway offers a little bit of everything and includes wonderful resorts, hot springs, fun in the jungle, beach time, and all of the transportation needed to pull it together into one amazing trip your family will remember for years to come!

If you have an unlocked cell phone (either one from home or bought in Costa Rica -- all cell phones sold in Costa Rica must be unlocked), prepaid (prepago) SIM cards can provide a local number and service can be purchased throughout the country by anyone with a passport from any country, or a cedula (Costa Rican ID card). At the baggage claim at the San José airport is a Kölbi kiosk, and you will also see signs Kölbi, Movistar, Claro, and others throughout the country where service is for sale. Rates are set by the government and you can get a SIM for as little as USD2 (Movistart 2014-11-1) and 3G (or sometimes just EDGE) data service is also available by the day, week, or month for ¢300 or less a day. To add value you buy a recarga (recharge card), scratch off the card to get a PIN, and text the PIN from your phone to a special number. To keep the card active, it must be recharged at least once in a 120 day period. If it is not charged within a 120 days, you have a 30 day grace period before your SIM chip is deactivated and you lose your phone number. Also keep in mind that you may have trouble getting your SIM activated on Sunday, because like many things in Costa Rica, the SIM activation system may be shut down on Sundays. Also not all shops sell SIMs -- many just sell the recharge cards. Get your SIM at the airport if you can.
There’s not much to do in Tilaran itself, but the surrounding area has some highlights. For starters, Lake Arenal is less than 15 minutes away in good traffic conditions. Don’t miss Lake Arenal Hotel & Brewery, one of Costa Rica’s few homegrown microbreweries. (The beer isn’t bad at all – much better than your typical homebrew.) You can find hostel-style rooms there for less than $60 per night; the clientele is eclectic and largely non-Tico. For exercise, walk the steep jungle trail on the property – just watch overhead for roaring howler monkeys.

Yeap, this is probably completely contradictory of everything you’ve ever heard. Usually, if you book ahead of time it’s cheaper right? We’ll, not in Costa Rica. See all the big tour companies that you find on the internet have the money to set up websites and try to hook tourists. We have had much better luck asking at our hotel if they know anybody who offers similar tours. Usually, these local tour companies will partner with hotels and you will get a cheaper rate.
The elegant JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort and Spa is located on Costa Rica's northwestern coast in a thousand acre private Hacienda. This oceanfront resort sits on a pristine secluded beach surrounded by a natural sanctuary with extensive landscaped gardens. The resort has a full service spa and the largest pool in Costa Rica (over 25,000 square feet). The spacious guest rooms are each furnished with a private balcony or terrace. Guest rooms feature luxury bathrooms with a separate deep soaking bathtub and shower.
This unofficial motto helps explain many other facets of Costa Rican culture. Costa Ricans (or Ticos and Ticas) are known for their laid-back demeanour, happy outlook and conflict-averse nature. In fact, peace is so highly valued here that they have no standing army. It was abolished in 1949 with all funds reallocated to create an “army” of teachers instead. It follows that education is also highly valued here. Primary and secondary school is mandatory and free for all, resulting in a 97% literacy rate.
As for swimming at the beach, definitely don’t leave your valuables at the beach unattended. Find a place where there are a lot of people and try to bring minimal valuables as possible. You can ask people near you to keep an eye on your stuff and always swim close to your things, don’t swim off far away and always look at it every couple minutes, if it’s a popular beach with lots of people. We don’t recommend swimming and leaving your things at a beach where there is nobody because it only takes a minute for the thieves to take your stuff and unfortunately, beach theft is something to be concerned about if you are going to an empty beach.
Costa Ricans do not eat tacos and enchiladas. Well, they do eat them, but only when they’re dining out at a Mexican restaurant. At its most basic, Costa Rican cuisine is hearty, inexpensive, filling, and not spicy. You’ll certainly get your share of chicken and pork and rice and beans. Indeed, you’ll swear that gallo pinto (literally “spotted rooster”), the country’s signature dish, is following you everywhere. Give this mix of rice, black beans, and finely chopped vegetables a try, and dress it up, Costa Rican style, with tortillas and sour cream. Some chefs here are doing amazing things with local and international cuisine, especially in locales with large foreign populations, such as San José, the Pacific coast’s Manuel Antonio and Tamarindo, and Puerto Viejo de Talamanca on the Caribbean side.
Commonly referred to as the most biologically diverse place on Earth, Corcovado National Park is the largest stretch of virgin Pacific Coast forest in the world. With species such as the Northern Tamandua, Baird’s Tapir and the countries smallest cat species called Margay, it is home to more than 370 species of birds, 10,000 insects and 140 different mammals. Other famous residents include Spider Monkeys, Howler Monkeys, White-Faced Capuchin Monkeys and the endangered Squirrel Monkey. Reptiles to be wary of include American Crocodile and Boa Constrictors while Bull Sharks as well as several species of sea turtles roam the waters off-shore. Corcovado National Park is a wonder land of wildlife watching.
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.
Never participate in adventure sports alone. Always carry identification and let others know where you are at all times. Before kayaking and rafting, check river conditions and wear a life jacket and helmet. Even popular rafting locations such as the Rio Naranjo near Quepos can become extremely dangerous in flash flood conditions. When hiking, rappelling, or climbing, carry a first aid kit and know the location of the nearest rescue center. Observe all local or park regulations and exercise caution in unfamiliar surroundings.
In the beautiful Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve you can discover a treasure trove of amazing flora and fauna that is seldom encountered outside of this remarkable area of biodiversity. You can explore the reserve on foot along a network of more than 8 miles of hiking trails, enjoying the opportunity to see thousands of species of endemic plants (including orchids) and a variety of small animals. To help visitors get a better understanding of the amazing riches around them, the reserve offers guided birding tours, natural history tours, and even night tours, when all the nocturnal creatures come out to play. Visitors will be pleased to know that their entrance and tour fees all go towards research, education, and conservation.
The promise of pristine nature and secluded beaches protected by dense jungle terrain captures the attention of even seasoned travelers, and there is no greater place to blend rugged beauty and untamed nature than at Tortuguero, located on Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast. Small charter flights travel between Tortuguero and San Jose, but the majority of travelers must take a boat through the winding canals to reach the banks of Tortuguero Village. The Caribbean Sea laps against the bordering golden beach as palm trees offer an idyllic image of a hidden paradise while the rainforest grows wild against the western backdrop. The Afro-Caribbean culture permeates the tropical atmosphere with the music and flavors in the restaurants.
The waves can be a little rough out there and if you often get seasick, I’d stay away from this Costa Rica activity (or at least take some sea sickness pills before). A lot of beaches will have a place where you can rent sea kayaks. Our favorite spot is definitely at Playa Biesanz near Manuel Antonio. We rented a nice two-person sea kayak for only $12 an hour. Also, Thomas is dying to do some sea kayaking and fishing in Guanacaste. We’ll report back on that!
A money belt with your passport, cash, credit/debit cards and ticket (bus or plane) is a good way to carry your travel documents. Even if all your other belongings are stolen, you would still be able to get to your next destination. The waist belts are best; a neck pouch can be lifted while you are asleep. A thief would really have to disturb you and your personal space to get a waist belt.
Peninsula Papagayo is one of the most beautiful places in the world – a magical 1,400-acre playground. It’s heaven on Earth for hikers, surfers, paddle boarders, animal lovers, snorkelers, divers and anyone who feels happiest in the outdoors. Our Papagayo Explorers Club welcomes all explorers to join our specialized team for a world of epic eco-adventures into wide-open wonder. We’re here to connect, learn, educate and share in the discovery of the peninsula with you through experiences with purpose. Whether by land or sea. On solo treks or fun-filled family outings. In our own backyard and beyond. So leave it all behind, step into the joy of the moment and explore the riches of paradise. The possibilities are astounding.
Great trip, the four of us enjoyed it almost as much as our trip to Peru and that one was close to a ten. The tour guide is a top selection for this trip; very knowledgeable in bio-science and the local and mix that with enthusiasm and devotion to duties and willingness to give of his time, and you have the best of the best. I'm quite certain we will travel with and recommend Gate 1 in the future.
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.
In 1945, by a total accident, the Venado Caves were discovered by a farmer who literally fell into them. There are eight magnificent chambers that make up a maze of limestone deep down in the earth. The rooms, which are filled with stalagmites and stalactites, were carved over the course of millions of years from underground rivers and the shifting plates of the Earth near the Arenal Volcano. This is not an experience for those who are claustrophobic. However, if small spaces don’t faze you and you want to dip down below sea level to these ancient caverns, then checking out the Venado Caves is a must-do.
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.

The Interamericana (Pan-American Highway) runs through Costa Rica and is the main entry point by car. The border post in the north (to Nicaragua) is called Peñas Blancas and in the south (to Panamá) Paso Canoas (closes at 22:00, Costa Rica time or 23:00, Panamá time). Virtually all travel out of the capital (except to the Caribbean side) will involve travelling this road. The locals call the highway "Via Muerta," and after you have been on it a while you understand why — near San Jose and other major cities, the road is paved and has excellent signage; outside of the major cities, however, the road is gravel in places with fairly tight turns and substantial changes in elevation. You will see more large truck traffic on this road than in any part of Costa Rica. There are many speed traps along this major artery, as well as some random police checks for seat belts and, especially near the borders, for valid travel documents.


Malaria is rarely found in Costa Rica. However, there have been limited confirmed cases in the past in Osa Peninsula (Puntarenas), Matina Canton (Limón), Sarapiquí Canton (Heredia), and San Carlos Canton (Alajuela). Travelers planning to visit these areas should take precautions to prevent mosquito bites and malaria transmission. Talk with a doctor or nurse about medicine to prevent malaria before leaving the United States. Learn more about malaria, how to prevent it, and what to do if you think you are infected, at CDC’s malaria page for travelers.

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.
Traveling alone is fine and generally safe in Costa Rica, but carefully consider what kind of risks (if any) you are willing to take. Always hike with other people and try to explore a new city with other people. On solo forays, if you feel uncomfortable seek out a group of other people (both women and men). A well lit place with people you can trust is always a plus. A busy restaurant or hostel is a great source of local info as well as a great place to relax and recharge.
Rumor has it zip-lining was invented in Costa Rica by nature researchers, but regardless of how the adventure activity got its start, it’s now one of the most popular and best things to do in Costa Rica. Experience jungles and cloud forests from above by soaring between platform perches in cloud-nestled Monteverde, remote Central Valley provinces along the Pacuare River, or even through the forests and waterfalls around Arenal Volcano. There are plenty of ecosystems to experience via zip-line, and if you’re lucky you could spot a monkey or sloth along the way.

Costa Rica’s southern Caribbean coast invites you to indulge in its reggae vibe, spicy food, and lively steel drum music for a colorful cultural experience. You’ll find flat, sandy beaches, turquoise waters, surf breaks, and swaying palms amid lush rainforests ideal for surfing, snorkeling, swimming, or swinging in a hammock. Inland, you can visit indigenous farms practicing old methods of natural sustainability, visit waterfalls, hike the Talamanca mountains, and find a host of adventure activities.
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.
For comfort, convenience and mobility, San Bada is the best place to stay while visiting Manuel Antonio. Most hotels in Manuel Antonio are built on hillsides and spread out over large areas. This can require navigating numerous flights of stairs and walking substantial distances to access the restaurant, bar, or guest rooms – a challenge for anyone with difficulty walking. San Bada is built on level ground with no steps, and short distances between public areas. The hotel also has a modern elevator.
Stock of narrow money: This entry, also known as "M1," comprises the total quantity of currency in circulation (notes and coins) plus demand deposits denominated in the national currency held by nonbank financial institutions, state and local governments, nonfinancial public enterprises, and the private sector of the economy, measured at a specific point in time. National currency units have been converted to US dollars at the closing exchange rate for the date of the information. Because of exchange rate moveme . . . more
The Department of Culture, Youth, and Sports is in charge of the promotion and coordination of cultural life. The work of the department is divided into Direction of Culture, Visual Arts, Scenic Arts, Music, Patrimony and the System of Libraries. Permanent programs, such as the National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica and the Youth Symphony Orchestra, are conjunctions of two areas of work: Culture and Youth.[citation needed]
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
According to the UNDP, in 2010 the life expectancy at birth for Costa Ricans was 79.3 years.[161] The Nicoya Peninsula is considered one of the Blue Zones in the world, where people commonly live active lives past the age of 100 years.[162][163] The New Economics Foundation (NEF) ranked Costa Rica first in its 2009 Happy Planet Index, and once again in 2012. The index measures the health and happiness they produce per unit of environmental input.[23][24] According to NEF, Costa Rica's lead is due to its very high life expectancy which is second highest in the Americas, and higher than the United States. The country also experienced well-being higher than many richer nations and a per capita ecological footprint one-third the size of the United States.[164]
Our trip was wonderful! Ricardo Bolanos, our tour guide was wonderful!! Very personable, knowledgeable, organized, and just a great guy. Gate 1 has a real asset in Ricardo. Also, Jose , our bus driver was unbelievably good! He navigated the narrow mountain roads with numerous, narrow, one lane bridges exceptionally well. He definitely earned his money! Looking forward to our next trip with Gate 1.
One of the coolest things to do in Costa Rica is riding a tram through the rainforest. Of course I still think hiking is the best way of getting in touch with nature in Costa Rica, but if this is not your thing or you just don’t feel like it for whatever reason, a tram will allow you to get through the jungle and admire lots of wildlife, including birds and monkeys. Make sure to also have a guide, whose trained eyes will point to all there is to see!
At all the national parks you will be greeted by locals offering to be your guide. We have paid for a guide before at Manuel Antonio National Park and although I don’t regret it, it was also not necessary. The guides are great at spotting wildlife you might not otherwise see and most do carry quality scopes for up close viewing, but they don’t run cheap. I believe we paid $20 or more per person for a guide last time we were in Manuel Antonio. If you want to save some money skip the guide and just pay attention what other people in the park are looking at.
You can find ATMs in most places. They normally dispense US dollars and colones. With Visa you get money at almost all ATMs. If you've got a MasterCard try the ATMs in the AM/PM supermarkets, they give you up to 250,000 colones (c. USD500). Another option are the ATH-ATM's but they just give you up to 100,000 colones (c. USD200) each transaction. EC-Cards (European) are accepted on all ATMs. The limit is usually only set by the Card. In addition, drawing money with your EC-Card will almost always give you a better exchange rate than changing cash in a bank.

We love taking night walking tours while in Monteverde. There are multiple companies that offer tours, but the best way to get a good deal is to reserve your tour through your hotel. The hotels in the area typically partner with local night tour companies and they can get you the best deal with transportation to the tour included. On your night walk you will see a lot of wildlife including cool frogs, tarantulas, sloths, snakes, and more!


Costa Rica’s Pacific waters are among the world’s best places to glimpse humpback whales in their natural element. They’re present roughly 50% of the year, in two distinct episodes: late July through November, and December through March. The most reliable sightings happen off the Osa Peninsula, in southern Costa Rica, where distinct populations from both hemispheres intermingle. You’re also likely to encounter bottlenose and spotted dolphins – about 25 cetacean species in all – in this area.

Since the late 1980s Costa Rica became a popular nature travel destination, and its main competitive advantage is its well-established system of national parks and protected areas, covering around 23.4% of the country's land area, the largest in the world as a percentage of the country's territory, and home to a rich variety of flora and fauna, in a country that has only 0.03% of the world's landmass, but that is estimated to contain 5% of the world's biodiversity. The country also has plenty of world renowned beaches, both in the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, within short travel distances between both coasts both by air and land, and also several active volcanoes that can be visited with safety.
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,[73] including numerous orchids. Over 400 types of birds and more than 100 species of mammals can be found there.[73]
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