Costa Rica’s inarguable mantra is “Pura Vida,” which stands can mean “full of life.” It commonly refers to the way Ticos greet each other, reflecting on their day, week, or life as “going great.” A first-time visit to Costa Rica can be a test in patience for newcomers as locals refer to their timeliness as “la hora tica,” or Tico Time, referring to the slow, relaxed pace of life. Ticos take their time and do not view tardiness or steadiness as rude, unless in adhering to the rigid timetables of movie showings or health clinic appointments. Whether on a public street or in the privacy of their homes, Costa Ricans will say hello and goodbye to friends with a light kiss on the cheek. Women kiss women; men kiss women; men do not kiss men. However, friendly men will often give one-armed hugs or firm handshakes.
Green and life are everywhere, from the 1200 species of orchids that garnish our trees to life sprouting on the beaches every year when millions of green turtles, leatherback and hawksbill sea turtles reach the Caribbean coast at the National Park Tortuguero to lay their eggs, traveling from miles away. Similarly, at Ostional, in the Pacific thousands of Lora turtles (Kemp's Ridley) reach the beach every year.
Fares vary widely by destination and demand, but you can expect local journeys (under two hours) to cost less than $10 one-way and longer trips to cost less than $20. Be mindful of the difference between directo (direct) and colectivo (multi-stop) buses; the latter might be a few bucks cheaper, but it’s also really slow. Pay close attention to bus stop locations: central bus terminals are unheard of in Costa Rica, even in San Jose, and virtually every company maintains its own hubs in towns served. It’s distressingly easy for non-Spanish speakers to get on the wrong bus.
Costa Rica's seasons are defined by how much rain falls during a particular period and not to the four seasons in the Northern Hemisphere. The year can be split into two periods, the dry season known to the residents as summer, and the rainy season, known locally as winter. The "summer" or dry season goes from December to April, and "winter" or rainy season goes from May to November, which almost coincides with the List of Atlantic hurricane seasons, and during this time, it rains constantly in some regions.
Exchange rates: This entry provides the average annual price of a country's monetary unit for the time period specified, expressed in units of local currency per US dollar, as determined by international market forces or by official fiat. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 4217 alphabetic currency code for the national medium of exchange is presented in parenthesis. Closing daily exchange rates are not presented in The World Factbook, but are used to convert stock values - e.g., the . . . more
Constitution: This entry provides information on a country’s constitution and includes two subfields. The history subfield includes the dates of previous constitutions and the main steps and dates in formulating and implementing the latest constitution. For countries with 1-3 previous constitutions, the years are listed; for those with 4-9 previous, the entry is listed as “several previous,” and for those with 10 or more, the entry is “many previous.” The amendments subfield summarizes the process of am . . . more
By the early 1990s, Costa Rica became known as the poster child of ecotourism. According to the Costa Rican Tourism Board, 46% of international tourists visiting the country in 2009 engaged in activities related to ecotourism, including trekking, flora, fauna, and bird watching, and visits to rural communities. However, most visitors look for adventure activities, which Costa Rica offers as well. Costa Rica was included by Ethical Traveler magazine in the 2011 and the 2012 list of The Developing World's 10 Best Ethical Destinations.
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."
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.
Prices include airfare, fuel surcharges, airport taxes and fees. 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. CST#: 2051249-40
Howler monkeys, green iguanas, capuchins, toucans, crocodiles – there’s no end to the variation of wildlife you’ll be able to spot amid the tropical forests of the Tortuguero National Park. Look out for caimans, sloths and egrets during a cruise along the park’s streams and canals. Between July and September, you’ll also have the chance to witness sea turtles laying their eggs on the beach. Most species of sea turtle are endangered but we’ll introduce you to an expert from the Sea Turtle Conservancy Foundation so you can learn about its research and conservation work in Tortuguero.
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.
Sitting between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, Costa Rica’s landscape is painted with towering volcanoes and mountains, lush rainforests, sparking coastal plains and amazing tropical beaches. The weather is indeed tropical and because of its diversity many micro climates are found throughout the country. But a vacation offers more than a lovely landscape and beautiful weather - this tropical country is steeped in rich history dating back to the 1500's and boasts a community-centric lifestyle that is rare in much of the world.
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.
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.
One good dock for water taxi excursions is Los Chiles but our favorite ride was from Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui to Trinidad on the Nicaraguan border. The other half dozen passengers kept making the captain pull up to the bank and idle while we took pictures of caimen, kingfishers, monkeys, sloth and other wildlife they spotted. Even though they were all locals who where just trying to get home after a shopping and banking excursion in Puerto Viejo no one complained that the two gringos doubled the time for the trip.
Among the best zip lining in the country, there is the Sky Trek tour operated by Sky Adventures in Arenal, in the northern part of Costa Rica, which is also home to one of Costa Rica attractions, the Arenal Volcano – a place that can’t be missed even if visiting Costa Rica in a week. I suppose my obsession with volcanoes is clear by now, with all the volcano hikes I did in Sicily last month. So it’s easy to see why I love Costa Rica.
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.
The country has consistently performed favorably in the Human Development Index (HDI), placing 69th in the world as of 2015, among the highest of any Latin American nation. It has also been cited by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as having attained much higher human development than other countries at the same income levels, with a better record on human development and inequality than the median of the region.