So about that "Switzerland" nickname: Costa Rica's military was famously abolished in 1949, with the budget instead allocated towards education and culture. It's the most stable country in Central America, with a democratically elected government that steadfastly refuses to involve itself in regional conflicts. As a result, its crime rate is also quite low, with violent crime rates well below those in the U.S. (Petty crimes, like theft, can be a problem in more tourist-ridden areas though, so don't leave your purse or backpack laying around unattended.)
Executive branch: This entry includes five subentries: chief of state; head of government; cabinet; elections/appointments; election results. Chief of state includes the name, title, and beginning date in office of the titular leader of the country who represents the state at official and ceremonial functions but may not be involved with the day-to-day activities of the government. Head of government includes the name, title of the top executive designated to manage the executive branch of the government, a . . . more

If your sights are set on a slightly more exotic destination, look south. Not too far south: just beyond the gleaming waters of the Caribbean. There, straddling the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, lies Costa Rica. From most major U.S. cities, it’s less than six hours by plane to San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital. And, unlike transoceanic tropical destinations like Thailand and Indonesia, Costa Rica doesn’t demand much from your body’s clock: It’s in the Central Time Zone, meaning little to no jet lag for folks from North America.
A word of caution to solo female travelers. Many Tico men are very forward and quite assertive when they see a single female walking by herself. They have no reservations to ask you if you have a boyfriend or who you’re in Costa Rica with and it might take a bit of effort to get them to go away. My advice is to smile politely and move on if you don’t want to talk to them.
Our Learning and Family vacations provide an enormous outdoor biological classroom to explore both geological wonders as well as the rich diversity of wild plant and animal life. What better place than Costa Rica for you to engage in fun, meaningful activities together? Throw in a caving tour or zip-lining over a river canyon for added thrills. We provide the best bilingual naturalist guides to ensure you don’t miss a thing as you explore this amazing country and culture.

Climate: This entry includes a brief description of typical weather regimes throughout the year; in the Word entry only, it includes four subfields that describe climate extremes:ten driest places on earth (average annual precipitation) describes the annual average precipitation measured in both millimeters and inches for selected countries with climate extremes. ten wettest places on earth (average annual precipitation) describes the annual average precipitation measured in both millimeters and i . . . more
Capital: This entry gives the name of the seat of government, its geographic coordinates, the time difference relative to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and the time observed in Washington, DC, and, if applicable, information on daylight saving time (DST). Where appropriate, a special note has been added to highlight those countries that have multiple time zones.  

for its incredible beaches and magical rainforests. But Costa Rica’s beauty is not limited to its golden beaches – the backbone of this coastal nation consists of some truly stunning mountain ranges, many of which contain active and dormant volcanoes. You’ll also find ample waterfalls, lakes and rivers throughout the country. For this reason, adventure sports such as zip-lining, white-water rafting and cycling are popular in inland destinations such as La Fortuna and Montverde.

Or skip cash altogether. Every brick-and-mortar merchant we patronized, including hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Liberia, accepted major credit cards. Because they’re dollar-denominated at contemporaneous exchange rates, credit card transactions with foreign-transaction-fee-free cards are cheaper than cash transactions, which require withdrawals from ATMs charging 2% to 3% for the privilege. If you rent your own car and avoid the informal economy, you can get by without touching a paper note.

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.
Wildlife and bird lovers have to put a bird watching tour on their “things to do in Costa Rica’ list. Many hotels and tour companies offer bird watching tours, especially down in the Osa Peninsula, Tortuguero, Puerto Viejo, Arenal and Monteverde as those are the top places to see a diverse amount of birds. They usually start around 530 AM since birds are more active in the morning and take you either to an observation platform or hiking around the forest.

This morning, drive though the cattle ranches of Guanacaste. Stop at the Monteverde Cooperative. Lunch. Next, cruise on the Tarcoles River, adjacent to the Carara Biological Reserve. Float through a mangrove forest. Enjoy bird watching and crocodile spotting. Look for white and snowy egrets and the amazing nests of the montezuma oropendola. This tropical bird and wildlife sanctuary is a nesting site for the scarlet macaw. Continue to Manuel Antonio. You'll stay at the only hotel next to the National Park, conveniently located directly at the entrance. Dinner. BLD
"Canopy tours" or zip-lines are very popular tourist activities and are found all over Costa Rica. These typically cost between USD30-50 depending on the company and use a series of zip-lines to travel between platforms attached to the trees, through and over the forest canopy and over rivers. The person is secured with harnesses to the metal cords, as some go very high off the ground. Be sure to ask about the zip-line certification before booking and be sure to take part in the safety briefing before participating.
Insurance on car rentals is mandatory in Costa Rica, but be aware that it’s not included in the price listed on many car rental websites online. Typically the additional cost is around $10/15 a day for mandatory third party insurance and unfortunately in 9 cases out of 10 it’s not something that can be covered by your travel insurance or your credit card insurance, so budget accordingly.
If the word “Costa Rica” doesn’t evoke images of a fog-shrouded rainforest, let us introduce you to Costa Rica’s most famous ecosystem: the cloud forest. What makes a cloud forest unique is its elevation and humidity, which team up to create a low cloud cover. The Monteverde region is a famously diverse cloud forest frequented by visitors who want to zip-line, bird watch, explore Instagram-worthy canopy footbridges, and look for wildlife like jaguars, ocelots, and even the occasional slow-moving sloth.

According to the Costa Rica Tourism Board, about 200 medical procedures are performed every month at the nation's hospitals for medical tourists. Among the procedures done are cosmetic surgery, knee and hip replacement, cataract removal and other eye treatments, weight loss surgery and dental care. Health care in Costa Rica is attractive for international patients because of the low prices, high care standards, and access to tourist attractions. For example, a hip replacement costs around USD12,000 and a tummy tuck costs around USD4,400.


Major urban areas - population: This entry provides the population of the capital and up to six major cities defined as urban agglomerations with populations of at least 750,000 people. An urban agglomeration is defined as comprising the city or town proper and also the suburban fringe or thickly settled territory lying outside of, but adjacent to, the boundaries of the city. For smaller countries, lacking urban centers of 750,000 or more, only the population of the capital is presented.
I’m not going to lie and say that Costa Rica is a cheap country because it isn’t. As far as Central America goes it is the most expensive country to travel. That being said, it is possible to travel in Costa Rica on a budget without skimping on fab vibes! I’ve been traveling in Costa Rica for a year now and have been able to see amazing things in this country while maintaining a tight budget.
Make sure to check the car carefully before you sign off on the damage sheet. Check the oil, brake fluid, fuel gauge (to make sure it's full) and that there is a spare tire with a good air pressure and a jack. Look up the Spanish word for "scratches" (rayas) and other relevant terminology first, so you can at least scrutinize the rental company's assessment. Ask them to write down all the minor damages, not just check on the drawing, and keep a copy of this document on you.
Welcome to the “rich coast,” friendly land of democracy and rare natural beauty. With naturalist guides, see exotic birds and wildlife, hike in jungle rainforests, view volcanoes, soak in hot springs and cruise through biological reserves. Caravan provides transfers from the Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in San José, Costa Rica to your hotel for a two night stay. Rooms are available for check-in after 4:00 p.m. Join Caravan for an 8:00 p.m. welcome briefing. Dinner is served until 9:30 p.m. at your hotel. D
It’s the classic travel tale – overworked professional realizes that the 9-5 to grind isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and sets out to seek greener pastures. This witty tale comes from Nadine Pisani, who shares her story of quitting her job to forge a new life in sunny Costa Rica. This is a nice, light read for when you’re just flaking out on the beach or by the pool. But along the way you’ll learn why Costa Rica is one of the happiest places on earth.
Religions: This entry is an ordered listing of religions by adherents starting with the largest group and sometimes includes the percent of total population. The core characteristics and beliefs of the world's major religions are described below. Baha'i - Founded by Mirza Husayn-Ali (known as Baha'u'llah) in Iran in 1852, Baha'i faith emphasizes monotheism and believes in one eternal transcendent God. Its guiding focus is to encourage the unity of all peoples on the earth so that justice and peace m . . . more

We always recommend bringing a travel towel for just about every destination.Quick dry towels are great when you’re out exploring Costa Rica. You can make an impromptu dip in ocean before drying off and heading to one of Costa Rica’s many surf town spots for fish tacos or an Imperial (local beer). They’re also tremendous when you hike to any one of Costa Rica’s numerous waterfalls as the towels are small enough to throw in your daypack and leave room for additional items.
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.

My family enjoyed every moment of the trip that you planned for us. Everything went smoothly and we experienced all there was to offer, which was a gazillion interactions with water, fauna and flora and lovely people and food and places. One great thing is that we did not bring any electronic devices with us, so nothing got in the way of all that was around us to experience. We will all recommend Costa Rica Experts to others.”

Note that occasionally, immigration officials will stop buses that are travelling from cities near the border to check identification cards and passports. If you don't like carrying your actual passport on you, make sure you have a copy of your passport AND a copy of the stamp showing the date you entered Costa Rica to validate you haven't been in the country more than 3 months.
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.

Costa Rica is a popular regional immigration destination because of its job opportunities and social programs. Almost 9% of the population is foreign-born, with Nicaraguans comprising nearly three-quarters of the foreign population. Many Nicaraguans who perform unskilled seasonal labor enter Costa Rica illegally or overstay their visas, which continues to be a source of tension. Less than 3% of Costa Rica's population lives abroad. The overwhelming majority of expatriates have settled in the United States after completing a university degree or in order to work in a highly skilled field.
Ticos speak a number of indigenous languages, such as Bribri, Maléku, and Cabécar. However, the country’s official language is Spanish. Linguists enjoy traveling through the various topographies to see the variety of languages still in use, including the Limón Creole English created by Jamaican migrants who settled in Limón in the mid-19th century. Jewish travelers to Costa Rica enjoy finding Yiddish speakers brought from Indo-European and Germanic immigrants who constituted two major waves of migration, after the first initial wave dating back to the 16th century with the arrival of the Spanish. In areas populated by tourists or international schools, English is commonly spoken. It is easy to find someone who speaks English well, even if they only respond to your question of “Do you speak English?” by saying, “A little.”      
Living up to environmental virtues and sustainable development remains a constant battle throughout the country, whether due to lucrative contract offers, corrupt politics, or illegal poaching and logging. Nevertheless, Costa Rica has largely resisted opportunities to exploit its vast natural resources for valued commodities, despite having a high density of precious metals in the South Pacific, oil along the Pacific Coast, and rare hardwoods in the rainforest. Instead, Costa Rica has opted for an ethic of sustainable development and a commitment to develop renewable energy. Already, Costa Rica is on track to become the first carbon-neutral country, with 99 percent of the country’s energy needs meet through a combination of geothermal, hydroelectric, and wind power. Read more
Had a wonderful trip to Costa Rica. Very well organized every step of the way. The tour director, Gilbert was simply awesome. He is very knowledgeable about Costa Rica -on history, bio diversity and all kind of interesting tidbits. He was always available to address any of our problems and made sure we enjoyed the trip and did not worry about anything else. Kudos to Gate1 for having employees of such caliber.
Thanks for the tips! Just returned from CR. Definitely found your info to be true-it takes a very long time to get places. We did not get to do many of the things we wanted. Plus when the Braulio Carrillo park at Volcan Barva did not open on time at 8am, it put us behind and unable to complete the day’s adventure. (We wanted to visit from both entrances but not enough time to drive around before they closed at 3:30. We still had a great visit though!) we did see a sloth but only thanks to a local kind enough to take the time to point it out-would never have seen it otherwise.
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!
Moreover, the diversity of attractions in Costa Rica makes it an ideal destination for all ages and nearly all levels of physicality; pretty much anyone can take part in an ATV tour of the jungle, a stroll through a rescued monkey sanctuary, or a brisk walk to the hot springs and mud baths found near the top of area volcanoes such as those in the Rincón de la Vieja National Park. (And yes, most restaurants have a children's menu, many with some form of chicken nuggets.)

Had a wonderful trip to Costa Rica. Very well organized every step of the way. The tour director, Gilbert was simply awesome. He is very knowledgeable about Costa Rica -on history, bio diversity and all kind of interesting tidbits. He was always available to address any of our problems and made sure we enjoyed the trip and did not worry about anything else. Kudos to Gate1 for having employees of such caliber.


Ticos speak a number of indigenous languages, such as Bribri, Maléku, and Cabécar. However, the country’s official language is Spanish. Linguists enjoy traveling through the various topographies to see the variety of languages still in use, including the Limón Creole English created by Jamaican migrants who settled in Limón in the mid-19th century. Jewish travelers to Costa Rica enjoy finding Yiddish speakers brought from Indo-European and Germanic immigrants who constituted two major waves of migration, after the first initial wave dating back to the 16th century with the arrival of the Spanish. In areas populated by tourists or international schools, English is commonly spoken. It is easy to find someone who speaks English well, even if they only respond to your question of “Do you speak English?” by saying, “A little.”      


Other spectacular natural sights on Costa Rica vacations include famous Arenal Volcano, which is particularly stunning by night when you can often see lava glowing on its sides. Poas Volcano is known for its bright green lake; it is in a national park that has a number of magnificent waterfalls. You do not want to forget your camera for these once-in-a-lifetime sights!
ItineraryThis is a typical itinerary for this productWe will pick you up from your hotel, condo, or house in the Guanacaste Province (please see pick up details) and drive you 2 hours to Hacienda Guachipelin on Rincon de la Vieja Volcano. You may also meet us at the park at 8:30 am if you wish.Duration: 2 hoursLocation: Native's Way Costa Rica, Tamarindo, Province of GuanacasteZipliningFirst you will get strapped in your harness and start the ziplining course through the canopy and canyons! The course takes you into a steep canyon over a turbulent river, where you will zipline, rappel and rock climb, cross hanging bridges and ride Tarzan swings. You will go down 8 zip line cables, 18 platforms, a climbing wall, a hanging bridge, “via ferrata” (cable) rappel, and a tarzan swing!Horseback RidingAfter ziplining, you will return to the tour base to prepare for a 45-minute horseback ride through the forest viewing the local flora and fauna of Rincon de la Vieja VolcanoRiver TubingYou will arrive on horseback to the changing rooms to get ready for your river tubing adventure. There will be a short briefing about safety on the river. Then it’s just a short walk to the foot of the Victoria Waterfall where the tubing adventure begins. You will have the time of your life bouncing down Rio Negro’s crystal clear and fun rapids in your individual rafting “tube” for over 5 kilometers. The guides will be riding down with you to ensure your safety.Buffet LunchYou will then be driven back to have a plentiful full buffet lunch. There are plenty of options for dietary restrictions such as vegetarians, gluten free, and vegan. Includes a salad bar, many choices of entrees and sides, dessert bar, fresh juice, coffee and tee.Duration: 7 hoursLocation: Rincón de la Vieja National ParkAfter lunch you will driven to the Hot Springs. Surrounded by tropical dry forest, the Río Negro (Black River) Hot Springs feature ten pools with thermal waters heated naturally by the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano.The soothing mineral waters are crystal clear and all natural, and the river flows through the pools constantly refilling them with water. Relax and enjoy luxuriating in our healing waters. You can also try our volcanic mud “bath”, where you smooth volcanic clay mud all over yourself like a spa “masque,” then after it dries, wash it off with a cool river water shower. The hot springs water will feel great afterwards!Duration: 1 hourLocation: Rio Negro Hot Springs, Rincon de La Vieja, Province of Guanacaste
Over 840 species of birds have been identified in Costa Rica. As is the case in much of Central America, the avian species in Costa Rica are a mix of North and South American species. The country's abundant fruit trees, many of which bear fruit year round, are hugely important to the birds, some of whom survive on diets that consist only of one or two types of fruit. Some of the country's most notable avian species include the resplendent quetzal, scarlet macaw, three-wattled bellbird, bare-necked umbrellabird, and the keel-billed toucan.[74] The Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad is allowed to collect royalties on any biological discoveries of medical importance. Costa Rica is a center of biological diversity for reptiles and amphibians, including the world's fastest running lizard, the spiny-tailed iguana (Ctenosaura similis).[75]
×