In 2008, San Lucas Island was declared a national wildlife preserve, but prior to that – between 1873–1991 – it was the most feared prison in Costa Rica. For those interested in eerie pasts and landmarks, this is an interesting historical site. The old prison still sits on this island. San Lucas Island is located off the coast of Puntarenas and is accessible by boat. When walking around this island, it is common to see white-tailed deer, armadillos, boa constrictors, pythons, raccoons and pigs, along with 40 species of birds. There are also five pristine beaches on the island that you can explore. For being such a haunted place in the past, this island is full of life and beauty now.
While a hotel can get you close to Costa Rica’s dense rainforests, active volcanoes, and extensive beaches, our Costa Rica adventure tours put you right in the center of the action. Enjoy private half-day and day Costa Rica tours with us. The perks: our 24/7 In-country Travel Experience Team will provide great service, unbiased info about any area/tour you’d like to participate in, and help so that you can experience the adventure side of Costa Rica like no one else!
Another form of canopy tour is via an aerial tram which are ski lifts modified for the rainforest. These trams are slower allowing the visitor to view wildlife in the canopy. Each tram has a guide who will explain the flora and fauna. The trams exist at adventure parks near Jaco Beach and just outside Braulio Carrillo National Park and are appropriate for all ages. The trams may be combined with ziplining and often have other attractions such as medicine gardens or serpentaria so guests may learn more about Costa Rica.
Generally speaking, the Caribbean side’s waters are calmer and slightly warmer, while the Pacific side is rougher and more temperamental. Both sides are stunningly beautiful, with broad beaches, lush forests, dramatic cliffs, and engaging marine environments. Just be sure to obey all posted warnings, including wildlife warnings and “no trespassing” signs. And never swim alone, especially on the Pacific side: Costa Rica’s Pacific waters are notorious for dangerous, changeable rip currents.
To be fair, Costa Rica isn’t the most famous country for coffee. Yet, if you are a coffee fan as much as I am, you will want to go on a coffee plantation tour. It’s one of the coolest things to do in Costa Rica. You will basically learn all the secrets of growing coffee, picking it and then toasting the beans and grounding it. And needless to say, you can taste a cup of freshly brewed one and even buy some of it to make it at home.
Adventure Sports: Some tour operators take risks, and government regulation and oversight of firms that organize sporting activities may not always adhere to international standards and best practices.  U.S. citizens have died in Costa Rica while participating in adventure sports.  Use caution and common sense when engaging in ALL adventure sports, such as bungee jumping, sky diving, hiking, rappelling, climbing, whitewater rafting, kayaking, etc. Make sure your medical insurance covers your sport. See our section on Medical Insurance under “Health” below.
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.
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.
A 2016 report by the U.S. government report identifies the current challenges facing the education system, including the high dropout rate among high school students. The country needs even more workers who are fluent in English and languages such as Portuguese, Mandarin and French. It would also benefit from more graduates in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs, according to the report.[87]
If you want to use a local Costa Rica number, you can rent cell phone service, and of course anyone can buy a cell phone. You used to have to be a documented resident of the Costa Rica to own your own cell phone number, and even then you only got one if there are numbers available. You still have to be a resident if you want monthly billed service to an address (such as in the U.S.). But since the passage of the CAFTA treaty in 2009, the government cell phone monopoly has been broken and service is now provided by many operators, including Grupo ICE [5] under the Kölbi brand, TuYo Movil (reselling the ICE service), Movistar and Claro (the latter two also providing service throughout Latin America). Currently coverage on Kölbi is best because the network is the oldest and most built out (e.g. there is no Movistar service in Monteverde. Update: 2014-11-2 There is now HSPA+ Movistar service in Monteverde).
The La Fortuna Waterfall is one of the top waterfalls to visit in Costa Rica. There are multiple ways to get to the hiking trail, one being via horseback, where you will then walk down 500 steps to the basin of the waterfall; La Fortuna Waterfall is 230 feet (70 meters) high! The raw power of this waterfall is mesmerizing. After hiking down, you can swim in the pool beneath the cascade of water, which is an incredible experience in and of itself. The surrounding forest is stunning and it is likely that you will see toucans, butterflies, monkeys, and sloths.
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!
According to Lonely Planet, Parque Nacional Corcovado houses “the last great original tract of tropical rainforest in Pacific Central America.” It’s home to half of all Costa Rican species, including the world’s largest bird of prey (the harpy) eagle and several endangered mammals. Some naturalists regard Corcovado as the most biologically diverse place on the planet, as measured by density of unique species.
In 1996, the Forest Law was enacted to provide direct financial incentives to landowners for the provision of environmental services.[65] This helped reorient the forestry sector away from commercial timber production and the resulting deforestation, and helped create awareness of the services it provides for the economy and society (i.e., carbon fixation, hydrological services such as producing fresh drinking water, biodiversity protection, and provision of scenic beauty).[65]
Our Sport Fishing Adventures will cast you into waters where numerous record billfish have been caught off the Pacific side and huge tarpon regularly reeled in off the Caribbean coast. Lake Arenal provides a freshwater hot spot for the elusive (and delicious!) Guapote. Costa Rica is home to some of the best sport fishing in the world. We utilize only the best captains plus top of the line equipment and boats for our famed fishing expeditions.
Warning: taxi drivers await incoming bus passengers at almost all terminals in San José. Many of them focus on foreigners and try to rip you off. They claim it is necessary to make a detour to reach your hotel or they offer to call your hotel and call a friend who says it is full. Then they offer you another hotel. The standard rip off fee is 50 USD or an invisible commission from another hotel. It is now (March 2017) almost a standard practice in San José. The police are aware of the problem, but do not address it effectively. Often hotels send warnings after you booked.
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.
Attracting all art lovers and anyone interested in modern design innovation, the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design is housed across a cluster of buildings in San Jose’s historic downtown area. You can admire works by predominantly Costa Rican and other Central and South American countries in the museum’s large permanent collection, while regular temporary exhibitions are held in four special exhibition spaces. The museum also has an auditorium and you can access an extensive website and video library featuring past exhibitions. You can join a guided tour, attend a lecture or workshop, or simply explore at your own pace.
Our Costa Rica Travel Guide offers valuable information on the top tourist destinations as well as valuable Costa Rica travel tips. Vacationing in Costa Rica has never been easier and our travel guide offers tips and advice to help you save time, money & get the most out of your next Costa Rica vacation. Find out the best time to travel to Costa Rica, hotels, tours and more. The Costa Rica Travel Guide, written by local experts offers you REAL ADVICE about where to stay and go and how to make your next trip to Costa Rica incredible.

Enjoy the sights and the sounds of the nature and experience its peacefulness! Whichever package you choose, you will be accompanied by our expert bilingual nature guides. They will find the animals, point out indigenous rain forest plants, and educate you on the frequent sightings of wild species. Whether you are wandering near the coasts, paddling along a river in rainforests, striding on a peaceful park, or hiking on a lush forest canopy, the guides will share with you educational and interesting explanations and provide you a truly informative walk through.
Legal system: This entry provides the description of a country's legal system. A statement on judicial review of legislative acts is also included for a number of countries. The legal systems of nearly all countries are generally modeled upon elements of five main types: civil law (including French law, the Napoleonic Code, Roman law, Roman-Dutch law, and Spanish law); common law (including United State law); customary law; mixed or pluralistic law; and religious law (including Islamic law). An addition . . . more
It's no surprise Costa Rica is considered the "happiest place on earth." Once you land, you'll find it's easy to experience what Costa Ricans have been talking about since 1956: Pura Vida - a phrase that truly encapsulates the friendly vibe of Costa Rica, and is used by locals and means everything from "Hello," to "This is the life!" If you're looking to fall into the "Pura Vida" lifestyle, check out some of the top activities and accolades:
Costa Rica’s many natural wonders make it a special place to explore, and to offer much more than a typical vacation destination. A visit to Costa Rica is hardly complete without a walk through its dense, tropical forests, where giant trees are home to hundreds of epiphyte plants, the sounds of rare bird species can be heard in the air, and slow-moving sloths can be...
These adult only studio apartments are an excellent option for short or long term stays to Manuel Antonio. Embrace the true Pura Vida lifestyle as you spend your day sipping on an Imperial in the shade of the rainforest canopy or swimming in the crystal clear water. While relaxing in the garden, many visiting sloths and monkeys will stop by to greet you. The exquisite apartments house charming kitchenettes equipped with everything you need to prepare a delicious meal, a great excuse for you to visit one of the local fruit stands. You will stay in one of their vibrant newly upgraded studios decorated with modern furnishings. Tico Tico Villas is a fantastic option for travelers looking for a secluded getaway in the increasingly popular destination of Manuel Antonio.
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.
Overlooking the picturesque Papagayo Bay sits the distinguished Villa Buena Onda, an elegant mansion turned meal-inclusive resort. The property was designed by a renowned interior decorator who combined leather, silk, iron and traditional woods to create a five element oasis. The earth-toned exteriors complement the greens and blues of the natural environment. During sunset, guests can watch from the garden as the sky’s orange and pink hues contrast with the deep blues of the two tiered swimming pool. Guests will never forget the service oriented staff who are willing to go the distance to make your stay a once in a lifetime experience. Villa Buena Onda is ideal for couples desiring romance and relaxation in beautiful Costa Rica.
Age structure: This entry provides the distribution of the population according to age. Information is included by sex and age group as follows: 0-14 years (children), 15-24 years (early working age), 25-54 years (prime working age), 55-64 years (mature working age), 65 years and over (elderly). The age structure of a population affects a nation's key socioeconomic issues. Countries with young populations (high percentage under age 15) need to invest more in schools, while countries with older population . . . more
In early August 2017, President Luis Guillermo Solís admitted that the country was facing a "liquidity crisis" and promised that a higher VAT tax and higher income tax rates were being considered by his government. Such steps are essential, Luis Guillermo Solís told the nation, because it was facing difficulties in paying its obligations and guaranteeing the provision of services.[95] Solís explained that the Treasury will prioritize payments on the public debt first, then salaries, and then pensions. The subsequent priorities include transfers to institutions "according to their social urgency". All other payments will be made only if funds are available.[13]
You have to exercise caution when renting a car in Costa Rica; where it is not uncommon for rental companies to claim "damage" they insist you inflicted on the vehicle. It is by far the best policy to rent a car through a Costa Rican travel agent. If you are travelling on a package, your agent will sort this out. Otherwise, go into an ICT-accredited travel agent in San Jose and ask them to arrange rental for you. This should be no more expensive than renting on your own and will help guard against false claims of damage and other accusations; rental companies will be less willing to make trouble with an agent who regularly sends them clients than with individual customers who they may not see again.
Ticos enjoy long weekends or a day trips from San Jose to relax in the variety of hot springs and thermal baths that rush along the verdant landscape. The natural volcanic activity heats the waterways that course through the tropical trees and underbrush to populate the foothills beneath the smoking volcano. Luxury travelers, honeymooners, and backpackers alike will enjoy the variety of activities the region offers while taking advantage of the rejuvenating waters. Local activities include cave tours, horseback riding, zip lining, fishing, hanging bridges, chocolate tours, cultural experiences, river rafting and whitewater rafting, rappelling, canyoning and day and night treks.
Evergreen, meaning siempre verde in Spanish, reflects the Evergreen Lodge’s efforts to maintain and preserve their integral relationship with nature. The property is committed to protecting its natural environment through sustainable tourism. The lodge’s rustic cabins were strategically built to co-exist with the ecosystem of Tortuguero National Park. The rooms’ earth toned color palette make you feel a part of the jungle. The lush vegetation and exotic sounds of the wildlife will create an unforgettable rainforest lodge experience.

Similar to how it is done in the United States, there are apartments available in Costa Rica to rent for short-term (well, long-term for you but short-term as far as leases go). Apartments are great to rent if you want to get a really authentic feel for one of the major cities in Costa Rica, like San José or Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. With an apartment rental, you can be right in the hustle and bustle of the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Costa Rican cities, instead of being housed away on a hotel property.
Oh how we love truchas! This is one of those hidden gems of Costa Rica that most tourists don’t experience, but totally should. The concept is you go to a place with a small freshwater lake. An employee will give you a line with a little piece of bait on the end. You then stand around the lake and try to catch a fish (usually trout). Once you catch a fish for every person in your group you will go into the restaurant located on the property and they will cook up your fish for you.
Generally speaking, the Caribbean side’s waters are calmer and slightly warmer, while the Pacific side is rougher and more temperamental. Both sides are stunningly beautiful, with broad beaches, lush forests, dramatic cliffs, and engaging marine environments. Just be sure to obey all posted warnings, including wildlife warnings and “no trespassing” signs. And never swim alone, especially on the Pacific side: Costa Rica’s Pacific waters are notorious for dangerous, changeable rip currents.
In the event of a traffic accident, do not move the vehicle. Both the traffic police and an insurance investigator must make accident reports before the vehicles can be moved. Drivers using rental cars should clarify their company’s policy in the event of accidents. Rental companies may levy additional charges on drivers for failing to file a report.
A 2016 report by the U.S. government report identifies the current challenges facing the education system, including the high dropout rate among high school students. The country needs even more workers who are fluent in English and languages such as Portuguese, Mandarin and French. It would also benefit from more graduates in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs, according to the report.[87]
Insider's advice: Monteverde is home to the best canopy hanging bridges tours and canopy zipline courses in Costa Rica and perhaps the world. If you are planning on enjoying one of these activities, save in for Monteverde! Birdwatchers will like to know that the best time to observe Resplendent Quetzals is during their breeding season from February through May. Three-Wattled Bell Birds breed in Monteverde March through June. 
Our Costa Rica Travel Guide offers valuable information on the top tourist destinations as well as valuable Costa Rica travel tips. Vacationing in Costa Rica has never been easier and our travel guide offers tips and advice to help you save time, money & get the most out of your next Costa Rica vacation. Find out the best time to travel to Costa Rica, hotels, tours and more. The Costa Rica Travel Guide, written by local experts offers you REAL ADVICE about where to stay and go and how to make your next trip to Costa Rica incredible.
Costa Rica has been cited as Central America's great health success story.[166] Its healthcare system is ranked higher than that of the United States, despite having a fraction of its GDP.[167] Prior to 1940, government hospitals and charities provided most health care. But since the 1941 creation of the Social Insurance Administration (Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social – CCSS), Costa Rica has provided universal health care to its wage-earning residents, with coverage extended to dependants over time. In 1973, the CCSS took over administration of all 29 of the country's public hospitals and all health care, also launching a Rural Health Program (Programa de Salud Rural) for primary care to rural areas, later extended to primary care services nationwide. In 1993, laws were passed to enable elected health boards that represented health consumers, social insurance representatives, employers, and social organizations. By the year 2000, social health insurance coverage was available to 82% of the Costa Rican population. Each health committee manages an area equivalent to one of the 83 administrative cantons of Costa Rica. There is limited use of private, for-profit services (around 14.4% of the national total health expenditure). About 7% of GDP is allocated to the health sector, and over 70% is government funded.
Crocodiles are quite common in certain parts of Costa Rica and, although not as dangerous as the Nile or saltwater species, are still considered occasional man-eaters and can grow to lengths of up to 20 feet/6 meters. The biggest spot for them is the Tarcoles river bridge in the central pacific as posted in the Jaco wiki. It is recommended to stop the vehicle nearby and walk across it. Some locals throw chicken meat and watch them eat. Great care should be taken when swimming or snorkeling, especially near areas where fishing is common or near river mouths.
Literacy: This entry includes a definition of literacy and Census Bureau percentages for the total population, males, and females. There are no universal definitions and standards of literacy. Unless otherwise specified, all rates are based on the most common definition - the ability to read and write at a specified age. Detailing the standards that individual countries use to assess the ability to read and write is beyond the scope of the Factbook. Information on literacy, while not a perfect measu . . . more
The Latinobarómetro survey of 2017 found that 57% of the population identify themselves as Roman Catholics, 25% are Evangelical Protestants, 15% report that they do not have a religion, and 2% declare that they belong to another religion.[136] This survey indicated a decline in the share of Catholics and rise in the share of Protestants and irreligious.[136] A University of Costa Rica survey of 2018 show similar rates; 52% Catholics, 25% Protestants, 17% irreligious and 3% other.[3] The rate of secularism is high by Latin American standards.

The diversity of Costa Rica is not limited to the ecosystems and the microclimates but is also embodied in the range of accommodations that allow visitors to experience the jungle terrain, the stunning cloud forests, the vibrant rainforests, and the secluded beaches as they desire. With a range of four and five-star resorts, along with boutique eco-friendly lodges, the remote countryside could be as luxurious and opulent as the bustling heart of the capital city.  Travelers in search of relaxation can find comfort in the form of resplendent soulful retreats hidden in the mountains or listening to crashing waves on the Pacific while thrill-seekers discover gorgeous eco-luxury resorts reachable only by traversing whitewater.
Costa Rica is home to six active volcanoes, a few of which are safe enough to be widely popular for hikes. Trek to Poas Volcano’s steaming blue crater pool, visible from a lookout point at its namesake national park; or explore Arenal Volcano’s biodiverse foothills formed by lava flows. The most accessible volcano, Irazu, is ringed in a cloud forest that’s accessible by car–it’s also the most visited national park in Costa Rica.
Due to its rich bio-diversity, pure beauty, and close proximity to Mother Nature in unison with its small ecological footprint, Costa Rica offers an experience like none other. Whether diving or snorkeling the crystal clear offshore protected waters, to zip-lining hundreds of feet above a giant old growth rainforest, you’ll be surrounding yourself with tropical beauty. Marveling at sunsets and sinking your feet in the warm sand, you’ll likely experience a complete detoxification, ultimately feeling the embrace of a carefree state of mind.
Costa Rica has developed around coffee, shaping its social and political structures along with the culture. Oxen and the colorful ox carts are celebrated as art across the country that once hauled coffee exports from the Central Valley over the mountains to the Pacific Coast over a 15-day period. Coffee remains one of the major exports of the country and dates back to the 18th century. Marks of the prestigious coffee trade continue to decorate the country, most notably in the San Jose neighborhoods of Amon and Aranjuez, where colonial, Victorian, and art deco mansions recall the prestige of the coffee barons from the late 19th to early 20th centuries.
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.
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. 

My trip to Costa Rica was one of best vacations I have been on to date. Since this was my first tour on Gate1, and the cost was so reasonable, I was wondering about the quality of the entire tour. I have to say that EVERYTHING was excellent. Our tour guide, Luis Miguel Cruz Comparaz, was so knowledgeable about the areas we visited. I could tell Luis was very proud of Costa Rica and took great pride in taking care of his family (tour participants). Our bus driver, Marvin , was an excellent driver and maneuvered that large bus with confidence. I felt extremely safe with him. The hotels, food, tours were first class. Lastly, I am recently retired and on a fixed income. Gate1 actually made it possible for me to visit Costa Rica. This will not be my last trip with Gate1.
Fully licensed by the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) and based in Costa Rica, CRS Tours provides its worldwide clientele with travel services at its highest standards of quality and best value.  CRS Tours’ years of commitment to the tourism sector of Costa Rica (including hotels, restaurants, transportation, tours and local airlines) has enabled CRS Tours to acquire a strong working relationship that allows the agency to offer clients great deals in packaged tours.
Urbanization: This entry provides two measures of the degree of urbanization of a population. The first, urban population, describes the percentage of the total population living in urban areas, as defined by the country. The second, rate of urbanization, describes the projected average rate of change of the size of the urban population over the given period of time. Additionally, the World entry includes a list of the ten largest urban agglomerations. An urban agglomeration is defined as comprising th . . . more  

The Pachira Lodge is conveniently located just minutes from the world famous Tortuguero National Park. One of the highlights of the property is a stunning turtle shaped pool where you can relax, slice open a fresh coconut and enjoy the crisp air. Guests who visit between July and September can join an organized turtle nesting tour where you will witness thousands of green turtles lay their eggs on the beaches of Tortuguero National Park. Since it is difficult for sea turtles to navigate across sand, they become easy targets for predators during the egg laying process. The national park aims to protect the endangered turtles from predators during this highly susceptible time. For guests looking to experience the wonders of the green sea turtle and other Costa Rican wildlife, Pachira Lodge is an ideal place to stay.
Nowhere else in the world can you find a concentration of wildlife like that of Central America – in particular Costa Rica and Panama. Costa Rica alone has over 840 identified species of birds and with over a quarter of the country identified as national parks. Famous for its manmade canal, Panama is also home to 940 avian species, as well as 125 mammal species endemic to this country.

Pharmaceuticals, financial outsourcing, software development, and ecotourism have become the prime industries in Costa Rica's economy. High levels of education among its residents make the country an attractive investing location. Since 1999, tourism earns more foreign exchange than the combined exports of the country's three main cash crops: bananas and pineapples especially,[98] but also other crops, including coffee.[99] Coffee production played a key role in Costa Rica's history and in 2006, was the third cash crop export.[99] As a small country, Costa Rica now provides under 1% of the world's coffee production.[48] In 2015, the value of coffee exports was US$305.9 million, a small part of the total agricultural exports of US$2.7 billion.[98] Coffee production increased by 13.7% percent in 2015-16, declined by 17.5% in 2016–17, but was expected to increase by about 15% in the subsequent year.[100]
×