A recent study showed that many Costa Ricans live longer, healthier lives than people on the rest of the planet, and it all comes down to pura vida (pure life), a term you'll hear everywhere. Before you dismiss it as marketing banter (and it is a big marketing phrase), listen to how it's used. It means hello, goodbye, everything's cool, same to you. It never has a negative connotation. You may enter the country not believing it, but after a week you'll be saying it, too, unconsciously: pura vida, mae. Relax and enjoy the ride.
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.
Many roads are unpaved, and even the paved roads have lots of unpaved sections and washed out or unfinished bridges. Bridges are often only wide enough for one vehicle; one direction usually has priority. Do not expect to get anywhere quickly; supposed three-hour journeys can turn into five or more hours easily: there are always slow cars/buses/trucks on the road. This causes a lot of crazy driving, which you begin to emulate if you are in-country for more than a day. The government does not seem to be fixing the infrastructure well (or at all!); 50km/h is good over unpaved roads. Some hotels located in the mountains require a four-wheel-drive vehicle to reach the destination. Call ahead. This is more for the ground clearance than the quality of the road. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are widely available at the car rentals near the airport, but call ahead.

“If you are a coffee lover, there’s a lot of good coffee to be found. Head to Cafeoteca, Franco, or Café la Mancha and order a Vandola (a Costa Rican pour over), and pick up a free San José coffee walking tour pamphlet – it’s both a great reference, and a gorgeous piece of art. In addition, most shops in the San José/Alajuela area use lactose-free milk, which is fantastic for someone lactose-intolerant like me.”—Alan Ray
Navigation can prove challenging. Road signs are relatively few, and those that do exist can be inaccurate. It is recommended that you have a good road map with the small towns listed, since road signs will often only indicate the next town, not the direction of the next major city. Towns generally do not have town-limit signs; it is best to look at the names on the roadside food stores and restaurants to determine the place you are passing. Stop and ask, practice your Spanish. The center of town is usually a public park with a Catholic church across from it.
One of the nicest places to visit in Costa Rica Tortuguero National Park, which is famous for turtle nesting. Both the park and Tortuguero village can only be accessed via boat – getting there is an incredible ride but it requires a bit of planning – going on a 3 day organized tour of Tortuguero from San Jose may be a good idea. Here’s a great one. 

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
Dive sites abound on both sides of Costa Rica, though the Pacific coast is more heavily trafficked. There, the area around Herradura Bay and Jaco has a number of relatively shallow, high-visibility sites that are appropriate for novices. On the Caribbean side, the area around Cahuita National Park is a hidden gem that sees just a fraction of the dive traffic of Pacific alternatives, and has sites appropriate for all skill levels. If you’re not already scuba-certified, enroll in a certification course through a local resort. These can be found for $200 to $400, depending on the location and nature of the course.
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.
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.
Lodging: Avoid name-brand four- and five-star beach resorts, looking instead to locally owned properties with comparable amenities. (We saved more than 50% on our beach hotel by going local.) If you’re staying in one location for more than a couple nights, look for a short-term rental. Most popular beaches teem with modern condos and villas with in-unit kitchens, pools, and other amenities. Away from the beach, look to rustic resorts (such as ecolodges) and motel-style properties. Our place in Tilaran, essentially a roadside motel, cost about $35 per night with full (delicious) breakfast included. You’ll pay a lot less if you’re willing to sacrifice ostentatious onsite bells and whistles, like full-service spas and gourmet restaurants.
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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.
Merchant marine: Merchant marine may be defined as all ships engaged in the carriage of goods; or all commercial vessels (as opposed to all nonmilitary ships), which excludes tugs, fishing vessels, offshore oil rigs, etc. This entry contains information in four subfields - total, ships by type, foreign-owned, and registered in other countries. Total includes the number of ships (1,000 GRT or over), total DWT for those ships, and total GRT for those ships. DWT or dead weight tonnage is the total weight of c . . . more
Wow what an awesome post! Thank you for all this information! I am heading down for 8 nights in mid May with my husband and 3 littles – almost 2, 3 & 5 – so we’ll be limited by their activity level, yet still so much we can do and see. I have a lot of parsing through to figure that all out so we don’t drive 3 hours and end up not being able to do something. Hiking, beaches, bridges, volcanoes, jungle, and some boating are on the list, as well as lots of fresh seafood! Any suggestions on areas we should avoid because of their ages? I am hoping we can find a boating excursion that doesn’t have an age minimum, as well as maybe horseback riding. Oh and dolphins! That’s my oldests’ request 🙂
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]
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.
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.
You can visit hot springs in La Fortuna, find the Resplendent Quetzal in the Monteverde Cloud Forest, go scuba diving in Cahuita National Park, do yoga in Nicoya, go on a rafting trip in the Pacuare River or canyoning below the Turrialba Volcano, see scarlet macaws in Jaco, go horseback riding in Rincon de la Vieja, watch turtles nest in Tortuguero and relax on any of the hundreds of beaches! Every tourist who visits Costa Rica can find exactly what they need for a perfect tropical vacation.
According to the World Bank, in 2010 about 489,200 immigrants lived in the country, many from Nicaragua, Panama, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Belize, while 125,306 Costa Ricans live abroad in the United States, Panama, Nicaragua, Spain, Mexico, Canada, Germany, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, and Ecuador.[131] The number of migrants declined in later years but in 2015, there were some 420,000 immigrants in Costa Rica[132] and the number of asylum seekers (mostly from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua) rose to more than 110,000, a fivefold increase from 2012.[133] In 2016, the country was called a "magnet" for migrants from South and Central America and other countries who were hoping to reach the U.S.[134][135]

My trip was wonderful! It was my first trip with Gate1, and it was also my first ever solo trip and I must say that I could not have been more happy with my experience. Our tour manager was great, our driver was top notch and the people I met on the trip were the cherry in top. Thank you for your help with my reservation I will definitely travel with Gate1 again.
Many visitors to the gorgeous, forested mountain tops choose to partake in guided hikes during day and night. Experiencing both brings better views of the immensity of the wildlife that ranges from Baird’s tapir, collared peccary, jaguar, jaguarundi, agouti, three-toed sloth, vampire bats and more. The opportunity to see the variety of wildlife abound while touring the trails of Monteverde or Santa Elena Cloud Forests year-round.
We could use some advice on getting From Dominical to Sierpe. We want to travel on a Sunday. I expect we can catch a bus from Dominical to Palmar Norte then a cab from there to Sierpe. However a lot of places Sunday is a family day, might we have a problem finding a cab in Palmar Norte? Or should we try to get private transportation from Dominical. Renting a car is not an option as we are going on to Drake bay and then flying out from there. Thanks Jim

Stock of domestic credit: This entry is the total quantity of credit, denominated in the domestic currency, provided by financial institutions to the central bank, state and local governments, public non-financial corporations, and the private sector. The national currency units have been converted to US dollars at the closing exchange rate on the date of the information.
Costa Rica historically managed to stay away from the political turmoil and violence from which neighbouring nations still suffer. The nation constitutionally abolished its army permanently in the 1940s. It has also managed to be the only Latin American country included in the list of the world's 22 oldest democracies, paying homage to its stance as a peaceful and politically stable nation. Costa Rica has also consistently been among the top Latin American countries in the Human Development Index, and is cited by the UNDP as one of the countries that has attained much higher human development than other countries at the same income levels.
I studied in Costa Rica (I lived in San Jose) for a semester in college and boy, I didn’t even come close to doing all the wonderful things on your list. The highlights for me were probably visiting the Arenal/La Fortuna area, la catarata there, and really just enjoying everything that makes la vida de pura vida so wonderful. I’ll leave out the cockroaches that were often visitors at my first host family’s house 🙂
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.
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.
The natural protected areas represent 31% of the national territory. Here, there are majestic primary and secondary forests, cloud forests such as the Monteverde Reserve, Santa Elena and San Gerardo de Dota, extensive rainforests such as Braulio Carrillo National Park, Sarapiquí, Corcovado National Park, Manuel Antonio National Park, the unique transitional rainforest of the Carara National Park, or the dry tropical forest of Santa Rosa National Park in the North Pacific.
PK: Don’t believe that it won’t rain in the ‘dry’ season. Don’t leave all your reservations until the last minute-especially if you have your heart set on one particular place. Things fill up fast. Don’t worry if people don’t e-mail you back; call your hotel or tour operator instead. Make sure you have enough space on your phone for taking photos and videos; Use the plane ride to delete unnecessary space. Call your hotel before you arrive to ask about road conditions. Don’t follow the weather apps; in our area they are useless.
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!
This is my favorite tour I’ve ever done in Costa Rica and there are also multi-day white water rafting trips for the more adventurous ones. You can even go white water as a way to get around Costa Rica as many companies pick up in San Jose and drop off in La Fortuna or Puerto Viejo! This is definitely one of the top adventure activities in Costa Rica.

Giant stone spheres were first discovered in the southern Caribbean region of Costa Rica in the 1930s. Some of the stones weight as much as 16 tons, so it is a great mystery as to who made them and how they got all over the country. There have been over 300 of them found, yet no one is really sure how they were made; though it is thought that some may be up to 1,000 years old. The quarries where the type of stone that these spheres are made from are at least 50 miles (80 kilometers) from any of the giant stones that have been discovered. You can see these mysterious balls at El Sitio Museo Finca 6 in Palmar Sur.
Wildlife - Costa Rica is world famous for having an incredibly high level of biodiversity throughout its tropical forests (this covers what you may hear referred to as rain forests, cloud forests, and dry forests). There are tropical mammals such as monkeys, sloths, tapirs, and wild cats as well as an amazing assortment of insects and other animals. There are many many birds (both migratory and resident) - more on that below. With 25% of the country being national parks and protected areas, there are still many places you can go to see the abundant wildlife and lush vegetation of the country. Just like anywhere, the farther you get off the beaten path, the more likely you are to see a wide variety of flora and fauna.
Welcome to the world as seen through the eyes of Cameron and Natasha. On this site you’ll find our experiences, photography, and informative travel guides. We love getting to off the beaten path destinations and aren’t afraid to go it alone. We hope to inspire other independent travelers and provide the resources to do so. If you want to find us, just head to the nearest coffee shop or check back here!

After pickup from your San Jose hotel in the morning, begin your 1.5-hour journey to Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui with your naturalist guide and pass through one of the most famous national parks in Costa Rica.Once you arrive, discover Costa Rica's beautiful tropical wildlife on a riverboat trip. Enjoy views of the magnificent rainforest on a 2-hour boat ride along the water, and look out for forest inhabitants such as toucans, monkeys, sloths, crocodiles and more!Arrive at the private reserve, where you’ll have the choice to horseback ride or hike up to the canopy. After receiving a safety briefing from your naturalist guide, embark on your canopy adventure. Using a special system of steel cables and professional climbing gear, you’ll roam through the treetops and leap from platform to platform in the tropical rainforest. No experience required for this unique experience! After an adrenaline-packed two hours, enjoy a home-style lunch at the private reserve before relaxing on a scenic drive back to San Jose.
Topping out well above 12,000 feet, Cerro Chirripo is Costa Rica’s highest peak. Along with surrounding high peaks, it harbors rare high-altitude ecosystems: supermontane forests, dwarf forests, and paramo, among others. Above the treeline, it’s harder for wildlife to hide, so you’re more likely to see rare mammals like Dice’s rabbit, charismatic carnivores like cougars (known locally as pumas), and – of course – colorful birds like quetzals. The high slopes and summit boast unusual vertical rock formations called crestones, which resemble the pinnacles and spires found in the badlands of North and South Dakota.

Costa Rica is located on the Central American isthmus, lying between latitudes 8° and 12°N, and longitudes 82° and 86°W. It borders the Caribbean Sea (to the east) and the Pacific Ocean (to the west), with a total of 1,290 kilometres (800 mi) of coastline, 212 km (132 mi) on the Caribbean coast and 1,016 km (631 mi) on the Pacific. Costa Rica also borders Nicaragua to the north (309 km or 192 mi of border) and Panama to the south-southeast (330 km or 210 mi of border). In total, Costa Rica comprises 51,100 square kilometres (19,700 sq mi) plus 589 square kilometres (227 sq mi) of territorial waters.

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