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.
The Arenal Volcano is a truly picturesque volcano. If you can imagine how you would have drawn a volcano when you were a kid, that is basically what it looks like: a perfect symmetrical cone. Surrounding the volcano are lush forests that are bursting with wildlife. There are beautiful waterfalls, hanging bridges, hiking and horseback riding trails, butterfly gardens, hot springs, and zip lines tours. The Arenal Volcano National Park pretty much has it all.

So when you’re trying to get your money together, don’t stress too much about exchanging it all beforehand as it’s not 100% necessary if you live in the US. You can use dollars in pretty much every touristic destination and they will give you your change back in colones. If you are Canadian however, it will be better for you to have colones due to the Canadian dollar and USD exchange rate. Ask the hotels or tour companies if you can pay in colones instead.
Of the GDP, 5.5% is generated by agriculture, 18.6% by industry and 75.9% by services.(2016)[76] Agriculture employs 12.9% of the labor force, industry 18.57%, services 69.02% (2016)[83] For the region, its unemployment level is moderately high (8.2% in 2016, according to the IMF).[76] Although 20.5% of the population lives below the poverty line (2017),[84] Costa Rica has one of the highest standards of living in Central America.[85]

Planning a vacation abroad is exciting, but let’s face it: it can be overwhelming. There is so much information on line that it’s hard to know what is current and what sources you can trust, not to mention what is useful and what is just wasting your time. That’s where we come in! Not only can you find everything you need right here, but we can assure you that our expert travel consultants are a fountain of information and willing to help when you decide it’s time to start planning.


Costa Rican culture is often summed up in two words: ‘pura vida’. It literally means, ‘the pure life’, and it is often said as a greeting, farewell or to show appreciation. The concept of ‘pura vida’ is better experienced than explained, but essentially, it is both an attitude and a feeling. It means being friendly and polite, taking it easy, relaxing, and being thankful for what you have.
Enjoy wondrous views high above the clouds at this secluded mountain top oasis. Las Nubes Natural Energy Resort specializes in sustainable indulgence, sourcing energy from solar panels and water from mountain springs. The gourmet cuisine is prepared with fresh vegetables and meat from the small on site farm. In the mornings, the unique open air bungalows let in beams of golden sunlight and fresh mountain air. Spend your days basking in the sun where you can wholly appreciate the natural scenery. After fully embracing barefoot luxury, you will return home feeling newly recharged.
Costa Rica also comprises several islands. Cocos Island (24 square kilometres or 9.3 square miles) stands out because of its distance from the continental landmass, 480 kilometres (300 mi) from Puntarenas, but Isla Calero is the largest island of the country (151.6 square kilometres or 58.5 square miles). Over 25% of Costa Rica's national territory is protected by SINAC (the National System of Conservation Areas), which oversees all of the country's protected areas. Costa Rica also possesses the greatest density of species in the world.[58]
The beautiful National Theatre of Costa Rica is located on the southern side of the Plaza de la Cultura in San Jose and is one of the city’s most notable buildings – a must-see for all lovers of art and architecture. The theatre was built in 1897 in the neo-classical style and features an elaborate marble lobby and auditorium decorated with paintings depicting 19th-century life in Costa Rica. Your entrance fee entitles you to a free guided tour (every hour, on the hour), which will greatly enhance your visit. If you can spare the time, you can attend one of the many scheduled performances at the theater, which has excellent acoustics.
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.
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.
Corn is a popular ingredient often used in Costa Rica both in tortillas or pancakes. Plantains and yucca often take the place of potatoes as an accompanying side dish and are fried, dressed with salt, and favored for their starchy qualities. Near the coastal waters, you can find an abundance of delectable ceviche dishes with locals squeezing sour lemon over fishes such as tuna, swordfish, red snapper, or shellfish like shrimp, lobster, or conch.
A lot of the adventure activities in Costa Rica are expensive, but if you want a more local and cheap experience, just be really selective about the things you want to spend money on. One really nice thing about Costa Rica is that by law all the beaches need to have public access. This means every beach is free!!!!! Yeay for lots of beach days! If you need some activity ideas check out our list of favorite activities including many things for the budget savvy traveler in mind.
The beautiful National Theatre of Costa Rica is located on the southern side of the Plaza de la Cultura in San Jose and is one of the city’s most notable buildings – a must-see for all lovers of art and architecture. The theatre was built in 1897 in the neo-classical style and features an elaborate marble lobby and auditorium decorated with paintings depicting 19th-century life in Costa Rica. Your entrance fee entitles you to a free guided tour (every hour, on the hour), which will greatly enhance your visit. If you can spare the time, you can attend one of the many scheduled performances at the theater, which has excellent acoustics.
The expert team at Asclepios Wellness & Healing Retreat take pride in caring for guests’ physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. The serene environment provides the perfect space for self growth. Enjoy the ionized swimming pool, fully organic cuisine, meditation pavilion and much more all conveniently located on site. Several wellness approaches are considered from massage to regenerative medicine. A complete team of holistic practitioners and therapists will guide guests through their wellness journey. The holistic approach to health at Asclepios Wellness will leave guests feeling refreshed upon their return home.
The Nicoya Peninsula offers an incredibly diverse and beautiful region of Costa Rica with miles of pristine Pacific coastline. Part of the Guanacaste province, it provides off-the-beaten-path beaches and old world Costa Rican charm. Here you’ll find a variety of beaches, secluded coves, big wave surf breaks, sea turtle nesting sites, snorkeling, fishing, surfing, and the occasional all-inclusive resort.
Located a few blocks west of La Sabana Park in the heart of San Jose, the Museo de Jade is an interesting and informative archaeological museum that traces the pre-Columbian history of Costa Rica. Not only will you find an impressive collection of jade jewelry and artifacts, you can also learn about why this particular stone was so revered throughout the history of the country and the part it played in trade. In addition to the jade collection, you can also see various decorative artifacts dating back to between 500BC and 800AD. You will probably need to spend about an hour to see most of the collection – entrance is free but admission is by appointment only.
The best places to take a chocolate tour is Puerto Viejo and La Fortuna. We did a chocolate tour with the BriBri indigenous community outside Puerto Viejo which was fascinating since chocolate plays such an important part in their culture. The Puerto Viejo chocolate tour is another excellent one. We also did one with Rainforest Chocolate Tour in La Fortuna which was really fun and informative.

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.
This is a country of extremes due to the mountainous terrain.  From sea level on the coasts to the highest peak at Cerro Chirripo, there is a difference of 3,810 meters in elevation gain.  To put this in perspective, Cerro Chirripo is located only 40 kilometers inland from the coast.  It can be a balmy 85 degree morning on the beach and there can be frost covered slopes on the highest peaks on the same day.

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!

A local Naturalist accompanies you on a leisurely BOAT RIDE along remote, unspoiled sections of the park’s waterways, explaining the bountiful flora and fauna. Enjoy a fascinating stroll through an accessible portion of the nearby RAINFOREST. During the peak nesting season (mid-July to mid-October) you may be lucky enough to observe an endangered green turtle laying her eggs under the starlight on an optional tour. Later this afternoon, meet a local Naturalist for an informative talk on the ecology of the area.
Nature and Costa Rica tend to go hand in hand.  25% of the country is protected land, and the variety of wildlife is as astounding as the beauty of nature.  Imagine: a birdwatching excursion into the rainforest, when suddenly you come upon the unrealistically blue waters of Rio Celeste. There are stunning landscapes no matter where you visit, from the looming Arenal Volcano to the tranquility of the Monteverde Cloud Forest.  When it comes to pure natural beauty, Costa Rica is in a class of its own!
Magic Mountain Hotel and Spa is located on the northern end of Fortuna. All rooms have either a balcony or a terrace with a view of Arenal Volcano. Magic Mountain has a restaurant, sports bar, swimming pool with pool bar and two jacuzzis. The deluxe spa specializes in a variety of treatments including volcanic mud wraps, massages, facials, pedicures and manicures. Internet access is available in the Internet cafes for a fee in the nearby village of Fortuna.

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.


Our trip was amazing and we had the best time!! Gilbert, our tour guide was great. He was knowledgeable and we learned so much about Costa Rica and the culture. We still can't figure out how he spotted birds so high and animals hidden in leaves and trees!! He made every minute of the trip a once-in-a-lifetime moment. My husband is already planning out next Gate 1 Tour!!
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.
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.
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.
For USD350-700 a week you can rent an Economy or Mid-size 4x4. Insurance is the majority of this cost and it is not optional. Four-wheel-drive is good for extensive travelling outside the Central Valley, especially in the wet season. In the dry season going from La Fortuna to Monteverde via a direct route was over a boulder strewn 15-30mph road. Four-wheel-drive was also useful on the Nicoya coast.(above based on 2001 roads). It's often possible to rent a car with a local driver from the various tour companies, if driving yourself seems a bit daunting.
Located in the Arenal-Tempisque area, the Curi Cancha Reserve is a privately owned nature reserve that covers 205 acres of tropical cloud forest, which is home to a wide variety of birds, reptiles, and small animals. Curi-Cancha is the perfect place to get back to nature and do some serious bird watching, either on your own or with the help of a specialist guide who knows just where to find all the shy and rare species. You can go hiking along 7miles of trails, which will take you through virgin rainforest as well as some secondary forest – be on the lookout for some really unusual mammals, such as the armadillo, the sloth, and three species of monkeys. The reserve offers several guided tours, including a rather magical night tour.

Hi Barbara, that’s definitely way too many places for only 4 days and all the destinations are very far apart for driving (arenal – monteverde around 3.5 hours, monteverde to MA is 5, MA to Uvita is around 1.5 and Uvita back to San Jose is around 3.5-4). I would cut out a couple places, for only 7 full days we usually recommend two destinations. You could stop by MA on your way to Uvita but Monteverde to MA is already a 5 hour long drive (and to and from Monteverde is a long, windy, curvy mountainous road that can be very tiring to drive because you have to go slow and carefully) and you would want to spend at least 3-5 hours in the park to get a good experience and the park closes at 4 PM. Remember it also gets dark by 6 PM every day.

The Nicoya Peninsula offers an incredibly diverse and beautiful region of Costa Rica with miles of pristine Pacific coastline. Part of the Guanacaste province, it provides off-the-beaten-path beaches and old world Costa Rican charm. Here you’ll find a variety of beaches, secluded coves, big wave surf breaks, sea turtle nesting sites, snorkeling, fishing, surfing, and the occasional all-inclusive resort.


Arenal Volcano National Park is one of the top three most visited national parks in Costa Rica and is the best place for those who want to see a “cone” shaped volcano. The volcano erupted back in 1968, leaving a wave of destruction in its path. Nowadays, the forest has grown back and visitors can hike through the remaining lava beds for beautiful views of the volcano and Lake Arenal.

South Pacific Eco Extreme will engage you in an epic adventure exploring places few have dared to go! You’ll stay in African style safari tents, a cave behind a waterfall (yes, you read that right!), and a jungle ecolodge on the South Pacific coast. This 9-day extreme adventure includes mountain hiking, horseback riding, waterfall rappelling, plus whitewater rafting, and will undoubtedly be the most memorable vacation you’ve ever experience!

Meet your guide upon pickup from your San Jose hotel and stop for breakfast at Rancho Roberto's in Guapiles. After your meal, you'll travel through the Braulio Carrillo National Park, one of Costa Rica’s largest national parks. Pass numerous rivers, waterfalls and mountains covered in dense forests on your drive, until you reach a banana plantation. Here, board a boat and set sail for Tortuguero National Park. Since there are no roads to the park from Tortuguero village, access to the vast network of freshwater lagoons and creeks is by boat. Ride for approximately one hour to reach the canals and keep an eye out for all kind of birds in the lush vegetation along the way.Tortuguero, meaning ‘turtle catcher,’ formed from an archipelago of volcanic islands where high rainfall eventually created the bio-diverse wetlands – great for nature lovers! During your 3-hour boat tour of Tortuguero National Park, your expert guide will be on hand to teach you about the history and wildlife as you cruise between the marshy isles. Midday, you’ll have time for a lunch break at Evergreen Lodge, located just five minutes by boat from the entrance to the park. Under the high ceilings of the lovely main dining room, enjoy the ambiance that complements the surrounding jungle landscape.Get an up-close look at the park's great variety of flora and fauna as you ride among the canals. If you’re lucky, you might spot such wildlife as the spectacled caiman, southern river otter and possibly even the endangered West Indian manatee. The park is also home to sloths, howler and capuchin monkeys, tiny frogs and green iguanas.The secluded, black-sand beaches of Tortuguero National Park are some of the most important breeding grounds for the green sea turtle. These ancient reptiles once neared extinction as adults were hunted for their meat and their eggs were taken. You'll get the chance to see the sites where the green sea turtles nest and learn from your guide about the park’s efforts to protect this important species.After exploring the national park, enjoy a return 1-hour boat ride to dry land and then board your coach for the trip back to San Jose, where you’ll be dropped off at your hotel in the evening.
Our Wildlife Safaris, with the very best bilingual naturalist guides, can escort you into a variety of protected natural habitats, such as pristine rainforests, coastal canals, tropical dry forest, wetlands, and cloud forests to name just a few. Whether you are wanting to travel way into the wilderness or prefer being led into easier areas for mountain birdwatching and lowland river cruises, we offer excellent wildlife observation opportunities to choose from.
Arenal Volcano National Park is one of the top three most visited national parks in Costa Rica and is the best place for those who want to see a “cone” shaped volcano. The volcano erupted back in 1968, leaving a wave of destruction in its path. Nowadays, the forest has grown back and visitors can hike through the remaining lava beds for beautiful views of the volcano and Lake Arenal.
This idyllic location is situated just above the rushing Coronado River with outstanding views of the tropics. Take a swim in the Pacific Ocean at one of the pristine beaches nearby. Wander along the seaside and converse with the friendly Ticos. Return to your grand villa after a long day of exploration. Sit on your lovely terrace and watch the sky turn to a painted pink and orange sunset. Enjoy a natural environment like no other at The Mango Trees Villa and Spa.
Such wildlife abounds in Costa Rica as to seem almost cartoonish: keel-billed toucans ogle you from treetops and scarlet macaws raucously announce their flight plans. A keen eye will discern a sloth on a branch or the eyes of a caiman breaking the surface of a mangrove swamp, while alert ears will catch rustling leaves signaling a troop of white-faced capuchins or the haunting call of a howler monkey. Blue morpho butterflies flit amid orchid-festooned trees, while colorful tropical fish, sharks, rays, dolphins and whales thrive offshore – all as if in a conservationist’s dream.
Judicial branch: This entry includes three subfields. The highest court(s) subfield includes the name(s) of a country's highest level court(s), the number and titles of the judges, and the types of cases heard by the court, which commonly are based on civil, criminal, administrative, and constitutional law. A number of countries have separate constitutional courts. The judge selection and term of office subfield includes the organizations and associated officials responsible for nominating and appointing j . . . 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]

I wasn’t there at the right time unfortunately, but I highly recommend arranging a trip to Costa Rica to coincide with the migration seasons for humpback and pilot whales, so that there is a chance to see these creatures passing through (after all admiring wildlife is one of the things to do in Costa Rica). The good news is that the humpback whale watching season in Costa Rica is really long, so if you plan your trip carefully you’ll have great chances to see them – it’s one of the things to do in Costa Rica. Other than Drake Bay, the other places to see whales in Costa Rica are Uvita and the Gulf of Papagayo.
Food: Get off the beaten path to eat whenever possible. Our best-value meals came at independently owned restaurants in Liberia. One place, basically a lunch counter serving authentic Costa Rican cuisine, set us back about $5 per person for a lunch big enough to skip dinner on. The area’s touristy restaurants cost triple that. If you’re renting, make sure your place has a kitchen, and hit the grocery store as soon as you get settled. We visited a Walmart in Liberia and a Super Compro in Tilaran; both had excellent meat counters and solid produce sections.
National anthem: A generally patriotic musical composition - usually in the form of a song or hymn of praise - that evokes and eulogizes the history, traditions, or struggles of a nation or its people. National anthems can be officially recognized as a national song by a country's constitution or by an enacted law, or simply by tradition. Although most anthems contain lyrics, some do not.
You might get a discount (such as between 5% and 10%) when paying in cash, but it is not common enough to be expected. Also, it is not really necessary to get colones at the airport because you can pay everywhere in USD and receive colones as change. Most places except smallest restaurants take credit cards and many places including the gas stations take American Express.
San José, September 7, 2018 Local media report that Costa Rican unions are planning to strike starting on Monday, September 10, in downtown San Jose. Strikes will continue throughout the week.  Protestors may express their opposition to the new fiscal plan being discussed in National Assembly by shutting down certain government services and creating traffic jams ...
San José’s Juan Santamaría Airport (SJO) sits smack-dab in the middle of the country and makes a convenient, centrally located arrival and departure point for most visitors. But if you’re spending all your time in northern Costa Rica, say, lazing on a north Pacific beach with a trip to the Arenal volcano, you have a second option: Daniel Oduber Airport (LIR) lies just outside the small northwestern city of Liberia and receives flights from all the major airlines too. Fares do skew slightly higher to Liberia, but you’ll save a lot of overland hours to and from San José. Both airports are capricious places—upon departure, you might breeze through check-in and security in 15 minutes, or you may encounter lines stretching out the door. Whether or not you abide by the recommended three-hour advance check-in depends on your aversion to risk.
Adventure vacations are one of the best reasons to go to Costa Rica!  If you’re going to visit somewhere new, why not get as many fun experiences out of it as possible?  If you haven’t tried surfing, head on over to Tamarindo and take a few lessons.  Any adrenaline-junkie will love the rush of canopy zip lines – what could be better than a bird’s eye view as you glide over the rainforest?  The Pacuare River has some of the best whitewater rafting in the world, and rafting adventures can be planned for just the day or for the next three.  When it comes to getting your heart racing, you can’t beat Costa Rica!
The country has been considered economically stable with moderate inflation, estimated at 2.6% in 2017,[76] and moderately high growth in GDP, which increased from US$41.3 billion in 2011 to US$52.6 billion in 2015.[77] The estimated GDP for 2017 is US$61.5 billion and the estimated GDP per capita (purchasing power parity) is US$12,382.[76] The growing debt and budget deficit are the country's primary concerns.[11]
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