Any good traveler knows they should question whether the water is potable when touring a new country. Costa Rica contains safe tap water around the more developed areas, but you should always take caution with the water as you travel through more rural or underdeveloped regions. If you are worried about the tap water around the area in which you are staying, you can always buy and drink only bottled water sold in the markets and small shops throughout the country. Otherwise, you can boil water for three minutes, use iodine droplets, or carry a SteriPen, which utilized UV light. 

Costa Rica has a tropical climate, with a wet and a dry season each year on the Pacific side, and occasional showers throughout the year on the Caribbean side. Note that the Caribbean is often gorgeous in October, while this is the dreariest month on the Pacific side and in the Central Valley. Costa Rica’s weather varies wildly depending on which side of the country you’re visiting.
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.
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.
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 🙂

The park’s highlights are its beaches, parts of which double as nesting and spawning grounds for threatened Atlantic sea turtles. Turtles lay eggs in vast numbers in July and August, but nesting season technically runs from March through October, so you have some leeway. If you visit the right beaches during nesting season, you will see turtles and their eggs. The $25-per-person guided tour is well worth it.


Costa Rica’s unit of currency is the colon, which hovers between 500 - 550 colones/ $1 USD. U.S. dollars are widely accepted, provided the bill is not too large ($50 and $100 bills are rarely accepted). Hotels and tours generally list their prices in dollars. Compared to the rest of Central America, prices in Costa Rica are relatively high, due in large part to the country’s high standard of living. Typical Costa Rican food and produce is quite inexpensive, while imported products are priced similarly to U.S. prices. A typical Costa Rican breakfast and lunch will cost around 2000-5000 colones ($4-10).


Median age: This entry is the age that divides a population into two numerically equal groups; that is, half the people are younger than this age and half are older. It is a single index that summarizes the age distribution of a population. Currently, the median age ranges from a low of about 15 in Niger and Uganda to 40 or more in several European countries and Japan. See the entry for "Age structure" for the importance of a young versus an older age structure and, by implication, a low versus a high . . . more
In Playa Conchal, the water is very calm, it has very few waves, and the water is super clear. The water has a perfect temperature, It does not feel too cold in the morning and the in afternoons it's warm, which is ideal for enjoying snorkeling. You can see fish, in all their variety, small and full of beautiful colors. You can also see many black sea urchins; you can carefully play with them. You can also observe the beautiful ecosystems where they live. This is one of the things you can do in this Costa Rican beach, at no cost, the only that you need is a snorkel mask and you’re ready to enjoy.

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.
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.
Costa Rica is the most visited nation in the Central American region,[106] with 2.9 million foreign visitors in 2016, up 10% from 2015.[107] In 2015, the tourism sector was responsible for 5.8% of the country's GDP, or $3.4 billion.[108] In 2016, the highest number of tourists came from the United States, with 1,000,000 visitors, followed by Europe with 434,884 arrivals.[109] According to Costa Rica Vacations, once tourists arrive in the country, 22% go to Tamarindo, 18% go to Arenal, 17% pass through Liberia (where the Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport is located), 16% go to San José, the country's capital (passing through Juan Santamaría International Airport), while 18% choose Manuel Antonio and 7% Monteverde.[110]
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.
You can also find luxurious houses, condos or apartments anywhere along the coast, in the jungles or on the hillsides overlooking the spectacular Central Valley. Some of these rentals might come with perks, like cleaning and laundry services, as well. These options are definitely something worth considering if you want to stay in Costa Rica long-term and worry free.
National air transport system: This entry includes four subfields describing the air transport system of a given country in terms of both structure and performance. The first subfield, number of registered air carriers, indicates the total number of air carriers registered with the country’s national aviation authority and issued an air operator certificate as required by the Convention on International Civil Aviation. The second subfield, inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers, lists the total number . . . more
As for swimming at the beach, definitely don’t leave your valuables at the beach unattended. Find a place where there are a lot of people and try to bring minimal valuables as possible. You can ask people near you to keep an eye on your stuff and always swim close to your things, don’t swim off far away and always look at it every couple minutes, if it’s a popular beach with lots of people. We don’t recommend swimming and leaving your things at a beach where there is nobody because it only takes a minute for the thieves to take your stuff and unfortunately, beach theft is something to be concerned about if you are going to an empty beach.
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.)
Sex ratio: This entry includes the number of males for each female in five age groups - at birth, under 15 years, 15-64 years, 65 years and over, and for the total population. Sex ratio at birth has recently emerged as an indicator of certain kinds of sex discrimination in some countries. For instance, high sex ratios at birth in some Asian countries are now attributed to sex-selective abortion and infanticide due to a strong preference for sons. This will affect future marriage patterns and fertilit . . . more
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We had a great time! Our tour guide Luis was amazing. The country is beautiful and we saw a lot of nature and got along well with the others in the group. We did all the optional side trips which were definitely worth it. Accommodations and food were very good and all in all it was a great trip. Thank you! Looking forward to the next Gate 1 vacation!
One of the most popular destinations for those interested in Costa Rica’s unique cultural ambiance is the craft city of Sarchi. Set within Costa Rica’s Central Valley, this easily-accessible town is one of the best-known in the country.  Traditionally, the elaborate and brightly painted oxcarts that make Sarchi famous were the only means of transportation for the coffee that makes up so much of this areas agriculture. Now, visitors delight in the abundance of small family-owned woodworking or crafting shops. Sarchi also features one of the country’s most beautiful churches, an expansive 17-acre botanical garden, and the world’s largest oxcart – crafted in 2006 in a (successful) attempt to get the town’s name in The Guinness Book of World Records!
The rub is insurance, the full cost of which often exceeds the cost of the rental itself. Rental companies operating in Costa Rica offer several different types of optional insurance and one type of mandatory insurance – a liability policy that’ll set you back $15 to $25 per day, depending on the vehicle and carrier. Costa Rica Guide has a good primer on the confusing insurance regime. Bottom line: You can’t avoid mandatory insurance coverage, and you’ll probably want a supplemental policy that covers body damage if you plan to drive on unpaved mountain roads.
“Alajuela: [the district] where the airport actually is. It is a bit warmer that San Jose typically. Here you’ll find the volcano Poas. The national park around it was closed for a while last year due to the volcano being active. But it has been reopened recently and the place is well maintained. You can get the largest strawberries in this area.”—GMYoW

So where does all this wildlife live? In an effort to protect the beauty over 25% of Costa Rica’s land has been turned into protected parks and reserves. According to Go Costa Rica, there are actually 27 national parks, 58 wildlife refuges, 32 protected zones, 15 wetland areas/mangroves, 11 forest reserves and 8 biological reserves, as well as 12 other conservation regions that protect the distinctive and diverse natural habitats found throughout the country. Wowza!
The official currency of Costa Rica is the Costa Rica Colon, though the United States dollar is widely accepted.  The conversion rate hovers between 500 – 550 Colones to $1 US dollar.  Most tourist related businesses list their rates in US dollars.  Prices in Costa Rica are generally a little higher than other Central Amercan countries due to the higher standards of living.
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Rincon de la Vieja, an active volcano with a heat-sterilized summit and ominous scores running down its upper slopes, looms over the northwestern city of Liberia. Parque Nacional Rincon de la Vieja protects the twin-peaked massif and the surrounding moist forests. We spent two nights on the far side of Rincon de la Vieja, lounging in hot springs and hunting for hidden waterfalls, and had a blast.
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.
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.
All meals are included on your Costa Rica tour. Included meals for each tour are listed at the end of each day. Meals are shown by B (breakfast), L (lunch) and D (dinner). Full, buffet, or deluxe continental breakfasts are included everywhere. Bottled water is provided free on the motorcoach and purified water is provided at the meals. Alcoholic beverages are not included unless specified. 

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!!
Costa Rica (/ˌkɒstə ˈriːkə/ (listen); Spanish: [ˈkosta ˈrika]; literally "Rich Coast"), officially the Republic of Costa Rica (Spanish: República de Costa Rica), is a country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, the Caribbean Sea to the northeast, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, and Ecuador to the south of Cocos Island. It has a population of around 5 million[4] in a land area of 51,060 square kilometers (19,714 square miles). An estimated 333,980 people live in the capital and largest city, San José with around 2 million people in the surrounding metropolitan area.[8]
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