The key factor when going to study Spanish in Costa Rica is to decide what is the right location for you. The beach locations tend to be on the touristy side so they do not necessarily give the greatest immersion experience, however there are many Spanish schools near the beach as students like to split their time between studying Spanish in the classroom combined with activities on the beach or just relaxing on their time away from work. There is a growing trend of these Spanish schools at the beach also offering Surfing or Photography classes due to the environment around the school and the proximity to good surf.
ItineraryThis is a typical itinerary for this productStop At: La Paz Waterfall Gardens, Vara Blanca, Province of AlajuelaLa Paz Waterfall GardensDuration: 3 hoursStop At: Doka Estate Coffee Tour, Poas Volcano National Park, Province of AlajuelaDoka Estate Coffee Tour -La Paz Waterfall GardensDuration: 3 hoursStop At: TAM Travel Corporation, Liberia, Province of Guanacaste.Duration: 3 hours
For much of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, the Arenal volcano terrorized the predominantly agricultural communities at its base with frequent belches of caustic smoke, ash, and lava. A major eruption in the late 1960s killed scores and seriously damaged local infrastructure, but things have quieted down significantly – the volcano hasn’t seen much activity since 2010.
SJO is currently under remodelling, and in July 2009 its operation was taken over by the same organization that runs the airports in Houston, Texas. An otherwise pleasant airport features the normal assortment of duty-free shops, interesting souvenir and bookshops, but an inadequate selection of overpriced restaurants (Church's Chicken, Burger King, Poás Deli Cafe and Papa John's pizza). SJO is serviced daily by Air Canada, Air Transat (Seasonal) American Airlines, Canjet (Seasonal), Condor, Delta, Frontier Airlines, Iberia, Interjet, JetBlue Airways, Thomas Cook, Spirit Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United, Volaris, Westjet, Avianca, Copa Airlines and AirPanama . Connecting the airport with cities such as: Los Angeles, New York, Houston, Dallas, Miami, Baltimore, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Atlanta, Phoenix, Orlando, Chicago, Newark, Toronto, Montreal, Madrid, London, Frankfurt, Mexico City, Bogotá, Medellín, Caracas, Lima, Guayaquil, Quito and all of Central America.
Costa Rica’s varied landscape and topography also creates thousands of microclimates. The temperature and weather can vary dramatically based on elevation and proximity to the coast, so environments from rainforests to cloudforests, jungles to mountains exist in close proximity. The varied land and climate creates a huge amount of biodiversity (over 5% of the world’s total biodiversity, in fact).
GDP - composition, by sector of origin: This entry shows where production takes place in an economy. The distribution gives the percentage contribution of agriculture, industry, and services to total GDP, and will total 100 percent of GDP if the data are complete. Agriculture includes farming, fishing, and forestry. Industry includes mining, manufacturing, energy production, and construction. Services cover government activities, communications, transportation, finance, and all other private economic activities that do not prod . . . more
Pro Tip: Most Costa Rican vehicles have standard transmissions – stick shifts. This is a scary prospect for most North Americans, many of whom have no reason to know how to drive stick. If you know anyone with a standard transmission vehicle, ask them to show you the ropes before you arrive in Costa Rica. It’s better to learn in a parking lot near your house than an unfamiliar dirt road with jungle on one side and a sheer drop on the other.
An estimated 30,000 Americans have retired in Costa Rica, with another 50 nationalities represented among the expatriate population. Stop and take a deep breath if you hear yourself uttering the words: “Honey, that nice real estate agent we met in the hotel lobby told us how easy it would be to move down here. Let’s do it.” As happens to countless other visitors, the sunshine syndrome has snuck up on you. Before you sell the farm and make the move here, the experts suggest doing a trial rental of a few months to see if day-to-day life in Costa Rica is for you. Living here—with all the mundane, attendant tasks of grocery shopping, banking, and making doctor’s appointments—is much different than being on vacation.
The walks are led by naturalist guides so it’s easy to learn all about local animal species and native plants while checking out the upper levels of the rainforest canopy, where around 90 percent of forest organisms are located. The trails are generally flat and clear, so are suitable for walkers of many ages and abilities – no wonder this is one of the top things to do in Costa Rica.
This is one of the most important things to know about Costa Rica. Many people assume that Central America automatically equals cheap travel. Nope. That is the biggest common misconception about Costa Rica. Yes, its northern neighbor, Nicaragua is dirt cheap but it’s is also one of the poorest countries in Latin America so you can stretch your money very far there.
If you’re in the area for a day trip, start at the Las Pailas ranger station (entry fee: $15 per adult) and spend an hour or two on the eponymous trail that loops for a couple miles through dense forests and rocky canyons. For a longer excursion during the rainy season, set your sights on one of the park’s two spectacular waterfalls: Catarata Escondida or Catarata la Congreja. (Skip them during the dry season, when they slow to a trickle.)
Government type: This entry gives the basic form of government. Definitions of the major governmental terms are as follows. (Note that for some countries more than one definition applies.): Absolute monarchy - a form of government where the monarch rules unhindered, i.e., without any laws, constitution, or legally organized opposition. Anarchy - a condition of lawlessness or political disorder brought about by the absence of governmental authority. Authoritarian - a form of government in whic . . . more
One good dock for water taxi excursions is Los Chiles but our favorite ride was from Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui to Trinidad on the Nicaraguan border. The other half dozen passengers kept making the captain pull up to the bank and idle while we took pictures of caimen, kingfishers, monkeys, sloth and other wildlife they spotted. Even though they were all locals who where just trying to get home after a shopping and banking excursion in Puerto Viejo no one complained that the two gringos doubled the time for the trip.
The location receiving the most rain is the Caribbean slopes of the Central Cordillera mountains, with an annual rainfall of over 5000 mm. Humidity is also higher on the Caribbean side than on the Pacific side. The mean annual temperature on the coastal lowlands is around 27°C, 20°C in the main populated areas of the Central Cordillera, and below 10°C on the summits of the highest mountains.
Electricity access: This entry provides information on access to electricity. Electrification data – collected from industry reports, national surveys, and international sources – consists of four subfields. Population without electricity provides an estimate of the number of citizens that do not have access to electricity. Electrification – total population is the percent of a country’s total population with access to electricity, electrification – urban areas is the percent of a country’s urban population w . . . more
Some of our best tours combine a little of this and a little of that, to create Costa Rica vacation packages like no other. Take to the thrilling zip lines of a canopy tour that winds through a monkey and sloth-studded forest; sail out to snorkel Pacific reefs and witness an unforgettable sunset; and hike a volcano before settling in for Mother Nature’s massage in steamy, thermal hot springs. With these tours, Costa Rica is at your fingertips.
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 country has been considered economically stable with moderate inflation, estimated at 2.6% in 2017, and moderately high growth in GDP, which increased from US$41.3 billion in 2011 to US$52.6 billion in 2015. The estimated GDP for 2017 is US$61.5 billion and the estimated GDP per capita (purchasing power parity) is US$12,382. The growing debt and budget deficit are the country's primary concerns.
As of November 2012 to cross the border you need to show a return ticket from Costa Rica. The ticket must be "from Costa Rica", so for example flights from Panama are not accepted, although you need to leave Costa Rica to get to Panama. At the border crossing with Nicaragua there is a small Tica Bus office that sells tickets without a fixed travel date. At the main border crossing with Panama there is a Tracopa office where you can buy a return ticket without a fixed date. Note that if you use this ticket when re-entering from Nicaragua they want to see a ticket with a fixed date.
After a minivan pickup from your hotel in San Jose, your day trip begins with the 35-minute drive northwest to Sarchí, a Central Valley town famous for its crafts, particularly wood and leather furniture and decorated oxcarts. Pick up a souvenir or two from a local artisan before making the 2.5-hour drive further north to the town of La Fortuna, which sits below Arenal and offers an unobstructed view of the volcán on clear days. On arrival in La Fortuna, head to a local restaurant for a typical Costa Rican lunch of rice, beans, chicken or steak, and plantains, accompanied by a great view of Arenal. Then, continue your tour about 20 minutes down the road to Mirador Arenal 1968, a trail system on the edge of Arenal Volcano National Park (Parque Nacional Volcán Arenal) named for the 1968 eruption. Walk along the paths to find the best photo spots of the volcano and Lake Arenal (Lago Arenal), and watch for glimpses of bright orange lava flowing down the volcano. Finally, head a few miles back toward La Fortuna to the Tabacón hot springs — officially Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort — one of Costa Rica’s biggest and most luxurious hot springs resorts. Enjoy roughly 3.5 hours here to soak in the various pools, which range in temperature from 77 to 102°F (25 to 38°C).The resort is beautifully landscaped with waterfalls and lush vegetation and offers many ways to relax, from secluded pools to a swim-up bar (drinks at your own expense), so sit back and enjoy it until dinner is served. The resort’s buffet dinner lasts about 30 minutes and offers a selection of Costa Rican cuisine, similar to lunch. After dinner, head back to your hotel in San Jose (about 2.5 hours), where your tour ends.
We’ve been back from Costa Rica for a month now but just wanted to tell you what an awesome adventure you planned for us. Your service in helping us plan it was terrific. Everything went really well. We actually felt like royals with everyone waiting for us when we were being chauffeured about. Rafting on the Pacuare was totally amazing and hiking in Corcovado with monkeys so close to us were the highlights. Thanks again. I look forward to you planning another trip for us.”
Trafficking in persons: Trafficking in persons is modern-day slavery, involving victims who are forced, defrauded, or coerced into labor or sexual exploitation. The International Labor Organization (ILO), the UN agency charged with addressing labor standards, employment, and social protection issues, estimated in 2011 that 20.9 million people worldwide were victims of forced labor, bonded labor, forced child labor, sexual servitude, and involuntary servitude. Human trafficking is a multi-dimensional threat, depri . . . more
Go off the grid, without sacrificing modern comforts, at the Macaw Lodge. The family owned property is named for the Scarlet Macaw, a formerly threatened species, which now thrives in the region thanks to the research and conservation efforts of the eco-lodge. During your stay, dine on fresh farm to table meals while you enjoy the view of the botanical gardens. Attend an early morning guided bird walk to spot the vibrant species home to the Carara area. Practice yoga and meditation in a bamboo forest. The lodge’s cocoa plantation is an absolute must. You’ll discover the ancient purposes of the bean and witness chocolate making process from bean to bar. Be sure to buy a couple bars of Macaw Kakau chocolate to take home as souvenirs. Macaw Lodge demonstrates that anyone can enjoy sustainable getaways.
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-): This entry records the difference between national government revenues and expenditures, expressed as a percent of GDP. A positive (+) number indicates that revenues exceeded expenditures (a budget surplus), while a negative (-) number indicates the reverse (a budget deficit). Normalizing the data, by dividing the budget balance by GDP, enables easy comparisons across countries and indicates whether a national government saves or borrows money. Countries with high budget deficits (relat . . . more
There is a high fatality rate for pedestrians and those riding bicycles or motorcycles. In the event of a traffic fatality, a judge must arrive at the scene to pronounce a person dead, which could take several hours. If there is an ongoing investigation of a vehicular accident resulting in death or injuries, you may not be allowed to leave the country for several months.
Costa Rica's political stability, high standard of living, and well-developed social benefits system set it apart from its Central American neighbors. Through the government's sustained social spending - almost 20% of GDP annually - Costa Rica has made tremendous progress toward achieving its goal of providing universal access to education, healthcare, clean water, sanitation, and electricity. Since the 1970s, expansion of these services has led to a rapid decline in infant mortality, an increase in life expectancy at birth, and a sharp decrease in the birth rate. The average number of children born per women has fallen from about 7 in the 1960s to 3.5 in the early 1980s to below replacement level today. Costa Rica's poverty rate is lower than in most Latin American countries, but it has stalled at around 20% for almost two decades.
MC: Yes, don’t look at a map and decide that just because something is “close” you can cram it in to a day trip. It is roughly twenty kilometers from the heart of Santa Elena to Guacimal (down the mountain). Depending on the current condition of the road, construction, traffic and acts of God, it can be as short as 40 minutes or well over an hour each direction. Those not accustomed to driving here will also find it very draining; this is not like driving on a freeway in the U.S. using one finger to stay in your lane while talking to your friends via a Bluetooth connection. Take your time.
If we’d chosen Arenal we each would have paid $24 (unguided) for a daytime visit and another $47 (guide required and included) for a night time visit to the Arenal Hanging Bridges, plus $15 for the entrance fee to the National Park plus about $50 for transfers plus $35 each per night for a simple place to stay. A total of $280 for two nights lodging plus $394 for activities for the four of us.
Costa Ricans do not eat tacos and enchiladas. Well, they do eat them, but only when they’re dining out at a Mexican restaurant. At its most basic, Costa Rican cuisine is hearty, inexpensive, filling, and not spicy. You’ll certainly get your share of chicken and pork and rice and beans. Indeed, you’ll swear that gallo pinto (literally “spotted rooster”), the country’s signature dish, is following you everywhere. Give this mix of rice, black beans, and finely chopped vegetables a try, and dress it up, Costa Rican style, with tortillas and sour cream. Some chefs here are doing amazing things with local and international cuisine, especially in locales with large foreign populations, such as San José, the Pacific coast’s Manuel Antonio and Tamarindo, and Puerto Viejo de Talamanca on the Caribbean side.
You can certainly change your dollars into colones, but it won't matter either way, as most taxis, restaurants, surfboard rental shops, boutiques, bars, tour companies—you name it—take both forms of currency, often giving change in a mix of American dollars and Costa Rican coins. If you're in a particularly touristy area, such as Tamarindo or Jaco, you'll find prices listed for goods and services in U.S. dollars, with nary a colón in sight. Pro tip: Spend those colones, if you do have them, before you hit the airport for your return trip, as the conversion rate back to dollars is pretty dismal.
In San José there is not one central bus station, but rather several different ones, with each station roughly serving a different area of the country, with some exceptions. For example, most of the service to the Caribbean side of the country leaves from the Terminal Gran Caribe. However, in November 2012 the direct service to the far south Caribbean coast moved to the Puntarenas bus station, which mostly serves the west side of the country. Still, you can still get to the Caribe side by taking a bus (on the Autotransportes Caribeños line) from the Terminal Gran Caribe to Limón, and then transferring there to another bus south (the Mepe line). Or just go to the Mepe terminal in SJ for a direct bus to Puerto Viejo or any other place on the South Caribean coast. In short, do some research beforehand so you don't get lost looking for your bus. Often you can just call or email your final destination (e.g. your hotel) and they will tell you what bus to take, where to catch it and how often it runs. Schedules are available online.
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.
There are approximately 8 different national beers available (and most international), which are sold in cans, bottles and even kegs. The most common beers in the country are Pilsen and Imperial: all bars and restaurants serve both. Bavaria, "Bavaria Negra" (dark) and Bavaria Light are considered higher quality but more expensive, Rock Ice and Rock Ice Limón (lemon flavor) has a higher alcohol percentage. Heineken is locally made under license and is more expensive as well.
Visit the Sloth Sanctuary on the South Caribbean coast to see sloths in rehabilitation and overnight in a rainforest treehouse. Venture to Tortuguero to explore the jungle canals and see sloths in their natural habitat. Finally, head to the Arenal Volcano region to stay in a luxurious rainforest casita with a family of sloths living right on the property!
Independence: For most countries, this entry gives the date that sovereignty was achieved and from which nation, empire, or trusteeship. For the other countries, the date given may not represent "independence" in the strict sense, but rather some significant nationhood event such as the traditional founding date or the date of unification, federation, confederation, establishment, fundamental change in the form of government, or state succession. For a number of countries, the establishment of statehood . . . more
Stock of broad money: This entry covers all of "Narrow money," plus the total quantity of time and savings deposits, credit union deposits, institutional money market funds, short-term repurchase agreements between the central bank and commercial deposit banks, and other large liquid assets held by nonbank financial institutions, state and local governments, nonfinancial public enterprises, and the private sector of the economy. National currency units have been converted to US dollars at the closing exchange r . . . more
Or skip cash altogether. Every brick-and-mortar merchant we patronized, including hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Liberia, accepted major credit cards. Because they’re dollar-denominated at contemporaneous exchange rates, credit card transactions with foreign-transaction-fee-free cards are cheaper than cash transactions, which require withdrawals from ATMs charging 2% to 3% for the privilege. If you rent your own car and avoid the informal economy, you can get by without touching a paper note.
Combine adrenaline and relaxation as you view Arenal Volcano and soak in Baldi Hot Springs on this rejuvenating day trip from San Jose! Your expert local guide will pick you up at your hotel and take you to Arenal Volcano National Park. En route to La Fortuna, stop for approximately 30 minutes in the artisan town of Sarchi, where you’ll have an opportunity to admire the colorful oxcarts or shop for souvenirs.When you reach the park, experience the thundering Arenal Volcano from a safe viewing area. Since a major eruption in 1968, this stratovolcano has been one of the most active in Costa Rica, with mild and nearly continuous explosive activity from the conical crater, whose summit reaches an elevation of 5,436 feet (1,657 meters). As you watch for any lava flows, clouds of smoke or ash, your guide will share information about the park’s thermal features.After your thrilling show, enjoy a complimentary lunch at the Arenal Volcano Inn Resort or La Perla Restaurant. Spend your afternoon soaking in the region’s rejuvenating thermal baths and mineral pools at Baldi Hot Springs Hotel and Spa. This family-friendly spa consists of several therapeutic pools of varying temperature, allowing people of all ages to steep in relaxation.Later, enjoy a gourmet dinner under the stars at the hot springs and continue admiring one of the world's most active volcanoes!
If you fancy swimming under a genuine rainforest waterfall, you need to add the Nauyaca Waterfalls to your Costa Rica itinerary. Located in the South Pacific area of Costa Rica, the Nauyaca Waterfalls are pretty impressive – the main fall drops over 140 feet into a large water-carved pool, complimented by a second 60-foot tiered waterfall. In addition to the enormous main pool at the base of the falls, there are several other smaller pools where you can relax and enjoy the warm waters of the Rio Barucito. However, getting to the falls can be something of a challenge – you need to hike in and out –about 4miles each way or sign up for a horseback tour, which includes a genuine Costa Rican lunch.
Costa Rica has a long-existing love affair with chocolate; it has been used as drinks, dessert and even currency! There's no surprise that chocolate farm tours are among the best things to do in the country. Have yourself a piece — or more, if you wish — as you go wander into a garden of Cacao Trees. You may even get a chance to make chocolate with your own hands.
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.
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.
One thing is for certain about Costa Rica – the people are incredibly friendly. Costa Ricans or “Ticos” are happy to welcome you to their beautiful country, help you out, chat with you, and share their piece of paradise with visitors. We also found that most Ticos could speak English well too, but it certainly will help to pick up a few Spanish words.Here’s a small pocket phrasebook for your trip.
People come to Parque Nacional Braulio Carillo to hike, marvel at the Costa Rican jungle’s stunning biodiversity, and swim (if they’re feeling adventurous) in an alpine lagoon. The crown jewel is Barva, a 9,500-foot volcano cloaked in dense montane forests that change drastically as you ascend. Use the Barva Sector Ranger Station as a staging ground for easy summit hikes, like the 1.5-mile crater walk. Cacho de Venado trail, another quick high-altitude jaunt, is the best birdwatching spot in the park – if you’re lucky, you’ll see a rare quetzal.
Year-round tropical warmth means there really isn’t a bad time to visit Costa Rica. December to April are normally the driest months; however, Costa Rica’s diverse topography and blanket of rainforests suggest that you should be prepared for at least some rain - a very small price to pay for such incredibly lush scenery. The good news is that even during the rainiest of seasons, the rainfall tends to be limited to a couple of hours a day… just enough time for you to enjoy a cup of Costa Rica's world-renowned coffee in one of its many cafes. Temperatures vary with altitude, with San Jose's temperatures ranging between 15C and 21C and the coastal areas experiencing much warmer climes.
Of the GDP, 5.5% is generated by agriculture, 18.6% by industry and 75.9% by services.(2016) Agriculture employs 12.9% of the labor force, industry 18.57%, services 69.02% (2016) For the region, its unemployment level is moderately high (8.2% in 2016, according to the IMF). Although 20.5% of the population lives below the poverty line (2017), Costa Rica has one of the highest standards of living in Central America.