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.
Eating and shopping at a local farm or marketplace is one of the coolest things to do in Costa Rica thanks to the country’s dedication to ecotourism. You’ll come away with more than just souvenirs, thanks to educational experiences at farms like Corso Lecheria and friendly vendors at San Jose’s Central Market. Taste fruit you’ve never seen (let alone tasted) at markets—don’t miss the chance to try cas, mamon, soursop, and water apple, or to simply stock up on fresh bananas, papayas, and mangos.
Still, Parque Nacional Santa Rosa teems with drought-hardy lowland-dwelling wildlife, including adorable spider monkeys. Other biomes abound too, including slightly moister deciduous forests and beautiful beaches that shelter a variety of tidal zone fauna. And Santa Rosa features a rare site of military significance in a pacifist country without a standing army: the plantation at which Costa Rican forces made a successful stand against American mercenary William Walker, a mid-19th century Bond villain who dreamed of turning this part of Central America into an English-speaking capitalist utopia.
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.
Costa Rica is smoke-free, with lighting up prohibited in all public buildings. That takes in all businesses, so the law governs bars and restaurants too. The smoking ban also includes your hotel room and all public areas, indoors and outdoors, of all lodgings. You’ll see the red, white, and black PROHIBIDO FUMAR signs everywhere. Compliance is good; fines are steep for both the errant smoker and the business.
Due to the condition of most roads outside San Jose, car insurance, even with a zero-deductible option, generally does not cover tires and rims. Car rental companies require a guaranty deposit from USD750 during the rental period and a credit card is necessary for this process. Using an insurance program provided by some types of gold or platinum credit cards is a good advantage, since these credit cards would cover small scratches, small dents as well as the entire rented vehicle in case of collision or theft.
Costa Rica has one of the highest levels of social care in the world. Its doctors are known worldwide as some of the best. Many people from U.S, Canada and Europe go there to be treated, not only because the quality of the service but for the cost. First class Hospitals can be found in the capital. There is a public/private hospital system. There is excellent care in each. The public system has much longer waits, while the private system has shorter waits. If you are unfortunate enough to have a very sick child requiring hospitalization, the child will be transferred to the only children's hospital in CR, located in the capital. This children's hospital is public.
One of the reasons Costa Rica has so many varied activities is thanks to the variety of the country itself! Costa Rica is considered a tropical country, but it features its own plethora of microclimates. Each of these destinations – which might be separated by only a few hours of driving – feature their own unique and unforgettable adventures. There are hot springs tucked away in lush rainforests, hanging bridges over misty cloud forests, palm-tree studded white-sand beaches, dramatic seaside cliffs, the arid rolling hills of Guanacaste – there’s no end to the experiences! Visit Arenal Volcano and wonder at a massive volcano and surrounding verdant rainforest, and then the next day you might find yourself only a few hours away relaxing on Papagayo’s white sand beaches, watching the kids stand-up paddleboard, or kayaking among the mangrove jungles of Tortuguero. When asked about favorite activities, each of our Travel Experts’ has a different answer – or multiple! Picking and choosing what to experience in Costa Rica can be a trial just thanks to the number of options, but our Travel Experts are happy to help you plan your perfect escape!
The trip was amazing! We had such a great time. Gate1 had everything organized and ready to go down to the rest stops! Loved it! Our guide Ricardo was so fantastic! He had so much knowledge about all the places we visited, made jokes, and really just took an interest to his job and we could tell he wanted us to have a great experience. We enjoyed the optional excursions (we did all) and also the planned trips (coffee plantation and school visit). Amazing trip, met amazing people. Will travel with Gate1 again!
Never participate in adventure sports alone. Always carry identification and let others know where you are at all times. Before kayaking and rafting, check river conditions and wear a life jacket and helmet. Even popular rafting locations such as the Rio Naranjo near Quepos can become extremely dangerous in flash flood conditions. When hiking, rappelling, or climbing, carry a first aid kit and know the location of the nearest rescue center. Observe all local or park regulations and exercise caution in unfamiliar surroundings.
On 1 June 2007, Costa Rica broke diplomatic ties with Taiwan, switching recognition to the People's Republic of China. Costa Rica was the first of the Central American nations to do so. President Óscar Arias Sánchez admitted the action was a response to economic exigency. In response, the PRC built a new, $100 million, state-of-the-art football stadium in Parque la Sabana, in the province of San José. Approximately 600 Chinese engineers and laborers took part in this project, and it was inaugurated in March 2011, with a match between the national teams of Costa Rica and China.
The marvelous biodiversity is amplified with a wealth of agriculture as the warm, fertile soils and abundant minerals are present amidst an average rainfall of more than 13 inches a year. Guanacaste, a large producer of Brahman cattle, sugar cane, cotton, and rice, receives irrigated water from Lake Arenal during the dry season. The use of irrigation has allowed farms in the more arid regions across Costa Rica to farm crops that are usually found in wetter, tropical areas, such as pineapple, mangos, bananas, and sugar cane. An abundance of wild fruits grows along the roadside, such as cashew fruits, mangoes, papaya, and guava. However, plantations fill the markets both large and small, from tiny villages near the Caribbean to the megastores of San Jose.
Costa Rica’s capital is located in the center of the country making it a great hub. Overall, the city only requires a few days. It’s sort of gritty and there’s not a whole lot to do. Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art & Design to check out the future of Costa Rican art, the magnificent Teatro Nacional to take in its décor, and the history museum located in the town center too.
High quality health care is provided by the government at low cost to the users. Housing is also very affordable. Costa Rica is recognized in Latin America for the quality of its educational system. Because of its educational system, Costa Rica has one of the highest literacy rates in Latin America, 97%. General Basic Education is mandatory and provided without cost to the user. A US government report confirms that the country has "historically placed a high priority on education and the creation of a skilled work force" but notes that the high school drop-out rate is increasing. As well, Costa Rica would benefit from more courses in languages such as English, Portuguese, Mandarin and French and also in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).
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.
Health expenditures: This entry provides the total expenditure on health as a percentage of GDP. Health expenditures are broadly defined as activities performed either by institutions or individuals through the application of medical, paramedical, and/or nursing knowledge and technology, the primary purpose of which is to promote, restore, or maintain health.
The best way to get the most out of your Costa Rica, Panama, or Nicaragua adventure is with a guided tour! An experienced naturalist is a must for any bird or wildlife watching trip – natural camouflage in addition to the dense rainforest undergrowth makes animal spotting tough. With the help of a bilingual guide, travelers might be lucky enough to spot some of Costa Rica’s shyer wildlife – like the near-mythical Resplendent Quetzal, the surprisingly sneaky tapir, or the ever-elusive jaguar.
There are so many things to do and see while in Costa Rica that it is impossible cram it all into one trip. Fortunately, Costa Rica is so fabulous that you will definitely want to return more than once. Between national parks, volcanoes, waterfalls, rainforests, cloud forests, underground cave systems, more than 300 beaches, hot springs, animal sanctuaries, exquisite diving destinations, and adventure parks, there is always something new and exciting to do. With so many intriguing options, it is helpful to know what some of the best and must-visit attractions are.
Why spend long hours trying to plan for yourself, stressed out by info overload? RELAX and let our travel agency handle the details. Our 100% local experts live, work and play right here and have decades of combined experience seeking out the best places in Costa Rica to visit. We will answer your questions and make the travel planning process easy and enjoyable. Make this trip THE best vacation you have ever had…You Deserve It!
Nature lovers can explore over 100 national parks, reserves, refuges and protected lands - which makes up about 25 percent of the country's land. Catch site of a scarlet macaw in Corcovado National Park, hang out with mantled howler monkeys at Manuel Antonio National Park or get lost in the beauty of native magnolias in Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.
Oh how we love truchas! This is one of those hidden gems of Costa Rica that most tourists don’t experience, but totally should. The concept is you go to a place with a small freshwater lake. An employee will give you a line with a little piece of bait on the end. You then stand around the lake and try to catch a fish (usually trout). Once you catch a fish for every person in your group you will go into the restaurant located on the property and they will cook up your fish for you.
You don't want to worry about nothing but having time to relax in front of a white sand beach? One all-inclusive package is your answer. As we know, sometimes the idea of a vacation is to do nothing more than sunbathing, so we have prepared the best options taking into account the best deals. Booking internal flights that save you time and the best resorts that will add some luxury to your vacations.
Costa Rica is a country with an extraordinary wealth of things to do, but regardless of your travel interests, you're going to want to spend time at one of the country's great beaches. The lion's share of beach tourism is concentrated on the Pacific side, in the Central Pacific region near San José, the Nicoya Peninsula, and in the dry tropical forests of Guanacaste. Less touristed, but no less beautiful are the beaches in the tropical rainforest of the southern Pacific coast near Corcovado National Park, or on the exotic, rastafarian, eco-tourism paradise of the Caribbean side.
For Americans, tipping is a part of daily life and therefore follows travelers to countries around the world. Tipping might not apply to all Costa Rica customs, but there are moments when a tip is considered appropriate. Restaurants already add a 10 percent tip to any bill. As a rule, Costa Ricans do not tip servers in restaurants unless they feel the service went above and beyond the percentage attached to the bill. Cab drivers do not receive tips, but hotel attendants who help carry luggage to the rooms should receive a tip between one and two dollars per bag. Naturalist, local, and river guides could receive ten percent of the service or between five to 10 dollars per person, depending on how you feel about the tour, guide, and the service provided.
Costa Rica is home to six active volcanoes, a few of which are safe enough to be widely popular for hikes. Trek to Poas Volcano’s steaming blue crater pool, visible from a lookout point at its namesake national park; or explore Arenal Volcano’s biodiverse foothills formed by lava flows. The most accessible volcano, Irazu, is ringed in a cloud forest that’s accessible by car–it’s also the most visited national park in Costa Rica.
Pure Life Adventure presents an awesome opportunity to pick your adventure preferences while visiting the Arenal Volcano area, complete with river and rainforest activities, plus onsite hot springs at your resort! Then you’ll be off to the Pacific coast to go beachcombing along the white sandy shores of Manuel Antonio Beach. This is an incredibly affordable package that will take you to two of the top three destinations in Costa Rica. And, if you want, you can choose to extend your itinerary to add the third most popular tourist area, the Monteverde Cloud Forest! You’ll enjoy great hotels, incredible tours, beautiful beaches and soothing hot springs on this wonderful 7-day Pura Vida adventure combo. (Pure Life Adventure + Monteverde) that includes a couple of days at the Monteverde Cloud Forest.
Argentina Vacations: Buenos Aires, Iguazu Falls, El Calafate - Lago Argentino | Belize Vacations: Ambergris Caye, Placencia, San Ignacio | Brazil Vacations: Rio de Janeiro, Iguassu Falls, Salvador da Bahia | Chile Vacations: Santiago, Torres del Paine, Puerto Varas | Colombia Vacations: Cartagena, Santa Marta, Bogota | Costa Rica Vacations: Arenal Volcano, Monteverde Cloud Forest, Guanacaste Beaches - Liberia | Ecuador and Galapagos Vacations: Galapagos Islands, Quito, Guayaquil | Guatemala Vacations: Antigua, Flores - Tikal, Chichicastenango | Honduras Vacations: Roatan, Copan, La Ceiba - Pico Bonito | Mexico Vacations: Mexico City, Oaxaca, San Cristobal de las Casas | Panama Vacations: Panama City - Canal, Soberania National Park, Boquete - Chiriqui | Peru Vacations: Machu Picchu, Cuzco, Lima City, Sacred Valley | Uruguay Vacations: Montevideo, Punta del Este, Colonia
English was more prevalent in the touristy areas we visited, notably the northwestern beaches and the Monteverde area. We had the most trouble in the least touristy areas. In Tilaran, the couple who ran our hotel relied for English-language help entirely on a younger employee who’d previously worked at a call center. The Rincon de la Vieja area was more remote than Tilaran, of course, but our resort catered mostly to English-speaking tourists and most staff communicated accordingly.
San José, August 20, 2018 The U.S. Embassy has received information about a possible immigration protest today at 4:00 PM in downtown San Jose in the areas of Parque La Merced, Central Park, Plaza de la Democracia, and/or Parque Nacional. The Embassy encourages U.S. citizens to monitor local media for updates. The majority of protests in Costa ...
Our Learning and Family vacations provide an enormous outdoor biological classroom to explore both geological wonders as well as the rich diversity of wild plant and animal life. What better place than Costa Rica for you to engage in fun, meaningful activities together? Throw in a caving tour or zip-lining over a river canyon for added thrills. We provide the best bilingual naturalist guides to ensure you don’t miss a thing as you explore this amazing country and culture.
This sustainable Costa Rica hotel is typical of San Jose colonial hacienda architecture and offers spacious, comfortable guestrooms and suites with the latest amenities. Enjoy total convenience in its location, personalized services, delicious cuisine, and facilities like the pool and fitness center. Let the friendly staff help you relax while catering to your needs and helping you see all that Costa Rica has to offer.
It is easy to fall in love with the beauty, and the relaxed pace of Costa Rica captures a wealth of cultural and natural histories that spread from Guanacaste to San Jose, Tortuguero to the Osa Peninsula. Your introduction to Costa Rica will provide easy to access, practical information that will better acquaint you with everything from the must-do activities and sites to visa questions, pre-trip healthcare worries, and the hidden wonders of Central America’s most exciting destination. Put your mind at ease over the Zicasso planning process and embrace the excitement of your dream Costa Rica tour.
Hi Debby, public transportation from San Jose is pretty great actually since they have the main bus stations in the city and you can get to pretty much anywhere in Costa Rica from San Jose. You can read our tips for taking the bus here: Public transportation in Costa Rica . As for where to stay, a hostel is great for solo travelers and you can find a bunch in both San Jose and Manuel Antonio. I heard the pura vida hostel in Manuel Antonio is pretty awesome as well as Vista Serena.
Envision describes itself as “a platform for different cultures to coexist in sustainable community, and inspire one another through art, spirituality, yoga, music, dance, performance, education, sustainability, and our fundamental connection with nature.” The festival features more than 60 musical performers, non-musical performance artists on display around the clock, world-class yogis, body healing workshops, static and dynamic art installations (art is truly everywhere you look), and much more. Dozens of composting toilets, zero landfill waste of any kind distributed, biodegradable disposables such as plates and utensils, and other sustainable initiatives set Envision apart from more wasteful events of its scale. Consider attending even if this type of environment is outside of your comfort zone; it can be a truly transformative experience that will stay with you forever.
Make conversation with locals on the bus so that they can see that you are competent in Spanish and comfortable in the Spanish speaking environment. (You'll enjoy yourself plus this may make them feel friendly towards you and more willing to alert you if someone is snooping in your stuff. Or it might warn them that if they steal from you, you will talk to the bus driver and police and make a full report.) Even some Spanish is better than none – use what you have! It's great practice and the more you improve the safer you'll be!
The location receiving the most rain is the Caribbean slopes of the Cordillera Central mountains, with an annual rainfall of over 5,000 mm (196.9 in). 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 (81 °F), 20 °C (68 °F) in the main populated areas of the Cordillera Central, and below 10 °C (50 °F) on the summits of the highest mountains.