If you’re looking for drinks of the alcoholic variety, try guaro, a liquor made from sugar cane that’s best enjoyed in a guaro sour (with lime, simple syrup and soda). The craft beer scene is growing quickly here as well; look for microbrews from Costa Rica’s Craft Brewing Co., Lake Arenal Brewery, Treintaycinco and Volcano Brewing Co. In addition to being the hub of craft beer in Costa Rica, San Jose also has an up-and-coming food scene. Head to Barrio Escalante for the best gastropubs and hip restaurants.
Thanks to the variety of things to do in Costa Rica, visitors to Costa Rica have the benefit of being able to do so many different things in a single trip! A simple charter flight or ground transfer (just a few hours) can bring you somewhere completely new – with all different options! You want to go sport fishing, and then spend the rest of the vacation relaxing in geothermal hot springs and horseback riding? We can plan that! A rafting trip down the Pacuare River, then surf lessons for you and the kids? Done! With so many things to do in Costa Rica, the choice may be tough, but we’ve got over 30 years of experience just ready to help you out!
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!
While viewing pictures of Costa Rica, you will undoubtedly come across the iconic cone of Arenal Volcano with couples lovingly gazing into each other’s eyes and lounging in refreshing thermal springs. These natural wonders decorate the landscape outside of the towns of La Fortuna and Nuevo Arenal while inside the town, horses graze on the overgrown grasses of empty lots and spiny iguanas ramble in the bushes to enjoy the sunlight that pierces through the canopy.
Restaurants: San Jose is the epicenter of Costa Rica’s haute cuisine movement, such as it is. If you have room in your budget for a culinary splurge, I’d highly recommend doing it in San Jose rather than a beachfront or hot springs resort. You’ll have more choice and probably pay less. Of course, if your main goal is reducing your dining out budget, you can find plenty of cheap cafeteria-style eateries. We had great success with Google Maps.
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.
Warning: taxi drivers await incoming bus passengers at almost all terminals in San José. Many of them focus on foreigners and try to rip you off. They claim it is necessary to make a detour to reach your hotel or they offer to call your hotel and call a friend who says it is full. Then they offer you another hotel. The standard rip off fee is 50 USD or an invisible commission from another hotel. It is now (March 2017) almost a standard practice in San José. The police are aware of the problem, but do not address it effectively. Often hotels send warnings after you booked.
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).
Another popular waterfall in the country and one of the top places to visit in Costa Rica is the otherworldly Rio Celeste Waterfall. It’s situated in Tenorio Volcano National Park, in the northern region of Alajuela. The waterfall occurs where the Celeste River spills over a cliff and down into a waiting pool below. The freshwater river is an amazing blue color because of a chemical combination of sulfur and calcium carbonate, and as a result, sometimes the waterfall actually glows blue too as it tumbles down. It is a decent hike to get to the waterfall but well worth it for the stunning sight at the end. Tours of Rio Celeste can be booked online.
A 2016 report by the U.S. government report identifies the current challenges facing the education system, including the high dropout rate among high school students. The country needs even more workers who are fluent in English and languages such as Portuguese, Mandarin and French. It would also benefit from more graduates in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs, according to the report.[87]
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.
Our Extreme Adventure vacations can be summed up in two words – Game On! Imagine yourself in the jungle careening down raging whitewater rivers, rappelling rainforest waterfalls in giant canyons, or zipping at high speeds through the cloud forest canopy. We offer all this and so much more. Hold on tight as we take you for the ultimate challenge while visiting some of Costa Rica’s premier vacation destinations.
Costa Rica is home to more than 500,000 species with 300,000 of those insects. This staggering number represents nearly 4% of the total species estimated worldwide. That’s a whole lotta wildlife in one little country. Costa Rica is actually one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. No matter where you are in the country there are many amazing animals and birds to be found.
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.
Evergreen, meaning siempre verde in Spanish, reflects the Evergreen Lodge’s efforts to maintain and preserve their integral relationship with nature. The property is committed to protecting its natural environment through sustainable tourism. The lodge’s rustic cabins were strategically built to co-exist with the ecosystem of Tortuguero National Park. The rooms’ earth toned color palette make you feel a part of the jungle. The lush vegetation and exotic sounds of the wildlife will create an unforgettable rainforest lodge experience.
Just west of Parque Nacional Guanacaste is Parque Nacional Santa Rosa, probably the country’s second best place to experience a Pacific dry forest. Sadly, much of the original habitat was destroyed by intentionally set fires and replaced by imported a mix of cultivated and non-native plants; it’s been a long, mostly fruitless slog to get things back to the way they were.
Prices were accurate at the time we posted them. Sample prices were for a specific travel date and specific departure airport, as indicated. Your prices will vary according to departure cities and travel dates. We do not control prices (airlines and hotel reservation systems do). Prices may change dynamically and at times significantly numerous times during any given day.
If there is one thing that killed us (and our electronics) it was the humidity in Costa Rica. We found the humidity in Costa Rica particularly bad in the south, along with the coast, and pretty much anywhere away from the cloud forest. It was particularly hard to dry our clothes and keep them from not smelling and molding, but the real problem was with our electronics going haywire.

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.


In Costa Rica, education is both free and compulsory; as a result, it has one of the highest literacy rates in the western hemisphere. (Costa Rica also offers universal healthcare, which is a discussion for another time.) And since the primary industry here is tourism, many Ticos speak basic to fluent English, especially in touristy areas. That said, brushing up on your Spanish is a welcome courtesy, and making an effort will earn you friends wherever you go—even if all you learn to say is "pura vida."
Most hotels, as well as tourist information centers, will provide bird watching guides, maps and other essentials for bird watching. Unless you are an experienced neo-tropical birder, it can be a lot more productive to go out with an experienced birding guide. Do not forget to bring a hat, rain gear, boots, binoculars and camera. In hot areas, an umbrella can be more useful than a poncho or jacket. Southern Costa Rica is generally considered the better option for bird watching.
We understand the importance of providing high value Costa Rica Travel services for our clients and therefore we’ve negotiated the best deals from hotels and resorts to river rafting, zip lining and para-sailing tours. Every hotel or resort listed on our site has been experienced by at least one of our travel experts in order to ensure all live up to the high standards our clientele have come to expect from CRV.
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.

Few tourists make it this far down the peninsula, so you’ll have whatever beach or trail you choose to explore to yourself. Just don’t expect any true stunners: the closest broad beach is Playa Carmen, up the road a few miles. Stay the night at Hotel Vista de Olas or Hotel Moana, both rustic but comfortable properties within walking distance of the shore.

Activities – Entrance into most national parks is usually around 5,500 CRC (10 USD) with discounts available for students. Canopy tours and day trips are around 25,000 CRC (40 USD). A two tank dive can be between 30,000-53,325 CRC (55-90 USD). Surf lessons start around 11,000 CRC (20 USD) per hour. There are also lots of surf camps where you can spend the week learning how to surf (or honing your skills if you already know how to). Prices vary widely, though expect to pay at least 25,000 CRC (40 USD) for a week.
A money belt with your passport, cash, credit/debit cards and ticket (bus or plane) is a good way to carry your travel documents. Even if all your other belongings are stolen, you would still be able to get to your next destination. The waist belts are best; a neck pouch can be lifted while you are asleep. A thief would really have to disturb you and your personal space to get a waist belt.
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.
Tourism plays a vital role in the economic growth of Costa Rica.  There is an official tourism board to oversee this, the ICT.  Costa Rica also recognizes the importance of sustainable tourism, which is a primary purpose of the ICT.  Recognizing the importance of sustainable tourism, the country has dedicated over 25% of the land to national parks and protected refuges.  This will ensure not only the protection of endangered wildlife and rainforest, but also leave this treasure for generations to come.
The cooler climate and moss-strewn trees provide perfect nesting grounds for the rare and endangered resplendent quetzal. The smaller, yet equally majestic neighbor to Monteverde Cloud Forest is Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve, which overtakes 765 acres. The less-visited terrain contains trails that lead through the hanging vines as vegetation drips with moisture from the passing clouds. Guided tours in the region include suspension bridges, zip lines, butterfly gardens, nature walks and horseback riding.

Few tourists make it this far down the peninsula, so you’ll have whatever beach or trail you choose to explore to yourself. Just don’t expect any true stunners: the closest broad beach is Playa Carmen, up the road a few miles. Stay the night at Hotel Vista de Olas or Hotel Moana, both rustic but comfortable properties within walking distance of the shore.


"We felt great joining the Costa Rica tour. The tour guide was fun and extremely accommodating and the hotels are superb in service and uniqueness. The activities in Hacienda Guachipelin were fantastic and and the Villas Playa Samara is truly a beach paradise. All the sceneries on the tour were beautiful, the wildlife were also astounding. We got more than what we bargained for. We had a great experience and we will definitely do it again."
109 different mammals and 184 different bird species populate the combination of evergreen, primary, and secondary, along with the mangrove studded lagoons and canals. Dolphins swim in the calm Pacific often performing for passing boats while humpback, pseudo-orca, and pilot whales travel near the edges of the park between August to October, and again between December and April. Night hikes in the rainforest reveal red-eyed tree frogs and night owl monkeys. Other celebrated activities around the national park include sunset cruising, scuba diving, a visit to Damas Island, zip lining and sea kayaking.

Most Costa Rican coffee tours cover a single plantation, though it’s possible to string together several stops, just as in wine country, if variety is a priority. Each tour includes a walk through the plantation’s fields, a discussion of local coffee history and terroir, and a look at the processing facilities that turn coffee fruits into liquid enthusiasm. Fresh-made coffee is almost always available. Some tours allow participants to pick raw coffee fruits as souvenirs, depending on the season.

This book gives a fascinating overview of how animals, plants, and people interact with one another in Costa Rica’s rainforests. It’s written by Jack Ewing, a naturalist and natural born storyteller. Here, he shares a treasure trove of observations and stories gathered for more than 30 years of living in the country. Chances are, you’re coming to Costa Rica to discover some of the country’s amazing ecosystems. This book will get you excited about it.
Costa Rica is located on the Central American isthmus, lying between latitudes 8° and 12°N, and longitudes 82° and 86°W. It borders the Caribbean Sea (to the east) and the Pacific Ocean (to the west), with a total of 1,290 kilometres (800 mi) of coastline, 212 km (132 mi) on the Caribbean coast and 1,016 km (631 mi) on the Pacific. Costa Rica also borders Nicaragua to the north (309 km or 192 mi of border) and Panama to the south-southeast (330 km or 210 mi of border). In total, Costa Rica comprises 51,100 square kilometres (19,700 sq mi) plus 589 square kilometres (227 sq mi) of territorial waters.
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