In 2008, San Lucas Island was declared a national wildlife preserve, but prior to that – between 1873–1991 – it was the most feared prison in Costa Rica. For those interested in eerie pasts and landmarks, this is an interesting historical site. The old prison still sits on this island. San Lucas Island is located off the coast of Puntarenas and is accessible by boat. When walking around this island, it is common to see white-tailed deer, armadillos, boa constrictors, pythons, raccoons and pigs, along with 40 species of birds. There are also five pristine beaches on the island that you can explore. For being such a haunted place in the past, this island is full of life and beauty now.
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.
This unofficial motto helps explain many other facets of Costa Rican culture. Costa Ricans (or Ticos and Ticas) are known for their laid-back demeanour, happy outlook and conflict-averse nature. In fact, peace is so highly valued here that they have no standing army. It was abolished in 1949 with all funds reallocated to create an “army” of teachers instead. It follows that education is also highly valued here. Primary and secondary school is mandatory and free for all, resulting in a 97% literacy rate.
Literacy: This entry includes a definition of literacy and Census Bureau percentages for the total population, males, and females. There are no universal definitions and standards of literacy. Unless otherwise specified, all rates are based on the most common definition - the ability to read and write at a specified age. Detailing the standards that individual countries use to assess the ability to read and write is beyond the scope of the Factbook. Information on literacy, while not a perfect measu . . . more
Loved this article and all the tips. We are planning to take our 3 children (11, 7, and 5) and will be traveling with another family that has 3 children similar ages, in April. We are looking into renting a house. We found one located in the Tango Mar Resort near the peninsula. None of us have been to Costa Rica so if you have any suggestions or maybe a better recommendation for places to stay please let me know! Thanks!
Costa Rica’s fauna are one of the many reasons people visit from all over the world. Sitting where the South and North American continents seem to overlap, Costa Rica experiences the best of both worlds, with a variety of animal and bird species that can be found nowhere else. Descriptions don’t do it justice! Head into one of Costa Rica’s cloud forests to check a hundred or so species off your bird-watching list. Visit the Tarcoles River and watch (from a safe distance!) the massive crocodiles that lurk under the surface. Plan a trip to Tortuguero during turtle-nesting, and view one of nature’s most amazing events – hundreds of sea turtles coming ashore on the same beach in a single night to lay their eggs. A single trip is never enough to see all the wonders Costa Rica has to offer.
Three volcanoes, two near San Jose and one in the northwest, have become more active in recent years. Ashfall due to volcanic eruptions from Turrialba can disrupt air traffic and cause or aggravate respiratory issues. Visitors should monitor and follow park service guidance and alerts regarding volcanic activity. Never attempt to climb or gain unauthorized access to an active volcano.
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.
Accommodation – Hostel dorm beds are between 5,500 to 10,000 CRC (10-15 USD) per night. Private rooms in hostels are usually around 15,000 CRC (25 USD). Free WiFi is standard, and most hostels also include free breakfast. The majority of hostels around the country also offer self-catering facilities, too. Budget hotels begin around 17,000 CRC (30 USD) per night for a double/twin room and go up from there (breakfast is often included). For Airbnb, shared accommodation usually begins around 15,000 CRC (25 USD) per night. For an entire home or apartment, expect to pay around 25,000 CRC (40 USD) per night. For those traveling with a tent, camping is an option. Most campgrounds usually charge 5,500 CRC (10 USD) per night though you’ll pay up to double that for camping in national parks.
Administrative divisions: This entry generally gives the numbers, designatory terms, and first-order administrative divisions as approved by the US Board on Geographic Names (BGN). Changes that have been reported but not yet acted on by the BGN are noted. Geographic names conform to spellings approved by the BGN with the exception of the omission of diacritical marks and special characters.
You can’t leave Costa Rica without experiencing its two most famous and delicious exports: coffee and chocolate. Costa Rica’s government allows only high-quality Arabica beans to grow on coffee plantations, meaning you should get yourself to a cupping session (read: coffee tasting) to taste this famous export and learn all about coffee growing, roasting, and brewing.
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.
Tortuguero National Park protects more than 46,800 acres of pristine habitat, including 20 miles of coastline on which Olive Ridley, leatherback, loggerhead, and hawksbill turtles hatch. A surprising addition to the diversity of the protected waters’ is the West Indian manatee, which populates shallow estuaries near open water. Traveling in Tortuguero feels more akin to the raw wonders of the Amazon as the park is home to over 300 species of birds, along with jaguars, spotted caiman, boa constrictors, and common tink frogs.
It is important to remember when in conversation with locals that the official religion of the country is Roman Catholic, accounting for approximately 70 percent of the population. Maintain direct eye contact when speaking, for it is a sign of respect and considered polite. A point of pride for many Ticos is the absence of an army. Costa Rica gained the nickname “Switzerland of the Americas,” after the abolition of the army in 1948, choosing instead to fund conservation, teacher training, and higher education, which the latter two have bared fruit in a literacy rate of 96 percent.
Since the late 1980s Costa Rica became a popular nature travel destination, and its main competitive advantage is its well-established system of national parks and protected areas, covering around 23.4% of the country's land area, the largest in the world as a percentage of the country's territory, and home to a rich variety of flora and fauna, in a country that has only 0.03% of the world's landmass, but that is estimated to contain 5% of the world's biodiversity. The country also has plenty of world renowned beaches, both in the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, within short travel distances between both coasts both by air and land, and also several active volcanoes that can be visited with safety.
Costa Rica was facing a market liquidity crisis in 2017 due to a growing debt and budget deficit. By August 2017, the Treasury was having difficulty paying its obligations. Other challenges facing the country in its attempts to improve the economy by increasing foreign investment include a poor infrastructure and a need to improve public sector efficiency.