It is not realistic (or enjoyable) to be traveling a minimum of 7 hours for a day trip. If a week is all you have, come to terms with the fact that you won’t see it all and treat it like a little sneak preview. If you do have a limited time and want to make the most of it, check out our Costa Rica articles for loads of ideas. The Top 10 things To Do in Costa Rica will give you the ‘must-do’s’ for your trip and you can take your pick.

Southwest Airlines offers routes that fly into both San Jose (the capital, smack-dab in the middle of the country, close to popular tourist areas like Punta Arenas) and Liberia (a small town in the north that offers a quick means of getting to the beautiful Nicoya Peninsula). Both are non-stop flights, both take around three-and-a-half hours, and both cost around $350 round-trip. And once you're here, lodging can be found at every price point, from tidy hostels for $30 a night, boutique hotels for $90, or flat-out luxury resorts where you're treated like royalty for $200.
Due to the insurance, the price you see online is a lot more expensive than you may think, we suggest adding the insurance on to your booking to ensure you aren’t met with a surprise cost addition when you land in Costa Rica. For 25 days we were able to get a small 4×4 for $436 from Alamo and had a great experience. Read more about renting a car abroad here. 
Discover Costa Rica delights travelers seeking to explore the highlights of Costa Rica by visiting 3 strikingly different areas, Arenal Volcano, Monteverde Cloud Forest, and the beautiful pink beach at Playa Conchal. Along the way, you’ll have a choice of exciting activities that can turn it into an action-packed adventure, or make it an enlightening safari, or simply choose to enjoy a perfect balance of both. This 9-day vacation combination culminates with some restful ME TIME at a luxurious all-inclusive beach resort.

Pick the most middle of nowhere destination you can find within an hour of wherever you are and plunk down $1.50 for a round trip chicken bus ticket.  You may meet some real characters or see a tree full of toucans along the way.  You may end up watching a soccer match, exploring a unique cemetery, or finding out what an old fashioned cattle roundup and branding is like.
All the way back in the 80’s the first boom of ecotourism began in Costa Rica. Travelers began to learn of the country’s wealth of natural flora and fauna and acted fast to preserve. As tourism dollars continued to come in the Costa Ricans were quick to fall in step and preserve the beauty of their country. It’s now trickled down to almost every level, we even found small soda shops (local restaurants) using biodegradable straws and ditching styrofoam take away.
“I very much appreciate the professional manner that we were treated. I am a travel agent, and working in this industry can sometimes be a thankless job, therefore when I am treated with respect, I try to acknowledge. We are truly grateful to Caravan and our tour director for being so accommodating. I can guarantee you that I will be selling Caravan tours enthusiastically in the future! Our tour director’s knowledge and passion for his country is so evident by the way he describes customs, culture, education, wildlife among many other things. All of the sightseeing, I loved every minute of it, great activities and some free time.”

Another way to get to Costa Rica that many people are unaware of is travelling by car and driving the Pan-American highway that stretches from Alaska all the way to Southern Panama and passes right through Costa Rica. If you enter Costa Rica by car, crossing the border with Nicaragua at Peñas Blancas, expect it to take 3-6 hours. All passengers have to leave the car with their luggage and pass it through a scanner, the car and driver goes through a different scanner, you line up for passport control, fill in several forms for the car, find an official who stamps and signs every form etc. Everything is chaotic, totally inefficient and obviously corrupt. The procedure is repeated on the other side of the border. Take note that a car insurance, written in Spanish and mentioning explicitly that it is valid for Costa Rica, will not be accepted, you have to buy a new one and pay 37 dollars.
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 

Our Sport Fishing Adventures will cast you into waters where numerous record billfish have been caught off the Pacific side and huge tarpon regularly reeled in off the Caribbean coast. Lake Arenal provides a freshwater hot spot for the elusive (and delicious!) Guapote. Costa Rica is home to some of the best sport fishing in the world. We utilize only the best captains plus top of the line equipment and boats for our famed fishing expeditions.

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.

So when you’re trying to get your money together, don’t stress too much about exchanging it all beforehand as it’s not 100% necessary if you live in the US. You can use dollars in pretty much every touristic destination and they will give you your change back in colones. If you are Canadian however, it will be better for you to have colones due to the Canadian dollar and USD exchange rate. Ask the hotels or tour companies if you can pay in colones instead.


The traditional flavors of Costa Rica are typical of Central America and utilize rice and beans for the most common dish known as gallo pinto.  A customary breakfast consists of fried eggs or meat paired with the rice and beans while gallo pinto is often used as a side dish at lunch or dinner as well, accompanied by a small salad, meat or fish, and possibly fried plantains. The latter combination of dishes is known as casado, referring to the marriage of ingredients. Casados and gallo pinto are known in Costa Rica as “typical food,” comida tipica.
Zicasso's network of Costa Rica travel agents and specialists are considered to be among the industry's top 10%, and have been personally vetted through a detailed screening process for their level of knowledge, expertise and reputation. Based on the positive feedback of Zicasso's clients and the endorsements of our top travel specialists, a highly selective group of accommodations have been recognized with Zicasso's Top Travel Specialist's Choice Award, which can often be found on the hotels' websites.

My boyfriend and I are going to Costa Rica the first week of April. We’re going for ten days and are hopping from San Jose to Manuel Antonio National Park, La Fortuna, and finally the coast for beautiful beaches. As for La Fortuna, I’ve noticed that both the Waterfall and Arenal closes at 4pm. What do you recommend for activities after 4pm? Also, which beach do you recommend going first?
Magic Mountain Hotel and Spa is located on the northern end of Fortuna. All rooms have either a balcony or a terrace with a view of Arenal Volcano. Magic Mountain has a restaurant, sports bar, swimming pool with pool bar and two jacuzzis. The deluxe spa specializes in a variety of treatments including volcanic mud wraps, massages, facials, pedicures and manicures. Internet access is available in the Internet cafes for a fee in the nearby village of Fortuna.
Although this nation encapsulates a mere 51,100 square kilometers, Costa Rica's biodiversity could fill an entire continent. Encompassing 12 distinct ecological zones, Ticos are well aware of their natural treasures: it is on its way to becoming the first carbon neutral nation by 2021. Costa Rica is home to 5 percent of the world's biodiversity, and locals are serious about protecting this magnificent environment.

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!


Costa Rica, which means "rich coast," is a popular destination for wildlife enthusiasts and ecotourists, and is home to a stunning variety of exotic plants and animals. In fact, some of the world's rarest and most endangered species can be found here. The landscapes and scenery of this small nation is almost as varied as the wildlife. From stunning beaches to dense jungles, Costa Rica has it all.
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.

Planning a vacation to a foreign country, especially in Central America, can be stressful and time-consuming, especially when you don’t know the language or where to go. We help make it easy for you by creating custom Costa Rica travel packages to fit your interests and budget. We will work with you to make your travel itinerary perfect. Best of all, we charge NO FEE for our services and can help you SAVE MONEY while getting the most out of your time here. We hope you enjoy our Costa Rica Travel page and perhaps we’ll see you in tropical paradise. Get your custom itinerary today!
The good news is that there is a brand new highway known as Autopista Del Sol (Highway of the Sun) that stretches from the beaches around Orotina all the way into San Jose. This highway is smooth as U.S. or European highways, in fact it was constructed by a company that is based in Spain. There are tolls along this highway but if you travel the entire stretch it will still only come out to be a few dollars in total. 2011 update: unfortunately, problems have been found with this highway and parts of it are sometimes closed for repairs.
Hi Mickey, I recommend reading this post: Best places in Costa Rica for first timers to help decide which destinations to go to (I list how long it takes to get there from both airports, things to do and convenience). Costa Rica is very family friendly and there’s a lot to do everywhere but for your specific requests, I’d look into Gulf of Papagayo (families love Playas del Coco and Playa Panama) as you’re close to beaches, volcanoes and hiking and there’s great seafood of course.
Don’t let the high likelihood of rain dampen your spirits though. Tapanti boasts a slew of plant and animal species not found anywhere else, including newly discovered miniature orchid species smaller than 5 millimeters (less than one-fifth of an inch). Expect to pay $10 per person, per day, to enter. If you want to fish in any of the dozens of rivers here, you can buy a permit (cost varies) at the visitor center.
More than the wide variety of coastal tours in Costa Rica, however, is the draw of the quality of these adventures! Costa Rica is dedicated to providing a pristine environment for thrill-seekers of any kind, and the beaches are of noticeable importance. The Blue Flag Ecological Program tracks beach cleanliness, safety, and community outreach annually – a beach that has been awarded the Ecological Blue Flag is a good bet!

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.


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!

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.
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List – Costa Rica does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so; anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts declined in 2014, with fewer prosecutions and no convictions and no actions taken against complicit government personnel; some officials conflated trafficking with smuggling, and authorities reported the diversion of funds to combat smuggling hindered anti-trafficking efforts; the government identified more victims than the previous year but did not make progress in ensuring that victims received adequate protective services; specialized services were limited and mostly provided by NGOs without government support, even from a dedicated fund for anti-trafficking efforts; victims services were virtually non-existent outside of the capital (2015)
Costa Rica has free trade agreements with many countries, including the US. There are no significant trade barriers that would affect imports and the country has been lowering its tariffs in accordance with other Central American countries.[96] The country's Free Trade Zones provide incentives for manufacturing and service industries to operate in Costa Rica. In 2015, the zones supported over 82 thousand direct jobs and 43 thousand indirect jobs in 2015 and average wages in the FTZ were 1.8 times greater than the average for private enterprise work in the rest of the country.[80] In 2016, Amazon.com for example, had some 3,500 employees in Costa Rica and planned to increase that by 1,500 in 2017, making it an important employer.[9]
An eco-tourist's dream, Costa Rica has become synonymous with all an unspoiled tropical paradise can be. Rarely does reality measure up to hype, but Costa Rica certainly comes close. The country's quiet history as a backwater free of colonial excesses has today become a boon, and Costa Rica has cashed in on its purity. And not without merit: blessed with beaches and biodiversity, this is a verdant land of misty volcanoes, roaring rivers, and lush jungles teeming with exotic fauna. Throw in the friendly, educated Ticos (as Costa Ricans are known) and you can see why down here they call it Pura Vida – "pure life."
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.
Hello! Thanks for the wonderful advice. I will be studying abroad in Costa Rica January through April. I will primarily be in Heredia but will be traveling throughout the country as well. Several packing lists recommended trial runners or hiking boots. I do not have either but have considered purchasing a pair if it is worth my while. I will be packing in a large checked bag a carry on duffle and a backpack so light weight is a priority, I certainly plan on bringing my chacos. Is it redundant to bring keens as well? Do I need hiking shoes that cover my ankles? Also is it safe to go for a jog/run in most cities.
Instead we paid about $35 each to stay at Heliconias, walk out the door of our cabin to the bridges whenever we wanted day and night, and used their private trail to cross the reserve to Tenorio National Park and continue up to Lago Danta (which you can’t even reach from the main paid park entrance).  A total of $280 for two nights lodging plus $0 for activities for the four of us.
Everything gets cheaper in Costa Rica during the rainy season. That means that traveling between the middle of May and the beginning of December is the best time to get cheaper hotel rates and discounted tours. You also won’t have to deal with crazy crowds. The only downside to traveling at this time is you will be forced to combat the rain. Depending on where you go, you won’t deal with completely washed out days (usually) but in the early afternoon the rain will begin and may continue for several hours or into the night.
“Wow! We had a magnificent vacation in Costa Rica. Thank you Costa Rica Experts for all of your excellent planning. Everything (really – everything) was planned perfectly. Our drivers were always prompt and courteous. They also liked telling us about their home. The tours that you arranged for us were all very professional. Not only did we learn new things, but we also just had fun with our guides. Again thank you so much for great suggestions and assistance. We’ll be calling you again in the future for another round.”                                
We offer exciting Costa Rica vacation packages for the active soul who is planning to travel to a tropical destination. See all of Costa Rica. Visit beaches. Visit a rainforest. Visit a volcano. Vacation packages give you plenty of time for activities as well as time to relax. We also have eco tours for a sustainable vacation while fully immersed in nature.

If you intend to hike around Corcovado (or anywhere in Costa Rica, really) make sure to wear the appropriate gear. Things to keep in mind when setting to hike are the high humidity levels of this part of the world, and the bugs that will feast on you unless you wear long sleeves and pants, and apply bug repellent. I suggest reading my post on what to pack for the jungle to have an idea of what to wear and pack for an adventure trip to Corcovado.


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.
If you find yourself in the Central Valley, find a coffee plantation to tour. There are a few good ones on the way to Poas volcano. We recently went to Cafe Britt with my family and had a great time filled with wayyyy too much free coffee. We all felt a little caffeine drunk afterward. There are also TONS of smaller coffee plantations throughout the country which offer tours.

San José’s Juan Santamaría Airport (SJO) sits smack-dab in the middle of the country and makes a convenient, centrally located arrival and departure point for most visitors. But if you’re spending all your time in northern Costa Rica, say, lazing on a north Pacific beach with a trip to the Arenal volcano, you have a second option: Daniel Oduber Airport (LIR) lies just outside the small northwestern city of Liberia and receives flights from all the major airlines too. Fares do skew slightly higher to Liberia, but you’ll save a lot of overland hours to and from San José. Both airports are capricious places—upon departure, you might breeze through check-in and security in 15 minutes, or you may encounter lines stretching out the door. Whether or not you abide by the recommended three-hour advance check-in depends on your aversion to risk.


Many travelers who enjoy nature vacations have scuba-diving experiences at the top of their list. Among the coolest places to visit in Costa Rica there are lots of amazing spots to explore under the water. One of the top picks is Drake Bay. Located in the northern part of the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica, one of the most remote regions of the country, Bahia Drake, as it’s called in Spanish, was named after Sir Francis Drake. He discovered it in the 16th century, during his voyage around the globe.
One of the most fun things to do in Costa Rica is going on a boat tour. This is the best way to admire the beaches and the islands of the Pacific Coast. I recommend opting for a private tour as opposed to a public boat, as these may only take you to specific places, whereas a private tour will follow your requests and stops wherever you like, for however long you want.
Planning a vacation abroad is exciting, but let’s face it: it can be overwhelming. There is so much information on line that it’s hard to know what is current and what sources you can trust, not to mention what is useful and what is just wasting your time. That’s where we come in! Not only can you find everything you need right here, but we can assure you that our expert travel consultants are a fountain of information and willing to help when you decide it’s time to start planning.
In 2002, there were 0.58 new general practitioner (medical) consultations and 0.33 new specialist consultations per capita, and a hospital admission rate of 8.1%. Preventive health care is also successful. In 2002, 96% of Costa Rican women used some form of contraception, and antenatal care services were provided to 87% of all pregnant women. All children under one have access to well-baby clinics, and the immunization coverage rate in 2002 was above 91% for all antigens.[citation needed] Costa Rica has a very low malaria incidence of 48 per 100,000 in 2000 and no reported cases of measles in 2002. The perinatal mortality rate dropped from 12.0 per 1000 in 1972 to 5.4 per 1000 in 2001.[165]
On 14 July 2009, the International Court of Justice in the Hague upheld Costa Rica's navigation rights for commercial purposes to subsistence fishing on their side of the river. An 1858 treaty extended navigation rights to Costa Rica, but Nicaragua denied passenger travel and fishing were part of the deal; the court ruled Costa Ricans on the river were not required to have Nicaraguan tourist cards or visas as Nicaragua argued, but, in a nod to the Nicaraguans, ruled that Costa Rican boats and passengers must stop at the first and last Nicaraguan port along their route. They must also have an identity document or passport. Nicaragua can also impose timetables on Costa Rican traffic. Nicaragua may require Costa Rican boats to display the flag of Nicaragua, but may not charge them for departure clearance from its ports. These were all specific items of contention brought to the court in the 2005 filing.[122]
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