Meet your guide upon pickup from your San Jose hotel and stop for breakfast at Rancho Roberto's in Guapiles. After your meal, you'll travel through the Braulio Carrillo National Park, one of Costa Rica’s largest national parks. Pass numerous rivers, waterfalls and mountains covered in dense forests on your drive, until you reach a banana plantation. Here, board a boat and set sail for Tortuguero National Park. Since there are no roads to the park from Tortuguero village, access to the vast network of freshwater lagoons and creeks is by boat. Ride for approximately one hour to reach the canals and keep an eye out for all kind of birds in the lush vegetation along the way.Tortuguero, meaning ‘turtle catcher,’ formed from an archipelago of volcanic islands where high rainfall eventually created the bio-diverse wetlands – great for nature lovers! During your 3-hour boat tour of Tortuguero National Park, your expert guide will be on hand to teach you about the history and wildlife as you cruise between the marshy isles. Midday, you’ll have time for a lunch break at Evergreen Lodge, located just five minutes by boat from the entrance to the park. Under the high ceilings of the lovely main dining room, enjoy the ambiance that complements the surrounding jungle landscape.Get an up-close look at the park's great variety of flora and fauna as you ride among the canals. If you’re lucky, you might spot such wildlife as the spectacled caiman, southern river otter and possibly even the endangered West Indian manatee. The park is also home to sloths, howler and capuchin monkeys, tiny frogs and green iguanas.The secluded, black-sand beaches of Tortuguero National Park are some of the most important breeding grounds for the green sea turtle. These ancient reptiles once neared extinction as adults were hunted for their meat and their eggs were taken. You'll get the chance to see the sites where the green sea turtles nest and learn from your guide about the park’s efforts to protect this important species.After exploring the national park, enjoy a return 1-hour boat ride to dry land and then board your coach for the trip back to San Jose, where you’ll be dropped off at your hotel in the evening.
For a lower-stakes excursion that provides VIP private service and the best bang for your buck, try gentle wildlife floats such as the one offered by Green Frog Adventures, or meet in the middle with a Class III (moderate intensity) day excursion. Green Frog is a top rafting company: You can expect top-notch guides to escort you every step of the way on a fully catered journey that includes transport to and from the river – and even, if need be, accommodations for your flight or other travel plans.

If there is one Costa Rica travel tip I can give you it would be to double check your car rental prices. When we first started searching for car rentals in Costa Rica we were shocked by the crazy low prices we were seeing. Unfortunately for our wallets we just hadn’t clicked all the way to the payment page yet. In Costa Rica all drivers are required to have third party liability insurance.
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.
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.
When people hear “Costa Rica”, images of a tropical paradise come to mind. Whether it’s the rainforest, beach, volcanoes, wildlife, the friendly locals, or the slower pace of life that draws over 2 million visitors yearly, Costa Rica has become the most visited country in Central American. “Why choose Costa Rica?” you ask; keep on reading to find out.
Speaking of chicken nuggets, Costa Rican cuisine is accessible for even the fussiest American palate. It's essentially rice, beans, chicken, fish, seafood, eggs and tropical fruit, in abundance. Should you, for some dire reason, not want to partake of this cornucopia of amazingly fresh food, American food is also found in abundance, as is Italian, German, French, Argentinean, Chinese and Japanese. You'll pay American prices for this, however; sticking to comida típica is both healthier and cheaper, and you really can't beat a bowl of red snapper and shrimp ceviche on the beach, enjoyed a few yards away from where it was just hauled in that morning. Pura vida, indeed.
Constitution: This entry provides information on a country’s constitution and includes two subfields. The history subfield includes the dates of previous constitutions and the main steps and dates in formulating and implementing the latest constitution. For countries with 1-3 previous constitutions, the years are listed; for those with 4-9 previous, the entry is listed as “several previous,” and for those with 10 or more, the entry is “many previous.” The amendments subfield summarizes the process of am . . . more
Costa Rica is a melting pot of cultures. Spanish immigrants left their mark and Jamaican influences make themselves known on the country’s Caribbean Coast, but it wouldn’t do to forget the peoples who inhabited the lands long before it was colonized. In Arenal, visit the Maleku community, meet a local family, and learn how their lifestyle has been impacted by modern development – and how they work to preserve their traditions. Head towards San Ramon and take a cultural tour, where you’ll learn all about the city of poets with guides who grew up in this charming community.
Exchange rates: This entry provides the average annual price of a country's monetary unit for the time period specified, expressed in units of local currency per US dollar, as determined by international market forces or by official fiat. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 4217 alphabetic currency code for the national medium of exchange is presented in parenthesis. Closing daily exchange rates are not presented in The World Factbook, but are used to convert stock values - e.g., the . . . 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!

My trip was wonderful! It was my first trip with Gate1, and it was also my first ever solo trip and I must say that I could not have been more happy with my experience. Our tour manager was great, our driver was top notch and the people I met on the trip were the cherry in top. Thank you for your help with my reservation I will definitely travel with Gate1 again.
My family enjoyed every moment of the trip that you planned for us. Everything went smoothly and we experienced all there was to offer, which was a gazillion interactions with water, fauna and flora and lovely people and food and places. One great thing is that we did not bring any electronic devices with us, so nothing got in the way of all that was around us to experience. We will all recommend Costa Rica Experts to others.”
One of the many benefits of travel is the opportunity to expand your perspective and explore new habitats and cultures. There are several ways to learn more about the people, places, and environments that make Costa Rica so special. In a guided tour of the cloud forest, you can discover fascinating plants and insects or search out rare birds. You might listen to...
Yeap, this is probably completely contradictory of everything you’ve ever heard. Usually, if you book ahead of time it’s cheaper right? We’ll, not in Costa Rica. See all the big tour companies that you find on the internet have the money to set up websites and try to hook tourists. We have had much better luck asking at our hotel if they know anybody who offers similar tours. Usually, these local tour companies will partner with hotels and you will get a cheaper rate.
Five rivers have their headwaters here, making it a popular destination for anglers. For best results, you’ll want to hire your own guide, which you can do for as little as $50 for a half-day trip. If you’re content not to fish and don’t want to explore the backcountry or summits, you can explore on foot any of the short, moderately strenuous trails originating at the main visitor center.
Costa Rica has been cited as Central America's great health success story.[166] Its healthcare system is ranked higher than that of the United States, despite having a fraction of its GDP.[167] Prior to 1940, government hospitals and charities provided most health care. But since the 1941 creation of the Social Insurance Administration (Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social – CCSS), Costa Rica has provided universal health care to its wage-earning residents, with coverage extended to dependants over time. In 1973, the CCSS took over administration of all 29 of the country's public hospitals and all health care, also launching a Rural Health Program (Programa de Salud Rural) for primary care to rural areas, later extended to primary care services nationwide. In 1993, laws were passed to enable elected health boards that represented health consumers, social insurance representatives, employers, and social organizations. By the year 2000, social health insurance coverage was available to 82% of the Costa Rican population. Each health committee manages an area equivalent to one of the 83 administrative cantons of Costa Rica. There is limited use of private, for-profit services (around 14.4% of the national total health expenditure). About 7% of GDP is allocated to the health sector, and over 70% is government funded.

The coasts of Costa Rica are known for strong currents and rip-tides in some areas but most of them are great to be with the family. Costa Rica has some of the best beaches in the world. The Atlantic coast is just five hours away from the Pacific one and both offer completely different views and landscapes. There are no signs indicating an unsafe beach due to riptides, so take precautions and listen to the locals on where it is safe to swim. The public beaches do not have life guards. A traveler should learn how to swim out of a rip tide and not swim alone. There are some active volcanoes in Costa Rica and they are dangerous, so follow the warning signs posted. The slopes of the Arenal volcano invite visitors to climb closer to the summit, but there have been fatalities in the past with unseen gas chambers. Also be wary of the climate of Costa Rica. It is very hot in the daytime, but in the morning and evening it becomes very cool, so you should bring a light weight jacket.
As previously mentioned many Costa Rican roads are dirt and mud so if you add in a little rain to that they will quickly become impassable. We visited at the beginning of the rainy season in May and had absolutely no trouble driving. Although it did rain a bit more than we liked the lush jungle scenery was gorgeous, prices were cheaper, and it was indeed less busy than in the dry season.
Costa Rica requires valid Yellow fever certificate if arriving from most neighbouring countries. If such is not presented you would not be allowed to enter/board the flight. At Bogota airport - if you have certificate you can have it emailed to the airline and then proceed to the local vaccination authority for duplicate certificate to be issued free of charge. The critical part is to get the printed version on time. If you don't have certificate or cannot get it on time you will probably be approached by friendly police officers to arrange such for a fee. Keep in mind that the date of the vaccination should be at least 10 days prior entering the country from which you are flying.
The rivers and rains have shaped Costa Rica’s landscape over millennia and rush through canyons and down mountains until reaching the sea for amazing whitewater rafting. The unique contours of the canals, forests, and waterfalls bring ample opportunities to explore the scenery and wildlife on rafting tours. Whether in the mood for a thrilling whitewater ride or a relaxing trip in search for lizards, birds, and monkeys, your professional guides will ensure a safe and memorable expedition. Popular destinations for rafting around Costa Rica include the Pacuare River (Lower Section) with class III/IV rapids, the Reventazon River (El Carmen Section) with class II/III rapids, the Toro River with class III/IV rapids, the Sarapiqui River (San Miguel Section) with class III/IV rapids, and the Savegre River with class II/III rapids.

Parque Francisco Alvarado invites all nature lovers and budding gardeners to come and be inspired by the work of artist and topiary master Evangelisto Blanco. Visitors to this unique topiary park in the city of Zarcero can walk through a green tunnel of living arches, which have been coaxed into their present shape since the 1960s. In addition to the impressive green arches, you can also admire a variety of large topiary animals and people of all shapes and sizes. The park lies opposite the ornate pink and the blue Iglesia de San Rafael Church, which was built in 1895 and is also well worth a visit while you are in Zarcero.

We always recommend bringing a travel towel for just about every destination.Quick dry towels are great when you’re out exploring Costa Rica. You can make an impromptu dip in ocean before drying off and heading to one of Costa Rica’s many surf town spots for fish tacos or an Imperial (local beer). They’re also tremendous when you hike to any one of Costa Rica’s numerous waterfalls as the towels are small enough to throw in your daypack and leave room for additional items.
There are no formal street addresses in Costa Rica, but two informal systems exist. The first (often used in tourist information) indicates the road on which the establishment is located (e.g., "6th Avenue"), together with the crossroad interval (e.g., "between 21st and 23rd Streets"). In practice, street signs are virtually non-existent, and locals do not even know the name of the street they are on. The second system, which is much more reliable and understood by locals, is known as the "Tico address", usually involving an oriented distance (e.g., "100 metre south, 50 metres east") from a landmark (e.g., "the cathedral").
With all these different climates and landscapes, it’s no wonder that this Central American jewel is also one of the most biodiverse spots on the planet. With just 0.03% of the earth’s surface within its borders, the country has an estimated 5% of the world’s species. In Costa Rica, this natural world surrounds you, putting the country on the forefront of eco-tourism and eco-living. Sloths, capuchin monkeys, toucans, and scarlet macaws will be your new neighbors.
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.[123] 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.
Parque Nacional Guanacaste protects Costa Rica’s northernmost volcanoes, Orosi and Cacao. Like some of the other parks on this list, it encompasses a wide range of altitudes and ecosystems: from the Pacific dry forests near sea level to the premontane cloud forests above 3,000 feet, to the true cloud forests above 5,000 feet or so. It’s well worth the $10-per-adult price of admission.
We love taking night walking tours while in Monteverde. There are multiple companies that offer tours, but the best way to get a good deal is to reserve your tour through your hotel. The hotels in the area typically partner with local night tour companies and they can get you the best deal with transportation to the tour included. On your night walk you will see a lot of wildlife including cool frogs, tarantulas, sloths, snakes, and more!
Green and life are everywhere, from the 1200 species of orchids that garnish our trees to life sprouting on the beaches every year when millions of green turtles, leatherback and hawksbill sea turtles reach the Caribbean coast at the National Park Tortuguero to lay their eggs, traveling from miles away. Similarly, at Ostional, in the Pacific thousands of Lora turtles (Kemp's Ridley) reach the beach every year.
The Latinobarómetro survey of 2017 found that 57% of the population identify themselves as Roman Catholics, 25% are Evangelical Protestants, 15% report that they do not have a religion, and 2% declare that they belong to another religion.[136] This survey indicated a decline in the share of Catholics and rise in the share of Protestants and irreligious.[136] A University of Costa Rica survey of 2018 show similar rates; 52% Catholics, 25% Protestants, 17% irreligious and 3% other.[3] The rate of secularism is high by Latin American standards.
Sun Protection: Costa Rica is a tropical country. Don’t let mild mountain air fool you: the sun here is intense. I made the mistake of spending a sunny morning by the pool without first applying sunblock and paid dearly for the rest of the trip. My advice: bring more sunblock than you think you need and apply before every outdoor activity. Don’t forget a wide-brimmed hat or baseball cap either. If you’re not checking a bag, keep liquids containers to 3 ounces or smaller.
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.

Costa Rica is a great place to learn Spanish as the "ticos" have a dialect that is easy to understand and digest for someone just starting to learn the language. There are many language schools that provide intensive instruction with group classes lasting 4 hours per day, Monday to Friday. Almost all Spanish schools will also offer host family accommodations and possibly some alternative such as a student residence or discounted hotel rates.
Thanks for the tips! Just returned from CR. Definitely found your info to be true-it takes a very long time to get places. We did not get to do many of the things we wanted. Plus when the Braulio Carrillo park at Volcan Barva did not open on time at 8am, it put us behind and unable to complete the day’s adventure. (We wanted to visit from both entrances but not enough time to drive around before they closed at 3:30. We still had a great visit though!) we did see a sloth but only thanks to a local kind enough to take the time to point it out-would never have seen it otherwise.

Attracting all art lovers and anyone interested in modern design innovation, the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design is housed across a cluster of buildings in San Jose’s historic downtown area. You can admire works by predominantly Costa Rican and other Central and South American countries in the museum’s large permanent collection, while regular temporary exhibitions are held in four special exhibition spaces. The museum also has an auditorium and you can access an extensive website and video library featuring past exhibitions. You can join a guided tour, attend a lecture or workshop, or simply explore at your own pace.


International calls are fairly expensive. The cheapest way to make them is over the internet using a service such as Skype at an Internet café. But making short calls using the domestic calling cards (you can make international calls using these but the denominations of the calling cards are quite small so your call will be short!) or the international calling cards available within Costa Rica is the next best deal. Certainly better than credit card calls or using a US calling card generally.
Costa Rican cuisine is a blend of Native American, Spanish, African and many other cuisine origins. Dishes such as the very traditional tamale and many others made of corn are the most representative of its indigenous inhabitants, and similar to other neighboring Mesoamerican countries. Spaniards brought many new ingredients to the country from other lands, especially spices and domestic animals. And later in the 19th century, the African flavor lent its presence with influence from other Caribbean mixed flavors. This is how Costa Rican cuisine today is very varied, with every new ethnic group who had recently become part of the country's population influencing the country's cuisine.[156][unreliable source?]
Legal system: This entry provides the description of a country's legal system. A statement on judicial review of legislative acts is also included for a number of countries. The legal systems of nearly all countries are generally modeled upon elements of five main types: civil law (including French law, the Napoleonic Code, Roman law, Roman-Dutch law, and Spanish law); common law (including United State law); customary law; mixed or pluralistic law; and religious law (including Islamic law). An addition . . . more
On any bus ride (1st, 2nd, 3rd class, whatever!) try to sit above the luggage compartment so that you can watch that your bag doesn't "walk away" when others get off the bus. Costa Rican buses usually have one compartment for those heading to the main destination, and a separate one for people getting off along the way to avoid problems. Be aware if the "destination" compartment is opened en route!

A lot of the adventure activities in Costa Rica are expensive, but if you want a more local and cheap experience, just be really selective about the things you want to spend money on. One really nice thing about Costa Rica is that by law all the beaches need to have public access. This means every beach is free!!!!! Yeay for lots of beach days! If you need some activity ideas check out our list of favorite activities including many things for the budget savvy traveler in mind.


Our trip was amazing and we had the best time!! Gilbert, our tour guide was great. He was knowledgeable and we learned so much about Costa Rica and the culture. We still can't figure out how he spotted birds so high and animals hidden in leaves and trees!! He made every minute of the trip a once-in-a-lifetime moment. My husband is already planning out next Gate 1 Tour!!

© 2018 Meredith Corporation Travel & Leisure Group. All rights reserved. TravelandLeisure.com is part of the Travel & Leisure Group. Travel + Leisure is a trademark of Meredith Corporation Travel & Leisure Group, registered in the United States and other countries. Travel + Leisure may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.
Along the pristine South Pacific Coast of Costa Rica lies an oasis that remains relatively untouched. El Castillo's preserved location offers guests a sanctuary where they can explore the diverse nature surrounding the property, experience many of the activities on site or simply relax in a slow-paced lifestyle. This boutique resort offers guests panoramic ocean views, lush jungle surroundings and is near some of Costa Rica's finest restaurants. With fewer than 10 rooms and suites, guests can expect a more intimate level of service for a truly memorable experience.
Most people go to Costa Rica during the dry season, which takes place from mid-December to April. Although it’s peak season and tourism is at its highest, there’s almost non-stop sunshine ideal for enjoying the country’s beaches and rainforests (and everything in between). It’s the most expensive time of year to visit, though – you’ll want to make all your reservations well in advance.
When you’ve had your fill, take a respite in the nearby seaside town of Tamarindo. Have an early dinner and watch the sun set from the patio at Langosta Beach Club, then wind down with a tropical cocktail at the open-air bar at Occidental Tamarindo, an ever-popular all-inclusive property with amazing beachfront, secluded hacienda rooms, and a pool that has to be seen to be believed.
Tucked away on an isolated stretch of Caribbean coast, just west of the Panamanian border, is Costa Rica’s other Playa Manzanillo – more commonly known by its English name. The area’s isolation, and the fact that much of the surrounding coastline is protected by a wildlife refuge, makes for a truly secluded experience. If you’re up for exploring the coastline by boat, rent a kayak in nearby Puerto Viejo or hop on a guided boat tour for $50 per day and up.
Costa Rica’s many natural wonders make it a special place to explore, and to offer much more than a typical vacation destination. A visit to Costa Rica is hardly complete without a walk through its dense, tropical forests, where giant trees are home to hundreds of epiphyte plants, the sounds of rare bird species can be heard in the air, and slow-moving sloths can be...

There are so many national parks in Costa Rica! Most tourists flock to Manuel Antonio National Park, but our personal favorite is Cahuita National Park because it is absolutely beautiful and not overly filled with tourists. We also created a guide to our favorite places to hike in Costa Rica. This will definitely help you find the best national parks (including some you have definitely never heard of).
When it comes to souvenirs, head to the Mercado Calle Nacional de Artesania y Pintura (National Craft Market) in San Jose for the best selection of handmade goods and souvenirs. Here you can stroll through dozens of stalls selling handmade hammocks and painted ox-carts as well as tank tops and shot glasses that say “pura vida”. Also in San Jose, the Mercado Central is a great place to grocery shop and pick up souvenirs. Vendors offer up everything from fresh produce to coffee to leather goods.
The victorious rebels formed a government junta that abolished the military altogether, and oversaw the drafting of a new constitution by a democratically elected assembly.[56] Having enacted these reforms, the junta transferred power to Ulate on 8 November 1949. After the coup d'état, Figueres became a national hero, winning the country's first democratic election under the new constitution in 1953. Since then, Costa Rica has held 14 presidential elections, the latest in 2018. With uninterrupted democracy dating back to at least 1948, the country is the region's most stable.
×