At Rough Guides, we understand that experienced travellers want to get truly off-the-beaten-track. That’s why we’ve partnered with local experts to help you plan and book tailor-made trips that are packed with personality and stimulating adventure - at all levels of comfort. If you love planning, but find arranging the logistics exhausting, you’re in the right place.
Year-round tropical warmth means there really isn’t a bad time to visit Costa Rica. December to April are normally the driest months; however, Costa Rica’s diverse topography and blanket of rainforests suggest that you should be prepared for at least some rain - a very small price to pay for such incredibly lush scenery. The good news is that even during the rainiest of seasons, the rainfall tends to be limited to a couple of hours a day… just enough time for you to enjoy a cup of Costa Rica's world-renowned coffee in one of its many cafes. Temperatures vary with altitude, with San Jose's temperatures ranging between 15C and 21C and the coastal areas experiencing much warmer climes.

Chocolate in Costa Rica has a long history and dates back to before the cultivation of coffee. The original beans grew in the Brazilian Amazon and traveled north by bird migration, human trade, or both. Chocolate was even used as currency between neighboring civilizations due to its coveted qualities until the arrival of the Spanish in the 15th century. Costa Rican chocolate remains a delicacy as the country produces organic, fair-trade chocolate made with all natural ingredients and competes with other Central and South American countries, along with many African nations, in the production of quality cacao cultivation.
Costa Rica has developed around coffee, shaping its social and political structures along with the culture. Oxen and the colorful ox carts are celebrated as art across the country that once hauled coffee exports from the Central Valley over the mountains to the Pacific Coast over a 15-day period. Coffee remains one of the major exports of the country and dates back to the 18th century. Marks of the prestigious coffee trade continue to decorate the country, most notably in the San Jose neighborhoods of Amon and Aranjuez, where colonial, Victorian, and art deco mansions recall the prestige of the coffee barons from the late 19th to early 20th centuries.

Population growth rate: The average annual percent change in the population, resulting from a surplus (or deficit) of births over deaths and the balance of migrants entering and leaving a country. The rate may be positive or negative. The growth rate is a factor in determining how great a burden would be imposed on a country by the changing needs of its people for infrastructure (e.g., schools, hospitals, housing, roads), resources (e.g., food, water, electricity), and jobs. Rapid population growth can be seen as . . . more
Caravan Tours began selling fully escorted tours in 1952. We have been under the same management and ownership ever since. In 1965, Roger Mudd hosted a two hour CBS TV special on Caravan Tours. This TV production took about one month to make and was so successful it inspired the 1968 romantic comedy movie “If it’s Tuesday this must be Belgium.” In the early 50’s the Mayor of Dublin presented Caravan with the Key to Dublin for bringing the first American tour to the city after WWII. Since then Caravan has been recognized as a pioneer in travel.

These Know Before You Go travel tips are designed with you in mind, with helpful hints to help you prepare for and enjoy your escorted vacation. They are your guide to getting ready and contain general information on travel documentation, customs, and the country/countries you will be visiting, including budgeting, transportation, climate, languages, and much more. With Globus, you benefit from our experience.

San Jose is an arts and culture hub, featuring the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, the Costa Rican National Museum, and unique institutions like the Pre-Colombian Gold Museum, and the Jade Museum. There’s also a Peace Museum—Costa Rica is known for its pacifist ideology, which may be why its locals make it so easy to relax and indulge in Pura Vida.
Prostitution is legal in Costa Rica and can be a destination for those looking for more than sun and surf on their vacation. San Jose and Jaco are hot spots for this activity. As with any other sex destination, there are some tourists that hire minors. Prostitution with minors (less than 18 years old) is considered a crime in Costa Rica. The majority of sex tourists in Costa Rica are from the United States, and, if they engage in prostitution with a minor, are prosecutable by the Protect Act of 2003. This act gives the US government the power to prosecute US citizens who travel abroad to engage in sex tourism with children under the age of 18. Several other countries including France, Canada, the UK, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, and Australia have similar laws. Arrests, warrants and prosecutions are being made under these laws.

Todd Staley (Puerto Jiménez) has managed sportfishing operations in Costa Rica for 25 years. He was co-recipient of the International Game Fish Association’s Chester H. Wolfe Award in 2015 for his conservation efforts in Costa Rica. Todd now works full-time as director of communications for FECOP, a sport fishing advocacy federation. Learn more here or read more Tico Times content from Todd here.


Tabacon Hot Springs is the largest accessible network of natural hot springs in Costa Rica. The pools are located within a private rainforest reserve and part of the Tabacon Thermal Resort. You don’t have to stay there in order to use the hot springs, though: you can purchase a day pass. The highly mineralized and naturally heated water flows through the resort and fills multiple pools that vary in temperature. It is quite a relaxing experience to soak in a natural hot tub in the midst of lush landscape up in the mountains.

The Gulf de Papagayo is a well established dive location with three major diving options. Local diving, the Catalinas, and the Bat Islands are the options within the Gulf. Diving centers are mainly located around Playas del Coco and Playa Flamingo. Out of the three options, Bat Islands is probably the most exciting as this national marine park is home to the often feared bull sharks. The dive site "Big Scare" allows divers the chance to dive face to face with these sharks and is also home to other large pelagics such as manta rays and the occasional whale shark.
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.
There are approximately 8 different national beers available (and most international), which are sold in cans, bottles and even kegs. The most common beers in the country are Pilsen and Imperial: all bars and restaurants serve both. Bavaria, "Bavaria Negra" (dark) and Bavaria Light are considered higher quality but more expensive, Rock Ice and Rock Ice Limón (lemon flavor) has a higher alcohol percentage. Heineken is locally made under license and is more expensive as well.
Insider's advice: There are no large resorts or all-inclusive hotels in the Southern Caribbean region. Expect rustic lodges and bungalow-style accommodations with few amenities and amazing surroundings! While the southern Caribbean is best known for its beautiful beaches, the area is also home to loads of wildlife. Cahuita National Park is one of the best places in Costa Rica to observe sloths, monkeys, and other exotic animals.
Go off the grid, without sacrificing modern comforts, at the Macaw Lodge. The family owned property is named for the Scarlet Macaw, a formerly threatened species, which now thrives in the region thanks to the research and conservation efforts of the eco-lodge. During your stay, dine on fresh farm to table meals while you enjoy the view of the botanical gardens. Attend an early morning guided bird walk to spot the vibrant species home to the Carara area. Practice yoga and meditation in a bamboo forest. The lodge’s cocoa plantation is an absolute must. You’ll discover the ancient purposes of the bean and witness chocolate making process from bean to bar. Be sure to buy a couple bars of Macaw Kakau chocolate to take home as souvenirs. Macaw Lodge demonstrates that anyone can enjoy sustainable getaways.

Most visitors can get into Costa Rica without the need of a Visa and can stay in the country for 90 days. People of ANY nationality holding valid US, Canada, Japan, South Korea or Schengen visas do not need a prior visa. The only conditions being that the visa must be valid for 3 months and should be stamped in your passport. NOTE: on arrival, ensure you are able to show proof of onward travel out of Costa Rica, especially if entering overland! See below for further details


Topping out well above 12,000 feet, Cerro Chirripo is Costa Rica’s highest peak. Along with surrounding high peaks, it harbors rare high-altitude ecosystems: supermontane forests, dwarf forests, and paramo, among others. Above the treeline, it’s harder for wildlife to hide, so you’re more likely to see rare mammals like Dice’s rabbit, charismatic carnivores like cougars (known locally as pumas), and – of course – colorful birds like quetzals. The high slopes and summit boast unusual vertical rock formations called crestones, which resemble the pinnacles and spires found in the badlands of North and South Dakota.
The birding hotspots account for one tenth of a percent of Costa Rica’s surface area along with nearly .35 percent of the protected landscape to provide a paradise for nature lovers of all kinds. The preeminent bird watching lodges across the country account for the variety of species that habituate and nest in the different biospheres offers visitors a chance to view rare birds such as Resplendent quetzals, Scarlet macaws, Keel-billed toucans, Snowcaps, Traveler hummingbirds, and Motmots.
According to the Costa Rica Tourism Board, about 200 medical procedures are performed every month at the nation's hospitals for medical tourists. Among the procedures done are cosmetic surgery, knee and hip replacement, cataract removal and other eye treatments, weight loss surgery and dental care. Health care in Costa Rica is attractive for international patients because of the low prices, high care standards, and access to tourist attractions. For example, a hip replacement costs around USD12,000 and a tummy tuck costs around USD4,400.
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!
note: active local transmission of Zika virus by Aedes species mosquitoes has been identified in this country (as of August 2016); it poses an important risk (a large number of cases possible) among US citizens if bitten by an infective mosquito; other less common ways to get Zika are through sex, via blood transfusion, or during pregnancy, in which the pregnant woman passes Zika virus to her fetus
Ports and terminals: This entry lists major ports and terminals primarily on the basis of the amount of cargo tonnage shipped through the facilities on an annual basis. In some instances, the number of containers handled or ship visits were also considered. Most ports service multiple classes of vessels including bulk carriers (dry and liquid), break bulk cargoes (goods loaded individually in bags, boxes, crates, or drums; sometimes palletized), containers, roll-on/roll-off, and passenger ships. The listing le . . . more
Disputes - international: This entry includes a wide variety of situations that range from traditional bilateral boundary disputes to unilateral claims of one sort or another. Information regarding disputes over international terrestrial and maritime boundaries has been reviewed by the US Department of State. References to other situations involving borders or frontiers may also be included, such as resource disputes, geopolitical questions, or irredentist issues; however, inclusion does not necessarily constitute . . . more
Chepe, as San José is fondly known, is the cradle of art in Costa Rica. The largest city in the country offers a neoclassical appeal in form of historic architectures aficionados will revel in. Take a jaunt into colonial mansions, now converted into fine art galleries and boutique hotels. Among your best stops: Museo de Oro, Teatro Nacional and Barrio Amón.
The highest point in the country is Cerro Chirripó, at 3,819 metres (12,530 ft); it is the fifth highest peak in Central America. The highest volcano in the country is the Irazú Volcano (3,431 m or 11,257 ft) and the largest lake is Lake Arenal. There are 14 known volcanoes in Costa Rica, and six of them have been active in the last 75 years.[57] The country has also experienced at least ten earthquakes of magnitude 5.7 or higher (3 of magnitude 7.0 or higher) in the last century.
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