Lodging: Avoid name-brand four- and five-star beach resorts, looking instead to locally owned properties with comparable amenities. (We saved more than 50% on our beach hotel by going local.) If you’re staying in one location for more than a couple nights, look for a short-term rental. Most popular beaches teem with modern condos and villas with in-unit kitchens, pools, and other amenities. Away from the beach, look to rustic resorts (such as ecolodges) and motel-style properties. Our place in Tilaran, essentially a roadside motel, cost about $35 per night with full (delicious) breakfast included. You’ll pay a lot less if you’re willing to sacrifice ostentatious onsite bells and whistles, like full-service spas and gourmet restaurants.

Trails and roads lead to deserted beaches, hidden waterfalls, and volcanic craters shrouded in transcendent mist. Toucans and resplendent quetzals call to birders as zip lines crisscross the forest canopy. Ticos, native Costa Ricans, greet one another in the relaxed rhythm of the day, waving and saying “pura vida” as they pass to celebrate living life their preferred ways. Perfect waves lead to perfect sunsets while cozy fireplaces in the highlands bring views of the peaceful emerald leaves of the cloud forest.
It helps when more than a quarter of your country is protected rainforest with more biodiversity than USA and Europe combined, and the rest is a jaw-dropping combo of bubbling volcanoes, Pacific surf beaches and laid-back towns like Quepos and Sarapiqui. Costa Rica tours are all about nature putting on a show –you’ll quickly become a pro at spotting keel-billed toucans in the cloud forests of Monteverde or listening out for the distant whoop of white-faced capuchins – but really it’s the pace of life here that gets you. ‘Hustle’ and ‘bustle’ aren’t really in Costa Rica’s vocab. Pretty much what you’d expect from a country whose unofficial motto is pura vida (the pure life).
Keep in mind that most banks and credit unions charge not only fees to get money out of an ATM in a foreign country, but also a foreign exchange fee (usually 2% or 3%) for the amount of the transaction. So to withdraw USD100 worth of colones with your ATM (debit) card you could pay a fixed fee to the ATM operator (often USD3 or more), a fixed fee to your bank (USD2 or more), and then 2% to 3% of USD100, so you end up paying USD108 for USD100 worth of colones. Paying a merchant directly with your card only incurs the foreign exchange fee.

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!!

The first waterfall we visited in Costa Rica was Catarata del Toro and I was shocked when they asked a whopping $14 admission fee to see it. I mean, I guess I sorta expected I would have to pay something, maybe $5 – but $14? Little did I know that this would not be a first-time occurrence. Throughout our time in Costa Rica we visited countless waterfalls. Always paying and always paying at least $12-$20 per person to visit. Don’t be shocked if you visit La Paz waterfalls and pay a $42 entrance fee! I do hope that all these fees are going back to conservation instead of into a government officials pocket.
The first waterfall we visited in Costa Rica was Catarata del Toro and I was shocked when they asked a whopping $14 admission fee to see it. I mean, I guess I sorta expected I would have to pay something, maybe $5 – but $14? Little did I know that this would not be a first-time occurrence. Throughout our time in Costa Rica we visited countless waterfalls. Always paying and always paying at least $12-$20 per person to visit. Don’t be shocked if you visit La Paz waterfalls and pay a $42 entrance fee! I do hope that all these fees are going back to conservation instead of into a government officials pocket.
We’ve done several night walks in Costa Rica. In Arenal, we did a night walk with Jacamar (get 10% off this tour). In Osa Peninsula we did a night walk at Leona station with La Leona Eco-Lodge, in Braulio Carrillo we did a night walk with Rainforest Adventures and in Monteverde we did one at Finca Santa Maria. For night walks in Manuel Antonio, we recommend Si Como No Hotel which has a private reserve. We also did one in Bijagua at Tapir Valley which was absolutely amazing!
Generally speaking, Costa Rica is a safe destination for LGBTQI travellers. Same-sex relationships and same-sex sexual acts are legal. In 2015, Costa Rica became the first country in Central America to recognize gay relationships, however, recognition of same-sex marriage is currently pending government approval. In many places in Costa Rica, public displays of affection might attract unwanted attention, but there are a few places in Costa Rica with a thriving LBGTQI scene. Quepos has long been known as the LGBTQI capital of Costa Rica, and the actual capital, San Jose has a good number of gay bars, clubs and saunas.
In 2011, there were over 104,000 Native American or indigenous inhabitants, representing 2.4% of the population. Most of them live in secluded reservations, distributed among eight ethnic groups: Quitirrisí (in the Central Valley), Matambú or Chorotega (Guanacaste), Maleku (northern Alajuela), Bribri (southern Atlantic), Cabécar (Cordillera de Talamanca), Guaymí (southern Costa Rica, along the Panamá border), Boruca (southern Costa Rica) and Térraba [es] (southern Costa Rica).

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.
Whether you’re buying souvenirs or groceries, your best bet in Costa Rica is to shop at local markets. Although Costa Rica has large, American-style grocery stores, they can be a little pricey. The best deals on fresh produce can be found at a feria (farmers’ market). Most towns have a weekly feria where you can buy fresh, tropical fruits and vegetables. And if you happen to miss the weekly market, you’ll often see street vendors selling select items (like avocados and mangoes) every day.
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.
Having now spent many months in Costa Rica and with Max having grown up here, we know a thing or two about Costa Rica. And after helping 40 of our friends and family make their way to Costa Rica for our wedding in 2015, we know exactly the questions on first-time travelers’ minds. We decided to compile all our tips and tricks for traveling in Costa Rica, what to bring, what to avoid and, even, what to wear!
Christianity is Costa Rica's predominant religion, with Roman Catholicism being the official state religion according to the 1949 Constitution, which at the same time guarantees freedom of religion. It is the only state in the Americas which established Roman Catholicism as its state religion; other such countries are microstates in Europe: Liechtenstein, Monaco, the Vatican City and Malta.
“We had the perfect tour director, very knowledgeable of Costa Rican history, local cultures, and coconuts. Caravan, you should be proud! Besides the fact that you guys do a great job staging all of the sights, wildlife and timing (it was all fake right?!),it was obvious to us that the guides, the hotel staffs, the tour director, the restaurant personnel, etc. All seemed to rise to the occasion for a Caravan tour. You guys are doing something right. Keep it up!”
“Born in San José, I developed an interest in knowing the different attractions, customs and traditions across beautiful Costa Rica. I have always enjoyed at the fullest what I do, so I share my passion with everyone. I like making new friends, being helpful, leading groups, sharing my knowledge of my home country, and always having a smile for people around me.”

One of the best ways to experience the canopies of the variety of forests across Costa Rica is on a zip line tour. The adventurous and scenic excursion began in the 1970s and has become one of the most popular and widespread activities in the country, blending the beauty of the treetops with its remoteness. Guides help educate participants on the ecology, botany, and reforestation efforts encouraging the wildlife to return to the secondary forest and supporting the wildlife in primary forests.


Make conversation with locals on the bus so that they can see that you are competent in Spanish and comfortable in the Spanish speaking environment. (You'll enjoy yourself plus this may make them feel friendly towards you and more willing to alert you if someone is snooping in your stuff. Or it might warn them that if they steal from you, you will talk to the bus driver and police and make a full report.) Even some Spanish is better than none – use what you have! It's great practice and the more you improve the safer you'll be!
Alright, I’ll be honest. National Costa Rican beer is pretty much the equivalent of BudLight, but on hot days there is nothing I enjoy more. If you are into the craft beer scene like we are, have no fear! The craft beer culture is slowly making its way into Costa Rica and it is possible to find breweries in most tourist destinations. Two of our favorites are Fuego Brew Co. in Dominical (that is where the picture above was taken) and Wilk Craft Beer in San Jose.

As of November 2012 to cross the border you need to show a return ticket from Costa Rica. The ticket must be "from Costa Rica", so for example flights from Panama are not accepted, although you need to leave Costa Rica to get to Panama. At the border crossing with Nicaragua there is a small Tica Bus office that sells tickets without a fixed travel date. At the main border crossing with Panama there is a Tracopa office where you can buy a return ticket without a fixed date. Note that if you use this ticket when re-entering from Nicaragua they want to see a ticket with a fixed date.
Your Passport: Though it’s fairly easy for North American travelers to reach and lacks a standing army, Costa Rica is indeed a sovereign nation. Don’t forget your passport and passport card. If your passport is expired, apply at least three months in advance to avoid bureaucratic delays. A new or renewed U.S. passport and card costs $140, per the State Department.
The population includes European Costa Ricans (of European ancestry), primarily of Spanish descent,[2] with significant numbers of Italian, German, English, Dutch, French, Irish, Portuguese, and Polish families, as well a sizable Jewish community. The majority of the Afro-Costa Ricans are Creole English-speaking descendants of 19th century black Jamaican immigrant workers.[126][127]
Head north this morning, passing through sugar cane, teak, pineapple, and orange plantations. Then, cruise on the Rio Frio, gateway to the world famous Caño Negro wildlife refuge, home to many migratory birds found nowhere else in Costa Rica. Look for black turtles, whistling ducks, roseate spoonbills, cormorants, anhingas, blue heron, and northern jacanas. Watch for caimans, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, green iguanas, and water-walking lizards. Lunch. Return to Fortuna. This afternoon enjoy a relaxing soak in the volcanic hot springs. Dinner. BLD
We’ve heard this advice all our lives, and it was never more apt than it is in Costa Rica. You don’t need to venture out far to feel the wicked riptides that plague many of the hundreds of beaches here. (Conversely, these are exactly the conditions that make Costa Rica so popular with surfers.) On top of that, lifeguards patrol few beaches and you’ll see few warning signs. Take utmost care in the water.
It was so great!! Costa Rica is very beautiful. We have had difficult experiences booking online before and it was very very easy through Gate 1. And everything was taken care of. I recommended gate1 to all of my girlfriends i went to Puerto Vallarta with in May. They were super impressed by the price and quality of my trip. So thankful to Gate 1 Travel. By the way I love the sample itinerary with recommendations for stops while we were driving to the locations. Thanks to that we got to stop off and see some amazing places we would've never stopped at!! Please continue that!
Don’t come here expecting to have a bug-free experience. Even the most expensive hotels are going to have insects (this is a rain forest). Rooms here can be quite nice if you pay up, but they do not come with central heat and air. It is cool enough at night that AC is not needed, but if you want airflow you will likely have your windows, and perhaps some of the doors, open. If you have strong aversion to bugs make sure in advance that the windows in your room have screens (seems like this would be a given, it is not). We have screens at our house but I awoke at 1:00 a.m to a spider walking across my face. Be prepared to roll with it.
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.

Most major tourist destinations in Costa Rica are serviced by at least two daily buses from and to San José. The advantages of public transportation in Costa Rica are that tickets are cheap (rarely more than USD7 per person) and they cover most towns around the country. However, nearly the entire bus system is based on routes in and out of San José and this can add significant travel time. The buses are also not booked with a reservation system so it is possible to not have a seat on popular routes. However, many do have assigned seats once you buy a ticket at the station and so get there early to be sure you get your bus.


Natural gas - proved reserves: This entry is the stock of proved reserves of natural gas in cubic meters (cu m). Proved reserves are those quantities of natural gas, which, by analysis of geological and engineering data, can be estimated with a high degree of confidence to be commercially recoverable from a given date forward, from known reservoirs and under current economic conditions.
“The sights were absolutely fabulous! We visited both coasts and many places in between ... all the places we were interested in seeing. I wasn’t sure I wanted to visit Tortuguero, but it turned out to be one of my favorite destinations! This was an exceptional tour at an exceptional price. The guides were very eco-minded. We received a good education from them and their passion for preserving their environment was contagious. We totally get it. Your Costa Rican tour was awesome.”

We’re not suggesting a career.  It might be something as simple as swapping language lessons with someone for a couple of hours.  You help with their English and they repay you with Spanish tutorial.  Hostels and other budget lodgings are usually trying to save money by working on projects themselves.  If you ask they might put you to work setting bricks for a walkway, repairing chairs or even helping out with a website or facebook page.  Pay might be in the form of free lodging or beer but you’ll be busy and not spending money…
There are also a number of language schools that can be found throughout the Central Valley, particularly in Heredia and its surrounding cantons. These language schools typically offer only Spanish to foreign students from the United States and Europe but some, including the Instituto Norte Americano in Heredia, offer Spanish to foreign students, and English and Mandarin to local ones. Many of these language schools are also instrumental in helping the surrounding community, either through monetary donations or educational opportunities that otherwise may not have existed for the local Costa Rican population. Schools such as IAC (Instituto de Aprendizaje de Costa Rica) in Manuel Antonio, La Escuela Armonía in Guanacaste, as well as the Instituto Norte Americano in Heredia have frequently acted as educational hubs for their surrounding communities, giving free English classes to teachers of nearby schools and helping to raise money for worthy causes. Similarly in the Guanacaste region, Spanish schools such as Instituto Estelar Bilingüe in Liberia work closely with volunteer organizations and non-profits in the area in order to help the local people and give back to the community. Students are able to volunteer their time in a variety of ways while studying Spanish and travelling.
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.

Located in the Arenal-Tempisque area, the Curi Cancha Reserve is a privately owned nature reserve that covers 205 acres of tropical cloud forest, which is home to a wide variety of birds, reptiles, and small animals. Curi-Cancha is the perfect place to get back to nature and do some serious bird watching, either on your own or with the help of a specialist guide who knows just where to find all the shy and rare species. You can go hiking along 7miles of trails, which will take you through virgin rainforest as well as some secondary forest – be on the lookout for some really unusual mammals, such as the armadillo, the sloth, and three species of monkeys. The reserve offers several guided tours, including a rather magical night tour.
Costa Rica is a very conservative and traditionalist nation. The state's official religion is Roman Catholicism and its population is quite religious. Nevertheless, Costa Rica caters to the gay and lesbian traveller and his or her needs. There is a thriving gay scene in San Jose with many gay and lesbian options for night-life (La Avispa, Club Oh!, Bochinche among others). The Manuel Antonio, Jacó, and Quepos area is also a favorite spot with several gay hotels and bars.
International law organization participation: This entry includes information on a country's acceptance of jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and of the International Criminal Court (ICCt); 59 countries have accepted ICJ jurisdiction with reservations and 11 have accepted ICJ jurisdiction without reservations; 122 countries have accepted ICCt jurisdiction. Appendix B: International Organizations and Groups explains the differing mandates of the ICJ and ICCt.

Venture deep into the jungle to visit some of the last untouched land in Costa Rica. Casa Corcovado is located on one hundred seventy acres of private reserve bordering Corcovado National Park. The region is famously known for its extensive biodiversity, look out for squirrel monkeys, scarlet macaws and jaguars. When you return from an excursion into the jungle teeming with wildlife, you can relax in your large plush bed while gazing at the wood beam ceiling and stained glass handcrafted by local artisans. Although the lodge is tucked away in the jungle there is no shortage of amenities on site. Enjoy delicious meals at their Spanish style restaurant and a swim in a clear blue pool fed by natural spring water. Casa Corcovado seamlessly blends the beauty of nature with upscale luxurious accommodations.
The location receiving the most rain is the Caribbean slopes of the Cordillera Central mountains, with an annual rainfall of over 5,000 mm (196.9 in). Humidity is also higher on the Caribbean side than on the Pacific side. The mean annual temperature on the coastal lowlands is around 27 °C (81 °F), 20 °C (68 °F) in the main populated areas of the Cordillera Central, and below 10 °C (50 °F) on the summits of the highest mountains.[59]
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