Due to its rich bio-diversity, pure beauty, and close proximity to Mother Nature in unison with its small ecological footprint, Costa Rica offers an experience like none other. Whether diving or snorkeling the crystal clear offshore protected waters, to zip-lining hundreds of feet above a giant old growth rainforest, you’ll be surrounding yourself with tropical beauty. Marveling at sunsets and sinking your feet in the warm sand, you’ll likely experience a complete detoxification, ultimately feeling the embrace of a carefree state of mind.
“Alajuela: [the district] where the airport actually is. It is a bit warmer that San Jose typically. Here you’ll find the volcano Poas. The national park around it was closed for a while last year due to the volcano being active. But it has been reopened recently and the place is well maintained. You can get the largest strawberries in this area.”—GMYoW
Pura vida! (That's how Gilbert told us to respond) Anyway, the trip was great. I saw more wildlife than I expected, and all of the accommodations were nice, as usual. Gilbert was an awesome guide. He was personable yet professional, and he was so knowledgeable about Costa Rica's biological aspects. Max was a true professional in his driving, so no complaints there. Overall, I give it a 10/10! I'm currently editing all of my bird and wildlife pictures, and I can't wait to share them! Awesome experience.
Not surprisingly, our best selling Costa Rica vacation packages feature some of the most popular destinations, hotels, and activities in the country. Whether this is your first trip to Costa Rica or one of many, there is a reason these trips are hot ticket items. Our most popular private vacation packages include in-country travel, lodging, and day tours, and can be customized to meet your needs! These top destinations and stand out experiences have our return travelers raving, which is why we can comfortably crown the following vacation packages our Best Costa Rica Vacations.

For those looking for remote accommodations in search of romance or just for the excitement of reaching somewhere secluded and new, Costa Rica also features tree house lodges and glamorous camping retreats hidden in the rainforest canopy. There are few places more private than hanging out in a luxury camp in the trees with only the passing avifauna and active monkey troops as company. They are also perfect destinations for yoga getaways that connect each breath to the sounds of the surrounding rainforest terrain. 
Airports - with unpaved runways: This entry gives the total number of airports with unpaved runways (grass, dirt, sand, or gravel surfaces) by length. For airports with more than one runway, only the longest runway is included according to the following five groups - (1) over 3,047 m (over 10,000 ft), (2) 2,438 to 3,047 m (8,000 to 10,000 ft), (3) 1,524 to 2,437 m (5,000 to 8,000 ft), (4) 914 to 1,523 m (3,000 to 5,000 ft), and (5) under 914 m (under 3,000 ft). Only airports with usable runways are included in this listin . . . more

Tortuguero National Park – the name Tortuguero can be translated as "Full of Turtles" – is home to spider, howler, and white-throated capuchin monkeys; the three-toed sloth and two-toed sloth; 320 species of birds; and a variety of reptiles. The park is recognized for the annual nesting of the endangered green turtle, and is the most important nesting site for the species. Giant leatherback, hawksbill, and loggerhead turtles also nest there. The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is home to about 2,000 plant species,[73] including numerous orchids. Over 400 types of birds and more than 100 species of mammals can be found there.[73]
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").
Just west of Parque Nacional Guanacaste is Parque Nacional Santa Rosa, probably the country’s second best place to experience a Pacific dry forest. Sadly, much of the original habitat was destroyed by intentionally set fires and replaced by imported a mix of cultivated and non-native plants; it’s been a long, mostly fruitless slog to get things back to the way they were.
Go to a bank to change money when possible and practical. If you find yourself needing to use the services of a person who is a money changer (Sunday morning at the border, for instance) make sure to have your own calculator. Do not trust money changers and their doctored calculators, change the least amount of money possible and take a hard look at the bills – there's lots of false ones out there. Always insist that your change be in small bills – you'll lose more at one time if a large bill is false, plus large bills are hard to change (even the equivalent of USD20 in Costa Rica or USD5 in Nicaragua can be difficult in some small towns, believe it or not!) Money changers do not use the official exchange rate - you are better off going to a state owned bank to exchange your currency at no fee.
In Costa Rica, education is both free and compulsory; as a result, it has one of the highest literacy rates in the western hemisphere. (Costa Rica also offers universal healthcare, which is a discussion for another time.) And since the primary industry here is tourism, many Ticos speak basic to fluent English, especially in touristy areas. That said, brushing up on your Spanish is a welcome courtesy, and making an effort will earn you friends wherever you go—even if all you learn to say is "pura vida."
Costa Rica’s Pacific waters are among the world’s best places to glimpse humpback whales in their natural element. They’re present roughly 50% of the year, in two distinct episodes: late July through November, and December through March. The most reliable sightings happen off the Osa Peninsula, in southern Costa Rica, where distinct populations from both hemispheres intermingle. You’re also likely to encounter bottlenose and spotted dolphins – about 25 cetacean species in all – in this area.
Merchant marine: Merchant marine may be defined as all ships engaged in the carriage of goods; or all commercial vessels (as opposed to all nonmilitary ships), which excludes tugs, fishing vessels, offshore oil rigs, etc. This entry contains information in four subfields - total, ships by type, foreign-owned, and registered in other countries. Total includes the number of ships (1,000 GRT or over), total DWT for those ships, and total GRT for those ships. DWT or dead weight tonnage is the total weight of c . . . more
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?]
Hi Chayanne, thanks for your kind words and glad the blog is helpful! I don’t know where your house is in Ojochal but many of the houses in that area are up in the mountains and the road into Ojochal is not paved, so a 4×4 is a good idea especially for that area. A lot of roads in the Costa Ballena up in the mountains are steep and unpaved so they do require a 4×4.
There is such biodiversity in Costa Rica not only because it's a land bridge between North and South America, but also because the terrain is so varied and there are weather patterns moving in from both the Pacific and Atlantic/Caribbean. There are impressive volcanoes, mountain areas, rivers, lakes, and beaches all throughout the country. There are many beautiful beaches - most of the popular ones are on the Pacific side but the Caribbean has many excellent beaches as well.
Hi! We had an AMAZING TRIP! ... Larry our tour guide was Fantastic and made our trip that much better! The hotels we stayed at were BEAUTIFUL and were more then we could have hoped for! We cant wait for the day until we can return to the BEAUTIFUL COSTA RICA!!! We look forward to joining Gate 1 on another tour, and maybe to a different destination! I hope one day I can show my 5 kids all the beauty there is to offer in Costa Rica! Thank you for making our trip the best possible .... Pura Vida!!
“And what a tour it is: Usually, travelers have to choose from among Costa Rica’s beaches, volcanoes and rain forests. This tour goes to all those places and includes every major sight, as well as three meals a day on all but two days, and excellent hotels and lodges. The cost is a remarkable $995 per person for everything other than airfare to the capital city of San Jose.
You have to exercise caution when renting a car in Costa Rica; where it is not uncommon for rental companies to claim "damage" they insist you inflicted on the vehicle. It is by far the best policy to rent a car through a Costa Rican travel agent. If you are travelling on a package, your agent will sort this out. Otherwise, go into an ICT-accredited travel agent in San Jose and ask them to arrange rental for you. This should be no more expensive than renting on your own and will help guard against false claims of damage and other accusations; rental companies will be less willing to make trouble with an agent who regularly sends them clients than with individual customers who they may not see again.
Our trip was wonderful. We enjoyed every moment. Our guide, Jose, was incredibly helpful, very knowledgeable and super funny. The best guide ever! While the trip was only 7 days, we felt like we've seen a lot, learned a lot and experienced amazing things. Really, every day offered unforgettable adventures, a boat ride where we saw howler monkeys, a hike in the rain forest to see a volcano nearby, a zip-lining adventure where you couldn't see the other end of the zip-line. We really had a great time. Thank you Gate 1! (also, if possible, please say thank you to Jose. He made our trip stress-free, filled with excitement, and fun. We really appreciate that!).
Hi Chayanne, thanks for your kind words and glad the blog is helpful! I don’t know where your house is in Ojochal but many of the houses in that area are up in the mountains and the road into Ojochal is not paved, so a 4×4 is a good idea especially for that area. A lot of roads in the Costa Ballena up in the mountains are steep and unpaved so they do require a 4×4.
Morning visit to Leatherback Turtle National Park. The leatherback is the largest marine reptile in the world, weighing over 1,500 pounds. Learn about Costa Rica's efforts to protect this endangered giant. The remainder of the day is free to enjoy your magnificent world class beach resort. Visit the elegant spa or swim in your hotel’s infinity pool, the largest in Central America. Lunch. Time to beachcomb while strolling your resort’s pristine beach. Dinner. BLD
A 2016 report by the U.S. government report identifies the current challenges facing the education system, including the high dropout rate among high school students. The country needs even more workers who are fluent in English and languages such as Portuguese, Mandarin and French. It would also benefit from more graduates in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs, according to the report.[87]
With a name like Lookout at Playa Tortuga, this property boasts secluded beaches and lush jungles unlike any other. Home to over 250 species of birds around the property, guests should keep an eye out for some of the most exotic birds like the toucan. A stay at this truly secluded property means rising to the sounds of howler monkeys that wake you for early morning birding excursions. You may even spot a sloth from the window of your lovely room. This is the property of choice for those looking to experience Costa Rica’s immense biodiversity.

If you’re in good shape, you can easily climb Chirripo without technical equipment. That said, you’ll need to spend at least one night on the mountain, likely at Crestones Base Lodge, which (confusingly) is actually pretty close to the summit and takes most of a day to reach from the actual base of the range. If you’re worried about the altitude, consider spending a few days on the mountain to properly acclimate. And pack clothing for any weather conditions you can imagine: you’ll move from the tropics to the tundra as you head skyward.
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): School life expectancy (SLE) is the total number of years of schooling (primary to tertiary) that a child can expect to receive, assuming that the probability of his or her being enrolled in school at any particular future age is equal to the current enrollment ratio at that age. Caution must be maintained when utilizing this indicator in international comparisons. For example, a year or grade completed in one country is not necessarily the same in terms of educational content or qualit . . . more

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix: This entry provides the one- or two-character alphanumeric code indicating the nationality of civil aircraft. Article 20 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention), signed in 1944, requires that all aircraft engaged in international air navigation bear appropriate nationality marks. The aircraft registration number consists of two parts: a prefix consisting of a one- or two-character alphanumeric code indicating nationality and a registration suffix of one to fi . . . more
Hi Barbara, that’s definitely way too many places for only 4 days and all the destinations are very far apart for driving (arenal – monteverde around 3.5 hours, monteverde to MA is 5, MA to Uvita is around 1.5 and Uvita back to San Jose is around 3.5-4). I would cut out a couple places, for only 7 full days we usually recommend two destinations. You could stop by MA on your way to Uvita but Monteverde to MA is already a 5 hour long drive (and to and from Monteverde is a long, windy, curvy mountainous road that can be very tiring to drive because you have to go slow and carefully) and you would want to spend at least 3-5 hours in the park to get a good experience and the park closes at 4 PM. Remember it also gets dark by 6 PM every day.
The park, one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica, is a crucial sanctuary for wildlife and serves as a bridge between the Northwest’s dry, tropical forest, and the wet rainforest of the southern Pacific. As such, it supports a wide variety of waterfowl and other species, including woodpeckers, toucans, manakins, jacamars, and hundreds of other birds. Even the scarlet macaw can be found here, with an estimated 450 birds living within the park. This makes it the only area in the north Pacific to be home to a significant population of the endangered bird.
Inaccessible by car, the remote coastal region of Tortuguero provides a sanctuary for rare wildlife. It is also a primary nesting site for several species of endangered sea turtles. Canals wind through the jungle allowing you to observe the untouched beauty. Supporting eleven unique types of biospheres, it may be the most diverse place in Costa Rica! A small colorful village sits on an island sandwiched between the river and the Caribbean coastline. Ideal for serious nature enthusiasts!
Molten hot lava used to spill from this perfectly conical volcano, but in recent years activity has calmed. It still smokes from time to time and you are not allowed to hike to the crater, but the Arenal National Park is an adventure playground where you can fly through the canopy on zip wires, visit hot springs or take the hanging bridges to get as close as possible to the crater.
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.
“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.”
The Arenal Volcano is a truly picturesque volcano. If you can imagine how you would have drawn a volcano when you were a kid, that is basically what it looks like: a perfect symmetrical cone. Surrounding the volcano are lush forests that are bursting with wildlife. There are beautiful waterfalls, hanging bridges, hiking and horseback riding trails, butterfly gardens, hot springs, and zip lines tours. The Arenal Volcano National Park pretty much has it all.

Staying connected while in Costa Rica is really easy without paying $30-50 for a roaming plan.  WiFi is fairly easy to find in touristy areas in Costa Rica. Most hotels and restaurants that cater to foreigners will have free wifi for you to use during your stay. You can call and message your family/friends back home for free on your phone over the internet using Whatsapp, Facebook, Viber, Facetime, or Skype.


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).

If surfing is not your thing, but you still like being in the water, try stand up paddle boarding. It’s quite the thing in Costa Rica lately. Many people sign up for classes, but if you are just in for the fun of it, you can just rent the board and go on your own. It’s a nice way to get a good work out (it’s much harder than it looks) and explore the coast, the rivers and the lakes of Costa Rica. Most hotels and beaches rent out boards. It’s also possible to rent boards or sign up for classes online.
Nature and Costa Rica tend to go hand in hand.  25% of the country is protected land, and the variety of wildlife is as astounding as the beauty of nature.  Imagine: a birdwatching excursion into the rainforest, when suddenly you come upon the unrealistically blue waters of Rio Celeste. There are stunning landscapes no matter where you visit, from the looming Arenal Volcano to the tranquility of the Monteverde Cloud Forest.  When it comes to pure natural beauty, Costa Rica is in a class of its own!
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.

Ticos enjoy long weekends or a day trips from San Jose to relax in the variety of hot springs and thermal baths that rush along the verdant landscape. The natural volcanic activity heats the waterways that course through the tropical trees and underbrush to populate the foothills beneath the smoking volcano. Luxury travelers, honeymooners, and backpackers alike will enjoy the variety of activities the region offers while taking advantage of the rejuvenating waters. Local activities include cave tours, horseback riding, zip lining, fishing, hanging bridges, chocolate tours, cultural experiences, river rafting and whitewater rafting, rappelling, canyoning and day and night treks.

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.
One of the most popular destinations for those interested in Costa Rica’s unique cultural ambiance is the craft city of Sarchi. Set within Costa Rica’s Central Valley, this easily-accessible town is one of the best-known in the country.  Traditionally, the elaborate and brightly painted oxcarts that make Sarchi famous were the only means of transportation for the coffee that makes up so much of this areas agriculture. Now, visitors delight in the abundance of small family-owned woodworking or crafting shops. Sarchi also features one of the country’s most beautiful churches, an expansive 17-acre botanical garden, and the world’s largest oxcart – crafted in 2006 in a (successful) attempt to get the town’s name in The Guinness Book of World Records!

The Nicoya Peninsula offers an incredibly diverse and beautiful region of Costa Rica with miles of pristine Pacific coastline. Part of the Guanacaste province, it provides off-the-beaten-path beaches and old world Costa Rican charm. Here you’ll find a variety of beaches, secluded coves, big wave surf breaks, sea turtle nesting sites, snorkeling, fishing, surfing, and the occasional all-inclusive resort.
Pharmaceuticals, financial outsourcing, software development, and ecotourism have become the prime industries in Costa Rica's economy. High levels of education among its residents make the country an attractive investing location. Since 1999, tourism earns more foreign exchange than the combined exports of the country's three main cash crops: bananas and pineapples especially,[98] but also other crops, including coffee.[99] Coffee production played a key role in Costa Rica's history and in 2006, was the third cash crop export.[99] As a small country, Costa Rica now provides under 1% of the world's coffee production.[48] In 2015, the value of coffee exports was US$305.9 million, a small part of the total agricultural exports of US$2.7 billion.[98] Coffee production increased by 13.7% percent in 2015-16, declined by 17.5% in 2016–17, but was expected to increase by about 15% in the subsequent year.[100]
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