Costa Rica is ranked third in the world and first among the Americas in terms of the 2010 Environmental Performance Index. And the New Economics Foundation (NEF) ranked Costa Rica as the happiest nation in the world, both in 2009 and in 2012. This same organization (NEF) ranked Costa Rica as the "greenest" country in the world. Among budget travelers and increasingly among ordinary tourists Costa Rica is ranked as the most expensive country in Central America and perhaps in the whole of Latin America. Wine, chocolate, coffee, entrance fees for national parks, are expensive compared to prices in Western Europe and North America.

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!


Costa Rican culture is often summed up in two words: ‘pura vida’. It literally means, ‘the pure life’, and it is often said as a greeting, farewell or to show appreciation. The concept of ‘pura vida’ is better experienced than explained, but essentially, it is both an attitude and a feeling. It means being friendly and polite, taking it easy, relaxing, and being thankful for what you have.
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.
White, gold, tan, and gray sand decorate the hundreds of beaches found along the Pacific and Caribbean coasts of Costa Rica for incredible surfing. Surfers have flocked to Costa Rica for decades in search of the perfect waves and to soak up the laid-back lifestyle of Pura Vida. Whether an experienced surfer or one eager to learn while under the guidance of a supportive instructor, Costa Rica offers an abundance of celebrated spots, including Matapalo and Jaco Beach on the Central Pacific, Nosara on the Nicoya Peninsula and Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean Coast.

The Central Highlands offer a different and distinctive experience in Costa Rica away from the tropical heat and familiar images of the rainforest. Monteverde remains one of the most popular destinations in Costa Rica due to its thick green foliage, eco-friendly accommodations, and volcanic peaks, and cool, misty weather unique to the Cost Rican climate.
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
The diversity of Costa Rica is not limited to the ecosystems and the microclimates but is also embodied in the range of accommodations that allow visitors to experience the jungle terrain, the stunning cloud forests, the vibrant rainforests, and the secluded beaches as they desire. With a range of four and five-star resorts, along with boutique eco-friendly lodges, the remote countryside could be as luxurious and opulent as the bustling heart of the capital city.  Travelers in search of relaxation can find comfort in the form of resplendent soulful retreats hidden in the mountains or listening to crashing waves on the Pacific while thrill-seekers discover gorgeous eco-luxury resorts reachable only by traversing whitewater.

I studied in Costa Rica (I lived in San Jose) for a semester in college and boy, I didn’t even come close to doing all the wonderful things on your list. The highlights for me were probably visiting the Arenal/La Fortuna area, la catarata there, and really just enjoying everything that makes la vida de pura vida so wonderful. I’ll leave out the cockroaches that were often visitors at my first host family’s house 🙂
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!
Giant stone spheres were first discovered in the southern Caribbean region of Costa Rica in the 1930s. Some of the stones weight as much as 16 tons, so it is a great mystery as to who made them and how they got all over the country. There have been over 300 of them found, yet no one is really sure how they were made; though it is thought that some may be up to 1,000 years old. The quarries where the type of stone that these spheres are made from are at least 50 miles (80 kilometers) from any of the giant stones that have been discovered. You can see these mysterious balls at El Sitio Museo Finca 6 in Palmar Sur.
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.
This morning, head through Costa Rica's Central Valley. Stop at the artisan village of Sarchi, nestled on the slopes of the Central Mountain Range. Here you can shop for colorful, traditional Costa Rican handicrafts. Visit an oxcart factory where oxcarts are hand-painted with elaborate designs. Considered the national symbol of Costa Rica, oxcarts were historically used for the transport of coffee beans and supplies. Continue through Costa Rica's famous coffee growing region. Lunch. Enjoy a guided tour at a coffee plantation. Sample locally grown coffee. Costa Rica's climate and rich soil help create exceptional coffee. Visit a butterfly garden. Then, return to Costa Rica's capital, San José. Dinner. BLD

There is a section of Rio Tárcoles that is especially famous for its abundance of very large American crocodiles. You can walk out onto a bridge and look down to see dozens of massive crocodiles laying on the embankment or just floating at the surface; a view that is straight out of a nightmare! You will pass this bridge when you are driving from San Jose toward Jaco Beach. You can’t miss it because you will see plenty of people on the side of the bridge admiring these ancient beasts.
The diversity of Costa Rica is not limited to the ecosystems and the microclimates but is also embodied in the range of accommodations that allow visitors to experience the jungle terrain, the stunning cloud forests, the vibrant rainforests, and the secluded beaches as they desire. With a range of four and five-star resorts, along with boutique eco-friendly lodges, the remote countryside could be as luxurious and opulent as the bustling heart of the capital city.  Travelers in search of relaxation can find comfort in the form of resplendent soulful retreats hidden in the mountains or listening to crashing waves on the Pacific while thrill-seekers discover gorgeous eco-luxury resorts reachable only by traversing whitewater.

Drake Bay, and particularly the nearby Cano Island which sits around 13 miles off the coast, is a wonderland for nature lovers, explorers, and adventurers. Tucked away between beaches, rainforests, and rocky cliffs, the destination is perfect for those looking for a place to get away from the crowds. Going to Drake Bay is definitely what to do in Costa Rica when searching for a quieter place.
Costa Rica is home to six active volcanoes, a few of which are safe enough to be widely popular for hikes. Trek to Poas Volcano’s steaming blue crater pool, visible from a lookout point at its namesake national park; or explore Arenal Volcano’s biodiverse foothills formed by lava flows. The most accessible volcano, Irazu, is ringed in a cloud forest that’s accessible by car–it’s also the most visited national park in Costa Rica.
Due to small, but continuous, immigration from Asia and the Middle East, other religions have grown, the most popular being Buddhism, with about 100,000 practitioners (over 2% of the population).[137] Most Buddhists are members of the Han Chinese community of about 40,000 with some new local converts. There is also a small Muslim community of about 500 families, or 0.001% of the population.[138]

After relaxing in the rainforest lodges and on the pristine beaches of Costa Rica, it is time to get into the party spirit. Visit in October and you may just coincide with carnival in the Caribbean coastal city of Puerto Limón, an explosion of extravagant colourful costumes, dancing in the streets and spicy creole dishes. This is where the Caribbean culture of the country comes to life, celebrating its West Indian roots and inviting everyone to join the party.


The mountains surrounding the Central Valley offer a perfect altitude of nearly 3,700 feet above sea level that grows to over 5,575 feet above sea level for an ideal environment in which to cultivate coffee. The valley also keeps an average spring-like temperature year-round. The Talamanca Mountains border the south and the Poas, Barva, and Irazu volcanoes frame the northern edges of the bustling city. Contemporary art galleries bring insight into the seductive art scene while the Central Market provides visitors with a glimpse of the Tico lifestyle as locals traverse the aisles in the 19th century donut-like structure in search of fresh produce, fish, and meat.

Travel with someone else when possible. A trusted friend is best, of course - not just someone you met last night at the hostel, but he or she will do in a pinch. (Trust your gut feeling with new friends – most are great, but some may be con artists!) Traveling with a friend makes the journey more entertaining and more fun: you can talk and share travel stories and each of you can take turns sleeping on long bus rides. Also, there is the fact that "two heads are better than one" and it's always good to be able to brainstorm if you aren't sure what the answer to your travel question or concern is.

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.


Read our guide to visiting Rio Celeste for more information on how to best experience one of the top sights in Costa Rica. We also highly recommend to stay a night or two in Bijagua, the town that is the gateway to Rio Celeste. It’s a beautiful, small rural town and community that is excellent for birdwatching, nature and wildlife. Stay at Casitas Tenorio B&B (save 10% in the link), one of our favorite hotels in Costa Rica!
Costa Rica also comprises several islands. Cocos Island (24 square kilometres or 9.3 square miles) stands out because of its distance from the continental landmass, 480 kilometres (300 mi) from Puntarenas, but Isla Calero is the largest island of the country (151.6 square kilometres or 58.5 square miles). Over 25% of Costa Rica's national territory is protected by SINAC (the National System of Conservation Areas), which oversees all of the country's protected areas. Costa Rica also possesses the greatest density of species in the world.[58]
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