Temperatures are more moderate along the country’s mountainous spine and in the populous Central Valley. The capital, San Jose, sits at nearly 4,000 feet above sea level, above the worst of the heat. In the eastern mountains, a sort of eternal early spring persists: above 7,000 or 8,000 feet, highs above 65 degrees are rare, and nighttime lows routinely dip below freezing above 10,000 feet or so.


Welcome to the world as seen through the eyes of Cameron and Natasha. On this site you’ll find our experiences, photography, and informative travel guides. We love getting to off the beaten path destinations and aren’t afraid to go it alone. We hope to inspire other independent travelers and provide the resources to do so. If you want to find us, just head to the nearest coffee shop or check back here!
Costa Rica is a country with an extraordinary wealth of things to do, but regardless of your travel interests, you're going to want to spend time at one of the country's great beaches. The lion's share of beach tourism is concentrated on the Pacific side, in the Central Pacific region near San José, the Nicoya Peninsula, and in the dry tropical forests of Guanacaste. Less touristed, but no less beautiful are the beaches in the tropical rainforest of the southern Pacific coast near Corcovado National Park, or on the exotic, rastafarian, eco-tourism paradise of the Caribbean side.
Located in Arenal Volcano National Park in the province of Alajuela, Arenal Volcano is the most famous of Costa Rica’s active volcanoes and has been drawing crowds of visitors since it unexpectedly and dramatically erupted in 1968. For the following 40 years, Arenal Volcano has regularly produced pyroclastic surges sending rivers of lava flowing down its impressive cone-shaped sides. Arenal is currently in a resting phase and is closely monitored to keep visitors to the national park safe. The most popular activities in the park are hiking and bird-watching – there are over 500 varieties of birds to be spotted as you hike through the rainforest to the various observation points. Other activities you can enjoy include bathing in hot water springs and river rafting. Read more
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.
Pro Tip: Most Costa Rican vehicles have standard transmissions – stick shifts. This is a scary prospect for most North Americans, many of whom have no reason to know how to drive stick. If you know anyone with a standard transmission vehicle, ask them to show you the ropes before you arrive in Costa Rica. It’s better to learn in a parking lot near your house than an unfamiliar dirt road with jungle on one side and a sheer drop on the other.
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.
Third, don’t read too much. The amount of information you can find on line is overwhelming and you will end up getting totally confused about what to do and see. Have an initial idea in mind about an area or areas you want to see, and then start checking on hotel accommodations in each location so that you can start getting some rates as well. If you get confused or frustrated, it’s time for you to contact a local travel agent in Costa Rica; someone who knows the country and can guide you well.
For those who want to spend more time in the Arenal area – one of the nicest places to visit in Costa Rica – Sky Adventures also operates a Sky Walk. This experience involves walking across a series of suspension bridges and trails, and allows travelers to be introduced to the flora and fauna of the forest canopy in a more relaxed way, and from a fresh perspective.
Costa Rica is among the Latin America countries that have become popular destinations for medical tourism.[168][169] In 2006, Costa Rica received 150,000 foreigners that came for medical treatment.[168][169][170] Costa Rica is particularly attractive to Americans due to geographic proximity, high quality of medical services, and lower medical costs.[169]
Third, don’t read too much. The amount of information you can find on line is overwhelming and you will end up getting totally confused about what to do and see. Have an initial idea in mind about an area or areas you want to see, and then start checking on hotel accommodations in each location so that you can start getting some rates as well. If you get confused or frustrated, it’s time for you to contact a local travel agent in Costa Rica; someone who knows the country and can guide you well.
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.
Costa Rica has developed a system of payments for environmental services.[65] Similarly, Costa Rica has a tax on water pollution to penalize businesses and homeowners that dump sewage, agricultural chemicals, and other pollutants into waterways.[101] In May 2007, the Costa Rican government announced its intentions to become 100% carbon neutral by 2021.[102] By 2015, 93 percent of the country's electricity came from renewable sources.[103] In 2016, the country produced 98% of its electricity from renewable sources and ran completely on renewable sources for 110 continuous days.[104]
Visitor volumes slump during the summer months, when North American beaches temporarily become habitable and more persistent precipitation dampens the beachgoing experience down south. Summer is the cheapest time to visit, with flights anywhere from 20% to 40% cheaper, and four- and five-star hotels upwards of 50% cheaper, than winter and early spring. Last-minute hotel and flight deals are more common in summer, too: great for accommodating a spur-of-the-moment extended weekend on the beach.

In 1838, long after the Federal Republic of Central America ceased to function in practice, Costa Rica formally withdrew and proclaimed itself sovereign. The considerable distance and poor communication routes between Guatemala City and the Central Plateau, where most of the Costa Rican population lived then and still lives now, meant the local population had little allegiance to the federal government in Guatemala. From colonial times to now, Costa Rica's reluctance to become economically tied with the rest of Central America has been a major obstacle to efforts for greater regional integration.[44]
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