December 20-ish through the end of the year, and Holy Week, the week before Easter, are the country’s monster tourism times. Prices go up and availability goes down dramatically during those weeks. Not only do foreigners flock here, but you’re competing for space with Costa Ricans. They have the time off, too. (Traffic-snarled San José becomes a virtual ghost town during Holy Week, called Semana Santa in Spanish.) Make hotel and car-rental reservations weeks—better yet, months—in advance if you plan to be here during those periods. And be prepared for one arcane oddity of Costa Rican law if you’re here during Holy Week: Holy Thursday and Good Friday are legally dry days in many communities, and no alcoholic beverages may be served or sold.
If you are planning on renting a car it is almost always possible to experience the same activities as the day tours you will come across online but on your own. For example, a popular travel tour company offers a day trip from San Jose to La Fortuna for volcano viewing and relaxing at a fancy hot spring. This tour also includes lunch and dinner for $130.
Another important factor behind Costa Rica's poverty was the lack of a significant indigenous population available for encomienda (forced labor), which meant most of the Costa Rican settlers had to work on their own land, preventing the establishment of large haciendas (plantations). For all these reasons, Costa Rica was, by and large, unappreciated and overlooked by the Spanish Crown and left to develop on its own. The circumstances during this period are believed to have led to many of the idiosyncrasies for which Costa Rica has become known, while concomitantly setting the stage for Costa Rica's development as a more egalitarian society than the rest of its neighbors. Costa Rica became a "rural democracy" with no oppressed mestizo or indigenous class. It was not long before Spanish settlers turned to the hills, where they found rich volcanic soil and a milder climate than that of the lowlands.
If you like culture, I recommend flying into San Jose. There are a handful of museums and cultural sites in the city that are really interesting and the city is really the only place in Costa Rica with that many excellent museums and historical/cultural sites. Then head down to the South Pacific towards Panama. The SOuth Pacific area: Dominical, Uvita and Ojochal are really beautiful and full of nature, here are some things to do in Uvita: Things to do in Uvita and Dominical and here is our San Jose guide: Things to do in San Jose
The walks are led by naturalist guides so it’s easy to learn all about local animal species and native plants while checking out the upper levels of the rainforest canopy, where around 90 percent of forest organisms are located. The trails are generally flat and clear, so are suitable for walkers of many ages and abilities – no wonder this is one of the top things to do in Costa Rica.
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.
Costa Rica is home to over 500,000 species of plants and animals. Those seeking to spot local wildlife will be enthralled by Costa Rica’s unique flora and fauna. And the spectacular variety of wildlife isn’t limited to the land – scuba diving is another popular activity, with Costa Rica boasting some of the most beautiful bays, beaches and reefs in the world.
If there is one thing that killed us (and our electronics) it was the humidity in Costa Rica. We found the humidity in Costa Rica particularly bad in the south, along with the coast, and pretty much anywhere away from the cloud forest. It was particularly hard to dry our clothes and keep them from not smelling and molding, but the real problem was with our electronics going haywire.
The Del Toro waterfall is Costa Rica’s largest and most spectacular waterfall. The sheer magnitude and power of this waterfall that appears out of the dense jungle will surely take your breath away. There are great trails and lookout points throughout the property surrounding the waterfall. Visiting the Del Toro Waterfall is an amazing way to spend the day surrounded by nature. This is also a chance to see an abundance of wildlife. If you are only going to visit one waterfall on your trip, visit this one.
My boyfriend and I are going to Costa Rica the first week of April. We’re going for ten days and are hopping from San Jose to Manuel Antonio National Park, La Fortuna, and finally the coast for beautiful beaches. As for La Fortuna, I’ve noticed that both the Waterfall and Arenal closes at 4pm. What do you recommend for activities after 4pm? Also, which beach do you recommend going first?
“Gringo buses,” or tourist shuttles, are much more expensive than intercity buses. They’re also far more convenient for tourists traveling from the airport to coastal resort towns, where door-to-door service is available. (If you take the regular bus, you’ll have to walk a kilometer or two with your luggage.) Easy Ride, one of several aboveboard operators, runs regular routes from San Jose to Jaco and other coastal towns for $45 to $90 one-way, depending on destination and demand. Private rides cost roughly double.
Cano Island is a protected marine park, with fishing prohibited for three miles around it. The harvesting of marine life and collection of shells is also against the law. As such, the waters are full of coral, fish, and other sea creatures such as reef sharks, sting rays, turtles, and eels, making it one of Costa Rica points of interest for marine life.
Ummm how cool is this? Yeap, that’s Thomas living his best life sliding down a waterfall. Also, yes, I was too wimpy to try it. Anyway, this is the Uvita waterfall. If you are visiting the Uvita area, this waterfall is 100% worth a visit. Admission was only about $2 and the walk to the fall was only about five minutes long. Go here. You won’t regret it.
Note that occasionally, immigration officials will stop buses that are travelling from cities near the border to check identification cards and passports. If you don't like carrying your actual passport on you, make sure you have a copy of your passport AND a copy of the stamp showing the date you entered Costa Rica to validate you haven't been in the country more than 3 months.
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!).
That is a primary reason why the major credit rating agencies – Standard & Poor's, Moody's and Fitch – have downgraded Costa Rica's risk ratings. For example, Moody's Investors Service in early 2017 reduced the rating to Ba2 from Ba1, with a negative outlook due to the "rising government debt burden and persistently high fiscal deficit, which was 5.2% of GDP in 2016" and the "lack of political consensus to implement measures to reduce the fiscal deficit [which] will result in further pressure on the government's debt ratios". The country is currently debating major fiscal reform legislation to cut the budget deficits and stop the growth in debt, one of the highest in Latin America.
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.
Finally, one of the top things to do in Costa Rica is seeing turtles – nesting and hatching. The best place to see them is Tortuguero National Park. Regardless of the place, make sure that watching the turtles has no impact on them. Things such as intense light and touching are extremely bad for these animals – if you opt for a guided tour to see turtles, make sure this is 100% responsible!
If marketing experts could draw up an ideal destination, Costa Rica might be it. The 'rich coast' has earned its name and stands apart from its Central American neighbors on the cutting edge of so many trends: surfing, farm-to-table restaurants, and sustainable tourism. Developing infrastructure is balanced by green energy such as wind and hydro. One of the world's most biodiverse countries, with half a million species – from insects to the giant anteaters that devour them – it also protects one-quarter of its wild lands through law.
No matter how well you intend to keep yourself covered with insect repellent, mosquitos are elusive and an inescapable part of the travel experience, whether visiting the lowlands, coastlines, and valleys across Costa Rica. It is important to wear long pants, long sleeves, a hat, shoes, and fresh repellent, most notably at dusk when the mosquitos are their most active.
The Butterfly Conservatory near Lake Arenal in La Fortuna, is a really nice place to spend a couple of hours. You’ll see some really cool butterflies and reptiles, take a nice nature walk and meet some very knowledgeable people who work there. You could combine this with a hike on the Arenal 1968 trail or a kayak trip around the lake. They are all located close together.
Prices include airfare, fuel surcharges, airport taxes and fees. Air & land tour prices apply from the gateway airport or city specified in the Package Highlights. Prices will vary from alternative gateway airports or cities and may be higher. The total price will be clearly displayed prior to any deposit being required. Additional baggage charges may apply. CST#: 2051249-40
PK: Don’t believe that it won’t rain in the ‘dry’ season. Don’t leave all your reservations until the last minute-especially if you have your heart set on one particular place. Things fill up fast. Don’t worry if people don’t e-mail you back; call your hotel or tour operator instead. Make sure you have enough space on your phone for taking photos and videos; Use the plane ride to delete unnecessary space. Call your hotel before you arrive to ask about road conditions. Don’t follow the weather apps; in our area they are useless.
Costa Rica is the land of many tours – a place where you can go white water rafting in the morning, spot monkeys and toucans in the afternoon, and wind down the day at natural hot springs. The country’s diversity of things to do and places to see promises hours of relaxation, adventure, activity, and leisure: in other words, Costa Rica vacations perfectly tailored to your preferences.
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.
Hi Jim, I have seen a couple of ATM’s around the Flamingo Beach hotel and most of the North American Cards works here, just make sure to ask your bank about international withdrawal fees and all that. In the worst case scenario you will have to go to Tamarindo downtown where you will find many banks and ATM’s people from all over world use them without any problem.
Historically, Costa Rica has generally enjoyed greater peace and more consistent political stability than many of its fellow Latin American nations. Since the late 19th century, however, Costa Rica has experienced two significant periods of violence. In 1917–19, General Federico Tinoco Granados ruled as a military dictator until he was overthrown and forced into exile. The unpopularity of Tinoco's regime led, after he was overthrown, to a considerable decline in the size, wealth, and political influence of the Costa Rican military. In 1948, José Figueres Ferrer led an armed uprising in the wake of a disputed presidential election between Rafael Ángel Calderón Guardia (who had been president between 1940 and 1944) and Otilio Ulate Blanco. With more than 2,000 dead, the resulting 44-day Costa Rican Civil War was the bloodiest event in Costa Rica during the 20th century.