Costa Rica is in Central America. It is bordered by both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, with Panama to the south and Nicaragua to the north. The country's total area is 19,730 square miles (51,100 sq km), which is slightly smaller than the U.S. state of West Virginia. Costa Rica's terrain varies between coastal plains and rugged mountains. The highest point is Cerro Chirripo, which rises to 12,500 feet (3,810 meters) in the Chirripó National Park.
Biting and Stinging Insects and Arachnids: Unfortunately, there are too many to name. Spiders, centipedes, scorpions, ants: all have poisonous stings or bites that demand varying degrees of concern (and impart varying degrees of pain). Since it’s nearly impossible to sort (relatively) harmless critters from dangerous ones, it’s best to avoid them all – but, at the same time, not to panic and risk antagonizing them.
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.
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.
At Rough Guides, we understand that experienced travellers want to get truly off-the-beaten-track. That’s why we’ve partnered with local experts to help you plan and book tailor-made trips that are packed with personality and stimulating adventure - at all levels of comfort. If you love planning, but find arranging the logistics exhausting, you’re in the right place.
Exploration doesn’t need to be exhausting, and Costa Rica has much to offer for those who want to recharge and enjoy the country at a leisurely pace. Whether you choose a sunset cruise, an aerial tram, a walk through the rainforest on a suspension bridge, or an afternoon soaking in a volcanic hot spring, there are many relaxing ways to experience Costa Rica’s diverse...
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.
Trafficking in persons: Trafficking in persons is modern-day slavery, involving victims who are forced, defrauded, or coerced into labor or sexual exploitation. The International Labor Organization (ILO), the UN agency charged with addressing labor standards, employment, and social protection issues, estimated in 2011 that 20.9 million people worldwide were victims of forced labor, bonded labor, forced child labor, sexual servitude, and involuntary servitude. Human trafficking is a multi-dimensional threat, depri . . . more
There are lot of biodiverse countries in the world, but in our opinion, Costa Rica is the best country in the world. Between pristine beaches on both the Pacific coast and Caribbean coast, a national park full of beautiful flora and fauna around every corner and hundreds of plant and animal species in every popular tourist destination, Costa Rica’s natural beauty cannot be beat! It’s truly a magical place. All of various attractions in Costa Rica make it a great place for relaxing and adventurous tours and activities.
Much of the historical machismo of the Central American culture has changed over the past 30 years. Where women once stayed in the home tending to the children and housework, they now pursue careers and occupations with salaries equal to men. It is still common for men to stare, whistle, or tout pickup lines at passing women, but is often considered complimentary by both the men and women involved. Confrontations are rare and considered ill-mannered in a society that prides itself on serene ambiance and politeness. Ticos say please and thank you whether speaking to servers at a restaurant, staff at a shop, or friends inside the home, formality remains integral to the culture.
Envision describes itself as “a platform for different cultures to coexist in sustainable community, and inspire one another through art, spirituality, yoga, music, dance, performance, education, sustainability, and our fundamental connection with nature.” The festival features more than 60 musical performers, non-musical performance artists on display around the clock, world-class yogis, body healing workshops, static and dynamic art installations (art is truly everywhere you look), and much more. Dozens of composting toilets, zero landfill waste of any kind distributed, biodegradable disposables such as plates and utensils, and other sustainable initiatives set Envision apart from more wasteful events of its scale. Consider attending even if this type of environment is outside of your comfort zone; it can be a truly transformative experience that will stay with you forever.
If you’re not much of a surfer but still want to get out in the water, SUP is one way to go. It’s a good workout for your whole body and a fun way to enjoy the ocean. Some of the best spots are at Playa Mantas, Playa Panama and Playa Platanares for their very calm waters. You can sign up for classes or rent boards in destinations like Playas del Coco, Tamarindo, Jaco and Golfito.
Vegetarians will find it surprisingly easy to eat well in Costa Rica. There are several International cuisine options also. In addition to American style food, Italian, Mexican, Peruvian and Indian are also available. Indian food generally has vegetarian, vegan and gluten free dishes. Try Indian Naans & Curries dishes. They taste better in Costa Rica because of natural ingredients.
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.
Spanish is the official and most spoken language in Costa Rica. All major newspapers and official business are conducted in Spanish. English is used widely in most areas, especially those frequented by tourists, and information for visitors is often bilingual or even exclusively in English. A number of businesses operated by European proprietors can accommodate guests in Spanish, English and their native languages.
Dive sites abound on both sides of Costa Rica, though the Pacific coast is more heavily trafficked. There, the area around Herradura Bay and Jaco has a number of relatively shallow, high-visibility sites that are appropriate for novices. On the Caribbean side, the area around Cahuita National Park is a hidden gem that sees just a fraction of the dive traffic of Pacific alternatives, and has sites appropriate for all skill levels. If you’re not already scuba-certified, enroll in a certification course through a local resort. These can be found for $200 to $400, depending on the location and nature of the course.
If you’re in the area for a day trip, start at the Las Pailas ranger station (entry fee: $15 per adult) and spend an hour or two on the eponymous trail that loops for a couple miles through dense forests and rocky canyons. For a longer excursion during the rainy season, set your sights on one of the park’s two spectacular waterfalls: Catarata Escondida or Catarata la Congreja. (Skip them during the dry season, when they slow to a trickle.)
Let's go surfin now, everybody’s learning how, come on and safari with meeeee! With this classic song the Beach Boys introduced the idea of surfing to people around the world. Our Surfing Safaris, taught by dedicated expert surfers, will teach you either how to surf for the first time if you’re a beginner, or show an old pro some new board moves. If you’ve always wanted to try it, Costa Rica’s the place. Most people learn in one lesson. From regular rollers to epic waves, these ocean surf breaks rock! You’ll also enjoy traveling through the scenic countryside to get there. So what are you waiting for? Let’s go surfin now!
Food – By eating at local restaurants you can expect to pay around 535-1,600 CRC (1-3 USD) for meals. These are a local favorite and will save you from paying tourist prices in other establishments. Typical meals like the traditional casado are 2,670 CRC (5 USD). Most restaurant meals will cost around 3,900 CRC (5 USD) or more. A very nice meal in a tourist area will cost around 9,000 CRC (15 USD). For cheap food, eat from the street vendors where snacks and light meals can cost as little as 265 CRC (less than 1 USD). If you plan on cooking for yourself, a week’s worth of groceries will cost around 15,000-20,000 CRC (25-35 USD).
Catarata Del Toro is a private reserve in the central mountains of Costa Rica, near San Jose International Airport. The star of the reserve is a magnificent waterfall, the largest in the country, tumbling down into an extinct volcano crater. All around you is breathtaking beauty: The rock formations, the lookouts, and the incredibly diverse flora and fauna. Catarata Del Toro Adventures enables visitors to explore this lush area while they rappel, swim, hike, take photos, watch birds, or enjoy a fresh meal at the open-air restaurant. If you want to stay longer, the reserve offers simple, rustic rooms where you can replenish your energy and continue your exploration another day.
Hi Stacey! Yes definitely that’s one of the greatest (and most confusing) thing about Cost Rica is that there are soo many places to go but it’s so hard to get around, even with a car because of times and schedules for places opening, traffic and long drives. Right now is rainy season so it does get pretty cold in the mountains and central Valley. Always best to bring a rain jacket!
In 1996, Allan Weisbecker sold all his worldly possessions and set out in search of his long-time surfing friend, Patrick, who had went missing somewhere in Central America. Traveling with only his dog, his surfboards, and his truck, Allan’s journey from Mexico to Costa Rica is a memorable one, filled with scarier moments (like evading bandits) and warmer ones (like befriending the locals). It’s really the tale of ultimate friendship.
Once in Costa Rica, distances traveled are relatively short in this small Central American country. In a few hours from the capital of San Jose by car, van or bus, one can get to both the Caribbean coast and the Pacific coast. The Panamerican highway runs from Nicaragua in the north to Panama in the south where you'll find the remote Osa Penisula & Corcovado National park.
Liberia is the capital of Guanacaste province and, thanks to the nearby international airport, the first stop for most out-of-country visitors arriving in Costa Rica’s northwest. Many continue on to the beach or north toward the volcanoes, but Liberia is worth exploring for a day or two. It’s also an affordable alternative to staying right on the beach: our first night found us at Best Western El Sitio, where rooms cost less than $60 per night and dinner cost less than $8 per person.
Costa Rica was originally explored in the early 16th century by the Spanish. The initial colonization attempts were unsuccessful due to a variety of reasons including seemingly impassible swamps along the coast, heat, pirate raids and native resistance. The first permanent settlement was established in the fertile highlands of Cartago in 1563. Costa Rica remained a colony of Spain until 1821 when the country joined forces with several other Central American provinces and declared independence from Spain in 1821. In 1838, Costa Rica separated as its own independent country. The country later dissolved its military forces in 1949 and has remained without armed forces since then.
One thing is for certain about Costa Rica – the people are incredibly friendly. Costa Ricans or “Ticos” are happy to welcome you to their beautiful country, help you out, chat with you, and share their piece of paradise with visitors. We also found that most Ticos could speak English well too, but it certainly will help to pick up a few Spanish words.Here’s a small pocket phrasebook for your trip.
Environment - current issues: This entry lists the most pressing and important environmental problems. The following terms and abbreviations are used throughout the entry: Acidification - the lowering of soil and water pH due to acid precipitation and deposition usually through precipitation; this process disrupts ecosystem nutrient flows and may kill freshwater fish and plants dependent on more neutral or alkaline conditions (see acid rain). Acid rain - characterized as containing harmful levels of sulfur dioxi . . . more
The name is a bit misleading: I don’t think anybody ever saw any jaguars there (the center’s name is a dedication to the memory of an abandoned baby jaguar whose mother was murdered by farmers). Yet, the sanctuary does have wildcats, anteaters, owls, marsupials, sloths, monkeys, deer, parrots, toucans, snakes, and frogs, which make it worth supporting, a visiting is one of the nicest things to do in Costa Rica.
“On my Sunday radio program, I’ve several times mentioned the attractive price of $995 per person plus airfare for a 10-day, fully-escorted trip to Costa Rica offered thoughout the year by the distinguished Chicago tour operator called Caravan Tours. The price includes all accommodations, all meals, and all motorcoach sightseeing and transportation...highly affordable vacations. ” ‘The Travel Show with Arthur Frommer’
Our trip was wonderful! Ricardo Bolanos, our tour guide was wonderful!! Very personable, knowledgeable, organized, and just a great guy. Gate 1 has a real asset in Ricardo. Also, Jose , our bus driver was unbelievably good! He navigated the narrow mountain roads with numerous, narrow, one lane bridges exceptionally well. He definitely earned his money! Looking forward to our next trip with Gate 1.
The My Costa Rica team has traveled extensively in Costa Rica and we know our tour providers well. We conduct periodic site inspections of the properties and tours that we represent so that we can guarantee their quality. Our office is located in the capital of San Jose, Costa Rica, so we meet our guests at the airport when they arrive and are on call for them during their entire vacation.
Accommodation – Hostel dorm beds are between 5,500 to 10,000 CRC (10-15 USD) per night. Private rooms in hostels are usually around 15,000 CRC (25 USD). Free WiFi is standard, and most hostels also include free breakfast. The majority of hostels around the country also offer self-catering facilities, too. Budget hotels begin around 17,000 CRC (30 USD) per night for a double/twin room and go up from there (breakfast is often included). For Airbnb, shared accommodation usually begins around 15,000 CRC (25 USD) per night. For an entire home or apartment, expect to pay around 25,000 CRC (40 USD) per night. For those traveling with a tent, camping is an option. Most campgrounds usually charge 5,500 CRC (10 USD) per night though you’ll pay up to double that for camping in national parks.
In most parts of the country, you will be completely fine drinking water from the sink. Just make sure to ask your hotel ahead of time to make sure the water in your hotel room is actually drinkable. I’m a water addict and I must say the water quality here is pretty great. We always bring a reusable water bottle while traveling and just fill it up as we need. If you are in a really rural area I would suggest buying water just in case.
When speaking to Ticos from around San Jose, you will quickly learn the connection people have to the Gold Museum, finding it much more informative and elegant than any other exhibit in San Jose, including the National Museum. If you choose one gallery to visit during your time in the capital, the Gold Museum, the Museo de Oro, offers displays priceless artifacts that are connected to pre-Columbian peoples, including historical currency and regional art.
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.
Age structure: This entry provides the distribution of the population according to age. Information is included by sex and age group as follows: 0-14 years (children), 15-24 years (early working age), 25-54 years (prime working age), 55-64 years (mature working age), 65 years and over (elderly). The age structure of a population affects a nation's key socioeconomic issues. Countries with young populations (high percentage under age 15) need to invest more in schools, while countries with older population . . . more
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
Meet your guide upon pickup from your San Jose hotel and stop for breakfast at Rancho Roberto's in Guapiles. After your meal, you'll travel through the Braulio Carrillo National Park, one of Costa Rica’s largest national parks. Pass numerous rivers, waterfalls and mountains covered in dense forests on your drive, until you reach a banana plantation. Here, board a boat and set sail for Tortuguero National Park. Since there are no roads to the park from Tortuguero village, access to the vast network of freshwater lagoons and creeks is by boat. Ride for approximately one hour to reach the canals and keep an eye out for all kind of birds in the lush vegetation along the way.Tortuguero, meaning ‘turtle catcher,’ formed from an archipelago of volcanic islands where high rainfall eventually created the bio-diverse wetlands – great for nature lovers! During your 3-hour boat tour of Tortuguero National Park, your expert guide will be on hand to teach you about the history and wildlife as you cruise between the marshy isles. Midday, you’ll have time for a lunch break at Evergreen Lodge, located just five minutes by boat from the entrance to the park. Under the high ceilings of the lovely main dining room, enjoy the ambiance that complements the surrounding jungle landscape.Get an up-close look at the park's great variety of flora and fauna as you ride among the canals. If you’re lucky, you might spot such wildlife as the spectacled caiman, southern river otter and possibly even the endangered West Indian manatee. The park is also home to sloths, howler and capuchin monkeys, tiny frogs and green iguanas.The secluded, black-sand beaches of Tortuguero National Park are some of the most important breeding grounds for the green sea turtle. These ancient reptiles once neared extinction as adults were hunted for their meat and their eggs were taken. You'll get the chance to see the sites where the green sea turtles nest and learn from your guide about the park’s efforts to protect this important species.After exploring the national park, enjoy a return 1-hour boat ride to dry land and then board your coach for the trip back to San Jose, where you’ll be dropped off at your hotel in the evening.
It’s also one of the few places in Costa Rica where English is the de facto language. That’s down to the area’s unique Afro-Caribbean pedigree, which shows in local cuisine and culture too. The best way to experience the unique flavors (literally) of this distinctive corner of Costa Rica is to spring for Wolaba Tours’ 3.5-hour Food and Culture Tour. It’ll set you back $65 per person, but you won’t walk away hungry.
Located along the Pacific coastline of Costa Rica, the Las Baulas National Marine Park is named for the leatherback turtle (baulas), which it endeavors to both showcase and protect. The park encompasses Tamarindo/Playa Grande Beach, where leatherback turtles have been coming ashore to lay their eggs for thousands of years. At Las Baulas you can go on a night Turtle Tour (after a briefing session) in the hope of seeing one of these enormous sea creatures coming ashore to lay her eggs, or perhaps you may see the baby turtles making their perilous way back to the ocean. The park is also home to mangrove swamps, which can be explored by sea kayak, and you can enjoy beach walks, swimming, and surfing during daylight hours.
It really depends what part of the country you want to visit. Some parts, especially Guanacaste stay fairly dry for the majority of the year, so September or end of November would be good times to travel. It’s the lowest season and you’d find the best rates, but unfortunately for the same reason, you will find fewer options. Many hotels and restaurants close in Sept-Oct. South Pacific gets more rain and places like Monteverde for example, are rainy no matter what time of the year you visit. Generally, May to November is considered to be Green Season, so if you want a good balance of sun/value, plan a visit for the start or very end of the green season.
Drinking water source: This entry provides information about access to improved or unimproved drinking water sources available to segments of the population of a country. Improved drinking water - use of any of the following sources: piped water into dwelling, yard, or plot; public tap or standpipe; tubewell or borehole; protected dug well; protected spring; or rainwater collection. Unimproved drinking water - use of any of the following sources: unprotected dug well; unprotected spring; cart with small tank or . . . more
Five rivers have their headwaters here, making it a popular destination for anglers. For best results, you’ll want to hire your own guide, which you can do for as little as $50 for a half-day trip. If you’re content not to fish and don’t want to explore the backcountry or summits, you can explore on foot any of the short, moderately strenuous trails originating at the main visitor center.
Make sure to check the car carefully before you sign off on the damage sheet. Check the oil, brake fluid, fuel gauge (to make sure it's full) and that there is a spare tire with a good air pressure and a jack. Look up the Spanish word for "scratches" (rayas) and other relevant terminology first, so you can at least scrutinize the rental company's assessment. Ask them to write down all the minor damages, not just check on the drawing, and keep a copy of this document on you.
Median age: This entry is the age that divides a population into two numerically equal groups; that is, half the people are younger than this age and half are older. It is a single index that summarizes the age distribution of a population. Currently, the median age ranges from a low of about 15 in Niger and Uganda to 40 or more in several European countries and Japan. See the entry for "Age structure" for the importance of a young versus an older age structure and, by implication, a low versus a high . . . more
In Playa Conchal, the water is very calm, it has very few waves, and the water is super clear. The water has a perfect temperature, It does not feel too cold in the morning and the in afternoons it's warm, which is ideal for enjoying snorkeling. You can see fish, in all their variety, small and full of beautiful colors. You can also see many black sea urchins; you can carefully play with them. You can also observe the beautiful ecosystems where they live. This is one of the things you can do in this Costa Rican beach, at no cost, the only that you need is a snorkel mask and you’re ready to enjoy.
There are two internal airlines that connect the major tourist towns. You are limited to 25 or 30 pounds of carry-on luggage per person, depending on the airline. Nature Air allows more luggage per person, as their planes are larger and are also twin-engine. The main airlines are NatureAir  and Sansa . In 2017, 2 deadly accidents happened with Nature Air : one in september with 2 killed on 6 and in december 2017, all 10 passenger and both crew members aboard Nature Air Flight 9916 were killed in a crash shortly after takeoff. According to Tico Times, the local newspaper from January 14th, announces that Civil Aviation autorities suspend all operations of Nature Air which had to cancel all the flights. Travelers tried to be refunded of the cancelled flights, but Nature Air didn't refund the money and sent to customers this message by email : "Gentleman, I have sent your emails to my superior. I would like to help you but there is nothing more that I can do, in the end I know that you will not have your money back because the company has established it, they are in crisis and do not have money to make these repayments, I am sorry ." So a lot of travelers have never been refunded by Nature Air for their cancelled flights and there a lot of complaints on social networks and travel forums. In april 2018, the situation remains unchanged. To be followed for the future...
The good news is that there is a brand new highway known as Autopista Del Sol (Highway of the Sun) that stretches from the beaches around Orotina all the way into San Jose. This highway is smooth as U.S. or European highways, in fact it was constructed by a company that is based in Spain. There are tolls along this highway but if you travel the entire stretch it will still only come out to be a few dollars in total. 2011 update: unfortunately, problems have been found with this highway and parts of it are sometimes closed for repairs.
Costa Rica is a popular regional immigration destination because of its job opportunities and social programs. Almost 9% of the population is foreign-born, with Nicaraguans comprising nearly three-quarters of the foreign population. Many Nicaraguans who perform unskilled seasonal labor enter Costa Rica illegally or overstay their visas, which continues to be a source of tension. Less than 3% of Costa Rica's population lives abroad. The overwhelming majority of expatriates have settled in the United States after completing a university degree or in order to work in a highly skilled field.
Over 840 species of birds have been identified in Costa Rica. As is the case in much of Central America, the avian species in Costa Rica are a mix of North and South American species. The country's abundant fruit trees, many of which bear fruit year round, are hugely important to the birds, some of whom survive on diets that consist only of one or two types of fruit. Some of the country's most notable avian species include the resplendent quetzal, scarlet macaw, three-wattled bellbird, bare-necked umbrellabird, and the keel-billed toucan. The Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad is allowed to collect royalties on any biological discoveries of medical importance. Costa Rica is a center of biological diversity for reptiles and amphibians, including the world's fastest running lizard, the spiny-tailed iguana (Ctenosaura similis).