The birding hotspots account for one tenth of a percent of Costa Rica’s surface area along with nearly .35 percent of the protected landscape to provide a paradise for nature lovers of all kinds. The preeminent bird watching lodges across the country account for the variety of species that habituate and nest in the different biospheres offers visitors a chance to view rare birds such as Resplendent quetzals, Scarlet macaws, Keel-billed toucans, Snowcaps, Traveler hummingbirds, and Motmots.
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.
What makes Carara one of Costa Rica attractions is the fact that, covering close to 13,000 acres, apart from so many bird species, it is also home to a diverse array of other wildlife to keep an eye out for. This list includes sloths, monkeys, deer, armadillos, peccaries and even big cats and crocodiles. The park also has various interpretative trails to explore, even for those who are less active. Many tour companies operate tours (including hiking, river boating, and birding excursions) in Carara, so it is easy to find guides to help see this part of Costa Rica in depth.
Other spectacular natural sights on Costa Rica vacations include famous Arenal Volcano, which is particularly stunning by night when you can often see lava glowing on its sides. Poas Volcano is known for its bright green lake; it is in a national park that has a number of magnificent waterfalls. You do not want to forget your camera for these once-in-a-lifetime sights!
The literacy rate in Costa Rica is approximately 97 percent and English is widely spoken primarily due to Costa Rica's tourism industry. When the army was abolished in 1949, it was said that the "army would be replaced with an army of teachers". Universal public education is guaranteed in the constitution; primary education is obligatory, and both preschool and high school are free. Students who finish 11th grade receive a Costa Rican Bachillerato Diploma accredited by the Costa Rican Ministry of Education.
Combo adventure tours are one of our favorite things to do in Guanacaste. We love Guachipelin Adventure Park in the Rincon de la Vieja area which is a full day of ziplining, horseback riding, lunch, river tubing, hot springs and mud baths. It’s an awesome adventure in Costa Rica that allows you to experience the best of the volcano and dry tropical forest.
Pick the most middle of nowhere destination you can find within an hour of wherever you are and plunk down $1.50 for a round trip chicken bus ticket. You may meet some real characters or see a tree full of toucans along the way. You may end up watching a soccer match, exploring a unique cemetery, or finding out what an old fashioned cattle roundup and branding is like.
Studying in the San Jose area has many benefits. There is the luxury aspect of city life since it tends to be much more modern than the rustic beach locations. Host families and Spanish schools tend to have nicer facilities. San Jose also has fewer tourists so it is great from an immersion point of view as you can practice your Spanish in a setting where people are not automatically switching to English to accommodate your native language. It is much better that you struggle with your Spanish and force your brain to think in a different language so your communication becomes much smoother.
My trip to Costa Rica was one of best vacations I have been on to date. Since this was my first tour on Gate1, and the cost was so reasonable, I was wondering about the quality of the entire tour. I have to say that EVERYTHING was excellent. Our tour guide, Luis Miguel Cruz Comparaz, was so knowledgeable about the areas we visited. I could tell Luis was very proud of Costa Rica and took great pride in taking care of his family (tour participants). Our bus driver, Marvin , was an excellent driver and maneuvered that large bus with confidence. I felt extremely safe with him. The hotels, food, tours were first class. Lastly, I am recently retired and on a fixed income. Gate1 actually made it possible for me to visit Costa Rica. This will not be my last trip with Gate1.
Great trip, the four of us enjoyed it almost as much as our trip to Peru and that one was close to a ten. The tour guide is a top selection for this trip; very knowledgeable in bio-science and the local and mix that with enthusiasm and devotion to duties and willingness to give of his time, and you have the best of the best. I'm quite certain we will travel with and recommend Gate 1 in the future.
Jellyfish: Don’t laugh. Jellyfish stings vary from annoying to excruciatingly painful. A few species can cause serious complications and even death. They’re pretty common at tourist beaches: At a waterfront restaurant one day, we saw a young woman with a nasty-looking, baseball-sized sting on her shoulder. Ask locals which jellyfish to watch for. Seek medical attention right away if you’re stung.
One of the most fun things to do in Costa Rica is going on a boat tour. This is the best way to admire the beaches and the islands of the Pacific Coast. I recommend opting for a private tour as opposed to a public boat, as these may only take you to specific places, whereas a private tour will follow your requests and stops wherever you like, for however long you want.
At the Bat Jungle in Monteverde you can learn everything you ever wanted to know about the wonderful world of bats. Visitors can first tour the information center, which will give you a general background into the life of these fascinating mammals. The actual “jungle” consists of a dark walkway through the bat enclosure, where around 90 live bats go about their daily routines against the backdrop of a simulated jungle environment. You can view the bats using UV torches (so as not to disturb them) and even listen in on their socializing by means of an ultrasonic microphone. Knowledgeable and enthusiastic guides present 45-minute guided tours that will doubtlessly enhance your visit.
Journey east to the Caribbean shore and TORTUGUERO NATIONAL PARK. On the way, stop at a BANANA PLANTATION to see one of Costa Rica’s main exports being harvested. Later, board a motor launch for your CRUISE along the Tortuguero Canals, waterways crisscrossing a national park dedicated to the protection of endangered turtles. The trained eyes of your guide and boatman help you spot freshwater turtles, caimans, herons, toucans, egrets, and monkeys. An afternoon at leisure lets you explore Evergreen Lodge until you meet for an informative slideshow presentation on the area.
All of our tour directors, travel specialists, and local hosts have personally explored the beaches, hiked the forests, witnessed the volcanoes and experienced the city highlights, and they are eager to share their insider expertise with you. This in-depth knowledge and experience along with our long-established relationships throughout the region allow us to craft unique vacation packages that encompass and bring out the very best of Costa Rica.
Matute is a small cafeteria, or coffee shop, that can be found in the celebrated coffee-growing region of Tarrazu. The baristas here are known for their infectious excitement about coffee and produce unique combinations of flavors enhanced by the noticeable quality of the local beans cultivated on the local micro-mills. The baristas also use their talents to produce delightful coffee and rum cocktails.
First, check on international flights—sometimes you will be able to find some very good deals on airfare flying to either San Jose or Liberia. San Jose usually offers the best options, and it’s a great place to start your vacation if you are interested in seeing the Arenal Volcano, Monteverde or the Central Pacific. If, on the other hand, you are able to find a good deal to Liberia (which are becoming more common), it’s perfect for a beach vacation as Liberia is much closer to all the beaches in the North Pacific of Costa Rica. Even if you wait to get flights until after you plan your trip, it’s good to know what to expect for availability and cost. And if you find an amazing deal, don’t sleep on it—they don’t last long!
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.
National air transport system: This entry includes four subfields describing the air transport system of a given country in terms of both structure and performance. The first subfield, number of registered air carriers, indicates the total number of air carriers registered with the country’s national aviation authority and issued an air operator certificate as required by the Convention on International Civil Aviation. The second subfield, inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers, lists the total number . . . more
On the Pacific slope, the river with the largest volume, El General, is famous for multi-day adventures and for being an incredible playground for kayakers. The Coto Brus River is also part of this watershed. Further north, on the central Pacific coast, are the Savegre and Naranjo Rivers. In this area you have the opportunity to enjoy both half-day trips on the Naranjo River and 1-to-2-day trips on the Savegre River.
Since 2010, Costa Rica has enjoyed strong and stable economic growth - 3.8% in 2017. Exports of bananas, coffee, sugar, and beef are the backbone of its commodity exports. Various industrial and processed agricultural products have broadened exports in recent years, as have high value-added goods, including medical devices. Costa Rica's impressive biodiversity also makes it a key destination for ecotourism.
Refined petroleum products - consumption: This entry is the country's total consumption of refined petroleum products, in barrels per day (bbl/day). The discrepancy between the amount of refined petroleum products produced and/or imported and the amount consumed and/or exported is due to the omission of stock changes, refinery gains, and other complicating factors.
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.
Lying in the heart of the verdant rainforest in Tenorio Volcano National Park, the Rio Celeste (Blue River) is one of the most remarkable natural assets of Costa Rica. It is thought that the surprising azure color of the river is caused by minerals in the rocks of the river bed, combined with reflected sunlight. For one of the most rewarding photo opportunities of your Costa Rica vacation, you will need to take on a fairly challenging 4.5 mile hike – the trail will reward you with views of virgin rainforest, thermal springs, and a startlingly blue lagoon. A shorter 1-mile hike directly to the Rio Celeste Waterfall is also available from the entrance of the park. Organized tours to Rio Celeste are available from La Fortuna.
Located well off the beaten track in the Amarillo Valley of the Central Highlands, Bajos del Toro is a relatively undiscovered paradise for nature lovers and all outdoor enthusiasts. Hikers in particular are drawn to the area to explore the many rugged trails through the pristine rain forest and up the back of Poas Volcano. Other exciting activities include trout fishing, mountain biking, river rafting, and horseback riding. Avid adventure seekers can try the thrilling 300-foot waterfall rappel into the crater of an extinct volcano. The extremely scenic drive from San Jose to Bajos de Toro takes around 90 minutes and you can stop along the way to admire lovely wooden crafts in the town of Sarchi.
Tortuguero National Park, or the “Amazon of Costa Rica” is a place like no other in the country. It’s famous for turtle nestings and rainforest canals thatmake up the national park. The national park and town are boat access only so it’s quite an adventure to get there! Once in Tortuguero, you can take boat rides through the national park to see wildlife but our favorite way is to go by kayak.
Trade the humid Costa Rican jungle for the rare air of the Teatro Nacional Costa Rica, or National Theater, a stunning Neoclassical edifice in the heart of San Juan, Costa Rica’s economic and political capital. As Costa Rica’s foremost performance art institution, the National Theater puts on an eclectic array of shows, including orchestral performances, dance extravaganzas, mixed-media performance art, lectures, and more.
Maternal mortality rate: The maternal mortality rate (MMR) is the annual number of female deaths per 100,000 live births from any cause related to or aggravated by pregnancy or its management (excluding accidental or incidental causes). The MMR includes deaths during pregnancy, childbirth, or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy, for a specified year.
Population: This entry gives an estimate from the US Bureau of the Census based on statistics from population censuses, vital statistics registration systems, or sample surveys pertaining to the recent past and on assumptions about future trends. The total population presents one overall measure of the potential impact of the country on the world and within its region. Note: Starting with the 1993 Factbook, demographic estimates for some countries (mostly African) have explicitly taken into account t . . . more
If you have an unlocked cell phone (either one from home or bought in Costa Rica -- all cell phones sold in Costa Rica must be unlocked), prepaid (prepago) SIM cards can provide a local number and service can be purchased throughout the country by anyone with a passport from any country, or a cedula (Costa Rican ID card). At the baggage claim at the San José airport is a Kölbi kiosk, and you will also see signs Kölbi, Movistar, Claro, and others throughout the country where service is for sale. Rates are set by the government and you can get a SIM for as little as USD2 (Movistart 2014-11-1) and 3G (or sometimes just EDGE) data service is also available by the day, week, or month for ¢300 or less a day. To add value you buy a recarga (recharge card), scratch off the card to get a PIN, and text the PIN from your phone to a special number. To keep the card active, it must be recharged at least once in a 120 day period. If it is not charged within a 120 days, you have a 30 day grace period before your SIM chip is deactivated and you lose your phone number. Also keep in mind that you may have trouble getting your SIM activated on Sunday, because like many things in Costa Rica, the SIM activation system may be shut down on Sundays. Also not all shops sell SIMs -- many just sell the recharge cards. Get your SIM at the airport if you can.
Sloths rest in the branches above the river as the road leads towards Arenal Lake for a spectacular view of the precious cone of Arenal Volcano, the storybook picture of what a volcanic peak should look like. The mountain spewed lava over the top of the summit for over 40 years, beginning in 1968 and suddenly stopped the daily discharge of slowly flowing magma in 2010. The volcanic activity offers mineral rich soil to the agricultural community, along with plenty of lush rainforests to explore. Visitors from around the world travel to La Fortuna and Arenal to view the fabulous peak and to hike the trails of Arenal Volcano National Park, home to the eponymous volcano and extinct Chato Volcano, in which an aqua-blue lake resides in the crater.
The people of Costa Rica, who call themselves “Ticos,” are the proud stewards of this natural heritage. In contrast to the rest of Central America, which suffered a series of ruthless dictators and bloody civil wars throughout the 20th century, Costa Rica is a stable democracy that abolished its army in 1949 and invested in its people. Today its citizens are among the most educated and prosperous in Latin America.
One of the best parts of staying at budget hotels in Costa Rica is many of these accommodations have a kitchen that guests can use. Some even have kitchenettes in the hotel rooms. If you are looking to save a little money this is a great option. We have cooked our own meals at several hotels and while we love to explore new restaurants sometimes while traveling it is actually really nice to have a home-cooked meal.
Located just 10 miles (16 kilometers) off of the Osa Peninsula, the Cano Island Biological Reserve is an amazing place to spend the day and go snorkelling. The waters are warm, crystal clear, and teeming with marine life. The coral reefs here are home to a wide variety of tropical fish, rays, and turtles. Just off the reef, it is common to see bottle-nosed dolphins and humpback whales. Violines Island, which is part of the reserve, is a beautiful white sand- and palm tree-lined island where you can kick back and relax after you are done snorkeling.
Legislative branch: This entry has three subfields. The description subfield provides the legislative structure (unicameral – single house; bicameral – an upper and a lower house); formal name(s); number of member seats; types of constituencies or voting districts (single seat, multi-seat, nationwide); electoral voting system(s); and member term of office. The elections subfield includes the dates of the last election and next election. The election results subfield lists percent of vote by party/coalition an . . . more
Government type: This entry gives the basic form of government. Definitions of the major governmental terms are as follows. (Note that for some countries more than one definition applies.): Absolute monarchy - a form of government where the monarch rules unhindered, i.e., without any laws, constitution, or legally organized opposition. Anarchy - a condition of lawlessness or political disorder brought about by the absence of governmental authority. Authoritarian - a form of government in whic . . . more
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!
I have written about my love for Costa Rica before. And as I write this, I am once again in Costa Rica, sitting on the patio of my wonderfully inexpensive room in a charming boutique hotel (called, appropriately enough, La Ramona Charming Hotel), overlooking a calm pool and lush gardens, still stuffed from a bountiful breakfast of fresh fruit and eggs, relaxing after an early morning swim in the Pacific Ocean a couple of short blocks away.
Rio Celeste is one of the only places on the planet you can relish magical, turquoise waters. It is created by a natural chemical reaction when waters from two rivers, Rio Buena Vista and Rio Quebrada Agria, filled with sulphur and carbonate collide together at Tenidores. The short 6 km hike starting from the entrance to the national park, all the way to Tenidores is ideal for viewing these pristine blue hued waters as you hike through the lush tropical scenery and native wildlife. Hike a little further and you reach the Blue Lagoon where you can really admire the water’s blue hues.
Costa Rica offers many exciting ways to immerse yourself in its natural elements. It is the consummate destination for exploring ecosystems and connecting with a peaceful culture. Whether discovering fascinating species with a friendly Costa Rican guide, zipping across the rainforest canopy, or relaxing in a volcano-heated hot spring, there are a variety of tours and activities to engage travelers of all types.
Situated at the end of a scenic beach, Ylang Ylang Beach Resort's property offers 22 well-appointed rooms for today’s leisure travelers in Montezuma, offering a wide range of activities offered on the premise. The resort spans across an abundant rainforest nature reserve teeming with wildlife, so be sure to carry a camera at all times. While in Montezuma, explore the vibrant local flavors by venturing to the acclaimed El Sano Banano Restaurant, a natural foods restaurant, which seamlessly blends classic Costa Rican cuisine with an international twist. Whether you want to simply relax by the beach or pamper yourself at the spa, consider the Ylang Ylang Beach Resort.
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.
One of the coolest things to do in Costa Rica is riding a tram through the rainforest. Of course I still think hiking is the best way of getting in touch with nature in Costa Rica, but if this is not your thing or you just don’t feel like it for whatever reason, a tram will allow you to get through the jungle and admire lots of wildlife, including birds and monkeys. Make sure to also have a guide, whose trained eyes will point to all there is to see!
Anyone traveling to Costa Rica from the United States will be pleased that they do not need a power plug adapter. Costa Rica uses power sockets of type A and B, which contains the standard voltage of 120 with the customary frequency of 60 hertz, also referred as Hz for Habitable zone. If the appliance is not intended for use in the United States or Costa Rica, you can check the label where it should state “Input: 100-240V, 50/60 Hz,” which would allow the appliance usage in countries around the world.
Monteverde Orchid Garden: The entrance might be hidden at the far end of a restaurant parking lot, but it’s worth turning around for. Monteverde Orchid Garden has hundreds of species of epiphytic and terrestrial orchids, many native to the Monteverde area. Come in time for a regularly scheduled English tour. And don’t laugh when the guide hands you a magnifying glass – some miniature orchids are barely large enough to make out with the naked eye. Admission is $12 per adult.
As I mentioned in the beginning, we created this list of activities in Costa Rica with budget travelers in mind. However, there are plenty of other amazing things to do in Costa Rica that will be a bit of a splurge on your budget. For example, we think that zip lining in Costa Rica is a must do activity, but it is not so budget friendly. If you are interested in zip lining we suggest going to La Fortuna or Monteverde for the best views.
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.
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.
Costa Rica’s varied landscape and topography also creates thousands of microclimates. The temperature and weather can vary dramatically based on elevation and proximity to the coast, so environments from rainforests to cloudforests, jungles to mountains exist in close proximity. The varied land and climate creates a huge amount of biodiversity (over 5% of the world’s total biodiversity, in fact).
One of the wildest, most remote regions of Costa Rica, the Osa Peninsula is home to the world-famous Corcovado National Park. Often unreachable except by boat or plane, this area offers an untamed, raw experience with guided tours into the remotest areas, including protected ocean reefs. Mostly ecolodges are found here, including some quite primitive, a true back to nature experience!
There are the bustling market towns surrounded by sugar cane fields and coffee plantations of the Central Valley. Around the pristine 33-square-mile Lake Arenal, expats have taken up residence on the verdant hills rising from the shore, with vast lake views from their homes. On the Caribbean coast, life is laidback and moves to the rhythm of reggae. And that’s just a small taste of all Costa Rica has to offer as far as places to live.
Tucked away on an isolated stretch of Caribbean coast, just west of the Panamanian border, is Costa Rica’s other Playa Manzanillo – more commonly known by its English name. The area’s isolation, and the fact that much of the surrounding coastline is protected by a wildlife refuge, makes for a truly secluded experience. If you’re up for exploring the coastline by boat, rent a kayak in nearby Puerto Viejo or hop on a guided boat tour for $50 per day and up.
Agriculture became evident in the populations that lived in Costa Rica about 5,000 years ago. They mainly grew tubers and roots. For the first and second millennia BCE there were already settled farming communities. These were small and scattered, although the timing of the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture as the main livelihood in the territory is still unknown.