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.
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.
Visiting chocolate plantations is a fun and informative experience and offers new views to the tediousness of drying the beans and the seductive aromas produced as the beans roast. The country produced nearly 700 tons of dry grain in 2013, but it was not enough to cover the domestic demand. Many chocolate tours will allow you to grind the beans yourself for a better insight into the process of crafting smooth, velvety chocolate mixed with a small amount of sugar to make 70 percent dark chocolate. 
The impact of indigenous peoples on modern Costa Rican culture has been relatively small compared to other nations, since the country lacked a strong native civilization to begin with. Most of the native population was absorbed into the Spanish-speaking colonial society through inter-marriage, except for some small remnants, the most significant of which are the Bribri and Boruca tribes who still inhabit the mountains of the Cordillera de Talamanca, in the southeastern part of Costa Rica, near the frontier with Panama.
Tourists are unaware of this system. Some even have the notion that they can get a discount on a ticket if they go straight to the desired attraction to buy it; short answer is no, the attractions will not give you a discount if you purchase directly from them but they will make a greater profit on your visit. If you are with a large group and make all of your arrangements through one hotel or travel provider, you are generating a substantial amount of commissions. Be aware of this in your planning and negotiations. You as the tourist cannot have an impact on the commission spigot, but you should be aware of its power… Ask questions and make sure the recommendations you receive align with your needs/desires.
People come to Parque Nacional Braulio Carillo to hike, marvel at the Costa Rican jungle’s stunning biodiversity, and swim (if they’re feeling adventurous) in an alpine lagoon. The crown jewel is Barva, a 9,500-foot volcano cloaked in dense montane forests that change drastically as you ascend. Use the Barva Sector Ranger Station as a staging ground for easy summit hikes, like the 1.5-mile crater walk. Cacho de Venado trail, another quick high-altitude jaunt, is the best birdwatching spot in the park – if you’re lucky, you’ll see a rare quetzal.
Civil aircraft registration country code prefix: This entry provides the one- or two-character alphanumeric code indicating the nationality of civil aircraft. Article 20 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention), signed in 1944, requires that all aircraft engaged in international air navigation bear appropriate nationality marks. The aircraft registration number consists of two parts: a prefix consisting of a one- or two-character alphanumeric code indicating nationality and a registration suffix of one to fi . . . more
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.

If there is one Costa Rica travel tip I can give you it would be to double check your car rental prices. When we first started searching for car rentals in Costa Rica we were shocked by the crazy low prices we were seeing. Unfortunately for our wallets we just hadn’t clicked all the way to the payment page yet. In Costa Rica all drivers are required to have third party liability insurance.
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.
Major infectious diseases: This entry lists major infectious diseases likely to be encountered in countries where the risk of such diseases is assessed to be very high as compared to the United States. These infectious diseases represent risks to US government personnel traveling to the specified country for a period of less than three years. The degree of risk is assessed by considering the foreign nature of these infectious diseases, their severity, and the probability of being affected by the diseases present. Th . . . more
Cell service in Costa Rica is provided using GSM technology at 1800 MHz and 3G data operating at 850MHz. Note that the GSM phone systems in the United States and Canada use different frequencies and that travelers from there will need a "world" handset, such as a tri-band or quad-band phone, if you want to use your existing cell phone. Most of the country has very good GSM coverage (including most of the capital). Roaming is possible with a GSM handset (i.e. using your regular cell number that you use in your home country) but can be extremely expensive.
Central America is loaded with volcanos and Costa Rica is no different. April 2017 saw activity from the famous Poas Volcano which shut out visitors ever since, but it’s no reason not to explore the others in the area. Volcan Arenal, dormant since 2011, is Costa Rica’s most famous volcano site. Towering over 5,000 feet into the sky, Volcan Arenal is surrounded by lush green jungle, and the famous Arenal Lake. Hike the volcano, visit the La Fortuna waterfall, and explore the adventures in this area.
GDP (purchasing power parity): This entry gives the gross domestic product (GDP) or value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year. A nation's GDP at purchasing power parity (PPP) exchange rates is the sum value of all goods and services produced in the country valued at prices prevailing in the United States in the year noted. This is the measure most economists prefer when looking at per-capita welfare and when comparing living conditions or use of resources across countries. The measur . . . more
We love your post. Learned a lot about Costa Rica. We will be there in May for 10 nights. We just booked a car from your website.We are planning to go to San Jose- La Fortuna-Rio Celeste- Tamarindo-Jaco-Manuel Antonio and back to San Jose. Do you think we have enough time for all the stops? Do you recommend any tours to any of these locations or we can do it ourselves ? We are family of five with teenagers. Thank you.
Parque Nacional Tapanti protects part of the high Costa Rican cordillera, which extends south and east from San Jose into western Panama. Thanks to its position on the windward side of Costa Rica’s highest mountain ranges, it’s the wettest place in the entire country: a teeming rainforest that’s more likely to be shrouded in mist (or pelted by torrential rain) than not. The highest elevations harbor paramo, a relatively rare (in Costa Rica) high-altitude grassland ecosystem characterized by tough, deep-rooted grasses and knotted shrubs. The paramo is home to dozens of rare and endemic bird species.

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.


Hi Barbara, that’s definitely way too many places for only 4 days and all the destinations are very far apart for driving (arenal – monteverde around 3.5 hours, monteverde to MA is 5, MA to Uvita is around 1.5 and Uvita back to San Jose is around 3.5-4). I would cut out a couple places, for only 7 full days we usually recommend two destinations. You could stop by MA on your way to Uvita but Monteverde to MA is already a 5 hour long drive (and to and from Monteverde is a long, windy, curvy mountainous road that can be very tiring to drive because you have to go slow and carefully) and you would want to spend at least 3-5 hours in the park to get a good experience and the park closes at 4 PM. Remember it also gets dark by 6 PM every day.

Adventure tours are steeped in adrenaline, from Costa Rica’s iconic canopy zip lines to waterfall rappelling. And when you’re ready to relax after the wild ride, leisure tours step in with bubbling hot springs, rainforest massages, and luxe spa treatments. Of course, Costa Rica is most famous for its nature offerings, and you’ll find plenty of tours to lead you into the great outdoors: national park hiking, birdwatching tours, canoeing into mangrove forests, and more. Get your game face on for sport tours, which extend to old favorites like horseback riding and mountain biking, and up the game with new standbys like sea kayaking and Costa Rica’s world-famous sportfishing. Top it off with cultural tours and get a deeper look at Costa Rican life, on coffee and chocolate tours, visits to indigenous villages, and other fascinating insights.
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.
Citizenship: This entry provides information related to the acquisition and exercise of citizenship; it includes four subfields: citizenship by birth describes the acquisition of citizenship based on place of birth, known as Jus soli, regardless of the citizenship of parents. citizenship by descent only describes the acquisition of citizenship based on the principle of Jus sanguinis, or by descent, where at least one parent is a citizen of the state and being born within the territorial limits of the s . . . more
Costa Rica’s forests are full of bucket-list activities and exceptional nature, but the bustling capital city of San Jose is worth a visit as well. The historic National Theater of Costa Rica has been a landmark in San Jose since the 19th century, and hosts performances several times a week. It can also be visited on a historical tour for a closer look at the frescoes and gilded ceilings that make up the most beloved building in San Jose.
Traveling to Costa Rica between December and April is considered the dry season, with May bringing the beginnings of the wet season. The weather’s predictability wanes along the Caribbean coast, with rain falling throughout the year for an endlessly lush landscape. The series of volcanoes and mountains dividing the country from north to south creates a series of microclimates, accounting for the distinctive biodiversity. It is advisable to bring a light rain jacket at any time of the year and warmer clothing when visiting the highlands, including the cloud forests. 
Price is per person, based on double occupancy, and includes hotel rates, hotel taxes, roundtrip airfare, and gov't taxes/fees applicable to airfare based on specified departure city. Price may vary for other departure cities. Price shown is sample price found 11/10/15 on jetblue.com/vacations for travel departing BOS on1/4/16 - 1/28/16 and may not represent current savings. Package/price subject to availability; may change without notice; valid for new bookings only; capacity controlled; may not be available on all dates or with all flights; and may be restricted to certain hotel room categories.

South Pacific Eco Extreme will engage you in an epic adventure exploring places few have dared to go! You’ll stay in African style safari tents, a cave behind a waterfall (yes, you read that right!), and a jungle ecolodge on the South Pacific coast. This 9-day extreme adventure includes mountain hiking, horseback riding, waterfall rappelling, plus whitewater rafting, and will undoubtedly be the most memorable vacation you’ve ever experience!
Hi there! Visiting Costa Rica in about 2 weeks and I’m looking into the Selvetura Adventure Park for the ziplining tour! I was just wondering if one was able to do a self tour of the hanging bridges or if it was necessary to go through one of the parks in order to experience them? Your website has been so helpful in planning our trip! And also looking forward to using Adobe rentals for our car!
Taxis are available in most large cities. They are usually expensive for foreigners, charging you whatever they want. It is not recommended to use any cab, but if you have to, ask for help at your hotel or ask other locals who use taxis. The meter is called "la maria"; ask the driver to turn it on immediately upon getting in the car, or he may leave it off and make up his own, more expensive, price when you get to your destination. Also try checking it wasn't running before you got in, the initial fare shouldn't be higher than 600. Most Drivers know familiar routes such as San Jose to Santa Ana and you can find the rate by asking "Cuanto para ir a _____" and he will tell you the flat rate. This can keep you from paying too much because the driver will not make unnecessary detours. Official taxis are red with a yellow triangle on the side. They also have yellow triangles on the side of the car which will have a number in it. If the number matches the number listed on the license plate, it is an official taxi. Do not get in if the numbers do not match. "Pirate Taxis", though sometimes cheaper, are NOT SAFE. Do not risk it. If you are alone, especially. If you are female, ride in the back seat, as riding in the front with the driver can be seen as suggestive. Caution should be exercised when using this service, extra caution. Do not ride non-red cabs.
Wow what an awesome post! Thank you for all this information! I am heading down for 8 nights in mid May with my husband and 3 littles – almost 2, 3 & 5 – so we’ll be limited by their activity level, yet still so much we can do and see. I have a lot of parsing through to figure that all out so we don’t drive 3 hours and end up not being able to do something. Hiking, beaches, bridges, volcanoes, jungle, and some boating are on the list, as well as lots of fresh seafood! Any suggestions on areas we should avoid because of their ages? I am hoping we can find a boating excursion that doesn’t have an age minimum, as well as maybe horseback riding. Oh and dolphins! That’s my oldests’ request 🙂
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  

The elegant JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort and Spa is located on Costa Rica's northwestern coast in a thousand acre private Hacienda. This oceanfront resort sits on a pristine secluded beach surrounded by a natural sanctuary with extensive landscaped gardens. The resort has a full service spa and the largest pool in Costa Rica (over 25,000 square feet). The spacious guest rooms are each furnished with a private balcony or terrace. Guest rooms feature luxury bathrooms with a separate deep soaking bathtub and shower.
Everything gets cheaper in Costa Rica during the rainy season. That means that traveling between the middle of May and the beginning of December is the best time to get cheaper hotel rates and discounted tours. You also won’t have to deal with crazy crowds. The only downside to traveling at this time is you will be forced to combat the rain. Depending on where you go, you won’t deal with completely washed out days (usually) but in the early afternoon the rain will begin and may continue for several hours or into the night.
One of the reasons Costa Rica has so many varied activities is thanks to the variety of the country itself! Costa Rica is considered a tropical country, but it features its own plethora of microclimates. Each of these destinations – which might be separated by only a few hours of driving – feature their own unique and unforgettable adventures. There are hot springs tucked away in lush rainforests, hanging bridges over misty cloud forests, palm-tree studded white-sand beaches, dramatic seaside cliffs, the arid rolling hills of Guanacaste – there’s no end to the experiences! Visit Arenal Volcano and wonder at a massive volcano and surrounding verdant rainforest, and then the next day you might find yourself only a few hours away relaxing on Papagayo’s white sand beaches, watching the kids stand-up paddleboard, or kayaking among the mangrove jungles of Tortuguero. When asked about favorite activities, each of our Travel Experts’ has a different answer – or multiple! Picking and choosing what to experience in Costa Rica can be a trial just thanks to the number of options, but our Travel Experts are happy to help you plan your perfect escape!
Prices were accurate at the time we posted them. Sample prices were for a specific travel date and specific departure airport, as indicated. Your prices will vary according to departure cities and travel dates. We do not control prices (airlines and hotel reservation systems do). Prices may change dynamically and at times significantly numerous times during any given day.
Now that you have your rental car it’s time to practice safe driving. Again, many of the roads in Costa Rica are pot hole ridden and dirt. They can be tough for an inexperienced driver to navigate. Not to mention as with many countries we found the drivers here to be impatient, fast, and scary and I’m not even talking about the semi-truck drivers who don’t seem to value life. In our 25 days in Costa Rica we saw one motorbike accident and two, yes two, overturned semis in a ditch. Be careful and remember to get travel insurance before you travel to Costa Rica.
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
This book gives a fascinating overview of how animals, plants, and people interact with one another in Costa Rica’s rainforests. It’s written by Jack Ewing, a naturalist and natural born storyteller. Here, he shares a treasure trove of observations and stories gathered for more than 30 years of living in the country. Chances are, you’re coming to Costa Rica to discover some of the country’s amazing ecosystems. This book will get you excited about it.

Thanks to the variety of things to do in Costa Rica, visitors to Costa Rica have the benefit of being able to do so many different things in a single trip! A simple charter flight or ground transfer (just a few hours) can bring you somewhere completely new – with all different options! You want to go sport fishing, and then spend the rest of the vacation relaxing in geothermal hot springs and horseback riding? We can plan that! A rafting trip down the Pacuare River, then surf lessons for you and the kids? Done! With so many things to do in Costa Rica, the choice may be tough, but we’ve got over 30 years of experience just ready to help you out!
According to Lonely Planet, Parque Nacional Corcovado houses “the last great original tract of tropical rainforest in Pacific Central America.” It’s home to half of all Costa Rican species, including the world’s largest bird of prey (the harpy) eagle and several endangered mammals. Some naturalists regard Corcovado as the most biologically diverse place on the planet, as measured by density of unique species.
La Paz Waterfall Gardens Nature Park is a privately owned nature sanctuary close to San Jose. There are five waterfalls, cloud forests and rainforests, a snake, frog, orchid, and heliconia exhibit, a petting “zoo,” a hummingbird garden, and an animal sanctuary with over 100 different species including jaguars, ocelots, monkeys, and pumas. This is an exciting attraction for the whole family and a perfect way to experience some of the natural wonders of Costa Rica all in one convenient and beautiful place.
We have just returned from the 9-Day Classic Costa Rica trip. Our tour guide, Ricardo, was absolutely superb. I especially appreciated his extensive knowledge of the area and how well-organized the pace of the tour was. It definitely made our trip a fun and memorable experience. Special thanks goes to Jose, our bus driver. I thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful scenic vistas and local, natural wildlife as we drove across the country--from the numerous kinds of birds seen from Selvatura Hanging Bridge in the rainforest, to the relaxing Eco Termales Hot Springs near Arenal Volcano, to the beautiful sunset at Tamarinda Divia Beach. This has been one of the best tours we've had with Gate 1 Travel thus far, and we are already looking forward to the next one!
And though I'm reluctant to see towns like touristy Tamarindo get even bigger and filled with still more traffic, I can't help but spread the gospel of Costa Rica—especially to my fellow Houstonians. The pristine beaches, animal-filled jungles and awe-inspiring volcanoes offer endless realms of exploration for the casual vacationers, the adventure-seekers and everyone in between, and getting to this Central American paradise has never been easier.
A morning boat transfer begins your journey to the Sarapiqui area. Tour a PINEAPPLE FARM, owned by a local family, and learn about the history, cultivation, and industry of pineapples. Continue to your hotel in the lush town of Arenal, located in the shadow of Arenal Volcano. After settling in, experience the magic of the resort’s pool and hot spring-fed jacuzzi, or consider a walk in the nearby nature trail in search of 300- to 400-year-old trees, poisonous frogs, monkeys, birds, and possibly small animals native to the area.
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.[39]
×