Along the pristine South Pacific Coast of Costa Rica lies an oasis that remains relatively untouched. El Castillo's preserved location offers guests a sanctuary where they can explore the diverse nature surrounding the property, experience many of the activities on site or simply relax in a slow-paced lifestyle. This boutique resort offers guests panoramic ocean views, lush jungle surroundings and is near some of Costa Rica's finest restaurants. With fewer than 10 rooms and suites, guests can expect a more intimate level of service for a truly memorable experience.
For Americans, tipping is a part of daily life and therefore follows travelers to countries around the world. Tipping might not apply to all Costa Rica customs, but there are moments when a tip is considered appropriate. Restaurants already add a 10 percent tip to any bill. As a rule, Costa Ricans do not tip servers in restaurants unless they feel the service went above and beyond the percentage attached to the bill. Cab drivers do not receive tips, but hotel attendants who help carry luggage to the rooms should receive a tip between one and two dollars per bag. Naturalist, local, and river guides could receive ten percent of the service or between five to 10 dollars per person, depending on how you feel about the tour, guide, and the service provided. 
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.

San Jose is an arts and culture hub, featuring the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, the Costa Rican National Museum, and unique institutions like the Pre-Colombian Gold Museum, and the Jade Museum. There’s also a Peace Museum—Costa Rica is known for its pacifist ideology, which may be why its locals make it so easy to relax and indulge in Pura Vida.
Natural fruit drinks offer a range of natural sweetness and refreshing flavor amidst the tropical heat and cool temperatures of the cloud forests. Roadside vendors and small restaurants provide delicious homemade natural fruit drinks known as “bebidas naturales.” Most vendors offer the common fruits such as pineapple, watermelon, papaya, mango and sour guava. In the tropical lowlands, it is common to find vendors selling cold coconut. The merchant drills a hole in the top of a chilled coconut and sticks a straw directly into the center for a cold, energizing refreshment referred to as pipas. There are also eight different beers brewed in Costa Rica, the most popular of which is Imperial., followed by Pilsen, and then Bavaria. 
In 2008, San Lucas Island was declared a national wildlife preserve, but prior to that – between 1873–1991 – it was the most feared prison in Costa Rica. For those interested in eerie pasts and landmarks, this is an interesting historical site. The old prison still sits on this island. San Lucas Island is located off the coast of Puntarenas and is accessible by boat. When walking around this island, it is common to see white-tailed deer, armadillos, boa constrictors, pythons, raccoons and pigs, along with 40 species of birds. There are also five pristine beaches on the island that you can explore. For being such a haunted place in the past, this island is full of life and beauty now.
In 2002, there were 0.58 new general practitioner (medical) consultations and 0.33 new specialist consultations per capita, and a hospital admission rate of 8.1%. Preventive health care is also successful. In 2002, 96% of Costa Rican women used some form of contraception, and antenatal care services were provided to 87% of all pregnant women. All children under one have access to well-baby clinics, and the immunization coverage rate in 2002 was above 91% for all antigens.[citation needed] Costa Rica has a very low malaria incidence of 48 per 100,000 in 2000 and no reported cases of measles in 2002. The perinatal mortality rate dropped from 12.0 per 1000 in 1972 to 5.4 per 1000 in 2001.[165]
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.

There have been outbreaks of dengue fever in some areas of the country and an outbreak of malaria was reported in November 2006 from the province of Limon but just a few cases. Protection against mosquito bites is very important, wearing lightweight long pants, long sleeved shirts and using insect repellents with high concentrations of DEET is recommended by the CDC. If you are going to be in very rural areas known to be malaria-infested areas, you might want to consider an anti-malarial med. However, most travelers to Costa Rica do just fine with updated childhood immunizations and taking preventative measures against mosquito bites (rather than take anti-malarial medication). The CDC has a complete list of recommended vaccines when traveling to Costa Rica.
As one of the most biologically diverse places on earth, Corcovado National Park is an absolute must for hikers and wildlife lovers. It’s such a unique place in Costa Rica, you’ll feel like it’s a different world with the sheer amount of wildlife around. Corcovado National Park is in the Osa Peninsula, which holds around 6% of the world’s biodiversity.
Parque Francisco Alvarado invites all nature lovers and budding gardeners to come and be inspired by the work of artist and topiary master Evangelisto Blanco. Visitors to this unique topiary park in the city of Zarcero can walk through a green tunnel of living arches, which have been coaxed into their present shape since the 1960s. In addition to the impressive green arches, you can also admire a variety of large topiary animals and people of all shapes and sizes. The park lies opposite the ornate pink and the blue Iglesia de San Rafael Church, which was built in 1895 and is also well worth a visit while you are in Zarcero.
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.
Located in Alajuela, the Territory of Strays is a rather unique dog shelter, which has been established in response to the vast number of stray dogs that roamed the streets of Costa Rica. Animal euthanasia is a criminal offence in Costa Rica and although several animal shelters take in stray dogs, most mixed breeds will never be adopted. At Territory of the Strays one enlightened veterinarian hit upon the idea of advertising one-of-a-kind unique breeds of dogs with invented names, which were suddenly far more attractive than simple mongrels. Adoptions increased dramatically and now the shelter arranges mountain hikes, where the public can go walking with hundreds of stray dogs.
These men’s Vaha pants are lightweight and weigh nothing in a carry-on bag. I could literally live in these pants if it were acceptable to wear them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner out. While in the Costa Rica, they were a wardrobe staple for nighttime as they are appropriate to wear barefoot out to a restaurant or bar while covering our legs from the pesky mosquitos.
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.
Hi Mickey, I recommend reading this post: Best places in Costa Rica for first timers to help decide which destinations to go to (I list how long it takes to get there from both airports, things to do and convenience). Costa Rica is very family friendly and there’s a lot to do everywhere but for your specific requests, I’d look into Gulf of Papagayo (families love Playas del Coco and Playa Panama) as you’re close to beaches, volcanoes and hiking and there’s great seafood of course.

The cooler climate and moss-strewn trees provide perfect nesting grounds for the rare and endangered resplendent quetzal. The smaller, yet equally majestic neighbor to Monteverde Cloud Forest is Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve, which overtakes 765 acres. The less-visited terrain contains trails that lead through the hanging vines as vegetation drips with moisture from the passing clouds. Guided tours in the region include suspension bridges, zip lines, butterfly gardens, nature walks and horseback riding.


The beautiful National Theatre of Costa Rica is located on the southern side of the Plaza de la Cultura in San Jose and is one of the city’s most notable buildings – a must-see for all lovers of art and architecture. The theatre was built in 1897 in the neo-classical style and features an elaborate marble lobby and auditorium decorated with paintings depicting 19th-century life in Costa Rica. Your entrance fee entitles you to a free guided tour (every hour, on the hour), which will greatly enhance your visit. If you can spare the time, you can attend one of the many scheduled performances at the theater, which has excellent acoustics.
These men’s Vaha pants are lightweight and weigh nothing in a carry-on bag. I could literally live in these pants if it were acceptable to wear them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner out. While in the Costa Rica, they were a wardrobe staple for nighttime as they are appropriate to wear barefoot out to a restaurant or bar while covering our legs from the pesky mosquitos.
You can also choose an apartment that offers more seclusion, like in the Osa Peninsula. If you’re looking to explore the history of Costa Rica, you can rent an apartment in Heredia for a look back into this tiny Central American country’s rich colonial Spanish heritage. Most of these properties are owned by individuals, and they will have an authentic, Costa Rican home feel to them.
Green and life are everywhere, from the 1200 species of orchids that garnish our trees to life sprouting on the beaches every year when millions of green turtles, leatherback and hawksbill sea turtles reach the Caribbean coast at the National Park Tortuguero to lay their eggs, traveling from miles away. Similarly, at Ostional, in the Pacific thousands of Lora turtles (Kemp's Ridley) reach the beach every year.

Corn is a popular ingredient often used in Costa Rica both in tortillas or pancakes. Plantains and yucca often take the place of potatoes as an accompanying side dish and are fried, dressed with salt, and favored for their starchy qualities. Near the coastal waters, you can find an abundance of delectable ceviche dishes with locals squeezing sour lemon over fishes such as tuna, swordfish, red snapper, or shellfish like shrimp, lobster, or conch.


Another of the natural gems you will find in the Alajeula Province, the La Fortuna Waterfall is one of Costa Rica’s must-see attractions. The waterfall is located in the heart of the lush rainforest at the base of the (dormant) Chato Volcano in Arenal Volcano National Park and is reached via a 20-minute hike through the lush forest. On arrival at La Fortuna Waterfall, you will find a splendid 75-meter jet of water that drops into a beautiful natural pool, which is perfect for a refreshing swim. Many visitors combine a visit to the waterfall with a hike up the Chato Volcano – you can call in at the visitors center to get a map and buy some souvenirs.

An eco-tourist's dream, Costa Rica has become synonymous with all an unspoiled tropical paradise can be. Rarely does reality measure up to hype, but Costa Rica certainly comes close. The country's quiet history as a backwater free of colonial excesses has today become a boon, and Costa Rica has cashed in on its purity. And not without merit: blessed with beaches and biodiversity, this is a verdant land of misty volcanoes, roaring rivers, and lush jungles teeming with exotic fauna. Throw in the friendly, educated Ticos (as Costa Ricans are known) and you can see why down here they call it Pura Vida – "pure life."
volcanism: Arenal (1,670 m), which erupted in 2010, is the most active volcano in Costa Rica; a 1968 eruption destroyed the town of Tabacon; Irazu (3,432 m), situated just east of San Jose, has the potential to spew ash over the capital city as it did between 1963 and 1965; other historically active volcanoes include Miravalles, Poas, Rincon de la Vieja, and Turrialba
Costa Rica is an amazingly diverse country, unlike anywhere else in the world.  The country features a wide array of attractions including scores of beautiful beaches along both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, rainforests teaming with exotic wildlife, cloud forests that seemingly disappear into the sky, and active volcanoes with hot springs.  Within Costa Rica, there are twelve distinct climate and life zones.  These zones provide habitat for nearly 4% of Earth's species making it one of the most biologically diverse places on the planet.  The people of Costa Rica are just as beautiful as the country, ever warm and welcoming.
five horizontal bands of blue (top), white, red (double width), white, and blue, with the coat of arms in a white elliptical disk placed toward the hoist side of the red band; Costa Rica retained the earlier blue-white-blue flag of Central America until 1848 when, in response to revolutionary activity in Europe, it was decided to incorporate the French colors into the national flag and a central red stripe was added; today the blue color is said to stand for the sky, opportunity, and perseverance, white denotes peace, happiness, and wisdom, while red represents the blood shed for freedom, as well as the generosity and vibrancy of the people

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.
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.[32]
×