In Costa Rica, education is both free and compulsory; as a result, it has one of the highest literacy rates in the western hemisphere. (Costa Rica also offers universal healthcare, which is a discussion for another time.) And since the primary industry here is tourism, many Ticos speak basic to fluent English, especially in touristy areas. That said, brushing up on your Spanish is a welcome courtesy, and making an effort will earn you friends wherever you go—even if all you learn to say is "pura vida."
When travelling in Costa Rica, CRS Tours customer service team is on call 24/7 throughout your stay. We are 100% local experts who get to know all the travel destinations while on the job to give our best advice. We make travel planning easy and enjoyable, because you deserve it! We save you time and money by not having to spend long hours trying to figure out logistics and best deals. Costa Rica Specialized Tours (CRS Tours) stands true to its name, quality in service and best possible offers for you! You deserve the best!
One of the nicest places to visit in Costa Rica Tortuguero National Park, which is famous for turtle nesting. Both the park and Tortuguero village can only be accessed via boat – getting there is an incredible ride but it requires a bit of planning – going on a 3 day organized tour of Tortuguero from San Jose may be a good idea. Here’s a great one.
Manuel Antonio National Park is one of Costa Rica’s most famous parks, and one that should definitely not be missed. There are 1,680 acres of rainforests containing hiking trails that will take you through dense vegetation and out to white sand beaches. This is an incredibly picturesque place that is filled with all sorts of plants and animals – if you are on a search to see a three-toed sloth, this is where you will most likely find one. When you picture Costa Rica, you are probably picturing Manuel Antonio.
The trip was amazing! We had such a great time. Gate1 had everything organized and ready to go down to the rest stops! Loved it! Our guide Ricardo was so fantastic! He had so much knowledge about all the places we visited, made jokes, and really just took an interest to his job and we could tell he wanted us to have a great experience. We enjoyed the optional excursions (we did all) and also the planned trips (coffee plantation and school visit). Amazing trip, met amazing people. Will travel with Gate1 again!
Our Honeymoon getaways will bring you to paradise where you can share the wonder of each other surrounded by spectacular natural beauty at some of the most romantic settings in Costa Rica. Walk along deserted beaches watching the sun go down (or up! on the Caribbean side), soak together in a secluded river grotto at Arenal’s natural hot springs, encourage each other to swing like Tarzan on thrilling zipline adventures, indulge in all-inclusive resorts with fabulous spas; we have many choices to make yours a memorable special occasion.
For comfort, convenience and mobility, San Bada is the best place to stay while visiting Manuel Antonio. Most hotels in Manuel Antonio are built on hillsides and spread out over large areas. This can require navigating numerous flights of stairs and walking substantial distances to access the restaurant, bar, or guest rooms – a challenge for anyone with difficulty walking. San Bada is built on level ground with no steps, and short distances between public areas. The hotel also has a modern elevator.
Year-round tropical warmth means there really isn’t a bad time to visit Costa Rica. December to April are normally the driest months; however, Costa Rica’s diverse topography and blanket of rainforests suggest that you should be prepared for at least some rain - a very small price to pay for such incredibly lush scenery. The good news is that even during the rainiest of seasons, the rainfall tends to be limited to a couple of hours a day… just enough time for you to enjoy a cup of Costa Rica's world-renowned coffee in one of its many cafes. Temperatures vary with altitude, with San Jose's temperatures ranging between 15C and 21C and the coastal areas experiencing much warmer climes.
Telephone system: This entry includes a brief general assessment of the system with details on the domestic and international components. The following terms and abbreviations are used throughout the entry: Arabsat - Arab Satellite Communications Organization (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia). Autodin - Automatic Digital Network (US Department of Defense). CB - citizen's band mobile radio communications. Cellular telephone system - the telephones in this system are radio transceivers, with each instrument having its o . . . more
Due to the insurance, the price you see online is a lot more expensive than you may think, we suggest adding the insurance on to your booking to ensure you aren’t met with a surprise cost addition when you land in Costa Rica. For 25 days we were able to get a small 4×4 for $436 from Alamo and had a great experience. Read more about renting a car abroad here.
If you have a GSM phone, you can use international roaming, or to avoid roaming charges, use an unlocked smartphone and simply replace the SIM chip with a local chip from Kolbi, Claro, or Movistar and then charge it with a balance based on how much you plan to use it. This can usually most easily be done in the airport upon entry at various kiosks.
While I do not support the use of animals in tourist attractions and will always advocate for responsible tourism, I am all in favor of sanctuaries that rescue ill-treated animals with a view to rehabilitating them. The Jaguar Rescue Centre is one of the places to visit in Costa Rica for that reason. It was created by a biological and herpetologist couple who decided it was time to make a difference after witnessing years of others mistreating and killing native wildlife.
In the more developed parts, you can use your credit card and find ATMs fairly commonly, but smaller stores and more remote destinations will likely be cash-only. Fortunately, most of our tours are are all-inclusive, so all of the meals and activities from the beginning to end of your itinerary are included in the price, unless you decide to depart from the itinerary or add on extra activities.
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.
Parque Nacional Guanacaste protects Costa Rica’s northernmost volcanoes, Orosi and Cacao. Like some of the other parks on this list, it encompasses a wide range of altitudes and ecosystems: from the Pacific dry forests near sea level to the premontane cloud forests above 3,000 feet, to the true cloud forests above 5,000 feet or so. It’s well worth the $10-per-adult price of admission.
"Visiting Costa Rica was the best vacation we ever had. It was a relaxing trip with lots of sun, the climate and the people were amazing. The country have breathtaking sceneries and wildlife, the food was sumptuous and the citizens were so far the happiest people I know. Some of the highlights of the trip were, a hike near Arenal Volcano, a boat ride on Lake Arenal, crossing the hanging bridges, zip lining in the rain forest and and at the top of the canopy, soaking up the sun on a Pacific Ocean beach and we had fun traveling with a diverse group of wonderful people."
You can find ATMs in most places. They normally dispense US dollars and colones. With Visa you get money at almost all ATMs. If you've got a MasterCard try the ATMs in the AM/PM supermarkets, they give you up to 250,000 colones (c. USD500). Another option are the ATH-ATM's but they just give you up to 100,000 colones (c. USD200) each transaction. EC-Cards (European) are accepted on all ATMs. The limit is usually only set by the Card. In addition, drawing money with your EC-Card will almost always give you a better exchange rate than changing cash in a bank.
In November 2017, National Geographic magazine named Costa Rica as the happiest country in the world. The article included this summary: "Costa Ricans enjoy the pleasure of living daily life to the fullest in a place that mitigates stress and maximizes joy". It is not surprising then that one of the most recognizable phrases among "Ticos" is "Pura Vida", pure life in a literal translation. It reflects the inhabitant's philosophy of life, denoting a simple life, free of stress, a positive, relaxed feeling. The expression is used in various contexts in conversation. Often, people walking down the streets, or buying food at shops say hello by saying Pura Vida. It can be phrased as a question or as an acknowledgement of one's presence. A recommended response to "How are you?" would be "Pura Vida." In that usage, it might be translated as "awesome", indicating that all is very well. When used as a question, the connotation would be "everything is going well?" or "how are you?".
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
Warning: taxi drivers await incoming bus passengers at almost all terminals in San José. Many of them focus on foreigners and try to rip you off. They claim it is necessary to make a detour to reach your hotel or they offer to call your hotel and call a friend who says it is full. Then they offer you another hotel. The standard rip off fee is 50 USD or an invisible commission from another hotel. It is now (March 2017) almost a standard practice in San José. The police are aware of the problem, but do not address it effectively. Often hotels send warnings after you booked.
Net migration rate: This entry includes the figure for the difference between the number of persons entering and leaving a country during the year per 1,000 persons (based on midyear population). An excess of persons entering the country is referred to as net immigration (e.g., 3.56 migrants/1,000 population); an excess of persons leaving the country as net emigration (e.g., -9.26 migrants/1,000 population). The net migration rate indicates the contribution of migration to the overall level of population chan . . . 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.
Sitting perfectly between the North and South American continents gives Costa Rica yet another benefit for curious travelers – the sheer amount of flora & fauna you can find! About 3-5 million years ago, the South and North American continents met – and the land-bridge between them is Costa Rica. The two drastically different collections of plants and wildlife started to mix, and it’s their descendants found in Costa Rica today! Costa Rica is only the size of the USA state of West Virginia – but it contains literally hundreds of endemic species: creatures that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. Bird and animal lovers can schedule tours specifically to see the stunning wildlife– like a Safari Float down the Penas Blancas River (keeping an eye out for sloths, monkeys, caimans, and more!) or visiting the amazing Butterfly Garden at Peace Lodge. A hike through a National Park is a great way to sight-see, and an experienced eagle-eyed naturalist guide will help you spot the more elusive animals. The adventurous-at-heart might plan a tour of the Tarcoles River – renowned for its massive crocodiles. Even without a specific tour, guests might spot Costa Rica wildlife while out and about. Or possibly without leaving the resort – colorful toucans, vibrant parrots, curious coatis, and relaxed iguanas have been known to show up in hotel gardens!
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.
More than the wide variety of coastal tours in Costa Rica, however, is the draw of the quality of these adventures! Costa Rica is dedicated to providing a pristine environment for thrill-seekers of any kind, and the beaches are of noticeable importance. The Blue Flag Ecological Program tracks beach cleanliness, safety, and community outreach annually – a beach that has been awarded the Ecological Blue Flag is a good bet!
Insect Protection: In rainforests and cloud forests year-round, and everywhere during the wet season, you’re likely to encounter nasty mosquitoes and other assorted biting insects. Though life-threatening tropical illnesses like malaria, dengue, and yellow fever aren’t super common here, zika is. Pregnant couples and those planning to become pregnant soon need to be fastidious about insect protection: repellent, tucked-in clothing, window screens. Remember the 3-ounce rule in carry-on baggage.
Costa Rica is more than a vacation destination; it is an interactive sensory experience. The country has an intense array of environmental attractions - majestic volcanoes, misty cloud forests, stunning river valleys, and hundreds of beaches along the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. Costa Rica has a fascinating ecological story, woven into the history of a peaceful and family-oriented culture.
Refrescos or simply frescos are beverages made from fresh fruit (cas, guayaba/guava, sandia/watermelon, mora/blackberry, fresa/strawberry, piña/pineapple, papaya), sugar and either water or milk (depending on the fruit). All sodas serve these. You can also easily buy the standard international soda pops; 'Fresca', 'Canada Dry' and the local 'Fanta Kolita' (fruit punch) are recommended.
Costa Rica is home to over 500,000 species of plants and animals. Those seeking to spot local wildlife will be enthralled by Costa Rica’s unique flora and fauna. And the spectacular variety of wildlife isn’t limited to the land – scuba diving is another popular activity, with Costa Rica boasting some of the most beautiful bays, beaches and reefs in the world.
Another way to get to Costa Rica that many people are unaware of is travelling by car and driving the Pan-American highway that stretches from Alaska all the way to Southern Panama and passes right through Costa Rica. If you enter Costa Rica by car, crossing the border with Nicaragua at Peñas Blancas, expect it to take 3-6 hours. All passengers have to leave the car with their luggage and pass it through a scanner, the car and driver goes through a different scanner, you line up for passport control, fill in several forms for the car, find an official who stamps and signs every form etc. Everything is chaotic, totally inefficient and obviously corrupt. The procedure is repeated on the other side of the border. Take note that a car insurance, written in Spanish and mentioning explicitly that it is valid for Costa Rica, will not be accepted, you have to buy a new one and pay 37 dollars.
“I love driving in Costa Rica because they are aggressive drivers like myself. Be considerate, let faster drivers go around you. Avoid driving at night unless you know exactly where you are going. The roads are not marked like they are in your home country. DO NOT drive through moving water. Give yourself extra time to get where you are going because you want to stop at the local fruit stands. Also, look out for animals when you are driving. Numerous creatures can and will run across the road.”—seaprozac
The National Theater is a marvelous architectural and cultural attraction in San Jose. This iconic Neoclassical building is as beautiful on the outside as it is on the inside. Inside there are exquisite murals and interior decorations. The theater hosts all sorts of different live performances ranging from theatrical plays to concerts. If you are in San Jose, you should definitely visit the National Theater for its architectural and interior beauty and definitely try and see a live performance there, if the timing is right.
No matter how well you intend to keep yourself covered with insect repellent, mosquitos are elusive and an inescapable part of the travel experience, whether visiting the lowlands, coastlines, and valleys across Costa Rica. It is important to wear long pants, long sleeves, a hat, shoes, and fresh repellent, most notably at dusk when the mosquitos are their most active.
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.
Internet users: This entry gives the total number of individuals within a country who can access the Internet at home, via any device type (computer or mobile) and connection. The percent of population with Internet access (i.e., the penetration rate) helps gauge how widespread Internet use is within a country. Statistics vary from country to country and may include users who access the Internet at least several times a week to those who access it only once within a period of several months.
And no matter which location you choose, you can benefit from bargain real estate, whether you buy or rent. Three-bedroom homes in the Central Valley start at $119,000 to buy and $500 a month to rent. And two-bedroom condo, a short walk to the beach on the central Pacific coast, in a lively town will cost about $700 a month, and a similar property is selling for $165,000. Deals like this can be found throughout the country.
Most major tourist destinations in Costa Rica are serviced by at least two daily buses from and to San José. The advantages of public transportation in Costa Rica are that tickets are cheap (rarely more than USD7 per person) and they cover most towns around the country. However, nearly the entire bus system is based on routes in and out of San José and this can add significant travel time. The buses are also not booked with a reservation system so it is possible to not have a seat on popular routes. However, many do have assigned seats once you buy a ticket at the station and so get there early to be sure you get your bus.
“I very much appreciate the professional manner that we were treated. I am a travel agent, and working in this industry can sometimes be a thankless job, therefore when I am treated with respect, I try to acknowledge. We are truly grateful to Caravan and our tour director for being so accommodating. I can guarantee you that I will be selling Caravan tours enthusiastically in the future! Our tour director’s knowledge and passion for his country is so evident by the way he describes customs, culture, education, wildlife among many other things. All of the sightseeing, I loved every minute of it, great activities and some free time.”
Whether you are seeking a family vacation to a top all-inclusive resort, a luxury romantic honeymoon to a secluded boutique hotel, or an adrenaline-filled expedition packed with adventure tours, we will craft a Costa Rica getaway that is right for you! With over 15 years of local experience, you can trust our recommendations and the high-quality service we provide.
My Costa Rica understands that you might be overwhelmed when planning your Costa Rica vacation and we are here to help! Whether you want to learn about Ticos, holidays and events, species of birds, potable water, renting a car, Costa Rican real estate, rice and beans in the Limon Province, what to pack, which coast or beaches to visit, coffee plantations, the Nicoya Peninsula, or the Irazu Volcano, costarica.org can help you find what you’re looking for.
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.
Costa Rica is a very conservative and traditionalist nation. The state's official religion is Roman Catholicism and its population is quite religious. Nevertheless, Costa Rica caters to the gay and lesbian traveller and his or her needs. There is a thriving gay scene in San Jose with many gay and lesbian options for night-life (La Avispa, Club Oh!, Bochinche among others). The Manuel Antonio, Jacó, and Quepos area is also a favorite spot with several gay hotels and bars.
Taxes and other revenues: This entry records total taxes and other revenues received by the national government during the time period indicated, expressed as a percent of GDP. Taxes include personal and corporate income taxes, value added taxes, excise taxes, and tariffs. Other revenues include social contributions - such as payments for social security and hospital insurance - grants, and net revenues from public enterprises. Normalizing the data, by dividing total revenues by GDP, enables easy comparisons acr . . . more
"I just wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed our time in Costa Rica. We were very impressed with the tour which your organised for us. The hotels were very good, the drivers were punctual and courteous and the guides were amazing - their knowledge and command of English was fantastic. I have already recommended your company to friends who are planning a trip to Costa Rica"
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.
In 1945, by a total accident, the Venado Caves were discovered by a farmer who literally fell into them. There are eight magnificent chambers that make up a maze of limestone deep down in the earth. The rooms, which are filled with stalagmites and stalactites, were carved over the course of millions of years from underground rivers and the shifting plates of the Earth near the Arenal Volcano. This is not an experience for those who are claustrophobic. However, if small spaces don’t faze you and you want to dip down below sea level to these ancient caverns, then checking out the Venado Caves is a must-do.
So when you’re trying to get your money together, don’t stress too much about exchanging it all beforehand as it’s not 100% necessary if you live in the US. You can use dollars in pretty much every touristic destination and they will give you your change back in colones. If you are Canadian however, it will be better for you to have colones due to the Canadian dollar and USD exchange rate. Ask the hotels or tour companies if you can pay in colones instead.
Costa Rica gained fame as a natural destination with incredible wildlife watching in the rain forests and cloud forests of its national parks and wildlife refuges. As tourism grew international resorts began sprouting on the amazing beaches of the Guanacaste coast and the number of visitors surged along with activities and adventures to entertain them.
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.
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.
It's no surprise Costa Rica is considered the "happiest place on earth." Once you land, you'll find it's easy to experience what Costa Ricans have been talking about since 1956: Pura Vida - a phrase that truly encapsulates the friendly vibe of Costa Rica, and is used by locals and means everything from "Hello," to "This is the life!" If you're looking to fall into the "Pura Vida" lifestyle, check out some of the top activities and accolades:
Costa Rica finished a term on the United Nations Security Council, having been elected for a nonrenewable, two-year term in the 2007 election. Its term expired on 31 December 2009; this was Costa Rica's third time on the Security Council. Elayne Whyte Gómez is the Permanent Representative of Costa Rica to the UN Office at Geneva (2017) and President of the United Nations Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons.