Since the late 1980s Costa Rica became a popular nature travel destination, and its main competitive advantage is its well-established system of national parks and protected areas, covering around 23.4% of the country's land area, the largest in the world as a percentage of the country's territory, and home to a rich variety of flora and fauna, in a country that has only 0.03% of the world's landmass, but that is estimated to contain 5% of the world's biodiversity. The country also has plenty of world renowned beaches, both in the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, within short travel distances between both coasts both by air and land, and also several active volcanoes that can be visited with safety.
Leave the crowds and enjoy the splendor of the tropical jungle at Cristal Azul Ocean-View Villas. The remote location allows guests to experience true Costa Rica as it once was before the crowds arrived. Guests will enjoy sea kayaking, zip lining, yoga or even visit a Macaw Sanctuary. Take in the pure simplicity and stunning surroundings of the Nicoya Peninsula. Those who prefer to stay off the beaten path will fall in love with Cristal Azul Resort.
For those more interested in history and culture, Costa Rica combines the jungle terrain with important archaeological sites like Guayabo National Monument, home to an ancient pre-Columbian city dating back more than 3,000 years ago. The park encompasses 540 acres of ancient stonework supporting intricate mounds. Archeologists have deduced that the size of the mounds correlate to the importance of the person in the society, with the higher and the larger mounds displaying a higher societal rank. Preserved petroglyphs in the park highlight the connection to the wildlife with images of jaguars and lizards while the surrounding forest also provides a lush trail known for its spectacular bird and butterfly sightings. 
Extremely popular, the 10-day Eco-Xtreme Adrenaline will have your heart pumping as you race from one ultimate sports challenge to another. Picture: Whitewater Rafting, Canyoning, Waterfall Rappelling, Zip-lining, ATVing, and Surfing! And it all rocks at Costa Rica’s top 3 adventure destinations: Arenal Volcano, Monteverde Cloud Forest, and Manuel Antonio Beach. Bring your Go-Pro!
Leave the crowds and enjoy the splendor of the tropical jungle at Cristal Azul Ocean-View Villas. The remote location allows guests to experience true Costa Rica as it once was before the crowds arrived. Guests will enjoy sea kayaking, zip lining, yoga or even visit a Macaw Sanctuary. Take in the pure simplicity and stunning surroundings of the Nicoya Peninsula. Those who prefer to stay off the beaten path will fall in love with Cristal Azul Resort.

I have a bottle of 100% Deet and when I use it, it works like a charm. Granted it’s a lot of chemicals but it really does the job so if you plan to use that, then you should be pretty ok. If you’re really scared or paranoid about getting bit, make sure you’re always wearing long sleeves and pants as that gives the best protection. The mosquitoes in the Guanacaste area are bad, but dengue fever has gone down a lot in the past couple years and it’s quite rare (not impossible) for people to get it, you’d have to be really unlucky. But it seems you are taking the necessary precautions so just make sure always have a bottle handy.
Area: This entry includes three subfields. Total area is the sum of all land and water areas delimited by international boundaries and/or coastlines. Land area is the aggregate of all surfaces delimited by international boundaries and/or coastlines, excluding inland water bodies (lakes, reservoirs, rivers). Water area is the sum of the surfaces of all inland water bodies, such as lakes, reservoirs, or rivers, as delimited by international boundaries and/or coastlines.
You can certainly change your dollars into colones, but it won't matter either way, as most taxis, restaurants, surfboard rental shops, boutiques, bars, tour companies—you name it—take both forms of currency, often giving change in a mix of American dollars and Costa Rican coins. If you're in a particularly touristy area, such as Tamarindo or Jaco, you'll find prices listed for goods and services in U.S. dollars, with nary a colón in sight. Pro tip: Spend those colones, if you do have them, before you hit the airport for your return trip, as the conversion rate back to dollars is pretty dismal.
Constitution: This entry provides information on a country’s constitution and includes two subfields. The history subfield includes the dates of previous constitutions and the main steps and dates in formulating and implementing the latest constitution. For countries with 1-3 previous constitutions, the years are listed; for those with 4-9 previous, the entry is listed as “several previous,” and for those with 10 or more, the entry is “many previous.” The amendments subfield summarizes the process of am . . . more
Capital: This entry gives the name of the seat of government, its geographic coordinates, the time difference relative to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and the time observed in Washington, DC, and, if applicable, information on daylight saving time (DST). Where appropriate, a special note has been added to highlight those countries that have multiple time zones.
Judicial branch: This entry includes three subfields. The highest court(s) subfield includes the name(s) of a country's highest level court(s), the number and titles of the judges, and the types of cases heard by the court, which commonly are based on civil, criminal, administrative, and constitutional law. A number of countries have separate constitutional courts. The judge selection and term of office subfield includes the organizations and associated officials responsible for nominating and appointing j . . . more

We love taking night walking tours while in Monteverde. There are multiple companies that offer tours, but the best way to get a good deal is to reserve your tour through your hotel. The hotels in the area typically partner with local night tour companies and they can get you the best deal with transportation to the tour included. On your night walk you will see a lot of wildlife including cool frogs, tarantulas, sloths, snakes, and more!
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.
So about that "Switzerland" nickname: Costa Rica's military was famously abolished in 1949, with the budget instead allocated towards education and culture. It's the most stable country in Central America, with a democratically elected government that steadfastly refuses to involve itself in regional conflicts. As a result, its crime rate is also quite low, with violent crime rates well below those in the U.S. (Petty crimes, like theft, can be a problem in more tourist-ridden areas though, so don't leave your purse or backpack laying around unattended.)
The walks are led by naturalist guides so it’s easy to learn all about local animal species and native plants while checking out the upper levels of the rainforest canopy, where around 90 percent of forest organisms are located. The trails are generally flat and clear, so are suitable for walkers of many ages and abilities – no wonder this is one of the top things to do in Costa Rica.
Colibri phones. These phones have a small swipe bar for a scratch off type calling card referred to as a Colibri calling card which are available from 500 colones and up. The swipes often don't work--you always have to enter the calling card access code on the keypad. Despite this, the Colibri calling card is the recommended one to buy as you can use it any of the types of phones whereas with a chip card you must search for a chip phone.
Don’t be turned off by popularity. No two travelers will ever have the same experience on the trails, see the same wildlife, have the same guide, etc. Our popular packages are still uniquely yours. Furthermore, they can be customized to be exactly what you want them to be. Scared of heights? Pull the canopy zip line tour out of your trip. Have to swim in a rainforest waterfall during your visit? Add it on! Hotel and resort upgrades are available and highly encouraged. This is your trip. Do it your way!
Foreign investors remain attracted by the country's political stability and relatively high education levels, as well as the incentives offered in the free-trade zones; Costa Rica has attracted one of the highest levels of foreign direct investment per capita in Latin America. The US-Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), which became effective for Costa Rica in 2009, helped increase foreign direct investment in key sectors of the economy, including insurance and telecommunication. However, poor infrastructure, high energy costs, a complex bureaucracy, weak investor protection, and uncertainty of contract enforcement impede greater investment.
Such wildlife abounds in Costa Rica as to seem almost cartoonish: keel-billed toucans ogle you from treetops and scarlet macaws raucously announce their flight plans. A keen eye will discern a sloth on a branch or the eyes of a caiman breaking the surface of a mangrove swamp, while alert ears will catch rustling leaves signaling a troop of white-faced capuchins or the haunting call of a howler monkey. Blue morpho butterflies flit amid orchid-festooned trees, while colorful tropical fish, sharks, rays, dolphins and whales thrive offshore – all as if in a conservationist’s dream.
Bosque Eterno straddles several minor mountain ranges at the crest of the continental divide separating the Atlantic (Caribbean) and Pacific watersheds, from about 750 meters altitude (roughly 2,500 feet) to the highest peaks (about 1,850 meters or 6,100 feet). Most of it is off-limits to humans, but enough is preserved in the singular Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve to make your visit worthwhile. I spent the better part of a day in the reserve and can say without hesitation that it was the highlight of my trip.

One of the best ways to experience the canopies of the variety of forests across Costa Rica is on a zip line tour. The adventurous and scenic excursion began in the 1970s and has become one of the most popular and widespread activities in the country, blending the beauty of the treetops with its remoteness. Guides help educate participants on the ecology, botany, and reforestation efforts encouraging the wildlife to return to the secondary forest and supporting the wildlife in primary forests.
Sanitation facility access: This entry provides information about access to improved or unimproved sanitation facilities available to segments of the population of a country. Improved sanitation - use of any of the following facilities: flush or pour-flush to a piped sewer system, septic tank or pit latrine; ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrine; pit latrine with slab; or a composting toilet. Unimproved sanitation - use of any of the following facilities: flush or pour-flush not piped to a sewer system, septic tank . . . more
It’s also one of the few places in Costa Rica where English is the de facto language. That’s down to the area’s unique Afro-Caribbean pedigree, which shows in local cuisine and culture too. The best way to experience the unique flavors (literally) of this distinctive corner of Costa Rica is to spring for Wolaba Tours’ 3.5-hour Food and Culture Tour. It’ll set you back $65 per person, but you won’t walk away hungry.

Located in the Arenal-Tempisque area, the Curi Cancha Reserve is a privately owned nature reserve that covers 205 acres of tropical cloud forest, which is home to a wide variety of birds, reptiles, and small animals. Curi-Cancha is the perfect place to get back to nature and do some serious bird watching, either on your own or with the help of a specialist guide who knows just where to find all the shy and rare species. You can go hiking along 7miles of trails, which will take you through virgin rainforest as well as some secondary forest – be on the lookout for some really unusual mammals, such as the armadillo, the sloth, and three species of monkeys. The reserve offers several guided tours, including a rather magical night tour.
Rumor has it zip-lining was invented in Costa Rica by nature researchers, but regardless of how the adventure activity got its start, it’s now one of the most popular and best things to do in Costa Rica. Experience jungles and cloud forests from above by soaring between platform perches in cloud-nestled Monteverde, remote Central Valley provinces along the Pacuare River, or even through the forests and waterfalls around Arenal Volcano. There are plenty of ecosystems to experience via zip-line, and if you’re lucky you could spot a monkey or sloth along the way.

Having now spent many months in Costa Rica and with Max having grown up here, we know a thing or two about Costa Rica. And after helping 40 of our friends and family make their way to Costa Rica for our wedding in 2015, we know exactly the questions on first-time travelers’ minds. We decided to compile all our tips and tricks for traveling in Costa Rica, what to bring, what to avoid and, even, what to wear!

Our trip was amazing and we had the best time!! Gilbert, our tour guide was great. He was knowledgeable and we learned so much about Costa Rica and the culture. We still can't figure out how he spotted birds so high and animals hidden in leaves and trees!! He made every minute of the trip a once-in-a-lifetime moment. My husband is already planning out next Gate 1 Tour!!
Accommodations in the hotels and lodges are rooms with two beds and private bath or shower. A limited number of single rooms are available. Triple rooms are usually two beds, sometimes with a cot or rollaway. On your Costa Rica tour, Caravan sometimes uses more than one hotel or lodge in a given area. Although each property is wonderfully different and may have many unique features, Caravan's goal is to offer a comparable overall selection so that you can experience the same enjoyment regardless of which property combination you find on your actual tour departure. Scheduled Caravan sightseeing will be the same from all the hotels.
There is such biodiversity in Costa Rica not only because it's a land bridge between North and South America, but also because the terrain is so varied and there are weather patterns moving in from both the Pacific and Atlantic/Caribbean. There are impressive volcanoes, mountain areas, rivers, lakes, and beaches all throughout the country. There are many beautiful beaches - most of the popular ones are on the Pacific side but the Caribbean has many excellent beaches as well.
This is my favorite tour I’ve ever done in Costa Rica and there are also multi-day white water rafting trips for the more adventurous ones. You can even go white water as a way to get around Costa Rica as many companies pick up in San Jose and drop off in La Fortuna or Puerto Viejo! This is definitely one of the top adventure activities in Costa Rica.
The rub is insurance, the full cost of which often exceeds the cost of the rental itself. Rental companies operating in Costa Rica offer several different types of optional insurance and one type of mandatory insurance – a liability policy that’ll set you back $15 to $25 per day, depending on the vehicle and carrier. Costa Rica Guide has a good primer on the confusing insurance regime. Bottom line: You can’t avoid mandatory insurance coverage, and you’ll probably want a supplemental policy that covers body damage if you plan to drive on unpaved mountain roads.
Hi Jess, if you’re talking about safety while renting a car, just make sure to never leave anything in the car, don’t leave a bag or backpack out in the seat even if it’s empty because if a thief sees it, he could try to steal it. We’ve known people who left their bags out right in plain view in the backseats and got their car robbed so make sure never to leave anything in the car. As for houses, it’s fairly safe in Costa Rica and Avellanas is not a very busy area. Always lock up, don’t leave your valuables in sight and close your curtains. Most houses here have gates on windows and doors, so always lock the gates and many places that are rented to tourists have some sort of security system set up so I’d ask the person you’re renting from if there is anything you need to be aware of.

Costa Rica's seasons are defined by how much rain falls during a particular period and not to the four seasons in the Northern Hemisphere. The year can be split into two periods, the dry season known to the residents as summer, and the rainy season, known locally as winter. The "summer" or dry season goes from December to April, and "winter" or rainy season goes from May to November, which almost coincides with the List of Atlantic hurricane seasons, and during this time, it rains constantly in some regions.

We’ve done several night walks in Costa Rica. In Arenal, we did a night walk with Jacamar (get 10% off this tour). In Osa Peninsula we did a night walk at Leona station with La Leona Eco-Lodge, in Braulio Carrillo we did a night walk with Rainforest Adventures and in Monteverde we did one at Finca Santa Maria. For night walks in Manuel Antonio, we recommend Si Como No Hotel which has a private reserve. We also did one in Bijagua at Tapir Valley which was absolutely amazing!
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.
Eating Costa Rican food is a great way to learn more about the culture and history of the country. Staples at meal time include black beans and rice known as gallo pinto, a favourite for breakfast. Dinner brings delectables like sopa negra (black bean soup) and casado which highlights rice with an array of side dish like fried plantains, vegetables, fish, beef or chicken. For dessert, try the Costa Rican rice pudding known as arroz con leche and quench your thirst with a traditional shot of guaro which is a liquor made of sugar cane.

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. 


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.

The rivers and rains have shaped Costa Rica’s landscape over millennia and rush through canyons and down mountains until reaching the sea for amazing whitewater rafting. The unique contours of the canals, forests, and waterfalls bring ample opportunities to explore the scenery and wildlife on rafting tours. Whether in the mood for a thrilling whitewater ride or a relaxing trip in search for lizards, birds, and monkeys, your professional guides will ensure a safe and memorable expedition. Popular destinations for rafting around Costa Rica include the Pacuare River (Lower Section) with class III/IV rapids, the Reventazon River (El Carmen Section) with class II/III rapids, the Toro River with class III/IV rapids, the Sarapiqui River (San Miguel Section) with class III/IV rapids, and the Savegre River with class II/III rapids.


That’s an extreme example and the two experiences aren’t identical.  Arenal Hanging Bridges is about 4 times larger (but also gets 50 times more visitors) and we did actually end up staying another night, going to the main entrance of Tenorio park and paying $15 to enter there and hike to the Celeste waterfall as well.  Still it was less than half the price.
Costa Rica and Nicaragua regularly file border dispute cases over the delimitations of the San Juan River and the northern tip of Calero Island to the International Court of Justice (ICJ); in 2009, the ICJ ruled that Costa Rican vessels carrying out police activities could not use the river, but official Costa Rican vessels providing essential services to riverside inhabitants and Costa Rican tourists could travel freely on the river; in 2011, the ICJ provisionally ruled that both countries must remove personnel from the disputed area; in 2013, the ICJ rejected Nicaragua's 2012 suit to halt Costa Rica's construction of a highway paralleling the river on the grounds of irreparable environmental damage; in 2013, the ICJ, regarding the disputed territory, ordered that Nicaragua should refrain from dredging or canal construction and refill and repair damage caused by trenches connecting the river to the Caribbean and upheld its 2010 ruling that Nicaragua must remove all personnel; in early 2014, Costa Rica brought Nicaragua to the ICJ over offshore oil concessions in the disputed region

Hi Nastassia, The trip to Costa Rica was amazing! We had a wonderful time. We really enjoyed all the tours and activities. Our guide, Gilbert, was awesome. The accommodations were excellent. We had so much fun traveling with this group of people. All the transfers went off without any problems. Thanks for planning and implementing a headache-free trip!


Nature and Costa Rica tend to go hand in hand.  25% of the country is protected land, and the variety of wildlife is as astounding as the beauty of nature.  Imagine: a birdwatching excursion into the rainforest, when suddenly you come upon the unrealistically blue waters of Rio Celeste. There are stunning landscapes no matter where you visit, from the looming Arenal Volcano to the tranquility of the Monteverde Cloud Forest.  When it comes to pure natural beauty, Costa Rica is in a class of its own!
Refugees and internally displaced persons: This entry includes those persons residing in a country as refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), or stateless persons. Each country's refugee entry includes only countries of origin that are the source of refugee populations of 5,000 or more. The definition of a refugee according to a UN Convention is "a person who is outside his/her country of nationality or habitual residence; has a well-founded fear of persecution because of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership in a . . . more
Costa Rica is ranked third in the world and first among the Americas in terms of the 2010 Environmental Performance Index. And the New Economics Foundation (NEF) ranked Costa Rica as the happiest nation in the world, both in 2009 and in 2012. This same organization (NEF) ranked Costa Rica as the "greenest" country in the world. Among budget travelers and increasingly among ordinary tourists Costa Rica is ranked as the most expensive country in Central America and perhaps in the whole of Latin America. Wine, chocolate, coffee, entrance fees for national parks, are expensive compared to prices in Western Europe and North America.

Costa Rica contains more than 800 miles of coastline, not to mention the rivers, lakes, and estuaries and provides endless kayaking opportunities for the active traveler. Each tour opens up the unique worlds created by Costa Rica’s biodiversity to make your time in the canals of a mangrove forest completely different than when on the open Pacific Ocean. Any and every kayak tour can be combined with other activities popular across Costa Rica, such as birding, snorkeling, or hiking the trails of a secluded island to make your time in a kayak a true adventure.

Simply stated, if you’re not used to this kind of driving, be very careful and always drive defensively. You might be cut off and tailgated. There’s a good chance you’ll see cars jump the line, not heed to stop signs and not use blinkers. Of course not all Costa Ricans drive this way but generally, their driving culture is not quite as structured and the infrastructure is not the best. Once you get out to the rural areas, it’s much more relaxed since there are less cars but you still need to drive defensively.


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.
Drinking water source: This entry provides information about access to improved or unimproved drinking water sources available to segments of the population of a country. Improved drinking water - use of any of the following sources: piped water into dwelling, yard, or plot; public tap or standpipe; tubewell or borehole; protected dug well; protected spring; or rainwater collection. Unimproved drinking water - use of any of the following sources: unprotected dug well; unprotected spring; cart with small tank or . . . more

You might get a discount (such as between 5% and 10%) when paying in cash, but it is not common enough to be expected. Also, it is not really necessary to get colones at the airport because you can pay everywhere in USD and receive colones as change. Most places except smallest restaurants take credit cards and many places including the gas stations take American Express.
Thanks for the input, Emilia. We have heard of Waze before, but haven’t given it a try yet. Google Maps has not let us done in Costa Rica yet! As for the price of gas, the small side of the road stall definitely overcharge (i don’t think they abide by the laws all that much), but that’s the “convenience tax” you pay to fill up in a small town without having to travel to a city with a real gas station.
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.
A lot of the adventure activities in Costa Rica are expensive, but if you want a more local and cheap experience, just be really selective about the things you want to spend money on. One really nice thing about Costa Rica is that by law all the beaches need to have public access. This means every beach is free!!!!! Yeay for lots of beach days! If you need some activity ideas check out our list of favorite activities including many things for the budget savvy traveler in mind.
Temperatures are more moderate along the country’s mountainous spine and in the populous Central Valley. The capital, San Jose, sits at nearly 4,000 feet above sea level, above the worst of the heat. In the eastern mountains, a sort of eternal early spring persists: above 7,000 or 8,000 feet, highs above 65 degrees are rare, and nighttime lows routinely dip below freezing above 10,000 feet or so.
You can also find luxurious houses, condos or apartments anywhere along the coast, in the jungles or on the hillsides overlooking the spectacular Central Valley. Some of these rentals might come with perks, like cleaning and laundry services, as well. These options are definitely something worth considering if you want to stay in Costa Rica long-term and worry free.
Country name: This entry includes all forms of the country's name approved by the US Board on Geographic Names (Italy is used as an example): conventional long form (Italian Republic), conventional short form (Italy), local long form (Repubblica Italiana), local short form (Italia), former (Kingdom of Italy), as well as the abbreviation. Also see the Terminology note.
Costa Rica is one of the world's most popular destinations for eco-tourists because of its biodiversity. Costa Rica possesses the greatest density of species in the world, and around 25% of its national territory is protected by a system of conservation areas and national parks. It has been stated in various places that Costa Rica may contain as much as 6% of the world's plant and animal species. Both tropical plant and animal species abound in Costa Rica. Some of the more impressive plants range from huge ficus trees with epiphytes abounding on their limbs to approximately 1500 different orchids. The animals are equally as impressive, whether it's a jaguar (the largest cat in the New World), the ever-elusive Margay, or the wonderful birds like the green or scarlet macaws (lapas in Costa Rican Spanish.) The amphibians are also quite impressive; the poison dart frogs with their bright colors are bound to catch your attention, or the giant cane toads.
One of the best hiking roads we’ve found is in Monteverde.  There’s a 4WD radio tower service road starting 50 meters northwest of the hotel Belmar that goes to the top of Cerro de los Amigos where you can stand on the USGS marker and be in Guanacaste, Alajuela and Puntarenas provinces all at the same time.  When it’s clear there are fantastic views over the lake and all the way to Arenal Volcano.
Eating Costa Rican food is a great way to learn more about the culture and history of the country. Staples at meal time include black beans and rice known as gallo pinto, a favourite for breakfast. Dinner brings delectables like sopa negra (black bean soup) and casado which highlights rice with an array of side dish like fried plantains, vegetables, fish, beef or chicken. For dessert, try the Costa Rican rice pudding known as arroz con leche and quench your thirst with a traditional shot of guaro which is a liquor made of sugar cane.
Leave the crowds and enjoy the splendor of the tropical jungle at Cristal Azul Ocean-View Villas. The remote location allows guests to experience true Costa Rica as it once was before the crowds arrived. Guests will enjoy sea kayaking, zip lining, yoga or even visit a Macaw Sanctuary. Take in the pure simplicity and stunning surroundings of the Nicoya Peninsula. Those who prefer to stay off the beaten path will fall in love with Cristal Azul Resort.

Our fully customizable Costa Rica vacation packages deliver everything you need to enjoy an amazing vacation. Discover the wonders of Costa Rica while staying at top hotels, ecolodges, and resorts. Experience the best tours and attractions with hand-selected guides. You’ll move around the country in style with the best domestic transportation options. Every sample itinerary is tailored to your budget and preferences. Select the travel style that suits you best and start planning your trip today!
“Gringo buses,” or tourist shuttles, are much more expensive than intercity buses. They’re also far more convenient for tourists traveling from the airport to coastal resort towns, where door-to-door service is available. (If you take the regular bus, you’ll have to walk a kilometer or two with your luggage.) Easy Ride, one of several aboveboard operators, runs regular routes from San Jose to Jaco and other coastal towns for $45 to $90 one-way, depending on destination and demand. Private rides cost roughly double.
Playa Hermosa is a comely, uncrowded gray sand beach on the Papagayo Peninsula. The beach itself fronts a deep cove that’s sheltered from the open Pacific, moderating local wave action. Even if you’re not staying at one of the four- or five-star properties near the cove, or at one of the upscale condos just over the ridge on the Pacific side, you can access Playa Hermosa without paying at the public beach along the area’s main paved road. Get the full local resort experience for less at Papagayo Golden Palms Resort, just off the beach: we spent less than $150 per night there and got as nice a five-star resort experience as I’ve ever had.
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.
Legal system: This entry provides the description of a country's legal system. A statement on judicial review of legislative acts is also included for a number of countries. The legal systems of nearly all countries are generally modeled upon elements of five main types: civil law (including French law, the Napoleonic Code, Roman law, Roman-Dutch law, and Spanish law); common law (including United State law); customary law; mixed or pluralistic law; and religious law (including Islamic law). An addition . . . more
It’s easy to get caught up in all the adrenaline-pumping things to do in Costa Rica, so make time to slow down for natural and affordable spa treatments as a relaxing counter activity. Chocolate, coffee, and volcanic mud treatments are popular at eco-lodges and hotels, and are used in spa treatments like massages, body wraps, and facials. Most hotels have a menu of indulgent services that start at surprisingly affordable prices—the benefit of a strong U.S. dollar in Central America. Try the spa at Finca Rosa Blanca inn and coffee plantation in Heredia for a multi-treatment session featuring a coffee and chocolate scrub that’s followed by a chocolate or coffee-based cocktail. It might be just what you need after a long day of adventure activities.

Make conversation with locals on the bus so that they can see that you are competent in Spanish and comfortable in the Spanish speaking environment. (You'll enjoy yourself plus this may make them feel friendly towards you and more willing to alert you if someone is snooping in your stuff. Or it might warn them that if they steal from you, you will talk to the bus driver and police and make a full report.) Even some Spanish is better than none – use what you have! It's great practice and the more you improve the safer you'll be!


Palmares Fiestas: After the festivities of Christmas, New Year’s and the Zapote festival have wound down, it’s time for the Palmares festival. In mid-January, more than 1 million Ticos and tourists head to the town of Palmares for one of the largest festivals in Costa Rica. Revelers drink beer, enjoy food, listen to international acts, watch traditional bullfighting and the ‘tope’ – a horse parade through the streets.
Costa Rica has a tropical climate, with a wet and a dry season each year on the Pacific side, and occasional showers throughout the year on the Caribbean side. Note that the Caribbean is often gorgeous in October, while this is the dreariest month on the Pacific side and in the Central Valley. Costa Rica’s weather varies wildly depending on which side of the country you’re visiting.
Country name: This entry includes all forms of the country's name approved by the US Board on Geographic Names (Italy is used as an example): conventional long form (Italian Republic), conventional short form (Italy), local long form (Repubblica Italiana), local short form (Italia), former (Kingdom of Italy), as well as the abbreviation. Also see the Terminology note.
It is important to remember when in conversation with locals that the official religion of the country is Roman Catholic, accounting for approximately 70 percent of the population. Maintain direct eye contact when speaking, for it is a sign of respect and considered polite. A point of pride for many Ticos is the absence of an army. Costa Rica gained the nickname “Switzerland of the Americas,” after the abolition of the army in 1948, choosing instead to fund conservation, teacher training, and higher education, which the latter two have bared fruit in a literacy rate of 96 percent.
Pharmaceuticals, financial outsourcing, software development, and ecotourism have become the prime industries in Costa Rica's economy. High levels of education among its residents make the country an attractive investing location. Since 1999, tourism earns more foreign exchange than the combined exports of the country's three main cash crops: bananas and pineapples especially,[98] but also other crops, including coffee.[99] Coffee production played a key role in Costa Rica's history and in 2006, was the third cash crop export.[99] As a small country, Costa Rica now provides under 1% of the world's coffee production.[48] In 2015, the value of coffee exports was US$305.9 million, a small part of the total agricultural exports of US$2.7 billion.[98] Coffee production increased by 13.7% percent in 2015-16, declined by 17.5% in 2016–17, but was expected to increase by about 15% in the subsequent year.[100]
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