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]

A local Naturalist accompanies you on a leisurely BOAT RIDE along remote, unspoiled sections of the park’s waterways, explaining the bountiful flora and fauna. Enjoy a fascinating stroll through an accessible portion of the nearby RAINFOREST. During the peak nesting season (mid-July to mid-October) you may be lucky enough to observe an endangered green turtle laying her eggs under the starlight on an optional tour. Later this afternoon, meet a local Naturalist for an informative talk on the ecology of the area.


There are so many things to do and see while in Costa Rica that it is impossible cram it all into one trip. Fortunately, Costa Rica is so fabulous that you will definitely want to return more than once. Between national parks, volcanoes, waterfalls, rainforests, cloud forests, underground cave systems, more than 300 beaches, hot springs, animal sanctuaries, exquisite diving destinations, and adventure parks, there is always something new and exciting to do. With so many intriguing options, it is helpful to know what some of the best and must-visit attractions are.
Our Costa Rica Travel Guide offers valuable information on the top tourist destinations as well as valuable Costa Rica travel tips. Vacationing in Costa Rica has never been easier and our travel guide offers tips and advice to help you save time, money & get the most out of your next Costa Rica vacation. Find out the best time to travel to Costa Rica, hotels, tours and more. The Costa Rica Travel Guide, written by local experts offers you REAL ADVICE about where to stay and go and how to make your next trip to Costa Rica incredible.
We can’t stress enough the importance of travel insurance, especially in a country like Costa Rica. Whether you just plan to hang out on the beach, do a little bit of hiking, or go extreme (think surfing, scuba diving, or zip-lining), being protected on your travels is an irreplaceable peace of mind. We learned about the importance of travel insurance the hard way and now we never travel without coverage.
English was more prevalent in the touristy areas we visited, notably the northwestern beaches and the Monteverde area. We had the most trouble in the least touristy areas. In Tilaran, the couple who ran our hotel relied for English-language help entirely on a younger employee who’d previously worked at a call center. The Rincon de la Vieja area was more remote than Tilaran, of course, but our resort catered mostly to English-speaking tourists and most staff communicated accordingly.

Attracting all art lovers and anyone interested in modern design innovation, the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design is housed across a cluster of buildings in San Jose’s historic downtown area. You can admire works by predominantly Costa Rican and other Central and South American countries in the museum’s large permanent collection, while regular temporary exhibitions are held in four special exhibition spaces. The museum also has an auditorium and you can access an extensive website and video library featuring past exhibitions. You can join a guided tour, attend a lecture or workshop, or simply explore at your own pace.
If you’re reading this article about saving money on activities then you’re probably trying to save money on other things like transportation as well. Kill two birds with one stone and take a public bus.  Not only is it interesting but public buses take quite a bit longer than a rental car or tourist shuttles so you won’t have so much free time left over to try to occupy.
After pickup from your San Jose hotel in the morning, begin your 1.5-hour journey to Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui with your naturalist guide and pass through one of the most famous national parks in Costa Rica.Once you arrive, discover Costa Rica's beautiful tropical wildlife on a riverboat trip. Enjoy views of the magnificent rainforest on a 2-hour boat ride along the water, and look out for forest inhabitants such as toucans, monkeys, sloths, crocodiles and more!Arrive at the private reserve, where you’ll have the choice to horseback ride or hike up to the canopy. After receiving a safety briefing from your naturalist guide, embark on your canopy adventure. Using a special system of steel cables and professional climbing gear, you’ll roam through the treetops and leap from platform to platform in the tropical rainforest. No experience required for this unique experience! After an adrenaline-packed two hours, enjoy a home-style lunch at the private reserve before relaxing on a scenic drive back to San Jose.

Costa Rica is a nature lover’s dream. Adventure blends seamlessly into nature's harmony and the array of wonders in Costa Rica leaves its visitors breathless and spellbound. A bubbling volcano illuminates the star filled night sky and enchanting forests that appear as though they are made entirely of clouds thrive with diverse wildlife. From the Pacific Coast to the Caribbean Sea and the expanse of lush jungles in between, Costa Rica is a place where time slows down and where you can lose yourself in the very essence of life.
Population: This entry gives an estimate from the US Bureau of the Census based on statistics from population censuses, vital statistics registration systems, or sample surveys pertaining to the recent past and on assumptions about future trends. The total population presents one overall measure of the potential impact of the country on the world and within its region. Note: Starting with the 1993 Factbook, demographic estimates for some countries (mostly African) have explicitly taken into account t . . . more
Cano Island is a protected marine park, with fishing prohibited for three miles around it. The harvesting of marine life and collection of shells is also against the law. As such, the waters are full of coral, fish, and other sea creatures such as reef sharks, sting rays, turtles, and eels, making it one of Costa Rica points of interest for marine life.
Playa Avellana’s seclusion belies its worldliness. One of the Costa Rican Pacific’s most exclusive resorts, the JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort and Spa, lies just to the north. Yes, it’s pricey, but it’s also all-inclusive – a perfect honeymoon destination for a truly unforgettable post-wedding experience. Hacienda Pinilla Beach Club, on the beach itself, is only slightly less accommodating.

Ports and terminals: This entry lists major ports and terminals primarily on the basis of the amount of cargo tonnage shipped through the facilities on an annual basis. In some instances, the number of containers handled or ship visits were also considered. Most ports service multiple classes of vessels including bulk carriers (dry and liquid), break bulk cargoes (goods loaded individually in bags, boxes, crates, or drums; sometimes palletized), containers, roll-on/roll-off, and passenger ships. The listing le . . . more
In San José there is not one central bus station, but rather several different ones, with each station roughly serving a different area of the country, with some exceptions. For example, most of the service to the Caribbean side of the country leaves from the Terminal Gran Caribe. However, in November 2012 the direct service to the far south Caribbean coast moved to the Puntarenas bus station, which mostly serves the west side of the country. Still, you can still get to the Caribe side by taking a bus (on the Autotransportes Caribeños‎ line) from the Terminal Gran Caribe to Limón, and then transferring there to another bus south (the Mepe line). Or just go to the Mepe terminal in SJ for a direct bus to Puerto Viejo or any other place on the South Caribean coast. In short, do some research beforehand so you don't get lost looking for your bus. Often you can just call or email your final destination (e.g. your hotel) and they will tell you what bus to take, where to catch it and how often it runs. Schedules are available online.
Costa Rica has a rich and vibrant history that first marked the history books on September 18th 1502. This date was when the land mass was first discovered by Christopher Columbus. Originally the land belonged to the four tribes of Carib, Boruca, Chibcha and Diquis Indians (The Carib met Columbus as he landed there and showed him the island). There is also further evidence to suggest that the country had human life up to 10,000 years prior. Although it cannot be pinpointed to an exact date this is the closest scientists can estimate intelligent lifeforms living in the territory. The name Costa Rica (Rich Coast) was given to the land by a Spanish man who noticed the heavy golden jewelry that the Indians wore. When the Spaniards started to move into Costa Rica to colonize the territory in 1524, many of the indigenous people died from disease or moved away. This did not lead to a huge rise in immigration because there was not many resources from the land to make a profit on. The people there lived a simple life with the bare minimum and worked to sustain themsleves. Many only moved there to further their claims in Central America where the gold and silver was heavily mined. Others used it as a stepping stone to reach Mexico, Central America and North America. Juan Vasquez De Coronado created the first city in 1562, before that it had only been small communities and towns. Later on in 1821 Costa Rica successfully declared independence from Spain and two years later after disputes in the capitol declined to be a part of Mexico. In 1848 "Don Pepe" took charge of the country and Costa Rica became a republic. This granted voting right to minorities and established rules and regulations to check and balance the country when needed. It then hit a peaceful period which some would call "neutral." Peace and stability reigned over the land and prevented uneccessary conflicts. This is when Costa Rica constitutionally and permanently abolished its army in 1949. Finally in the 1970's the economy there took a serious hit and instead of relying on exports, the country now looks to the mass tourism it receives every year.

In addition to paper maps, you can also use the GPS maps from various providers. GPSeTravelguides offers a complete navigation map for Costa Rica, http://www.gpsetravelguides.com/page/costa-rica-gps-map.html. Trackit GPS provides maps in local retailers, http://www.trackit.co.cr. Kaart Data apps can be used on iOS and Android, http://www.kaartdata.com/mobile-apps/ Cenrut maps can be loaded on Garmin devices, iPhones and Android phones: http://www.cenrut.org/adw/over.htm And if you want to locate the best Costa Rican beaches to surf or for a family outing then you want to use CRSurf.com's Costa Rica Map, created by a surfer, who has surfed every wave on this Google map, for surfers.


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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.
Costa Rica is a melting pot of cultures. Spanish immigrants left their mark and Jamaican influences make themselves known on the country’s Caribbean Coast, but it wouldn’t do to forget the peoples who inhabited the lands long before it was colonized. In Arenal, visit the Maleku community, meet a local family, and learn how their lifestyle has been impacted by modern development – and how they work to preserve their traditions. Head towards San Ramon and take a cultural tour, where you’ll learn all about the city of poets with guides who grew up in this charming community.
Beaches in Costa Rica are laid back and lovely. Swim, snorkel and even scuba dive in the turquoise waters. Other more adventurous activities you can enjoy on your Costa Rica tour are hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, canoeing and river rafting. Canopy tours are fun ways to get aerial views of the rainforest. And for those who like to pamper themselves on vacation, at some Costa Rican resorts, you can soak in natural healing hot mineral pools or try a mud massage.
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.
Population: This entry gives an estimate from the US Bureau of the Census based on statistics from population censuses, vital statistics registration systems, or sample surveys pertaining to the recent past and on assumptions about future trends. The total population presents one overall measure of the potential impact of the country on the world and within its region. Note: Starting with the 1993 Factbook, demographic estimates for some countries (mostly African) have explicitly taken into account t . . . more
note: active local transmission of Zika virus by Aedes species mosquitoes has been identified in this country (as of August 2016); it poses an important risk (a large number of cases possible) among US citizens if bitten by an infective mosquito; other less common ways to get Zika are through sex, via blood transfusion, or during pregnancy, in which the pregnant woman passes Zika virus to her fetus
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.

Action-packed Costa Rica has plenty of idyllic beaches to lounge on, but adventurous locals and visitors prefer surfing. Hermosa Beach on the nation’s Caribbean coast is off the beaten path and a favorite for its curling waves and soft sand. If you’re not looking to hang ten, opt for sea kayaking, beach horseback rides, or simply lounging on the sand and watching surfers instead.
The marvelous biodiversity is amplified with a wealth of agriculture as the warm, fertile soils and abundant minerals are present amidst an average rainfall of more than 13 inches a year. Guanacaste, a large producer of Brahman cattle, sugar cane, cotton, and rice, receives irrigated water from Lake Arenal during the dry season. The use of irrigation has allowed farms in the more arid regions across Costa Rica to farm crops that are usually found in wetter, tropical areas, such as pineapple, mangos, bananas, and sugar cane. An abundance of wild fruits grows along the roadside, such as cashew fruits, mangoes, papaya, and guava. However, plantations fill the markets both large and small, from tiny villages near the Caribbean to the megastores of San Jose.
Costa Rica’s culture is rooted in a peaceful, Catholic, agrarian society, and many of Costa Rica's most interesting cultural experiences are on the coffee farm, visiting the pineapple plantation, or eating a delicious helping of *gallo pinto* at the local soda (Costa Rican restaurant.) The country’s few museums and performing arts are mostly centered in the capital...
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.
White, gold, tan, and gray sand decorate the hundreds of beaches found along the Pacific and Caribbean coasts of Costa Rica for incredible surfing. Surfers have flocked to Costa Rica for decades in search of the perfect waves and to soak up the laid-back lifestyle of Pura Vida. Whether an experienced surfer or one eager to learn while under the guidance of a supportive instructor, Costa Rica offers an abundance of celebrated spots, including Matapalo and Jaco Beach on the Central Pacific, Nosara on the Nicoya Peninsula and Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean Coast.

Most of the coffee exported was grown around the main centers of population in the Central Plateau and then transported by oxcart to the Pacific port of Puntarenas after the main road was built in 1846.[48] By the mid-1850s the main market for coffee was Britain.[49] It soon became a high priority to develop an effective transportation route from the Central Plateau to the Atlantic Ocean. For this purpose, in the 1870s, the Costa Rican government contracted with U.S. businessman Minor C. Keith to build a railroad from San José to the Caribbean port of Limón. Despite enormous difficulties with construction, disease, and financing, the railroad was completed in 1890.[50]
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