Most visitors returning home are not allowed to bring back any raw foods or plants. Accordingly, the single most desirable commodity for visitors to take home may be roasted (not green) coffee,considered by many as some of the world's best. Numerous web sites explain the fine qualities of various growing regions, types of beans, types of roasting and sources for purchase. Best prices come by purchasing several (sealed) bags of 12 ounces or so, but you can also buy in larger quantity if you look hard enough (the Mercado Central in San José has a coffee vendor that sells many varieties, including organic, by the kilo). And experts definitely recommend buying whole beans (entero): in any kind of storage, they last longer, and ground coffee sold in Costa Rica often contains sugar because it preferred by locals -- if you want pure coffee without additives look for "puro" on the package. The stores in San José airport will sell you excellent coffee, but other good quality blends can be found in local supermarkets and direct from the roasters. It can be an expensive but delicious habit. If you're serious about your coffee, bring at least a partially-empty suit case and fill it with perhaps a year's supply (web sites explain how to store it that long). Take care with tourist outlets (especially at the airport) where small quantities may cost as much as ordering on the Internet.
Traveling alone is fine and generally safe in Costa Rica, but carefully consider what kind of risks (if any) you are willing to take. Always hike with other people and try to explore a new city with other people. On solo forays, if you feel uncomfortable seek out a group of other people (both women and men). A well lit place with people you can trust is always a plus. A busy restaurant or hostel is a great source of local info as well as a great place to relax and recharge.
The La Fortuna Waterfall is one of the top waterfalls to visit in Costa Rica. There are multiple ways to get to the hiking trail, one being via horseback, where you will then walk down 500 steps to the basin of the waterfall; La Fortuna Waterfall is 230 feet (70 meters) high! The raw power of this waterfall is mesmerizing. After hiking down, you can swim in the pool beneath the cascade of water, which is an incredible experience in and of itself. The surrounding forest is stunning and it is likely that you will see toucans, butterflies, monkeys, and sloths.
Beach lovers will be enthralled with the hundreds of miles of coastline on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Beaches in the Guanacaste region in the Pacific Coast such as Tamarindo are idyllic spots of white sands, palm trees and plenty of surf. Other fabulous spots include the Nicoya Peninsula where you will find Santa Teresa and Tortuga Island.
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.
Pay Attention to Travel Advisories: Before you get too deep into the planning process, the check State Department’s travel advisories and adjust your itinerary accordingly. You shouldn’t have too much to worry about in Costa Rica. When we visited, only Liberia was on the State Department’s radar, and the advisory was pretty standard stuff: avoid certain areas at night, keep close watch on your valuables, and don’t expect the cops to help you. We took that advice to heart and encountered no trouble.
You say you're more of a thrill seeker? Costa Rica is a nature lover's playground, and no matter what your mood, you'll find a great adventure to suit it. While here, you can fly through the canopy in Selvatura Park, hike to thunderous waterfalls or hot springs next to Arenal Volcano National Park or go white water rafting down the thrilling Pacuare River.
All that said, you’ll get a lot farther in Costa Rica with basic Spanish familiarity. My wife and I can both navigate basic social and commercial situations in Spanish, and (not surprisingly) we found that people were both friendlier and more communicative in the local language. If you already know some Spanish, spend a few hours before your trip brushing up, and get in the habit of beginning interactions in the local tongue.
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.
Food – By eating at local restaurants you can expect to pay around 535-1,600 CRC (1-3 USD) for meals. These are a local favorite and will save you from paying tourist prices in other establishments. Typical meals like the traditional casado are 2,670 CRC (5 USD). Most restaurant meals will cost around 3,900 CRC (5 USD) or more. A very nice meal in a tourist area will cost around 9,000 CRC (15 USD). For cheap food, eat from the street vendors where snacks and light meals can cost as little as 265 CRC (less than 1 USD). If you plan on cooking for yourself, a week’s worth of groceries will cost around 15,000-20,000 CRC (25-35 USD).
The busiest times of the year for travelers are December through April and then again from June through August. Peak seasons include December 15 – January 5, the entire months of February and March, Easter week and the first two weeks of July. Quality accommodations are generally reserved solid 6 or more months in advance for these times of the year.
Of native languages still spoken, primarily in indigenous reservations, the most numerically important are the Bribri, Maléku, Cabécar and Ngäbere languages; some of these have several thousand speakers in Costa Rica while others have a few hundred. Some languages, such as Teribe and Boruca, have fewer than a thousand speakers. The Buglere language and the closely related Guaymí are spoken by some in southeast Puntarenas.
A longtime favorite, the 7-day Smooth Tropics Inclusive Adventure sends you first to the rainforest and river area surrounding Arenal Volcano, then over to one of Guanacaste’s beautiful beaches at Playa Flamingo. From hot springs to cool lagoon, you’ll enjoy a perfect balance of ecolodge jungle adventures and vegging out at the beach pampered by an all-inclusive resort.
Whether in Puerto Viejo, Cahuita, Manuel Antonio, Jaco, Santa Theresa, or Tamarindo, Costa Rica has a lot of waves and lots of places to learn to surf. In fact, most travelers come here to surf because the waves are world renowned. If you never learned but always wanted to try and Australia, Hawaii, or Bali seem too far, this is your best place to in the region to learn.
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.
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.
There are also a number of language schools that can be found throughout the Central Valley, particularly in Heredia and its surrounding cantons. These language schools typically offer only Spanish to foreign students from the United States and Europe but some, including the Instituto Norte Americano in Heredia, offer Spanish to foreign students, and English and Mandarin to local ones. Many of these language schools are also instrumental in helping the surrounding community, either through monetary donations or educational opportunities that otherwise may not have existed for the local Costa Rican population. Schools such as IAC (Instituto de Aprendizaje de Costa Rica) in Manuel Antonio, La Escuela Armonía in Guanacaste, as well as the Instituto Norte Americano in Heredia have frequently acted as educational hubs for their surrounding communities, giving free English classes to teachers of nearby schools and helping to raise money for worthy causes. Similarly in the Guanacaste region, Spanish schools such as Instituto Estelar Bilingüe in Liberia work closely with volunteer organizations and non-profits in the area in order to help the local people and give back to the community. Students are able to volunteer their time in a variety of ways while studying Spanish and travelling.
hi! i love your site. i’ve gotten so much information from it. i’m heading to costa rica at the end of february for my birthday! im so excited and through my research i’ve found so many things that i’d like to do there. we will be renting a car and i think i have finally narrowed our trip down to 4 stops being, arenal, monteverde, manuel antonio, and uvitas. i would like to see a couple of waterfalls, probably la fortuna and nauyaca, hanging bridges, zipline, take a dip in the hot springs, hike, and scuba dive off cano island. now for the tricky part. i only have 7 full days! is it possible? how many days should i spend at each stop? i know that the trouble is that there are 4 stops instead of 3 which means one stop will have to be for one night only. do you think there is a way we can perhaps stop and pass through one of them? for instance when going from monteverde to san manuel. is there a way we can drive down to san manuel. spend the day at the park/beach and then drive on through to uvita? would it be safe to drive that route after sundown? many thanks for any insights you can provide.
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.
Costa Rica has protected over 25% of the natural terrain through reserves and national parks. In total, the country has 27 national parks to choose from located all over the country. With over 615 wildlife species per 10,000 square km and 12 key ecological zones. Most parks are loaded with a variety of the adventures previously mentioned. So, pick your park(s), and book your adventure(s) for an unforgettable trip.
Our Sport Fishing Adventures will cast you into waters where numerous record billfish have been caught off the Pacific side and huge tarpon regularly reeled in off the Caribbean coast. Lake Arenal provides a freshwater hot spot for the elusive (and delicious!) Guapote. Costa Rica is home to some of the best sport fishing in the world. We utilize only the best captains plus top of the line equipment and boats for our famed fishing expeditions.
The coasts of Costa Rica are known for strong currents and rip-tides in some areas but most of them are great to be with the family. Costa Rica has some of the best beaches in the world. The Atlantic coast is just five hours away from the Pacific one and both offer completely different views and landscapes. There are no signs indicating an unsafe beach due to riptides, so take precautions and listen to the locals on where it is safe to swim. The public beaches do not have life guards. A traveler should learn how to swim out of a rip tide and not swim alone. There are some active volcanoes in Costa Rica and they are dangerous, so follow the warning signs posted. The slopes of the Arenal volcano invite visitors to climb closer to the summit, but there have been fatalities in the past with unseen gas chambers. Also be wary of the climate of Costa Rica. It is very hot in the daytime, but in the morning and evening it becomes very cool, so you should bring a light weight jacket.
The Pacific side generally experiences the Dry Season from December through April and the Green Season from May through November. The mountainous southern Pacific zone of the country experiences the highest precipitation totals from July through November. The drier northwest Pacific coast has a shorter period of heavy rains lasting from the September through October.
After relaxing in the rainforest lodges and on the pristine beaches of Costa Rica, it is time to get into the party spirit. Visit in October and you may just coincide with carnival in the Caribbean coastal city of Puerto Limón, an explosion of extravagant colourful costumes, dancing in the streets and spicy creole dishes. This is where the Caribbean culture of the country comes to life, celebrating its West Indian roots and inviting everyone to join the party.
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.
Surrounded by the famous Volcan Tenorio National Park, the Rio Celeste Hideaway is a gateway to Costa Rica’s pristine nature and wildlife. Guests can explore the lush jungles teeming with wildlife through many of the activities offered on premise or simply take in the natural beauty in the comforts of one of the 26 luxurious bungalows in an ecologically friendly setting. If you are feeling adventurous, get lost on the trails the indigenous animals call home. For a relaxing day, swim in the bright blue river while listening to the musical sounds of the rainforest.
Five rivers have their headwaters here, making it a popular destination for anglers. For best results, you’ll want to hire your own guide, which you can do for as little as $50 for a half-day trip. If you’re content not to fish and don’t want to explore the backcountry or summits, you can explore on foot any of the short, moderately strenuous trails originating at the main visitor center.
If you have an unlocked cell phone (either one from home or bought in Costa Rica -- all cell phones sold in Costa Rica must be unlocked), prepaid (prepago) SIM cards can provide a local number and service can be purchased throughout the country by anyone with a passport from any country, or a cedula (Costa Rican ID card). At the baggage claim at the San José airport is a Kölbi kiosk, and you will also see signs Kölbi, Movistar, Claro, and others throughout the country where service is for sale. Rates are set by the government and you can get a SIM for as little as USD2 (Movistart 2014-11-1) and 3G (or sometimes just EDGE) data service is also available by the day, week, or month for ¢300 or less a day. To add value you buy a recarga (recharge card), scratch off the card to get a PIN, and text the PIN from your phone to a special number. To keep the card active, it must be recharged at least once in a 120 day period. If it is not charged within a 120 days, you have a 30 day grace period before your SIM chip is deactivated and you lose your phone number. Also keep in mind that you may have trouble getting your SIM activated on Sunday, because like many things in Costa Rica, the SIM activation system may be shut down on Sundays. Also not all shops sell SIMs -- many just sell the recharge cards. Get your SIM at the airport if you can.
Fully licensed by the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) and based in Costa Rica, CRS Tours provides its worldwide clientele with travel services at its highest standards of quality and best value. CRS Tours’ years of commitment to the tourism sector of Costa Rica (including hotels, restaurants, transportation, tours and local airlines) has enabled CRS Tours to acquire a strong working relationship that allows the agency to offer clients great deals in packaged tours.
If you intend to hike around Corcovado (or anywhere in Costa Rica, really) make sure to wear the appropriate gear. Things to keep in mind when setting to hike are the high humidity levels of this part of the world, and the bugs that will feast on you unless you wear long sleeves and pants, and apply bug repellent. I suggest reading my post on what to pack for the jungle to have an idea of what to wear and pack for an adventure trip to Corcovado.
Costa Rica has been cited as Central America's great health success story. Its healthcare system is ranked higher than that of the United States, despite having a fraction of its GDP. Prior to 1940, government hospitals and charities provided most health care. But since the 1941 creation of the Social Insurance Administration (Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social – CCSS), Costa Rica has provided universal health care to its wage-earning residents, with coverage extended to dependants over time. In 1973, the CCSS took over administration of all 29 of the country's public hospitals and all health care, also launching a Rural Health Program (Programa de Salud Rural) for primary care to rural areas, later extended to primary care services nationwide. In 1993, laws were passed to enable elected health boards that represented health consumers, social insurance representatives, employers, and social organizations. By the year 2000, social health insurance coverage was available to 82% of the Costa Rican population. Each health committee manages an area equivalent to one of the 83 administrative cantons of Costa Rica. There is limited use of private, for-profit services (around 14.4% of the national total health expenditure). About 7% of GDP is allocated to the health sector, and over 70% is government funded.
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.
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.
"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"
When you need a break from surf, sun, and hiking, you should consider a visit to the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum in San Jose, which is home to an astonishing 1,600 individual gold artifacts that date back to the pre-Columbian era. You can start your visit by watching a short orientation video (in English), which will pave the way for you to explore the exhibits in your own time – audio guides are available for rental and you can pre-book a guided tour if you prefer a more in-depth experience. Located in the same building, you will also find the National Coin Museum and the Casa de Moneda, which documents the history of minting in Costa Rica.
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.
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.
Everything gets cheaper in Costa Rica during the rainy season. That means that traveling between the middle of May and the beginning of December is the best time to get cheaper hotel rates and discounted tours. You also won’t have to deal with crazy crowds. The only downside to traveling at this time is you will be forced to combat the rain. Depending on where you go, you won’t deal with completely washed out days (usually) but in the early afternoon the rain will begin and may continue for several hours or into the night.
Ummm how cool is this? Yeap, that’s Thomas living his best life sliding down a waterfall. Also, yes, I was too wimpy to try it. Anyway, this is the Uvita waterfall. If you are visiting the Uvita area, this waterfall is 100% worth a visit. Admission was only about $2 and the walk to the fall was only about five minutes long. Go here. You won’t regret it.
The Barcelo San Jose Palacio Hotel is located 1 mile from downtown San José, amidst beautifully landscaped gardens in a quiet residential area. This five star hotel features two indoor restaurants, two bars, a casino, a large swimming pool and pool bar and restaurant, spa with Jacuzzi, steam bath, sauna, tennis and squash courts, massage therapists, hairdresser, and gift shops. Your hotel is fully air-conditioned. Internet access is available in the lobby internet cafe for a fee.
The central location provides access to American markets and direct ocean access to Europe and Asia. The most important exports in 2015 (in order of dollar value) were medical instruments, bananas, tropical fruits, integrated circuits and orthopedic appliances. Total imports in that year were US$15 billion. The most significant products imported in 2015 (in order of dollar value) were refined petroleum, automobiles, packaged medications, broadcasting equipment and computers. The total exports were US$12.6 billion for a trade deficit of US$2.39 billion in 2015.