Are you looking for the ultimate in Costa Rica vacations? Our team of local experts will design your custom, vacation package. We do NOT sell cookie-cutter trips. Instead, we take the time to get to know your unique “travel personality”. Then we match you with a hand-picked selection of hotels, tours & transportation. The result is a tailor-made Costa Rica journey that will fit you like a glove.
December 20-ish through the end of the year, and Holy Week, the week before Easter, are the country’s monster tourism times. Prices go up and availability goes down dramatically during those weeks. Not only do foreigners flock here, but you’re competing for space with Costa Ricans. They have the time off, too. (Traffic-snarled San José becomes a virtual ghost town during Holy Week, called Semana Santa in Spanish.) Make hotel and car-rental reservations weeks—better yet, months—in advance if you plan to be here during those periods. And be prepared for one arcane oddity of Costa Rican law if you’re here during Holy Week: Holy Thursday and Good Friday are legally dry days in many communities, and no alcoholic beverages may be served or sold.
Costa Rica’s many natural wonders make it a special place to explore, and to offer much more than a typical vacation destination. A visit to Costa Rica is hardly complete without a walk through its dense, tropical forests, where giant trees are home to hundreds of epiphyte plants, the sounds of rare bird species can be heard in the air, and slow-moving sloths can be...
San José, August 20, 2018 The U.S. Embassy has received information about a possible immigration protest today at 4:00 PM in downtown San Jose in the areas of Parque La Merced, Central Park, Plaza de la Democracia, and/or Parque Nacional.  The Embassy encourages U.S. citizens to monitor local media for updates. The majority of protests in Costa ...
Situated at the end of a scenic beach, Ylang Ylang Beach Resort's property offers 22 well-appointed rooms for today’s leisure travelers in Montezuma, offering a wide range of activities offered on the premise. The resort spans across an abundant rainforest nature reserve teeming with wildlife, so be sure to carry a camera at all times. While in Montezuma, explore the vibrant local flavors by venturing to the acclaimed El Sano Banano Restaurant, a natural foods restaurant, which seamlessly blends classic Costa Rican cuisine with an international twist.  Whether you want to simply relax by the beach or pamper yourself at the spa, consider the Ylang Ylang Beach Resort.

Population growth rate: The average annual percent change in the population, resulting from a surplus (or deficit) of births over deaths and the balance of migrants entering and leaving a country. The rate may be positive or negative. The growth rate is a factor in determining how great a burden would be imposed on a country by the changing needs of its people for infrastructure (e.g., schools, hospitals, housing, roads), resources (e.g., food, water, electricity), and jobs. Rapid population growth can be seen as . . . more


Loved this article and all the tips. We are planning to take our 3 children (11, 7, and 5) and will be traveling with another family that has 3 children similar ages, in April. We are looking into renting a house. We found one located in the Tango Mar Resort near the peninsula. None of us have been to Costa Rica so if you have any suggestions or maybe a better recommendation for places to stay please let me know! Thanks!

Costa Rica is an amazingly diverse country, unlike anywhere else in the world.  The country features a wide array of attractions including scores of beautiful beaches along both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, rainforests teaming with exotic wildlife, cloud forests that seemingly disappear into the sky, and active volcanoes with hot springs.  Within Costa Rica, there are twelve distinct climate and life zones.  These zones provide habitat for nearly 4% of Earth's species making it one of the most biologically diverse places on the planet.  The people of Costa Rica are just as beautiful as the country, ever warm and welcoming.


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Historically, Costa Rica has generally enjoyed greater peace and more consistent political stability than many of its fellow Latin American nations. Since the late 19th century, however, Costa Rica has experienced two significant periods of violence. In 1917–19, General Federico Tinoco Granados ruled as a military dictator until he was overthrown and forced into exile. The unpopularity of Tinoco's regime led, after he was overthrown, to a considerable decline in the size, wealth, and political influence of the Costa Rican military. In 1948, José Figueres Ferrer led an armed uprising in the wake of a disputed presidential election between Rafael Ángel Calderón Guardia (who had been president between 1940 and 1944) and Otilio Ulate Blanco.[55] With more than 2,000 dead, the resulting 44-day Costa Rican Civil War was the bloodiest event in Costa Rica during the 20th century.
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. 
Tobías Bolaños International Airport (Spanish: Aeropuerto Internacional Tobías Bolaños) (IATA: SYQ) i(LIR) is in the Pavas district of San José about a 10-15 minute drive from the city centre. This airport primarily serves as the gateway linking to local Costa Rican domestic flights or nearby international destinations of Nicaragua and Panama.Currently, this airport is the hub for Nature Air. The terminal is neat, and clean though small and lacks any food concession so eating before an early morning flight is advisable.
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.
Among the best zip lining in the country, there is the Sky Trek tour operated by Sky Adventures in Arenal, in the northern part of Costa Rica, which is also home to one of Costa Rica attractions, the Arenal Volcano – a place that can’t be missed even if visiting Costa Rica in a week. I suppose my obsession with volcanoes is clear by now, with all the volcano hikes I did in Sicily last month. So it’s easy to see why I love Costa Rica.
This morning, head through Costa Rica's Central Valley. Stop at the artisan village of Sarchi, nestled on the slopes of the Central Mountain Range. Here you can shop for colorful, traditional Costa Rican handicrafts. Visit an oxcart factory where oxcarts are hand-painted with elaborate designs. Considered the national symbol of Costa Rica, oxcarts were historically used for the transport of coffee beans and supplies. Continue through Costa Rica's famous coffee growing region. Lunch. Enjoy a guided tour at a coffee plantation. Sample locally grown coffee. Costa Rica's climate and rich soil help create exceptional coffee. Visit a butterfly garden. Then, return to Costa Rica's capital, San José. Dinner. BLD

The location receiving the most rain is the Caribbean slopes of the Central Cordillera mountains, with an annual rainfall of over 5000 mm. Humidity is also higher on the Caribbean side than on the Pacific side. The mean annual temperature on the coastal lowlands is around 27°C, 20°C in the main populated areas of the Central Cordillera, and below 10°C on the summits of the highest mountains.
At the Bat Jungle in Monteverde you can learn everything you ever wanted to know about the wonderful world of bats. Visitors can first tour the information center, which will give you a general background into the life of these fascinating mammals. The actual “jungle” consists of a dark walkway through the bat enclosure, where around 90 live bats go about their daily routines against the backdrop of a simulated jungle environment. You can view the bats using UV torches (so as not to disturb them) and even listen in on their socializing by means of an ultrasonic microphone. Knowledgeable and enthusiastic guides present 45-minute guided tours that will doubtlessly enhance your visit.
Lodging: Avoid name-brand four- and five-star beach resorts, looking instead to locally owned properties with comparable amenities. (We saved more than 50% on our beach hotel by going local.) If you’re staying in one location for more than a couple nights, look for a short-term rental. Most popular beaches teem with modern condos and villas with in-unit kitchens, pools, and other amenities. Away from the beach, look to rustic resorts (such as ecolodges) and motel-style properties. Our place in Tilaran, essentially a roadside motel, cost about $35 per night with full (delicious) breakfast included. You’ll pay a lot less if you’re willing to sacrifice ostentatious onsite bells and whistles, like full-service spas and gourmet restaurants.
Go off the grid, without sacrificing modern comforts, at the Macaw Lodge. The family owned property is named for the Scarlet Macaw, a formerly threatened species, which now thrives in the region thanks to the research and conservation efforts of the eco-lodge. During your stay, dine on fresh farm to table meals while you enjoy the view of the botanical gardens. Attend an early morning guided bird walk to spot the vibrant species home to the Carara area. Practice yoga and meditation in a bamboo forest. The lodge’s cocoa plantation is an absolute must. You’ll discover the ancient purposes of the bean and witness chocolate making process from bean to bar. Be sure to buy a couple bars of Macaw Kakau chocolate to take home as souvenirs. Macaw Lodge demonstrates that anyone can enjoy sustainable getaways.
Caravan's vacation packages include complimentary arrival transfers from Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in San José, Costa Rica to your hotel in San José on the day the tour begins. These transfers are only available on the day the tour begins. Please see Costa Rica FAQ’s “Airport Information” for more detailed information for all incoming passengers. Tour members arriving on earlier days will need to arrange transfers on their own. After you clear customs, Caravan’s representative will meet you at the taxi stand, about 20 feet from the international terminal, with a “Caravan” sign. You may have to wait a couple minutes as your representative might be transferring another client. Please be sure to call the Caravan office before your flight to make sure that we have received your correct flight information. The airport representative is available to meet all flights with Caravan passengers, but will only meet your flight if we have received your flight information and are expecting you on that flight. If you miss your flight please call the Caravan office at 800-227-2826 or 312-321-9800 to notify us. Driving time to your hotel can run from 30 to 60 minutes, depending on traffic. If you take a taxi, use “Taxis Unidos Aeropuerto,” the official taxi service, and expect to pay $25.00 U.S. Dollars per taxi, plus tip. To enter Costa Rica, you will need a U.S. passport valid for 6 additional months after the date of your arrival into Costa Rica. A 3 month tourist visa is automatically issued to U.S. citizens after clearing Costa Rica customs. Non U.S. citizens, please check passport and visa requirements. Note: It is recommended that children under 18 years old traveling internationally without both parents or legal guardians, carry a notarized letter of authorization signed by the missing parent(s) or guardian(s). A notarized birth certificate showing only one parent, a parent’s death certificate, or a court order of child custody may also be permissible. Failure to have proper documentation could result in denial of boarding by the airline, due to international child protection laws.
Thanks to the variety of things to do in Costa Rica, visitors to Costa Rica have the benefit of being able to do so many different things in a single trip! A simple charter flight or ground transfer (just a few hours) can bring you somewhere completely new – with all different options! You want to go sport fishing, and then spend the rest of the vacation relaxing in geothermal hot springs and horseback riding? We can plan that! A rafting trip down the Pacuare River, then surf lessons for you and the kids? Done! With so many things to do in Costa Rica, the choice may be tough, but we’ve got over 30 years of experience just ready to help you out!
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.
If you have a few hours, I highly recommend taking a guided tour. We did the Natural History Walk, a 2.5-hour, English-language wander that set us back $37 per person (including the $20 park entry fee). You’ll learn a lot more about what you’re seeing in the forest – which is of course unlike any temperate forest in the United States – with someone who knows what to point out. We identified dozens of bird species, caught glimpses of sloths and monkeys that we would have otherwise missed, and learned a ton about the history of the reserve. (It was founded in partnership with a local North American Quaker community, whose founding members headed south during the Korean War. It’s an interesting story; learn more on the park’s history page.)

This idyllic location is situated just above the rushing Coronado River with outstanding views of the tropics. Take a swim in the Pacific Ocean at one of the pristine beaches nearby. Wander along the seaside and converse with the friendly Ticos. Return to your grand villa after a long day of exploration. Sit on your lovely terrace and watch the sky turn to a painted pink and orange sunset. Enjoy a natural environment like no other at The Mango Trees Villa and Spa.
For those seeking a rejuvenating experience within a breathtaking natural setting, The Goddess Garden Yoga Retreat Center sets a tranquil space to begin your journey. This is a great option for travelers choosing to support eco-tourism, the property uses sustainable practices and is responsible for conserving 20 acres of local rainforest. The retreat is located with views of the enchanting rainforest and the dancing Caribbean Sea. Guests may enjoy ten miles of white sandy beaches and greenery that extends into the horizon providing a serene venue to practice yoga and meditation. Stay at The Goddess Garden to unearth your own harmony.
Hi Barbara, that’s definitely way too many places for only 4 days and all the destinations are very far apart for driving (arenal – monteverde around 3.5 hours, monteverde to MA is 5, MA to Uvita is around 1.5 and Uvita back to San Jose is around 3.5-4). I would cut out a couple places, for only 7 full days we usually recommend two destinations. You could stop by MA on your way to Uvita but Monteverde to MA is already a 5 hour long drive (and to and from Monteverde is a long, windy, curvy mountainous road that can be very tiring to drive because you have to go slow and carefully) and you would want to spend at least 3-5 hours in the park to get a good experience and the park closes at 4 PM. Remember it also gets dark by 6 PM every day.
Hello! Thanks for the wonderful advice. I will be studying abroad in Costa Rica January through April. I will primarily be in Heredia but will be traveling throughout the country as well. Several packing lists recommended trial runners or hiking boots. I do not have either but have considered purchasing a pair if it is worth my while. I will be packing in a large checked bag a carry on duffle and a backpack so light weight is a priority, I certainly plan on bringing my chacos. Is it redundant to bring keens as well? Do I need hiking shoes that cover my ankles? Also is it safe to go for a jog/run in most cities.

It’s also not particularly touristy, which is part of its appeal. Tilaran is an affordable overnight alternative for visitors who want to continue on to La Fortuna or Monteverde, but don’t want to pay tourist premiums in either locale. Our place in Tilaran was awesome: a motel with a nice pool, free breakfast, great WiFi, and tons of satellite TV channels for $35 per night.

Hi Mickey, I recommend reading this post: Best places in Costa Rica for first timers to help decide which destinations to go to (I list how long it takes to get there from both airports, things to do and convenience). Costa Rica is very family friendly and there’s a lot to do everywhere but for your specific requests, I’d look into Gulf of Papagayo (families love Playas del Coco and Playa Panama) as you’re close to beaches, volcanoes and hiking and there’s great seafood of course.


However, over time we became annoyed with the water bottle as the filter aged and clogged. Plus the bottle leaks when it is on its side. We now switched to the Grayl Ultralight Purifier. It’s a more simplistic design than the Lifestraw that is more effective and does not leak. Most importantly it is a purifier, not a filter. The Grayl water bottle system purifies water vs. filters which removes viruses and virtually removes all threat of waterborne illnesses.

It will depend on where you’re going in Costa Rica, you can check in this post the road conditions for popular routes and destinations: Costa Rica road conditions. If you’re going to places like San Jose, Arenal, Jaco, Manuel Antonio, Samara, Coco, Tamarindo, Puerto Viejo, then you don’t need to rent a 4wd or 4×4. A sedan will do for those destinations. But if you’re going to places like Monteverde, Osa Peninsula, Uvita or up in the mountains, then a high car like an SUV will be necessary.
Enjoy the sights and the sounds of the nature and experience its peacefulness! Whichever package you choose, you will be accompanied by our expert bilingual nature guides. They will find the animals, point out indigenous rain forest plants, and educate you on the frequent sightings of wild species. Whether you are wandering near the coasts, paddling along a river in rainforests, striding on a peaceful park, or hiking on a lush forest canopy, the guides will share with you educational and interesting explanations and provide you a truly informative walk through.
I wasn’t there at the right time unfortunately, but I highly recommend arranging a trip to Costa Rica to coincide with the migration seasons for humpback and pilot whales, so that there is a chance to see these creatures passing through (after all admiring wildlife is one of the things to do in Costa Rica). The good news is that the humpback whale watching season in Costa Rica is really long, so if you plan your trip carefully you’ll have great chances to see them – it’s one of the things to do in Costa Rica. Other than Drake Bay, the other places to see whales in Costa Rica are Uvita and the Gulf of Papagayo.
Hello! Thanks for the wonderful advice. I will be studying abroad in Costa Rica January through April. I will primarily be in Heredia but will be traveling throughout the country as well. Several packing lists recommended trial runners or hiking boots. I do not have either but have considered purchasing a pair if it is worth my while. I will be packing in a large checked bag a carry on duffle and a backpack so light weight is a priority, I certainly plan on bringing my chacos. Is it redundant to bring keens as well? Do I need hiking shoes that cover my ankles? Also is it safe to go for a jog/run in most cities.
Day 5 – Hanging Bridges, Guanacaste                                                   Morning visit to the Hanging Bridges. With a naturalist guide, hike the suspension bridges. Weather permitting, enjoy views of majestic Arenal Volcano. Next, enjoy a scenic drive around Lake Arenal. Lunch. Then, to Costa Rica’s beautiful Pacific Coast. Continue to the J.W. Marriott Guanacaste Resort and Spa for a relaxing two night stay. Dinner. BLD
If you’re in good shape, you can easily climb Chirripo without technical equipment. That said, you’ll need to spend at least one night on the mountain, likely at Crestones Base Lodge, which (confusingly) is actually pretty close to the summit and takes most of a day to reach from the actual base of the range. If you’re worried about the altitude, consider spending a few days on the mountain to properly acclimate. And pack clothing for any weather conditions you can imagine: you’ll move from the tropics to the tundra as you head skyward.
When speaking to Ticos from around San Jose, you will quickly learn the connection people have to the Gold Museum, finding it much more informative and elegant than any other exhibit in San Jose, including the National Museum. If you choose one gallery to visit during your time in the capital, the Gold Museum, the Museo de Oro, offers displays priceless artifacts that are connected to pre-Columbian peoples, including historical currency and regional art.
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.
My trip was wonderful! It was my first trip with Gate1, and it was also my first ever solo trip and I must say that I could not have been more happy with my experience. Our tour manager was great, our driver was top notch and the people I met on the trip were the cherry in top. Thank you for your help with my reservation I will definitely travel with Gate1 again.
The Central Highlands offer a different and distinctive experience in Costa Rica away from the tropical heat and familiar images of the rainforest. Monteverde remains one of the most popular destinations in Costa Rica due to its thick green foliage, eco-friendly accommodations, and volcanic peaks, and cool, misty weather unique to the Cost Rican climate.

All you need to drive in Costa Rica is a valid North American driver’s license. The local road system is rudimentary, with one main highway on which traffic moves at about 65 miles per hour, a decent network of curvy paved roads on which traffic moves at an average of 20 to 40 miles per hour, and a ton of unpaved roads (some comically rutted) on which you’ll be lucky to average 15 or 20 miles per hour. Speed limits and other rules of the road are more suggestion than law. Watch for frequent slowdowns and backups caused by animals, workmen, and trucks struggling up steep grades.

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.
Over 840 species of birds have been identified in Costa Rica. As is the case in much of Central America, the avian species in Costa Rica are a mix of North and South American species. The country's abundant fruit trees, many of which bear fruit year round, are hugely important to the birds, some of whom survive on diets that consist only of one or two types of fruit. Some of the country's most notable avian species include the resplendent quetzal, scarlet macaw, three-wattled bellbird, bare-necked umbrellabird, and the keel-billed toucan.[74] The Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad is allowed to collect royalties on any biological discoveries of medical importance. Costa Rica is a center of biological diversity for reptiles and amphibians, including the world's fastest running lizard, the spiny-tailed iguana (Ctenosaura similis).[75]
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