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.
Upon independence, Costa Rican authorities faced the issue of officially deciding the future of the country. Two bands formed, the Imperialists, defended by Cartago and Heredia cities which were in favor of joining the Mexican Empire, and the Republicans, represented by the cities of San José and Alajuela who defended full independence. Because of the lack of agreement on these two possible outcomes, the first civil war of Costa Rica occurred. The Battle of Ochomogo took place on the Hill of Ochomogo, located in the Central Valley in 1823. The conflict was won by the Republicans and, as a consequence, the city of Cartago lost its status as the capital, which moved to San José.[41][42][43]
Costa Rica, which means “rich coast,” offers abundant adventures at its many beach destinations. Marine activities include snorkeling, kayaking, marine mammal observation, scuba diving, sport fishing, and catamaran tours. In addition to enjoying the sun and waves on many of these marine tours, you may also have the opportunity to spot colorful fish, sea turtles,...
The country has been considered economically stable with moderate inflation, estimated at 2.6% in 2017,[76] and moderately high growth in GDP, which increased from US$41.3 billion in 2011 to US$52.6 billion in 2015.[77] The estimated GDP for 2017 is US$61.5 billion and the estimated GDP per capita (purchasing power parity) is US$12,382.[76] The growing debt and budget deficit are the country's primary concerns.[11]

Visit the Sloth Sanctuary on the South Caribbean coast to see sloths in rehabilitation and overnight in a rainforest treehouse. Venture to Tortuguero to explore the jungle canals and see sloths in their natural habitat. Finally, head to the Arenal Volcano region to stay in a luxurious rainforest casita with a family of sloths living right on the property!
Gross national saving: Gross national saving is derived by deducting final consumption expenditure (household plus government) from Gross national disposable income, and consists of personal saving, plus business saving (the sum of the capital consumption allowance and retained business profits), plus government saving (the excess of tax revenues over expenditures), but excludes foreign saving (the excess of imports of goods and services over exports). The figures are presented as a percent of GDP. A negative . . . more
A recent culinary revolution has given new life to overlooked districts like Barrio Escalante, in the capital. Many young chefs, craft brewers, and mixologists can be found transforming San José into a gastronomic boomtown. And with the opening of Liberia’s International Airport in 2012, new luxury developments have begun extending beyond established beach communities. Plan your trip—be it a high-octane adventure or a mellow, family getaway—with Travel + Leisure’s guide to Costa Rica.

Trade the humid Costa Rican jungle for the rare air of the Teatro Nacional Costa Rica, or National Theater, a stunning Neoclassical edifice in the heart of San Juan, Costa Rica’s economic and political capital. As Costa Rica’s foremost performance art institution, the National Theater puts on an eclectic array of shows, including orchestral performances, dance extravaganzas, mixed-media performance art, lectures, and more.

The diversity of Costa Rica is not limited to the ecosystems and the microclimates but is also embodied in the range of accommodations that allow visitors to experience the jungle terrain, the stunning cloud forests, the vibrant rainforests, and the secluded beaches as they desire. With a range of four and five-star resorts, along with boutique eco-friendly lodges, the remote countryside could be as luxurious and opulent as the bustling heart of the capital city.  Travelers in search of relaxation can find comfort in the form of resplendent soulful retreats hidden in the mountains or listening to crashing waves on the Pacific while thrill-seekers discover gorgeous eco-luxury resorts reachable only by traversing whitewater.

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.
Had a wonderful trip to Costa Rica. Very well organized every step of the way. The tour director, Gilbert was simply awesome. He is very knowledgeable about Costa Rica -on history, bio diversity and all kind of interesting tidbits. He was always available to address any of our problems and made sure we enjoyed the trip and did not worry about anything else. Kudos to Gate1 for having employees of such caliber.
El Chorro Waterfall is one of Costa Rica’s most famous tumbling water attractions, and is just a few miles from Montezuma. While it’s located near Playa Cocolito’s gorgeous white sand beach, which can be a distraction in itself, one should not miss out on watching El Chorro tumble into the Pacific Ocean (it’s one of a select number of waterfalls around the world that drops into the ocean): it definitely is one of the greatest things to do in Costa Rica.

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.)
Matute is a small cafeteria, or coffee shop, that can be found in the celebrated coffee-growing region of Tarrazu. The baristas here are known for their infectious excitement about coffee and produce unique combinations of flavors enhanced by the noticeable quality of the local beans cultivated on the local micro-mills. The baristas also use their talents to produce delightful coffee and rum cocktails. 

Hi Jim, I have seen a couple of ATM’s around the Flamingo Beach hotel and most of the North American Cards works here, just make sure to ask your bank about international withdrawal fees and all that. In the worst case scenario you will have to go to Tamarindo downtown where you will find many banks and ATM’s people from all over world use them without any problem.

Costa Rica's political stability, high standard of living, and well-developed social benefits system set it apart from its Central American neighbors. Through the government's sustained social spending - almost 20% of GDP annually - Costa Rica has made tremendous progress toward achieving its goal of providing universal access to education, healthcare, clean water, sanitation, and electricity. Since the 1970s, expansion of these services has led to a rapid decline in infant mortality, an increase in life expectancy at birth, and a sharp decrease in the birth rate. The average number of children born per women has fallen from about 7 in the 1960s to 3.5 in the early 1980s to below replacement level today. Costa Rica's poverty rate is lower than in most Latin American countries, but it has stalled at around 20% for almost two decades.
There are several opportunities to engage in volunteer work in Costa Rica. Volunteer projects range from turtle conservation, building houses, teaching English and community development work. Some schools offer visits to Costa Rica as part of the World Challenge activity, which combines a Trekking expedition with some of the students time assigned to helping local people on community projects.
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.

There’s not much to do in Tilaran itself, but the surrounding area has some highlights. For starters, Lake Arenal is less than 15 minutes away in good traffic conditions. Don’t miss Lake Arenal Hotel & Brewery, one of Costa Rica’s few homegrown microbreweries. (The beer isn’t bad at all – much better than your typical homebrew.) You can find hostel-style rooms there for less than $60 per night; the clientele is eclectic and largely non-Tico. For exercise, walk the steep jungle trail on the property – just watch overhead for roaring howler monkeys.
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.
The good news is that there is a brand new highway known as Autopista Del Sol (Highway of the Sun) that stretches from the beaches around Orotina all the way into San Jose. This highway is smooth as U.S. or European highways, in fact it was constructed by a company that is based in Spain. There are tolls along this highway but if you travel the entire stretch it will still only come out to be a few dollars in total. 2011 update: unfortunately, problems have been found with this highway and parts of it are sometimes closed for repairs.
The tropical landscape provides stunning fruits most often associated with South America or Southeast Asia due to their introduction to Central America by historical trade. Dragon fruit, star fruit, and rambutan are examples of the delicious and distinctive produce once uncommon to the landscape and markets of Costa Rica, but can now be found growing on the plantations around pineapple or mango. Achiote is an example of a native fruit Costa Rican’s have harvested for millennia, often turning the scarlet seeds into a paste to use as food coloring. 
There are the bustling market towns surrounded by sugar cane fields and coffee plantations of the Central Valley. Around the pristine 33-square-mile Lake Arenal, expats have taken up residence on the verdant hills rising from the shore, with vast lake views from their homes. On the Caribbean coast, life is laidback and moves to the rhythm of reggae. And that’s just a small taste of all Costa Rica has to offer as far as places to live.
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.
Our Honeymoon getaways will bring you to paradise where you can share the wonder of each other surrounded by spectacular natural beauty at some of the most romantic settings in Costa Rica. Walk along deserted beaches watching the sun go down (or up! on the Caribbean side), soak together in a secluded river grotto at Arenal’s natural hot springs, encourage each other to swing like Tarzan on thrilling zipline adventures, indulge in all-inclusive resorts with fabulous spas; we have many choices to make yours a memorable special occasion.
Apart from checking out the rainforest and surrounding lake and other lands while zipping along, not to mention spotting wildlife, the zipline tour gives a prime view of the Arenal Volcano. (Up until 2010 this volcano was one of the most active in the whole world, but its eruptive cycle has paused and it’s currently in a resting phase.) Arenal Volcano looms large over the hillsides surrounding it, and reaches close to 5,500 feet high.
One of the most adrenaline filled things to do in Costa Rica is canyoning – that is, going down waterfalls on a rappel. This literally is a once in a lifetime adventure, and a great way to appreciate all the incredible nature Costa Rica has to offer. The best places to visit in Costa Rica for canyoning are La Fortuna and Arenal, but this activity is now offered in Jaco now.
All the way back in the 80’s the first boom of ecotourism began in Costa Rica. Travelers began to learn of the country’s wealth of natural flora and fauna and acted fast to preserve. As tourism dollars continued to come in the Costa Ricans were quick to fall in step and preserve the beauty of their country. It’s now trickled down to almost every level, we even found small soda shops (local restaurants) using biodegradable straws and ditching styrofoam take away.

Telephone system: This entry includes a brief general assessment of the system with details on the domestic and international components. The following terms and abbreviations are used throughout the entry: Arabsat - Arab Satellite Communications Organization (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia). Autodin - Automatic Digital Network (US Department of Defense). CB - citizen's band mobile radio communications. Cellular telephone system - the telephones in this system are radio transceivers, with each instrument having its o . . . more
So when you’re trying to get your money together, don’t stress too much about exchanging it all beforehand as it’s not 100% necessary if you live in the US. You can use dollars in pretty much every touristic destination and they will give you your change back in colones. If you are Canadian however, it will be better for you to have colones due to the Canadian dollar and USD exchange rate. Ask the hotels or tour companies if you can pay in colones instead.

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.
Living up to environmental virtues and sustainable development remains a constant battle throughout the country, whether due to lucrative contract offers, corrupt politics, or illegal poaching and logging. Nevertheless, Costa Rica has largely resisted opportunities to exploit its vast natural resources for valued commodities, despite having a high density of precious metals in the South Pacific, oil along the Pacific Coast, and rare hardwoods in the rainforest. Instead, Costa Rica has opted for an ethic of sustainable development and a commitment to develop renewable energy. Already, Costa Rica is on track to become the first carbon-neutral country, with 99 percent of the country’s energy needs meet through a combination of geothermal, hydroelectric, and wind power. Read more
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.
The highway speed is 80km/h, but since the Interamericana (a.k.a. Highway #1) passes through innumerable small towns, the speed frequently drops to 50 or even 30km/h as you suddenly find yourself in a school zone. Most of the highway is not divided. A common indicator that a police checkpoint is ahead is that oncoming cars flick their lights at you. New laws that went into effect in 2010 have greatly increased the amount of tickets; it used to be a max of about USD20; there are now tickets that exceed USD400 for attempting to bribe an officer, and other big tickets for drunken driving, speeding, and other illegal actions including talking on a cell phone and not using seat belts. Be nice to the police if you are pulled over because, as a result of the new laws, it is possible for them to "throw the book" at you, although they generally do not. This could mean citing you for minor offenses that the new laws have instituted, such as the requirement that every car carry an emergency kit. New laws have also now enforced a 3 year prison sentence for driving with a 0.08 blood alcohol level and a USD480 fine. Driving over 20km/h over the speed limit is a USD310 and losing 20 points. Police now tend to target tourists because they think that Costa Ricans don't have the money to pay the big tickets---and they're right. The police themselves earn about USD500 per month, and that happens to be the average monthly wage in Costa Rica.

For the best beaches, we suggest the North Pacific Coast. Tamarindo is one of the most popular beaches in this area. It can get pretty crowded, but it has lots of restaurants, shops, and other facilities. Alternatively, we love the quiet area near Playa Avellanas (just south of Tamarindo). It’s more rustic down here and less developed, but easily accessible by car and a great place to relax and enjoy the Pura Vida lifestyle!


At all the national parks you will be greeted by locals offering to be your guide. We have paid for a guide before at Manuel Antonio National Park and although I don’t regret it, it was also not necessary. The guides are great at spotting wildlife you might not otherwise see and most do carry quality scopes for up close viewing, but they don’t run cheap. I believe we paid $20 or more per person for a guide last time we were in Manuel Antonio. If you want to save some money skip the guide and just pay attention what other people in the park are looking at.

Caravan's vacation packages include complimentary departure transfers from your hotel in San José to the Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in San José, Costa Rica on the day the tour ends, scheduled to arrive at the airport at 5:00 a.m, 7:00 a.m, 9:00 a.m., and 11:30 a.m. These transfers are only available on the day the tour ends. If you wish to extend your stay in Costa Rica, you will need to transfer on your own, at your own expense. Please ask the hotel bellman to arrange a taxi. Expect to pay $25.00 U.S. Dollars per taxi, plus tip. The driving time from the hotel to the airport is approximately 30-60 minutes, depending on traffic. Please advise the Tour Director if you will be taking your own taxi separately.   


So when you’re trying to get your money together, don’t stress too much about exchanging it all beforehand as it’s not 100% necessary if you live in the US. You can use dollars in pretty much every touristic destination and they will give you your change back in colones. If you are Canadian however, it will be better for you to have colones due to the Canadian dollar and USD exchange rate. Ask the hotels or tour companies if you can pay in colones instead.
If you have a GSM phone, you can use international roaming, or to avoid roaming charges, use an unlocked smartphone and simply replace the SIM chip with a local chip from Kolbi, Claro, or Movistar and then charge it with a balance based on how much you plan to use it. This can usually most easily be done in the airport upon entry at various kiosks.
You will find the fascinating Butterfly Conservatory located close to the shores of beautiful Lake Arenal in the Alajuela Province. Within the conservatory, nature-lovers of all ages can take an interesting and educational tour, which will introduce you to the life of butterflies and other creatures that inhabit the four different microclimates found around the lake. You can visit the greenhouses where the butterflies are bred, the frog habitat, and an orchid exhibition as well as follow the Rainforest River Walk, where you have the chance to spot monkeys, sloths, toucans, and parrots. From the Volcano View Gazebo you can get an excellent view of Arenal Volcano, Arenal Lake, and more.
The park, one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica, is a crucial sanctuary for wildlife and serves as a bridge between the Northwest’s dry, tropical forest, and the wet rainforest of the southern Pacific. As such, it supports a wide variety of waterfowl and other species, including woodpeckers, toucans, manakins, jacamars, and hundreds of other birds. Even the scarlet macaw can be found here, with an estimated 450 birds living within the park. This makes it the only area in the north Pacific to be home to a significant population of the endangered bird.
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.
Despite its small size, Costa Rica is home to nearly half a million species, making it one of the world’s most biodiverse countries. It has a richly varied landscape of mountains, volcanoes, tropical forests and idyllic black and white sanded beaches. The country is known for its progressive environmental policies and is the country with the highest proportion of protected areas in the world. But we won’t only take you to see its array of multicoloured wildlife – we’ll introduce you to its polite, family-orientated, peace-loving people too.
Commonly referred to as the most biologically diverse place on Earth, Corcovado National Park is the largest stretch of virgin Pacific Coast forest in the world. With species such as the Northern Tamandua, Baird’s Tapir and the countries smallest cat species called Margay, it is home to more than 370 species of birds, 10,000 insects and 140 different mammals. Other famous residents include Spider Monkeys, Howler Monkeys, White-Faced Capuchin Monkeys and the endangered Squirrel Monkey. Reptiles to be wary of include American Crocodile and Boa Constrictors while Bull Sharks as well as several species of sea turtles roam the waters off-shore. Corcovado National Park is a wonder land of wildlife watching.
And though I'm reluctant to see towns like touristy Tamarindo get even bigger and filled with still more traffic, I can't help but spread the gospel of Costa Rica—especially to my fellow Houstonians. The pristine beaches, animal-filled jungles and awe-inspiring volcanoes offer endless realms of exploration for the casual vacationers, the adventure-seekers and everyone in between, and getting to this Central American paradise has never been easier.
Why spend long hours trying to plan for yourself, stressed out by info overload?  RELAX and let our travel agency handle the details.  Our 100% local experts live, work and play right here and have decades of combined experience seeking out the best places in Costa Rica to visit.  We will answer your questions and make the travel planning process easy and enjoyable.  Make this trip THE best vacation you have ever had…You Deserve It!
Not surprisingly, our best selling Costa Rica vacation packages feature some of the most popular destinations, hotels, and activities in the country. Whether this is your first trip to Costa Rica or one of many, there is a reason these trips are hot ticket items. Our most popular private vacation packages include in-country travel, lodging, and day tours, and can be customized to meet your needs! These top destinations and stand out experiences have our return travelers raving, which is why we can comfortably crown the following vacation packages our Best Costa Rica Vacations.
We email you a detailed travel itinerary filled with info, pictures and videos. Your Costa Rica travel agent will work with you to adjust your vacation package until you are 100% satisfied. When you’re ready to book, we send reservations and payments to each hotel & tour provider for you. This makes for a seamless, worry-free experience that allows you to relax & enjoy the voyage.
Costa Rica was sparsely inhabited by indigenous peoples before coming under Spanish rule in the 16th century. It remained a peripheral colony of the empire until independence as part of the First Mexican Empire, followed by membership in the United Provinces of Central America, from which it formally declared independence in 1847. Since then, Costa Rica has remained among the most stable, prosperous, and progressive[peacock term] nations in Latin America. Following the brief Costa Rican Civil War, it permanently abolished its army in 1949, becoming one of only a few sovereign nations without a standing army.[16][17][18]
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