Since 2010, Costa Rica has enjoyed strong and stable economic growth - 3.8% in 2017. Exports of bananas, coffee, sugar, and beef are the backbone of its commodity exports. Various industrial and processed agricultural products have broadened exports in recent years, as have high value-added goods, including medical devices. Costa Rica's impressive biodiversity also makes it a key destination for ecotourism.
The primary language spoken in Costa Rica is Spanish, which features characteristics distinct to the country, a form of Central American Spanish. Costa Rica is a linguistically diverse country and home to at least five living local indigenous languages spoken by the descendants of pre-Columbian peoples: Maléku, Cabécar, Bribri, Guaymí, and Buglere.
A 2016 report by the U.S. government report identifies the current challenges facing the education system, including the high dropout rate among high school students. The country needs even more workers who are fluent in English and languages such as Portuguese, Mandarin and French. It would also benefit from more graduates in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs, according to the report.
Costa Rica is the most visited nation in the Central American region, with 2.9 million foreign visitors in 2016, up 10% from 2015. In 2015, the tourism sector was responsible for 5.8% of the country's GDP, or $3.4 billion. In 2016, the highest number of tourists came from the United States, with 1,000,000 visitors, followed by Europe with 434,884 arrivals. According to Costa Rica Vacations, once tourists arrive in the country, 22% go to Tamarindo, 18% go to Arenal, 17% pass through Liberia (where the Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport is located), 16% go to San José, the country's capital (passing through Juan Santamaría International Airport), while 18% choose Manuel Antonio and 7% Monteverde.
Costa Rica is home to a rich variety of plants and animals. While the country has only about 0.03% of the world's landmass, it contains 5% of the world's biodiversity. Around 25% of the country's land area is in protected national parks and protected areas, the largest percentage of protected areas in the world (developing world average 13%, developed world average 8%). Costa Rica has successfully managed to diminish deforestation from some of the worst rates in the world from 1973 to 1989, to almost zero by 2005.
Although this nation encapsulates a mere 51,100 square kilometers, Costa Rica's biodiversity could fill an entire continent. Encompassing 12 distinct ecological zones, Ticos are well aware of their natural treasures: it is on its way to becoming the first carbon neutral nation by 2021. Costa Rica is home to 5 percent of the world's biodiversity, and locals are serious about protecting this magnificent environment.
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,...
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.
Explore Costa Rica from coast to coast on this active 10-day multisport vacation. From river rafting, snorkeling, kayaking, and canyoning to relaxation time, you'll enjoy the best that Costa Rica has to offer while staying in sustainable eco-lodges and reserves. Cahuita National Park, La Tirimbina Reserve, the Pacuare River, & Arenal volcano await.
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.
Gas stations are full-service and the guys there are very cool about taking US dollars or colones. The interesting thing is that Costa Rica is small so you do not burn a lot of gas getting places, even though it seems like forever. Costa Rica is also a land of traffic circles, so people from Europe should have no problem, but North Americans should make sure they know how they work. The gas stations really are full-service, and you can have your oil checked, water filled, and tire pressure topped off. The state owns a gasoline company and the private companies raise their prices to the level of the state-set price. It is recommended to always use super gas and not regular; the regular gas is soiled. If you use the "regular" gas, you will have to change the gas filter and clean the injectors after 5000 miles.
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.
For those who want to spend more time in the Arenal area – one of the nicest places to visit in Costa Rica – Sky Adventures also operates a Sky Walk. This experience involves walking across a series of suspension bridges and trails, and allows travelers to be introduced to the flora and fauna of the forest canopy in a more relaxed way, and from a fresh perspective.
A tour of Costa Rica offers a breathtaking array of sights and adventures with lush rain forests, pristine beaches, and a plethora of wildlife like sea turtles and howler monkeys. Your Costa Rica vacation might include adventures like whitewater rafting, a rainforest canopy tour, relaxing at the beach, or exploring the rainforest from one of Costa Rica's ecolodges. Vacation hotspots include Manuel Antonio National Park, Tortuguero, Monteverde cloudforest and Arenal Volcano. Costa Rica has a long, proud history of ecotourism and adventure travel, with one of the most developed conservation programs in the Americas and friendly Costa Ricans, "Ticos", who enthusiastically invite travelers to experience Pura Vida - "Pure Life." Contact one of our Costa Rica vacation experts for a free custom-made Costa Rica trip plan.
Children under the age of 5 years underweight: This entry gives the percent of children under five considered to be underweight. Underweight means weight-for-age is approximately 2 kg below for standard at age one, 3 kg below standard for ages two and three, and 4 kg below standard for ages four and five. This statistic is an indicator of the nutritional status of a community. Children who suffer from growth retardation as a result of poor diets and/or recurrent infections tend to have a greater risk of suffering illness and death.
Distribution of family income - Gini index: This index measures the degree of inequality in the distribution of family income in a country. The index is calculated from the Lorenz curve, in which cumulative family income is plotted against the number of families arranged from the poorest to the richest. The index is the ratio of (a) the area between a country's Lorenz curve and the 45 degree helping line to (b) the entire triangular area under the 45 degree line. The more nearly equal a country's income distribution, the closer its . . . more
You can visit hot springs in La Fortuna, find the Resplendent Quetzal in the Monteverde Cloud Forest, go scuba diving in Cahuita National Park, do yoga in Nicoya, go on a rafting trip in the Pacuare River or canyoning below the Turrialba Volcano, see scarlet macaws in Jaco, go horseback riding in Rincon de la Vieja, watch turtles nest in Tortuguero and relax on any of the hundreds of beaches! Every tourist who visits Costa Rica can find exactly what they need for a perfect tropical vacation.
Welcome to the world as seen through the eyes of Cameron and Natasha. On this site you’ll find our experiences, photography, and informative travel guides. We love getting to off the beaten path destinations and aren’t afraid to go it alone. We hope to inspire other independent travelers and provide the resources to do so. If you want to find us, just head to the nearest coffee shop or check back here!
Wildlife - Costa Rica is world famous for having an incredibly high level of biodiversity throughout its tropical forests (this covers what you may hear referred to as rain forests, cloud forests, and dry forests). There are tropical mammals such as monkeys, sloths, tapirs, and wild cats as well as an amazing assortment of insects and other animals. There are many many birds (both migratory and resident) - more on that below. With 25% of the country being national parks and protected areas, there are still many places you can go to see the abundant wildlife and lush vegetation of the country. Just like anywhere, the farther you get off the beaten path, the more likely you are to see a wide variety of flora and fauna.
It is worth noting the particular road naming system in San Jose. Avenues run east-west and streets run north-south. The numbering is less straightforward. Starting at Central Avenue going south are 2nd, 4th, 6th Avenue, etc. while going north are 1st, 3rd, 5th, etc. Streets use even numbers going west, and odd numbers going east. This means that if you are at 7th Avenue and 4th Street, and looking for 6th Avenue and 5th Street, you are on the wrong side of town.
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.
Welcome to the “rich coast,” friendly land of democracy and rare natural beauty. With naturalist guides, see exotic birds and wildlife, hike in jungle rainforests, view volcanoes, soak in hot springs and cruise through biological reserves. Caravan provides transfers from the Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in San José, Costa Rica to your hotel for a two night stay. Rooms are available for check-in after 4:00 p.m. Join Caravan for an 8:00 p.m. welcome briefing. Dinner is served until 9:30 p.m. at your hotel. D
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.
Costa Rica is more than a vacation destination; it is an interactive sensory experience. The country has an intense array of environmental attractions - majestic volcanoes, misty cloud forests, stunning river valleys, and hundreds of beaches along the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. Costa Rica has a fascinating ecological story, woven into the history of a peaceful and family-oriented culture.
If you choose to stay at a luxury resort for your long-term vacation rental, you’re likely to be supplied with everything you need onsite, and if you need something, you can probably request it. If you decide to rent a personal property, you are likely to see that the place is fully furnished and equipped with everything you need, or equipped with the staff to help you have a great stay. Check out our Costa Rica Vacation Rentals listings often, as many properties come and go off the market quite quickly.
My Costa Rica understands that you might be overwhelmed when planning your Costa Rica vacation and we are here to help! Whether you want to learn about Ticos, holidays and events, species of birds, potable water, renting a car, Costa Rican real estate, rice and beans in the Limon Province, what to pack, which coast or beaches to visit, coffee plantations, the Nicoya Peninsula, or the Irazu Volcano, costarica.org can help you find what you’re looking for.
Another popular waterfall in the country and one of the top places to visit in Costa Rica is the otherworldly Rio Celeste Waterfall. It’s situated in Tenorio Volcano National Park, in the northern region of Alajuela. The waterfall occurs where the Celeste River spills over a cliff and down into a waiting pool below. The freshwater river is an amazing blue color because of a chemical combination of sulfur and calcium carbonate, and as a result, sometimes the waterfall actually glows blue too as it tumbles down. It is a decent hike to get to the waterfall but well worth it for the stunning sight at the end. Tours of Rio Celeste can be booked online.
Staying connected while in Costa Rica is really easy without paying $30-50 for a roaming plan. WiFi is fairly easy to find in touristy areas in Costa Rica. Most hotels and restaurants that cater to foreigners will have free wifi for you to use during your stay. You can call and message your family/friends back home for free on your phone over the internet using Whatsapp, Facebook, Viber, Facetime, or Skype.
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.
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.
This quiet – often deserted – stretch is known for the distinctive “window” formations that punctuate an otherwise nondescript headland jutting out into the waves. At low tide, it’s safe to walk through the window, pausing only to marvel at little critters temporarily marooned in tidal pools. At high tide, stand back and admire the ocean’s awesome power as the waves tear through the waning void.
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
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.
Rincon de la Vieja, an active volcano with a heat-sterilized summit and ominous scores running down its upper slopes, looms over the northwestern city of Liberia. Parque Nacional Rincon de la Vieja protects the twin-peaked massif and the surrounding moist forests. We spent two nights on the far side of Rincon de la Vieja, lounging in hot springs and hunting for hidden waterfalls, and had a blast.
If you’re in the area for a day trip, start at the Las Pailas ranger station (entry fee: $15 per adult) and spend an hour or two on the eponymous trail that loops for a couple miles through dense forests and rocky canyons. For a longer excursion during the rainy season, set your sights on one of the park’s two spectacular waterfalls: Catarata Escondida or Catarata la Congreja. (Skip them during the dry season, when they slow to a trickle.)
While viewing pictures of Costa Rica, you will undoubtedly come across the iconic cone of Arenal Volcano with couples lovingly gazing into each other’s eyes and lounging in refreshing thermal springs. These natural wonders decorate the landscape outside of the towns of La Fortuna and Nuevo Arenal while inside the town, horses graze on the overgrown grasses of empty lots and spiny iguanas ramble in the bushes to enjoy the sunlight that pierces through the canopy.
You can certainly change your dollars into colones, but it won't matter either way, as most taxis, restaurants, surfboard rental shops, boutiques, bars, tour companies—you name it—take both forms of currency, often giving change in a mix of American dollars and Costa Rican coins. If you're in a particularly touristy area, such as Tamarindo or Jaco, you'll find prices listed for goods and services in U.S. dollars, with nary a colón in sight. Pro tip: Spend those colones, if you do have them, before you hit the airport for your return trip, as the conversion rate back to dollars is pretty dismal.
If you plan on driving in Costa Rica it’s best to know that the roads can be pretty awful, some of the worst in all the Americas to be exact. It all depends on where you travel, but almost any road not part of the national highway we found to be pretty meh. The worst we personally traveled on was from Nicoya to Santa Teresa (I may or may not have had back spasms from the constant crater-like potholes).
Just west of Parque Nacional Guanacaste is Parque Nacional Santa Rosa, probably the country’s second best place to experience a Pacific dry forest. Sadly, much of the original habitat was destroyed by intentionally set fires and replaced by imported a mix of cultivated and non-native plants; it’s been a long, mostly fruitless slog to get things back to the way they were.
Planning a vacation abroad is exciting, but let’s face it: it can be overwhelming. There is so much information on line that it’s hard to know what is current and what sources you can trust, not to mention what is useful and what is just wasting your time. That’s where we come in! Not only can you find everything you need right here, but we can assure you that our expert travel consultants are a fountain of information and willing to help when you decide it’s time to start planning.
Instead we paid about $35 each to stay at Heliconias, walk out the door of our cabin to the bridges whenever we wanted day and night, and used their private trail to cross the reserve to Tenorio National Park and continue up to Lago Danta (which you can’t even reach from the main paid park entrance). A total of $280 for two nights lodging plus $0 for activities for the four of us.
Costa Rica’s forests are full of bucket-list activities and exceptional nature, but the bustling capital city of San Jose is worth a visit as well. The historic National Theater of Costa Rica has been a landmark in San Jose since the 19th century, and hosts performances several times a week. It can also be visited on a historical tour for a closer look at the frescoes and gilded ceilings that make up the most beloved building in San Jose.
Pick the most middle of nowhere destination you can find within an hour of wherever you are and plunk down $1.50 for a round trip chicken bus ticket. You may meet some real characters or see a tree full of toucans along the way. You may end up watching a soccer match, exploring a unique cemetery, or finding out what an old fashioned cattle roundup and branding is like.
As of March 2017, the exchange rate was 554 colones per US dollar. Money exchange is provided at most banks; however, it is recommended to do so at the state banks, especially the Banco Nacional, since they have better rates. There is also a money exchange service at the airport, but it is outrageously expensive. But note that the use of US dollars is quite common; in the tourist setting, almost everything is priced in dollars (but sometimes prices are cheaper in colones). Note that when a price is quoted in "dollars", the speaker may be thinking of a dollar as 500 colones; so it is always worth checking whether this is what is meant.
Prostitution is legal in Costa Rica and can be a destination for those looking for more than sun and surf on their vacation. San Jose and Jaco are hot spots for this activity. As with any other sex destination, there are some tourists that hire minors. Prostitution with minors (less than 18 years old) is considered a crime in Costa Rica. The majority of sex tourists in Costa Rica are from the United States, and, if they engage in prostitution with a minor, are prosecutable by the Protect Act of 2003. This act gives the US government the power to prosecute US citizens who travel abroad to engage in sex tourism with children under the age of 18. Several other countries including France, Canada, the UK, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, and Australia have similar laws. Arrests, warrants and prosecutions are being made under these laws.
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.
The 2011 census classified 83.6% of the population as white or Mestizo; the latter are persons of combined European and Amerindian descent. The Mulatto segment (mix of white and black) represented 6.7% and indigenous people made up 2.4% of the population. Native and European mixed blood populations are far less than in other Latin American countries. Exceptions are Guanacaste, where almost half the population is visibly mestizo, a legacy of the more pervasive unions between Spanish colonists and Chorotega Amerindians through several generations, and Limón, where the vast majority of the Afro-Costa Rican community lives.
We are here in Coco Beach. A lovely town with over 65 restaurants! At least 3 grocery stores, and most palces have free wifi. We are here for 8 weeks, and have been here one. Coconutz is a favorite Gringo hangout with NFL games and specials every night. The best is Wednesday nights- 9.00 pp gets you all you can eat salad, spaghetti and pizza plus a new current movie. Last week was The Accountant and this week is Masterminds. We love Thursdays with a live band. Other good restaurants are the Z lounge and on the beach Bamboo. They also have live music on Sundays. It is only 40 minutes from Liberia airport and a lovely town. We were able to find sim cards at a local shop and are set for Pure Vida!
Enjoy wondrous views high above the clouds at this secluded mountain top oasis. Las Nubes Natural Energy Resort specializes in sustainable indulgence, sourcing energy from solar panels and water from mountain springs. The gourmet cuisine is prepared with fresh vegetables and meat from the small on site farm. In the mornings, the unique open air bungalows let in beams of golden sunlight and fresh mountain air. Spend your days basking in the sun where you can wholly appreciate the natural scenery. After fully embracing barefoot luxury, you will return home feeling newly recharged.
Most travelers will not need any special immunizations or vaccinations that they do not already have. The Center for Disease Control recommends all routine vaccines such as the MMR , diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, chickenpox, polio and the yearly flu shot. They also recommend that most travelers get vaccinated for hepatitis A and typhoid. Please check the CDC website for details and possibilities of other vaccines. In addition to checking the CDC website, you should also check with your doctor prior to traveling.
Household income or consumption by percentage share: Data on household income or consumption come from household surveys, the results adjusted for household size. Nations use different standards and procedures in collecting and adjusting the data. Surveys based on income will normally show a more unequal distribution than surveys based on consumption. The quality of surveys is improving with time, yet caution is still necessary in making inter-country comparisons.
You can find ATMs in most places. They normally dispense US dollars and colones. With Visa you get money at almost all ATMs. If you've got a MasterCard try the ATMs in the AM/PM supermarkets, they give you up to 250,000 colones (c. USD500). Another option are the ATH-ATM's but they just give you up to 100,000 colones (c. USD200) each transaction. EC-Cards (European) are accepted on all ATMs. The limit is usually only set by the Card. In addition, drawing money with your EC-Card will almost always give you a better exchange rate than changing cash in a bank.