What makes Carara one of Costa Rica attractions is the fact that, covering close to 13,000 acres, apart from so many bird species, it is also home to a diverse array of other wildlife to keep an eye out for. This list includes sloths, monkeys, deer, armadillos, peccaries and even big cats and crocodiles. The park also has various interpretative trails to explore, even for those who are less active. Many tour companies operate tours (including hiking, river boating, and birding excursions) in Carara, so it is easy to find guides to help see this part of Costa Rica in depth.
One of the nicest places to visit in Costa Rica Tortuguero National Park, which is famous for turtle nesting. Both the park and Tortuguero village can only be accessed via boat – getting there is an incredible ride but it requires a bit of planning – going on a 3 day organized tour of Tortuguero from San Jose may be a good idea. Here’s a great one.
Costa Rica’s Pacific waters are among the world’s best places to glimpse humpback whales in their natural element. They’re present roughly 50% of the year, in two distinct episodes: late July through November, and December through March. The most reliable sightings happen off the Osa Peninsula, in southern Costa Rica, where distinct populations from both hemispheres intermingle. You’re also likely to encounter bottlenose and spotted dolphins – about 25 cetacean species in all – in this area.
The first waterfall we visited in Costa Rica was Catarata del Toro and I was shocked when they asked a whopping $14 admission fee to see it. I mean, I guess I sorta expected I would have to pay something, maybe $5 – but $14? Little did I know that this would not be a first-time occurrence. Throughout our time in Costa Rica we visited countless waterfalls. Always paying and always paying at least $12-$20 per person to visit. Don’t be shocked if you visit La Paz waterfalls and pay a $42 entrance fee! I do hope that all these fees are going back to conservation instead of into a government officials pocket.
I mentioned above that zika is of significant concern for pregnant and planning-to-become-pregnant visitors. Zika infections are often mild (low fever, chills) or entirely asymptomatic, so you won’t necessarily know that you’ve been afflicted. And it’s not just women who have to worry: though more research needs to be done, it appears that sexual transmission is possible.
Costa Rica was originally explored in the early 16th century by the Spanish. The initial colonization attempts were unsuccessful due to a variety of reasons including seemingly impassible swamps along the coast, heat, pirate raids and native resistance. The first permanent settlement was established in the fertile highlands of Cartago in 1563. Costa Rica remained a colony of Spain until 1821 when the country joined forces with several other Central American provinces and declared independence from Spain in 1821. In 1838, Costa Rica separated as its own independent country. The country later dissolved its military forces in 1949 and has remained without armed forces since then.
If we’d chosen Arenal we each would have paid $24 (unguided) for a daytime visit and another $47 (guide required and included) for a night time visit to the Arenal Hanging Bridges, plus $15 for the entrance fee to the National Park plus about $50 for transfers plus $35 each per night for a simple place to stay. A total of $280 for two nights lodging plus $394 for activities for the four of us.
Note that occasionally, immigration officials will stop buses that are travelling from cities near the border to check identification cards and passports. If you don't like carrying your actual passport on you, make sure you have a copy of your passport AND a copy of the stamp showing the date you entered Costa Rica to validate you haven't been in the country more than 3 months.
Celebrate the love in one little piece of paradise like Costa Rica! With our honeymoon packages, you will spend incredible days next to your loved one, discovering one of the most beautiful and exotic destinations of the world. Taking care of all details, our all-inclusive honeymoon packages are made to pamper the new couple and include all kinds of special things such as massages, special decorations and private romantic dinners.
We love taking night walking tours while in Monteverde. There are multiple companies that offer tours, but the best way to get a good deal is to reserve your tour through your hotel. The hotels in the area typically partner with local night tour companies and they can get you the best deal with transportation to the tour included. On your night walk you will see a lot of wildlife including cool frogs, tarantulas, sloths, snakes, and more!
Costa Rica’s bus system may be a challenge to navigate in San José, but once you’ve paid the cheap fare (starting at $1 within a city, $10 for cross-country trips) and boarded, transportation is a breeze. For those with bigger budgets, Interbus and Grayline run shuttles between top destinations starting at $40, and Sansa and Nature Air offer quick domestic flights starting at approximately $60.
This doesn’t always work with big tour companies, but if you want to do a day tour with a small company you can always ask if they have a discount. This especially works if you are traveling with a large group. The worst they can do is say no, right? We do suggest not being overly pushy about it if the decline a discount. Costa Ricans don’t like confrontation and it will make them uncomfortable. If they say no, just accept the price or say you will go with another company. If they offer to lower the price after you say you will take your business elsewhere, then we suggest accepting their offer.
Population below poverty line: National estimates of the percentage of the population falling below the poverty line are based on surveys of sub-groups, with the results weighted by the number of people in each group. Definitions of poverty vary considerably among nations. For example, rich nations generally employ more generous standards of poverty than poor nations.
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
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.
Corn is a popular ingredient often used in Costa Rica both in tortillas or pancakes. Plantains and yucca often take the place of potatoes as an accompanying side dish and are fried, dressed with salt, and favored for their starchy qualities. Near the coastal waters, you can find an abundance of delectable ceviche dishes with locals squeezing sour lemon over fishes such as tuna, swordfish, red snapper, or shellfish like shrimp, lobster, or conch.
Head north this morning, passing through sugar cane, teak, pineapple, and orange plantations. Then, cruise on the Rio Frio, gateway to the world famous Caño Negro wildlife refuge, home to many migratory birds found nowhere else in Costa Rica. Look for black turtles, whistling ducks, roseate spoonbills, cormorants, anhingas, blue heron, and northern jacanas. Watch for caimans, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, green iguanas, and water-walking lizards. Lunch. Return to Fortuna. This afternoon enjoy a relaxing soak in the volcanic hot springs. Dinner. BLD
Or skip cash altogether. Every brick-and-mortar merchant we patronized, including hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Liberia, accepted major credit cards. Because they’re dollar-denominated at contemporaneous exchange rates, credit card transactions with foreign-transaction-fee-free cards are cheaper than cash transactions, which require withdrawals from ATMs charging 2% to 3% for the privilege. If you rent your own car and avoid the informal economy, you can get by without touching a paper note.
Many foreign companies (manufacturing and services) operate in Costa Rica's Free Trade Zones (FTZ) where they benefit from investment and tax incentives. Well over half of that type of investment has come from the U.S. According to the government, the zones supported over 82 thousand direct jobs and 43 thousand indirect jobs in 2015. Companies with facilities in the America Free Zone in Heredia, for example, include Intel, Dell, HP, Bayer, Bosch, DHL, IBM and Okay Industries.
You can find many places to stay all over Costa Rica, including hotels, aparthotels, condos, vacation rentals, and cabinas. Hostels, Vacation Homes, Cabinas, and Condos can be less expensive than hotels and provide more flexibility in your adventure to Costa Rica. Costa Rica is known as a world leader for eco and sustainable travel and accommodations are often listed as 'eco-lodges'. They do tend to be more expensive though the government does have a well functioning certification program.
Parque Nacional Guanacaste protects Costa Rica’s northernmost volcanoes, Orosi and Cacao. Like some of the other parks on this list, it encompasses a wide range of altitudes and ecosystems: from the Pacific dry forests near sea level to the premontane cloud forests above 3,000 feet, to the true cloud forests above 5,000 feet or so. It’s well worth the $10-per-adult price of admission.
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.
The people of Costa Rica, who call themselves “Ticos,” are the proud stewards of this natural heritage. In contrast to the rest of Central America, which suffered a series of ruthless dictators and bloody civil wars throughout the 20th century, Costa Rica is a stable democracy that abolished its army in 1949 and invested in its people. Today its citizens are among the most educated and prosperous in Latin America.
Located in Alajuela, the Territory of Strays is a rather unique dog shelter, which has been established in response to the vast number of stray dogs that roamed the streets of Costa Rica. Animal euthanasia is a criminal offence in Costa Rica and although several animal shelters take in stray dogs, most mixed breeds will never be adopted. At Territory of the Strays one enlightened veterinarian hit upon the idea of advertising one-of-a-kind unique breeds of dogs with invented names, which were suddenly far more attractive than simple mongrels. Adoptions increased dramatically and now the shelter arranges mountain hikes, where the public can go walking with hundreds of stray dogs.
The boutique Tambor Tropical Beach Resort offers guests the opportunity to relax and explore during their tropical beach getaway. You may enjoy the golden beaches and deep blue waters just a few steps away from your luxurious suite. Your room is complete with a private balcony granting spectacular views of Whale Bay. Keep an eye out for the charismatic marine life on the horizon. Recenter yourself with a relaxing massage or an outdoor yoga class, certified instructors are even available to teach yoga on stand up paddle boards in the bay. Embark on an exciting adventure sea kayaking, horseback riding, or sport fishing. This dazzling beach resort beautifully showcases the best of the Nicoya Peninsula.
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.
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.
SJO is currently under remodelling, and in July 2009 its operation was taken over by the same organization that runs the airports in Houston, Texas. An otherwise pleasant airport features the normal assortment of duty-free shops, interesting souvenir and bookshops, but an inadequate selection of overpriced restaurants (Church's Chicken, Burger King, Poás Deli Cafe and Papa John's pizza). SJO is serviced daily by Air Canada, Air Transat (Seasonal) American Airlines, Canjet (Seasonal), Condor, Delta, Frontier Airlines, Iberia, Interjet, JetBlue Airways, Thomas Cook, Spirit Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United, Volaris, Westjet, Avianca, Copa Airlines and AirPanama . Connecting the airport with cities such as: Los Angeles, New York, Houston, Dallas, Miami, Baltimore, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Atlanta, Phoenix, Orlando, Chicago, Newark, Toronto, Montreal, Madrid, London, Frankfurt, Mexico City, Bogotá, Medellín, Caracas, Lima, Guayaquil, Quito and all of Central America.
An estimated 30,000 Americans have retired in Costa Rica, with another 50 nationalities represented among the expatriate population. Stop and take a deep breath if you hear yourself uttering the words: “Honey, that nice real estate agent we met in the hotel lobby told us how easy it would be to move down here. Let’s do it.” As happens to countless other visitors, the sunshine syndrome has snuck up on you. Before you sell the farm and make the move here, the experts suggest doing a trial rental of a few months to see if day-to-day life in Costa Rica is for you. Living here—with all the mundane, attendant tasks of grocery shopping, banking, and making doctor’s appointments—is much different than being on vacation.
Go to a bank to change money when possible and practical. If you find yourself needing to use the services of a person who is a money changer (Sunday morning at the border, for instance) make sure to have your own calculator. Do not trust money changers and their doctored calculators, change the least amount of money possible and take a hard look at the bills – there's lots of false ones out there. Always insist that your change be in small bills – you'll lose more at one time if a large bill is false, plus large bills are hard to change (even the equivalent of USD20 in Costa Rica or USD5 in Nicaragua can be difficult in some small towns, believe it or not!) Money changers do not use the official exchange rate - you are better off going to a state owned bank to exchange your currency at no fee.
Accommodation – Hostel dorm beds are between 5,500 to 10,000 CRC (10-15 USD) per night. Private rooms in hostels are usually around 15,000 CRC (25 USD). Free WiFi is standard, and most hostels also include free breakfast. The majority of hostels around the country also offer self-catering facilities, too. Budget hotels begin around 17,000 CRC (30 USD) per night for a double/twin room and go up from there (breakfast is often included). For Airbnb, shared accommodation usually begins around 15,000 CRC (25 USD) per night. For an entire home or apartment, expect to pay around 25,000 CRC (40 USD) per night. For those traveling with a tent, camping is an option. Most campgrounds usually charge 5,500 CRC (10 USD) per night though you’ll pay up to double that for camping in national parks.
Costa Rica is a very conservative and traditionalist nation. The state's official religion is Roman Catholicism and its population is quite religious. Nevertheless, Costa Rica caters to the gay and lesbian traveller and his or her needs. There is a thriving gay scene in San Jose with many gay and lesbian options for night-life (La Avispa, Club Oh!, Bochinche among others). The Manuel Antonio, Jacó, and Quepos area is also a favorite spot with several gay hotels and bars.
The bridge is in the town of Tarcoles, a little bit before Jacoand it’s worth stopping to see the giant crocodiles. Warning: please be very careful walking on this bridge. There is no pedestrian path and the guard rails are not that high. Please don’t climb over the rails! Those crocodiles are waiting to be fed and you do not want to be their next dinner.
Our trip was wonderful. We enjoyed every moment. Our guide, Jose, was incredibly helpful, very knowledgeable and super funny. The best guide ever! While the trip was only 7 days, we felt like we've seen a lot, learned a lot and experienced amazing things. Really, every day offered unforgettable adventures, a boat ride where we saw howler monkeys, a hike in the rain forest to see a volcano nearby, a zip-lining adventure where you couldn't see the other end of the zip-line. We really had a great time. Thank you Gate 1! (also, if possible, please say thank you to Jose. He made our trip stress-free, filled with excitement, and fun. We really appreciate that!).
We have just returned from the 9-Day Classic Costa Rica trip. Our tour guide, Ricardo, was absolutely superb. I especially appreciated his extensive knowledge of the area and how well-organized the pace of the tour was. It definitely made our trip a fun and memorable experience. Special thanks goes to Jose, our bus driver. I thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful scenic vistas and local, natural wildlife as we drove across the country--from the numerous kinds of birds seen from Selvatura Hanging Bridge in the rainforest, to the relaxing Eco Termales Hot Springs near Arenal Volcano, to the beautiful sunset at Tamarinda Divia Beach. This has been one of the best tours we've had with Gate 1 Travel thus far, and we are already looking forward to the next one!
Corcovado is best explored on foot: dozens of kilometers of trails ascend and descend the rugged (though, mercifully, relatively low-altitude) terrain, and the ideal visit includes a multi-day long distance hike. That’s the other thing: Corcovado is really isolated, at the far side of the Osa Peninsula in far southern Costa Rica. If you make it all the way down here, you might as well make the most of it.
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.
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The country has been considered economically stable with moderate inflation, estimated at 2.6% in 2017, and moderately high growth in GDP, which increased from US$41.3 billion in 2011 to US$52.6 billion in 2015. The estimated GDP for 2017 is US$61.5 billion and the estimated GDP per capita (purchasing power parity) is US$12,382. The growing debt and budget deficit are the country's primary concerns.