We’ve heard this advice all our lives, and it was never more apt than it is in Costa Rica. You don’t need to venture out far to feel the wicked riptides that plague many of the hundreds of beaches here. (Conversely, these are exactly the conditions that make Costa Rica so popular with surfers.) On top of that, lifeguards patrol few beaches and you’ll see few warning signs. Take utmost care in the water.
The name is a bit misleading: I don’t think anybody ever saw any jaguars there (the center’s name is a dedication to the memory of an abandoned baby jaguar whose mother was murdered by farmers). Yet, the sanctuary does have wildcats, anteaters, owls, marsupials, sloths, monkeys, deer, parrots, toucans, snakes, and frogs, which make it worth supporting, a visiting is one of the nicest things to do in Costa Rica.

On balance, SJO is cheaper and more convenient than LIR, though seasonality plans a role here too. On a casual search of late-spring travel times, I found round-trips from East Coast cities like New York and Washington, D.C., for less than $300 – though all involved at least one layover that pushed total flight times north of eight hours. Expect to pay at least $500 during the high season, especially for weekend-to-weekend travel.

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.
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.
One of the best ways to experience the canopies of the variety of forests across Costa Rica is on a zip line tour. The adventurous and scenic excursion began in the 1970s and has become one of the most popular and widespread activities in the country, blending the beauty of the treetops with its remoteness. Guides help educate participants on the ecology, botany, and reforestation efforts encouraging the wildlife to return to the secondary forest and supporting the wildlife in primary forests.
Six of seven sea turtle species are in danger of extinction, and four of those six call Costa Rica home. The leatherback sea turtle population has declined by over 90% since the 1980’s on the Pacific Coast. In hopes of reversing this trend, Costa Rica has established turtle conservation efforts along both the East and West coast of the country.  Join a program to help protect the endangered species from further damage.
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.
This charming mountain lodge is located in Vara Blanca skirting Poas Volcano National Park. Wake up to striking views of the volcano or picture perfect pastures with sweet smells of the garden just outside the room. Step outside and walk along the farm trails to take in the brisk mountain air. In the evenings, relax by the fire with a glass of wine as you think back on the day's incredible experiences. At Poas Volcano Lodge, guests will experience a truly authentic and sustainable Costa Rica travel destination.

We’re not suggesting a career.  It might be something as simple as swapping language lessons with someone for a couple of hours.  You help with their English and they repay you with Spanish tutorial.  Hostels and other budget lodgings are usually trying to save money by working on projects themselves.  If you ask they might put you to work setting bricks for a walkway, repairing chairs or even helping out with a website or facebook page.  Pay might be in the form of free lodging or beer but you’ll be busy and not spending money…

Activities – Entrance into most national parks is usually around 5,500 CRC (10 USD) with discounts available for students. Canopy tours and day trips are around 25,000 CRC (40 USD). A two tank dive can be between 30,000-53,325 CRC (55-90 USD). Surf lessons start around 11,000 CRC (20 USD) per hour. There are also lots of surf camps where you can spend the week learning how to surf (or honing your skills if you already know how to). Prices vary widely, though expect to pay at least 25,000 CRC (40 USD) for a week.


Chocolate in Costa Rica has a long history and dates back to before the cultivation of coffee. The original beans grew in the Brazilian Amazon and traveled north by bird migration, human trade, or both. Chocolate was even used as currency between neighboring civilizations due to its coveted qualities until the arrival of the Spanish in the 15th century. Costa Rican chocolate remains a delicacy as the country produces organic, fair-trade chocolate made with all natural ingredients and competes with other Central and South American countries, along with many African nations, in the production of quality cacao cultivation.
Coffee and chocolate (cacao, technically) go great together. They also grow in similar climates, so it’s no surprise that both are found in close proximity in Costa Rica. Most Costa Rican cacao plantations are in the country’s southern region, around Puerto Viejo. Some offer a glimpse into Costa Rica’s distant past: ChocoRart, an organic farm near Puerto Viejo, harvests and processes cacao in the millennia-old Mayan tradition, while Caribeans focuses on heirloom varieties not widely available outside Central America.
Topping out well above 12,000 feet, Cerro Chirripo is Costa Rica’s highest peak. Along with surrounding high peaks, it harbors rare high-altitude ecosystems: supermontane forests, dwarf forests, and paramo, among others. Above the treeline, it’s harder for wildlife to hide, so you’re more likely to see rare mammals like Dice’s rabbit, charismatic carnivores like cougars (known locally as pumas), and – of course – colorful birds like quetzals. The high slopes and summit boast unusual vertical rock formations called crestones, which resemble the pinnacles and spires found in the badlands of North and South Dakota.

The La Fortuna Waterfall is one of the top waterfalls to visit in Costa Rica. There are multiple ways to get to the hiking trail, one being via horseback, where you will then walk down 500 steps to the basin of the waterfall; La Fortuna Waterfall is 230 feet (70 meters) high! The raw power of this waterfall is mesmerizing. After hiking down, you can swim in the pool beneath the cascade of water, which is an incredible experience in and of itself. The surrounding forest is stunning and it is likely that you will see toucans, butterflies, monkeys, and sloths.
We’ve done several night walks in Costa Rica. In Arenal, we did a night walk with Jacamar (get 10% off this tour). In Osa Peninsula we did a night walk at Leona station with La Leona Eco-Lodge, in Braulio Carrillo we did a night walk with Rainforest Adventures and in Monteverde we did one at Finca Santa Maria. For night walks in Manuel Antonio, we recommend Si Como No Hotel which has a private reserve. We also did one in Bijagua at Tapir Valley which was absolutely amazing!

hi! i love your site. i’ve gotten so much information from it. i’m heading to costa rica at the end of february for my birthday! im so excited and through my research i’ve found so many things that i’d like to do there. we will be renting a car and i think i have finally narrowed our trip down to 4 stops being, arenal, monteverde, manuel antonio, and uvitas. i would like to see a couple of waterfalls, probably la fortuna and nauyaca, hanging bridges, zipline, take a dip in the hot springs, hike, and scuba dive off cano island. now for the tricky part. i only have 7 full days! is it possible? how many days should i spend at each stop? i know that the trouble is that there are 4 stops instead of 3 which means one stop will have to be for one night only. do you think there is a way we can perhaps stop and pass through one of them? for instance when going from monteverde to san manuel. is there a way we can drive down to san manuel. spend the day at the park/beach and then drive on through to uvita? would it be safe to drive that route after sundown? many thanks for any insights you can provide.
If there is one Costa Rica travel tip I can give you it would be to double check your car rental prices. When we first started searching for car rentals in Costa Rica we were shocked by the crazy low prices we were seeing. Unfortunately for our wallets we just hadn’t clicked all the way to the payment page yet. In Costa Rica all drivers are required to have third party liability insurance.
Like most of Central America, Costa Rican cuisine is influenced by Spanish, South American, Caribbean and American cuisine. In general, the food tends to be wholesome and tasty, but not very spicy. On the Caribbean side of the country, however, food has an Afro-Caribbean flair, with dishes featuring coconut milk, more spices, and lots of pork and goat.

This unofficial motto helps explain many other facets of Costa Rican culture. Costa Ricans (or Ticos and Ticas) are known for their laid-back demeanour, happy outlook and conflict-averse nature. In fact, peace is so highly valued here that they have no standing army. It was abolished in 1949 with all funds reallocated to create an “army” of teachers instead. It follows that education is also highly valued here. Primary and secondary school is mandatory and free for all, resulting in a 97% literacy rate.
Speaking of chicken nuggets, Costa Rican cuisine is accessible for even the fussiest American palate. It's essentially rice, beans, chicken, fish, seafood, eggs and tropical fruit, in abundance. Should you, for some dire reason, not want to partake of this cornucopia of amazingly fresh food, American food is also found in abundance, as is Italian, German, French, Argentinean, Chinese and Japanese. You'll pay American prices for this, however; sticking to comida típica is both healthier and cheaper, and you really can't beat a bowl of red snapper and shrimp ceviche on the beach, enjoyed a few yards away from where it was just hauled in that morning. Pura vida, indeed.
It’s the classic travel tale – overworked professional realizes that the 9-5 to grind isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and sets out to seek greener pastures. This witty tale comes from Nadine Pisani, who shares her story of quitting her job to forge a new life in sunny Costa Rica. This is a nice, light read for when you’re just flaking out on the beach or by the pool. But along the way you’ll learn why Costa Rica is one of the happiest places on earth.
Many trails in Costa Rica come with entrance fees but there are some that don’t.  It can be difficult to find the access points and to be certain you’re not trespassing so we don’t list many of them here.  Instead we suggest you take a look at (and post questions on) some of the facebook pages dedicated to hiking in Costa Rica.  Two good ones are Ruta la Cima and Picoaventuras Talamanca.
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.
Combo adventure tours are one of our favorite things to do in Guanacaste. We love Guachipelin Adventure Park in the Rincon de la Vieja area which is a full day of ziplining, horseback riding, lunch, river tubing, hot springs and mud baths. It’s an awesome adventure in Costa Rica that allows you to experience the best of the volcano and dry tropical forest.
You might get a discount (such as between 5% and 10%) when paying in cash, but it is not common enough to be expected. Also, it is not really necessary to get colones at the airport because you can pay everywhere in USD and receive colones as change. Most places except smallest restaurants take credit cards and many places including the gas stations take American Express.
Pro Tip: Spanish is a pretty diverse language with dozens of regional dialects. Most U.S. students learn either Mexican or Castilian Spanish, both among the most commonly spoken variations. Though comprehensible to other Spanish speakers, the Costa Rican variation has some interesting idiosyncrasies, such as voseo – the use of the second person singular pronoun, vos, and its plural, vosotros, in place of the more common tú.
The name is a bit misleading: I don’t think anybody ever saw any jaguars there (the center’s name is a dedication to the memory of an abandoned baby jaguar whose mother was murdered by farmers). Yet, the sanctuary does have wildcats, anteaters, owls, marsupials, sloths, monkeys, deer, parrots, toucans, snakes, and frogs, which make it worth supporting, a visiting is one of the nicest things to do in Costa Rica.
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.

Alright, I’ll be honest. National Costa Rican beer is pretty much the equivalent of BudLight, but on hot days there is nothing I enjoy more. If you are into the craft beer scene like we are, have no fear! The craft beer culture is slowly making its way into Costa Rica and it is possible to find breweries in most tourist destinations. Two of our favorites are Fuego Brew Co. in Dominical (that is where the picture above was taken) and Wilk Craft Beer in San Jose.
Costa Rica is a great place to learn Spanish as the "ticos" have a dialect that is easy to understand and digest for someone just starting to learn the language. There are many language schools that provide intensive instruction with group classes lasting 4 hours per day, Monday to Friday. Almost all Spanish schools will also offer host family accommodations and possibly some alternative such as a student residence or discounted hotel rates.
BCIE, CACM, CD, CELAC, FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), LAES, LAIA (observer), MIGA, NAM (observer), OAS, OIF (observer), OPANAL, OPCW, Pacific Alliance (observer), PCA, SICA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Venture deep into the jungle to visit some of the last untouched land in Costa Rica. Casa Corcovado is located on one hundred seventy acres of private reserve bordering Corcovado National Park. The region is famously known for its extensive biodiversity, look out for squirrel monkeys, scarlet macaws and jaguars. When you return from an excursion into the jungle teeming with wildlife, you can relax in your large plush bed while gazing at the wood beam ceiling and stained glass handcrafted by local artisans. Although the lodge is tucked away in the jungle there is no shortage of amenities on site. Enjoy delicious meals at their Spanish style restaurant and a swim in a clear blue pool fed by natural spring water. Casa Corcovado seamlessly blends the beauty of nature with upscale luxurious accommodations.
Pro Tip: Spanish is a pretty diverse language with dozens of regional dialects. Most U.S. students learn either Mexican or Castilian Spanish, both among the most commonly spoken variations. Though comprehensible to other Spanish speakers, the Costa Rican variation has some interesting idiosyncrasies, such as voseo – the use of the second person singular pronoun, vos, and its plural, vosotros, in place of the more common tú.

Stock of domestic credit: This entry is the total quantity of credit, denominated in the domestic currency, provided by financial institutions to the central bank, state and local governments, public non-financial corporations, and the private sector. The national currency units have been converted to US dollars at the closing exchange rate on the date of the information.
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): School life expectancy (SLE) is the total number of years of schooling (primary to tertiary) that a child can expect to receive, assuming that the probability of his or her being enrolled in school at any particular future age is equal to the current enrollment ratio at that age. Caution must be maintained when utilizing this indicator in international comparisons. For example, a year or grade completed in one country is not necessarily the same in terms of educational content or qualit . . . more
“On my Sunday radio program, I’ve several times mentioned the attractive price of $995 per person plus airfare for a 10-day, fully-escorted trip to Costa Rica offered thoughout the year by the distinguished Chicago tour operator called Caravan Tours. The price includes all accommodations, all meals, and all motorcoach sightseeing and transportation...highly affordable vacations. ” ‘The Travel Show with Arthur Frommer’
Costa Rica’s culture is rooted in a peaceful, Catholic, agrarian society, and many of Costa Rica's most interesting cultural experiences are on the coffee farm, visiting the pineapple plantation, or eating a delicious helping of *gallo pinto* at the local soda (Costa Rican restaurant.) The country’s few museums and performing arts are mostly centered in the capital...
Early morning visit to world famous Manuel Antonio National Park, a natural habitat for the white face monkey, the rare squirrel monkey and the three-toed sloth. Hike through the rainforest and along spectacular beach coves. Look for toucans and parrots. (Tours beginning on Mondays will visit the adjacent public beach instead due to newly mandated park closures.) The rest of your morning is at leisure. Enjoy your hotel's pools and rooftop terrace, or visit nearby artisan shops. Lunch at your Manuel Antonio hotel. Then, return to San José. Farewell dinner tonight. BLD

Beach Safety: Swimming areas at some popular beaches around Costa Rica can have dangerous rip currents. Most beaches lack lifeguards or warnings of unsafe conditions. U.S. citizens have died in Costa Rica due to these dangers. Check the Costa Rica Tourism Institute (ICT) website, or with your hotel or relevant tour operator to request current information on local swimming and surf conditions.
Playa Avellana’s seclusion belies its worldliness. One of the Costa Rican Pacific’s most exclusive resorts, the JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort and Spa, lies just to the north. Yes, it’s pricey, but it’s also all-inclusive – a perfect honeymoon destination for a truly unforgettable post-wedding experience. Hacienda Pinilla Beach Club, on the beach itself, is only slightly less accommodating.

Airports: This entry gives the total number of airports or airfields recognizable from the air. The runway(s) may be paved (concrete or asphalt surfaces) or unpaved (grass, earth, sand, or gravel surfaces) and may include closed or abandoned installations. Airports or airfields that are no longer recognizable (overgrown, no facilities, etc.) are not included. Note that not all airports have accommodations for refueling, maintenance, or air traffic control.
Thanks for the tips! Just returned from CR. Definitely found your info to be true-it takes a very long time to get places. We did not get to do many of the things we wanted. Plus when the Braulio Carrillo park at Volcan Barva did not open on time at 8am, it put us behind and unable to complete the day’s adventure. (We wanted to visit from both entrances but not enough time to drive around before they closed at 3:30. We still had a great visit though!) we did see a sloth but only thanks to a local kind enough to take the time to point it out-would never have seen it otherwise.

In 2011, there were over 104,000 Native American or indigenous inhabitants, representing 2.4% of the population. Most of them live in secluded reservations, distributed among eight ethnic groups: Quitirrisí (in the Central Valley), Matambú or Chorotega (Guanacaste), Maleku (northern Alajuela), Bribri (southern Atlantic), Cabécar (Cordillera de Talamanca), Guaymí (southern Costa Rica, along the Panamá border), Boruca (southern Costa Rica) and Térraba [es] (southern Costa Rica).
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.
Micro mills and microclimates within these regions can also affect the way the coffee tastes due to the different minerals in the soil and how the coffee is cultivated. Much of the coffee cherries are harvested by hand and treated in a wet-process, setting the standard for Central and South American nations eager to participate in the coffee trade. Visiting coffee plantations across Costa Rica has become a popular activity eager to learn more about the cultivation process, along with the proper flavors they should find in a delicious cup of coffee.  A number of places around Costa Rica celebrate the pleasures of local coffee by highlighting the flavors particular to the different regions, along with producing quality drinks, including cocktails, representing the micro-mills.
Costa Rica’s inarguable mantra is “Pura Vida,” which stands can mean “full of life.” It commonly refers to the way Ticos greet each other, reflecting on their day, week, or life as “going great.” A first-time visit to Costa Rica can be a test in patience for newcomers as locals refer to their timeliness as “la hora tica,” or Tico Time, referring to the slow, relaxed pace of life.  Ticos take their time and do not view tardiness or steadiness as rude, unless in adhering to the rigid timetables of movie showings or health clinic appointments. Whether on a public street or in the privacy of their homes, Costa Ricans will say hello and goodbye to friends with a light kiss on the cheek. Women kiss women; men kiss women; men do not kiss men. However, friendly men will often give one-armed hugs or firm handshakes.
San Bada is a spectacular new hotel in Manuel Antonio, located directly at the entrance to the world famous Manuel Antonio National Park. It is the closest hotel to the Park and a short, easy walk to the breathtaking public beaches of Manuel Antonio. Here at San Bada, you'll sleep to the magical sounds of the jungle. The beautifully furnished guest rooms have balconies and include free Wi-Fi. The hotel features two pools. Enjoy magnificent views of the ocean from San Bada's unique Sunset Terrace Bar.
The victorious rebels formed a government junta that abolished the military altogether, and oversaw the drafting of a new constitution by a democratically elected assembly.[56] Having enacted these reforms, the junta transferred power to Ulate on 8 November 1949. After the coup d'état, Figueres became a national hero, winning the country's first democratic election under the new constitution in 1953. Since then, Costa Rica has held 14 presidential elections, the latest in 2018. With uninterrupted democracy dating back to at least 1948, the country is the region's most stable.
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