Dive sites abound on both sides of Costa Rica, though the Pacific coast is more heavily trafficked. There, the area around Herradura Bay and Jaco has a number of relatively shallow, high-visibility sites that are appropriate for novices. On the Caribbean side, the area around Cahuita National Park is a hidden gem that sees just a fraction of the dive traffic of Pacific alternatives, and has sites appropriate for all skill levels. If you’re not already scuba-certified, enroll in a certification course through a local resort. These can be found for $200 to $400, depending on the location and nature of the course.
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.

Most Afro-Costa Ricans descend from Jamaican immigrants who worked in the construction of that railway and now make up about 3% of Costa Rica's population.[51] U.S. convicts, Italians and Chinese immigrants also participated in the construction project. In exchange for completing the railroad, the Costa Rican government granted Keith large tracts of land and a lease on the train route, which he used to produce bananas and export them to the United States. As a result, bananas came to rival coffee as the principal Costa Rican export, while foreign-owned corporations (including the United Fruit Company later) began to hold a major role in the national economy and eventually became a symbol of the exploitative export economy.[52] The major labor dispute between the peasants and the United Fruit Company (The Great Banana Strike) was a major event in the country's history and was an important step that would eventually lead to the formation of effective trade unions in Costa Rica, as the company was required to sign a collective agreement with its workers in 1938.[53][54]
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.

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.
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.
Our trip was wonderful! Ricardo Bolanos, our tour guide was wonderful!! Very personable, knowledgeable, organized, and just a great guy. Gate 1 has a real asset in Ricardo. Also, Jose , our bus driver was unbelievably good! He navigated the narrow mountain roads with numerous, narrow, one lane bridges exceptionally well. He definitely earned his money! Looking forward to our next trip with Gate 1.
Costa Ricans definitely know how to throw a party. With high importance placed on food, family and community, you know that any event you attend is sure to be a hit. Many Costa Rican festivals celebrate the country’s heritage of being farmers and ranchers, and as a Catholic country, many have religious origins. No matter which festival you’re celebrating, you’re pretty much guaranteed a deep dive into Tico culture and an excellent time. Here are a few of the biggest festivals in Costa Rica:
When people hear “Costa Rica”, images of a tropical paradise come to mind. Whether it’s the rainforest, beach, volcanoes, wildlife, the friendly locals, or the slower pace of life that draws over 2 million visitors yearly, Costa Rica has become the most visited country in Central American. “Why choose Costa Rica?” you ask; keep on reading to find out.
Judicial branch: This entry includes three subfields. The highest court(s) subfield includes the name(s) of a country's highest level court(s), the number and titles of the judges, and the types of cases heard by the court, which commonly are based on civil, criminal, administrative, and constitutional law. A number of countries have separate constitutional courts. The judge selection and term of office subfield includes the organizations and associated officials responsible for nominating and appointing j . . . more
The 2011 census counted a population of 4.3 million people[125] distributed among the following groups: 83.6% whites or mestizos, 6.7% mulattoes, 2.4% Native American, 1.1% black or Afro-Caribbean; the census showed 1.1% as Other, 2.9% (141,304 people) as None, and 2.2% (107,196 people) as unspecified.[1] By 2016, the UN estimation for the population was around 4.9 million.[4]
Another easy way to get around Costa Rica is to use the services of mini-vans. At most of the hotels, the receptionist is able to assist travelers who want to travel across the country by arranging for the services of a driver. Rates are reasonable (USD29 per person, for example, to get from San Jose to Tamarindo in April 2007) The drivers know the roads well; the vans are clean and comfortable; and they take you from door to door.
Hi Jess, if you’re talking about safety while renting a car, just make sure to never leave anything in the car, don’t leave a bag or backpack out in the seat even if it’s empty because if a thief sees it, he could try to steal it. We’ve known people who left their bags out right in plain view in the backseats and got their car robbed so make sure never to leave anything in the car. As for houses, it’s fairly safe in Costa Rica and Avellanas is not a very busy area. Always lock up, don’t leave your valuables in sight and close your curtains. Most houses here have gates on windows and doors, so always lock the gates and many places that are rented to tourists have some sort of security system set up so I’d ask the person you’re renting from if there is anything you need to be aware of.
Make sure to check the car carefully before you sign off on the damage sheet. Check the oil, brake fluid, fuel gauge (to make sure it's full) and that there is a spare tire with a good air pressure and a jack. Look up the Spanish word for "scratches" (rayas) and other relevant terminology first, so you can at least scrutinize the rental company's assessment. Ask them to write down all the minor damages, not just check on the drawing, and keep a copy of this document on you.

Crime: In areas frequented by tourists, including national parks, theft and pickpocketing are the most common crimes targeting U.S. citizen travelers. More violent crimes, including sexual assault and murders, have occurred. Armed assailants usually target victims for their smartphones, wallets, or purses. If confronted by someone with a weapon, it is best not to resist.
Bosque Eterno straddles several minor mountain ranges at the crest of the continental divide separating the Atlantic (Caribbean) and Pacific watersheds, from about 750 meters altitude (roughly 2,500 feet) to the highest peaks (about 1,850 meters or 6,100 feet). Most of it is off-limits to humans, but enough is preserved in the singular Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve to make your visit worthwhile. I spent the better part of a day in the reserve and can say without hesitation that it was the highlight of my trip.
Land use: This entry contains the percentage shares of total land area for three different types of land use: agricultural land, forest, and other; agricultural land is further divided into arable land - land cultivated for crops like wheat, maize, and rice that are replanted after each harvest, permanent crops - land cultivated for crops like citrus, coffee, and rubber that are not replanted after each harvest, and includes land under flowering shrubs, fruit trees, nut trees, and vines, and permane . . . more
Visitor volumes slump during the summer months, when North American beaches temporarily become habitable and more persistent precipitation dampens the beachgoing experience down south. Summer is the cheapest time to visit, with flights anywhere from 20% to 40% cheaper, and four- and five-star hotels upwards of 50% cheaper, than winter and early spring. Last-minute hotel and flight deals are more common in summer, too: great for accommodating a spur-of-the-moment extended weekend on the beach.

The traditional flavors of Costa Rica are typical of Central America and utilize rice and beans for the most common dish known as gallo pinto.  A customary breakfast consists of fried eggs or meat paired with the rice and beans while gallo pinto is often used as a side dish at lunch or dinner as well, accompanied by a small salad, meat or fish, and possibly fried plantains. The latter combination of dishes is known as casado, referring to the marriage of ingredients. Casados and gallo pinto are known in Costa Rica as “typical food,” comida tipica.


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 Del Toro waterfall is Costa Rica’s largest and most spectacular waterfall. The sheer magnitude and power of this waterfall that appears out of the dense jungle will surely take your breath away. There are great trails and lookout points throughout the property surrounding the waterfall. Visiting the Del Toro Waterfall is an amazing way to spend the day surrounded by nature. This is also a chance to see an abundance of wildlife. If you are only going to visit one waterfall on your trip, visit this one.
Costa Rica’s unit of currency is the colon, which hovers between 500 - 550 colones/ $1 USD. U.S. dollars are widely accepted, provided the bill is not too large ($50 and $100 bills are rarely accepted). Hotels and tours generally list their prices in dollars. Compared to the rest of Central America, prices in Costa Rica are relatively high, due in large part to the country’s high standard of living. Typical Costa Rican food and produce is quite inexpensive, while imported products are priced similarly to U.S. prices. A typical Costa Rican breakfast and lunch will cost around 2000-5000 colones ($4-10).
Costa Rica hosts many refugees, mainly from Colombia and Nicaragua. As a result of that and illegal immigration, an estimated 10–15% (400,000–600,000) of the Costa Rican population is made up of Nicaraguans.[128][129] Some Nicaraguans migrate for seasonal work opportunities and then return to their country. Costa Rica took in many refugees from a range of other Latin American countries fleeing civil wars and dictatorships during the 1970s and 1980s, notably from Chile and Argentina, as well as people from El Salvador who fled from guerrillas and government death squads.[130]
Costa Rica’s many natural wonders make it a special place to explore, and to offer much more than a typical vacation destination. A visit to Costa Rica is hardly complete without a walk through its dense, tropical forests, where giant trees are home to hundreds of epiphyte plants, the sounds of rare bird species can be heard in the air, and slow-moving sloths can be...
We had a wonderful time! Rafael was a wealth of knowledge of the history of Costa Rica, all the wildlife that we saw, and his organizational skills were outstanding throughout the tour. The accommodations were amazing and we were so impressed with how clean all of the areas were and how friendly all the staff of the hotels were. More importantly all of the staff of Gate 1 were very kind and helpful. The bus driver Mauricio was outstanding driving that huge bus through those mountain roads, making sure the bus was spotless, and being helpful and friendly. We will definitely use Gate 1 Travel for other upcoming trips.
Costa Rica was an early innovator in eco-tourism, a breed of travel that gives back to the local environment and community by minimizing negative impacts of travelers. Numerous eco-lodges opened and offered tours of the rain forest with local guides that not only explain the value of the rainforest to travelers, but instill value of the rainforest in the minds of locals to avoid further deforestation by local populations. Over 25% of Costa Rica's land is protected, mostly by their excellent system of National Parks.
As previously mentioned many Costa Rican roads are dirt and mud so if you add in a little rain to that they will quickly become impassable. We visited at the beginning of the rainy season in May and had absolutely no trouble driving. Although it did rain a bit more than we liked the lush jungle scenery was gorgeous, prices were cheaper, and it was indeed less busy than in the dry season.
As one of the most biologically diverse places on earth, Corcovado National Park is an absolute must for hikers and wildlife lovers. It’s such a unique place in Costa Rica, you’ll feel like it’s a different world with the sheer amount of wildlife around. Corcovado National Park is in the Osa Peninsula, which holds around 6% of the world’s biodiversity.
Food: Get off the beaten path to eat whenever possible. Our best-value meals came at independently owned restaurants in Liberia. One place, basically a lunch counter serving authentic Costa Rican cuisine, set us back about $5 per person for a lunch big enough to skip dinner on. The area’s touristy restaurants cost triple that. If you’re renting, make sure your place has a kitchen, and hit the grocery store as soon as you get settled. We visited a Walmart in Liberia and a Super Compro in Tilaran; both had excellent meat counters and solid produce sections.
Extremely popular, the 10-day Eco-Xtreme Adrenaline will have your heart pumping as you race from one ultimate sports challenge to another. Picture: Whitewater Rafting, Canyoning, Waterfall Rappelling, Zip-lining, ATVing, and Surfing! And it all rocks at Costa Rica’s top 3 adventure destinations: Arenal Volcano, Monteverde Cloud Forest, and Manuel Antonio Beach. Bring your Go-Pro!
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.
Oh how we love truchas! This is one of those hidden gems of Costa Rica that most tourists don’t experience, but totally should. The concept is you go to a place with a small freshwater lake. An employee will give you a line with a little piece of bait on the end. You then stand around the lake and try to catch a fish (usually trout). Once you catch a fish for every person in your group you will go into the restaurant located on the property and they will cook up your fish for you.

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.
Scenic rainforests, active volcanoes, relaxing hot springs and sandy beaches await you on a Costa Rica tour. Then there are the colonial cities and interesting cultural sites, unusual birds and animals you only find in the tropics, and plenty of opportunities to sample native foods, like Gallo Pinto, the national dish of fried rice and black beans.

Simply stated, if you’re not used to this kind of driving, be very careful and always drive defensively. You might be cut off and tailgated. There’s a good chance you’ll see cars jump the line, not heed to stop signs and not use blinkers. Of course not all Costa Ricans drive this way but generally, their driving culture is not quite as structured and the infrastructure is not the best. Once you get out to the rural areas, it’s much more relaxed since there are less cars but you still need to drive defensively.


It is not realistic (or enjoyable) to be traveling a minimum of 7 hours for a day trip. If a week is all you have, come to terms with the fact that you won’t see it all and treat it like a little sneak preview. If you do have a limited time and want to make the most of it, check out our Costa Rica articles for loads of ideas. The Top 10 things To Do in Costa Rica will give you the ‘must-do’s’ for your trip and you can take your pick.
Many roads are unpaved, and even the paved roads have lots of unpaved sections and washed out or unfinished bridges. Bridges are often only wide enough for one vehicle; one direction usually has priority. Do not expect to get anywhere quickly; supposed three-hour journeys can turn into five or more hours easily: there are always slow cars/buses/trucks on the road. This causes a lot of crazy driving, which you begin to emulate if you are in-country for more than a day. The government does not seem to be fixing the infrastructure well (or at all!); 50km/h is good over unpaved roads. Some hotels located in the mountains require a four-wheel-drive vehicle to reach the destination. Call ahead. This is more for the ground clearance than the quality of the road. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are widely available at the car rentals near the airport, but call ahead.
Costa Rica requires valid Yellow fever certificate if arriving from most neighbouring countries. If such is not presented you would not be allowed to enter/board the flight. At Bogota airport - if you have certificate you can have it emailed to the airline and then proceed to the local vaccination authority for duplicate certificate to be issued free of charge. The critical part is to get the printed version on time. If you don't have certificate or cannot get it on time you will probably be approached by friendly police officers to arrange such for a fee. Keep in mind that the date of the vaccination should be at least 10 days prior entering the country from which you are flying.
On the Pacific slope, the river with the largest volume, El General, is famous for multi-day adventures and for being an incredible playground for kayakers. The Coto Brus River is also part of this watershed. Further north, on the central Pacific coast, are the Savegre and Naranjo Rivers. In this area you have the opportunity to enjoy both half-day trips on the Naranjo River and 1-to-2-day trips on the Savegre River.

Never participate in adventure sports alone. Always carry identification and let others know where you are at all times. Before kayaking and rafting, check river conditions and wear a life jacket and helmet. Even popular rafting locations such as the Rio Naranjo near Quepos can become extremely dangerous in flash flood conditions. When hiking, rappelling, or climbing, carry a first aid kit and know the location of the nearest rescue center. Observe all local or park regulations and exercise caution in unfamiliar surroundings.
Stone tools, the oldest evidence of human occupation in Costa Rica, are associated with the arrival of various groups of hunter-gatherers about 10,000 to 7,000 years BCE in the Turrialba Valley. The presence of Clovis culture type spearheads and arrows from South America opens the possibility that, in this area, two different cultures coexisted.[31]
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