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.
For Americans, tipping is a part of daily life and therefore follows travelers to countries around the world. Tipping might not apply to all Costa Rica customs, but there are moments when a tip is considered appropriate. Restaurants already add a 10 percent tip to any bill. As a rule, Costa Ricans do not tip servers in restaurants unless they feel the service went above and beyond the percentage attached to the bill. Cab drivers do not receive tips, but hotel attendants who help carry luggage to the rooms should receive a tip between one and two dollars per bag. Naturalist, local, and river guides could receive ten percent of the service or between five to 10 dollars per person, depending on how you feel about the tour, guide, and the service provided.
Hi Alessia! Selvatura Park is super fun, you don’t have to have a guide with you for the hanging bridges, you can walk the ones in Selvatura on your own. If you want to do just do the hanging bridges, you have to pay for the entrance so for example if you go to Sky Adventures and you just want to do their hanging bridges, you’ll have to pay the entrance fee to that. At Selvatura you can pick which activities you want to do is you can do zipline + hanging bridges if you like.
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.
Parque Nacional Guanacaste is one of the best places in Central America to experience a pristine Pacific dry forest. Perhaps because the dry forest lacks the jungle’s charisma, it’s under relentless attack by prosperous cattle ranchers hungry to expand their holdings elsewhere in northwestern Costa Rica and western Nicaragua. Just bear in mind that it’s not particularly scenic during the dry season, when most trees lose their leaves and the understory turns various shades of brown and yellow.
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.
These Know Before You Go travel tips are designed with you in mind, with helpful hints to help you prepare for and enjoy your escorted vacation. They are your guide to getting ready and contain general information on travel documentation, customs, and the country/countries you will be visiting, including budgeting, transportation, climate, languages, and much more. With Globus, you benefit from our experience.
The busiest times of the year for travelers are December through April and then again from June through August. Peak seasons include December 15 – January 5, the entire months of February and March, Easter week and the first two weeks of July. Quality accommodations are generally reserved solid 6 or more months in advance for these times of the year.
Another Costa Rican tour highlight is the Arenal Volcano, considered one of the most active volcanoes in the world. You may witness the red lava streaming down the sides as you hear the volcano’s grumbling. Relax as you soak in the ecothermal hot springs and perhaps watch the lava flow down the volcano—a spectacular sight! In Monteverde, visit the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve, home to forest fauna such as jaguars, resplendent quetzal, monkeys, ocelots, and many species of birds—not to mention the large diversity of plant species.
Thanks for the input, Emilia. We have heard of Waze before, but haven’t given it a try yet. Google Maps has not let us done in Costa Rica yet! As for the price of gas, the small side of the road stall definitely overcharge (i don’t think they abide by the laws all that much), but that’s the “convenience tax” you pay to fill up in a small town without having to travel to a city with a real gas station.
For USD350-700 a week you can rent an Economy or Mid-size 4x4. Insurance is the majority of this cost and it is not optional. Four-wheel-drive is good for extensive travelling outside the Central Valley, especially in the wet season. In the dry season going from La Fortuna to Monteverde via a direct route was over a boulder strewn 15-30mph road. Four-wheel-drive was also useful on the Nicoya coast.(above based on 2001 roads). It's often possible to rent a car with a local driver from the various tour companies, if driving yourself seems a bit daunting.
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.
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.
Fully licensed by the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) and based in Costa Rica, CRS Tours provides its worldwide clientele with travel services at its highest standards of quality and best value. CRS Tours’ years of commitment to the tourism sector of Costa Rica (including hotels, restaurants, transportation, tours and local airlines) has enabled CRS Tours to acquire a strong working relationship that allows the agency to offer clients great deals in packaged tours.
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.
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
There are some surprisingly amazing souvenirs in Costa Rica. I’m talking things that actually have a use and are not overly kitschy. Even if you don’t have to buy souvenirs for anyone, it can still be nice to browse the various items at souvenir markets. This picture above was taken in Dominical. Artists always set up their stands along the beach here and it is a nice place to check out handmade items.
The rub is insurance, the full cost of which often exceeds the cost of the rental itself. Rental companies operating in Costa Rica offer several different types of optional insurance and one type of mandatory insurance – a liability policy that’ll set you back $15 to $25 per day, depending on the vehicle and carrier. Costa Rica Guide has a good primer on the confusing insurance regime. Bottom line: You can’t avoid mandatory insurance coverage, and you’ll probably want a supplemental policy that covers body damage if you plan to drive on unpaved mountain roads.
Other spectacular natural sights on Costa Rica vacations include famous Arenal Volcano, which is particularly stunning by night when you can often see lava glowing on its sides. Poas Volcano is known for its bright green lake; it is in a national park that has a number of magnificent waterfalls. You do not want to forget your camera for these once-in-a-lifetime sights!
Eating and shopping at a local farm or marketplace is one of the coolest things to do in Costa Rica thanks to the country’s dedication to ecotourism. You’ll come away with more than just souvenirs, thanks to educational experiences at farms like Corso Lecheria and friendly vendors at San Jose’s Central Market. Taste fruit you’ve never seen (let alone tasted) at markets—don’t miss the chance to try cas, mamon, soursop, and water apple, or to simply stock up on fresh bananas, papayas, and mangos.
Grab your camera and get ready for a wonderful vacation to Costa Rica! Witness bountiful wildlife in their natural habitat, enjoy relaxing dips in ecothermal hot springs, and learn about the Costa Rican culture on this thrilling adventure. Among the many highlights of this tour is Tortuguero National Park, where you'll take a boat ride along remote, unspoiled sections of the park to view wildlife. Your guide will look out for the wildlife—including freshwater turtles, egrets, toucans, and monkeys—so you can sit back, relax, and take plenty of pictures.
“I very much appreciate the professional manner that we were treated. I am a travel agent, and working in this industry can sometimes be a thankless job, therefore when I am treated with respect, I try to acknowledge. We are truly grateful to Caravan and our tour director for being so accommodating. I can guarantee you that I will be selling Caravan tours enthusiastically in the future! Our tour director’s knowledge and passion for his country is so evident by the way he describes customs, culture, education, wildlife among many other things. All of the sightseeing, I loved every minute of it, great activities and some free time.”
At the bottom of the Nicoya coast is the hippy backpacker town of Santa Theresa. This “town” really nothing more than a beach with a road lined with eateries, surf shops, and hostels. Not much goes on here as everyone is up early to hit the waves. I like this place as it is a good place to just go, lay on the beach, hang out with people, and relax. It’s an easy place to fall into and spend weeks. Or, like most people, months.
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.
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.
All these areas are home to an inexhaustible biodiversity, one of the most abundant that represents 5% of the planet. More than 900 species of birds including hummingbirds, red macaws and toucans coexist with 208 species of mammals such as sloths, monkeys or felines such as jaguars. Insects, reptiles, amphibians and butterflies are also spread throughout the territory.
There are several opportunities to engage in volunteer work in Costa Rica. Volunteer projects range from turtle conservation, building houses, teaching English and community development work. Some schools offer visits to Costa Rica as part of the World Challenge activity, which combines a Trekking expedition with some of the students time assigned to helping local people on community projects.
One of the most fun things to do in Costa Rica is going on a boat tour. This is the best way to admire the beaches and the islands of the Pacific Coast. I recommend opting for a private tour as opposed to a public boat, as these may only take you to specific places, whereas a private tour will follow your requests and stops wherever you like, for however long you want.
With such a vast amount of avifauna, it is important to know what types of birds you would like to find during your time in Costa Rica. For the tropical rainforest species, you can explore La Selva Biological Station and Reserve. Carara National Park hosts the largest population of remaining scarlet macaw while Tapanti National Park and Cerro Silencio host tanagers, barbets, ornate hawk-eagles and a plethora of hummingbirds. With stunning colors, interesting calls, and fascinating characteristics, it is no wonder that more than 30 percent of all travelers to Costa Rica visit to see the birds.
Green and life are everywhere, from the 1200 species of orchids that garnish our trees to life sprouting on the beaches every year when millions of green turtles, leatherback and hawksbill sea turtles reach the Caribbean coast at the National Park Tortuguero to lay their eggs, traveling from miles away. Similarly, at Ostional, in the Pacific thousands of Lora turtles (Kemp's Ridley) reach the beach every year.
Great trip, the four of us enjoyed it almost as much as our trip to Peru and that one was close to a ten. The tour guide is a top selection for this trip; very knowledgeable in bio-science and the local and mix that with enthusiasm and devotion to duties and willingness to give of his time, and you have the best of the best. I'm quite certain we will travel with and recommend Gate 1 in the future.
The road to Tenorio Volcano National Park where Rio Celeste is is pretty bad – it is definitely recommended to get a 4×4. If you get stuck, car rental companies have an emergency hotline you can call and they also give you an emergency kit with an extra tire, fire extinguisher and if you get the full insurance, most rental car companies have you covered 100% up to a certain amount, say $5 million.
Pro Tip: Most Costa Rican vehicles have standard transmissions – stick shifts. This is a scary prospect for most North Americans, many of whom have no reason to know how to drive stick. If you know anyone with a standard transmission vehicle, ask them to show you the ropes before you arrive in Costa Rica. It’s better to learn in a parking lot near your house than an unfamiliar dirt road with jungle on one side and a sheer drop on the other.
Chepe, as San José is fondly known, is the cradle of art in Costa Rica. The largest city in the country offers a neoclassical appeal in form of historic architectures aficionados will revel in. Take a jaunt into colonial mansions, now converted into fine art galleries and boutique hotels. Among your best stops: Museo de Oro, Teatro Nacional and Barrio Amón.
Airports - with paved runways: This entry gives the total number of airports with paved runways (concrete or asphalt surfaces) by length. For airports with more than one runway, only the longest runway is included according to the following five groups - (1) over 3,047 m (over 10,000 ft), (2) 2,438 to 3,047 m (8,000 to 10,000 ft), (3) 1,524 to 2,437 m (5,000 to 8,000 ft), (4) 914 to 1,523 m (3,000 to 5,000 ft), and (5) under 914 m (under 3,000 ft). Only airports with usable runways are included in this listing. Not all . . . more
* Sample prices displayed include international and domestic airline tickets as per itinerary and ALL airline-related taxes and fuel surcharges and are per person, based on double occupancy, and are dynamic in nature. Prices do not include insurance or delivery charges which are optional and customizable by the traveler. The airfare portion of the itinerary price is based on economy class, midweek departure. Prices do not include fees for carry on or checked baggage which can add additional fees per ticket on a roundtrip flight based on carrier charges. It also does not include any entrance fees or visa fees that may be charged at international airports. Some cities may charge local taxes that can only be collected by hotel at destination.
There have been outbreaks of dengue fever in some areas of the country and an outbreak of malaria was reported in November 2006 from the province of Limon but just a few cases. Protection against mosquito bites is very important, wearing lightweight long pants, long sleeved shirts and using insect repellents with high concentrations of DEET is recommended by the CDC. If you are going to be in very rural areas known to be malaria-infested areas, you might want to consider an anti-malarial med. However, most travelers to Costa Rica do just fine with updated childhood immunizations and taking preventative measures against mosquito bites (rather than take anti-malarial medication). The CDC has a complete list of recommended vaccines when traveling to Costa Rica.
La Paz Waterfall Gardens Nature Park is a privately owned nature sanctuary close to San Jose. There are five waterfalls, cloud forests and rainforests, a snake, frog, orchid, and heliconia exhibit, a petting “zoo,” a hummingbird garden, and an animal sanctuary with over 100 different species including jaguars, ocelots, monkeys, and pumas. This is an exciting attraction for the whole family and a perfect way to experience some of the natural wonders of Costa Rica all in one convenient and beautiful place.
Sex ratio: This entry includes the number of males for each female in five age groups - at birth, under 15 years, 15-64 years, 65 years and over, and for the total population. Sex ratio at birth has recently emerged as an indicator of certain kinds of sex discrimination in some countries. For instance, high sex ratios at birth in some Asian countries are now attributed to sex-selective abortion and infanticide due to a strong preference for sons. This will affect future marriage patterns and fertilit . . . more
Costa Rica is an adventure-seeker’s paradise. Although relatively small in size, the country offers an extraordinary range of activities. There are diverse landscapes to discover and exciting ways to explore them. People of all ages can enjoy these safe and thrilling activities. And if one adventure is not enough, there are plenty of other ways to experience the...
December 20-ish through the end of the year, and Holy Week, the week before Easter, are the country’s monster tourism times. Prices go up and availability goes down dramatically during those weeks. Not only do foreigners flock here, but you’re competing for space with Costa Ricans. They have the time off, too. (Traffic-snarled San José becomes a virtual ghost town during Holy Week, called Semana Santa in Spanish.) Make hotel and car-rental reservations weeks—better yet, months—in advance if you plan to be here during those periods. And be prepared for one arcane oddity of Costa Rican law if you’re here during Holy Week: Holy Thursday and Good Friday are legally dry days in many communities, and no alcoholic beverages may be served or sold.
Stock of narrow money: This entry, also known as "M1," comprises the total quantity of currency in circulation (notes and coins) plus demand deposits denominated in the national currency held by nonbank financial institutions, state and local governments, nonfinancial public enterprises, and the private sector of the economy, measured at a specific point in time. National currency units have been converted to US dollars at the closing exchange rate for the date of the information. Because of exchange rate moveme . . . more
It helps when more than a quarter of your country is protected rainforest with more biodiversity than USA and Europe combined, and the rest is a jaw-dropping combo of bubbling volcanoes, Pacific surf beaches and laid-back towns like Quepos and Sarapiqui. Costa Rica tours are all about nature putting on a show –you’ll quickly become a pro at spotting keel-billed toucans in the cloud forests of Monteverde or listening out for the distant whoop of white-faced capuchins – but really it’s the pace of life here that gets you. ‘Hustle’ and ‘bustle’ aren’t really in Costa Rica’s vocab. Pretty much what you’d expect from a country whose unofficial motto is pura vida (the pure life).
Illicit drugs: This entry gives information on the five categories of illicit drugs - narcotics, stimulants, depressants (sedatives), hallucinogens, and cannabis. These categories include many drugs legally produced and prescribed by doctors as well as those illegally produced and sold outside of medical channels. Cannabis (Cannabis sativa) is the common hemp plant, which provides hallucinogens with some sedative properties, and includes marijuana (pot, Acapulco gold, grass, reefer), tetrahydroca . . . more
There should be taxis in Ojochal but since it’s not a super touristic area, I wouldn’t count on taxis as your main form of transportation. It’s good you’re renting a car because that area is hard to get around without one (you’ll see lots of people hitchhiking). It’s best to have a car, or hire a private driver but that can get expensive. Uber only exists in San Jose.
Rising to an elevation of 2,194 meters, one of the top things to do in Costa Rica is a trip to the Talamanca Mountains. The journey is worth it, especially as you step into a paradise filled with the lyrical humming of more than 170 bird species. Spot a quetzal, or take snapshots of other remarkable birds as you wander into a cloud forest blessed with the crisp mountain air.
The Poás Volcano National Park is one of the most visited volcanic parks and for a very good reason: The Poás volcano is the largest and most active volcano in Costa Rica. It rises 8,885 feet (2,708 meters) high, with a main crater filled with a stunning blue-green colored lake called Laguna Botas. Surrounding the volcanic area, there are multiple different ecosystems, including cloud forests, rainforests, and low mountain forests, which are home to 79 species of birds and a lot of small mammals. There are well maintained and marked hiking trails in the park, too.
Leave the crowds and enjoy the splendor of the tropical jungle at Cristal Azul Ocean-View Villas. The remote location allows guests to experience true Costa Rica as it once was before the crowds arrived. Guests will enjoy sea kayaking, zip lining, yoga or even visit a Macaw Sanctuary. Take in the pure simplicity and stunning surroundings of the Nicoya Peninsula. Those who prefer to stay off the beaten path will fall in love with Cristal Azul Resort.
Agriculture became evident in the populations that lived in Costa Rica about 5,000 years ago. They mainly grew tubers and roots. For the first and second millennia BCE there were already settled farming communities. These were small and scattered, although the timing of the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture as the main livelihood in the territory is still unknown.