The Gulf de Papagayo is a well established dive location with three major diving options. Local diving, the Catalinas, and the Bat Islands are the options within the Gulf. Diving centers are mainly located around Playas del Coco and Playa Flamingo. Out of the three options, Bat Islands is probably the most exciting as this national marine park is home to the often feared bull sharks. The dive site "Big Scare" allows divers the chance to dive face to face with these sharks and is also home to other large pelagics such as manta rays and the occasional whale shark.
A word of caution to solo female travelers. Many Tico men are very forward and quite assertive when they see a single female walking by herself. They have no reservations to ask you if you have a boyfriend or who you’re in Costa Rica with and it might take a bit of effort to get them to go away. My advice is to smile politely and move on if you don’t want to talk to them.
In 2002, there were 0.58 new general practitioner (medical) consultations and 0.33 new specialist consultations per capita, and a hospital admission rate of 8.1%. Preventive health care is also successful. In 2002, 96% of Costa Rican women used some form of contraception, and antenatal care services were provided to 87% of all pregnant women. All children under one have access to well-baby clinics, and the immunization coverage rate in 2002 was above 91% for all antigens. Costa Rica has a very low malaria incidence of 48 per 100,000 in 2000 and no reported cases of measles in 2002. The perinatal mortality rate dropped from 12.0 per 1000 in 1972 to 5.4 per 1000 in 2001.
One of the most adrenaline filled things to do in Costa Rica is canyoning – that is, going down waterfalls on a rappel. This literally is a once in a lifetime adventure, and a great way to appreciate all the incredible nature Costa Rica has to offer. The best places to visit in Costa Rica for canyoning are La Fortuna and Arenal, but this activity is now offered in Jaco now.
The Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels is a Roman Catholic cathedral dedicated to the patron saint of Costa Rica, located in the town of Cartago. The church was built on the spot where the small statue of the famous Black Virgin was discovered in 1635 and is a place of pilgrimage for Catholics from all over Costa Rica. The basilica was built between 1912 and 1924 and is an impressive structure in the neo-Byzantine style. You can visit the cathedral to admire the architecture and acoustics, see the stained-glass windows, and perhaps dip your fingers in the famous holy water font. The famous statue of the Black Virgin is not on display however – it is kept locked away at the altar.
You can also find luxurious houses, condos or apartments anywhere along the coast, in the jungles or on the hillsides overlooking the spectacular Central Valley. Some of these rentals might come with perks, like cleaning and laundry services, as well. These options are definitely something worth considering if you want to stay in Costa Rica long-term and worry free.
Costa Rica is a true diamond in the Central American rough. Situated between Nicaragua and Panama, it’s less than 100 miles wide in places. From the tops of the highest peaks, it’s possible to glimpse both the Atlantic and Pacific basins on a clear day – though, as we’ll see, clear days are (ironically) in short supply in some of Costa Rica’s fairest provinces.
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.
Historically, Costa Rica has generally enjoyed greater peace and more consistent political stability than many of its fellow Latin American nations. Since the late 19th century, however, Costa Rica has experienced two significant periods of violence. In 1917–19, General Federico Tinoco Granados ruled as a military dictator until he was overthrown and forced into exile. The unpopularity of Tinoco's regime led, after he was overthrown, to a considerable decline in the size, wealth, and political influence of the Costa Rican military. In 1948, José Figueres Ferrer led an armed uprising in the wake of a disputed presidential election between Rafael Ángel Calderón Guardia (who had been president between 1940 and 1944) and Otilio Ulate Blanco. With more than 2,000 dead, the resulting 44-day Costa Rican Civil War was the bloodiest event in Costa Rica during the 20th century.
You can also choose an apartment that offers more seclusion, like in the Osa Peninsula. If you’re looking to explore the history of Costa Rica, you can rent an apartment in Heredia for a look back into this tiny Central American country’s rich colonial Spanish heritage. Most of these properties are owned by individuals, and they will have an authentic, Costa Rican home feel to them.
“Wow! We had a magnificent vacation in Costa Rica. Thank you Costa Rica Experts for all of your excellent planning. Everything (really – everything) was planned perfectly. Our drivers were always prompt and courteous. They also liked telling us about their home. The tours that you arranged for us were all very professional. Not only did we learn new things, but we also just had fun with our guides. Again thank you so much for great suggestions and assistance. We’ll be calling you again in the future for another round.”
Had a wonderful trip to Costa Rica. Very well organized every step of the way. The tour director, Gilbert was simply awesome. He is very knowledgeable about Costa Rica -on history, bio diversity and all kind of interesting tidbits. He was always available to address any of our problems and made sure we enjoyed the trip and did not worry about anything else. Kudos to Gate1 for having employees of such caliber.
Traveling alone is fine and generally safe in Costa Rica, but carefully consider what kind of risks (if any) you are willing to take. Always hike with other people and try to explore a new city with other people. On solo forays, if you feel uncomfortable seek out a group of other people (both women and men). A well lit place with people you can trust is always a plus. A busy restaurant or hostel is a great source of local info as well as a great place to relax and recharge.
Many Costa Rican roads are in terrible shape, and short distances can take a very long time. Even the only road in and out of popular tourist destinations are riddled with major potholes. To avoid potholes, drivers will often snake through the left and right lanes, usually returning to the right when oncoming traffic approaches. While this may seem erratic, you can become quickly accustomed to it. If you see a tree branch or pole poking out of the middle of a road, that is a "sign" that there is a deep sinkhole, pothole or manhole without a cover. Stay away from it.
The trip was amazing! We had such a great time. Gate1 had everything organized and ready to go down to the rest stops! Loved it! Our guide Ricardo was so fantastic! He had so much knowledge about all the places we visited, made jokes, and really just took an interest to his job and we could tell he wanted us to have a great experience. We enjoyed the optional excursions (we did all) and also the planned trips (coffee plantation and school visit). Amazing trip, met amazing people. Will travel with Gate1 again!
The lion’s share of our business comes from returning customers and referrals largely in part from our obsession in providing only the highest level of customer satisfaction. The team at Costa Rica Vacations are all highly skilled local travel experts who are ICT (Costa Rica Tourism Institute) certified and have extensively traveled from one corner to the next in search of only the highest grade accommodations and tours designed specifically for you!