One of the reasons Costa Rica has so many varied activities is thanks to the variety of the country itself! Costa Rica is considered a tropical country, but it features its own plethora of microclimates. Each of these destinations – which might be separated by only a few hours of driving – feature their own unique and unforgettable adventures. There are hot springs tucked away in lush rainforests, hanging bridges over misty cloud forests, palm-tree studded white-sand beaches, dramatic seaside cliffs, the arid rolling hills of Guanacaste – there’s no end to the experiences! Visit Arenal Volcano and wonder at a massive volcano and surrounding verdant rainforest, and then the next day you might find yourself only a few hours away relaxing on Papagayo’s white sand beaches, watching the kids stand-up paddleboard, or kayaking among the mangrove jungles of Tortuguero. When asked about favorite activities, each of our Travel Experts’ has a different answer – or multiple! Picking and choosing what to experience in Costa Rica can be a trial just thanks to the number of options, but our Travel Experts are happy to help you plan your perfect escape!
Lapa Rios Ecolodge - is located in a private nature reserve of over 1,000 acres of tropical rainforest near Corcovado National Park and overlooks the point where the Pacific Ocean meets the Golfo Dulce. Made from local materials, each bungalow has an intricately woven thatched roof. Guests can experience hiking, birdwatching, boating trips, dolphin and whale watching. VIsit on our Wild Costa Rica tour.
After a minivan pickup from your hotel in San Jose, your day trip begins with the 35-minute drive northwest to Sarchí, a Central Valley town famous for its crafts, particularly wood and leather furniture and decorated oxcarts. Pick up a souvenir or two from a local artisan before making the 2.5-hour drive further north to the town of La Fortuna, which sits below Arenal and offers an unobstructed view of the volcán on clear days. On arrival in La Fortuna, head to a local restaurant for a typical Costa Rican lunch of rice, beans, chicken or steak, and plantains, accompanied by a great view of Arenal. Then, continue your tour about 20 minutes down the road to Mirador Arenal 1968, a trail system on the edge of Arenal Volcano National Park (Parque Nacional Volcán Arenal) named for the 1968 eruption. Walk along the paths to find the best photo spots of the volcano and Lake Arenal (Lago Arenal), and watch for glimpses of bright orange lava flowing down the volcano. Finally, head a few miles back toward La Fortuna to the Tabacón hot springs — officially Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort — one of Costa Rica’s biggest and most luxurious hot springs resorts. Enjoy roughly 3.5 hours here to soak in the various pools, which range in temperature from 77 to 102°F (25 to 38°C).The resort is beautifully landscaped with waterfalls and lush vegetation and offers many ways to relax, from secluded pools to a swim-up bar (drinks at your own expense), so sit back and enjoy it until dinner is served. The resort’s buffet dinner lasts about 30 minutes and offers a selection of Costa Rican cuisine, similar to lunch. After dinner, head back to your hotel in San Jose (about 2.5 hours), where your tour ends.
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.
To be fair, Costa Rica isn’t the most famous country for coffee. Yet, if you are a coffee fan as much as I am, you will want to go on a coffee plantation tour. It’s one of the coolest things to do in Costa Rica. You will basically learn all the secrets of growing coffee, picking it and then toasting the beans and grounding it. And needless to say, you can taste a cup of freshly brewed one and even buy some of it to make it at home.
“I love driving in Costa Rica because they are aggressive drivers like myself. Be considerate, let faster drivers go around you. Avoid driving at night unless you know exactly where you are going. The roads are not marked like they are in your home country. DO NOT drive through moving water. Give yourself extra time to get where you are going because you want to stop at the local fruit stands. Also, look out for animals when you are driving. Numerous creatures can and will run across the road.”—seaprozac
"As I travelled to Costa Rica, our tour guide (Bryan Mendez) was outstanding as he was very knowledgeable, hilarious and seamless. Even though it was my first time to tour with a group, I still had an amazing experience. The tour offered a lot of activities and it was a perfect mixture of wildlife, adventure and relaxation. I would highly recommend this tour to anyone who wants to go on an adventure to Costa Rica."
What better way to learn Spanish than by spending time in a Latin American country? Costa Rica offers the most variety when it comes to language institutes, however most are located in the capital city of San Jose. But there are options to study on the beautiful beaches, while still being able to participate in all of the adventure Costa Rica has to offer.
When encountering a new currency, learn the exchange rate from a reliable source (online ahead of time or a local bank, preferably) and create a little cheat sheet converting it to US dollars or the other Central American currency you are comfortable with. Travel with small denominations of US dollars (crisp 1s, 5s, 10s) as back-up... usually you'll be able to use them if you run out of local currency.
Exchange rates: This entry provides the average annual price of a country's monetary unit for the time period specified, expressed in units of local currency per US dollar, as determined by international market forces or by official fiat. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 4217 alphabetic currency code for the national medium of exchange is presented in parenthesis. Closing daily exchange rates are not presented in The World Factbook, but are used to convert stock values - e.g., the . . . more
Amazing! The tours were animal filled and the hotels were beautiful and relaxing. Giovanni, our tour guide, was knowledgeable, humorous and very good at keeping 37 people on time. He had a wealth of both biological and cultural information that made the longer bus rides bearable. The food was beyond amazing! Thank you for another perfect trip! Already thinking about where I will go next with Gate 1.
As with any travel, it is best to book your stay ahead of time, for the best deals and for guaranteed space. Your rental vacation location will likely allow for other renters to book by the day, week, or month, so there might be certain blocks of time that are blacked out and unavailable. Instead of having to work your vacation around the availability of the place, plan ahead and get the exact days that you want.
Biting and Stinging Insects and Arachnids: Unfortunately, there are too many to name. Spiders, centipedes, scorpions, ants: all have poisonous stings or bites that demand varying degrees of concern (and impart varying degrees of pain). Since it’s nearly impossible to sort (relatively) harmless critters from dangerous ones, it’s best to avoid them all – but, at the same time, not to panic and risk antagonizing them.
The population includes European Costa Ricans (of European ancestry), primarily of Spanish descent, with significant numbers of Italian, German, English, Dutch, French, Irish, Portuguese, and Polish families, as well a sizable Jewish community. The majority of the Afro-Costa Ricans are Creole English-speaking descendants of 19th century black Jamaican immigrant workers.
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.
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).
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.
GDP (purchasing power parity): This entry gives the gross domestic product (GDP) or value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year. A nation's GDP at purchasing power parity (PPP) exchange rates is the sum value of all goods and services produced in the country valued at prices prevailing in the United States in the year noted. This is the measure most economists prefer when looking at per-capita welfare and when comparing living conditions or use of resources across countries. The measur . . . more
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