Why We Love Costa Rica

Costa Rica should probably be named “Costas Ricas” because it really has two, quite different coastlines: one on the Pacific Ocean and the other on the Caribbean Sea. The Central Valley of the country’s interior contains the sprawling metropolis of San Jose as well as the country’s agricultural industry. On the higher elevations, the climate is delightful, coffee plantations abound, and the nation’s four semi-active volcanic peaks are found. Jungles and rainforests teeming with wildlife are found in the country’s northeast and southwest coastal areas.

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Top Destinations in Costa Rica

Volcano Tours

There are four semi-active volcanoes in Costa Rica. None are actively erupting currently, but that, of course, can change whenever Mother Nature decides! The Poas Volcano National Park is the most visited, because it’s close to San Jose and its international airport. Visitors can hike right up to its rim and peer inside the caldera. The Arenal Volcano national park is about three hours from San Jose, but also includes hot springs, whitewater rafting, zip line rides, hikes, hanging bridges and more.

Rio Celeste

The Río Celeste winds through the verdant rainforest of Tenorio Volcano National Park. There is a four-mile hike along the river with a short detour to reach the Rio Celeste Waterfall. The river turns its remarkable shade of blue at El Teñidor, where two clear-water tributaries merge. Scientists have discovered that rocks at the bottom of the river have a mineral coating that includes silicon, oxygen, and aluminum. It is the size of these minerals, as well as the reflection of the sunlight, that gives the water its incredible hue. Along the trail you can also see thermal hot springs and a blue lagoon.

Guanacaste Beaches

As one of the most popular provinces in Costa Rica, Guanacaste has gained a name for itself as a tropical paradise with a pristine shoreline, beautiful mountain ranges and a number of volcanoes. Tamarindo is sunny throughout nearly the entire year, and the weather remains pleasant without much humidity. Travelers can do everything from surfing, ATV Tours, snorkeling, zip line, horseback riding, hiking and more. Sitting between two mountains, Playa Hermosa is a great location for travelers who wish to have a laid back experience away from crowds. Hermosa is near Rincon de la Vieja National Park, Palo Verde National Park and Santa Rosa National Park, so there are plenty of opportunities to experience wildlife in this area. Other pristine shorelines in this region include Playa Panama, Playa Grande, Pan de Azucar, Playa Ocotal, Playa Flamingo and Playas del Coco beaches.

Puerto Viejo Beach

Puerto Viejo is located on the Caribbean sideof Costa Rica. Limon province has the most Afro-Caribbean influence in the country with a culture, cuisine and lifestyle different from the rest of the country. Puerto Viejo’s beach have the best swell of the country, known as Salsa Brava. The beaches of this region are perfect for surfing and the surfing culture of this town is really big. There are no large all-inclusive resorts here and most of the accommodations are small lodges, hostels, tents and hammocks.

Monteverde Cloud Forest

Monteverde Cloud Forest is an amazing cloud forest that has been named several times as one of the most beautiful forests of the world. This destination is a perfect place for the nature lovers and those looking for real natural encounters. Several impressive birds can be seen here, but the most beautiful is the resplendent quetzal, a colorful bird that any bird lover will be happy to see. Besides this, Monteverde is amazing destination for adventures seekers too. The most thrilling zip lines and hikes through the forest can be enjoyed here and combined with walks to explore the nature and wildlife of the place. A lot of volunteering groups of students and scientists visit this destination to do researches of flora and fauna.

Papagayo Peninsula

The Papagayo Peninsula is one of the best places for diving tours in Costa Rica. With some of the best 5-star hotels of the Guanacaste beaches such as Four Seasons Resort and Andaz Papagayo Resort, this destination is world known for the breathtaking breathtaking diving spots it offers. Also, the Papagayo Peninsula hotels have some of the best and most popular golf courses of the country.

Tortuguero National Park

Tortuguero National Park is a set of water canals locally known as the Amazonas of Costa Rica. The best way to reach the town and the hotels of this destination is by boat, since the ride throughout the canals is an amazing expedition through the habitats of water birds, monkeys, crocodiles and the lush flora. Every year from August to October, it is possible to witness the native Green turtles return to build their nests and lay their eggs.

Overview

iStock_000057145832_MediumThe Republic of Costa Rica (the “Rich Coast”) is a country on the narrow isthmus between North and South America, bordered by Nicaragua on the north and Panama to the south. There are about 4.5 million Costa Ricans (or “Ticos”) about a million of whom live in the capital metropolis of San Jose.

Costa Rica is noted for its lovely beaches on both the Pacific and Caribbean coastlines. Both coasts are dotted with small ports, lovely towns and miles of sandy beach, as well as offshore reefs that attract an abundance of sea life as well as a playground for fishermen, snorkelers and divers.

More than a quarter of Costa Rica is set aside for environmental preservation. The interior of this long and narrow country is largely tropical rainforest, broken by several dramatic volcanic mountain peaks, several of which are still active. Tropical flora and fauna can be seen throughout the country, including iridescent hummingbirds, the quetzel, the national bird, several native species of monkeys and many other species. Nature travel and exploration is popular with many visitors.

But Costa Rica also appeals to the active traveler. In addition to the water-based activities of the coasts, there are tumbling whitewater rafting rivers, zip lines and mountain biking, and hiking on the rumbling volcanic peaks of the interior.

While the central capital city of San Jose does not boast a great deal of architectural or historic structures, there are cultural sites and economic and shopping outlets for visitors to explore.

Best of all, Costa Rica is a country that welcomes its visitors with open and friendly arms. Ex-pats love the country’s stability, accessibility and high standards of living. Whether you come for the beaches, the jungles or the people, you will find a modern, friendly country with plenty to offer.

Quick Facts

The official language, Spanish, is spoken throughout the country, although English is also spoken in most of the tourist areas.

The currency is the Costa Rican colon. The U.S. dollar buys approximately 550 colon. U.S. dollars are widely accepted in Costa Rica.

The electrical system is the same as the United States (120 v AC, 60 hz). In some places, sockets do not include a grounding pin, so an adaptor might be necessary.

Internet connections and WiFi spots are found throughout the country. Most major hotels provide good accessibility.

Americans do not need a visa to enter Costa Rica. They must have a current valid passport and a return ticket to exit Costa Rica. Citizens of other nationalities do not need a tourist visa to enter Costa Rica if they have a tourist visa, a visa for crew or a business visa (multiple entry) from United States of America, Canada, Japan, Schengen Visa and/ or any country of the European Union.

Water supplies in most places are clean and bacteria-free, and outbreaks of serious infectious diseases such as cholera are rare. The only areas of Costa Rica where it’s best not to drink the tap water (or ice cubes, or drinks made with tap water) are the port cities of Limón and Puntarenas.

Costa Rica is in the Central Standard Time zone. The country does not observe daylight saving time.

Costa Rica's high season for tourism runs from late November to late April, which coincides almost perfectly with the chill of winter in the United States, Canada, and Great Britain, and includes Christmas, New Year's, Easter, and most school spring breaks. The high season is also the dry season.

Average High and Low Temperatures

Things To Do in Costa Rica

Rainforests

The rainforests of Costa Rica are home to more than 100 species of trees. Giant versions of orchids, as well as the expected sloths, monkeys, and copious birds can be found while venturing into the Costa Rica rainforest depths. Visit the untouched, remote rainforests on the Osa Peninsula, or explore the forests at the Manuel Antonio National Park. Whether your fascination with nature stems from a love of quetzals, coatis, or sloths, the rainforests of Costa Rica are a tempting area for exploration for both the professional scientist and the wide-eyed child.

Waterfalls

The waterfalls of Costa Rica astound both experienced and novice travelers alike. After a hike through the rainforest in the tropical heat, a cool dip beneath these powerful forces of nature will not disappoint. Some of the most popular waterfall destinations include La Fortuna in the Arenal Volcano National Park, the Rio Celeste waterfall in Guanacaste, and La Paz or Bajos del Toro waterfalls in the Cloud Forest.

Kayaking

With more than 20 rivers and both Pacific and Caribbean coastlines,there are almost limitless options for adventurers. At Damas Island estuary in Manuel Antonio, one can kayak through the tangled mangroves and narrow channels, keeping a sharp eye out for the monkeys and pumas. On Lake Arenal, Costa Rica’s largest lake, kayakers enjoy a great view of Arenal Volcano, while the calm water on the lake is good for younger or beginner kayakers.On the Osa Peninsula, the Golfo Dulce’s clear waters are home to dolphins, manatees, sea turtles, and a multitude of other marine creatures. For more of a challenge, the Curu Sea Kayaking tour includes camping on Playa Quesera, a beautiful and deserted white sand beach backed by thick forests. In the evening, enjoy stargazing, crab hunting, and the tranquility of the forest and sea.

Mountain Biking

Even the most avid cyclist can find something to love about mountain biking in Costa Rica! Countless miles of dirt trails run through spectacular landscapes.Single and multi-day tours will take you through jungles and mountains, up volcanoes, and through charming rural villages. In Quepos and Manuel Antonio, explore steamy jungle paths and breathtaking coastal views. The most popular area for road biking in Costa Rica is at the Arenal Volcano around Lake Arenal. A trip along the north shore is a great wildlife adventure – monkeys, coatis, and a considerable number of animals can be found near the water, as well as many different bird species.

Venado Caves

In 1945, a farmer near the Arenal Volcano fell through a hole in the earth and discovered a chamber full of stalactites and stalagmites – a cavern that had been hidden for between 15 and 20 million years. Exploration of the Venado Caves revealed an eight-chamber underground maze, a limestone labyrinth carved over millennia by underground rivers and shifting tectonics. This 2700-meter cavern takes about an hour and a half to tour. It’s a great rainy-day activity, but it’s definitely not for the claustrophobic! There are a couple of tight squeezes in the caves, but a bilingual guide is there to help. Your guide will point out interesting bats, spiders, frogs, and fish – creatures that live in this underground marvel. Observe limestone rock formations and a variety of marine fossils – caught from when the Venado Caves were still located below sea level.

Scuba Diving

With warm, coral-filled oceans on both coasts, Costa Rica is a prime dive destination. The Cahuita National Park, on the Caribbean coast, features a long and richly populated coral reef. On the Pacific coast the Cano Island Biological Preserve on the Osa Peninsula features several popular dive spots, including: El Bajo del Diablo, about a mile off Cano, with towering underwater columns home to rays and several varieties of shark; Cueva del Tiburon, with its “shark cave” famous for sleeping white tip sharks; the Coral Garden, a kaleidoscope of color and Paraiso, an amazing volcanic lava formation home to millions of fish.

Horseback Riding

Horseback riding expeditions are a great way to enjoy the country’s extraordinary beauty and biodiversity.One favorite is the horseback ride to La Fortuna Waterfall near Arenal Volcano: after riding through the rainforest, guests take a break to swim in the cascading stream of a rainforest waterfall? If you’re looking for something a bit more challenging, in the Cerro Nara Mountains you can choose between a half or full day tour, and ride through the untouched forest in search of monkeys, sloths, and anteaters. Nearly every weekend during the summer months in Guanacaste you will find rodeos or bull fights in the local towns. In Costa Rica it’s forbidden for any bullfighters to stab or harm the bull in any way. Unlike the Spanish version, in Costa Rica it’s the bull you’re cheering for!

Spas

In a country that places a huge emphasis on the natural environment and sustainability, wholesome natural spa ingredients are a given. Pamper your body in the most pure spas on earth, where the sky, rainforest, and pristine horizon meet the coastline. In an oasis of beauty and tranquility, you’ll delight in a volcanic mud wrap while you relax, recharge, and rejuvenate. Some of the top spa destinations include: Tabacon Grand Spa & Thermal Resort, the Four Seasons Resort on Papagayo Peninsula, the Onda Spa at the Andaz Papagayo Resort, the Springs Resort at Arenal Volcano, the Nayara Spa at Arenal Volcano, the Esencia Spa at El Silencio Lodge, and the Spa Sha at Kura Design Villas

Hotels and Resorts