Costa Rica information
Costa Rica is an eco-tourist’s dream. Synonymous with an unspoiled tropical paradise, rarely does reality measure up to hype, but somehow Costa Rica delivers, and then some. As a country with a quiet history as a backwater free of colonial excesses, today it has become a boon for lovers of nature. This is not without merit; everywhere is teeming with biodiversity and beaches, rushing rivers, and jungles lush with exotic fauna. The country boasts nearly 1,300 km of tropical coastline. The Pacific side is more mountainous, making up about 80% of the coastal land, where the Caribbean side is much smaller and features long stretches of sandy beaches. Throw in the friendly Ticos (the local Costa Rican people) and anyone can see why down here live is Pura Vida, the “pure life.”
For such a tiny country, Costa Rica packs quite the punch. With one-tenth of one percent of the planet’s mass, it’s got five percent of the planet’s biodiversity. Approximately one-third of the population lives in the area of Costa Rica’s capital, San Jose, which is one of the safest cities in Latin America.
The country’s rich historical and cultural heritage is best experienced at fantastic museums such as the Gold Museum, the Museum of Costa Rican Art, the Jade Museum, the National Museum, the Children’s Museum.
Named “Ticos,” Costa Rican’s are of blessed mix of ethnicities, with many nationalities from all over the world; Europe, Africa, Asia, Americas, Middle East. Costa Rica is considered one of the happiest countries in the world as well. Having abolished its army in 1948, Costa Rica has since invested nearly 30% of its national budget in early education. As a result, the literacy rate is 95% in residents age 15 and older in a country that boasts more teachers than policemen.
With two seasons, the rainy season (May – November) and the dry season (December – April), Costa Rica’s weather is tropical. The temperatures are warm, but vary according to elevation. In the Central Valley, the average temperatures are a pleasant 20 – 25 degrees Celsius.
These attributes make Costa Rica the best destination for adventure and ecotourism.
The gateway to Costa Rica, just beyond the fabulous area of Guanacaste lies endless beach and nature adventures. Guanacaste is truly the land of folklore, Latin cowboys on cattle ranches, and quaint villages. It is also convenient to reach as many international flights come directly into Guanacaste International Airport (LIR).
During the dry season of December through April, this province gets almost zero rainfall and the sun shines brightly. Despite that, fresh winds from the north keeps the temperatures comfortable. The wet season from May through November sees warmer weather, albeit more humid as the precipitation increases. Rain is an almost daily occurrence in the afternoon.
Costa Rica’s Central Valley is the home of the country’s capitol, San Jose. As such, it is the central hub and very convenient for international visitors. The area sees excellent weather all year round, with temperatures hovering around 77 degrees F/24 degrees C. Gorgeous landscapes, beautiful architecture, and endless activities of all shapes and sizes can be found in the Central Valley.
San Jose is a hub for meetings and conferences, with its recently opened convention center equipped with the latest technology. With its rich history, culture, and friendly residents amid the beautiful backdrop of green hills and volcanoes, this is the perfect home base for any corporate event.
From a neon blue river to perfectly cone-shaped volcanoes and peaceful mountain villages that look like ski resort towns set in the tropics, Costa Rica’s Northern Region is surely one of the reasons why this country is known as the “Central American Switzerland.” It’s home to some of the country’s most breathtaking destinations: Río Celeste, Arenal Volcano, Monteverde and Sarapiquí.
In Northern Costa Rica you’ll find vast countryside, miles of rice and sugarcane plantations, cattle pastures and authentic cowboys. The Northern Zone is the agricultural center of Costa Rica where the fields and plantations outnumber the people.
With its abundant jungles and spectacular remote beaches, the Caribbean side of Costa Rica is a real-life Jurassic park. A place where Afro-Caribbean influences reign supreme. Laid-back communities of friendly locals, surfing fanatics, and less crowds punctuate the vibe of this area.
It is also an area rich in wildlife. Some of the most breathtaking national parks in the world can be found here with the likes of Cahuita National Park and Tortuguero National Park. Sloths, monkeys, scarlet macaws, and more contribute to the color.
Easily accessible from San Jose, the Central Pacific coast is rife with well-developed resorts and small coastal villages. Several beach towns are frequented by locals and visitors alike, including Jaco Beach, Manuel Antonio, and Esterillos, to name but a few. The beach town of Jaco is a top surfing and nightlife destination, only 1.5 hours from San Jose. Relax on the beach, go ziplining or watch the Scarlet Macaws of Costa Rica.
By contrast, Carara National Park is famous for its crocodiles, Toucans, and Trogans. A world-class birding destination, it is a transition zone between wet and dry foliage, where dry forest meets rainforest. A plethora of different bird species of both climates are easily spotted.
The South Pacific Costa Rica coastline stretches from Domincal to Ojochal and is known as the Costa Ballena. Fast becoming of the country’s hottest destination, it is a remote area with pristine beaches, untouched rainforest, and untamed wildlife. If you want a quieter tropical experience without all of the stress of crowds, the South Pacific may be just what you’re looking for.
As such, there are few hotel options due to laws restricting development in an effort to preserve the wildlife. And that’s a very good thing; it lends itself to the ecotourism aspect of the country. Because of this, it has managed to remain an off-the-beaten-path destination.
For those who visit the Nicoya Gulf, be prepared for perfection. A peninsula separated from the mainland by the Tempisque estuary, Nicoya is home to perhaps the most immaculate and spectacular of Costa Rican beaches. Some surfers consider this area to be the best surfing in the world.
People come here to explore the caves, spot exotic wild birds, and to visit the Cabo Blanco Reserve. With its pristine forest and small-town surfing culture, it is perfect for those looking to unwind and unplug from daily life. It is also one of the world’s five “Blue Zones,” which means a longer life expectancy is realized here.
The province of Guanacaste, Costa Rica, is located on the Northern Pacific Coast. It is the number one vacation destination in the country, and where many Costa Rican holidays begin and end. The peninsula of Papagayo is the ultimate retreat offering unparalleled closeness to nature.
A city in northern Costa Rica, Liberia has many cultural and historical exhibitions in its old quarter of Museo de Guanacaste. It showcases local cowboy memorabilia, and the colonial-style Ermita de La Agonia is a Catholic church with a white façade. To the northeast lies the active Rincon de la Vieja Volcano.
Getting its name from the tamarind trees that line the coastline, Tamarindo is arguably the most popular beach in Guanacaste. Stunning hotels and an active nightlife scene make this one of the more popular destinations in Costa Rica. Surfers will delight in the crystal blue waters, with lots of surf shops to browse.
Nosara / Samara
Playa Nosara is home to some amazing surfing, diverse jungles, and mangroves. It is the ultimate mecca for yoga enthusiasts, making it easy to find your perfect yoga spa in Costa Rica. Fishing lovers will delight in the abundant mahi mahi and marlin offshore. Playa Samara is known for its exquisite palm-lined beaches.
Costa Rica’s Central Valley is often the first stop for many a traveler; the capital of San Jose is in this region. But instead of heading straight to the beaches, why not explore the many volcanos, waterfalls, coffee plantations, museums, and restaurants while you’re here? This area has a year-round springlike climate.
The Arenal Volcano National Park spans nearly 30,000 acres of rainforest and is the perfect opportunity to see an active volcano up close from various hiking trails. This is also a great place to spot wildlife, where you’ll likely see monkeys, tapirs, parrots, snakes, and deer. World-class whitewater rafting can also be had.
A small town tucked into the mountain ranges of Costa Rica, Monteverde is about 3 hours from San Jose and the best place to experience a cloud forest. The main reserves are the Monteverde Cloud Forest, Santa Elena, and the Children’s Eternal Rainforest. The biodiversity here is stunning, with 755 tree species.
Ecotourism as its best, Tortuguero on Costa Rica’s northeast coast holds a national park that protects one of the largest remaining areas of tropical rainforest in Centra America. Here visitors can watch turtles in their natural habitat, go on a boating tour through the Tortuguero canals, and visit the local village.
Located along the Southern Caribbean coast, Puerto Viejo is a popular tourist spot, exemplifying the easy-going way of life in the region. The unique mix of Afro-Caribbean, Costa Rican, and BriBri Native American expats bring a culture unlike anywhere else in the world. Visit the Jaguar Rescue Center for wildlife, then hike through Cahuita National Park. Nightlife includes fusion restaurants, markets, and discos.
Go hiking through the amazing national park located south of Limon. The park’s conservation efforts have helped maintain is pristine beauty, apart from the many visitors it sees every year. In the city of Cahuita, fantastic restaurants and bars abound, with the laid-back attitude indicative of the Caribbean coast.
Visitors to Manzanillo will be treated to spectacular sightings of howler and white-faced monkeys, sloths, toucans, iguanas, butterflies, frogs, and other wildlife. Other popular activities include bicycling, canopy tours, chocolate tours, fishing, kayaking, horseback riding, and turtle nesting tours.
Manuel Antonio National Park is the shining star in the Central Pacific region of Costa Rica. It is the best location to see the best rainforests, white sand beaches, and to experience adventure activities such as trekking, horseback riding, all manner of watersports, and so much more.
Jaco / Herradura
Jaco, Costa Rica is a small beach town that lures surfers, beach lovers, and party goers alike. With its incredible array of restaurants, bars, hotels, lounges, and clubs, this small town also offers some of the best waves. Other popular beaches nearby include Herradura and Playa Hermosa.
Along the south Pacific, the Osa Peninsula is the most remote and mysterious destination the whole of Central America. There are certain species of wildlife here that cannot be found elsewhere, and the area is very important for the extraordinary biodiversity of the flora and fauna. It is a real-life Jurassic Park.
Located in the Punterenas province, Dominical is one of Costa Rica’s most remote and indeed, fabled destinations. Wildlife lovers will delight in the fact that many species are only found here, with hundreds of types of reptiles, insects, monkey, dolphins and amphibians whales. The biodiversity tours will amaze and awe.
Marino Ballena National Park
For visitors to Costa Ballena, Marino Ballena National Park is a must-do. Playa Uvita is the main beach and the perfect place for a beach day. Swimming, yoga, stand up paddleboarding, and off-shore snorkeling is just the beginning. Further inland, dense lush rainforests are home to sloths, monkeys, scarlet macaws, tapirs, iguanas, and more.
Nicoya is home to perhaps the most immaculate and spectacular of Costa Rican beaches. Some surfers consider this area to be the best surfing in the world, and Santa Teresa beach was named by Forbes as one of the best beaches on the planet. Come here to explore the caves, spot exotic wild birds, and visit the Cabo Blanco Reserve.
Playa Montezuma is the epitome of ‘pura vida.’ With its incredible hiking, surfing and swimming, the plethora of beachfront hotels and bungalows ensure everyone gets their spot in paradise. After a day at the beach, discover the many amazing tours and activities such as ziplining, breathtaking waterfalls, kayaking and more.
Malpais is located at the end of the Nicoya Peninsula, with wonderful weather year-round. One of the lesser occupied beach areas of Costa Rica, you can easily grab your spot in the sand. Luxury hotels, a great mix of restaurants and bars, and tours can be had.