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Travel Guide to Costa Rica

Travel Costa Rica - Travel Guide - Tropical Discovery

Map of the Area

Travel Costa Rica - Travel Guide - Tropical Discovery
  • San José
  • 51,100 km2 (19,700 sq mi)
  • average of 80.2°F (26.8°C)
  • UTC (GMT) -6 hrs
  • The Costa Rica Colon (CRC) ₡575.75 = $1 USD.
  • Spanish
  • (2016) 4,857,000
  • 9°56′N 84°5′W

Welcome to Costa Rica

The fact that more than one million tourists travel Costa Rica each year does not happen by chance. This Central America country covers only 0.03% of the surface of our planet, but it possesses approximately 6% of the world's biodiversity. In addition, Costa Rica is characterized by an impressive scenic beauty, consolidated system of protected areas, social and political stability, high educational levels, and efficient infrastructure and services. All these characteristics you can find in a territory of only 51 thousand square kilometers, surrounded by both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, only three to four hours away from each other by land or 45 minutes by air. A Costa Rica vacation is the kind of experience that will renew your spirit and you will always remember.

Arenal Volcano Costa Rica Main Attractions - Tropical Discovery

The best of Costa Rica

Nature, Culture, Beaches & Adventure

 

Beaches

There are no limits separating Costa Rica from the sea. In this small area of firm land, there are 762 miles of coastlines, distributed on the Pacific and the Caribbean. Costa Rican beaches allow you to sun-tan while having the additional bonus of being part of a complex pro-nature system known as the Ecological Blue Flag, award given to 56 of Costa Rica's beaches, distributed throughout the territory. This program is implemented thanks to Costa Rica's commitment with sustainability and environmental protection. This guarantees tourists that beaches they visit have enough safety and cleanliness to spend well their vacations. Costa Rica's beaches are surrounded by forests, and have great natural diversity. In many of them there are beautiful coral reefs, where you may dive and explore. In addition, depending on the place visited, you have a series of complementary activities, such as: hikes to mangroves, diving, surfing, sport fishing, hiking on trails or horseback rides. Thanks to the easy access to many beaches, you can make the most out of both coasts. Most of them have warm water throughout the year, so you may come and enjoy the country any season you prefer. If it's diversity you're interested in, each coast offers different shades and textures of sand, white, yellow, gray and black, product of the constant crashing of seashells on coral reefs.

National Parks

The country's natural attractions, wildlife and reputation for enlightened conservation draw tourists from all over the world, and the ticos know it. Successive governments have made a real effort to preserve the country's image as an ecotourism heaven, making Costa Rica one of the best places to experience the tropics naturally and with minimal impact. 20 natural parks, 8 biological reserves, and a series of protected areas that captivate ecotourism lovers can be found throughout the country. The variety of activities includes horseback riding, hiking mountainous paths in the cloud forests, and guided bird-watching tours. Costa Rica's forests can be lumped into three general groups: rain, cloud and dry forests. Rain forests, with their massive trees, very high canopies and little growing on the dimly lit forest floor, can be found in the Atlantic lowlands and southwest. The northwest contains some of the last remnants of the tropical dry forest, a less exuberant life zone that shares much of the diversity of the rain forests. Cloud forests, which cover the upper slopes of most mountains and volcanoes, are the most luxuriant of the tropical forests, with mosses and other small plants covering the trunks and branches of trees. They are all beautiful, and in many ways similar, but each one has plants and animals that won't be found in the rest of them. Tortuguero National Park is especially famous for sea turtle nesting that takes place every year, and the natural canals that abound with protected species such as crocodiles, manatees, and otters. Other well known National Parks with diverse flora and fauna are: Arenal Volcano, Manuel Antonio, Barra Honda, Chirripo and the Corcovado National Park.

Adventure

One of Costa Rica's main attractions is the Arenal Volcano. This active volcano will delight lucky visitors with a fire show, with rock and lava eruption. At the volcano's foot, visitors can find one of Costa Rica's best windsurf spots, because winds on the lake can reach 45 miles per hour. In addition, those looking for a little adrenaline rush can go bungee jumping from the bridge over the Colorado River (located just one half hour from San Jose) or riding in a hot-air balloon. However, adventure travelers to Costa Rica can choose from such a variety of activities such as rafting, snorkeling, kayaking, horse back riding, canopy tours, sport fishing, surfing, and lots more, that the most challenging activity will be choosing what to do!

Culture

Costa Rican culture is in many ways a reflection of its racial diversity. The predominant influence has long been European, which is reflected in everything from the official language -- Spanish -- to the architecture of the country's churches and other historic buildings. The indigenous influence is less visible, but can be found in everything from the tortillas that make part of a typical Costa Rican meal, to the handmade ceramics sold at roadside stands. Various events and festivals throughout the year will bring the interested visitor closer to Costa Rica's people and cultures. Worth visiting are for example the San Jose Carnaval in December, the Barva Feria Nacional de la Mascarada in March or the Día de Nuestra Señora de la Virgen de Los Ángeles in August , but there is much more.

 

Travel Guides to each region of Costa Rica

San Jose and Central Valley Costa Rica - Travel Guide - Tropical Discovery

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a country of unmatched natural beauty. You will find endless beaches, exotic animals, volcanoes, rainforests, rivers and cloud forests all united in this comparably small country. But Costa Rica's richness also lies on the cultural diversity of its people and Costa Rican culture is in many ways a reflection of this racial diversity. To learn more about Costa Rica, its history and its people please read the general information below.

History

Costa Rican culture is in many ways a reflection of its racial diversity. The predominant influence has long been European, which is reflected in everything from the official language -- Spanish -- to the architecture of the country's churches and other historic buildings. The indigenous influence is less visible, but can be found in everything from the tortillas that make part of a typical Costa Rican meal, to the handmade ceramics sold at roadside stands.

An important aspect of Costa Rica's cultural legacy is their love for peace and democracy. The Ticos like to stand out that their nation is the exception in Latin America, where military dictatorships have long dominated politics. They take pride in having more than one hundred years of democratic tradition, and almost half a century without an army. The army was abolished in 1948, and the money the country saves by not expending in military issues is invested in improving the Costa Ricans' standard of living, which has fostered a culture of social peace that makes it such a pleasant place to visit.

The Ticos, as Costa Ricans are commonly known, are famous for their hospitality, and are quite happy to live up to their reputation. They are well-educated and hard working people, who are quick with a handshake and a smile. They are well aware of the special land they have, and most likely they will help foreigners when they get lost, even explaining things that might seem bizarre to foreigners, and making their stay as enjoyable as possible. People say the Ticos are their nation's greatest asset, and once you've experienced their friendliness and spontaneity, you'll have no doubt to that regard.

Geography and Climate

Rugged highlands are found throughout most of the country, ranging from approximately 1,000 to 2,000 meters (3,000 to 6,000 feet above sea level). The Guanacaste Mountain Range, Central Mountain Range, and Talamanca Mountain Range are the main mountain ranges extending the entire length of the country. There are several active volcanoes (Arenal Volcano, Irazu Volcano, Rincon de la Vieja Volcano and Turrialba Volcano) and the country's highest mountain (Chirripo Hill) with a height of 3,819 m/12,530 ft. The country has a relatively long coastline in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, as well as a number of rivers and streams that attract specialist kayakers and rafters from all over the world.

Costa Rican weather is one of its greatest blessings. You can enjoy a sunny vacation during the dry season, or feel refreshed by the lush exotic vegetation during the rainy season. The country has an extraordinary climatic diversity; its contrasting temperatures are the best proof of that. On the Pacific Region the temperature ranges from 28° C to 38° C (82° F to 100° F), whereas in the Caribbean Coast the maximum temperature goes up to 30°C. In the Central Region temperatures range from 22° C to 28° C (71° F to 75° F). In mountain sectors temperatures can drop to 7° C (44° F). The rainy or green season lasts from May to December with noticeably drier days during the rest of the year.

The People

Costa Rica's richness also lies on the cultural diversity of our people. Throughout our history, to the indigenous population of pre-Hispanic origins have been added movements of immigrants which settled in these lands, making it their home. Populations of European origin, Spanish mainly, persons of African and Asian ascendance, as well as people from different places of the American continent, have interacted among them, enriching the cultural backgrounds in the process.

Currently, besides the predominant half-breed component, there are ethnical-national groups and colonies of immigrants recovering their particular cultural heritage: African descendants, Chinese, Hebrew, Lebanese, Italian, etc.; as well as the indigenous populations of the Bribri, Cabecar, Maleku, Teribe, Boruca, Ngöbe, Huetar and Chorotega.

Health and Education

The Costa Rican government has long dedicated a significant portion of its national budget to education and other social services, a policy whose result has been a healthy and educated populace. The country has a literacy rate and average life expectancy that are much closer to those of Western European nations than most Latin American countries. Costa Rica has had a socialized medical system for nearly half a century, and while schools and clinics are found throughout the country, the Central Valley has several public universities and dozens of private universities. Travelers are more likely to encounter more educated people, and don't have to worry about most of the diseases they would expect to encounter in a tropical country.

Tap water is safe to drink almost everywhere in the country, but bottled beverages are recommended in rural areas. For those few travelers that do become sick or injured while in Costa Rica, there are hospitals and private clinics in San Jose provide a level of care comparable to that found in the United States, and for considerably less money.

Safety Tips

Here and throughout the world, enjoy a safer holiday by following these simple guidelines:

  • Decide your destination in advance and have a planned route of travel.
  • Always be alert and aware of what is going on around you.
  • If your vehicle is bumped from behind, do not stop on the roadway or side road. Drive to the nearest public area and call for police assistance.
  • If someone in suspicious attitude approaches your vehicle at a red light or stop sign, blare the horn.
  • Do not pull over for flashing headlights. An emergency or police vehicle is the only one authorized to turn on red or blue flashing lights.
  • If you become lost, try to find a public place, like a service station, to read your map or ask for directions. Do not show yourself nervous.
  • If you are told that something is wrong with your vehicle, do not stop immediately. Drive to the nearest service station or to another well lighted public area.
  • Keep doors locked and windows shut up when driving, and mainly when the vehicle is parked.
  • Goods and valuables should be kept in the trunk, locked glove compartment, or out of sight whenever traveling or leaving the vehicle parked.
  • Always park in well lit areas.
  • Check the interior of your vehicle and surrounding areas before getting on your vehicle.
  • Do not pick up hitchhikers.
  • If using an automatic cashier, be sure the area is well lit. Count your money inside your vehicle with the windows shout up.
  • Do not leave the keys in your vehicle or the motor on when using the automatic cashier or in a public telephone.
  • If you suspect that you are being followed, go to the nearest well lit public area and call the police.
  • If you must carry a purse or back pack, hold it in front of you close to your body. Be sure it is securely closed.
  • Just in case, if you are threatened by a hostile individual, do not resist. Give the person what is asked for. Your belongings are not worth your life or serious injury. In case of emergency call the number 911 on any telephone.
  • Pay for the airport taxes only at authorized places.
Monteverde Cloud Forest Costa Rica - Travel Guide - Tropical Discovery

The best of Costa Rica

Nature, Culture, Beaches & Adventure

Please, visit each region to find Day Tours offered by Tropical Discovery:

 

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Hotel Fonda Vela Monteverde Cloud Forest Costa Rica

The Hotel Fonda Vela is located in beautiful Monteverde region of Costa Rica, famous for its rare and gorgeous cloud forest and friendly community.

avg/night$137.00 SELECT

Hotel Sueño del Mar Northern Guanacaste Costa Rica

An intimate beachfront hacienda where you can lounge in privacy amid the palms and tropical flowers Sueño Del Mar is located minutes from Tamarindo on Playa Langosta in the province of Guanacaste.

avg/night$160.00 SELECT

Laguna Lodge Tortuguero Caribbean Coast Costa Rica

Laguna Lodge Tortuguero is a rain forest ecotourism lodge, a leader among this tropical country’s hotels and resorts with an extra touch in style, comfort and personalized service.

avg/night$251.00 SELECT

Real InterContinental Costa Rica San Jose and Central Valley Costa Rica

The Real InterContinental Costa Rica Hotel in San José is surrounded by the magnificent mountains and vegetation of Costa Rica.

avg/night$219.00 SELECT

Si Como No Hotel & Resort Northern Puntarenas Costa Rica

We call it "Si Como No", an ideal balance of design and comfort placed within the rain forest of Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica.

avg/night$250.00 SELECT

Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort Arenal Volcano Costa Rica

Near the base of the active Arenal Volcano in the north of Costa Rica, the world renowned 5-star Tabacón Resort provides you a relaxing and unparalleled experience with its natural hot spring and thermo mineral water pools, its tropical and exuberant surroundings and its famous Iskandria Spa.

avg/night$305.00 SELECT

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