The green season: one of the numerous aliases for Costa Ricaâ€™s wetter months of May through November. Itâ€™s also known as the low tourism period, the rainy season and â€śinvierno,â€ť which translates as winter.Â While they all mean the same thing â€“ smaller tourist crowds, discounted rates on Costa Rica vacation rentals and hotels, and regular bouts of afternoon showers â€“ we prefer the term green season as it most aptly conveys the spectacular lushness that prevails. Even the dry grasslands of Guanacaste, the countryâ€™s most arid province, bursts with emerald greenery and Technicolor shades during this time of year. Here are five good reasons why you should leave your weather worries behind and experience the beauty of the green season. Read the rest of this entry »
Are you in the midst of planning your Costa Rica vacation and need some quick answers to commonly asked questions? From entry requirements to local driving conditions and drinking water, hereâ€™s what you need to know before packing your bags.
Q.Â What are the entry requirements?
For citizens of the United States, Canada, and most EU countries, Costa Rica immigration requires a valid passport and proof of onward travel for entry. Most tourists are granted a 90-day stay upon arrival. If you are flying in on a one-way ticket, airline officials will ask for onward travel documentation, in the form of a bus or airline ticket. Read the rest of this entry »
You donâ€™t have to been a seasoned angler to appreciate Costa Ricaâ€™s epic sportfishing. Rain or shine, Atlantic coast or Pacific, the fishing is truly phenomenal any time of year. Cast your line inshore for red snapper, roosterfish and snook, or head into deeper waters for the prize-winning beasts â€“ black marlin and sailfish. Costa Rica sportfishing is rated among the best in the world, and the central Pacific town of Quepos is the frequent site of international tournaments, including the recent 2013 IGFA World Offshore Championship at Marina Pez Vela.
Quepos & Manuel Antonio in the center of all the action
Marina Pez Vela has attracted several headlining catch and release tournaments such as the 2012Â Quepos Billfish Cup and the renowned 2011 Costa Rica Classic. The world-class facility just hosted the â€śOlympics of Sportfishing,â€ť which lured more than 200 die-hard anglers from around the globe. Participants fished for marlin, sailfish, and big-eye tuna along with wahoo and mahi mahi (also known as dorado). While trophies were awarded for various categories, the crew that shone brightest was that on the EPIC, captained by Mike Alligood, with Randal Garcia Canales as mate. The team, which is based at Costa Ricaâ€™s Los SueĂ±os marina, released 26 sailfish and one blue marlin, earning a total of 5,700 points. The Quepos marina is just five miles from the pristine beaches and diverse wildlife of neighboring Manuel Antonio and its national park. Read the rest of this entry »
The cuisine in Costa Rica offers a kaleidoscope of tastes, flavors and textures â€“ from the national dish of â€śgallo pinto,â€ť to its succulent array of tropical fruits. Translated as â€śspotted rooster,â€ť gallo pinto is a savory combination of rice, red or black beans, diced cilantro and hefty splash of Lizano sauce (similar to Worcestershire). Itâ€™s healthy, vegetarian-friendly, and youâ€™ll find this staple in every restaurant and soda across the nation. If youâ€™re searching for authentic â€“ and inexpensive â€“ food on your next Costa Rica vacation, pay a visit to any one of these family-owned cafes known as sodas for some delicious, home-cooked fare. Youâ€™ll find sodas in towns both large and small, so whether youâ€™re staying in popular beach towns like Manuel Antonio and Tamarindo, or off the tourist trail, be sure to try some of these tasty cheap eats.
Casado: a lunchtime specialty
For a satisfying, stick-to-your-ribs kind of meal, opt for a casado â€“ which also means â€śmarriedâ€ť in Spanish. One of the countryâ€™s most popular lunches, a casado will set you back between $4 and $6 and offers generous servings of rice, beans, cabbage salad, picadillo (minced potato or squash with herbs, spices, and sometimes chopped beef) and your choice of meat – chicken, pork, fish, or beef. Every soda has their own variation of the casado, which may also include tortillas, plantains or mashed potatoes. Be sure to try several to see which you like best! Read the rest of this entry »
Searching for the perfect blend of relaxation and adventure on your next vacation, but want to avoid the tourist crowds? Look no further than Playa Dominical, a peaceful beach town prized by surfers and sun-lovers alike. A quick 30-minute jaunt south of Manuel Antonio, this burgeoning beach vacation destination offers miles of sandy shores, incredible wildlife watching opportunities, and a robust selection of vacation rental properties to choose from. And unlike some of its more developed neighbors, Dominical has retained its traditional, small-town feel, and is a fabulous spot for a family vacation or romantic getaway.
Surf, Sun and Adventure
Flanked by towering mountains covered in primary rainforest, Dominical is a place of stunning beauty. The surf is steady throughout the year, but really picks up from May-October when large swells bring epic waves. Take a dolphin and whale watching excursion to nearby Ballena Marine Park, located in Bahia Ballena (Whale Bay) – recently named one of the â€śhottest vacation destinationsâ€ť by Travel and Leisure magazine. For those who want a little adventure, thereâ€™s no shortage of tours â€“ including scuba diving, canopy zip-lines, horseback excursions and world-class sport fishing. Secluded beaches are the star of the show in this region, with several lovely stretches of pristine shoreline (Playa Uvita and Ojochal are favorites) framed by swaying palms. Read the rest of this entry »
If the Central Valley is part of your upcoming Costa Rica vacation itinerary, be sure to include a visit to Alajuelaâ€™s Zoo Ave. While literally translated as â€śBird Zoo,â€ť this unique attraction is much more than a sanctuary for our feathered friends â€“ Zoo Ave is a wildlife rescue and breeding center for the countryâ€™s orphaned and mistreated creatures. Managed by theÂ Fundacion Restauracion de la Naturaleza, the non-profit refuge is home to more than 200 species, and boasts Central Americaâ€™s largest collection of birds. Zoo Ave makes for a great Costa Rica activity for a family of all ages.
Feathered frenzy: Macaws, Peacocks and Quetzals
True to its name, Zoo Ave entices visitors with avian fauna of all shapes and colors â€“ including parrots and peacocks that roam the grounds freely. The center cares for curassows, toucans, several types of endangered macaws that were once kept illegally as pets, along with the brilliant resplendent quetzal. With the help of specially-trained staff, volunteers and an onsite incubator, the zoo has successfully bred nearly 50 native species including scarlet and green macaws, black guans, and most recently, the king vulture. The new chick made headlines a couple of weeks ago, as this is the first of its kind to be bred in captivity in Latin America. Since the king vulture is on the verge of extinction, zoo keepers were thrilled with this latest addition to the refuge. Read the rest of this entry »
One of the sun-kissed beaches along Guanacasteâ€™s famed Gold Coast, Tamarindo is an eclectic mix of outdoor pursuits, vibrant nightlife and creature comforts. The surf Mecca attracts thousands of tourists each year with its epic waves, laid-back ambiance and wide swathes of golden sands. Less than an hourâ€™s drive from the Liberia international airport, this beach vacation destination offers the best of both worlds: contemporary amenities along with a healthy dose of authentic pura vida charm.
- A Great Place for Family Vacations: While the nightlife is downright sizzling with discos, live jams, and pulsating salsa marathons, Tamarindo at its core is a family-friendly destination. Â There are several tours in Tamarindo to choose from including canopy zip-lines to ATV excursions, this beach town offers a slew of adrenaline-pumping adventures that cater to kids of all ages. Kayak tours explore the lush estuaries of Tamarindo Wildlife Refuge, and park rangers escort guests along the shores of nearby Playa Grande, where enormous leatherback sea turtles can be seen nesting from October through March. Read the rest of this entry »
Youâ€™ve been planning the ultimate Costa Rica vacation for months, and now the time is finally here! Whether your itinerary includes the more popular beach destinations such as Flamingo, Tamarindo or Jaco â€“ or places off-the-beaten-path â€“ your trip will surely be unforgettable. And if youâ€™re renting a car, thatâ€™s all the better: driving in Costa Rica is one of the best ways to explore the countryâ€™s varied terrain. And with no bus timetables to worry about, you can move at your own pace.
Caldera Highway features easy access to Pacific coast
The sublime Central Pacific beaches are the first pit-stop for thousands of visitors, and the Caldera Highway offers quick access from the San Jose airport to the white-sand shores of Manuel Antonio â€“ in just over a couple of hours. If youâ€™re heading further south to Dominical, the once gravel road is now free of potholes, meaning a smooth and easy drive to your resort or beach vacation rental. Read the rest of this entry »
Did you know that Costa Rica is home to nearly five percent of the planetâ€™s total biodiversity? For a country the size of West Virginia that equals thousands of species and a paradise for animal lovers. From coast to coast, this tropical nation offers exceptional wildlife watching opportunities, whether your interests lie in the cute and cuddly, the vibrant and vociferous, or creatures that slither around under the cover of darkness. Hereâ€™s a small sampling of some of Costa Ricaâ€™s most iconic species, and the best places to see them.
Also known as white-faced monkeys, these primates are considered the most intelligent of all new world monkeys. You can often hear their chatters and high-pitched squeaks long before you see these curious creatures moving about the treetops. Capuchins will dine on absolutely anything and are true omnivores of the forest. In Costa Rica, you can see them dining on ripened fruits, flowers, small insects, lizards and even bird eggs. Their populations are numerous throughout the country and they can easily be spotted in Cahuita National Park, Arenal, Carara National Park and Manuel Antonio National Park. Read the rest of this entry »
Home to two international airports, Costa Rica welcomes more than two million tourists annually. The country has witnessed a huge boom in eco-tourism over the past decade and visitor numbers have been steadily climbing, with an anticipated 2.3 million travelers anticipated in 2013. When planning your next Costa Rica vacation â€“ consider the various benefits of flying into the Juan Santamaria aiport (SJO) in San Jose, versus the recently expanded Daniel Oduber terminal in Liberia (LIR). Both feature easy access to popular beaches like Manuel Antonio and Tamarindo, and more airlines have added direct flights from major U.S. hubs.
Juan Santamaria Airport (SJO)
Situated on the outskirts of San Jose in the bedroom community of Alajuela, the SJO airport handles the majority of Costa Ricaâ€™s tourist traffic. One of the countryâ€™s domestic carriers â€“ SANSA airlines â€“ is located adjacent to the SJO terminal, which is convenient for visitors whoâ€™ll be taking connecting flights to destinations like the Osa Peninsula, Tortuguero or the Nicoya Peninsula. When planning your itinerary, flying into the SJO airport makes most sense if you: Read the rest of this entry »
More than 250,000 tourists visit Manuel Antonio National Park every year, and considering its powdery white-sand beaches and incredible biodiversity, itâ€™s not hard to understand why. This popular attraction is just one of several in the stunning surfside town of Manuel Antonio. With so many glorious Costa Rica beaches to choose from, why do so many travelers flock here? In short, Manuel Antonio offers something for everyone â€“ fantastic adventures, pulsating nightlife, amazing wildlife and a wonderful selection of ocean view vacation rentals and luxury villas that cater to the whole family.
Quick access from San Jose
Thanks to the recently constructed Caldera highway, travelers can access Manuel Antonio in less than three hours by car.Â Not fast enough for you? Hop on a regional flight from San Jose – choose between carriers Nature Air or SANSA – and youâ€™ll be in neighboring Quepos in less than 30 minutes. Read the rest of this entry »
Dozens of free-flowing rivers carve a path through Costa Ricaâ€™s terrain culminating in breathtaking waterfalls that invite travelers for a day of swimming, nature watching and relaxation. When planning your next vacation, consider a tour to one of these majestic cascades for a day of family fun. Quad tours, rainforest treks and horseback rides are all exciting ways to access these national treasures.
La Fortuna Waterfall Eco Tour
Situated in the shadow of Arenal Volcano â€“ one of the planetâ€™s ten most active volcanoes â€“ the bustling town of La Fortuna attracts thousands of visitors every year with its adrenaline-pumping tours and magnificent cascade that tumbles some 200 feet into an aquamarine pool. When taking a tour to the La Fortuna Waterfall, be sure to wear your swimsuit as the cool waters will beckon you for a refreshing swim. Most travelers arrive on a guided trip, either on horseback or an ATV excursion. From the entrance, a steep but well-marked path leads down to the falls. The 15-minute trek is worth the effort, as travelers are rewarded with stunning views and surrounding countryside. Read the rest of this entry »
Boasting more than 200 volcanic formations, Costa Ricaâ€™s dramatic landscapes and eco attractions lure more than two million tourists every year. In total, the country has six volcanoes that are considered active â€“ Arenal, Rincon de la Vieja, Poas, Turrialba, Irazu and Orosi. Â If youâ€™ve ever dreamed of peering into the depths of a boiling crater lagoon or watching red lava rocks crash down volcanic slopes, then a visit to these three popular volcanoes is must on your next Costa Rica vacation.
Visiting Arenal Volcano
Flanked by verdant countryside, Arenal is considered one of the worldâ€™s top ten most active volcanoes, though it recently entered a more restful phase. Still, the 7,000 year-old wonder amazes tourists with huge plumes of smoke, loud rumbles and the occasional spurt of red lava rocks. The constant geothermal activity lends itself to numerous volcanic hot springs, which offer a healing respite after a long day of adventure tours in La Fortuna Costa Rica. Arenal Volcano is one of the most visited areas is Costa Rica and offers plenty of things to do and tours while on vacation. Take a hike through Arenal National Park, a 30,000 acre tract of protected cloud forest and rainforest, one can go horseback riding, zip line through tropical rain forest canopy, or simply enjoy the volcano views from one of several hot spring resorts that frame this looming giant. Read the rest of this entry »
The Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve is located at the southern point of the Nicoya Peninsula. It was actually the first protected area of this country and is considered today to be one the most beautiful Nature Reserves of Costa Rica. There is a small island called Isla Cabo Blanco that lies about 2 kilometers away from the tip of the reserve. It was given the name of Cabo Blanco, or White Cave, for the guano that covers the rocks giving it this whitish color. Cabo Blanco is a sea bird territory but this is off limits for the tourists. Huge numbers of birds, laughing gulls, brown pelicans, brown boobies and common terns all seem to cohabit in peace.
The forest of the reserve is a natureâ€™s splendor at its best and consisting of what is called Mixed Forest, or Tropical Moist Forest. Out of the 150 trees, the evergreens are the most common species. However, there are a few dry deciduous trees as well. Most of the forest of Cabo Blanco is a secondary forest with 15% of what is left of primary forest. The primary forest is actually inaccessible to many people for its elevated location. Some hikers might be able to make most of the reserve during dry season but the trails will still be challenging. Read the rest of this entry »
The Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve is a major destination for the tourists who are coming to explore Costa Rica and its splendid wonders of Nature. The mysterious jungle is famous for being one of the best spots where you can see a beautiful Quetzal with its colorful plumage. This Cloud Forest Biological Reserve will take your breath away for its intact beauty and richness of flora and fauna.
Monteverde is located in the province of Puntarenas just 45 minutes from Arenal Volcano. Itâ€™s about 4 and half hours away from San Jose which is the capital of Costa Rica. It is known to be one of the most outstanding nature reserves of the planet with its bio diversity and natural beauty. Cloud forests receive less rainwater than rain forest. However, they are by no means dry. Cloud forests are usually located at higher altitudes and hold on to the humidity. Read the rest of this entry »
Over these last two decades, Costa Rica has become a top surf destination, attracting avid surfers and beginners alike. It has a choice of two coasts which include the Pacific and the Caribbean. Each ocean has its legendary breaks on both sides. The Pacific side enjoys great waves all year around with beach destinations such as Manuel Antonio, Playa Hermosa, Playa Negra, Nosara, Malpais, Santa Teresa, Witches Rock, Pavones and Dominical that have become world renown. On the Caribbean side Puerto Viejo will be your main destination of choice for its famous Salsa Brava wave!
Costa Rica is a safe and stable country that also offers a tropical and unique flora and fauna. Today, over one million people fly to Costa Rica for surfing. Some fell in love with this little Central American exotic paradise and stayed!
Costa Rica enjoys a warm pleasant climate all year round with refreshing water temperatures. Itâ€™s known for many relaxing and exotic things that make this democratic peaceful country a very popular tourist destination. Some of these attractions include its cleanliness and safety, its pristine gorgeous beaches, rain forests, raging volcanoes, cloud forests and has a bio-diversity unmatched anywhere else. Eco-tourism is booming in Costa Rica with plenty of surf and yoga packages that are continually on the rise. Read the rest of this entry »
Dominical is located in the province of Puntarenas, on the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Mainly known for its great surf, this exotic paradise has waves that can reach 10 feet high thus it has gained a cosmopolitan reputation! This little town lies just 28 miles south of Quepos and of the beautiful Manuel Antonio National Park. The 4 kilometers long beach is an ideal place to lie back and relax. It is a lovely gateway hidden away from the crowds. Dominical is wild and pristine with a good choice of vacation villas, hotels and restaurants. Visitors love to take long strolls along the shore at night. The dinning is a particularly enjoying experience as well thanks to the abundance of fresh sea food which includes crab meat, lobster, shrimp and fish. These are always included on the menu, whether you choose one of the fanciest restaurant or the local soda. Read the rest of this entry »
Canopy Tours have become exceedingly popular in Costa Rica as they provide the tourists with a unique perspective when visiting the cloud and rain forests. The canopy is where most animals live and where you will find most of the flora and the fauna of the rainforest. Along the ground, which receives a lot less light, is usually quite dark and less plants and animals are found there.
Rainforests are the treasures of planet Earth. Who has not felt mystified when exploring the magical and mysterious jungle. This is the home to so many mammals, amphibians, reptiles, birds, insects, trees and plants. Sadly, throughout the world, many forests are being destroyed to make room for agriculture or for the timber itself. In Costa Rica, the cloud and rainforest are now protected. Most of these areas are found in National Parks or Nature Reserves. Read the rest of this entry »
The Curu Wildlife Reserve is located in the province of Puntarenas, in the Nicoya Peninsula, by the little village of Curu. It became a protected forest in 1981 and the Curu National Wildlife Refuge was finally created in 1983. The family that originally settled on the land is still there today and they turned to the government for help in order to protect this little haven. The trails of the Reserve vary in range of difficulty. In fact some of these trails are only accessible during the dry season. Some of the easier trails to do include the Laguna, the Toledo, the Monos, the Finca and La Ceiba. Each trail represents a specific habitat, making the refuge resemble a life-size museum!
Curuâ€™s rich biodiversity attracts nature lovers, tourists and explorers alike for its abundance of flora and fauna. While the whole Reserve measures 1496 hectares, only 75 of it encompasses the refuge and the remaining land is used for low-impact agriculture.
The abundant wildlife of the refuge includes the Capuchin monkeys, the Howler monkeys, the Spider monkeys, peccaris, coyotes, coatis, anteaters and more. Seventy eight species of mammals have been discovered to date in Curu including some big cats like the pumas, ocelots and margay.Â However, because they are usually nocturnal and shy away from people, they are not very easy to see. Sightings of the Boa Constrictor are equally difficultÂ as they usually escape at the approach of humans. Curu is actually home to 87 species of reptiles. Read the rest of this entry »
Cano Island is located in the southern Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, off the coast of the Osa Peninsula. The Cano Island Biological Reserve mostly consists of the marine life. It is an ideal destination for a day trip while you are in the region, and a great opportunity to see wild marine life such as dolphins playing and humpback whales that are on their migration journey and who stop in the area to give birth and to nurse their young. Tours to the island provide travelers with snorkeling or scuba diving equipment. Because the island is actually surrounded by five separate platforms of no less than twelve different species of coral. These waters are filled with life; colorful fish, giant conchs, twelve different species of lobsters make exploring a real treat. Scuba divers are rewarded with a magical underwater landscape, with cliffs, canyons and caves. Read the rest of this entry »