Affordable trails of Costa Rica

August 12th, 2018

Costa Rica has many great trails and paths for walking adventures, here are just a few.

Manuel Antonio Costa RicaManuel Antonio

One trail you will enjoy is through the Manuel Antonio National park. There are several kilometers of trail you can enjoy a beautiful hike and get some refreshing exercise. On the way, you will see a waterfall, 3 different types of monkeys and at the end of the trail you will be able to enjoy the stunning beaches. You have two beaches to choose from in the National Park both equally great for relaxing or swimming.

Tenorio Volcano

The next hike you will love is the Tenorio Volcano National Park, you will pass by the River Celeste Lagoon and walk along two crystal clear streams coming together to form the Rio Celeste. Here the clear waters mysteriously change into a beautiful bright, light-blue color (hence the name “Light-Blue River”). The stunning colored Rio Celeste Waterfall where you can enjoy a refreshing swim in its natural pools will be waiting for you at the end of the path.

Arenal Volcano

For those who are very interested in natural life of the rainforest, the Arenal volcano and La Fortuna¬†waterfall are great to¬†explore. As you walk through the forest, you have the possibility of spotting three species of monkeys, sloths and a large variety of birds, including the Toucan. Be prepared for an uphill hike on the Arenal Volcano trail, this trail isn’t for the faint of heart and is recommended you bring good hiking shoes and a walking stick. Once you reach the top of the trail you will have a great view of the volcano, it is best to start your¬†climb around 11-12 am so you can have a clear view of Arenal.

La Fortuna waterfallLa Fortuna

Another¬†great hike is to the La Fortuna waterfall where you can enjoy a refreshing swim. This unique hike combines nature’s beauty with a great opportunity to observe the wonderful flora and fauna. Making your way down the trail there are roughly¬†500 steps, but the end result¬†is great for a swim and some amazing pictures.¬†

The Different Fruits and vegetables of Costa Rica

August 5th, 2018

Visiting Tropical Countries is a unique pleasure, Especially with visiting Costa Rica. This country, in particular, produces the majority of its own fruits and vegetables and the varieties may surprise you. The different shapes, sizes, tastes, and textures give you an endless possibility of things to try.  Also because the majority of the countries produce is grown here you can be sure that it is the freshest produce.

Fruit in Costa RicaAll these fruits of Costa Rica will give you a chance to explore the country a little more. Take a farm tour, walk through the expansive markets, and open up your pallet to new tastes.

The list seems endless and to some extent it is. Although we do get a lot of the same fruits shipped into our home countries. It really is not the same to experience the taste of fresh fruits ones that haven’t been shipped for weeks on end and that rely on chemicals for ripening.

Pineapples

A very popular fruit here is of course pineapples, there are many farms in Costa Rica and it is one of the main exports out of the country. Pineapples are grown from a stock in the ground and take roughly two years to complete its growth.

Guanabana

Guanabana is another uncommon fruit in North America and Europe, It also goes by the name of soursop. They are large like a melon but green and spikey with a white flesh.

Mangos

Mangos are yet another fruit in Costa Rica, they grow on trees and can be eaten as ripe or unripe. The ripe ones are more commonly known for its sweet taste and yellow texture. Although the unripe ones aren’t common in North American¬†markets, they are delicious and taste¬†much more sour but go great with a little bit of salt or hot sauce.

Sugar cane in costa RicaSugarcane

A plant that is very uncommon in North America and Europe is sugar cane. There are farms all over the country including the central valley area. Although the industry might not be nearly as big as other countries this industry is large in Costa Rica. The uses of cane of are nearly endless, you can make it into sugar, Agua Dulce (sweet water), Alcohol, Ethanol, plastics, or simply just chew it for its sweet juices.

So what are you waiting for? Come and experience some new tastes and have great new experiences today.

Costa Rica Earthquake Early Warning System

July 25th, 2018

Costa Rica earthquake early warning system.Keeping safe is of top priority when you are traveling, and Costa Rica is in the works of making you even safer while visiting here.  The Volcanology and Seismology Research Institute (OVSICORI) stated the inception of a test run to implement an earthquake early warning system.

Seismologist, Marino Protti, of the Volcanology and Seismology Research Institute, described that the arrangement will start with the placing of sensors close to the causes of strong earthquakes, these will create warnings when the tremors begin. The almost exact program has been implemented in Chile with great results.

The notification system is effective for populations that are at a range of 75 or fewer kilometers from the epicenter. A notification will be sent out approximately 30 or more seconds before severe tremors begin.  The warning system will only work for those within the 75-kilometer radius as you get closer to the epicenter the warning system becomes less relevant because that is where the tremor began.  Anyone more than 75 kilometers away will not feel any tremors.
The U.S. Agency for International Development is in the works supporting this great program.

The test run includes the placing of 100 sensors in various regions of the country. Some of them in the Nicoya Peninsula, the Osa Peninsula, South Caribbean and the Central Valley, San Jose area. Warnings will be received by smartphones to start. Areas like hospitals schools and known crowded regions will receive alerts first.

The first stage of this plan will include the instruction of specialists, training them on the workings of the systems and best procedures.

Earthwuake early warning systemIt is wonderful to know Costa Rica is so on top of technologies and keeping the general populations safe. Also, good to note that Costa Rica isn’t known for having bad earthquakes or disasters. This is all due in part to warning systems such as this one and guidelines contractors follow when building¬†structures.

Music in Costa Rica

July 18th, 2018

Costa Rica MusicThere are many styles of music which are famous in Latin America. Thanks to its shared language and history. Parts of culture such as music flow freely across the region with borders being no limit. When an artist or kind of music becomes famous, they do so universally ‚Äď not just in their nation. There is no single Latin style which manages Costa Rican sound systems. Rather, listening options were made by geographic region, feeling, and personal choices. The best way to experience these varieties is to visit any of our villas and see or hear for yourself.

Salsa

When Ticos are having fun, their go-to songs are usually salsa. This is possibly the most popular kind of Latin tunes and has its origins in New York. Developed by the expatriate Puerto Rican community (although it incorporates strong Cuban influences). Its fast-paced, frenetic rhythm characterizes it. A complex interplay between many different instruments. Closely related is Cuban Son music, which to the untrained ear sounds very similar, and which is also popular in Costa Rica. It is the perfect rhythm to keep up with many Costa Rica Dances.

Dancing in Costa RicaCumbia

Another great genre is cumbia, which was born on Colombia’s northern coastline. It’s profoundly affected by the nations black community. In its classic form, it is very similar to the music of West Africa. Its unique feature is the soothing rhythm which underpins it, played in the rare 2/4 time signature.

Caribbean Styles

There are several styles of Music that derive from the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. Latino-Caribbean music is trendy and is listened to countrywide.

Merengue is an excellent example of this, having first entered the country in the 1970’s. Bachata is another example, and with its introspective lyrics is often preferred by Costa Ricans during more downbeat occasions. Its lyrics usually deal with break-ups and unrequited love, and it lacks the energy of many Latin genres.

Non-Hispanic Caribbean songs have also made progress in Costa Rica ‚Äď particularly among the black coastal community. Calypso ‚Äď which has its roots in Trinidad ‚Äď is one example. This style is another which promotes strong African connections, and its rhythm can be traced back to a specific ethnic society being in southeast Nigeria. In Trinidad, it was practiced by the laborers to interact without the understanding of their overseers, and in the 20th¬†century, it expanded across the Caribbean world. Along with its sister style, Soca, it authenticated itself in Costa Rican communities, and its laid-back island tones fit¬†right in on the beaches of Costa Rica.

Many members of Costa Rica’s black population came over from Jamaica finding work on banana plantations. They brought music with them. Reggae is a way of life in towns like Puerto Viejo and Cahuita. While much of this is introduced directly from Jamaica, there are local bands who have reached a little bit of success.

Music truly delves into our culture here in Costa Rica, and it only adds to your trip.

Staying Safe in Costa Rica

July 11th, 2018

Safety while on vacation is a considerable concern in Costa Rica, and that dream vacation can be ruined if something silly happens. It isn’t just theft we are talking about either. It is also just as important to keep your health safe and make sure you are practicing safety while on tours.

Policia of Costa RicaKeeping safe against crime

This is largely one of the biggest concerns for families and solo travelers. Tourists are walking targets it seems. One of the biggest tips we can give you is to make sure you do your research about what areas you are going to visit. Costa Rica, in general, is a very safe country but just like any place, there are areas that have a much larger crime rate than others. Also, use common sense, walking around San Jose at 1 am in the morning as a foreigner is just asking to get mugged.  Things, like carrying your valuables out in the open, or traveling alone late at night, are not recommended.

Safety while site-seeing

Costa Rica is full of amazing places to see, especially ecological areas. In these areas, you will find all kinds of beautiful creatures, but also in these areas, you can find some very dangerous animals. Including venomous snakes, spiders, large wild cats, and more. So if you are going to be in areas off the beaten path, it is advised to use a guide that knows the area. Or stick to the sites that are well traveled and frequented, areas known to be safe.

It is also well to keep in mind that you will want to use reputable tour operators. Use ones that have good reviews and are well kept up with government regulations. Check out some of the more popular areas and Activities in Costa Rica.

Health safety

Health safety is another large concern. First things first make sure you have travelers insurance. Traveling without this is just silly, there are so many companies that offer it. Costa Rica is not like other countries where you have to get a bunch of shots before traveling, but make sure you do your research. The water here is generally safe to drink, tap water is filtered and you can be sure to drink it in larger hotels, restaurants, and any of our Villas. For peace of mind, there is bottled water at almost any convenience store here.

One thing about Costa Rica is it is rather famous for people traveling for medical and dental reasons. This is because Costa Rica has such a good health care system with many doctors being trained in North America, and the cost of healthcare here is much cheaper.

Driving in Costa RicaDriving Safety

One of the biggest concerns here is driving. If you do choose to travel in a rented vehicle study up on the locations and geography of the country before coming. Majority of driving rules are the same as the United States and Canada. Although people actually following them here can be a different story. If you are a hesitant driver, it might be best to be shuttled, take public transportation or even a Domestic flight. Keep in mind not all roads here are paved, and some of the roads that are can be just as bad or worse than the gravel ones. Always use GPS and stick to the main routes, no matter the traffic, that shortcut that google maps offers is not always the best way.

Truly no matter where you travel, it is good to keep these reminders. Costa Rica is actually a very safe country to travel in, much more so than others in Central America. The best tip we can offer is to practice common sense while you travel.

Famous birds of Costa Rica

July 4th, 2018

Costa Rica is possibly the number one eco spot to visit worldwide. This country is amazing for its diversity and one of the biggest attractions is Birding or Bird watching. With so many different species this is really a birders dream come true. The latest estimate shows Costa Rica holds over 921 different bird species. Here are some of the more common birds you will see.

Bird Watching while on your National Park Tour

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Toucans and Toucanets

There are 6 different species of toucans and toucanets, this includes the Keel-billed Toucan, the Black-mandible toucan, Yellow-eared toucan, Fiery-billed Aracari, Collared Aracari and Emerald Toucanet. The traditional toucan we normally think of is the Keel-billed. They have a beautiful rainbow of colors all over there beak. You will see toucans all over Costa Rica but mainly in the Coastal areas like Manuel Antonio.

Parrots and Parakeets

By far one of the most well-known birds of Costa Rica and worldwide is the Scarlet Macaw. These Gorgeous birds are one of the smartest birds in the wild also one of the most colorful. You can find them all up both coasts Pacific and Caribbean. It is truly amazing to be walking on the amazing beaches of Costa Rica and see two or more Macaws flying overhead. A few others you will find include the Crimson-fronted Parakeet, the Blue-Headed parrot, the Brown-Throated parakeet and more.  

Costa Rica humming BirdsHummingbirds

There are over 57 different species of Hummingbirds in Costa Rica. They may be the smallest birds in the world but they make up for this in colors and variety. There are many areas you can go to see Hummingbird and one being the La Paz waterfall gardens, they have 25 of the species found here. One of the most famous hummingbirds found here is the Violet Sabrewing. Each hummingbird has an almost iridescent paint job on its feathers which glimmers different colors in the light.

Tanagers

Tanagers are more of your average shaped bird similar to many birds you see in the United States or Canada but with a much larger variety of colors. This type of bird is found throughout the whole country, with over fifty different species. It seems these birds are in direct competition with a rainbow and are winning. You will see spots, stripes, and all kinds of different shades, and shapes.

With so many different birds it really is best to get a guided tour. An experienced guide is the best way to spot all the different birds you want to see. Ask about the different wildlife and jungle tours we offer

40 years of Isla Del Coco

June 27th, 2018

Isla del Coco National Park located about as far away as an island can get from Costa Rica in the Pacific. This stunning piece of beauty is celebrating 40 years of amazing achievements including the ecological blue flag for beaches, a Unesco world heritage site, a Ramsar important wetland, and more.

Protecting Isla Del Coco

Isla del Coco side view. Being so far away from Costa Rica serves as more than just a little problem though. The island is just as close to Panama, Nicaragua, Columbia, and Ecuador. This provides a little bit of controversy as to who actually should be controlling the island. Costa Rica has put a lot of time and energy into how they control and take care of the island. Taking care of Coco island is no joke being 500 kilometers from the coast provides a challenge that only a few can do.

The island is certainly amazing and more than worth the effort of taking care of. With the large amounts of sharks and fish that swim these waters, this can attract the unwanted attention of Illegal fisherman. To counteract these fishermen a protective barrier of 24 four square kilometers is enforced on the island. This is all with the help of brave park rangers keeping needed surveillance. Fishing in Costa Rica is allowed but of course in the proper way

Illegal fishing isn’t the only problem that the Coco island faces we¬†also have the worldwide problem of pollution in the waters. It is a shame to see unwanted garbage and plastics¬†floating up onto the shores, even things like straws getting stuck in sea turtles nostrils and fish being trapped in plastic bags. A major way you can help out is by refusing to use plastic straws opting for a metal or bamboo version, recycling your waste, and choosing materials that are properly disposable.

Species of the Island

Manta Rays of Isla del cocoThis all contributes to the well being of the many marine species living around Isla del Coco. This includes wildlife like 14 species of sharks, Manta Rays, Sea turtles, Dolphins, and a stunning amount of fish over 300 different types. On the island, you will find even more species, with 235 known species of flowering plant life, 400 known species of insects, and 90 different bird species. You will also find a few different land mammals including lizards, pigs, deer, goats, and cats. This amazing amount of wildlife makes Coco popular for Diving.

Having everyone put¬†in a little effort¬†can go a long way. This will help preserve the island for future generations¬†of us and animal species. The island is very popular for scuba diving. If you are an avid scuba diver contact us about some amazing tours you surely won’t forget. Please contact here info@villascostarica.com for more information about the island and how you can visit or support its well being.

You may also be interested in finding a place to stay while visiting Costa Rica, we have some absolutely beautiful villas and discounts all over the country.

Attractive areas for Expats to live in Costa Rica

June 20th, 2018

Costa Rica boasts so many wonderful things, including a green initiative, animal conservation, no army, a true democracy, and many other things. This makes it an ideal country to live in if you are an expat. Pura Vida is the way of life and here are a few of the popular areas that expats like to settle down in Costa Rica.

Several Costa Rica beach areas offered by Escape Villas

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#1 Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio is a busy little part of the country located on the Pacific. It is a true tourist town and has so many things in close proximity including restaurants, bars, shopping and even more in the coastal city of Quepos not far up the road. Another aspect about Manuel Antonio is the amazing beaches and national park. As an expat, this is the perfect spot to settle down. Although housing can be a bit pricier because it is such a sought after area. Check out some of our rentals in Manuel Antonio.

#2 Tamarindo

Tamarindo is very similar to Manuel Antonio in that it is very touristy and has everything¬†close by.¬† It is situated on the Northern Pacific¬†coast. And is surrounded by many many other gorgeous¬†beaches.¬† This area is great for surfing and isn’t¬†quite as expensive.

#3 The Central Valley

The central valley consists of almost everything you might need as an expat, malls, stores, all conveniences¬†you might think of.¬† It is also a little more climatized, as in, it isn’t nearly as hot as the coast and stays a warn 25 degrees Celsius¬†year round. There are many cities to choose from ranging from Escazu, San Jose, Heredia, Alajuela, Cartago, and many other areas scattered about. You can’t beat the views of this area,¬† the entire valley is surrounded by mountains and three major¬†volcanos, Poas, Irazu, and Turrialba.¬† Although there are many perks there are also the downsides, including the traffic, amount of people in one area, and city life. but if you can put up with that then you will do just fine.

Arenal Volcano one of Costa Rica's most visited destinations

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#4 La Fortuna

Another beautiful tourist area is La Fortuna or Arenal, this area is a choice point of the map for retirees. Close by to many stores, restaurants, and shopping. Also, nearby is the Arenal Volcano, Lake Arenal, and La Fortuna waterfall. All these give you many fun things to do and the large community of expats means you have lots of people to make friends with that speak your own language.

#5 Puerto Viejo

This beautiful little community is located on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. It is not far from the¬†Panama border making border crossings that much easier. Also, we can’t forget to mention how gorgeous this place is,¬† it is your typical Caribbean town. There is all kinds of wildlife to see, Birds, sloths, Monkeys, plus endless flora and fauna. You will also find stunning beaches to relax, or just take a dip in the Caribbean waters.

Where ever you choose to settle down in Costa Rica make sure you make the right choice, each area has its own idiocracies and it doesn’t hurt to travel around a bit in each area before you choose.

For more info on traveling in Costa Rica please contact us here at info@villascostarica.com

The New Universal trail at Manuel Antonio National Park

February 27th, 2018

The Manuel Antonio national park has been an iconic¬†nature preserve in Costa Rica for years. This is because of how accessible it is to the public. Being located just outside of Quepos on the Pacific side of the Country. In the park, you will find amazing attractions including¬†unique wildlife, breathtaking scenery and some of Costa Rica’s best Beaches.

Manuel Antonio Costa RicaThe Universal Trail

If you have visited recently you will have noticed that a lot of construction has been going on inside the Manuel Antonio National Park. This is all apart of the new universal trail now completed and soon ready for use by the public. The entire¬†trail was donated by the Engineering and Construction Department of ICE. This trail won’t just be for your avid hiker, it is so much more than that, as it applies to the¬†Equal Opportunities Law to helping People with Disabilities. Along the trail, you will notice ten different sections with braille¬†signage.

The New trail is named El Manglar or the Mangrove. They have located the trail over the mangrove part of the park recently not accessible in the past. Now it will have plenty more visitors to the new trail. It is 2 and a half meters wide and just under one Kilometer long. This will give visitors plenty of walking space and all will have a fun time exploring this elevated trail. It leads to Espadilla Sur Beach as well other adjoining trails.

3 toed sloth very common in Costa Rica wildlife

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Other Park Upgrades

In the past, the park had several sewage problems but not anymore. It was noted that in some areas a bad smell lingered because of the sewage problem. The old system hadn’t been upgraded since 2007 and was not maintained well leading to the problem. To fix this the park installed a totally new sewage treatment plant costing a total of¬†$27,000.00 USD. This is well worth it as the park serves over 450 thousand visitors each year.

With all the new upgrades to the park, when will you come to visit Costa Rica/Manuel Antonio? Come for a relaxing vacation in Manuel Antonio and spend some time at the beaches or walking the beautiful jungle trails of the national park. For more information please contact us here info@villascostarica.com

Facts about the Red-Eyed Tree Frog

January 29th, 2018

The Red-Eyed Tree Frog is a favorite among many people all over the world this is especially true of us here in Manuel Antonio. This is because of their unique coloration and beautiful big eyes. Check out some of the most interesting facts about this unique tree frog.

tortuguero-national-park-frog

It’s Camouflage

Even though you may think it would be hard for this frog to blend into the surroundings, this is far from true. The Red-Eyed Tree Frog may be colorful but when folded up into a huddle position you can barely see them. This is perfect for when the frog wants to rest and be left alone for awhile. It folds its legs up and all you see is a leafy green color. Normally they curl up under a leaf for protection from the elements in the Rainforest.

The amazing colors

So it can camouflage but the more obvious attribute to this frog is of course how colorful it is.  The first thing you will notice is its brightly colored red eyes. Sometimes they have an orange hue because of the lighting.  Also, they are truly enormous, probably some of the biggest eyes in the animal world compared to its body. Then you will notice the brilliant blue on its sides and legs, lastly the orange toes. These toes allow them to climb just about anywhere.

They love to climb

The long limbs give them an astonishing climbing ability. Not to mention the ability to hang just about in any position. This gives them a great advantage over predators and anyone that would want to hurt one. The suction cups on their toes give them this amazing climbing attribute.

They are nocturnal

Our red-eyed friend likes to come out and play at night. During the day you will find them mostly lazing around but at night is when all the action begins. This is when they go in search of food and possibly a mate during the mating season also known as the wet season in Costa Rica.

Red eye tree frogSize

This frog is actually one of the larger species you will find here in Costa Rica. Other frogs such as the poison dart frog just can’t match its size. They range from 1.5 – 2.5 inches in body length and weigh roughly half an ounce.

So the next time you visit Costa Rica make sure to keep your eyes out for the amazing Red-Eyed Tree Frog. Why not ask us where to find them, and make them apart of your travel plans, contact us here info@villascostarica.com.

Top Waterfalls of Costa Rica

December 30th, 2017

The la Paz waterfall gardens in Costa RicaThere are so many waterfalls in Costa Rica, almost too many to count. They come in all shapes and sizes ranging from hundreds¬†of feet tall to having colorful pools below the cascading falls. We have reviewed some of the finest of Costa Rica’s waterfalls all so you get a better idea of which ones to visit when you come.

1, La Paz

La Paz is by far one of the greatest waterfalls in all Costa Rica not only because of its beauty but also the amazing¬†nature reserve around it. The reserve has some amazing animals including Jaguars, Monkeys, an array of Birds, Snakes and so much more. There are three falls in total each getting better as you go down the stairs. At each stopping point, you can take beautiful pictures and depending on the day will get sprayed by the mist of the waters. Note that swimming isn’t allowed at this waterfall. Another perk of visiting the La Paz waterfall is the Poas Volcano nearby.

2, Rio Celeste

Rio Celeste is located in the Tenorio Volcano National Park. What a unique waterfall having a gorgeous blue tinge to the water. This is due to the volcanic rock mixing with the water creating this wonderful color. The waterfall is 20 meters tall spilling into a pool of blue water. You will love visiting this falls, it is a great day trip from a number of our villas in Guanacaste.

3, La Fortuna Waterfall

This is one of the most famous waterfalls of Costa Rica. It¬†is located nearby the majestic Arenal Volcano. This is a great spot for many different tours, you definitely¬†won’t have enough time to visit this whole area in one day. Also, the La Fortuna waterfall is one of the tallest in Costa Rica standing 75 meters tall. It’s pools and stream make for a great swim on a hot day.

The Nauyaca waterfall in Costa Rica4, Nauyaca

The Nauyaca waterfall is located near Dominical Costa Rica. It is the best for swimming having the largest pool of any other falls. Also nearby you will find amazing beaches including Uvita and Dominical. This waterfall has a 2 level drop totaling 60 meters tall.

5, Montezuma

Montezuma waterfall has 3 stages before it reaches its last pool. Each step has a pool for swimming and is a very popular swimming hole among locals and tourist. This falls is close to Montezuma town and beach in the Nicoya Peninsula.

There are so many more waterfalls in Costa Rica but these are some of the best. If you have any questions about activities or villas to stay at when you visit these waterfalls don’t hesitate to contact us. Email us here info@villascostarica.com

Five of our favorite Beaches

December 20th, 2017

Costa Rica holds so many different beaches to have fun in the sun. Literally, thousands of Kilometers of the beautiful coast for you to sit back relax and enjoy a beach day. We have some favorites to, and to give you an idea of some great spots, here are our five favorite beach locations in Costa Rica.

Manuel Antonio Costa Rica1. Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio has a few awesome beaches, but the one we are talking about is right in the national park. It will take you about 30 to 45 minutes of walking to get to, but worth it. This is one of the most famous beaches in Costa Rica because of its famed whale tale shape. Also, you get the chance to experience two beaches on either side of the tale. Not only that but it truly is a gorgeous spot for you and the family to enjoy.

2. Tamarindo

Located in the province of Guanacaste, Tamarindo is held as one of the top surfing destinations of this little country. If you haven’t ever surfed before than don’t be too shy as Tamarindo is a great place to learn. And there are quite a few places to take lessons. The small town of Tamarindo only adds to the flavor of this spot after a long day at the beach it can be good to wind down and have a drink or eat at one of the local restaurants.

3. Flamingo

Flamingo beach is yet another great spot, having pinkish sand giving it the name of flamingo. Ths beach also has an endless array of activities that you might be interested in including scuba diving, snorkeling, sports fishing, surfing, golf and even some great national parks in the area.

Flamingo Beach Costa Rica4. Dominical

We also have some unique villas in Dominical if you are looking to stay here. This particular beach holds some fun options for you. It is also a little bit further off the beaten path than other beaches on the list. You will love the perfect surfing conditions here and if you’re not into surfing than just sit back in your chair in the warm sand and let the breeze blow your stresses away.

5. Ostional

Optional Beach is somewhat unique for the fact that sea turtles come to visit it every single year. You can first see the mothers laying eggs and also see the babies hatch and rush out to sea. This site is a great attraction for anyone to see. Honestly, you will love every minute of it.

So whether you are a pro surfer or just came to relax, Costa Rica has some of the best beaches in all central America. If you have questions about where you should visit let us know info@villascostarica.com.

Top Things to pack for Costa Rica

December 12th, 2017

So you made the decision, you have all your money saved up, and you are ready to visit Costa Rica. That is why we have put a list together of things you will need when you come here.

Well, let’s get started first things first.

Health

It is an excellent idea to get health insurance no matter the situation but especially when you’re the adventurous risk taker that you are. Never cheap out when it comes to getting insurance it might sound great to save 20-30 dollars, but that can also be the difference between you or your insurance company paying the bills.

Talking about health insurance why not bring a little of your own, traveler’s first aid comes in handy when hiking camping and other riskier activities, make sure it’s full so you don’t run out of anything you need. Bug repellent and netting can be a miracle all year round as the bugs do die down a bit during the dry season but never underestimate them they will eventually find a way to bite. Also, bring sunscreen and eye protection, the sun is no different here than back home other than maybe a bit stronger.

Money of Costa RicaMoney

Don’t forget to pick up a bit of the local currency, Colones before you come. Normally it’s best to pick it up at your local bank back home, as the exchange rates here can be dangerous. The exchange on average is 500 – 600¬†colones to 1 American dollar.

American dollars are accepted here but not everywhere in Costa Rica, mainly at restaurants and hotels. Visa is also accepted here but once again it’s not as common in the smaller communities.

So play it safe and bring some cash, a lot of times when you pay for things in cash they give you a discount.

Clothing and footwear

The weather here is funny so bring the proper clothes. Traveling in Costa Rica can be hot and humid especially in places like Manuel Antonio. So shorts and t-shirts are a great idea as well as flipflops or sandals. It’s another thing to go into the rainforest, the last thing you would want to do is where flipflops on a hike. Snakes and creepy crawlies rule that domain.

The best you can do when on a rainforest trek is wear comfortable hiking shoes and high socks that cover part of your leg. Pants and long sleeve shirts are recommended and depending on how deep you go into the rainforest a good jacket for rain.

Electronics

Unless on a business trip, we don’t suggest bringing any more than your phone, tablet, and camera. Your phone camera can do amazing things, but then again if you want some better photos, it pays to bring a decent camera for either videos or pictures. If you’re into taking cool videos of your whole trip you can’t go wrong with the GoPro series there inexpensive and have a million different accessories for whatever kind of daredevil you are.

Varying on what you are doing on your trip waterproof cases provide excellent protection for those expensive phones and tablets. And of course, don’t forget your chargers and possibly external batteries for when you’re away from your Villa.

Valuables

Rings, watches, and expensive jewelry are not recommended to bring unless you keep it in a safe and dry place. If you are near the ocean, the salt spray can ruin valuable things including electronics if not kept safe. A good travel watch instead of the fancy gold can be very helpful wherever you go.

The obvious documents you need are your passport and insurance information, but not many think to make copies just in case. Never hurts to have a copy of your passport in your bags or car if your passport gets stolen it can be a nightmare to replace. Your driver’s license you might not think is valid in another country but actually, it is valid for the duration of your passport stamp of 90 days, also check out driving in Costa Rica.

Travel bags for Costa RicaTravel Bags

Whether you are, a backpacker or just like hanging at the beach the type of bags you bring is a world of difference. For the adventurer at heart, we recommend a good daypack they cost anywhere from 50 – 300 dollars but are worth it for hikes, camping, whale watching, beach days and whatever else your heart desires. A good suitcase for airport relieves a lot of the stress at lineups, the bags with four wheels glide along the floors beautifully.

A fanny pack might be the last on your list but brings a whole new sense of being ready for anything. Besides there stylish in Costa Rica, you will notice every other man and women on the street wearing one.

Travel tools

Multi-tools and small multi knives come in very handy from opening beer bottles to fixing that broken zipper on your travel bag. Zip ties and black electrical tape, another obscure thing not many think to bring, but there are 1001 things they will fix in a pinch. Also, a flashlight for when the electricity goes out.

Toiletries

Bathroom essentials are a great thing to remember if you don’t want to go to the store to buy more. Your toothbrush and paste, soaps, cremes, feminine hygiene and others necessities only add to an impressive trip.

With all these things now listed, this is just a rough guideline. Before your trip to Costa Rica make sure you do your research, and the best thing you can bring here is an open mind to adventure. Check out our Frequently Asked Questions to.

For more information and travel tips please contact info@villascostarica.com

Our Favorite Animals of Costa Rica

December 8th, 2017

With the travel season just ramping up, you will be looking forward to planning that next trip to Costa Rica. There are so many questions that come to mind when we travel, but one of the most fun ones is what animals we are going to see?  So for the nature lovers out there here are five of our most favorite animals.

Number One, Monkeys

There are four different species of monkey in Costa Rica specifically the Manuel Antonio area. Here you will see the White-faced Capuchins, Howler Monkeys, Squirrel Monkeys, and the Spider Monkeys. They truly are playful and sometimes can get out of hand. You will see some different species by simply walking along the beaches of Manuel Antonio. Although the more common ones to come up towards humans are the Capuchins. The others are quite a bit shyer and tend to hide in the trees.

Three Toed Sloth hanging in the TreesNumber Two, Sloths

Sloths are a unique animal to see on the Rich Coast, and you will be happy to see them. There are two types of sloths here, firstly the two-toed sloth, and of course the three-toed sloth. Both are very hard to find, as they camouflage perfectly in the trees. This is why a guided tour is recommended as the guides are the best persons to know where they are located.

Number Three, Butterflies

The butterflies of Costa Rica will stun you with excitement. One of the biggest and most popular being the Morpho Butterfly. The Morpho is well known for its brilliant blue tones and massive wingspan. Although there are others that are just as beautiful, for example, the Glasswing, Monarch, Owl Butterfly and so much more. You might want to visit some of the enchanting butterfly gardens.

Number Four, Jaguars

Jaguars are probably the most elusive animal of all in Costa Rica. It is extremely rare that you will ever see one in the wild although there are some wildlife sanctuaries where you can view them. This is most likely the best place for safety as you wouldn’t want to meet one in the wild anyways.

Jaguar sitting in JungleNumber Five, Tapirs

Tapirs are another of our most favorite animals in Costa Rica. These animals are an interesting bunch as they kind of look like a pig but have a long nose and different colors. They are on the endangered list but don’t worry too much as with the help of incredible reserves, and the Costa Rica Government, funding is helping to preserve our friend the Tapir alive in its habitat.

Let us know what your favorite animal is when you book your next trip to Costa Rica/Manuel Antonio. There is truly so much diversity in one little country. You can be sure to have the exploration of a lifetime, spotting not just these five animals but many many more.

For more information please contact us at info@villascostarica.com.

Foodie Destination in Guanacaste

March 11th, 2016

Costa Rica’s Guanacaste province makesScreen shot 2016-03-09 at 9.37.05 PM up the northwest region of the country and is famed for its many Pacific Ocean resorts.¬† In many coastal communities around the world, once-sleepy areas beloved by locals, surfers, and a few ex-pats “in the know”¬†sometimes turn into something louder, more expensive, and become an¬†intrusive threat to the natural beauty that drew visitors to the area in the first place.¬† But all is not lost.¬† As Eric Lipton recently wrote in the Sunday¬†New York Times’¬†Travel section, there’s an “anti-resort resort” on the Nicoya Peninsula, where “no new development is allowed in beachside conservation areas within 200 yards of the ocean,” and there are “no high-rise buildings, no fast-food restaurants, very few beach bars‚ÄĒthere are not even chaise lounges on the beach.”

 

Screen shot 2016-03-09 at 9.41.34 PMWelcome to Nosara

This would-be Shangri-La is about 25 miles south of‚ÄĒand a world away from‚ÄĒTamarindo. And, like Shangri-La, Nosara is a bit of a dirt-road challenge to get to. But once you’re there, you will discover a place that may be turning into the tropical Montauk of Central America, minus the day-tripping crowds and vehicular traffic. The draw? In addition to the surfing, the abundant natural beauty, and the emphasis on its preservation, the town and its beachfront areas are a gastronomic destination, with more great restaurants per square kilometer than perhaps anywhere else in the country. There are¬†four beaches in Nosara, and culinary activity takes place in all of them. In Playa Guiones, there’s Tibidabo (whose chef was trained at El Bulli in Spain), and Burgers & Beers (precisely!), and Rosi’s Soda Tica (In Costa Rica, a “soda” is a small restaurant serving homemade, native cuisine.) In Playa Garza, there’s the mom-and-pop Bahia Garza.¬† In Playa Pelada, there’s El Chivo, and¬†La Luna.¬† These are just a few of the many dining options in this high-bohemian paradise.

 

High Tech, Low Tech

Two¬†of the engines¬†of Nosara’s quiet Screen shot 2016-03-09 at 9.47.05 PMrenaissance are BuzzFeed co-founder John S. Johnson III, and his wife and business partner, filmmaker Susan Short. Johnson and Short own two small hotels, two condo resorts, and the local news weekly¬†Voz de Guanacaste. In the¬†Times, Lipton reported, “they are determined to prevent large-scale, resort tourism from taking hold, and have enough available capital to actually stop it.” Local activity‚ÄĒand what’s turned into an international “scene”‚ÄĒis centered at one of their hotels, which has a juice bar, day spa, yoga center, and an open-air restaurant (which does not serve junk food or sugary drinks). In the world of entrepreneurs, this kind of¬†deep-pocket consideration amounts to a form of philanthropy.¬†

Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast a Top Destination, Says Lonely Planet

March 8th, 2016

Lonely¬†Planet‚ÄĒthe¬†world‚Äôs biggest and most successful travel guide¬†series‚ÄĒranks¬†Costa Rica‚Äôs lush Caribbean coast as one of 2016‚Äôs best vacation destinations. The respected publication claims the region offers unbeatable value, and a taste of everything that makes Costa Rica one of the greatest places for a family vacation or romantic escape.

Caribbean coast garners praise from Lonely Planet

playa-cocles-costa-ricaLonely Planet writer Tom Hall is a veteran globetrotter and knows the inherent benefits of getting off the tourist trail for a more authentic travel experience. In places like Cahuita and Manzanillo, he claims you‚Äôll discover ‚Äúa still-evolving destination that‚Äôs likely to become a big noise over the next few years.‚ÄĚ In sum: the entire¬†coastal region, both north and south of Limon, boasts¬†all of the natural beauty of Costa Rica but without the heavy crowds.¬† Hall‚Äôs other destinations that made the cut for best value¬†included Vietnam’s¬†Ho Chi Minh¬†City,¬†Estonia, Galicia in Spain, East Africa, Quebec¬†City, and¬†Western Australia.

Ideal for surfing, snorkeling and beach lovers

While the Caribbean draws its share of visitors each year, most are independent travelers, birdwatchers or die-hard surfers who come to test their mettle on the pounding waves churning off the coast of Puerto Viejo and Playa Cocles. Beyond wild surf, the coast is dappled with gorgeous black and white sand beaches. For extraordinary underwater explorations, head to Manzanillo and book a snorkeling tour of the coral reefs. Or, swing by Cahuita National Park where tour guides offer a combo trip that includes a short hike along sandy trails followed by a glass-bottom-boat tour.

?????????Sea turtles of Tortuguero

If the reggae beats of Puerto Viejo and neighboring beaches isn’t quite your scene, set your sights northward to the river town of Tortuguero, where black-water canals and rugged beaches host incredible biodiversity. In all, five species of endangered sea turtles nest on Tortuguero’s beaches, with most of the action happening between July and October. When you’re not watching 350-pound reptiles lay eggs by moonlight, you can relax and enjoy the copious wildlife that inhabits the protected wetlands, including spider and howler monkeys, basilisk lizards, sloths, herons, toucans and spectacled caimans.

Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica

Lonely¬†Planet pays special tribute to one notable tourist¬†attraction‚ÄĒLimon’s¬†Sloth Sanctuary near Cahuita. Admission fees go toward the veterinary care and feeding of injured and orphaned sloths. Tours feature a guided canoe ride through the sanctuary‚Äôs tropical lowland rainforest and visits with resident two and three-toed sloths, including the beloved mascot named Buttercup. Their coveted behind-the-scenes tour even includes a trip to the Slothpital¬†clinic, and¬†a chance to see adorable babies in the on-site nursery.

Shopping your way through San Jose ‚Äď 5 Best Spots

March 3rd, 2016

San Jose is the vibrant capital city of Costa Rica ‚Äď the go-to destination for a memorable day of culture,¬†arts, and¬†theater. The city is also fantastic for a bit of retail therapy, whether you‚Äôre picking up some souvenirs for friends or want a piece of original Costa Rican art for your home.¬†The 10 Best series in¬†USA Today¬†recently¬†extolled the capital‚Äôs best shopping spots and walking streets. Here‚Äôs a recap of the top¬†five.

 

galeria-namu-shopping1.¬†Avenida Central¬†‚Äď This bustling pedestrian street has dozens of excellent cafes and restaurants that will fuel a long day of strolling,¬†people-watching, and¬†shopping. Browse the ever-popular Universal and La Gloria stores after taking in the Avenida‚Äôs permanent art displays.

 

2.¬†¬†Galeria Namu¬†‚Äď This little gem isn‚Äôt far from the Jade Museum in downtown San Jose. The gallery features dozens of¬†handcrafted, fair-trade¬†items from local artisans that are affordably¬†priced.¬†You‚Äôll find lovely pre-Columbian pottery, oil paintings, woven baskets, and hand-carved masks, plus lots of other textiles and interesting home d√©cor items.

 

3.¬†¬†Boutique Annemarie¬†‚Äď Looking for that one-of-a-kind gift on your Costa Rica vacation? Visit the lobby of Hotel Don Carlos for a wide selection of unique leather goods, handmade jewelry, crafts, figurines, clothing and specialty gifts. The shop has a distinctive old-fashioned ambiance, complete with antique photographs,¬†memorabilia, and¬†artwork.

 

4.¬†¬†Caballo Loco Boutique¬†‚Äď The horse lover in your family will appreciate a trip to this San Jose boutique, which stocks authentic equestrian clothing, gear,¬†gifts, and¬†more. Think leather¬†chaps, cowboy¬†and cowgirl hats, and the ever-popular bolo tie. Bonus: you can shop in air-conditioned comfort!

 

san-jose-mercadocentral5.¬†Mercado Central¬†‚Äď No visit to the nation‚Äôs capital is complete without¬†exploring the labyrinth corridors of the Mercado Central (Central Market). A staple since 1880, the market encapsulates the lives and livelihood of Costa Ricans. Vendors sell everything from fresh produce,¬†flowers, and¬†cheeses to souvenir T-shirts and coffee socks. You can easily spend a full day wandering through the maze of shops, watching people as they enjoy a ‚Äúcafecito‚ÄĚ and catch up with friends. And be sure to go with an¬†appetite‚ÄĒtraditional¬†food is sold everywhere and rumor has it the cinnamon vanilla ice cream is to die for!

Costa Rica at a Glance ‚Äď Interesting Stats & Facts

March 3rd, 2016

In the context of memorable vacations,costa-rica-map Costa Rica evokes images of palm-fringed beaches, sultry rainforests brimming with wildlife, and the delighted yips of zip-line adventurers as they hurl their bodies from one platform to the next. But did you know that Costa Rica is also a model of environmental stewardship and boasts a long history of pacifist policies? Read on for interesting tidbits about Costa Rica’s people, history, and culture.

The people of Costa Rica

As of 2016, the population of Costa Rica hovers just under 5 million, with the majority of residents centralized in the San Jose metro area and Central Valley. More than 95 percent of ‚ÄúTicos‚ÄĚ are of European descent, and less than 2 percent of Costa Rican residents are of indigenous ancestry, many of whom live in the country‚Äôs remote mountain regions. More than a century ago, legislators declared that education was to be mandatory and free for all¬†citizens, accounting for today‚Äôs high literacy rate of 97 percent.

No longer a cash crop nation

Formerly a cash crop nation reliant on coffee, sugar, and bananas, Costa Rica is now a major exporter of software technology and medical instruments. The country’s growing economy is driven by tourism, electronic exports, and some agriculture, and it enjoys robust foreign investment, thanks to highly incentivized free-trade zones. Compared to its Central American neighbors, Costa Rica has a large middle class, largely comprised of working class, highly-educated professionals.

Green policies and environmental focus

In 2012, Costa Rica was rated the planet’s 5th Greenest Country by the Environmental Performance Index (EPI). This tiny nation has demonstrated what many have found inconceivable: achieving nearly 100 percent renewable energy through natural resources. A winding river system and substantial rainfall provide hydroelectric power, which accounts for 80 percent of all energy production. The remaining is made up of geothermal, solar, and biomass power. With renewable-energy targets being met, Costa Rica continues a steady path toward becoming entirely carbon neutral by 2021.

costa-rica-no-armyNo army since 1948

You‚Äôve probably heard (or learned first-hand) that Costa Rica is one of the most biologically diverse nations, housing an astounding variety of flora and fauna. Biologists claim that you‚Äôll find more than 600 species of animal for each 10,000 square¬†miles‚ÄĒcompared¬†to 104¬†in the U.S.!¬†But did you know that Costa Rica abolished¬†its¬†standing army in 1948? This bold feat was ordered by¬†then-President¬†Jose Figueres Ferrer, who announced the country‚Äôs military spending would be directed¬†toward education, health¬†care, and¬†environmental protection. Nearly 70 years later, it‚Äôs obvious that this bold decision has¬†paid off.

Costa Rica Ranked Among Top Whale-Watching Destinations

March 2nd, 2016

Costa Rica has garnered numerous accolades for its earth-friendly policies, pristine beaches and incredible biodiversity. 2016 is shaping up to be another banner year for this popular eco-tourism haven. According to a recent article in National Geographic magazine, Costa Rica’s Bahia Ballena (Whale Bay) is among the world’s top ten destinations for dolphin and whale watching.

 

Bahia Ballena scores 7th place on the list

The lovely Bahia Ballena,humpback-whale-breaching located on the southern Pacific coast, is one of the planet’s crucial habitats for the humpback back whale, which migrates twice a year to the bay’s warm waters to mate and calve. Bahia Ballena was ranked seventh for whale and dolphin sighting by the venerable publication, which added that manta rays, sea turtles, bottle-nose dolphins and other marine species also enjoy protection in the sanctuary of Ballena National Marine Park. Australia’s Hervey Bay, the Valdes Peninsula in Argentina and South Africa’s Hermanus also made the list for top whale watching locales.

 

Costa Rica whale-watching season                             

Seeing a 45-foot whale breach in the ocean with a tremendous splash is on a fair number of bucket lists. Travelers to Costa Rica are especially fortunate in that whale season is happening virtually year-round. In Bahia Ballena, humpback whales are frequently spotted plying the shallower coastal waters from December to the end of April and again from July through September.  Powerful swimmers, humpbacks can weigh more than 40 tons and are easily recognized by their long pectoral fins and distinctive knobby heads. Their entertaining surface displays make them a superstar in the whale-watching community, though scientists aren’t sure what motivates breaching. Some speculate the aerial twirls are a form of communication or a means of marking territory, while others say breaching is nothing more than play.


whale-watching-costa-ricaOff the beaten path in Uvita

Bahia Ballena lies just south of Dominical and encompasses a string of uncrowded yet breathtaking beaches, including Uvita. While the area is easily accessed by car, bus or plane, it has remained relatively tranquil and undeveloped. If you’re looking for a gorgeous beach to dig your toes in soft sand, enjoy a little surfing, and watch one of Mother Nature’s most incredible marine mammals, add this spot to your Costa Rica vacation itinerary.  Boat tours depart daily during peak whale-breeding months, and afford ample opportunity to see playful dolphins and humpbacks doing what they do best. In addition, travelers to the Dominical region can also book everything from zip-line and horseback-riding tours to private yoga lessons.

Wildlife Photography Tips from the Pros

February 25th, 2016

Opportunities for amazing nature photography abound in Costa Rica ‚Äď whether you‚Äôre trekking through Manuel Antonio National Park or meandering the dark river canals of Tortuguero. Follow these tips and tricks to ensure plenty of captivating wildlife shots during your next foray into the mountains, rainforests and scenic landscapes of this bio-diverse nation.

1)¬† Lighting Conditions in Costa Rica ‚Äď foodapp_12.JPGCosta Rica lies practically on the equator, so, for most of the day and throughout the entire year, the sun is perpendicular to the earth‚Äôs surface. If the day is cloudy that is not an issue, but being a tropical country, you will have sunlight most of the time.¬† This creates a condition where you will have extreme light and shade ‚Äď a very challenging situation for any photographer, as you will always be dealing with harsh shadows. The best way to manage this is to take photos in the early morning as the sun is rising or late afternoon as it is setting. Of course, this shouldn‚Äôt stop you from taking photos during the remainder of the day. One trick of the pros is to expose for the highlights and then bring out detail in the shadow using your image editing software.

 

2)¬† Play it Safe ‚Äď If traveling on your own, keep your camera gear as inconspicuous as possible in order not to make it tempting for someone to try to snatch it from you. This is a good practice with all valuables.

 

costa-rica-wildlife-photography¬† 3)¬† Focus on the eyes ‚Äď Whenever possible, try to photograph animal subjects from eye level, which helps diminish feature distortion. And for ¬†the best chances of capturing a superlative image of that frolicking capuchin monkey or brilliant morpho butterfly, remember to shoot ¬†continuously.

 

4)¬† Importance of timing ‚Äď To make a wildlife photo truly interesting, the experts recommend observing the animal‚Äôs behavior and waiting ¬† ¬† ¬†for the right moment when the animal looks up, opens its wings, makes a turn, or catches the light. Luckily, most nature tours in Costa Rica afford ¬†plenty of time for lengthy interactions with exotic and interesting tree-dwelling and marine creatures.





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