Archive for the ‘Arenal’ Category

Costa Rica at a Glance – Interesting Stats & Facts

Thursday, 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 “Ticos” are of European descent, and less than 2 percent of Costa Rican residents are of indigenous ancestry, many of whom live in the country’s remote mountain regions. More than a century ago, legislators declared that education was to be mandatory and free for all citizens, accounting for today’s 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’ve 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’ll find more than 600 species of animal for each 10,000 square miles—compared 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’s military spending would be directed toward education, health care, and environmental protection. Nearly 70 years later, it’s obvious that this bold decision has paid off.

5 Classic Arenal Adventures

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

The adventure town of Arenal aims to please with no shortage of opportunities to get your heart racing. When you’re not rocketing above the treetops or plunging into the depths of a 5 million year-old cavern, you can bask under the grandeur of its near-perfect volcano, which occasionally comes to life with deep rumbles and spurts.  Arenal has been a bit sleepy for the past five years, but was once one of the world’s most active volcanoes. Tourism in the region hasn’t been diminished by this recent slumber, as travelers continue to enjoy a host of unique outdoor adventures. Be sure to give these a try during your next Costa Rica vacation!

Arenal Volcano adventure activities including Canyoning

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Canyoneering

Also known as canyoning or rainforest rappelling, this sport is somewhat unique to Arenal. Ready yourself for the journey of a lifetime as you rappel down 200-foot waterfalls with the aid of skilled guides. Ideal for adventurous travelers ages 6 and up, this tour takes you to remote rainforest canyons tucked away in the outskirts of Arenal. (more…)

Costa Rica Ranks First for Best Family Vacation Destination

Friday, February 13th, 2015

Costa Rica’s unspoiled jungles and pristine beaches can make for the family vacation of a lifetime, say travel experts at U.S. News.  Among Central and South American holiday destinations, Costa Rica was rated number one for its kid-friendly attractions and outdoor pursuits that are ideal for nature lovers and adventure seekers. When scoring the eight best family vacations in South and Central America, the site considered family-centric activities, accommodations and dining experienced offered by each country, in addition to expert recommendations and traveler opinions.

Several activities for the whole family

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Favorite Costa Rica tours enjoyed by families

Seasoned travelers who have enjoyed the many perks of a Costa Rica family vacation named some of their favorite activities and tours, which carried them from the sunny beaches of Manuel Antonio to the cool climes surrounding Poas Volcano.  Kids aged 7 to 12 adored snorkeling tours – where they could get up close and personal with curious aquatic creatures and billowing clouds of tropical fish. Other popular tours include dolphin and whale watching excursions, horseback riding and zip-line tours around Arenal Volcano –a short and scenic 3-hour drive from the San Jose International airport.  And of course, there are scores of extreme activities, like whitewater rafting and off-road ATV tours, which will appeal to an older or more daring tween or teen. (more…)

Costa Rica Weather FAQs

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

Costa Rica is praised for its tropical clime, which varies from 65 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the region.  Due to its altitudinal variations from highland mountains to low-lying coastline, temperatures can fluctuate as much as 15-20 degrees within just a few hours’ drive. Most vacationers prefer to visit during the country’s “summer” months (December through April), though rainy season visits offer plenty of advantages for the budget-minded traveler.

Beautiful beaches of Costa Rica

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Is the rainy or dry season better for a Costa Rica vacation? 

Both seasons have benefits and drawbacks. The dry season (early December to mid-April) marks the start of Costa Rica’s peak tourism period, when beach vacation rentals, hotels and hostels begin booking up weeks in advance. Visitors are nearly guaranteed 12 hours of daily sunshine, but prices are higher and popular attractions often crowded. Though it can rain daily in the green season, thunderstorms typically roll in later in the day. Perks of a rainy season holiday include fewer tourists, major savings on accommodations and increased flexibility with your travel plans, since advance reservations aren’t necessary. (more…)

Summer is Here! Costa Rica’s Dry Season Means More Glorious Sunshine

Monday, January 19th, 2015

Cool trade winds are blasting through the Central Valley and afternoon showers have long since abated – a sure sign that summer has arrived here in Costa Rica.  January marks the real beginning of the country’s dry season – a time when visitors flock to the beaches, volcanoes and mountains, reveling in the glorious weather that makes January-April one of the best times for a Costa Rica vacation.

Costa Rica beach vacation with the family

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Perfect time to plan your family beach vacation

Now is the ideal time to start planning your family holiday to Costa Rica’s famed tourist attractions, which draw millions of travelers each and every year.  If your kids are begging for beachfront fun and exotic wildlife encounters, there’s no better place than the Central Pacific’s Manuel Antonio. Discover the thrills of snorkeling, boogie boarding and parasailing over the Cerulean blue waters of this popular tourist hotspot, which is home to the nation’s smallest (but most beautiful )national park. Your entire group can relax in comfort and luxury in one of our well-appointed Manuel Antonio villa rentals, many of which feature amazing ocean views and lookouts over the park. (more…)

Helpful Costa Rica Vacation Planning Tips

Friday, November 21st, 2014

Planning a romantic escape or family vacation to Costa Rica and need a bit of help from those in the know?  Avoid common traveler pitfalls with these pointers so you can enjoy a smooth and stress-free holiday without any surprises.

Don’t forget to budget in the airport exit tax

Plenty of Costa Rica activities for the family

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For travelers departing via the SJO airport in Alajuela or Guanacaste’s LIR international terminal, don’t forget that each passenger must pay a $29 exit tax. This fee is never included in your airline ticket, and is mandatory before checking in for your flight. You can pay with a debit or credit card, or with cash (either U.S. dollars or Costa Rica colones). (more…)

Day Trip to La Fortuna’s Cerro Chato

Friday, October 24th, 2014

Up for a challenging but very rewarding hike that offers stunning views and private swimming in a volcanic lagoon? Chato Volcano (Cerro Chato) is one of La Fortuna’s best kept secrets for intrepid travelers who want to explore Arenal’s less famous cousin. Dormant for thousands of years, Cerro Chato makes for a memorable day trip and is ideal for those who want to escape the usual tourist crowds.

Fast facts about Cerro Chato

Cero Chato Hiking Trail in La Fortuna

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Entrance cost: $10 per person
Open: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily
Elevation: 3,609 feet above sea level
Location: La Fortuna, within the boundaries of Arenal Volcano National Park
Best time to visit: year-round, though hikers should embark in the early morning
Round-trip hike duration: From 3 to 5 hours, including time spent at crater lagoon
Best suited for: Intermediate level hikers in good physical condition (more…)

Arenal Volcano National Park Ranked Among the 35 Best on Earth

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

What’s the best way to experience our planet’s amazing and curious natural wonders? Huff Post Travel suggests that one look no further than our national parks – those rambling tracts of wilderness (both well-traveled and off the tourist map) that have been protected for future generations to enjoy.  Visitors to Costa Rica will be delighted to know that Arenal Volcano National Park topped their list of the “35 Most Amazing National Parks on Earth,” and with good reason!

Arenal Volcano one of Costa Rica's most visited destinations

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Lush rainforest, hot springs & a rumbling volcano

Aptly described as a paradise, Arenal Volcano National Park is situated in the fertile Northern region, amidst lush Costa Rican rainforest. “There’s a rumbling active volcano (yes, you can actually see the lava pouring down the sides), surrounded by hot springs, fauna-filled forests, and plenty of hidden waterfalls,” says Huff Post in their recent online post. Brazil’s Iguazu National Park made #2 on the list, followed by California’s scenic Yosemite and Namibia’s safari-ready Etosha National Park. (more…)

Costa Rica’s Enchanting Butterfly Gardens

Friday, September 26th, 2014

A visit to Costa Rica’s enchanting butterfly farms and gardens is a wonderful way to learn about these mythological creatures that have captivated humans for ages. A symbol of freedom, beauty, peace and love, butterflies are some of the country’s most iconic animals – whether you fancy iridescent blue morphos, ruby-spotted swallowtails, or the translucent glass-wing variety. Believe it or not, nearly 20 percent of the planet’s butterfly species can be seen in Costa Rica; here are some of the best places to view them!

One of many species of butterflies in Costa Rica

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Spirogyra Butterfly Garden in San Jose

Have some spare time before your flight departs out of SJO? This might be the perfect answer for a relaxing escape within the confines of downtown San Jose. A modest fee of just $7 ($5 for kids) grants you entrance to a green oasis within the concrete jungle of the nation’s capital city, where you can observe some 30 butterfly species flitting about within the garden’s netted enclosures. The loop trail is easily traversed in less than an hour, and provides ample chances to unwind and enjoy nature in a beautifully-manicured park. Open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (more…)

Traveler Tips: Understanding Costa Rica Directions

Saturday, August 9th, 2014

Veteran travelers to Costa Rica know that local directions are just a wee bit different than those you’d use back home. Forget street names or numbered buildings… in the land of Pura Vida this type of information is useless mostly because it doesn’t exist outside of newly developed urban areas. Instead, Ticos rely on the cardinal points (North, South, East and West) and use these in combination with major landmarks to get where they’re going.

Driving Directions in Cost Rica

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Getting from Point A to Point B

It’s helpful to know that blocks are measured in meters (metros) in Costa Rica. So, if someone tells you the supermarket is 100 meters down the road and on the right that means it’s just one block away. For example, a typical address may be written like this: “400 meters east from the post office and 200 meters north, across from the public swimming pool.” There are relatively few roads or streets with proper names (or signs), and it’s rare to see buildings marked with numbers outside of San Jose.  If you’re driving to your hotel or beach vacation rental, you’ll likely be provided with very specific directions that utilize a combination of well-known landmarks and the distance travelled. (more…)

Our Favorite Hiking Spots in Costa Rica

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

With hundreds of national parks and reserves to choose from, Costa Rica is a dream for hiking enthusiasts of all ages and abilities.  Well-tread footpaths through primary rainforest, rugged mountain passes, and sandy ocean-side trails beckon thousands of travelers each year. While challenging to whittle down our list of favorite hikes, the following made the cut based on their sheer beauty, accessibility and cornucopia of wildlife. But before heading out on your Costa Rican trek, be sure to heed the following tips: hire a local guide (whenever feasible), bring plenty of water, pack extra sunscreen and insect repellent and carry raingear for the odd thunderstorm.

Santa Elena cloud forest hiking trail

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Inviting cloud forests of Santa Elena 

Situated on the edge of its more popular neighbor Monteverde, the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve deserves as much praise if not more when it comes to the pleasures of hiking. Here, you can escape the tourist crowds and enjoy more than eight miles of luscious, verdant primary growth cloud forest simply brimming with bromeliads, epiphytes and orchids. Local guides are invaluable for spotting some of the 400 bird species that inhabit this protected zone. Besides the fabulous birdwatching, visitors often report coatimundi, sloth and tree frog sightings. (more…)

Meet the Curious Coatimundi

Friday, February 21st, 2014

Most Costa Rica vacations promise spectacular wildlife encounters – perhaps none more exciting than the nation’s highly acrobatic primate species. When not marveling over the throaty roars of howler monkeys or amusing antics of capuchins, you may find yourself entranced with the wonderfully curious coatimundi (or coati for short). Locally, they’re known as pizotes – a raccoon-like creature with a long snout, pointy tail and endearing personality. The white-nosed coati is one of the country’s most prolific mammals, and is often seen in tourist hotspots like Arenal, Manuel Antonio, Monteverde, Puerto Viejo and Dominical.

White nosed Coati or Pizote as known in Costa Rica

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Pizotes at a glance

A large male coati can tip the scales at nearly 18 pounds, and with his dark, brownish-red fur and nocturnal preferences, it is often mistaken for a large feline. Make no mistake, these resourceful creatures belong to the same family as raccoons, and are known for their ability to adapt to just about any habitat or terrain. They will feast on crocodile and bird eggs, crabs, shellfish, fruits, leaves, nuts, lizards, invertebrates, birds, and carrion as well. Often seen in bands of 20 members, coatis are skilled climbers and, with the aid of their agile prehensile tails, can amble up the tallest of trees in search of food or safety. (more…)

Hotel vs. Vacation Rentals: Which offers more bang for your buck?

Friday, January 17th, 2014

One of the biggest factors in vacation planning is where you’ll stay – do you opt for hotel or a vacation rental? This all-important choice will affect how and where you’ll dine during the duration of your visit, privacy levels for all group members and, of course, your holiday budget. At first glance, hotels may seem the wiser choice in terms of up-front costs, but vacation properties are, hands down, the best way to enjoy a truly relaxing and wallet-friendly family getaway. Let’s take a look at some of the myriad advantages that Costa Rica vacation rentals offer their guests.

Beach Vacation rental in Jaco

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Costa Rica beach rentals offer major savings 

You’ll discover great value in a private vacation rental once you weigh in the ample family-friendly amenities and concierge services versus the limited privacy and space found in even the most luxurious resorts. This especially holds true if you’re traveling with extended family and friends, where a six-bedroom villa split amongst all guests will prove cheaper than individual rooms. Not only is a house rental more cost effective, it also provides added flexibility in terms of meal planning and cooking in, since you’re not tied to a hotel meal plan or dining out all the time. Take advantage of fully-equipped kitchens, where you can whip up your own dishes and enjoy meals for fraction of the cost you’d shell out at restaurants. (more…)

Canopy Tours in Costa Rica: 10 Useful Zip-line Tips

Friday, July 26th, 2013

Boasting hundreds of miles of zip-line cables zigzagging above the forest, Costa Rica is often referred to as the home of the original canopy tour. Visitors to Monteverde, Tamarindo, Jaco, Arenal and Manuel Antonio will have no shortage of options when it comes to hair-raising, adrenaline-pumping rides high above the treetops. In fact, most popular beach vacation destinations have at least one canopy tour, luring adventure seekers with unhindered views as they hurtle through the sky.  To make the most of your adventure, follow these quick zip-lining tips.

Canopy zip line tour in Costa Rica great for family activity

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Be Prepared Before Your Canopy Tour

  1. Long shorts or pants are always recommended to prevent chafing and friction from the harnesses.
  2. Avoid flip flops and wear shoes that fasten securely. Lightweight hiking shoes or Tevas are ideal. (more…)

Costa Rica – An Eco Paradise Vacation

Monday, July 15th, 2013

In a country that forged the concept of eco-travel, Costa Rica offers many thrilling ways to immerse yourself in nature. Whether relaxing in volcanic hot springs, trekking amid highland cloud forests, or watching sea turtles nest along the lone stretch of a Caribbean beach, eco tours and activities abound that will peak the interest of any nature lover. Here are a few that shouldn’t be overlooked on your upcoming Costa Rica vacation.

Tortuguero turtle nesting

Tortuguero turtle nexting a popular Costa Rica Eco Tour

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Situated on the northern Caribbean coast, the bustling village of Tortuguero is famous for two things: its stunning national park and nesting sea turtles. The 77,000-acre Tortuguero National Park is comprised of primary rainforest, more than 20 miles of protected beaches, and a large network of winding canals, lagoons and rivers. While the park’s diverse habitats shelter thousands of animals including spider monkeys, tiger herons, basilisk lizards, caimans and green iguanas, most tourists make the journey for the sole purpose of observing endangered sea turtles.  The green sea turtle, one of four species that nest on the beaches, arrives in droves from July through October, when visitors can take an evening guided tour to witness Mother Nature in action. (more…)

TripAdvisor Survey Reveals Vacation Rental Benefits

Friday, June 28th, 2013

The latest travel survey on TripAdvisor asked participants which they’d prefer:  a vacation rental or hotel?  According to the results published on April 10, 49% of respondents have already stayed in or are planning to vacation in a house rental this year. This figure is up from 40% percent in 2011, showing that rental properties continue to be the accommodation of choice among savvy U.S. travelers.  Survey participants cited many factors that made holiday rentals more attractive than your traditional hotel, with over half saying a beachfront villa was their preferred type of rental – especially when traveling with extended family.

Casa Nova beautiful rental estate located in Manuel Antonio Costa Rica

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Costa Rica vacation: beach rental or hotel?

The survey polled more than more than 1,300 U.S. travelers, who agreed that vacation rentals offered more bang for your buck and were a great alternative to a hotel stay. The following were named as reasons why tourists prefer villas over a hotel:

  • Last-minute deals (82 percent)
  • Financial savings (82 percent)
  • Traveling with a large group (19 percent)
  • More living space (15 percent)
  • Booking a vacation for one week or longer (11 percent) (more…)

Costa Rica Sportfishing Epic Year Round

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

You don’t have to been a seasoned angler to appreciate Costa Rica’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 – 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

Marlin one of the Sport Fish to go for while in Costa Rica

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Marina Pez Vela has attracted several headlining catch and release tournaments such as the 2012 Quepos Billfish Cup and the renowned 2011 Costa Rica Classic. The world-class facility just hosted the “Olympics of Sportfishing,” 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 Rica’s Los Sueños 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. (more…)

Costa Rica’s Must See Volcanoes While on Vacation

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Boasting more than 200 volcanic formations, Costa Rica’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 – Arenal, Rincon de la Vieja, Poas, Turrialba, Irazu and Orosi.  If you’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

Arenal Volcano most active in Costa Rica and makes great Eco tour for family of all ages

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Flanked by verdant countryside, Arenal is considered one of the world’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. (more…)

Costa Rica Eco Tour To The Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

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 cloud forest sky walk surrounded by Costa Rica nature

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Monteverde is located in the province of Puntarenas just 45 minutes from Arenal Volcano. It’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. (more…)

Costa Rica Nature Continues to Amaze – New study reveals unique habits of Poison Dart Frogs

Monday, December 12th, 2011

We all know that being a mother can be a tough job and Costa Rica wildlife is no exception. For the female Strawberry Poison Dart Frog in Costa Rica, feeding its offspring is no normal routine.

Costa Rica Nature Blue Jean Frog

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Contrasting with the image of little amphibians jumping from one lily pad to the next, the poison dart frogs are far more bold and dangerous than their green cousins. At only 2.5 cm long, these incredible amphibians secrete a poison from glands located on their back. This poison was traditionally used by indigenous tribes for use on the tips of darts or arrows for hunting. (more…)





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