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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.

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…)

December – April: Prime Costa Rica Sportfishing Months

Friday, December 12th, 2014

There’s a reason why Manuel Antonio and Quepos are the most popular sportfishing destinations in Costa Rica – a country lauded for its rich ocean diversity and 570+ IGFA world records. The Central Pacific coast features phenomenal fishing year-round, but the start of the dry season marks peak season for apex predator fish likeblack marlin and sailfish. One glimpse at Quepos fishing reports this month and you’ll see a roster of sailfish and marlin releases, with some anglers boating more than seven each day!

Marinade Pez Vela

Costa Rica sportfishing is world class

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Quepos’ Marina de Pez Vela is a state-of-the-art facility, featuring a full-service yacht yard and wet slips occupied by dozens of 27 to 34-foot custom charter boats. Veteran captains and their skilled crews know exactly where the billfish run each year, and usher anglers to prime spots offshore to cast a line. Costa Rica fishing packages – both half and full days – are easily arranged and allow ample opportunities to experience the thrill of a lifetime as you land your first 200-pound marlin or 50-pound mahi-mahi. While all marlin and sailfish are release only, guests are welcomed to keep tuna, wahoo and other smaller catches for a fresh and tasty dinner. (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…)

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…)

Costa Rica’s Snorkeling and Scuba Diving Hotspots

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

Framed by more than 800 miles of picturesque coastline, Costa Rica features ample opportunities for underwater explorations. Swim among graceful sea turtles, vibrant parrotfish and spotted eagle rays as you investigate the country’s living coral reefs, mysterious caves and fascinating shipwrecks. While visibility varies depending on location and your time of visit, you can always count on warm waters and extraordinary encounters with inquisitive marine creatures. (Costa Rica is home to more than 7,000 species!)

Scuba Diving while on your Costa Rica vacation

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Best destinations for snorkeling and scuba diving

Here’s a quick breakdown by region of the country’s top locales for diving and snorkeling. Most beach towns, including Tamarindo, Manuel Antonio and Puerto Viejo rent snorkels, masks and fins by the hour or half-day.

  • Southern Caribbean: Manzanilla, Punta Uva, Puerto Viejo and Cahuita – wonderful snorkeling on Cahuita’s 600-acre coral reef.
  • Tortuga Island – an easy day trip from Santa Teresa or Montezuma, Turtle Island is renowned for its sparkling clear waters, underwater rock formations and fantastic snorkeling. (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…)

Testing the Waters Before You Move to Costa Rica

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

It’s tempting for many to dive right into a real estate purchase, especially after a series of fabulous Costa Rica vacations. But before plunking down your hard-earned cash on the property of your dreams, it’s smart to test drive a few locations to better determine if the surroundings, amenities and weather truly meet your needs and expectations. That’s why we always recommend renting before you buy to increase your chances of a successful relocation, whether for retirement or to start the next chapter of your life.

Costa Rica vacaciĂłn rental offered by Escape Villas

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Location, location, location

One of Costa Rica’s most unusual and appealing aspects for potential expats is its diversity of microclimates and terrain. The sun-dappled beaches of Guanacaste’s Gold Coast, including Playa Flamingo and Tamarindo have long attracted North Americans and Europeans in search of the “pura vida” lifestyle, while farther south, Jaco and Manuel Antonio rein king among central Pacific hotspots. Daytime temperatures soar into the mid- 90’s, but evenings are cooled off with refreshing ocean breezes. On the other hand, the Central Valley is known for its perpetual Spring-like weather, which usually hovers in the 70’s to upper 80’s. Towns like Atenas,  Grecia and Heredia are wildly popular and offer a range of affordable housing options along with access to city amenities. (more…)

Save Money on a Costa Rica Medical Vacation

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

Medical tourism in Costa Rica is growing by leaps and bounds, and for good reason.  Last year nearly 40,000 medical tourists took advantage of the nation’s internationally-accredited hospitals, highly-trained health care professionals and affordable prices. Why do so many Americans and Canadians choose Costa Rica for their dental, preventative care and cosmetic surgery needs? Most procedures cost 30 to 60 percent less and are complemented by a stress-free recovery in paradise, where English-speaking staff offer patients the best in post-operative care. In reality, health care in Costa Rica is so reasonable that a medical vacation here, including accommodations, airfare and sightseeing is much less than the procedure alone would cost in the States.  For instance, a vacationer can save 50% and more on the cost of cosmetic dentistry, including dental implants and full mouth reconstruction.

Medical tourism in San Jose with low dental costs

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Medical tourism in Costa Rica

If you are contemplating a Costa Rica medical or dental vacation, you can rest assured the nation has one of Latin America’s best health care systems, with multiple JCI-accredited hospitals in the San Jose metropolitan area. Clinica Biblica, CIMA San Jose and Clinica Catolica are all top-notch private hospitals that cater to medical tourists with bilingual staff and the latest equipment and medical technology.  Most surgical packages include post-op care at a luxurious recovery center and several sightseeing tours to local attractions, enabling patients to take in some of Costa Rica’s beautiful beaches, botanical gardens and national parks. (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…)

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…)

Sail into the Sunset with the Catamaran Cruise in Flamingo, Costa Rica

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011
Playa Flamingo sunset catamaran tour in Costa Rica

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Board a majestic luxury catamaran cruise and take in the spectacular sunset as you sail across the deep blue Pacific Ocean in Flamingo, Costa Rica.  The ultimate Costa Rica catamaran adventure is a fitting nautical expedition suitable for all the family. With the main sail billowing over head, sit back and relax as you enjoy a four hour afternoon-to-sunset Costa Rica sailing tour which will offer you the best views of the stunning Costa Rica coastline.

Departing from the Flamingo Marina, this highly recommended Costa Rica sailing tour takes you to some of the most beautiful beaches in Guanacaste, perfect for snorkeling. Look out for an abundance of colorful tropical fish, inquisitive dolphins, sea turtles and manta rays.

 

(more…)

Expedia Deal Expected to Boost Costa Rica Tourism

Friday, July 8th, 2011
expedia-costa-rica-vacations

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The Costa Rican Tourism Institute (I.C.T) has joined forces with the U.S internet-based travel site Expedia.  In a deal that is expected to attract an additional 50,000 tourists to the country in the next two years, Costa Rica will frequently feature on the popular travel and tourism website as a top beach and eco tourist vacation destination.

 

Costa Rica tourism figures already breaking records

The Costa Rica Expedia campaign will run from July 2011 –July 2012 and principally focuses on attracting U.S tourists to Costa Rica. This is significant considering that of the 2 million tourists that visited Costa Rica in 2010, a total of 252,468, 54%, were from North America. (more…)

Costa Rican Hiking Adventure Tour in Barra Honda National Park

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011
barra-honda-caves-costa-rica-hiking-tour

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Looking for your next Costa Rican hiking challenge? Then head for the hills and underground caves of Barra Honda National Park in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Expect rocky terrain, winding trails, tough uphill treks and limestone cave exploration in this adrenalin pumping Costa Rica hiking adventure.

The Barra Honda National Park defines the arid beauty of the Costa Rican province of Guanacaste and is home to an abundance of flora and fauna, including medicinal plants, coatis, anteaters, raccoons, capuchin and howler monkeys. A hike to the top of the Barra Honda peak reveals an expansive panoramic view of the Guanacaste landscape, but it is perhaps the hidden depths that lie beneath the Barra Honda National Park that are the most intriguing.

A Costa Rican Hiking Adventure and Caving Experience

Beneath the 984 ft high Barra Honda Peak is complex maze of 42 limestone caverns filled with calcareous formations.  Stalactites dramatically hang from the cave ceilings while stalagmites reach up from the ground. Once part of a coral reef from 60 million years ago, these limestone creations can be found throughout the network of caves. (more…)

Costa Rica White Water Rafting—The Ultimate Adventure Tour!

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011
white-water-rafting-costa-rica

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If you’re looking for the ultimate Costa Rica white water rafting adventure tour, then this is it! Located in the heart of Guanacaste Costa Rica, a high speed white water rafting tour is best reserved for the adrenalin junkies and thrill seekers. Possibly the most exhilarating aquatic challenge you can experience during your vacation in Costa Rica, this is a high action adventure tour that is sure to get your heart pumping.

The Tenorio River White Water Rafting Tour in Costa Rica offers moderate to advanced rafters an opportunity to tackle Class III and IV river conditions, surrounded by dense tropical rainforest. Located near the Tenorio Volcano in Guanacaste, the Tenorio River offers some of the most exciting white water rafting challenges in Costa Rica. (more…)

An elevating Costa Rica tour – Light aircraft adventure in Playa Tamarindo

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Looking for a Costa Rica tour that will get your heart racing? Take to the skies on this fantastic Costa Rica adventure in Playa Tamarindo. Flying over nearby towns and beaches, with the mountains and jungle as your backdrop this is an adrenalin pumping Costa Rica adventure of epic heights.  Get ready for the exhilarating Costa Rica gyrocopter tour.

Costa Rica Gyrocopter Tour flying of Playa Tamarindo

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Up and away with the Costa Rica Gyrocopter Tour

Taking off from Tamarindo airport you’ll rapidly gain altitude. Look out over the pacific coastline as you fly over world famous beaches including Playa Flamingo as well as the Bay of Potrero, Playa Conchal and Playa Las Piratas. Look beyond and you’ll (more…)

Jump Aboard Playa Flamingo Catamaran Tour in Costa Rica

Monday, January 10th, 2011
Playa Flamingo Costa Rica Catamaran Tour

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If you are looking for a sailing adventure during your vacation in Playa Flamingo then why not embark upon a luxury catamaran tour? This amazing catamaran eco-tour in Guanacaste visits some of the most beautiful, secluded beaches with some of the best snorkeling in Costa Rica.

This four-hour catamaran tour glides through the crystal blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, skirting along the Gold Coast of Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula. A professional, bilingual crew is at hand to ensure you have an unforgettable experience at sea. The luxury catamaran is spacious and accessible and for people of all ages. For adventure seekers on vacation at Playa Flamingo,  snorkeling and kayaking activities are optional add-on’s to this wonderful ocean tour. For those looking to simply lay back on one of the soft sunbathing trampolines and enjoy a few cold beers as you gaze at the deep blue skies, then the choice is yours! (more…)





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