Archive for the ‘Southern Costa Rica’ 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.

Costa Rica Ranked Among Top Whale-Watching Destinations

Wednesday, 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

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

Opportunities for amazing nature photography abound in Costa Rica – whether you’re 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 – 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’s 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 – 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’t 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 – 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 – 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 – To make a wildlife photo truly interesting, the experts recommend observing the animal’s 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.

5 Tips for Whitewater Rafting in Costa Rica

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

Costa Rica’s frothing, wild rivers have been rated among the best in the world for whitewater rafting and kayaking.  Whether you’re tackling Class IV rapids on the Pacuare River or taking a more leisurely paddle down the tamer Sarapiqui, you’re guaranteed an unforgettable experience filled with adventure and unspeakable beauty. Water levels are typically higher during the green season (late May through October), when afternoon downpours swell the rivers, providing even more of a challenge!costa-rica-rafting

Before setting off on this epic excursion, heed these practical tips:

1. Expect to get drenched! Leave all valuables at home (this includes fine jewelry, purses and cell phones) and don’t carry anything onboard that isn’t waterproof. Your guides may offer to safeguard must-have items in a water-tight bag.

2. Wear quick-dry clothing and sturdy river sandals instead of sneakers. Even if your raft doesn’t tip, the occasional sprays and gushes will soak you from head to toe if you’re paddling on Costa Rica’s more advanced Pacuare and Reventazon rivers.

3. Consider a waterproof GoPro camera for amazing footage. Strapped to your helmet, this tiny camera captures every action-packed second of your journey past towering waterfalls and through lush, dramatic canyons. And since you’re wearing a helmet, don’t bother with a hat but don’t forget to apply plenty of water-resistant sunblock even on overcast days.

whitewater-rafting-costa-rica

4. First-time rafters or those who are anxious should confirm with guides about difficulty levels before the tour. Some rivers, such as the Sarapiqui, Naranjo and Savegre Rivers, are better suited for beginners, and feature mostly Class II and III rapids, with small stretches of Class IV. Though more challenging, the Reventazon and Pacuare are still popular options for travelers of all ages and abilities, but it’s important to know your comfort zone first.

5. Listen to your guides, they are seasoned pros and can help you master any situation on the water. A pre-tour safety talk will outline the basics, and you’ll be wearing a lifejacket for the duration of the trip, which can last anywhere from three to six hours, depending on location and currents. And most importantly of all, have fun and enjoy the ride!

 

Diving with Sharks at Cocos Island

Friday, September 25th, 2015

cocos-island-hammerhead-sharksSituated 340 miles off the coast of Costa Rica, Cocos Island is one of the world’s greatest spots for scuba diving with sharks. A 34-hour boat ride takes thrill seekers to this lush and secluded island, where scalloped hammerheads and whitetips school in billowing masses amid the nutrient-rich currents. This UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site was declared a national park in 1978, and offers divers unparalleled opportunities to swim with large numbers of marine predators.

Cocos Island fast facts

  • The island is uninhabited

  • Cocos receives approximately 275 inches of annual rainfall

  • Best time to see large numbers of hammerhead sharks is May-November (rainy season)

  • Visitors dive from a custom live-aboard boat for the 10-day trip

  • Accessible via San Jose to Puntarenas, where live-aboard boats depart

  • Named the world’s most beautiful island by Jacques Cousteau

  • Recommended for advanced divers due to strong currents

  • Most of the dive sites are volcanic islets with a max. depth of 130 feet

  • Average water temperature is  72-83 degrees; wetsuits required

Diversity of aquatic life

scuba-diving-cocos-island

Circling masses of hammerhead sharks are the main draw of Cocos Island, but divers can also expect to cross paths with other species including tiger, silky, Galapgos, blacktip and whitetip reef sharks that scour the underwater seamounts for food. Though slightly less common, whale sharks – some reaching over 18-feet in length –also swim through the strong currents surrounding Cocos Island. Divers often glimpse graceful manta rays, marble and eagle rays, as well as green sea turtles, dolphins, parrotfish, moray eels, jacks and snapper.

Popular dive sites

There are nearly 20 dive sites around this volcanic seamount, which is home to some 260 species of fish. Pelagic sea life among the submerged pinnacles is especially abundant between 60 and 90 feet. Bajo Alcyone is the most notable site for massive manta rays and scalloped hammerheads, which can number in the hundreds at this cleaning station. Dirty Rock is another dynamic site known for its pelagic marine life and thriving masses of hammerheads and other apex predators. Night dives at Manuelita promise close encounters with unbelievable numbers of whitetip reef sharks as they hunt their prey.

Top 5 Activities in Manuel Antonio

Sunday, September 20th, 2015

Need inspiration planning your Manuel Antonio beach vacation? From wildlife watching and jet skiing to sipping fruity cocktails at sunset, there’s no shortage of things to do and see in this dreamy beach town. And if you’re searching for a villa with ocean views, Escape Villas has an extensive portfolio of luxurious Manuel Antonio rentals – some with direct views of the park! Here’s a few of our favorite things to do in this Central Pacific hamlet, where jungle meets sea.

Banana boat rides – not just for kids!

parasail-manuel-antonio

Hang on to your friends and fellow guests as you traverse the warm Pacific waters in an inflatable banana boat. Equal parts relaxing and adrenaline-pumping, this tour jumps into high gear as riders – who are always wearing life vests –occasionally get bucked off the boat. A fun and exciting trip for both the young and young-at-heart.

Monkey watching in Manuel Antonio National Park

A budget-friendly $10 gets you entrance into one of the world’s most beautiful national parks (according to Forbes magazine). And within these boundaries live hundreds of curious and playful primates, among other interesting creatures. You don’t have to be super sleuth to discover the park’s crafty white-faced monkeys, which love to hang around Espadilla Beach. In fact, the park is home to three species of monkey –white-faced, squirrel and howler monkey – which scour the canopies in search of their favorite leaves, fruit and insects.

Giddy up, partner – explorations on horseback

Horseback riding is a national pastime in Costa Rica and the secluded backcountry roads and plantations surrounding Manuel Antonio make the perfect backdrop for an equine excursion. Tours are available for riders of all levels and ages, and typically include a pit stop for lunch and a swim at a hidden waterfall.

Up, up and away – Parasailing

Take flight on this popular tour that is sure to get the adrenaline surging.  Parasailing tours in Manuel Antonio take guests a staggering 600 feet above the beach, offering jaw-dropping views of the coastline and adjacent islands. This 15-minute tour will be one of the highlights of your trip!

sunset-drinks-manuel-antonio-beach

Pool or beach side relaxation

There’s no shame in enjoying a little relaxation during your beach getaway, and Manuel Antonio has three gorgeous beaches from which to sunbathe, people gaze, snorkel or snooze. Choose a shady spot beneath a sea almond tree or rent a comfy beach chair with umbrella for the day. Delicious snacks, cooling drinks and massages will come to you.

 

Stand Up Paddle Boarding in Costa Rica

Sunday, September 20th, 2015

sup-costa-rica-arenalStand up Paddle (SUP) boarding is making waves in Costa Rica, where this burgeoning sport has proven an excellent way to explore scenic waterways while improving your balance. If you’re new to SUP, don’t fear. Paddle boarding is a fun and relaxing way to walk on water (so to speak), and can be as easy or challenging as you’d like. Placid waters are a dream to meander and for those who yearn for more heart-thumping action, Mal Pais, Nosara and Pavones offer bigger waves for the advanced. Hopefully, your Costa Rica vacation will include some water sports, and if SUP is on your list – follow these five handy tips for beginners!

Flat water is a SUP beginner’s best friend

Stand up paddle boarding is a bit like yoga in that it demands a certain degree of balance and flexibility. If this is your first time on a board, consider taking a SUP tour on Lake Arenal, where the waters are calm and the winds usually whip up baby waves that won’t throw your balance.  Plus, you’ll be paddling in full view of Arenal Volcano – an extraordinary backdrop for any visitor!

Falling is normal (and fun)

Unless you’re a pro, you can expect to take a tumble or two on your first paddling foray. Everyone’s learning curve is different, but it usually takes a few tries to get the hang of paddle boarding. A life jacket and ankle leash are important safety gear to use, no matter where your adventure takes you.

Go with experience

stand-up-paddle-boarding-costa-rica

 

There are tons of trusted operators who offer SUP adventure tours in Costa Rica, complete with veteran tour guides who can show you the ropes. An experienced instructor will show you how to take a wide stance, keep your paddle in the correct position and maintain stability in choppy waters. If you’re already an expert at SUP but want to travel light, you can rent gear in popular surf towns including Jaco and Tamarindo.

Keep your eyes on the horizon

In your quest for a Zen-like yoga pose on the SUP board, many paddlers say that looking at a fixed point in the distance really helps keep your balance.

Popular SUP destinations in Costa Rica

Learn the basics of stand up paddle boarding or test your mettle on Costa Rica’s epic waves in these hotspots:

  • Lake Arenal near La Fortuna

  • Playa Herradura, on the outskirts of Jaco

  • Playa Avellenas, near Tamarindo Beach

  • Manuel Antonio

  • Pavones – home to one of the world’s longest left breaks

 

Statistics Indicate another Banner Year for Costa Rica Tourism

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

The Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) reports that tourism is up this year, with 4.4 percent more visitors arriving in the country’s two international airports during the first six months of 2015. The bulk of travelers hail from the United States, Canada and European nations, say tourism officials. These numbers reflect an increase in the number of flights and routes offered by international carriers to meet the rising demand for Costa Rica vacations.

Average stay is just over 12 days

costa-rica-travel

During the first half of 2015, travelers stayed an average of 12.4 nights, which according to ICT officials, is one of the lengthiest stays in the realm of travel. Visitors are also spending more money during their holidays in Costa Rica. Travelers arriving via the San Jose international airport spent roughly $1,635 during their vacation contrasted by $802 for tourists who flew into the Liberia airport in Guanacaste.

More flights and strategic routes offered by airlines

Costa Rica Tourism Minister Mauricio Ventura attributes the uptick in travelers to enhanced promotion efforts abroad as well as the availability of new non-stop flights from a number of carriers. Acclaimed airline British Airways announced it will begin a direct London to San Jose route in May of 2016, which will surely boost numbers of U.K. visitors. Costa Rica takes the honor of the first Central American destination for this prestigious airline.  Budget carrier Spirit Airlines made headlines this year when it began non-stop connections between San Jose and Houston, Texas, offering flights four times a week. And United Airlines announced they will start direct flights between both San Jose and Liberia and Denver, Colorado.

Local airline expands fleet

costa-rica-airport-tourism

One of Costa Rica’s premier regional carriers, Nature Air, is also taking measures to accommodate larger numbers of travelers. The company recently purchased four new aircraft (seating 19 passengers each), which will take to the skies this coming December. Nature Air currently flies to 15 destinations within Costa Rica, including hot spots like Tamarindo, Manuel Antonio/Quepos, Tortuguero, Arenal , Nosara and Drake Bay. In addition, this carbon neutral airline also connects to popular destinations in Panama and Nicaragua. Most domestic flights last only 20 to 45 minutes, saving tourists two to five hours of driving time to beach destinations.

Dominical Beckons with Wildlife & Adventure

Monday, August 31st, 2015

Dominical’s palm-kissed beaches feel worlds away from civilization. Perched in a hammock overlooking the shore, travelers are lulled by the surging crashes of water against rock and sand. Yet this burgeoning Costa Rica vacation destination is more accessible than ever, thanks to smoothly paved roads and local airlines SANSA and Nature Air. Oft described as a sort of Robinson Crusoe type of town, Dominical lures adventurers, wildlife lovers and surfers who want to hang ten on one of the world’s longest left breaks.

Dominical at a glancehumpback-whale-watching-dominical

Location: Pacific Coast, 29 miles south of Manuel Antonio & Quepos
Major Attractions: Nauyaca Waterfalls, Hacienda Baru Wildlife Refuge and the Osa Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary
Accommodations:  Ocean view and jungle villas, all-inclusive resorts, hotels, and budget hostels
Mostly caters to: Nature lovers; couples; families and nature enthusiasts
Weather:  Dry season months (December- April); Green Season (May-October)
Temperature: Average daily temperatures 77 – 89 degrees F

A secluded beach destination 4 hours from San Jose

Driving to Dominical from the San Jose international airport (SJO) is a snap via the Caldera Highway 27 and Route 34, which meander past dense African Palm fields and the popular beach towns of Jaco and Manuel Antonio. In less than four hours (or just 35 minutes by air!) you have arrived in paradise. Most of the town’s roads are unpaved, a signal that you’re off the tourist trail and in relaxation mode.

Tree climbing and canopy tours in Hacienda Baru

The rugged mountains framing Dominical are filled with primary and secondary rainforest, tumbling waterfalls and brackish rivers that are teeming with flora and fauna of every size and shape. Two-toed sloths, toucans, howler and white-faced monkeys and vibrant poison dart frogs make their home in this biodiverse habitat. Just a mile north of the town, Hacienda Baru Wildlife Refuge offers tree climbing and zip-line tours in its massive protected area.

Family-friendly ride to Nauyaca Waterfalls

nauyaca-waterfalls-dominical-tour

Giddy-up partner, it’s time for a leisurely and scenic horseback ride to some of the area’s most stunning cascades at Nauyaca Waterfalls. Cool, mountain water flows over three tiers in this 130-foot natural wonder. The excursion includes pit stops for wildlife watching and a hearty, tropical breakfast before arriving at the falls where you can swim in the natural pools or climb up for a jump.  The horses are well-trained and suitable for riders of all levels including children as young as five.

Dolphin & whale watching at Marina Ballena National Park

This privileged part of the country enjoys nearly year-round whale watching in nearby Ballena National Marine Park, where humpbacks come to breed and bare their young. Depending on the weather conditions, tours may offer snorkeling in addition to sightseeing.

To enjoy this transcendent setting in the lap of luxury, please contact us about our available Dominical vacation villas – and be sure to ask about low season specials!

Day Tripping to Cano Island

Friday, January 30th, 2015

Part archeological site, part diving and snorkeling paradise – the 740 acre Cano Island is worth a visit during your Costa Rica travels. Conveniently accessed from the central or southern Pacific, Cano Island is situated roughly 12 miles from Drake Bay, and is renowned for its amazing marine life and high visibility – averaging around 40-50 feet. Swirling schools of jacks, colorful reef fish, white tip sharks and moray eel sightings are not uncommon in this biological reserve.

Cano Island a beautiful reserve to take a day trip to

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Cano Island: location and fast facts

  • Location: Osa Peninsula, 12 nautical miles by boat from Drake Bay
  • Reserve admission fee: $10.00 (included in package tours)
  • Total area: 6,669 maritime acres, 740 land acres
  • Overnight stays and camping are not permitted (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…)

Dominical Prepares for Envision Festival 2015

Friday, December 26th, 2014

Mark your calendars, folks, the fifth annual Envision Festival in Costa Rica’s lush Southern Pacific Coast starts February 26 and runs through March 1, 2015. Equal parts music festival and eco-conscious gathering, the event is expected to draw at least a thousand more visitors this year, as more eco-minded travelers partake in this spectacular microcosm of performance art and spiritual enlightenment.

Dominical prepares for the Envision Festival Costa Rica

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Envision Festival 2015 hosted in Uvita

Envision isn’t your average music festival, but rather an epic conglomeration of talented musicians, artists, yogis, natural healers, and legendary teachers. Just like last year, the festival will be held in Uvita, just a few miles south of Dominical. An Envision attendee at the 2014 festival spoke about her incredible experiences, including healing massages; “flying yoga;” all night dances on the beach; and healthful cuisine lovingly prepared with fresh, organic ingredients. The setting couldn’t be more inspiring: a jungle backdrop where luxuriant rainforest meets the sea. (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

Check Here For Vacation Rentals We Offer In Several Areas

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…)





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