Archive for the ‘Costa Rica’ Category

Tamales of Costa Rica

Saturday, December 22nd, 2018

Tamales in Costa RicaOne thing that makes Costa Ricans truly happy and they spend a lot of family time doing is making Tamales. This is a very foreign thing to most North Americans and Europeans. You might have heard of the Looney Tunes version of Hot Tamales but actually having them and experiencing the tradition in real life if something definitely worth finding out.

Now there are many different types of Tamales from Meat to Vegetarian, to Dessert Tamales. Traditionally Ticos will put meat in there Tamales the most common being Pork or Chicken. It isn’t unheard of to put beef or fish as well. Generally, the whole family is apart of this tradition from preparing the ingredients to wrapping them in plantain leaves and then boiling them in a massive pot. On average a family will make about 100 Tamales, and the fridge will be stocked for weeks. This is a great practice because you will be able to feed every one visiting your home easily, cooking dinner can be as simple as boiling a few Tamales. Now Costa Ricans will eat this for breakfast lunch and dinner literally.

We have included a well-proven recipe so you can try at home, it is definitely worthwhile watching some videos on prepping the ingredients and what is the best way of wrapping the Tamales so they cook properly.

Costa Rica Tamales ingredientsIngredients

Meat and stock

Two whole chickens, cut into pieces
Three bunches celery, cut in large chunks
Two red bell peppers, cut in chunks
Two onions, cut in slices
Two carrots, cut in large pieces
One bunch of cilantro
One bunch of parsley
Fresh oregano and thyme
Salt, pepper, Worchester sauce, annatto paste
One garlic head
Oil

Tamales

Six cups ground corn masa
Six cups mashed potatoes
250 grams base of ground pork rind
One quarter cups pork lard
Sixteen cups stock from the meat
Salt and pepper
Three – Four Tbsp complete seasoning
Powdered hot chili pepper (optional)
One tsp garlic powder

So why not try this at home, you most certainly do not have to make over a hundred Tamales but try your had at just a few and see how great they can taste. The best way to taste this delicacy is to actually visit Costa Rica During the holiday season and try some at a restaurant or from a Costa Rican home. From the Central Valley all the way to Manuel Antonio to Limon you will find Tamales all over Costa Rica. You will get to experience Costa Rica first hand and see what all the fuss is about.

When will you be visiting Costa Rica?

70 years without an Army

Saturday, December 8th, 2018

No army in Costa RicaDecember 1st, 1948 was one of Costa Rica’s biggest accomplishments, that of abolishing its army. This one move brought an era of peace to Costa Rica that has lasted for over seventy years. Instead of pooling its extra resources into military Costa Rica has invested it in education, environment, and safety of its citizens. This all seems to have panned out well as we see Costa Rica is the safest country in Central America, has one of the highest literacy rates and, truly focusses on safeguarding the natural resources and animals found in the country.

Celebrating 70 years

The celebration was commemorated at Plaza de la Democracia in San José, with the president Carlos Alvarado The Costa Rican president is quoted saying “It is with enormous honor and pride as a Costa Rican that I partake in this commemoration — one that is unique throughout the world,” Alvarado said. “My heart fills with joy and patriotic love for this country of ours. It is an occasion that unites us with our history and throughout generations.

Proud with no Military

Ticos are very proud to not have a military, they take pride in differencing themselves from other countries that have much higher violent tendencies. Since 1948 Costa Rica has not had any large internal conflicts. Where as if you look at other nations like Nicaragua, Guatemala El Salvador, and Mexico all of these have had large conflict including civil wars and mass rioting. Comparing Costa Rica to Nicaragua this past year we see that Nicaragua had a large problem for many months with riots and a large death toll. Whereas looking at Costa Rica this past year there were conflicts but on a much more peaceful scale and far from the brink of civil war. Looking now at Panama they have followed suit with Costa Rica and disbanded there military in 1996, causing an uprise in stability countrywide.

No ArmyGrowing the country

With it now coming upon 4 generations without an army, Costa Rica is adamant about continually making the country safe and strong for future generations. The country continues to fund projects like promoting the use of electric vehicles, using hydro dams, windmills, and other green ways to produce electricity. We also see not having a military has only benefited it, citizens, with better education, healthcare, and safety.

Protecting Costa Rica

Although not having the military does have one drawback. Who will protect the country if others try to take over? maybe there isn’t a military but there is a large police influence countrywide. In 1996 the police force was created for patrolling borders,  controlling the drug trade, and general law enforcement. This police force does a great job a busting drug trafficking and general enforcement of the law. Additionally, the united states military provides help when needed having a regular presence with the coast guard and will step in if a military conflict happens.

All of this has contributed to peace and happiness in Costa Rica, helping the small county to grow for the better.

The Quepos Pez Vela Marina

Thursday, November 22nd, 2018

Pez Vela Marina Bright LightsThe Pez Vela Marina located in Quepos is the largest and by far the best marina on the Central Pacific side of Costa Rica. The Marina has 195 wet slips available, 91 of them being newly added. They accommodate vessels that are up to 200 ft long and an operating depth of 14 ft. Additionally, there is 40 dry-rack spots available with a dry-lift forklift onsite. On top of this the Marina itself is uniquely shaped with a Cofferdam, this protects the wet slips from strong waves and currents, especially during a storm.

The Marina is so much more than a spot to dock your boat, unlike most Marinas, this one is actually pleasant to the eyes. With beautiful walkways and spots to relax it is more of a nice spot for tourists than you might think. A lot of thought and time was spent by the locals and businesses making it the place it is today. All this beautifying of the marina has brought a good image to the small town and draws thousands of tourist each year. Also, this is a place you can feel safe while on vacation, crime is to a minimum and the cleanliness of the town makes it that much better. One event that the Marina puts on each year is the Bright Lights Boat Parade, Normally in November, this event is one of pure lights and celebration. Each year the whole Marina lights up like a Christmas tree along with the boats.

Activities and Tours

The Marina is the main spot for the majority of water-related activities. Sports fishing is one of the biggest and most popular tours that vacationers and locals do here. Fishing in Costa Rica is all catch and release, this helps to prevent overfishing and preserves many species. Although you will still enjoy the thrill of the catch with some extra large fish waiting for you out in the waters, including Dorado, Marlin, Roosterfish, Sailfish, and Yellow-fin Tuna. There are also several different tournaments that the marina puts on throughout the year including, the Quepos Billfish Cup, Marina Pez Vela Open, Dorado Derby, Rockstar Offshore Tournament, and Billfish Championship.

Marina Seating AreaAnother activity tourists mainly love doing here is scuba diving and snorkeling. Diving, you will be able to see a lot more wildlife and explore the deeper part off of the coast, although you do need a divers license. With Snorkeling, this is more of an activity that the whole family can enjoy, you can still see amazing marine life while sticking closer to the surface. On top of all the colorful fish you might see, there are many Dolphins, Manta Rays, Whale sharks, and several types of Whales. This brings us to another activity out of the Marina, Whale watching. Year round you will be able to spot mainly Humpback whales, also Blue Whales, Orcas, Sperm Whales, and others on occasion.

There are many other activities you can do in the area including Kayaking, White Water Rafting, Sailing Tours, Canopy Tours, Jet Ski tours, and Wave Runner Rental, take a look at all the tours here.

Restaurants and shops

Quepos is also known for is small shops and many restaurants. You will notice many seafood restaurants in the area, but there is a large variety of foods and cuisines you can eat. Quepos is a bustling little tourist town with almost everything you might need. Banks, Shopping centers, Grocery Stores and neat little tourist shops. Just down the road, you will come upon Manuel Antonio having even more touristy things to do including beaches and the National Park.

Air view of marinaWhere to Stay

Depending on what you want to do in Quepos or Manuel Antonio you may be looking to stay nearby. Escape Villas offers many of the best villas and vacation homes for you to stay in. If you have a large group, you should look at the Casa Fantastica, Casa Las Brisas, and the famous Tree House, check out some of the Villas in Manuel Antonio.

To show your support for the development of this amazing Marina, the best thing you can do is show up as a tourist and check out some of the events or have fun on any of the tours. When will you be visiting?

Saving the Titi Monkey

Saturday, November 17th, 2018

Titi monkey familyVisiting Costa Rica you will come to see that there are four different types of Monkeys, the lengthy Spider Monkey, the Howler, the Capuchin Monkey, and of course the smallest but cutest Titi Monkey. Each has outstanding traits and unique features, but one trait that has haunted our little friend the Titi monkey since 1996 is that it is Endangered. The area you find these monkeys also called the grey-crowned squirrel monkey is all along the Central Pacific, when you visit Manuel Antonio area you will be able to spot them in the trees.

What threatens the Titi Monkey

There are all kinds of things that have contributed to the little monkey’s predicament. Mainly though the problem lies in habitat loss. Ever since the start of the thriving banana industry in the 1930s, the Titis habitat has exponentially decreased. Once beautiful forested areas have been transformed into farmland. This deforestation has brought the population down to very small numbers, estimates in 1983 of over 200 000 have been brought down to 4000 individuals of the total species in Costa Rica. Some even say they have come down as far as only 2000 individuals of the Titi monkey.

Other things threated them as well, herbicides, pesticides, and the illegal pet trade.

Titi monkey on treeHow are we helping

In 2001 the Titi Conservation Alliance was created by a group of business owners in the in the Ecotourism industry. This organization helps out the Titis by helping tourists get to know what the problems are that the little monkeys face and how we can help out. They have reforested over 77000 native trees back to mainly private property areas but with a 95% success rate. This truly helps out the monkeys because it is a start to bringing their habitats back.  The best way to help out is to educate the public about these beautiful creatures. All of this wonderful effort doesn’t just help out the one species of monkey but thousands of other animal species as well. Check out the other species of Monkey in Costa Rica

So the next time you come to Costa Rica, think about how you can help, possibly with donations, volunteering for appropriate organizations, or even just by helping others to know about the growing issues that animals like the Titi monkey face every day.

Costa Rica is a place that drives ahead conservation and innovation for helping keep the earth alive. When is the next time you are visiting Costa Rica? Perhaps we can help you find your own piece of paradise while you are traveling.

Flowers of Costa Rica

Friday, November 2nd, 2018

The Flora of Costa Rica is astonishing the number of different species of plants that live here, give a new hope for this earth and what will be happening in the near future. Costa Rica includes a whopping Nine thousand different species of flowering plants and over 800 different species of ferns. You will also find many other different varieties of Costa Rica’s Flora throughout the country.

Costa Rica national flowerThe National Flower

The flowers of Costa Rica are really its pride and joy who doesn’t love looking at the vibrant shapes and colors that make up the many different species you will find here. One of the most famous flowers you will find is called the Guaria Morada. This is also Costa Rica’s National flower, this particular flower was chosen on June 15, 1939, as the national flower. You will see this flower used particularly during holy week and easter as a decoration. Traditionally Ticos would decorate there inner courtyards and roofs with the Guaria Morada.

 

heliconiaHeliconia

Since there over nine thousand different flowering plants you may be wondering what some of the more popular ones are. One famous type of flower here is called the Heliconia there are several types you will see both hanging upsides down and pointing upward in many different colorations.

 

 

The Bird of paradise flowerBird of Paradise

The Bird of paradise is aptly named for its bird-like shape and beautiful colors, this photo was taken in the central valley of Costa Rica. This flower takes a little while before it takes root and starts blooming, from three to five years before it starts fully blooming.

 

 

Hot lips plantHot Lips Plant

First finding this particular flower you may question whether it is real or not but it sure is. This is not a very common plant but you will certainly know it once you see it. You can find this plant in Manuel Antonio though you might have to ask around.

 

 

Trumpet umbrella plantTrumpet Umbrella Plant

This is yet another very unique flower, this one grows on a small tree or bush and as the name details it is shaped conically like a trumpet and hangs upside down in an umbrella fashion.

 

 

Purple passion flowerPurple Passion Flower

The Purple Passion Flower is something else. It looks like a psychedelic scene you would see in a kaleidoscope. With vibrant purples and a light red in the center, then little white squiggle lines, and a few yellow sprouts in the center.

 

 

Dutchmans PipeDutchman’s Pipe Flower

The largest flower in Costa Rica is called the Dutchman’s Pipe. It measures from 10 – 20 centimeters in size. This may not be the most colorful flower but certainly deserves to be on this list for it shear size.

 

 

Now, these are only a small selection of the flowers and flora in Costa Rica.  To truly experience the colors and smells you will need to come and find out for yourself. All over the country, you will find these gorgeous works of art just waiting for you to take pictures, but please be kind and leave these plants where they are growing so other vacationers can appreciate their beauty as well.  Why not book a villa today we have lots of space for you and your family to stay whether its a large group or just a small family we can help you.

Amazing wonders of Costa Rica

Thursday, October 11th, 2018

green flashGreen Flash

Imagine sitting on one of Manuel Antonio‘s restaurant patios at sunset enjoying a refreshing beverage and cool ocean breeze when suddenly the sky turns green.
It’s called the green flash, a phenomenon that occurs when conditions are just right as the sun disappears below the horizon. The flash only lasts a second or two, but what a moment!
The green flash is one of many unexpected delights for you and your family.

Water Stars

It’s called bioluminescence, a mostly tropical occurrence when plankton, jellyfish and other marine organisms glow a ghostly blue. You can experience this unforgettable Spheresencounter when you book an Escape Villas Vacation Rental.

Spheres

Costa Rica is a beautiful country. It also has its share of mysteries. Perhaps the greatest mystery was the discovery of thousands of perfectly round stone balls ranging in size from that of a baseball to 7 feet in diameter and weighing 16 tons. Archeologists say the spheres were made by humans 1600 years ago. Yet no tools were ever found and the quarries where this type of rock exists were 50 miles away. How do you roll a 16-ton ball of rock through dense, mountainous rainforest?

Howlers

You’re likely to hear a howler monkey before you see one. And what a sound! The male’s long, deep growl has been compared to everything from a lion’s roar to an enormous angry bullfrog trapped in a trash can. In truth, the howler’s intimidating growl misrepresents the gentle nature of these mostly leaf-eating monkeys. The big sound of a howler monkey is produced by the hyoid bone, a hollow bone near the vocal cords that amplifies sound. This bone in the male is 25 times larger than monkeys of a comparable size. The roar of the male can last several seconds and can be heard for 2 miles. The sound is primarily used to locate other members of the troop, but howlers will also “go off” if disturbed or confronted by predators or more aggressive monkeys.

The Cocos island

Cocos Island has been rated one of the planet’s top 10 scuba diving destinations for good reason. This uninhabited island, some 340 miles off Costa Rica’s shores, draws hundreds of scalloped hammerheads sharks that feed in its nutrient-rich currents. Swimming with hundreds of apex marine predators is a truly amazing and surreal experience!

flower-8Colorful plants

If you have ever traveled to Costa Rica during the green season you will certainly find out why it is called that. Greenery overflows almost everywhere including the roadways, which require regular maintenance, you will notice the large crews with weed whackers grooming the sides.  Of course, a lot of these plants are just tall grasses but many of them are unique and colorful flowers you didn’t know existed. Costa Rica is well known for its well known for its large variety of plants.

Facts about the Costa Rica Independance Day

Sunday, September 16th, 2018

196 years
Costa Rica flag

This year, Costa Rica celebrates its 196th year of independence from Spain on Sept. 15. The country shares its independence day with Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. All over the country from Manuel Antonio to San Jose to Limon people will be celebrating in there own way.

Complete Independence

Costa Rica finally became a completely independent nation in 1838, when it separated from the Central American Republic.

It’s a national holiday

Sept. 15 is a national holiday and businesses, banks and government institutions will be closed. Since it is a national holiday and this year with it falling on a Friday, most people will take advantage of the long weekend for a vacation.

Marching bandsMarching Bands

School marching bands, color guards and folkloric dancers parade through nearly every town on the morning of Sept. 15. Schoolchildren practice for several months in preparation. Traditional foods are usually sold by street vendors. You will enjoy the colorful outfits and traditional music.

Traditional clothing

Costa Rica traditional clothing for men is usually white cotton pants and a white button-up shirt with a red sash belt, a red handkerchief tied at the neck, and a straw hat. Women wear long, flowing, vivid multi-colored skirts in layers, with a white, ruffled, sleeveless blouse (usually embroidered or with ribbons), a choker band necklace, and their hair pulled up in complicated braids or a bun and decorated with a big flower.

CrowdsThe Flag

There have been eight versions of Costa Rica’s flag since it was first created in 1823. The current version has been in place since 1964.

The Torch

Starting on the 9th of September in Guatemala people light the “Independence Torch” and then by foot carry it through Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and ending in Cartago, Costa Rica on the 14th, the eve of Independence Day. The torch has now become an important national symbol for Costa Ricans.

Cuisine

On this day Costa Ricans break out all kinds of their famous cuisines including Gallo Pinto, Empanadas, and Tamales alongside there favorite national beers Imperial and Pilsen or some settle for coffee or Aqua Dulce.

Whatever you are doing on this day next year you may want to come visit on your next vacation for this one of a kind experience of culture.

The Poas Volcano Reopening

Saturday, September 1st, 2018

Poas Volcano National ParkPoas Volcano is certainly one of the most iconic Volcanos in Costa Rica and Latin America. This perfectly shaped Volcano was closed in April of 2017, and due to this closure caused a difficult economic situation for residents and store owners in the are

Due to this tough situation, the legislator has approved a law to give up to ten percent of the Poas National Parks entrance fee to be used for developing the surrounding municipality. This development will help with projects and strategies to promote sustainable tourism in the Poas area.

The national park is slated to open the third week of August, bringing back the much-needed tourism to the area. Poas should certainly be in your travel plans when you come to Costa Rica. There are roughly two hours of trails at the top of the volcano, giving you lots to do when you visit. Make sure to check out the amazing views before hiking on the trails. You may even want to plan a day trip to Poas and the area. There are many things you can do including visiting the La Paz Waterfall Gardens.

Crater at Poas Volcano National ParkEven though the park will be opened access with be limited to 50 people at a time. To access the park you will be able to purchase tickets online. Visiting the crater will be opened for twenty minutes at a time. The Botos lake trail is closed for the time being.

Poas Volcano National Park is also still under remodeling of two existing structures and the new construction of three buildings. This renovation of the structure of the national park with revitalize the trails and give visitors a better experience.

It certainly is worth the time to visit this amazing volcano, let us know if you would like to visit the Poas Volcano National Park or need a place to stay in the area. Crater atPoas Volcano National ParkCrater atPoas Volcano National Park

 

 

 

 

 

Affordable trails of Costa Rica

Sunday, 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

Sunday, 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

Wednesday, 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

Wednesday, 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 – 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 – particularly among the black coastal community. Calypso – which has its roots in Trinidad – 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

Wednesday, 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

Wednesday, 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

Wednesday, 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

Wednesday, 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

Tuesday, 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

Monday, 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

Saturday, 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

Top Things to pack for Costa Rica

Tuesday, 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





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