Archive for the ‘National Parks’ Category

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.

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

Five of our favorite Beaches

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

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

Manuel Antonio Costa Rica1. Manuel Antonio

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

2. Tamarindo

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

3. Flamingo

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

Flamingo Beach Costa Rica4. Dominical

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

5. Ostional

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 8th, 2016

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

Caribbean coast garners praise from Lonely Planet

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

Ideal for surfing, snorkeling and beach lovers

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

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

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

Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica

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

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.

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.

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!

Tortuguero — the Ultimate Spot for Viewing Nesting Sea Turtles

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

sea-turtle-nesting-tortuguero A recent feature in Forbes magazine extolls the many charms of Tortuguero, the crown jewel of Costa Rica’s northern Caribbean coast. Author Sherrie Nachman was enamored with the sloths, howler monkeys and toucans of this authentic hamlet, but was truly dazzled by the dozens of nesting sea turtles that return to its shores year after year. In fact, Tortuguero is the Western Hemisphere’s largest nesting site for the green sea turtle, one of several endangered species that frequent this unique area of Costa Rica.

Green sea turtle nesting period

Green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) are the most common species to nest in Tortuguero, though loggerhead, hawksbill and leatherback also frequent its protected beaches. The official nesting season for green sea turtles is July 1st through October 31st, but visitors may witness females lumbering ashore into the early weeks of November. Turtle tours, led by professionally-trained naturalist guides, are only held at night when the bulk of the action is happening.  Turtle sightings are never guaranteed, but if you visit during the nesting season, you’re likely to view anywhere from 2-5 ancient-looking reptiles with the help of eagle-eyed turtle spotters.

Evening turtle tours unveil the miracle of life

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Guests are asked to wear dark clothing, leave their flashlights and cell phones at the lodge, and follow the quiet footsteps of their guide as sighting information comes in. Unobtrusive infrared lights are used to watch these magnificent creatures (some weighing more than 400 pounds!) as they use their powerful flippers to dig deep holes in the soft sand. Each female then deposits roughly 100-110 eggs, which will be incubated under the warming rays of the sun. Interestingly, the future sex of the hatchlings will depend on the ambient temperature of the sand that surrounds them. Incubation typically lasts from 50 to 70 days.

Conservation efforts to protect endangered marine turtles

The green sea turtle, like most other marine reptile species is listed as endangered and is therefore protected in Costa Rica and many other countries. The community of Tortuguero has made great efforts to promote turtle conservation over the last 50 years through surveys, tagging, protecting nesting sites, and general data collection. A portion of all turtle tour proceeds goes toward these critical preservation efforts to help maintain sea turtle populations for future generations. At present, the Sea Turtle Conservancy estimates a worldwide population of between 85,000 – 90,000 nesting females.

Costa Rica Vacations – Perfect for Every Traveler

Friday, August 7th, 2015

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Whether looking for the perfect family vacation spot, honeymoon destination or your next girls’ getaway, Costa Rica fits the bill and then some! The relaxing, tropical ambiance of Costa Rica sets the perfect backdrop for a romantic anniversary or honeymoon, while national parks and wildlife reserves promise nature lovers of all ages exciting animal encounters. Find out why the land of Pura Vida offers something for everyone!

A safe and stress-free family-friendly vacation

Costa Rica prides itself on its peaceful nature, having abolished its standing army in 1948. It’s one of the safest countries in Latin America for family travel, with modern infrastructure, good roads, first-rate medical care facilities, and a largely bilingual population. Moreover, families can take advantage of Costa Rica vacation rentals that were practically made to accommodate and entertain children. Game rooms, private pools, DVD and entertainment centers and fully-equipped kitchens for meals on the fly are some of the key benefits of renting a villa during your family getaway.

Flights are easy to this exotic destination

Why spend 8 hours on a plane to Europe, when exotic landscapes are practically in your own backyard? Many people don’t realize how accessible a Costa Rica honeymoon or vacation can be – we’re less than 3 hours from Miami!  Delta, United, Frontier, JetBlue and other carriers are offering increasing numbers of non-stop flights to the Liberia and San Jose airports, at fantastic rates.

Adventures galore for the thrill-seeker

Stand-up paddle surfing, canopy zip-lines, whitewater rafting, horseback riding and waterfall rappelling are just a few of the standard adventure tours on offer. From Tamarindo beach to Puerto Viejo and everywhere in between, travelers will find outdoor activities and adventures that suit their interest and level.

Costa Rica honeymoon – ideal for rest & relaxation

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Couples have countless opportunities to revel in the romantic backdrops of Costa Rica, from bubbling volcanoes to white-sand beaches. And there’s no better place to sequester yourselves than a luxurious ocean view villa. Indulge in a private hot stone massage for couples; long walks along a palm-fringed shore; a dreamy sunset cruise with champagne toast, and gourmet meals prepared by highly talented international chefs.

Facebook Teaser:  With its balmy weather and gorgeous white-sand beaches, Costa Rica invites you to get lost in this natural paradise. Costa Rica offers something for travelers of all walks – whether you’re planning a girls-only escape, family vacation or romantic honeymoon.

7 Reasons to Visit Costa Rica in the Green Season

Friday, July 24th, 2015

Want to immerse yourself in ecotourism at its finest?  Costa Rica offers unmatched opportunities to explore the wild wonders of its tropical jungles, lowland estuaries and biodiverse cloud forests, largely in part to its extensive national park system. With May already here, the tourist ‘high season’ is winding down, and afternoon showers are popping up every few days. Locals already know that Costa Rica is at its most beautiful during this period – and here are 7 reasons why this is the best time to visit!

Bright and sunny Pavones one of many Costa Rica beaches

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Mornings are sunny for outdoor activities

The green season is named for the luxuriant foliage that is spurred by the rains. But don’t be put off by a little H20 — mornings are still clear and warm, with plenty of time for a surf lesson, a canopy tour or some R&R by the pool. Even better, the clouds often dissipate in time for spectacular sunsets. (more…)

Snorkeling Cano Island

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

Second only to Costa Rica’s Cocos Island, Cano Island (Isla del Cano) is widely considered one of the country’s top diving and snorkeling destinations. Its unspoiled beaches, rainforest spilling down to the shoreline, and lack of infrastructure remind you of a long lost paradise… one that is surprisingly accessible to travelers eager to explore its underwater mysteries.

Cano Island Costa Rica national park

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Cano Island quick facts

  • Location: 10 miles offshore from Drake Bay; 7 miles from Corcovado National Park
  • Area: 6,669 maritime acres and 496 land acres
  • Height: 123 meters above sea level
  • Protected status: Biological Reserve
  • Tourist facilities: none other than a basic ranger station; no restaurant or restrooms
  • What to bring: hat, plenty of high SPF sunscreen, T-shirt, towel, dry change of clothes, and camera. Remember to re-apply sunscreen even on overcast days. (more…)

5 Classic Arenal Adventures

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

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

Arenal Volcano adventure activities including Canyoning

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Canyoneering

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

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…)

Scarlet Macaws of Costa Rica

Friday, November 7th, 2014

Scarlet macaws, known as lapas in Costa Rica, are among the world’s largest and most colorful Neotropical parrots. Noted for its brilliant plumage and ear-piercing call, the scarlet macaw ranges from southern Mexico through Brazil and prefers humid, lowland rainforests such as those found in Corcovado National Park and sections of Carara National Park, on the outskirts of Jaco. Their presence hardly goes unnoticed, given their raucous screams and aerial acrobatics, which are a delight to behold on any Costa Rican vacation.

Scarlet Macaws of Costa Rica can be found all over and in National Parks

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Scarlet macaw sightings in Costa Rica

For avian enthusiasts, Carara and Corcovado National Parks are two prime spots for observing wild scarlet macaws in all their glory, though flocks are sometimes spotted up and down the Central Pacific coast. As their name implies, plumage is predominantly red, with accents of blue and bright gold on their flight and tail feathers. This species can measure up to 32 inches long and weigh just over two pounds. Unfortunately, the pet trade and habitat destruction in Costa Rica have reduced their range considerably over the past 100 years. They once inhabited rainforests all over the country, including the Caribbean slope, but are now contained in select pockets of jungle. (more…)





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