Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Safe Travels in 2019

Thursday, January 17th, 2019

Safe travels in 2019 Costa RicaWith 2018 well on its way out and 2019 here we have some renewed expectations for the year. Safe travel through Costa Rica is a big concern and 2018 brought a damper on whether you should visit Costa Rica or not. While most travel agencies and tourism traps will say that Costa Rica hasn’t changed and that it is as safe as it was ten years ago but the truth is you do have to keep your guard up really anywhere you go. Worldwide it is good to plan out where you are going and have good contacts.

Tips for staying safe

In 2018 we saw a nasty plane crash, a rafting accident and several kidnappings that really affected the way tourists look at Costa Rica as a whole. This for 1 can be partly blamed on Costa Rica in general for not keeping up with regulations, 2nd on how many unregistered immigrants are coming into the Country and lastly the general increase in Tourism throughout the country. As the tourism industry keeps increasing it is fare to see that there will be those good and bad trying to take advantage of the boom. So how can we be safe as a tourist? Firstly the government is seeing this increase and is upping the anty with safety programs and how police are keeping the general public and tourists safe. Another thing to keep in mind is that a lot of your safety also depends on you. It’s true that there are criminals out there that need to be stopped but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a great vacation. A lot of the bad stories/experiences we heard from last year have a commonality. That most of the situations could have ended differently.

For instance, traveling alone! not that traveling alone is bad, but it can be much safer to travel in a group or with a companion. This way you can watch each others back and even enjoy your travels a bit more. Another point is traveling at night, while walking a romantic beach setting at night might seem like fun this is also where most tourists get themselves hurt or worse. Instead, you could travel that romantic beach during daytime while more people are out and about. Also, keep in mind what you are using for transportation. Are you using a reputable company down here during your travels? Or are you just hitch-hiking your way from town to town? Lastly, what are your accommodations? If you are staying at the cheapest of cheap locations then it’s likely you are going to be less safe, than say sparing that extra 50-100 dollars per night to stay in a better place. We also do have to take into account that freak accidents happen, we can’t always control the way things turn out but we can take measures to make sure we are much more likely to come home safely. Please check out our other article on how to Stay Safe in Costa Rica.

Travelling safe in Costa RicaSafe areas of Costa Rica

What are some of the safer areas to travel to in Costa Rica? This can be complicated because in general Costa Rica is safe but there are a few areas that have a much better reputation than others. On top we would say is Manuel Antonio. This is where the majority of tourist come when visiting Costa Rica and it not just for the beautiful area but because authorities work extra hard to make sure this area prospers. La Fortuna or the Arenal region is another big tourism area that is well protected and safe for tourists to travel in, even in the evenings. Generally speaking, the Guanacaste region is pretty safe for traveling and exploring it is well built up for tourism more so than other areas of Costa Rica.

Some areas to avoid!

San Jose, this is a gorgeous city in some areas but there are also some very bad areas that you should definitely avoid. Limon the port city on the Caribbean side is also a higher crime risk for tourists. Really anywhere here can be dangerous if you are not careful, and being mindful of normal safety precautions that you take anywhere you travel.

With all this said Costa Rica is still considered one of the safest places to travel within in all Central America and most of South America even into North America. From the beautiful beaches, large Volcanos, and amazing waterfalls you are sure to love exploring this small country with a big heart.

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.

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

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

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

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.

Shopping your way through San Jose – 5 Best Spots

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

San Jose is the vibrant capital city of Costa Rica – the go-to destination for a memorable day of culture, arts, and theater. The city is also fantastic for a bit of retail therapy, whether you’re picking up some souvenirs for friends or want a piece of original Costa Rican art for your home. The 10 Best series in USA Today recently extolled the capital’s best shopping spots and walking streets. Here’s a recap of the top five.

 

galeria-namu-shopping1. Avenida Central  This bustling pedestrian street has dozens of excellent cafes and restaurants that will fuel a long day of strolling, people-watching, and shopping. Browse the ever-popular Universal and La Gloria stores after taking in the Avenida’s permanent art displays.

 

2.  Galeria Namu  This little gem isn’t far from the Jade Museum in downtown San Jose. The gallery features dozens of handcrafted, fair-trade items from local artisans that are affordably priced. You’ll find lovely pre-Columbian pottery, oil paintings, woven baskets, and hand-carved masks, plus lots of other textiles and interesting home décor items.

 

3.  Boutique Annemarie  Looking for that one-of-a-kind gift on your Costa Rica vacation? Visit the lobby of Hotel Don Carlos for a wide selection of unique leather goods, handmade jewelry, crafts, figurines, clothing and specialty gifts. The shop has a distinctive old-fashioned ambiance, complete with antique photographs, memorabilia, and artwork.

 

4.  Caballo Loco Boutique  The horse lover in your family will appreciate a trip to this San Jose boutique, which stocks authentic equestrian clothing, gear, gifts, and more. Think leather chaps, cowboy and cowgirl hats, and the ever-popular bolo tie. Bonus: you can shop in air-conditioned comfort!

 

san-jose-mercadocentral5. Mercado Central  No visit to the nation’s capital is complete without exploring the labyrinth corridors of the Mercado Central (Central Market). A staple since 1880, the market encapsulates the lives and livelihood of Costa Ricans. Vendors sell everything from fresh produce, flowers, and cheeses to souvenir T-shirts and coffee socks. You can easily spend a full day wandering through the maze of shops, watching people as they enjoy a “cafecito” and catch up with friends. And be sure to go with an appetite—traditional food is sold everywhere and rumor has it the cinnamon vanilla ice cream is to die for!

Costa Rica at a Glance – Interesting Stats & Facts

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

In the context of memorable vacations,costa-rica-map Costa Rica evokes images of palm-fringed beaches, sultry rainforests brimming with wildlife, and the delighted yips of zip-line adventurers as they hurl their bodies from one platform to the next. But did you know that Costa Rica is also a model of environmental stewardship and boasts a long history of pacifist policies? Read on for interesting tidbits about Costa Rica’s people, history, and culture.

The people of Costa Rica

As of 2016, the population of Costa Rica hovers just under 5 million, with the majority of residents centralized in the San Jose metro area and Central Valley. More than 95 percent of “Ticos” are of European descent, and less than 2 percent of Costa Rican residents are of indigenous ancestry, many of whom live in the country’s remote mountain regions. More than a century ago, legislators declared that education was to be mandatory and free for all citizens, accounting for today’s high literacy rate of 97 percent.

No longer a cash crop nation

Formerly a cash crop nation reliant on coffee, sugar, and bananas, Costa Rica is now a major exporter of software technology and medical instruments. The country’s growing economy is driven by tourism, electronic exports, and some agriculture, and it enjoys robust foreign investment, thanks to highly incentivized free-trade zones. Compared to its Central American neighbors, Costa Rica has a large middle class, largely comprised of working class, highly-educated professionals.

Green policies and environmental focus

In 2012, Costa Rica was rated the planet’s 5th Greenest Country by the Environmental Performance Index (EPI). This tiny nation has demonstrated what many have found inconceivable: achieving nearly 100 percent renewable energy through natural resources. A winding river system and substantial rainfall provide hydroelectric power, which accounts for 80 percent of all energy production. The remaining is made up of geothermal, solar, and biomass power. With renewable-energy targets being met, Costa Rica continues a steady path toward becoming entirely carbon neutral by 2021.

costa-rica-no-armyNo army since 1948

You’ve probably heard (or learned first-hand) that Costa Rica is one of the most biologically diverse nations, housing an astounding variety of flora and fauna. Biologists claim that you’ll find more than 600 species of animal for each 10,000 square miles—compared to 104 in the U.S.! But did you know that Costa Rica abolished its standing army in 1948? This bold feat was ordered by then-President Jose Figueres Ferrer, who announced the country’s military spending would be directed toward education, health care, and environmental protection. Nearly 70 years later, it’s obvious that this bold decision has paid off.

Costa Rica Ranked Among Top Whale-Watching Destinations

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

Costa Rica has garnered numerous accolades for its earth-friendly policies, pristine beaches and incredible biodiversity. 2016 is shaping up to be another banner year for this popular eco-tourism haven. According to a recent article in National Geographic magazine, Costa Rica’s Bahia Ballena (Whale Bay) is among the world’s top ten destinations for dolphin and whale watching.

 

Bahia Ballena scores 7th place on the list

The lovely Bahia Ballena,humpback-whale-breaching located on the southern Pacific coast, is one of the planet’s crucial habitats for the humpback back whale, which migrates twice a year to the bay’s warm waters to mate and calve. Bahia Ballena was ranked seventh for whale and dolphin sighting by the venerable publication, which added that manta rays, sea turtles, bottle-nose dolphins and other marine species also enjoy protection in the sanctuary of Ballena National Marine Park. Australia’s Hervey Bay, the Valdes Peninsula in Argentina and South Africa’s Hermanus also made the list for top whale watching locales.

 

Costa Rica whale-watching season                             

Seeing a 45-foot whale breach in the ocean with a tremendous splash is on a fair number of bucket lists. Travelers to Costa Rica are especially fortunate in that whale season is happening virtually year-round. In Bahia Ballena, humpback whales are frequently spotted plying the shallower coastal waters from December to the end of April and again from July through September.  Powerful swimmers, humpbacks can weigh more than 40 tons and are easily recognized by their long pectoral fins and distinctive knobby heads. Their entertaining surface displays make them a superstar in the whale-watching community, though scientists aren’t sure what motivates breaching. Some speculate the aerial twirls are a form of communication or a means of marking territory, while others say breaching is nothing more than play.


whale-watching-costa-ricaOff the beaten path in Uvita

Bahia Ballena lies just south of Dominical and encompasses a string of uncrowded yet breathtaking beaches, including Uvita. While the area is easily accessed by car, bus or plane, it has remained relatively tranquil and undeveloped. If you’re looking for a gorgeous beach to dig your toes in soft sand, enjoy a little surfing, and watch one of Mother Nature’s most incredible marine mammals, add this spot to your Costa Rica vacation itinerary.  Boat tours depart daily during peak whale-breeding months, and afford ample opportunity to see playful dolphins and humpbacks doing what they do best. In addition, travelers to the Dominical region can also book everything from zip-line and horseback-riding tours to private yoga lessons.

Annual Envision Festival Epitomizes Costa Rican Pura Vida

Saturday, February 6th, 2016

Seeking an Enlightenment of Consciousness

Screen shot 2016-02-06 at 2.59.10 PMSince 2011, the Envision Festival, set to kick off February 25th, has brought thousands of people seeking an enlightenment of consciousness mixed with fun and excitement to Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast. The venue, located near Uvita, is a celebration of music, the arts, self-expression, and the bringing together of different cultural backgrounds. For 4 days, activities run virtually 24/7, and vary from music by Central America’s best artists, interpretive dance, and fire and juggling performers, to numerous workshops on yoga, meditation, and healing. All of these activities are set amid a backdrop of beautiful beaches, unspoiled rainforest, and, of course, the indigenous wildlife so plentiful in Costa Rica.

All are Welcome!

People from all walks of life and from around the world come to the festival to be challenged to raise their consciousness of their relationship to the environment, learn valuable lessons to improve their health and well-being, and simply have fun doing it. It’s a party with a purpose! Children are welcome, making this a great family experience. (Children under 12 are admitted free with their parents, and anyone under 18 must be accompanied by an adult parent.)

Screen shot 2016-02-06 at 3.01.12 PM For the Adventure Seekers

For those who want to add some adventure to their time at the festival, Costa Rica offers a multitude of activities  for attendees. For water buffs, the area boasts some of the world’s best snorkeling, diving, and surfing. If dry land  is your thing, then zip-lining along the canopy of virgin rainforest, hiking or riding horseback to magnificent  waterfalls, or even hopping on your own ATV and riding along the backtrails of the rainforest and along the  mountain rivers are some of the available ways to see the beauty of Costa Rica.

Provisions and Accommodations

Food—including locally grown organic fruits and vegetables—is available on the festival grounds, and water is provided free (as long as it holds out). A store (mercado) is set up for essentials, so it’s not necessary to leave the venue for the entire 4 days in most cases. Sleeping arrangements range from tents and hammocks on the beach to large vacation rental homes and villas for a VIP experience.

Don’t Miss this Great Event!Screen shot 2016-02-06 at 2.47.20 PM

According to officials, this year’s Envision Festival is nearly sold out.  Check the website http://www.envisionfestival.com/ for last-minute availability. And we can help you plan for Envision 2017. There are a lot of intriguing areas to explore and enjoy in Costa Rica. Come and see for yourself. Pura Vida!

 

Must Have Apps for Your Costa Rica Travels

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

Be prepared for every contingency with this year’s best travel apps that put critical information at your fingertips. Installing a few of these on your smartphone may prevent hassle and headaches, which nobody wants to deal with on their much anticipated vacation.  From tracking itinerary details to navigating Costa Rica’s roads, these apps are worth checking out!

TripCase collates itinerary detailstravel-apps-costarica-vacation

As you book your flight, car rental and begin to schedule tours and accommodations, you may need a little assistance organizing and managing all the details. TripCase consolidates confirmation emails and the most essential travel information like addresses, pertinent data and dates, listing everything in a chronological itinerary.

Learn local phrases with Costa Rica Idioms

Your high school Spanish will serve you well on your Costa Rica travels, but it won’t help with local slang and idioms that are a part of the daily Tico lexicon. Developed by a Costa Rica couple, this handy app instantly translates Costa Rican slang – phrases not found in textbooks — into English, giving you the upper hand in communication.

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Currency conversion made simple

The Costa Rican colon usually hovers around 530 to the US Dollar, which makes on-the-fly conversions a little challenging. For exact exchange rates every time, download the OANDA Currency Converter app.  It features a simple interface and stands out from the pack for its ability to factor the typical credit card or ATM rate (usually 2 to 3 percent) into conversions.

Never get lost with WAZE

While it’s true that road signage in Costa Rica has come a long way, even the most seasoned of travelers can use a little navigating help from time to time. WAZE to the rescue! This practical app provides real-time traffic information, and is ideal for first-time drivers in Costa Rica who are headed to parts unknown. Sourced from other drivers, this app gives you a heads up on traffic jams, detours and road closures in addition to step-by-step GPS navigation advice.

Get the scoop on weather changes

With Costa Rica’s many micro-climates, temperatures can fluctuate by as much as 15 degrees in the span of a few hours drive.  Be prepared with weather alerts, hourly and daily forecasts as well as boating and beach conditions with the Weather Channel app. Just enter your next destination for customized alerts on your smart phone.

 

Statistics Indicate another Banner Year for Costa Rica Tourism

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

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

Average stay is just over 12 days

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

More flights and strategic routes offered by airlines

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

Local airline expands fleet

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

2015: Costa Rica Ranked the Happiest Country in the World

Friday, August 21st, 2015
Costa Rica people known as Ticos

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Want to live in one of the greenest, happiest places on Earth? Then you may want to consider moving to Costa Rica!  Once again, Costa Rica tops the list as the world’s happiest country, according to results from The Happy Planet Index (HPI). While most measures of national progress focus primarily on economic growth, the HPI analyzes what matters most: the sustainable well-being of an intrinsically happy population. And year after year, this tiny Central American nation outranks dozens of more industrialized countries in terms of environmental impact, life expectancy and levels of well-being.

Costa Rica scores #1 out of 151 countries

With a population of just 4.7 million people, Costa Rica achieved 64 points (out of a total of 100) on the HPI index, which factors in ecological footprint, life expectancy and experienced well-being. For many across the globe, the HPI serves as an accurate gauge of how well a country is doing in terms of producing healthy, happy people both now and into the future.

Costa Rica has high level of well-being

happy-planet-index-costa-rica

 

Falling just behind Denmark, Costa Rica scored 7.3 out of 10 for experienced well-being, which draws on responses to a Gallup World Poll that sampled 1,000 individuals aged 15 or older in all of the 151 countries included in this year’s HPI.  Costa Rica was trailed by Thailand, Ecuador and the Philippines in this important indicator.

Small ecological footprint

The ecological footprint (amount of land necessary to sustain a country’s normal consumption) of Costa Rica is 2.52 global hectares per capita. If others had the same environmental impact as the average person in Costa Rica, the globe’s eco footprint would be 5 percent lower.

Costa Rica’s average life expectancy is 79.3

The nation with highest life expectancy is Japan (83.4 years), but Costa Rica still ranked higher than the United States, whose residents have a life expectancy of 78.5. Data was gleaned from the 2011 UNDP Human Development Report.

Enjoying the “pura vida” that is Costa Rica

Surveys and polls aside, Costa Rica’s palpable happiness may be attributed to a number of basic factors. A lot of residents enjoy a simple life that is tune with nature. Heavy emphasis isn’t placed on material possessions, and locals truly embrace the pura vida, or pure life  that values family, friendship and life’s small but meaningful pleasures.

 

Facebook Teaser: Costa Rica again ranks #1 on the Happy Planet Index (HPI), which has drawn worldwide attention as an important barometer of a country’s sustainable well-being. Find out why this small nation is one of the greenest and happiest on Earth!

 

5 Best Apps for Your Costa Rica Vacation

Friday, March 27th, 2015

Even if this is your second vacation to the sun-kissed shores of Costa Rica, it’s always better to have practical info at your fingertips before you land and during your travels. From quick Spanish translations to instant flight alerts, these popular travel apps are your new best friend!  Read about our top five recommendations for your smart phones.

Travel Apps For Your Costa Rica Vacation

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FlightTrack Pro

FlightTrack Pro has garnered tons of praise for its user-friendly interface that lets you manage international flights, with updates in real time of delays and cancellations. The app has nifty maps and tracks more than 1,300 different airlines across thousands of airports.  Even better, the app boasts terminal maps, flight alerts and lets you know about any weather-related delays. FlightTrack Pro costs $9.99 and is compatible with Androids, Blackberries and iPhones/iPads. (more…)

Crazy for Coconuts in Costa Rica

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

Delicious, exotic fruits are readily available year-round in Costa Rica. Guava, mangosteen and passion fruit vie for your attention alongside jumbo pineapples and plump mangoes. These homegrown delicacies are bursting with vitamins, essential minerals and are a terrific snack any time– especially after a long day of adventure. Of all the major players in Costa Rica, no other has the versatility or amazing health benefits as the coconut.

Agua de pipa is a Costa Rican treat

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Rehydrate naturally with coconut water 

“Pipa fria” or the water from young, green coconuts is sold on beaches and towns everywhere in Costa Rica. This slightly sweet liquid is a natural source of electrolytes, and is packed with potassium, phosphorous, magnesium and calcium. At just 60 calories per eight-ounce serving, this elixir is the smart way to rehydrate. Coconut water may be a trendy “health drink” among A-listers, but its healing properties are backed up by hard evidence. Studies show that coconut water aids in digestion, lowers blood pressure, enhances insulin levels in diabetics and facilitates weight loss.  (more…)

Six Compelling Reasons to Plan a Costa Rica Vacation

Friday, March 6th, 2015

Adventure. Romance. Wildlife. Volcanoes. Hot springs. Waterfalls. Beaches. These are some of the hallmarks of travel in Costa Rica, a place where you can get back to nature, rev up your adrenaline, and savor the pura vida lifestyle that makes Ticos so darn happy. Ready to wake up to jungle noises while sipping on shade-grown coffee of the highest caliber? Or meander through a national park literally teeming with wildlife? Read on to discover six convincing reasons why you should book now!

Thriving ecotourism in Costa Rica

Plenty Of Activities To Do While On Your Costa Rica Vacation Here

Thriving ecotourism

Leave it to Nobel Peace Prize winner and former Costa Rican President Oscar Arias Sanchez to put the country on the map for its environmental dedication. Want to travel green and as low-impact as possible? You can in this thriving eco-tourism destination! Eco-friendly vacation villas, “green” car rentals, and carbon neutral flights mean a smaller footprint as you experience Costa Rica’s natural wonders. (more…)

Dominical Prepares for Envision Festival 2015

Friday, December 26th, 2014

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

Dominical prepares for the Envision Festival Costa Rica

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Envision Festival 2015 hosted in Uvita

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

Traditional Christmas Tamales in Costa Rica

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

December is a spectacular month to be vacationing in Costa Rica – a time of holiday celebrations, sensational horse parades, family gatherings, seasonal fiestas and delicious Christmas foods. Nearly every home and building is adorned with twinkling lights, elaborate nativity scenes and beautifully-decorated Cypress trees and wreaths. Traveling in Costa Rica during this time of year is a culturally enriching experience, and a chance to sample some of the country’s typical Christmas cuisine.

Traditional Costa Rica tradition is the Christmas Tamale

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Tamales – a time-honored holiday food among Costa Rican families

Tamales are a bit labor-intensive to make, but the results are so worth it! These tasty little pockets of goodness are usually made over a period of several days, as family members pitch in to complete various stages. Made of corn meal and filled with a savory combination of shredded pork, beef, or chicken combined with carrots, potatoes, celery, onions, bell peppers or peas – tamales are wrapped in banana leaves and boiled until ready.  Every family has their own unique recipe and shares them as gifts with loved ones and friends. Look for them in grocery stores everywhere, or try your hand at home with this traditional recipe. (more…)





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