About Costa Rica
Popular all over the world for its rich flora, fauna and marine life, Costa Rica (Rich Coast) is a favorite destination for divers as the waters are warm and diving friendly all year round. Costa Rica offers something for everyone from stunning white sand beaches to lush mountains, exotic wildlife and volcanoes.
All of which make this destination one of the most sought after for adventure loving travelers from around the globe. Cocos Island, 550 kilometers from Costa Rica, is a famous diving spot considered to be “the most beautiful island in the world.”
Costa Rica Travel Info
Language: Spanish is the official language of Costa Rica. Apart from many foreign languages spoken, English is the most commonly used language, and most people in the main tourist areas are fluent in English.
Currency: Costa Rican Colon.
Visa: Entering Costa Rica does require a visa unless you hold a United States, European Union, or Canadian passport, in this case you can get a visa upon arrival for up to ninety days.
Electricity: Costa Rica operates on 110V to 120V with a frequency of 60 Hz. Power sockets are two-pronged and round. I recommend bringing a Universal Travel Adapter so you don’t need to keep buying new adapters for each country you visit.
Costa Rica Festivals & Celebrations
Fiestas Palmares: Costa Rica hosts the largest cowboy party in January that continues for two weeks. This event involves lavishly organized horse parades, invigorating musical performances and uninterrupted availability of beer. People from all over the world flock to Costa Rica during this event. Costa Rican styled bullfighting which is free from all dangers is one of the major sports of this event.
Limon Carnival: Costa Rica celebrates the month of October most vibrantly and cheerfully possible. A vast two week-long carnival takes place at Puerto Limon which attracts thousands of visitors each year. The local’s don costumes representing their rich multicultural heritage and parade all the way through Puerto Limon.
Semana Santa or Easter: Costa Rica celebrates Easter full of energy. Locals carry out processions, but the main attraction is the procession of San Jose city since the entire team of famous National Theatre Company plays a role in it. The group of National Theatre Company consists of renowned band artists. The event lasts for four days offering the best time of life to the visitors.
Safety In Costa Rica
Just like most countries in Central America, Costa Rica is a relatively safe place to travel to. Thefts, bag snatching and scams are prevalent in all big cities so be mindful of this. Based on my own travel experiences in Central America I wouldn’t leave home without travel insurance no matter how safe the destination is considered. You can still miss flights, lose your luggage or break a leg, especially if you’re as accident prone as I am. For this reason I recommend checking out the travel insurance plan that World Nomads can offer you a few weeks or months before you plan to visit Costa Rica.
Top Things To Do In Costa Rica
Chill at the Arenal Volcano
Towering 1600 meters in the vast jungle of Alajuela, Arenal Volcano is perhaps the biggest attraction among visitors. A must visit destination for tourists who love outdoor adventures; noisy waterfalls surround the enormous Arenal Volcano. An outdoor experience which is the main attraction of this place includes Hiking, adrenaline pumping rafting and the vacillating wire bridges that skips your heartbeat. Arenal Volcano is the most active, and it is recommended to take help of local guides before visiting this place.
Enjoy the Beautiful Forests of Monteverde
This particular domain of the admired cloud forest is an absolute must for visitors planning to come to Costa Rica for the first time. Located in the lush green peaks of Cordillera de Tilaran, the Monteverde is home to misty mountains and elusive wildlife that includes Jaguars, Pumas, Ocelots, Sloths, and Spider Monkeys, that makes this place all the more enthralling and picturesque. With the latest safety measures, visitors also get a chance to enjoy the thrilling night safaris.
Soak in the Splendid Memories of Tamarindo
Tamarindo with its sun-splashing evenings, radiant Pacific beaches and evident Tico charm is one such attraction that visitors can not afford to miss while in Costa Rica. Situated to the north of Nicoya Peninsula, with boats harboring on its shores, the evenings of this place make for good memories to remember. With locals involved in fishing, swelling tides attracting surfers and tortoises crawling on the sands, the scene at Tamarindo is just perfect.
Experience Nature at Corcovado National Park
Unarguably the most popular natural landscapes for visitors who are coming to Costa Rica for the first time, Corcovado National Park, situated in the Osa Peninsula, adds yet another dimension to the beauty of Costa Rica. Away from the crowds, this place is full of natural beauty and peaceful sceneries. The famous El Tigre is renowned for its wildlife as well as the Isla del Cano is abundant with killer whales and dolphins.
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is a famous fishing village that attracts visitors who have a knack of surfing and has some excellent cocktail bars and beach shacks. The rough waves of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca allure professional surfers from all over the world. Surf and relax at the beachside resort to admire the beauty this place has to offer.
Enjoy the thrills of the Central Valley
In the Central Valley is a small town called Turrialba which you might not even be able to locate on the map but here you can enjoy the most intense and the best white-water rafting in all Central America. For all those looking for an adrenaline rush, spend a day paddling fiercely. If you are a caffeine lover, the Café Britt Finca will be your best pick where you can get some good quality coffee straight from the source.
Explore San Jose
If you are traveling to travel to Costa Rica, ensure that you stop in San Jose, its capital city. The city is located in Central Valley’s Verdant Hills and has a large number of Baroque facades and colonial churches. There are several lush parks with yogis meditating in the morning, museums full of beautiful golden artifacts belonging to the pre Columbians of South America and San Pedro’s vibrant night-life dominated by mostly students.
Unwind at the Manuel Antonio National Park
The well-protected Manuel Antonio National Park is home to two of the best and the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica, Teloro and Espadilla Sur. The turquoise blue waters are surrounded by thick groves of bay cedars and silk cotton trees and parrots and parakeets chirping and singing on the trees provide an atmosphere of utmost tranquility and calm. You can also find white headed capuchins and howler monkeys swinging from branch to branch.
Absorb the beauty of Playa Samara
Playa Samara is the most beautiful beach in Costa Rica. This postcard-perfect beach is a long stretch of powder-white sand lying between beautiful turquoise sea and lots of trendy cafes and restaurants. The beach is the perfect spot for a family outing. You can relax in the peaceful and sophisticated atmosphere of the Samara with a few water sports options for the young ones.
Surf the waters of Mal Pais and Santa Teresa
In the Peninsula de Nicoya region lie a destination duo that is among the best surfing spots in the country. There was a time when Mal Pais and Santa Teresa were so off-route that it needed ultimate determination to reach them but now the road access has improved, and some tourists flock this beautiful area surrounded by coconut palms and lush landscapes over the white sands and gorgeous coastline.
Other than these top things to do in Costa Rica, there is so much more to see and experience in this amazing country. Be prepared to be flexible because sometimes other travelers that you meet on your travels will have the best suggestions for things to do in Italy that are off the beaten path.
What To Eat In Costa Rica
Gallo Pinto: Gallo pinto is considered to be the national dish of Costa Rica and made of rice and beans. The literal meaning if Gallo Pinto is painter rooster. The people of Costa Rica have this usually as breakfast with fried of scrambled egg.
Casado: Like Gallo Pinto is a breakfast staple, Casado is the lunch staple, a traditional midday meal of Costa Rica. It is a platter that holds cooked rice and beans, pasta or green salad, meat (optional) and plantains. It might also get served with tortillas, french fries, cheese, eggs, avocado or corn on the side.
Olla de Carne: A hearty beef stew of Costa Rica and is a weekend favorite. Just like all other meat stews, this is also a delicious preparation made from fresh local ingredients like carrots, cassava, corn, plantations, taro root, and other seasonal veggies. The meal is filling and healthy.
Sopa Negra: Sopa Negra is a delightful, healthy soup for soup lovers who want to avoid rich meat broths. The main ingredient of the soup is black bean and onions, cilantro and peppers that impart a fresh flavor. It gets a spicy kick from the Tabasco sauce.
Ceviche: Raw fish that is marinated and served chilled. The ingredients used to marinate the fish are unique to Costa Rica which includes tilapia, finely chopped veggies, cilantro, and lime juice. You can find Ceviche served fresh in restaurants as well as on streets in coastal areas.
Where To Stay In Costa Rica
Costa Rica can be quite an expensive place to visit. Finding excellent accommodation in Costa Rica is easy however finding affordable but nice accommodation, if you’re on a tight budget, is the challenging part. Luckily Costa Rica hostels and dormitories make travel here very affordable for backpackers and any travelers on a shoe-string budget.
Don’t wait until you arrive to see what’s available or you may be disappointed to find that all the best accommodation options have already been snapped up. Costa Rica is a very popular year-round destination.
Jetset Bunny recommends using Booking.com for the best accommodation deals in Costa Rica.
If you’re backpacking in Costa Rica or traveling on a tight budget then Hostel World is another great option. Staying in hostels makes travel in Central America very affordable and is also a great way to meet new travel buddies.
Costa Rica Trip Planner
Best Time to Visit Costa Rica
The best time to visit Costa Rica is in the dry season which is from mid-December to April. This peak tourist season boasts plenty of sunshine making it an ideal time for exploring rainforests and lounging on beaches. That said, the dry season is the most popular (and expensive) time to visit.
Costa Rica Travel Budget
Costa Rica can be expensive but it’s still generally still an affordable destination for travelers on a tight budget. The cost of your trip to Costa Rica really depends on the level of comfort you will want while here. If you’re backpacking and planning on staying in dormitories, hostels and eating fast food then budget between $35 to $50 a day. If you prefer to stay in 3-4 star hotel rooms and eat in mid-range restaurants you could spend anywhere between $50 to $100 per day. If you want to enjoy luxury 4-5 star accommodation and gourmet restaurants then budget about $250 plus a day.
- Budget: $15 – $35
- Mid-range: $35 – $100
- Splurge: $100 +
Meal For One
- Budget: $8 – $25
- Mid-range: $25 – $60
- Splurge: $60 +
Costa Rica Packing Guide
Packing for a trip to Costa Rica, like most places in central America is easy, just remember to pack lightweight and breathable clothing for dry season and warm, waterproof clothing for trips during the rainy season.
Be prepared for the weather to get extremely hot during the summer so pack a high factor sunscreen and a sun hat. If you forget to pack something you can buy anything you need while you’re in Costa Rica. Prices are generally higher in smaller boutiques (aimed at tourists) than they would be online so expect to pay a premium if you don’t have the option of shopping around due to time restraints on your central America trip.
Other essential items to pack for a trip to Costa Rica include a good quality travel backpack. Choose the brand carefully and make sure you find the right size backpack for your torso. Believe me, doing this will make all the difference and prevent major backache. Smaller items to pack include a padlock, sleep sheet and a money belt to keep important documents close to you.
For the full list of everything you need to pack for a trip to Costa Rica check out the Jetset Bunny Ultimate Central America Packing List For Female Travelers.