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Costa Rica

Great Destination:

Value for Money:

Total Stars:

Personality Types that Like it Best

Did You Know…?

  • Costa Rica’s focus on conservation can be traced to Quaker settlers who arrived in 1951.
  • Costa Rica is Spanish for rich coast; Spaniards thought they’d find gold.
  • The regular army was abolished in the late 1940s.
  • Amerindians make up only 1% of the Costa Rica population.
  • All citizens, from age 18, are required to vote in national elections.

Noted for biodiversity

The main reason people visit this small Central American nation is for its tremendous biodiversity and the conscious efforts of the people and government to practice sound conservation. That explains why active and venturesome travelers like it so much. The country also is fantastically beautiful in the way that only tropical countries can be.

The people are warm and friendly. The country, which does not even maintain an army, is stable politically which helps foster a sense of safety from crime, and it is relatively inexpensive.

The venturesome discovered it first and talked enthusiastically about its natural, unspoiled beauty and emphasis on ecotouring, as well as the reasonable costs and nice people. Those toward the middle of the personality scale followed, encouraging the construction of more tourist facilities.

Active travelers love it that they can explore rain forests and mountains, oceans and interior ruins without running into clusters of tour groups or fast-food restaurants.

They can camp on the beach, or they can take excursions using a nice hotel as their base. Or, they can use one of the wilderness lodges, located away from cities in areas that are more rustic, but not uncomfortable. They can fish the rivers and lakes, snorkel on tropical reefs or go whitewater rafting on rivers surrounded by dense tropical plants. Most of all, venturers like the sense of discovery Costa Rica offers.

The moderately venturesome are also drawn to the country as travelers become interested in environmental issues. It doesn’t hurt that the beaches are lovely, the atmosphere is peaceful and the people exhibit a remarkable gentleness. Those who like cities can choose San Jose and, because the country is small, they can take day trips (or longer excursions) using San Jose as a base.

The least adventurous haven’t found the way to San Jose yet — at least, not the one in Costa Rica, but the country has pleasant surprises for them, too.

No matter the trip details, Cost Rica offers varied habitats, active volcanoes, distinctive flora and fauna, and two seasons (wet and dry). The rainy season is May through December.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Bicycling is a major sport here. Take a multiday trip by mountain bike around the Arenal Volcano or the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, among other choices.  If you are expert enough, compete in the international 12-day Vuelta a Costa Rica (Tour of Costa Rica) race in December.
  • Take a two-day whitewater rafting trip into the wilderness on the swift-moving Pacuare River.
  • Tabacon is a spa resort, but as is the case just about everywhere here, you can ramp up the adventure; examples at Tabacon include canopy tours, canyoning, hiking, horseback tours, walking hanging bridges and whitewater rafting. You decide.
  • Go surfing on the Pacific Ocean or on the Caribbean coast. Many of the best breaks for surfers are found in the northwest, in Guanacaste province.
  • Sign on for extreme adventure. Some itineraries ambitiously push you each day with activities that include hiking in the rain forests, walking forest canopies, mountain biking, sea kayaking and whitewater rafting in class III and IV whitewater.
  • Go fishing. That could mean angling for the really big ones in the Pacific Ocean. In addition, there are inland lakes (even fish pulled from lakes have been as big as 200 pounds, no lightweights either) and rivers for those who prefer freshwater angling. Your outfitter will assist in getting the required license.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Odd as this sounds, you can reach the top of an active volcano by public bus — or, you can hike, ride a horse or take a Jeep to do the same thing. Costa Rica is home to 10 volcanoes, three of which are active. Besides studying the volcano, you can enjoy great views of the country and two bodies of water.
  • Take a half-day or full-day outing on horseback, riding over the terrain of your choice: mountains, rain forest, pastureland or the beach.
  • Time your trip to coincide with a local festival that may include one or more of the following: folkloric dancing, oxcart parade or a rodeo Costa Rica style.
  • Take a multiday guided wildlife safari, also Costa Rica style. In the Corcovado National Park, your quarry would include crocodiles, giant anteater, jaguar, monkeys, ocelot, poison-dart frogs, scarlet macaws, tapir and toucans.
  • Costa Rica is a dream destination for bird-watchers. More than 850 species populate this rain forest of a country. Consider the Monteverde Cloud Forest; more than 400 different species have been recorded in the protected reserve.
  • Tour a coffee plantation. Buy coffee to take home. Also, tour a banana plantation.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Go swimming and sunbathing on uncrowded beaches and choose the color of sand you prefer: black, red, white or yellow.
  • Go to Tortuguero National Park to see nesting turtles. Four species come here to nest, including the Green Turtle which can weigh more than 400 pounds.
  • Take time at the Tabacon Grand Spa & Thermal Resort at the base of the Arenal Volcano, which is active and could entertain you at night.
  • Shop for handicrafts which may include replicas of pre-Columbian art, ceramics, masks, jewelry and, most popular of all, a hand-painted oxcart.
  • Eat fresh seafood, barbecued.
  • Take an organized garden tour of the country. Flowering trees and shrubs show off the most in February and March. Orchids are particularly spectacular.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult the Costa Rica Tourism Board at www.visitcostarica.com