COSTA RICA

PURA VIDA...

Population

5 MILLION

language

SPANISH

Currency

Costa Rican colón (crc)

Flag

Visit Costa Rica and discover its beautiful natural landscape and impressive biodiversity. Also get to know the wonderful and happy Costa Rican residents. This small country is located in Central America whose neighbours include Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south. Costa Rica has the Caribbean Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west, it is also slightly smaller than the American state of West Virginia.

 

COSTA RICA IS COUNTRY FILLED WITH MAJESTIC VOLCANOES, INCREDIBLE RAINFOREST, AND IMPRESSIVE WILDLIFE!

WHY WE LOVE COSTA RICA

Costa Rica is the land of colour and wonder. This country although small has an incredible resume of activities and natural wonders. Costa Rica is among one of the happiest places in the world and we know why. This country is brimming with natural beauty and its citizens are committed to preserving it. With 20 national parks, 8 biological reserves, animal refuges, and protected areas, over 26% percent of Costa Rica’s land is protected! The amazing facts don’t stop there; Costa Rica also has one of the highest life expectancies. What else would you expect from a country that is notorious for its love of life?

There is so much to do in this magnificently biodiverse country. Travellers can find their centre upon a surfboard or yoga mat, descend bat-filled caves, ascend misty volcanic peaks, hike, bike, zip line and so much more! Visit Costa Rica and enjoy all of the activities it has to offer. It is one of the only places in the world where you can go white-water rafting, cloud forest hiking, and sea turtle watching all in the same day. This lovely country is also heaven for volcano, butterfly, and hummingbird lovers alike. With over a dozen volcanoes, 52 different species of hummingbirds, and 1,200 different species of butterflies what’s not to love?  Not to mention, Costa Rica is full of waterfalls, incredible food, fresh coconuts and even charismatic wildlife like monkeys and sloths!

“All trails seem to lead to waterfalls, misty crater lakes or jungle-fringed, deserted beaches. explored by horseback, foot or kayak, Costa Rica is a tropical choose-your-own-adventure land.” Lonely Planet

Costa Rica Signature Experiences

Did you know…?

  • Costa Rica has one of the highest literacy rates in Central America. Costa Ricans have achieved a 96% literacy rate by broadcasting lessons over radio so that children in rural areas can learn as well.
  • Costa Ricans are very connected to water, so much so that they have at least a dozen terms for rain. The heavy rainfall supplies Costa Rica with more rivers and a higher volume of water for a country of its size than any other nation apart from New Zealand.
  • Bri Bri is the one indigenous language still spoken in Costa Rica.
  • Costa Rican Catadores, or tasters, are coffee tastes and are just as important as wine tasters are in France. The Catadores train for five years to learn the intricacies and understand the complexities of coffee. They also taste it cold because Costa Ricans believe a good coffee should taste just as good cold as hot.
  • Costa Rica is one of the 23 countries in the world with no standing army, it was abolished in 1949. The country still maintains a small force to enforce laws and assist with foreign peacekeeping.
  • While Costa Rica takes up only 0.03% of the world’s land space, it possesses fully 4% of all known living species of flora and fauna and is one of the top 20 countries with the greatest biodiversity in the world.
  • The words ‘costa rica’ translate to ‘rich (or delicious) coast’.
  • Over a quarter of Costa Rican land is dedicated to conservation.

COSTA RICA TRAVEL GUIDE

 

WHEN TO GO

Costa Rica’s two distinct seasons, dry and wet, will definitely have an effect on your travel plans. The dry season runs from December through April, and rainy season is from May to November. Travel reaches its peak during the dry season which just so happens to be North America and Europe’s winter. If you are not a rain person and worry about rain ruining your vacation, we suggest you plan your visit during this season. Most areas of the country see little to no rain between mid-December and April, so you don’t have to worry about having to change your plans based on the weather. The dry season is also the best time to visit certain attractions in Costa Rica for it allows for best visibility. Many areas of Costa Rica are very nice during much of the rainy season. But if you are in the country for a short time and are looking to go on a lot of adventures, we suggest you avoid travelling there during September and October which tend to be the rainiest months.

HOW TO GET THERE/AROUND

Costa Rica has two international airports, Juan Santamaría (SJO) and Daniel Oduber (LIR). While SJO receives the majority of flights, LIR handles some flights from the US and Canada, plus the odd seasonal flight from the UK.

We recommend you do not rent a car in Costa Rica, unless you are fluent in Spanish and up for a serious adventure. Road signs are very new to the country and are notoriously poor in the countryside. It’s very easy to get lost. Use public transportation or arrange for your travel company to transport you. Bus transportation is inexpensive, pretty reliable, and the drivers know where they are going.

It is also important to note that unofficial taxis should not be used. Only take official government licensed red taxis with the yellow triangle while in Costa Rica and do not be afraid to insist that they use the meter (la maria por favor)!  Airport taxis are orange and are the only ones with the authorization to pick you up.

WHAT TO SEE & DO

Nature lovers should visit Costa Rica. This paradise is committed to preserving its beauty and diversity through the development of national parks. Over a fifth of the country is covered in forests.

There are so many astonishing places and animals to see in Costa Rica that it might be difficult to name all of them. We are just going to mention the must-sees although the entire country is in itself one big must-see. The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is the largest cloud forest in Central America and is absolutely worth a visit along with Costa Rica’s impressive beaches, volcanoes, and mangrove forest. Nature walks are a fantastic way to get around and familiarize yourself with the fantastic array of flora and fauna this tiny island has to offer. Snorkelling, diving, whale-watching, bird-watching, kayaking, and jungle hiking are also necessary when travelling here. Visit the rainforest-covered sand bar and sea turtle conservatory of Tortuguero as well as the Manuel Anonio National Park which is famous for its wildlife, rich biodiversity, and multiple marine species. Costa Rica is a country with a land full of treasures and colours. Here you will find everything brightly coloured, toads and frogs to hundreds of mammals, including bats, and insects, such as vibrant butterflies and leaf-cutter ants, and even stunning birds like the magnificent quetzal and toucans!

WHAT TO PACK

This depends largely upon the type of activities you would like to enjoy. Our guess is you would like to do it all including relax on the beach, trek through the rain forest, and hike up the slopes of a volcano. Your travel to Costa Rica essentials include; comfortable loose-fitting clothing as well as long socks, pants, and sleeves that can be easily tucked into boots (this is especially important if you plan on visiting the forests). Also make sure to bring at least two swimsuits, a waterproof rain jacket, a poncho, rain boots, an umbrella, trail shoes that ventilate, and light layer friendly clothing that wicks. Do bring your own sunscreen, it should be used every day and can be super expensive in Costa Rica. Insect repellent is also something you should carry on you at all times.

Note: Do bring an extra pair of sandals and sneakers if your feet are US women’s size 9+ or US men’s size 11+. These sizes are very difficult to find in Costa Rica and it is always good to have a backup pair in case of breakage, theft, or misplacement.

Some travel insights from our experts about COSTA RICA

  • Don’t skimp out by not paying for a local naturalist guide while watching through the national parks. These professionals will end up spotting a lot more than if you…trust us, it’s worth it.
  • Also, make sure not to wear bright colours if you hope to see elusive wildlife. Intense colours tend to scare animals off. It is best you wear darker, neutral coloured clothing…blend in with the surroundings.

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DO'S

 

Do: Invest in a mosquito net. This do is relevant to those staying in someone’s home or a lodge of some sort. Nature is beautiful and Costa Rica has a lot of it but no one likes to sleep with mosquitos buzzing around their head.

Do: Learn and use the phrase ‘pura vida’. This Costa Rican catchphrase is used a lot throughout the country, it can mean hello, goodbye, or can be used to express happiness and enjoyment. Pura vida translates to ‘pure life’. 

Do: Keep your hands to yourself. Costa Rica is relatively conservative in its dress as well as in its public displays of affection, try not to be overly affectionate in public.

Do: Address people formally. Señor(a) is used when addressing an adult and it is said before someone’s first name. Don or Doña are used when addressing a highly respected or older individual. Ex: Señora Maria or Doña Maria.

Do: Stay at family-run B&Bs, sustainable eco-lodges and or intimate guesthouses. Big brand chains are fun and comfortable, but Costa Rica is full of beautiful alternatives that put money back into the local economy. These options also tend to have more character and charm than the familiar chains do, and are more-likely to provide you with an authentic experience.

 

DON'T

 

Don’t: Eat, drink, or smoke on public transports or in stores and public buildings.

Don’t: Swim in the ocean until you have read, re-read, and checked all the warnings and signs posted on the beaches.

Don’t: Skip the line! Australians are not kind to those who jump the queue for it is considered rude. This applies to all and any line whether it is at a bar, shop, clinic, you name it. If you are unsure as to where the line ends you can simply ask.

Don’t: Choose seats and or spaces near someone if there are other options. Australians like their space, if there are several empty seats in a movie theatre and or eating area you should never choose the spot closest to another person.

Don’t: Litter! You shouldn’t litter ever, anywhere but especially not in Australia. Aussies take their streets very seriously. Littering is illegal in Australia, if caught littering you can be fined up to hundred of dollars!


Cuisine delights (3 best dishes)


Visit Costa Rica and taste the flavours of Central America! Gallo Pinto is a typical Costa Rican breakfast comprised of slowly cooked rice, beans, onions, red peppers, and cilantro. Gallo pinto is served with eggs, fried cheese, sweet plantains, and homemade corn tortillas…talk about a hearty breakfast.

Casado, which translates to ‘the married man’, is the classic lunch plate. This dish consists of white rice, black beans, fried sweet plantains, a salad and some sort of meat. Different variations of this dish can be found, some also include French fries, a fried egg, or a slice of cheese. The casado dish represents the quintessential Costa Rican meal.

Olla de Carne is another classic meal, its name translates to ‘meat pot’. Olla de Carne is a flavourful stew made with chunks of beef, potatoes, carrots, chayotes, plantains, yuccas, sweet potatoes, green plantains, and camotes. All of these dishes can be found at any typical Costa Rican restaurant or soda.

 

Note: Rice is a staple food in Costa Rica, so much so that there is a vast array of dishes named ‘arroz con…’ (rice with…). You get to choose your addition whether it be meat, seafood, spices, or veggies all varies and are delicious, definitely worth a try.

CHATTING CORNER – SURVIVAL GUIDE - Spanish

  • Hello – Hola
  • How are you? – ¿Cómo esta?
  • What is your name? – ¿Como se llama usted?
  • My name is …. – Me llamo __
  • Where are you from? – ¿De donde es usted?
  • I am from …. – Yo soy de ___
  • How much is it? – ¿Cuánto cuesta?
  • Where is…? – ¿Dónde está…?
  • Do you speak English? – ¿Usted habla inglés?
  • Thank you – Gracias
  • Please – Por favor
  • Nice to meet you – Un placer conocerle(a)
  • Cheers! – ¡Salud!
  • Beautiful –Bello
  • Delicious – Delicioso

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