Renowned throughout Central America as prosperous and stable thanks to the booming tourism industry, Costa Rica is the prime eco-tourism destination within Central America. Costa Ricans experience the highest rate of literacy, health care, education, and life expectancy. Costa Rica has a democratic tradition of free and open election, no standing army, and won a Nobel Peace Prize. Costa Rica spans between Nicaragua and Panama reaching both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. Additionally, Costa Rica is the largest of the Central American countries.
Visitors of Costa Rica can find more active activities than those found in other countries in the region. Surf the world famous breaks of the Pacific side of the country (and some places on the Caribbean side), zip-line through the rain forests, ride white water rapids, hike volcanoes, or just sit back and enjoy the pura vida lifestyle. In Costa Rica tourists are likely to be impressed by the la vida campesina, the rural life, that can be found in nearly every town accessed. Also native to Costa Rica is one of the last remaining cloud forest; visitors will want to spend time walking through these.
Costa Rica is said to have less culture and history that it’s surrounding countries, but the local traditions from village to village will keep visitors entertained. The public transportation is up to par with tourists needs and the board of tourism (Instituto Costarricense de Tourism or ICT) makes it a point to keep Costa Rica the prime destination of choice for visitors coming to Central America.
San Jose International Airport (SJO) – Just outside San Jose. Arrive here and catch cheaper flights to other cities. The airport is a few miles outside of the city so arrive early.
Buses – Costa Rica has the most advanced bus system in Central America-they even run on Sunday and are a relatively inexpensive means of travel throughout the country.
Taxis – Beeping their horn at every person walking, taxis can be hired for short trips or longer ones. Negotiate rates before entering the taxi.
Boats – You may find water taxis in some smaller villages, but not a main means of transportation.
- Currency and Exchange Rates
The US dollar is widely accepted in smaller bills. Travelers Checks can also be used, but may need to be exchanged at local banks.
Colón (plural Colones) Often referred to as pesos. Bills start at 500. Coins start at 1.
Exchange Rates US $1 = 508.5 Colones ; 1 Eur = 650.4 Colones
Primary Language – Spanish (many locals will know English)
Costa Rica sits between 8° and 11° north of the equator, making it hard to predict weather trends for the whole country. However, in general, Costa Rica goes by the two seasons rule.
Best Time to Visit December to April. Hot, dry heat with light, cool winds in the afternoons.
Rainy Season May to mid-November. Heaviest rains in September and October. Mornings will be clear and afternoons rainy.
- Capital and Country Population
San Jose – The capital is often a short visit for tourist or used as a hub for short day trips to the surrounding Valle Central.
Population – 4.02 million
- Travel Highlights and Activities
Manuel Antonio – One of Costa Rica’s most popular beaches.
Caribbean Coast – Home to many endangered giant sea turtles.
Surfing – Find plenty of great surf spots on the Pacific coasts and more scattered throughout the Caribbean side.
Rafting – Raft through the white waters of the rain forests.
Hike – Hike off the beaten path.
Zip Lines – Many tour operators will offer a zip lines jungle tour.
Volcanoes – Visit some of the country’s active volcanoes.
Cloud Forests – Hike the million year old forests.
Snorkeling – The Caribbean side offers some nice snorkeling spots.