Costa Rica Travel Guide

Costa Rica is an exhilarating land of luxuriant rainforests and mighty volcanoes, of natural hot springs and shimmering oceans, of colonial charm and captivating nightlife. In short, it’s a country where people can easily find their own true bliss.

Nature thrives in its pristine state, with more than 20 natural parks and eight biological reserves. Exploring these ecological wonders is an exhilarating delight for the senses. Watch as exotic birds take wing in all their multi-colored glory. Smell the scent of orchids growing wild in the lush and magnificent cloud forests. Hear the call of the howler monkey as it lazily swings across the verdant canopy.

For the adventuresome, there’s hiking around majestic Arenal volcano as it explodes in a regular fiery splendor. For the wildlife lover, there’s Tortuguero National Park, where the beguiling sea turtle slowly makes its way to the sea. And for the sporty, there are the shimmering blue waters of the Pacific and the Caribbean, where surfing, fishing and snorkeling will fill endless sun-drenched days.

The ultimate delight of Costa Rica is its people. Warm and gracious, they unveil a captivating culture of music, art, crafts and cuisine that will enchant, entertain and enliven you.

Costa Rica is a country located in Central America that is ranked as one of the most visited international destinations. One of Costa Rica’s main sources of income is tourism. Costa Rica is a democratic and peaceful country and it has not had an army since the year 1949.

Although the country is small and it covers only 0.03 percent of the surface of the globe, it proudly shelters 5 percent of the existing biodiversity in the entire world. Twenty six percent of the country is composed of conservation and natural protected territory.

Costa Rica is also an attractive country for investment and offers great potential for the establishment of important multinational companies, thanks to the outstanding academic level of its population, as well as the high standard of modern services and social and political stability.

General information

Costa Rica is located in Central America, connecting North and South America. It borders Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south. Because of its location, warm weather predominates, but many different microclimates are found throughout the country. According to the National Statistics and Census Institute, Costa Rica has a population of approximately 4,890,379, of which 2,467,829 are men and 2,422,551 are women.

The country is divided into seven provinces (San José, its capital, Alajuela, Cartago, Heredia, Puntarenas, Guanacaste and Limón), 81 cantons and 463 districts. It stretches across 51,100 square kilometers, which is the size of the country. It is a democratic, free and independent Republic. Most of the population professes the Catholic religion and enjoys freedom of religion. Its currency is the colón, and its official language is Spanish.

One of the most important and recognized characteristics of the country was the abolition of its army on Dec. 1, 1948 by former President José Figueres Ferrer. On that date, peace became one of the main principles of Costa Rica, differentiating it from other Central American countries that utilize the military as a method of defense.

Geography

Rugged highlands are found throughout most of the country, ranging from approximately 1,000 to 2,000 meters (3,000 to 6,000 feet above sea level). The Guanacaste Mountain Range, Central Mountain Range, and Talamanca Mountain Range are the main mountain ranges extending the entire length of the country. There are several active volcanoes (Arenal Volcano, Irazu Volcano, Rincon de la Vieja Volcano and Turrialba Volcano) and the country’s highest mountain (Chirripo Hill) with a height of 3,819 m/12,530 ft. The country has a relatively long coastline in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, as well as a number of rivers and streams that attract specialist kayakers and rafters from all over the world.

Climate

Costa Rica is a tropical destination. Its look and landscape changes throughout the year, and the country is in a constant state of renewal. As such, every time of the year is a great time to visit Costa Rica. Tailor your trip to your interests, and your experience in Costa Rica will be fulfilling beyond imagination.

The Costa Rican landscape is one of great variety, filled with lush vegetation and stunning displays of flora. With jungles, beaches, and a wide array of terrain and climate zones, Costa Rica is a playground for the adventurous. Whether it’s rafting, hiking, wildlife viewing or just relaxing on the beach, everything under the sun is available to you.

No matter the season or region, there is always something exciting to discover, or uncover. For those willing to go o the beaten path in Costa Rica, the rewards are endless.

Costa Rican Culture

We are the country of pura vida – a friendly, multicultural and multilingual people descended from the cultural fusion of immigrants, including Africans, Chinese, Jews, Lebanese and Italians, and the indigenous peoples of the Bribrí, Cabécar, Maleku, Teribe, Boruca, Ngäbe, Huetar and Chorotega groups.

Costa Rican sustainable cuisine ranges from the traditional to the innovative at restaurants, sodas, markets and farmers markets, using a variety of organic products, and tailored to meet any budget and level of demand.

Visitors can take a little piece of the Costa Rican soul home with them with handicrafts made by the hands of our artisans, which adds value to a travel experience.

Artistic expressions of music, dance, theater, cinema, handicrafts and audiovisual production are distinguished for their professionalism and quality.

In addition, the experiences of community-based rural tourism, developed by cooperatives or community associations, take you inside the lively culture of rural communities; there also are private ecological reserves, farms and areas of interest, or sites close to areas of environmental and cultural interest, with tourist services.

Costa Rica also offers world-renowned cultural wonders, including: the oxherd and oxcart – a masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage – chiefdom settlements and the stone spheres of southern Costa Rica, and the Guayabo National Archaeological Monument. Other nationally prized offerings and cultural traditions shared with visitors include creole swing dance, Limón calypso, traditional Chorotega ceramics, the Boruca Little Devils Festival, art, crafts, music and gastronomy, among others.

In the multiple tourist regions visitors can find everything from home cooking to modern, traditional, sophisticated, vegetarian and vegan restaurants, with a range of food prepared with fresh and natural ingredients.

Visit our markets, farmers markets and organic fairs in major cities across the country to discover the products we offer.

Costa Ricans have more than a century of democratic traditions and more than 50 years without an army. Its military was abolished in 1948 and the money the country saves by not having armed forces is invested in improving the standard of living of its inhabitants, which helps maintain the social peace that makes Costa Rica a wonderful place to visit.

Traditional Costa Rican cuisine

How would you like to enjoy the aromas and flavors of the grandmother’s kitchen, try a hash of potato with Chicasquil, a rondo or a honey of jocote and other delicacies in the different gastronomy businesses of the whole country?

The Costa Rican Tourism Board in partnership with the Cultural Heritage Research and Conservation Center of the Ministry of Culture and the National Learning Institute, since the year 2011, they started a pilot plan to recuperate the traditional Costa Rican cuisine in gastronomy establishments, as a differentiating element of the offer of tourist services in Costa Rica.

Wellness in Costa Rica

If you are looking for the ideal place to improve your mental and physical well-being, adopt healthy habits and activities into your lifestyle, liberate your soul and return like a new person, then Costa Rica could be your next travel destination.

Costa Rica is the ideal setting for detoxification from stress and the daily grind. You can experience Wellness tourism as part of a lifestyle that combines physical activity and healthy eating, while enjoying a wide range of activities to renew your mind, body and soul.

Wellness includes activities that put you in contact with nature: Trekking (low-difficulty walks), Forest baths (breathing in the fresh air of the forest), Earthing (barefoot walks on the earth/sand), high-quality healthy food, a combination of spa and lunch (splunch) and consumption of local products in a natural setting.

In Costa Rica, you can also experience innovative relaxation techniques such as body wraps, in which volcanic mud, coffee, tropical fruits and chocolate are used to moisturize your skin; hydrotherapy and hot springs are another way to harness the water resources of our country for personal renewal by letting positive energy flow throughout the body.

These wellness features, typical of Costa Rica, have helped create one of the planet’s blue zones, or longevity areas. A 2004 study by the University of Costa Rica found that mortality among Costa Ricans of 90 years of age is 10% lower in the Nicoya Peninsula, south of Guanacaste. The calcium-rich water of this area, healthy eating, family living and the “pura vida” lifestyle are secrets to longevity.

This is a unique lifestyle that is experienced only in Costa Rica, whose essence is Wellness

Things to Do in Costa Rica

 

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