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Costa Rica became a popular nature travel destination, and its main competitive advantage is its well-established system of national parks and protected areas and home to a rich variety of flora and fauna. Centering yourself on a surfboard or yoga mat, descending into bat-filled caves or ascending misty volcanic peaks, hiking, biking or ziplining, once you are immersed in Costa Rica’s unlimited beauty and adventure, your only limit is your return date.
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Costa Rica contains more than 800 miles of coastline, not to mention the rivers, lakes, and estuaries and provides endless kayaking opportunities for the active traveler. Each tour opens up the unique worlds created by Costa Rica’s biodiversity to make your time in the canals of a mangrove forest completely different than when on the open Pacific Ocean. Any and every kayak tour can be combined with other activities popular across Costa Rica, such as birding, snorkeling, or hiking the trails of a secluded island to make your time in a kayak a true adventure.
White, gold, tan, and gray sand decorate the hundreds of beaches found along the Pacific and Caribbean coasts of Costa Rica for incredible surfing.Surfers have flocked to Costa Rica for decades in search of the perfect waves and to soak up the laid-back lifestyle of Pura Vida. Whether an experienced surfer or one eager to learn while under the guidance of a supportive instructor, Costa Rica offers an abundance of celebrated spots, including Matapalo and Jaco Beach on the Central Pacific, Nosara on the Nicoya Peninsula and Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean Coast.
The rivers and rains have shaped Costa Rica’s landscape over millennia and rush through canyons and down mountains until reaching the sea for amazing whitewater rafting. The unique contours of the canals, forests, and waterfalls bring ample opportunities to explore the scenery and wildlife on rafting tours. Whether in the mood for a thrilling whitewater ride or a relaxing trip in search for lizards, birds, and monkeys, your professional guides will ensure a safe and memorable expedition. Popular destinations for rafting around Costa Rica include the Pacuare River (Lower Section) with class III/IV rapids, the Reventazon River (El Carmen Section) with class II/III rapids, the Toro River with class III/IV rapids, the Sarapiqui River (San Miguel Section) with class III/IV rapids, and the Savegre River with class II/III rapids.
One of the best ways to experience the canopies of the variety of forests across Costa Rica is on a zip line tour. The adventurous and scenic excursion began in the 1970s and has become one of the most popular and widespread activities in the country, blending the beauty of the treetops with its remoteness. Guides help educate participants on the ecology, botany, and reforestation efforts encouraging the wildlife to return to the secondary forest and supporting the wildlife in primary forests.
The active traveler to Costa Rica will have no shortage of trails and hikes from which to choose. 30 percent of the land is protected as national parks, preserves, and wildlife refuges, and each speckled with well-marked trails that lead to pristine beaches, primary rainforest, or bubbling volcanic foothills. An abundance of flora, fauna, and avifauna rewards travelers eager to discover the footpaths winding along the forest floor or sweeping through the treetops. The suspension bridges offer another form of active exploration and decorate the canopies around the diverse biospheres.
Guides offer great direction on the nature trails and point out nesting birds, fresh jaguar tracks, or grazing monkeys that are often hidden to the unaccustomed hiker. The best hikes and trails around Costa Rica offer a blend of distinctive scenery, active wildlife, and magnificent views.
Arenal Volcano National Park spans more than 7,100 acres and offers views to Arenal Volcano with the old cooled lava flow and the crater lake in extinct El Chato Volcano
The waters of Rio Celeste shine an iridescent indigo between the emerald trees as you hike to the waterfall in the Guanacaste region. The hike also leads to hot springs heated by active Tenorio Volcano
Santa Rosa is regarded for its fabulous wildlife within the protected dry forest and is also the oldest national park in Costa Rica. Visitors can travel the 12 miles of hiking trails that lead to the white sand beaches and nest Olive Ridley sea turtles between August and November
An avid hiker and nature lover cannot miss a night hike in the tropical rainforest on the Osa Peninsula. A guide ensures that you stay on the path as you search for the nocturnal creatures that fill the dark, dense trees with vibrant life and range from snakes to frogs, sleeping birds to hunting jaguars
For those more interested in history and culture, Costa Rica combines the jungle terrain with important archaeological sites like Guayabo National Monument, home to an ancient pre-Columbian city dating back more than 3,000 years ago. The park encompasses 540 acres of ancient stonework supporting intricate mounds. Archeologists have deduced that the size of the mounds correlate to the importance of the person in the society, with the higher and the larger mounds displaying a higher societal rank. Preserved petroglyphs in the park highlight the connection to the wildlife with images of jaguars and lizards while the surrounding forest also provides a lush trail known for its spectacular bird and butterfly sightings.
Traveling to Costa Rica between December and April is considered the dry season, with May bringing the beginnings of the wet season. The weather’s predictability wanes along the Caribbean coast, with rain falling throughout the year for an endlessly lush landscape. The series of volcanoes and mountains dividing the country from north to south creates a series of microclimates, accounting for the distinctive biodiversity. It is advisable to bring a light rain jacket at any time of the year and warmer clothing when visiting the highlands, including the cloud forests.
The diversity of Costa Rica is not limited to the ecosystems and the microclimates but is also embodied in the range of accommodations that allow visitors to experience the jungle terrain, the stunning cloud forests, the vibrant rainforests, and the secluded beaches as they desire. With a range of four and five-star resorts, along with boutique eco-friendly lodges, the remote countryside could be as luxurious and opulent as the bustling heart of the capital city. Travelers in search of relaxation can find comfort in the form of resplendent soulful retreats hidden in the mountains or listening to crashing waves on the Pacific while thrill-seekers discover gorgeous eco-luxury resorts reachable only by traversing whitewater.
Costa Rica caters to visitors of all types with a range of availability that includes boutique accommodations with individualized attention that enhances the opulence and comforts of the surrounding scenery without compromising the standards set by global trademark hotels. Hotels in San Jose incorporate the chic and fashionable décor associated with the capital city while resorts in Manuel Antonio National Park highlight the open walls for exceptional views with materials taken from the surrounding areas to not disrupt the biosphere. Lodges in Monteverde blend into the background of the cloud forest and accommodations in Tortuguero offer respite from the tropical humidity and heat that are accompanied by the marvelous vistas.
The best hotels offer a blend of soothing atmosphere and cultural heritage through a connection with the surrounding wildlife and preserved scenery. Boutique hotels contain hidden coffee plantations and working biological field studies. Whether in the mood for a jungle-themed room in the vicinity of waterfalls or settling into a room with a view of the Arenal volcanic peak, Costa Rica emphasizes wonder and adventure, scenery and ambiance.
For those looking for remote accommodations in search of romance or just for the excitement of reaching somewhere secluded and new, Costa Rica also features tree house lodges and glamorous camping retreats hidden in the rainforest canopy. There are few places more private than hanging out in a luxury camp in the trees with only the passing avifauna and active monkey troops as company. They are also perfect destinations for yoga getaways that connect each breath to the sounds of the surrounding rainforest terrain.
Costa Rican cuisine is known for being fairly mild, with high reliance on fresh fruits and vegetables. Rice and black beans are a staple of most traditional Costa Rican meals, often served three times a day. Costa Rican fare is nutritionally well rounded, and nearly always cooked from scratch from fresh ingredients. Due to the location of the country, tropical fruits and vegetables are readily available and included in the local cuisine.
The indigenous people of Costa Rica, including the Chorotega, consumed corn as a large part of their diet during the pre-Columbian era. Although modern Costa Rican cuisine is very much influenced by the Spanish conquest of the country, corn still maintains a role in many dishes. Tamales, originally introduced to all of Central America by the Aztecs, are served at nearly all celebratory events in Costa Rica and especially at Christmas. They are made out of dough of cornmeal, lard, and spices, stuffed with various mixtures of meat, rice, and vegetables and wrapped and steamed in a plantain or banana leaf. The Chorotega native people prefer to stuff their tamales with deer or turkey meat, pumpkin seeds, tomatoes, and sweet peppers.
Gallo Pinto which has a literal meaning of 'spotted rooster', is the national dish of Costa Rica. It consists of rice and beans stir-fried together in a pan to create a speckled appearance.
Coffee already one of the largest exports of Costa Rica, is offered in nearly every restaurant and household in the country. Served black or with milk (known as café con leche), it is generally strong and of high quality.
A common Tico drink, agua dulce, is made of tapa de dulce, or raw cane sugar, dissolved in hot water. This drink is particularly common in the cooler highlands and surrounding mountains of the country.
The most commonly served alcoholic drink in Costa Rica is beer. Imperial and Pilsen' are the two most widely popular beers in the country.
Most Costa Rican desserts are made up of milk, corn, sugarcane, eggs, and/or fruit. In the province of Limón, a majority of the desserts are made from a coconut base as well as from fried plantains. In the province of Guanacaste, the main dessert ingredient is usually corn, while in the Province of Puntarenas it is primarily milk, coconut, and fruit.
Frescos and batidos are drinks made from fresh fruit and milk or water. Among the fruits used are papaya, mango, watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple, strawberry, blackberry, banana, carrot, tamarind, guanábana and cas, a sour fruit native to Central America.
Visiting Costa Rica for the first time brings excitement and exhilaration for travelers eager to enjoy the adventurous activities, luxury accommodations, or thrilling interactions with the wildlife. Before arriving, it is important to have a passport valid for the entire length of your stay, along with at least one blank page to receive the customs stamp. At the time of writing, all visitors from the United States, Canada, and the majority of European countries receive a 90-day visa upon arrival. Those staying longer than the 90 days, whether for work, schooling purposes, or residential arrangements, must apply for a visa from their local consulate or embassy. Otherwise, a departure ticket must be purchased before entering Costa Rica, detailing your exit earlier than the expiration of the 90-day visa.
English is widely spoken but not all Costa Ricans speak English. People assume that because Costa Rica is a touristic country and that there are so many North Americans here, that all the locals know English. Though many Costa Ricans know a degree of English, not all of them do. These are mostly the Ticos that live in the city or work in tourism since English is required for jobs. The bottom line is don’t assume that you can speak English to everyone. It’ll be helpful to learn a bit of Spanish, at least the basic words.
Costa Rican currency is called the Colones. Exchanging money at a hotel or a “Cambio de Change” often returns big bills of local currency. It is best to ask for small bills, as many local shops are unable to make change for the larger bills banks and cash-attendants often give for American dollars, Canadian dollars, British pounds, or euros.
For Americans, tipping is a part of daily life and therefore follows travelers to countries around the world. Tipping might not apply to all Costa Rica customs, but there are moments when a tip is considered appropriate. Restaurants already add a 10 percent tip to any bill. As a rule, Costa Ricans do not tip servers in restaurants unless they feel the service went above and beyond the percentage attached to the bill. Cab drivers do not receive tips, but hotel attendants who help carry luggage to the rooms should receive a tip between one and two dollars per bag. Naturalist, local, and river guides could receive ten percent of the service or between five to 10 dollars per person, depending on how you feel about the tour, guide, and the service provided.
Costa Rica is a largely safe country, but petty crime (bag snatchings, car break-ins etc) is common and muggings do occur, so it’s important to be vigilant. Many of Costa Rica’s dangers are nature related: riptides, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are among them.
Travelers to Central America need to be vigilant about food- and mosquito-borne infections. Most of the illnesses most frequently caught while on holiday here are not life threatening, but they can certainly ruin your trip. Besides getting the proper vaccinations, it’s important to use a good insect repellent and exercise care in what you eat and drink.
It is common to say hello and goodbye to friends and acquaintances with a light kiss on the cheek – or an air kiss accompanied by a kissing sound. Note that women kiss women and women kiss men, but men do not kiss men; instead, they either shake hands or give each other a one-armed hug.
Costa Ricans take pride in their appearance and dress well. In business situations, both men and women dress formally but not as conservatively as in North America. Outside the office, men and women dress informally, although casual dress in Costa Rica is fancier than you might expect. For example, men rarely wear shorts except at the beach, and women's jeans are often accompanied by stiletto heels and heavy makeup. Women of all sizes wear very tight and revealing clothes – bras are often color-coordinated to match an outfit accessories.
Costa Rica is a Catholic country, and religious values are respected, if not always observed. Topics such as premarital sex, abortion, and gay marriage are generally avoided. Costa Ricans are very polite, so be sure not to put your feet on furniture; always say please and thank you, and try not raise your voice in anger, at least in public.
Typically, small towns and rural areas are more conservative than big cities, especially those in the Central Valley. Beach towns, which are frequented by tourists and expats, are also more liberal than other parts of Costa Rica. The best tactic is to err on the side of caution at all times, or at least until you have discovered what behavior is acceptable in your town.
We the leisure team brings a wide range of customized Costa Rica tour to offer you a perfect hassle-free vacation. The plans are tailored keeping in mind your requirements and benefits. Whatever might be your choice; an adventurous vacation, a luxury vacation, a family vacation or a romantic one, we are ready with the perfect plan for you. We value your safety as well as respect your privacy, and the tour experts plan your tour accordingly, either a packaged group tour or an independent tour. In all cases we ensure a hassle-free experience with magnificent accommodations, authentic local guides, and unimaginable excursions. So whether you wish to relax in a beach while enjoying a glass of wine or immerse yourself in the wildlife, write to Leisure and we will bring you perfect tour from the top tour experts.
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