With a coastline on both the Caribbean and the Pacific that can be reached in a few hours, an exuberant wildlife and active volcanoes that Costa Rica is loaded with great experiences. To see the glowing lava flowing down the Arenal volcano in the evening, a monkey shouting from the treetops by the long near-deserted beach at Bahia Ballena, meet a pink purple sunset at Manuel Antonio beach or visit a sleepwalker at the big Corcovado National Park are all experiences you will not forget in a hurry.
Costa Rica is a beautiful country well worth a visit. You’ll find tropical rainforest, pristine nature, lots of wildlife and on the coastline you can do some surfing or just enjoy sunbathing in a beautiful environment. It is a really safe country even though its neighbours may be turbulent.
When to visit Costa Rica
In the end of December until the mid of April the climate is dry and it’s a nice time to stay in Costa Rica. But it’s also high season during this period of time and you should be aware that hotels may be fully booked and the prices are higher than normal.
The wet season is between April and December. The fact that not to many tourists are here then is a plus, but some roads can be impossible to pass.
April, May, the mid of October until the mid of December is probably the moths you’ll get a little bit of both dry and wet period.
Getting around Costa Rica
Buses in Costa Rica may not always be the most comfortable way to travel but is a really charming and fun way to get around. Bus service often doesn’t have any real timetables, and even if they do you shouldn’t count on it. But it’s a cheap and fun way to travel.
In San José there are three big bus terminals; Coca-Cola terminal, situated 20 minutes walking distance east of the citycenter, Atlántico Norte terminal and the Caribe terminal situated north of Avenida 13 at Calle Central.
Taxi can be rented per day, half day or by the hour. Make sure the driver drive by the meter if you don’t set a fixed price before the drive. In San José you can also rent car or a motorcycle.
If you want to rent a car or motorbike, this is available in San Jose.
All train service was destroyed in an earthquake in 1991 and will probably never start again.
Between Drake Bay and San Jose, we flew with the Airline Nature Air.
Costa Rica Traveler
On the plane, we could read the newspaper of Costa Rica Traveler is Nature Air Inflight magazine.
The local cuisine
Visit a “soda”. It serves chicken, beans and rice and good juice with freshly squeezed fruit, water, flour and ice.
Costa Rican beer called Imperial.
Gallo Pinto is rice and beans served as with eggs and a typical breakfast while lunch is called casado which also includes rice and beans. Lots of tropical fruit, delicious meat dishes and delectable fish are eating. Try out natilla for breakfast, papaya one leche when you get thirsty, empando con queso or ceviche at the beach restaurant. At Christmas serves traditional tamale.
Shops and stores are open weekdays between 9AM – 6 or 7 PM. Most shops are also open on Saturdays.
Banks business hours are Monday – Friday between 9AM-3PM.
Everything is generally closed for siesta everyday between noon and 2PM.
Restaurants add a 10% service charge on the bill. Has the service been good welcome is always extra tip.
Visa requirements for Costa Rica change rapidly so make sure to check up the latest information before leaving. Right now most countries do not need a visa for a 90 day stay. Some countries (for example Australia, Iceland and New Zealand) can stay 30 days without visa.
Costa Rica is a fairly safe country. However watch out for pickpocketers in San José and be careful at night time in town.
Sightseeing Costa Rica
In addition to the destinations that are in Costa Rica here, there are several destinations along the Caribbean coast which Tortuguero with their turtles are one of the most popular.
Manuel Antonio and Quepos
Manuel Antonio and Quepos is 3-4 hours by car from San José. The area offers beautiful beaches, the opportunity to go fishing and a beautiful national park.
Quepos has become more active place for tourists with bars, restaurants and shops. The beaches can not be compared to the beaches of Manuel Antonio.
Manuel Antonio National Park is located 5 km south of Quepos and 181 km southwest of San José. Along the white sandy beaches with turquoise water the tropical rain forests inhabits white faced monkeys, squirrel monkeys, sloths, Iguanas and lots of other wild life.
The National Park is open: Every day except Mondays from 07.00 pm to 16.00
Tortuguero National Park
The park is world famous for the protected green sea turtles. The turtles are sitting on their eggs from June to October.
Mid-February to July giant leatherback turtles are sitting on their egg while from July to October female hawk bill turtles are sitting on their eggs.
Fauna here is really rich. 309 different species of birds have been identified here, amphibians (over 60 species), reptiles (110 species) and 60 species of mammals. Some of the animals you can see is the howler, white-faced Capuchin and spider monkeys, the jaguar, the ocelot, macaw, Black Hawk and lots of others.
Opening hours: Daily 08.00 – 16.00
The green mountain seems to be evident in the clouds and has a unique nature with beautiful birds. There is several trails and you can spend hours just wandering around here and explore Monte Verde and its cloudy rainforest.
Reserva Biologica Bosque Nuboso Monte Verde.
Opening hours: 07.00 – 16.00
Admission fee: 90 USD
In the area there is several adventure activities. You can take a Sky walk, where you walk on hanging bridges over the rainforest roof. Another option is a Sky Trek, where you get shot away as a cannon ball attached to a cable high above the jungle roof
Pension Santa Elena /Tourist Info
Corcovado National Park
Corcovado is one of the best places in Costa Rica to see flora and fauna. The area is very hot and humid. There are over 400 different birds, 116 amphibians and reptiles, 500 species of trees and 139 species of mammals. Some of the protected animals can be see here is white-faced capuchin monkeys, scarlet macaw, crocodiles, the jaguar, the ocelot and many more.
Lynch Travel is owned and operated by a Swiss man. When we visited he didn’t seem that service oriented. After a while he became a bit more humble, but it was mostly the two employees, the girls from Puerto Rico, who helped us find available accommodation for our time in Corcovado.
» Lynch Travel website
The active volcano Arenal is 1633 meters high and is very beautiful in the lush natural at Lake Arenal eastern part.
Visitors can admire the volcano for hours but need to be very lucky to get to see a clear view of the peak because of clouds that covers it most of the time. The sound of the volcano, however, is significant easier to hear. It’s a beautiful surrounding and well worth to stay a few.
Night time is really the best time to observe the volcano. If you are lucky you can get incredible views of the red lava on the side of the volcano.
It is possible to hike around the base of the volcano, but it’s certainly not recommended to climb higher up since it is continuously active and very dangerous to approach. Falling stones and gas from the volcano has actually tragically led to several climbers death.
Jungle by the Pacific Ocean, Costa Rica
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