Costa Rica, in my opinion, is the premier Central American vacation and expat destination. While it’s a small country, geographically speaking, it offers a variety of experiences that few locations can match. Whether you love outdoor adventures or lazing by the beach, Costa Rica’s got you covered. Here are 10 reasons you should consider adding Costa Rica to your must go vacation list!
Flora and Fauna
Costa Rica makes up only .03 % of the Earth’s surface but contains 6% of the planet’s biodiversity. This stunning statistic is on full display everywhere you look in this incredible country. All sorts of animals — from monkeys to colorful macaws, a massively diverse population of butterflies, colorful schools of fish, frogs, and even sea turtles — make their home here. Plant species, including those used for medicinal purposes, are also bountiful. The best way to see Costa Rica’s nature up close and personal is in one of its many national parks. Manuel Antonio, Corcovado, and Rincon de la Vieja Volcano to name a few. (my favorite is Manuel Antonio) Guided tours are often available for these locations. You’ll know what to be on the lookout for, and get the most out of your visit!
An all you can see buffet for the eyes
Costa Rica truly has the best of everything when it comes to landscapes and scenery. It’s all here: incredible ocean views, rain and cloud-forests, with several active volcanoes added in for good measure! On your drive from the airport to your first destination, you are mesmerized by the plants, animals, and even the small, picturesque villages scattered along the way. During your visit, keep your eyes wide open and your focus on this nature’s treasures. You will be seeing diverse terrain and magnificent marvels that will create life-long lasting memories.
The best climate in the world
Yes, you saw that right, Atenas, a small town, nestled in the mountains on the edge of the Central Valley, proudly wears that moniker. All year round, average temperatures stay in the comfortable mid-to-upper 70’s, but it’s important to remember there can be a wide temperature range between the country’s regions. Indeed, the higher altitudes, including the Arenal Volcano area, will clearly be a bit chillier than the beaches. Like much of Central America, Costa Rica has two main seasons — the dry season which runs January through April, and the wet season, May through December.
Beaches, beaches and more beaches
Costa Rica is blessed with gorgeous beaches on both coasts. The best part is, you can find a beach that meets your needs, from the white sugar-sand stretches near Manuel Antonio and Guanacaste to the volcano black beaches along the Nicoya Peninsula. From the tourist hotspots full of people frolicking in the sun and waves to private secluded spots where you will feel like the world is all yours. If you choose to include a more isolated beach day during your Costa Rica break be sure to bring plenty of water, snacks, and sunscreen. Costa Rica is quite close to the equator, so you’ll want to be prepared for the sun’s extremely direct and powerful rays. Also, keep in mind, most of the beaches here do not have lifeguards on duty. One of my favorite hobbies, while sipping on a coffee or adult beverage, is to watch the local and international renowned surfers rip it up at one of the country’s premier surfing locations.
Adventures by Land, Sea or Air…Semper Fidelis!
Costa Rica is always faithful with opportunities for adventure, with something for everyone no matter your athletic ability.
By Land: With its incredible, varied terrain, Costa Rica has many breathtaking hiking spots. The trek through Manuel Antonio keeps you on an easy path through the rainforest, and a good guide can you see wildlife you might not have even noticed! Arenal National Volcano Park has numerous easy trails around Arenal Volcano National Park will take you to the main lookout, where you can view lava fields from past eruptions, along with the local flora and fauna that have returned to the volcano site. There are too many opportunities to mention here.
By Sea: Most resorts can set you up with everything you need to enjoy the water — be it snorkeling, paddle boarding, kayaking, waterfalls and surfing!
By air: If high-flying is more your style, consider a zip-lining adventure over the rainforest canopy or cloud forest. Dozens of outfits offer any number of options; your resort can make recommendations and even help you secure reservations. There are also a few helicopter experiences for those who are so inclined.
Costa Ricans have a long-life expectancy for a reason. From tropical fruits you’ve likely never seen or heard of (Rambutan, my favorite) to fresh-from-the-sea catches turned into ceviche, the food in Costa Rica is tasty and the perfect healthy fuel for life. Papaya and mango fans, this is your heaven. The country’s national dish, gallo pinto, is a delicious rice and bean mixture sometimes served with a scrambled or fried egg on top. Plantains and avocados thrive here and are routinely used in side dishes. Wash everything down with a refresco — a fresh fruit drink, and make sure to save room for dessert. I recommend the Tres Leche (cake beautifully moistened with 3 types of milk), especially if they are topped with Dulce de leche, a kind of caramel flavor.
That beautiful brown morning starter
Coffee is one of Costa Rica’s most diverse and delicious gifts. The rich, volcanic soil, combined with high altitude, adds up to the perfect environment for growing top quality coffee beans, and because there are microclimates, there are a variety of flavor profiles. Café Britt’s Poas brand is my particular favorite but I have yet to taste a Costa Rican cup I didn’t enjoy. Many growers offer tours of their farms, and for the coffee-curious, this can be a great way to spend part of a day. Here, you’ll learn all about the process during which coffee is created, and sample some of the end product.
Although you might think it is far away, Costa Rica is actually closer than you might think. No farther than many trips you have probably taken within the US. With non-stop flights from many U.S. cities, it’s only 3 to 6 hours from most locations in the US. You can leave in the morning and be on the beach by mid-afternoon. You will probably be surprised at just how accessible the country is and the ease of travel and flight options. What’s more, the fares were quite affordable! Even in these trying times for travel, Costa Rica has worked hard to streamline the process for attaining what you need to enter their picturesque country.
Putting on the Ritz
Many tourists love the perks that come along with luxury lodging, and Costa Rica has a dizzying number of attractive options, no matter where in the country you stay. Of course, there are gorgeous resorts right on the ocean, many with adjacent golf courses, marinas, and spas. However, if you want to split your time between the rainforest, volcanoes, and beach, smaller and incredible eco-lodges can also offer you fantastic accommodations while you’re adventuring, even luxury tree houses. Many of these are nestled near national parks or wildlife preserves. This allows you to get really up close and personal to resident monkeys, sloths, birds, and other animals, without skimping on amenities. For those who fall in love and are looking for a vacation home or move outright, there are some incredible opportunities for just that.
They are what makes Costa Rica so wonderful and so much more than just another vacation spot. There is the incredible general vibe in Costa Rica. Everyone here is just so… happy. Costa Ricans, who call themselves Ticos, and ex-pats from around the world, share a love and zest for life that’s so palpable there’s a name for it: Pura Vida. This national motto, which translates to “Pure Life” in English, truly sums up Costa Rica’s culture. No matter where you go in this incredible country, you’re bound to encounter the locals and expats alike who love where they live and want to share that joy with you. There are people who will even help you get set up and transition for those who decide to make a move or want a place of their own to keep coming back too. This sweet, slow-paced way of life is felt everywhere in the country. It is what keeps people coming back to Costa Rica over and over again and what gets many to stay.
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