Costa Rica, A Heaven On Earth

The country is dominated by pura vida, an expression that refers to a lot of different things and synthesizes the thoughts of the inhabitants: knowing how to take their time and appreciate the gifts of life. It is used to say hello, thank you, ask how you are doing, and even to express the best wishes.

The smile of the inhabitants will accompany you throughout the journey in this Eden with an exceptional flora and fauna. 6% of the world's biodiversity is found in Costa Rica and an average of 160 species are discovered here a year. The geographical configuration of a country that extends throughout, is only 200 km wide, between the two main oceans of the planet, offers the possibility of combining a stay by sea and beach together with excursions to enter the volcanic lands. Dolphins, turtles and whales are the aquatic animals that can be observed in the national parks. Try to visit some of the thousands of waterfalls in the country, an impressive vegetation with hundreds of species of birds with colorful feathers, 70-meter high ceibo trees, palm trees, flamingos, orchids, huge butterflies and other wonders of nature.

The most important cities in the country are San José, the capital, Puerto Limón, the most important port, and San Francisco in Central America. With almost 1300 km of coastline, beach tourism has developed in most of the country. The Pacific coast is the most frequented with many places that are highly visited by Americans, such as Puntarena or Quepos. Surfers are also facing the waves of the west coast. The Cocos Islands are also very famous in Costa Rica: small pieces of land that are 550 km from the coast.

The country acquired its independence in 1821. More than a century later, in 1948, Costa Rica became the first country to suppress its navy. An effort has been made in education and health as well as in caring for the environment since the wild deforestation that the area suffered years ago has practically disappeared. Divided into 7 provinces, the country is a major exporter of bananas, coffee, sugar, cocoa, pineapples. Costa Rica has become a pioneer in the ecotourism sector. Two million visitors enjoy Costa Rican beauty and simplicity each year, along with nature-friendly activities in protected parks.

The population is heterogeneous due to the mixture throughout the centuries and its significant immigration rate that has produced great cultural diversity.

Costa Rica: What to buy?

The craftsmanship is quite varied: replicas of pre-Columbian gold and silver objects, small decorative pieces of wood, wicker baskets from Guanadaste, leather goods, without forgetting the traditional painted wooden carts, typical of Sarchi, where it is manufactured. You can find many t-shirts that praise the country's environmental philosophyDon't forget to buy bottles of rum, the best brands with Centenario, Abuelo and Cacique. The stores are open from Monday to Saturday from 09:00 to 19:3

Costa Rica: What to eat?

The typical dish of Costa Rica is Casado, prepared with rice and steamed black beans, accompanied by vegetables, meat or fish and with fried plantains and cheese. Quite poor and atypical, Costa Rican cuisine consists of dishes of beef, pork or chicken, meats that are inevitably accompanied by rice, beans that have been cooked in large quantities and well in advance. Grilled fish is delicious. Corn is used in the manufacture of numerous cakes, such as tortillas. The true Tico breakfast is copious with the gallo pinto, a plate of rice and a few fried beans, which are eaten with corn pancakes and custard, a kind of sour cream.

Less authentic on the south coast, especially we find fruits in abundance: watermelons, pineapples, passion fruit, bananas, mangoes, melons ... Much consumed, the coffee produced in this area is world famous. As for the rum, it is of excellent quality. You can eat without breaking the bank at the typical menu spots.

Costa Rica: discover the cities

  • Tamarind
  • Alajuela
  • Tortuguero

Costa Rica: What are the cultural traditions?

Costa Ricans or Ticos carry the rhythm in their blood. There is no party without dances or city without its place to dance. Men generally, instead of shaking hands, do so with the forearm. Religious celebrations are also very numerous. To these are added the regional festivals and a large number of festivals. Among the most important celebrations we find the art festival in March, the International Music festival in July and August, the national Independence party on September 15 with parades and fireworks and the Puerto Limón carnival on October 12. December is a month full of festivities between the Feast of the Negritos and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on the 8th, the Feast of the Yegüita on the 12th, the Posadas on the 15th and the end of the year festivities that begin on the 26th.

Costa Rica: travel tips

At least ten days are necessary to visit Costa Rica with all its places of interest such as the Irazu and Arenal volcanoes, Lake Arenal, Tortuguero National Park, Manuel Antonio and take the opportunity to have a few days off on the beaches. Nothing happens if you go alone since the country is quite developed and safe.

Visas are not required for visitors from the European Union for a stay of less than three months. The tropical climate endows the country with a wet season and a dry season. The temperature does not vary much between the two periods of the year, but the rains are torrential from May to November. The ideal time to visit the country is from the beginning of December to the end of April. In fact it is the high tourist season. The condition of the roads is not very good, so land travel takes more time than usual. The swell can be fatal for bathers, although they are perfect for surfers, you have to be very careful with the current that can carry you. It is important to inform yourself before getting wet for the first time.

In San José the markets and museums are very visited such as the National Museum and the one from the pre-Columbian era. Although the country is relatively peaceful, passport thefts are quite common so it is advisable to leave money and important documents in the hotel room safe. The trip to Costa Rica is a unique occasion for rum lovers, from there are the best known brands.

Written by: Jacqueline Anderson

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