What do I need to know about Costa Rica?

Enchanting Costa Rica

The variety of unique nature in Costa Rica attracts tourists from all over the world: tropical forests with rare beauty plants, animals, birds and butterflies; mountains with waterfalls, caves, volcanoes, streams and lakes; sandy beaches, colorful underwater world, uninhabited islands. About vacation in Costa Rica in 2022, beaches, attractions, entertainment and prices, we will tell in this article.

Interesting facts about Costa Rica

This small country in Central America can be called a perfect state:

  • there are no armed forces;
  • Education is compulsory, and free (literacy rate – 96%);
  • high life expectancy (77 years) due to a modern health care system;
  • Latin America’s Silicon Valley: one of the world’s largest exporters of microchips. Their production, software development, and tourism are the main sectors of the state’s economy;
  • 25 percent of the country is protected by nature (20 national parks, 8 state and several private reserves, a biosphere reserve, an archaeological site);
  • Care for nature is put above financial gain: oil drilling and open-pit mining are forbidden here;
  • 18% of the energy used is geothermal and wind;
  • The 5th greenest country in the world has a reforestation program;
  • developed volunteer movement that helps the conservation of flora and fauna, which occupies 5% of the world’s biodiversity.

Costa Ricans

The main population of the country of European descent, 10% are Nicaraguans and only 1% are descendants of indigenous Indian tribes, who are trying to preserve their ancient culture and traditions, this helps the development of state-supported rural tourism.

The official state religion is Catholicism, practiced by 75% of the population, another large religious group are evangelical Christians.

The official language is Spanish, but many people speak English.

The national bird

The clay thrush has been the national bird of Costa Rica since 1977. Why is this small inconspicuous bird, and not the quesal, the most beautiful bird in the world, which also lives in the forests of the country? Maybe because its singing is loved, as in Russia – nightingale, and it is found in all regions and settles close to people’s homes. Maybe because she has long been dedicated songs, tales, praised in literary works. Or maybe because its serenades herald the beginning of the green season and heralds the rains.

National flower

Since 1939 the national flower of Costa Rica is the orchid Guarianthe morada (Guarianthe skinneri), whose lilac-purple color is associated with abundance, fragility and elegance. In nature, this orchid grows in mountainous areas on tree branches, using them as a support. But in almost every yard in the country you can see the “tame” beauty.

Climate

Costa Rica is in a zone of subequatorial climate: here one season – summer with a constant 28-30 degrees. The temperature differs not from north to south, but from the height above sea level: the difference in the valley and in the mountains – 5-10 degrees. They don’t know what snow is here.

The year is divided into two seasons: the high (dry) season, from December to May, and the low (rainy) season, from mid-May to December. This season is called the green season in the country because it is the most beautiful time of the year, when nature is enchanted with blossoms and intoxicating aromas accompanying the exuberance of nature. The rainiest months are September and October, with the most rain falling in the Central Valley and Pacific Coast.

Do not forego a trip in low season: the rains are usually short, do not interfere with sightseeing trips and vacations in Costa Rica in 2022.

This is interesting: throughout the year, because of the proximity to the equator, the time of sunrises and sunsets in Costa Rica is constant: the sun appears at 5:30, goes over the horizon at 17:30.

How to get to Costa Rica

The distance from Moscow to the capital of Costa Rica San Jose is about 11000 km. There is no direct connection between our countries. One will have to change planes in European and American airports. The most popular flights are via New York (USA), Frankfurt/Main (Germany), Paris (France), Amsterdam (Netherlands), Madrid (Spain). Travel time ranges from 16 hours to a day or more, depending on the waiting time for the connecting flight.

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It is better to book tickets in advance and subscribe to a newsletter to keep track of price changes, promotions, discounts, “last minute” tickets, which will save a significant amount.

Costa Rica on a map:

What to bring

On vacation, you need to take a minimum of things so as not to pay extra for luggage. But hygiene products and backup flash drives for your camera are better to take with you: in Costa Rica these things are more expensive.

According to a signed bilateral agreement Russian tourists have the right to visit Costa Rica without a visa. This rule applies to those who enter the country for recreation and plans to stay for not more than 90 days. If you plan to stay in the country for 3 months or more, you will need a visa.

Visa to Costa Rica Russians will also be required if the purpose of travel – to engage in commercial activities or employment.

Once you have decided on the time of the trip to Costa Rica, you can choose an exciting tour of the country. Travel agencies offer a holiday in Costa Rica in 2022 and individual tours and group tours lasting from 4 to 15 days, with a Russian-speaking guide. “In the Animal World”, “Volcano Fantasy”, “Volcanoes and Parks”, “Undiscovered Costa Rica”, “Beach Recreation on Two Oceans” – the names of just a few tours of the stunning nature of the country.

There are tours for fans of extreme recreation, fishing, for those who want to spend their honeymoon alone with nature. The cost of the tours depends on the duration, complexity of travel, comfort of the rooms in the hotels: from 30000 rubles (4 days/3 nights) to 140,000 rubles (15 days/14 nights). Flight is not included in the price of the tour.

Transportation

In Costa Rica you can use different modes of transport to get to the right place:

  • Planes serving domestic flights ($100 to $150);
  • Comfortable intercity buses ($ 3 per 100 km);
  • tourist shuttles (from $20 depending on the distance);
  • city buses and shuttle buses ($0.5);
  • cabs (official – red with a yellow triangle on the door, pay by the meter – up to $3);
  • commuter train from San Jose: to Caldera, San Pedro, Pavas.
  • car rental.

Where to stay

In Costa Rica, a wide variety of places to stay: from expensive comfortable hotels, where the cost per day stay $ 200 and above, to the budget hostels and bungalows, where the daily stay will cost you from $ 10. Near the beach and in the mountains, in town and in the village, with a view of the sea or the volcano peaks – offers are very different.

You can rent an apartment, a room in a private house or cottage, which can be cheaper than staying in a hotel.

For travelers on their own, the best option – hotels with an all-inclusive service, where you can choose excursions, entertainment activities, which provides everything for a holiday with children.

Which coast to choose: Atlantic or Pacific – this question is asked by everyone planning a trip to Costa Rica. Holidays in either of them, you can visit national parks and nature reserves, to get acquainted with the richness of flora and fauna.

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Pacific Coast

This region is famous for high-class hotels, ethnic restaurants, and stunning sunsets over the ocean. The Guanachette region is especially attractive.

  • Popular cities: Manuel Antonio, Jaco, Montezuma, Samara, Tamarindo, Flamingo, Conchal, Papagayo;
  • Beaches: Sandy from white, pink to cocoa-colored. Rest here is ideal for families with children;
  • Water sports enthusiasts and high wave catchers choose the beaches in Manuel Antonio, Playa Carillo, Playa Langosta, Samara, Conchal;
  • The Osa Peninsula is famous for its rustic accommodations surrounded by picturesque nature.

Caribbean Coast

The Caribbean coast is less civilized. This region is chosen by ecotourists and surfers.

  • Popular cities: Cahuita, Puerto Viejo, Tortuguero, Cocle, Punta Uva, Manzanillo;
  • Many beaches with black sand and strong currents;
  • Beaches with low waves in Cahuita, Coquel, Manzanillo;
  • On the beaches of Tortuguero you can watch an amazing sight: sea turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs in the sand;
  • The beaches of Salsa Brave are ideal for surfing.

Cuisine

Costa Rican cuisine is very tasty, varied, homemade. It is not as spicy as Mexican, the meat is not fried as in Argentine dishes. The portions are very generous, appetizingly decorated.

Rice and Pulses.

Costa Ricans are very fond of rice and beans – they are the base of many dishes, especially side dishes:

  • gallo-pinto – a popular breakfast made of rice mixed with beans, onions, bell peppers and served with scrambled eggs, cheese and roasted tomatoes;
  • sado – a dinner dish in which rice and beans are used as a side dish to a choice of meat: pork chops, chicken, or beef. The accompaniment may be fried bananas, stewed zucchini, lettuce, and more;
  • arroz con pollo – a traditional Latin American dish made of rice with chicken and vegetables.

Pork, chicken, and chicken are preferred; beef is less popular.

Seafood

Seafood is as popular as rice and beans. Dishes of freshly caught tilapia, sea bass, tuna, lobster, squid, and crab can be enjoyed anywhere in the country. Delicious pastas and sauces are cooked from the seafood. Ceviche is a popular fish dish of sea bass marinated in lime juice, with bell peppers and onions.

Fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are a constant in the Costa Rican diet: fresh and in salads, as juice or dessert. Fruit heaven is filled with bananas, pineapples, watermelons, avocados, mangoes, cherries, passion fruit, and coconuts.

Costa Rica is a major exporter of coffee grown on the slopes and plains of the Central Valley. Coffee trees are predominantly of the Arabica variety. There are many brands of Costa Rican coffee: each producer roasts the beans differently. The drink is popular with residents, the smell of freshly brewed coffee accompanies everywhere.

Eating in Costa Rica is more expensive than in neighboring countries: seafood – from $ 8, a Big Mac – $ 7, lunch at a cafe – from $ 7, pizza – from $ 7, coffee – $ 1.5, fruits – $ 0.5-1 per kilogram, water – $ 1 liter.

Shopping

Big stores and shopping centers are in the capital and cities. But interesting souvenirs and exclusive products can be chosen almost all over the country.

Popular are ceramics, costume jewelry, vases, jewelry made of different materials (coral, wood, semi-precious stones), textiles and masks. A good gift from Costa Rica would be coffee, tea, liquors, wine, rum, spices.

Attractions

Nature is the main attraction of Costa Rica. During excursions to protected areas of national parks you can see unique natural monuments, rare representatives of flora and fauna.

Fauna is represented by a variety of species: 6500 – butterflies, 136 – amphibians, 220 – reptiles, 850 – birds, 1600 species of fish.

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In Costa Rica, there are more than 70 protected areas. These are tropical forests, mangrove swamps, highland vegetation, waterfalls, valleys and beaches.

Volcanoes of Costa Rica, towering over the mountains, constantly attract the eyes of tourists. The journey to their peaks is surrounded by tropical nature. Some volcanoes have lakes of unusual color in the crater. The slopes of others amaze with geysers and hot springs.

On the territory of Barra Honda National Park are caves of the same name, covered with stalactites and stalagmites of amazing shapes.

Costa Rica has four uninhabited islands: Cocos, Caño, Negritos, and Los Pajaros, declared a protected area. Bird colonies, palm groves, cozy beaches, and a rich and beautiful underwater world attract tourists. The events described in Stevenson’s book Treasure Island took place on Cocos Island, which is associated with the title of this all-time bestseller. The movie Jurassic Park was filmed on Cocos.

Outdoor Activities

Rafting on mountain rivers, climbing steep slopes near waterfalls, horseback riding through forest thickets and the edge of the waves on beaches, jeeping, mountain biking, surfing, diving, paragliding and hot air ballooning – the possibilities of exciting vacations in Costa Rica in 2022 are many.

Entertainment

In many resorts, you can have fun at night discos, clubs, and entertainment centers. In the country every month there are colorful festivals, carnivals, celebrations, where you can be not only a spectator, but also a participant.

What else you need to know about rest in Costa Rica

Communications .

The country has a modern telephone connection. One minute of international calls from a landline phone: on weekdays – $ 2.2, on weekends – $ 1.4. Many hotels offer free internet access, while internet cafes and post offices charge from $1.50 per hour. Cell phone service is available throughout the country.

Security

Costa Rica – one of the safest countries. But this does not negate the attention and caution of tourists: pickpocketing and fraud are also found here.

Customs

No restrictions on the import and export of foreign currency. Choosing souvenirs and gifts, we must remember that the export of cultural property, antiques, stuffed animals and birds, wildlife, raw coral is prohibited.

According to reviews of tourists who have visited Costa Rica, everything is fascinating here, vacation in a fabulous country energizing and strong, gives an unforgettable experience.

Costa Rica: 13 Tips You Should Know Before You Travel

Costa Rica San Jose photos

If you are organizing your trip to Costa Rica, it is better to know a few things: tourism in this Central American country has changed a lot in recent years, it is increasingly popular not only for Latin Americans, but also for Europeans and North Americans.

This growth in tourism has given rise to many myths, which are worth exposing so you don’t get an unpleasant surprise once you’re there.

Of course, you can never be 100% prepared on a trip and know everything in advance, but these tips before you go to Costa Rica are sure to help you a lot.

Tips to know before you go to Costa Rica

It’s not cheap

san jose costa rica

Contrary to what many people have in mind, being Costa Rica, the Central American country will be cheap, it turns out that Costa Rica is not as cheap as you think.

Many people travel to Costa Rica with the idea that a few dollars will make them rich in this paradise, but the reality is different.

I’m not saying it’s expensive or impossible to travel, but take that into consideration when planning your trip and there will be no surprises.

Long Distances.

Costa Rica Roads.

Most people think that being a small country, everything is close, they are wrong! Even though the country is small, it can take a long time to get from one point to another.

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The roads in Costa Rica are not the most modern, as they are usually only one-way and reverse lanes, so truck traffic is likely to be very heavy.

You may see on the map that “point A” is very close to “point B”, but it turns out that the roads are not straight either, remember that you are crossing many natural parks, so this does not always mean that a few miles equals a short time.

Cold

Woman and child on a suspension bridge

It’s true that a tropical climate reigns here most of the year, but it’s worth mentioning that Costa Rica has many “mini-climates” in Natural Parks depending on their elevation and ecosystem, so if your list includes visiting volcanoes, be sure to bring a jacket.

Also, the weather in Monteverde and Poás is almost always quite cold and humid at the same time. Before you go on your trip, find out if it’s rainy season or not; if so, pack some warmer clothes in addition to your raincoat.

There are plenty of mosquitoes, but that’s okay.

mosquito on a leaf

Being a tropical country, mosquitoes are a daily “treat.” In recent years, Costa Rica has reported cases of malaria, dengue, Zika and Chinkongui, but of those, dengue is the most common.

Malaria and Zika cases are very low and you have nothing to worry about. As a traveler, you have to take care of dengue. It is not that you should fear or avoid traveling to this country, you just need to take the proper precautions.

It’s worth being informed and always carrying repellent, in addition to bite ointment just in case.

Internet is bad and there is no Wi-Fi.

hills mountains gullies

Typically, hotels offer free Wi-Fi, but such Internet will not be distributed throughout the hotel, so you will only be able to use it at the front desk in the common area of the hotel.

You won’t find a wide range of Internet connections in public areas, it’s not like in other cities where you can connect at every corner.

If you are concerned about connectivity during your trip, I suggest you buy a local SIM card, which can be found directly at the airport, supermarkets and local stores; they will ask you to show your passport when you buy it. The companies are KOLBI, MOVISTAR, CLEAR, YOUR MOBILE.

Packages cost about $4, and you will probably have to pay $5 for a week to activate the Internet.

There is no army here, and they consider themselves the happiest country in the world

Costa Rica people

Since 1948, it is one of the few countries without an armed force of any kind, they have chosen to invest that money in health care and education.

The Central American country has been repeatedly listed as the “Happiest Country in the World” by the Happy Planet Index New Economics Foundation, topping it in 2009, 2012 and 2016.

They are also known for their enjoyment of talking to foreigners, so don’t be surprised if a local comes up to you just to talk and ask where you are from, they love to meet people and they are quite friendly and relaxed.

It’s safe to drink tap water.

drinking tap water

I know we’re not used to this, and that if you drink tap water, it’s quite likely that you’re going to feel bad for the next few days. But it’s safe in Costa Rica, although it’s worth mentioning that it’s always a good idea to ask the hotel/hostel where you’re staying to be completely sure! Take a reusable bottle with you.

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Spanish is different from what you know.

costa rica residents photo

They don’t treat a person as “boy” or “girl” but as “el mae” or “la mae”, in Costa Rica there are no good or beautiful things, there are things “tuanis or chivas” if you ask, how far is this place? They’ll tell you it’s not far, it’s long!

They don’t drink coffee, they drink “iodine” (yes, if it’s coffee), hunger has a sharp edge, food is “moncha”, they won’t ask you to wait when they say “soft touch” (don’t worry, they are not offering marijuana), if you want the cab driver to turn on the taximeter, ask him to turn on “Maria”.

They don’t say “Hi”, “Goodbye”, “WHAT IS THIS OR GOOD”, it all comes down to CLEAR LIFE!

The police can stop you at any time and ask for your ID

Costa Rica San Jose Police

It’s normal to see police on the road stopping people, so always have your passport or a copy of it and a picture on your cell phone with your ticket stamped on it. Police in Costa Rica are allowed to stop anyone to reduce drug trafficking, but checks are more common in border areas.

If you rent a car, you must always have your driver’s license with you.

Public transportation runs from San Jose / Alajuela

Public transportation san jose buses costa rica

The center of operation for buses is San Jose, so if you use this form of transportation, it is likely that the center of your residence is Alajuela or San Jose, so it is worth noting that timing is vital, as buses in Costa Rica are governed by a well-established system of schedules. Always plan to arrive at the station at least 30 minutes in advance and don’t be surprised if there are delays.

The most well-known companies are TUASA, COOPETRANS, ARSA, TRANSPORTES MEPE, TRACOPA and others.

I reiterate that depending on the route and direction you are going, both the company and terminal are chosen, they are easy to find, but the distances are very long and the buses always return to San Jose.

Most of the time you will use dollars instead of colones

costa rica banknotes with fish bill columns

The approximate exchange rate is 1 US dollar = 560 kolons, but I don’t recommend converting all your money into the local currency, as almost all tour companies will ask you to pay in dollars.

In supermarkets and stores, they will also accept your dollars, although they always carry some amount of Colones with them. If they need to give you change when paying in dollars, they will do so in Colones.

It’s worth noting: you won’t find ATMs in all cities or small towns.

San Jose is not as bad as they say.

costa rica san jose streets

It’s true that compared to the rest of the country San Jose is dirty, full of people and not very pretty at first sight, but it’s worth giving it a chance and taking a trip around and you’ll see jewels all over the city, such as markets and bazaars. Here you can find authentic memories of your trip. The city also has the best restaurants in all of Costa Rica, the National Theater, museums and many historical sites.

They drive badly and very fast.

cars on the streets of costa rica

Contrary to the relaxed attitude and good vibe, the locals drive like crazy! Because they are quite punctual, they always drive very fast. They say they don’t follow the rules. Everyone knows this, so you have to be careful enough if you rent a car, don’t swerve out of your lane and always yield.

I hope these tips help you on your trip to Costa Rica and that you enjoy it as much as I did.

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