Costa Rica is one of the hottest ecotourism destinations on the planet. Boasting astounding fauna and flora, and stunning natural wonders; this compact nation of just 4 million people is high on the list of must-visit destinations for travellers seeking natural attractions and adventurous excursions.
Looking for Costa Rica itinerary ideas? See Costa Rica – the Highlights in Under two Weeks.
Conservation in Costa Rica
When it comes to sustainable travel, Costa Rica is regarded as one of the most environmentally switched on nations in the world. How the country will cope with the rapid rise in popularity of ecotourism is yet to be determined, however, and there is concern over the long-term impact of tourism on Costa Rica’s delicate environment. Visitors to Costa Rica should take this into account and make a conscious effort to minimize the impact on the environment wherever possible. As the saying goes, take only pictures, leave nothing but footprints.
Activities in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is the most visited nation in Central America with its many natural wonders being the biggest attractions. Visitors flock to the country to explore mist-shrouded rain forests, active volcanoes, stunning beaches, and a huge number of national parks. Adrenalin fuelled activities are high on the agenda for many tourists with surfing, white-water rafting and zip lining being hugely popular. Wildlife spotting is a must on the Costa Rican tourist trail and travellers can also dip into a culture that mixes reggae with salsa to deliver a vibe that is distinctly Costa Rican. Pura Vida (Pure Life) as the locals are fond of saying.
Money in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is the most expensive destination in Central America which comes as something of a shock to many travellers (especially backpackers on tight budgets). The local currency is the colón although most prices are listed in US dollars (change is usually given in local currency). Independent travellers can still manage to get around the country for a reasonable cost by staying in low-budget accommodation, eating where the locals eat, and not going crazy with all the adrenalin activities on offer (the cost of those can very quickly add up).
Food and Water Hygiene in Costa Rica
Tourists in Costa Rica seldom complain of any of the stomach bug issues which often haunt travellers in other parts of Central America. In fact, it’s often safe to drink water from the tap in developed parts of the country although care should be taken in less built-up areas and travellers should never drink untreated water from rivers (no matter how clean it seems).
Weather in Costa Rica and When to Visit
Being close to the equator, the climate in Costa Rica is tropical and is dominated by two seasons – the dry (high) season which runs from December through to April and the wet (green) season which runs from May through to November. Being a country of highly diverse landscapes, Costa Rica has many microclimates. As such, visitors planning to travel extensively in the country should be prepared for all weather eventualities. Sunscreen, wet-weather gear, and warm clothes are advisable (whatever the time of the year). Find details about Costa Rica’s microclimates here.
Safe Travel in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is regarded as the safest country in Central America. Visitors should still exercise the same caution they would exercise travelling anywhere else in the world and valuables such as credit cards and passports should be kept in hotel safes. Nothing valuable should be left unsupervised on beaches.
Getting Around Costa Rica
Taxis are plentiful and relatively cheap in Costa Rica’s Capital city San Jose and all main tourist areas. Most cabs in Costa Rica are identifiable by being red (the official airport taxis in San Jose are orange). Travellers on tight budgets may save a dollar or two here and there by taking unofficial cabs but it’s not advisable from a personal safety point of view. Regular public buses run to all popular destinations but tourists planning to get off the beaten track may want to consider hiring a car for a self-drive holiday. Getting from a hotel to activity isn’t usually an issue as most activity companies provide tourist transport to and from hotels.
Food and Drink in Costa Rica
Gallo Pinto is a staple of the Costa Rican diet (beans and rice), and is often served with scrambled eggs and fried plantain for breakfast. When it comes to drinks, tropical fruit juices are plentiful and delicious. The most popular beer is called Imperial which is a respectable drop, and the local hard liquor is called Guaro – a white spirit made from sugar cane. (Best consumed in small doses). Coffee is the hot drink of choice and a tour of a Costa Rican coffee farm is popular with many travellers.
Visas for Costa Rica
Whether it’s a lazy beach holiday, or an adrenalin-fuelled activity vacation, Costa Rica is a destination with a huge amount to offer but tourists planning a trip should prepare properly and that includes checking the visa situation and passport requirements. At the time of this article going to print, Visitors from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand did not require a visa to visit Costa Rica. A detailed list of which nationalities need visas to enter Costa Rica can be found on the Costa Rican Embassy website. These details are subject to change and travellers should check for updates before travelling to Costa Rica.
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