- Eco suites on stilts
- Cloud forest canopy
- Eccentric eco-inn
- Costa Rican coffee grounds
- Minimalist jungle bungalows
- Perched above the Pacific
- Tropical treehouses
- Reefs and rainforest
- Boho Balinese beach huts
- Sand, surf and sweeping rainforest views
- Balinese bungalows
- Thick jungle, sparkling sea
- Barefoot necessities
- My goodness, Guiones!
Costa Rica Overview
- Cloud forests and crystal waters
- Coast life
- Zip lines, surfing and snorkelling
‘Pura vida’ is Costa Rica’s national motto, and for good reason. Visitors to this beach-enclosed paradise can enjoy the pure life in some of the most biodiverse jungles, rainforests and coastlines in the world.
Costa Rica’s name alone hints at the country’s most beautiful scenery: its pristine shores. The country is book-ended by beaches on its Pacific and Caribbean sides, hence the laid-back surfer ethos that characterises coastal life. Inland, nature holds sway: a quarter of Costa Rican land is protected. It’s as though the landscape has been prepped for a Nat Geo photo shoot, with smouldering volcanoes, dense emerald jungles, and rainforests towering into the clouds. The Afro-Caribbean culture that dominates the east brings reggae and Rastafarianism, and in the highlands, farms and plantations produce delicious, gem-bright tropical fruit, as well as some of the finest coffee ever to grace your espresso cup. Not a place for museum-trudgers or city-break addicts, Costa Rica is where you go to come face to face with Mother Nature, gloriously undressed.
Completely Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s sodas aren’t fizzy soft drinks. Rather, they’re casual, family-owned diners in corrugated tin huts, where the locals (who call themselves ticos and ticas) order hearty plates of beans, rice, plantains and meat for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- It’s not easy to flag cabs on the street, so ask your hotel for the number of a reputable company. Rates are typically low. In more-remote destinations, it’s best to request four-wheel drive.
- Tipping culture
- Tips aren’t expected, though a few US$ will ensure more attentive service. A 10 per cent service charge is sometimes tacked onto the bill in upmarket restaurants.
- Siesta and fiesta
- Shops generally open from 9am to 6pm, with an hour break at lunch. Banks usually close for the day at 3.30pm.
- Packing tips
- Bring close-toed shoes for walking around the jungle and rocky beaches. Insect repellent is essential for jungle trips.
- Recommended reads
- Allan Weisbecker’s In Search of Captain Zero chronicles a surfer’s road trip through Mexico and Central America. Jack Ewing, an American who lived in Costa Rica’s rainforests for three decades, recorded his experiences in Monkeys Are Made of Chocolate: Exotic and Unseen Costa Rica. Costa Rica: A Traveler’s Literary Companion, edited by Barbara Ras, offers more than two dozen stories of Costa Rica by Costa Ricans giving a broad range of the feeling of a whole range of Costa Rican regions
- Costa Rica’s standard meal is casado, meaning ‘marriage,’ a plate of rice and beans, meat or fish, plantains, and a salad. Tropical fruit, including bananas, papayas, coconuts, guavas and melons, are also popular.
- Costa Rican colones (CRC; ₡).
- Time zone
- GMT -6 hours.
- Dialling codes
- Country code for Costa Rica: +506.
- Do go/don't go
- There isn’t a bad time to visit Costa Rica. The dry season runs from December to April. Although the wet season, from May to November means rainy afternoons, it’s the best time to see the rainforest come to life.
Don't go home without...
Sailing over the treetops on a gravity-defying zipline tour. The country’s most adrenaline-pumping activity is also a chance to spot elusive wildlife such as howler monkeys and colourful quetzals from the air. Selvatura (www.selvatura.com) and Sky Trek (www.skyadventures.travel) are two of the most popular zipline companies.