Costa Rica is one of the most sought after tourist destinations, filling the imaginations of visitors and locals alike. After travelling to the country themselves, no tourist is ever the same. Renowned for its natural beauty, vibrant nightlife, and colourful culture, Costa Rica is one of the world’s top tourist destinations and continues to attract new and returning guests every year. With a well-developed tourist industry that predates almost all in the region, every traveller is bound to find their perfect vacation in the beautiful country of Costa Rica.
Geography and Climate
The country of Costa Rica is uniquely situated on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, with only a short distance between the two coastlines that can easily be covered by visitors. If you are in a tough spot deciding between the Pacific and the Caribbean, Costa Rica offers the best of both. In between the coasts, you will find an impeccable diversity of natural landscapes that are pristinely preserved. From towering mountains and volcanoes, to lush forests and rivers, Costa Rica’s geography is one of its primary attractions.
Costa Rica shares a similar climate to many Caribbean or Central American destinations. The dry season stretches from December to April, while the rainy season is May to November. Depending on where you travel, the temperatures and rainfall can vary significantly. Expect higher rainfalls in the mountainous regions, along with cooler evening temperatures year round. Despite its mixture of dry and wet seasons, the temperature is similar across seasons and is noticeably more pleasant than many island destinations. Major tourist centres are near the coastlines and these areas will all have a similar humid climate.
Most tourists arrive in Costa Rica by plane; however, there are a number of cruise options also available for travelling. The country is relatively small, and many tourists like to explore as much land as possible during their trip. For these excursions, it is recommended that you book a guided tour or negotiate the local bus system. While rental cars are available, driving in Central America is difficult for tourists unaccustomed to local practices. Travelling domestically is relatively simple, and therefore you have the opportunity to cover more space (and more natural diversity!) than many other destinations in the area.
Culture and Cuisine
Costa Rica’s culture is heavily dependent on Spanish influences and is very similar to other Central American destinations. The Caribbean side of the country has a noticeably more ‘Caribbean’ vibe that may be recognized by tourists who have been travelling to other destinations, particularly Jamaica; however, most of the country is more influenced by its Central and South American neighbours. Well accustomed to tourists, Costa Ricans are known to be welcoming and warm to visitors in their country.
Many tourists visiting Costa Rica for the first time are surprised by the amazing diversity of food that is available. One of the first real ‘fusion’ foods, Central American cuisine is a combination of American, Spanish, Caribbean, and other influences that come together to form something very unique. Fresh seafood is a critical component in many dishes, as is chicken and fresh vegetables and fruits. Wherever you stay, your palette is in for quite the treat!
One of the biggest and best draws of Costa Rica is its incredibly well preserved natural environment. With over a quarter of the island’s land carefully monitored by nature conservation groups, Costa Rica features a spectacular array of diverse attractions. The lush valleys and rolling hills are not only beautiful to look at, but are equally amazing to explore in a variety of ways. Whether it is lounging on Jaco Beach, hiking through one of the many national parks, or surfing in Dominical, Costa Rica has a beauty all its own. If you want to centre your travelling on exploring the inland beauty, consider staying around Liberia – here, the natural beauty is right at your doorstep.
The local wildlife, still preserved in their natural habitats, is a draw for countless nature enthusiasts. Whether by foot, by bike, by car or horseback, there are a number of ways to view such a diverse collection of animals. Wherever you stay in the country, you will be close to the rainforests where most of these creatures are found. Along with ‘dry’ activities, there are plenty of wet adventures to keep everyone happy. The best beaches are on the Pacific side, particular around San Jose, where other watersports, including scuba, snorkeling, and surfing, are common. Inland on the Pacific coast side there are also great rafting and kayaking spots in the many rivers of the region.
After a long day out exploring the natural beauty of the island, it is hard to believe you will have any energy left by the evening. However, Costa Rica is equally known for its nightlife and evening entertainments, particularly in the larger centres on the Pacific coast. Jaco is one of the top destinations for those travelling and seeking a Caribbean party.
Situated close to San Jose, Jaco offers all of the glitz and glamour of the night, from high class clubs, to beach parties, to casinos. If you are looking for the biggest and best party, Jaco and Jaco beach is your top spot. El Coco is more popular with locals and nearby tourists, offering up a diversity of nighttime party options where a variety of music and entertainment comes together. For the biggest diversity of options, budget types, and range of activities, spend a night in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica.