Explore Costa Rica
Things to do in Costa Rica
Get Your Bearings in Costa Rica
Avoid: Traffic on the main highways can be a major headache on holidays.
Take It or Leave It: Avoid mass-produced souvenirs and buy sustainably-made gifts instead.
Hot Tips: Howler monkeys, toucans and sloths are among Costa Rica's wildlife most active in the early morning.
Hot Tips: Make reservations, and inquire about green season discounts, which vary from region to region.
Avoid: Huevos de tortuga. Eggs of the Turtle. They're illegally sold as an endangered delicacy, don't buy them.
Hot Tips: Try a "casado" at a roadside "soda" for lunch, and taste really fresh ceviche by the sea
Be Sure to Sample: "Gallo pinto" with breakfast.
Caution: In Costa Rica, "nightclub" refers to a place where the oldest profession in the world is practiced, not just a disco, bar or dance club.
Take It or Leave It: Ladies Night may be a meat market with free mojitos.
Hot Tips: High heels are best left to the pros, Costa Rica's uneven sidewalks call for flats.
Caution: Avoid excess baggage charges on your departure by shipping your souvenirs home before you leave.
Take It or Leave It: Cacique, Costa Rica's own brand of guaro: sugar cane liquor.
Best Local Souvenir: Pure Costa Rican chocolate from a small cacao farm.
Things to do in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is known for...
Costa Ricans sure know how to celebrate! Festivals take over towns to honor patron saints and spill onto streets with impressive displays. The first two weeks of January kick off the year with the biggest fiesta of carnivals, concerts, tope (hosre parades), and Costa Rican bullfights (in which no bulls are harmed). Every even year in March, San Jose is host to a citywide arts showcase (FIA) featuring theater, art, and film. In November the Festival de las Carretas celebrates the country’s agricultural heritage with a parade of ox-carts, and every Christmas the Festival de la Luz lights up the city for an entire week of fun, fireworks, and fake snow.
With 800 miles of shoreline on its Pacific and Caribbean coasts, Costa Rica lays claim to a lion’s share of the world’s most beautiful beaches. White, gold, pink and black sand beaches dot both coastlines, some with rocky shores and coral reef, others dappled with coconut palms. The bigger beaches of the Pacific such as Manuel Antonio, Tamarindo and Jaco are popular tourist destinations and surf spots but those looking for a remote patch of sand should head to the Caribbean for the still secluded enclaves of Punta Uva, Playa Chiquita, and Manzanillo.
Costa Rica is well known for producing some of the world’s best gourmet coffee, and its Arabica beans are highly coveted for their superior taste and flavor. The volcanic soil and temperate climate make for ideal conditions, and the country has eight different coffee-growing regions within its borders. With a little effort you can still find local cafés that brew cups of coffee the old fashioned way in a chorreador, which some claim is the best way to experience Costa Rica’s finest natural resource.
Costa Rica has some of the most diverse wildlife in the world: from stunning scarlet macaws to large green iguanas and red eyed frogs to white-faced and howler monkeys to five species of sloth, you need not venture far beyond the city to find exotic creatures crossing your path. Animal enthusiasts of all kinds should visit Cahuita National Park for practically guaranteed sightings, while Manzanillo-Gandoca Wildlife Refuge offers a field day for birders.
Considered one of the greenest- and happiest- places on earth, Costa Rica contains 5% of the world’s biodiversity, and a whopping quarter of the country’s land is protected in national parks and reserves. Corcovado National Park is internationally recognized for its biodiversity and is home to an abundance of wildlife including four species of monkey, and the Monteverde Cloud Forest contains 2000 plant species and over 400 types of birds.