ENCOUNTER COSTA RICAAuthentic South American Voluntary
THE ‘PURA VIDA’ OF
Covering just 0.03% of the earth’s landmass, Costa Rica certainly makes up for its size with the amount of flora, fauna and adventure. With close to 4% of the all species on Earth to be found in Costa Rica, this Central American country between Nicaragua and Panama is a land of emerald green cloud forests, glistening azure waters and soaring volcanic peaks. Often referred to as the Switzerland of Central America, Costa Rica is one of the most stable, prosperous and progressive countries in Latin America having no standing army since it was abolished in 1949. This is also one of the reasons why the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the UN’s University for Peace is located in Costa Rica.
As well as providing a safe place to live for Costa Ricans, the country is a haven for travelers no matter what they want to get from their vacation. Adventurous travelers can take advantage of the hiking, snorkeling and wildlife spotting opportunities which are abound in Costa Rica while zip-lining through the cloud forest while those looking to unwind can take in the miles and miles of golden sand beaches on both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts.
Costa Rica with its 26 protected National Parks, misty cloud forests, bubbling volcanoes, tumbling waterfalls and paradise beaches is a traveler’s haven. The year round destination of Costa Rica has wowed and stunned all those who visit with its bright colors, mind-blowing landscapes and sheer undeniable beauty!
BEST TIMES TO
VISIT COSTA RICA
The dry season in most of Costa Rica runs from mid-December to April, with Christmas and Easter being the busiest times to travel to the country in terms of the number of tourists. In the lowland areas, March and April are extremely hot, with temperatures in the arid North Pacific frequently exceeding 90ºF (32ºC). Despite being called the dry season there is still some rain although it will be a quick downpour and before you know it, you’ll be able to enjoy the sweltering sunshine again.
The green season is the wettest time to travel to Costa Rica with afternoon showers kicking in by May and lasting through to November, with a brief mini-dry season in June and July. Rain or not, North American and European summer vacations do increase the number of tourists visiting especially from June to August. The rain is particularly heavy in September and October and results in the slowing down of the number of tourists visiting the country. During this period the roads are muddy and the rivers begin to rise, making off-the-beaten-track travel more challenging. Although the rainfall is highest, the storms bring swells to the Pacific, and the best surfing conditions can be enjoyed during this period.
AT A GLANCE:
SEASONS & PEAKS
Summer (Dec-Feb) – Summer sets in and the rain stops – best time to go.
Autumn (Mar-Apr) – The dry season of Costa Rica, it can get really hot and dusty on the Pacific side
Winter (Jun-Aug) – Rainy season. July usually has less rain.
COSTA RICA INFO
Capital City: San Jose
Currency: Colones (CRC$600 to US$1.00)
Obtaining colones outside Costa Rica is virtually impossible so we recommend that you wait until you arrive and get some at the airport or at border posts. It is worth noting that US Dollars are dispensed from most ATMs in Costa Rica and with the exception of the smallest towns and shops in rural areas, credit cards are widely accepted. When heading for the more remote areas, try to carry sufficient colones with you, especially in small denominations otherwise you may find that you have trouble changing a 5000 colón note in the Osa Peninsula, for example. We recommend visiting the website XE Currency Converter to get current exchange rates.
We recommend visiting the website XE Currency Converter to get current exchange rates.
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Costa Rica is a largely safe country and is considered the Switzerland of Central America having also abolished its army since 1949. However petty crime such as bag snatchings can take place as in any major urban area in the world, so it’s important to be vigilant. Remember you’re foreign and so will stick out already. Keep a close eye on your belongings and don’t wear lots of eye catching jewelry or flash expensive cameras, laptops or iPhones around. Many of Costa Rica’s dangers are in fact nature-related with riptides, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions as well as predatory and venomous wildlife posing a threat which is why a wildlife and nature guide is essential if trekking in the jungle.
No mandatory vaccinations are required to visit Costa Rica. The government of Costa Rica requires a valid yellow fever International Vaccination Certificate at least 12 days prior to entering Costa Rica if you are arriving from a country with risk of yellow fever. In the Americas this includes if you are traveling from the following countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname & Venezuela. We do recommend visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as check the vaccines and medicines list and visit your doctor (ideally, 4-6 weeks) before your trip to make sure everything is up to date.
Nationals of the USA and the EU do not require a visa to enter Costa Rica and are granted a 90 day travel visa upon arrival. Citizens of other countries may require a visa to enter Costa Rica and it is generally advised that they contact the Costa Rican embassy in their home country for information. The Wikipedia Visa Policy of Costa Rica is a great starting point to begin exploring whether or not any particular nationality might need to obtain a tourist visa to visit Peru.
Electricity in Costa Rica runs at 120 Volts, so transformers are not necessary for tourists from the USA. If you are planning to use anything with a three-prong plug, bring an adapter, as some establishments only have two-prong outlets. If you’d like to learn more about the types of plugs in Costa Rica, check out the website What Plug Info – Costa Rica.
GETTING AROUND COSTA RICA
Costa Rica can be reached via a number of direct international flights from the USA, Canada and other countries within Latin America. There are two international airports, Aeropuerto Internacional Juan Santamaría on the outskirts of the capital city of San José and Aeropuerto Internacional Daniel Oduber Quirós in Liberia. Domestic flights within Costa Rica are inexpensive and flying to popular destinations such as Puerto Jiménez, Quepos and Tortuguero will save you the driving time.
Buses in Costa Rica are very reasonably priced, with extensive coverage of the country, though travel can be slow and some destinations have infrequent service. Private and shared shuttles that take you from door-to-door between popular destinations can save time by allowing you to schedule to your needs.
Renting a car allows you to access more remote destinations that are not served by buses, and frees you to cover as much ground as you like, especially if you have a limited time frame. Cars can be rented in most towns and if you are thinking about renting a car we recommend a 4WD vehicle as it is essential in some parts of the country. You should also avoid driving at night and make sure you have a Satellite Navigation System.
experiences in costa rica
Turtle Rescue Center
This non-profit organization is run by volunteers for volunteers, so it needs all the help it can get. Its sole mission is keeping the sea turtles safe and finding a way for the locals and turtles to live together in harmony. Poachers, fishing nets and pollution have led to a serious decline in the turtle population.