Costa Rica's country motto is "Pura Vida" or "
Pure Life" because local Costa Ricans or "Ticos" are known for
their love of life and are considered to be the "Happiest" people in
the world according to the
Happy Planet Index.This phrase is used as everything from
greetings and salutations to synonyms for awesome, great and relax. Pura Vida
is the law of the land and simply put, Pura Vida the Costa Rican way of life.
Costa Rica is a natural paradise with lush rain forests,
active volcanoes, pristine rivers, tropical waterfalls, white sandy beaches,
amazing sunsets, 20 national parks, eight biological reserves, scenic mountains
and truly breathtaking beauty. Costa Rica has a land and water area of about
51,000 square kilometers and is the approximate size of West Virginia in the United
As one of the planets most biologically dense countries, Costa
Rican tropical forests have over 500,000 species of wildlife, including 1,500
tree species and a reported 854 species of birds. It is home to four species of
monkey, 2 types of sloths, armadillos, wild cats like jaguars, tapirs and
hundreds of beautiful butterflies and represents close to 4.5% of the total
species on Earth.
Costa Rica is a long time democratic nation and abolished
their army completely in 1948. Even the smallest towns have electricity,
drinkable water, telephone service, public clinics and free compulsory education
through high school. Costa Rica boasts one of the highest literacy rates
(96%) in the Western Hemisphere and posses a good government run health care
system. Costa Ricans also accounted for the second highest life
expectancy (78) of the new world and the highest life satisfaction rate in the
world. It is also considered to be one of the most stable nations of Latin
America, which in a large part is due to the high standard of living and
quality education. Costa Rica is also on track to become the first
carbon-neutral country, with 99% of the country's energy needs meet through a
combination of geothermal, hydroelectric, and wind power.
San Jose, which sits in the Central Valley, is the capital
and bustling economic, geographical and political center of Costa Rica. It has
a very pleasant climate year-round, and is working on improving its tourism appeal.
San Jose is
in the process of vast redevelopment with new, delicious restaurants, upscale
hotels and other venues popping up almost daily.
Most travelers spend very little time in the Capital and
choose to explore the many unique areas and different climate zones of the country
including the Northern Zone, Central Valley, North Caribbean, South Caribbean,
North Pacific, Central Pacific and the South Pacific, each of which are
distinct and represent a variety of local micro-climates -- from the rain
forests near the Arenal Volcano to the cloud forests of Monteverde, the low dry forests and deserts of Guanacaste, to the
gorgeous beaches on both coasts. Let us show you our favorite parts of Costa
Any time is a great time to visit Costa Rica! Just remember that Costa Rica is a tropical country with a wide-variety of micro-climates so you are bound to find experience a wide-array of weather conditions while you are here -- from hot and sunny to chilly, misty and rainy. Late December to mid-April is typically considered the dry season, but
also the most-crowded and expensive time to visit Costa Rica. The rainy season means there are
occasional afternoon tropical showers, but since many of the activities
you can enjoy in Costa Rica involve getting wet - like whitewater
rafting, canyoneering, etc. - it's even more fun doing these activities
in the warm tropical rain!!
Weather near the Arenal Volcano and throughout Costa Rica is pretty
consistent throughout the year. It's rather hot and tropical with an
occasional cold front form the north from time to time. We experience
the weather phenomena of "El Nino" and "La Nina" and tend to have
rainier weather during "El Nino" meanwhile the other side of world like
Australia is experiencing "La Nina" and drought conditions. As long as
you have sunscreen and rain gear, you're all set to travel in Costa
Here's monthly temperature averages near the Arenal Volcano:
One of the many questions people have before coming to Costa Rica is "Can I use US dollars in Costa Rica?" Yes, you can. You will be able to use your greenbacks pretty much anywhere, although $100 bills are sometimes not accepted in smaller businesses like corner stores, etc. It's better to bring mostly dollar bills, fives, tens and 20s and you will receive change in Costa Rican colones.
The exchange rate for Costa Rican currency is generally 500 colones to the US dollar. A good way that I use to do the calculation is multiplying the cost of an item by "2" and removing 3 "zeros." So, if you're buying a bottle of water for 1,000 colones, multiply by 2 and take off the zeros -- the bottle of water costs $2.00.
And for history buffs, the word colones comes from Christopher Columbus who first discovered the Limon area of the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica (the Spanish translation of Christopher Columbus is CristobÃƒÂ¡l ColÃƒÂ³n.) And you may hear the slang word "Tejas" when referring to money -- this is the term for 100 colones. So "cinco tejas" is 500 colones. You may also hear the term "un rojo" for 1,000 colones because the color of the 1,000 colones bill is red and "un tucÃƒÂ¡n" referring to the 5,000 colÃƒÂ³n-note because there is a toucan on the bill.
And now for tipping in Costa Rica. Small bills are better to have while tipping individual guides (such as raft guides, naturalist guides, etc.) There is no defined amount for tipping and guides from DesafÃƒÂo have very competitive salaries and we give them all of the benefits according to Costa Rican law such as health insurance and vacation pay. However, if you think your driver or guide did an exceptional job, they always appreciate getting a few dollar tip for their service.
In addition, all restaurants in Costa Rica add on an obligatory 10% service tax which is used as the tip for the wait staff, so it is not necessary to add on a tip to your restaurant bill, unless you felt you received service that was above and beyond the norm.
Credit cards such as VISA, MasterCard and AmEx are accepted in just about every location (restaurants, super markets, hotels, etc.) There are ATMs in the major tourism destinations where you can receive dollars or Costa Rican colones, but you will likely be charged an international bank fee for the use of your credit and debit cards.
Costa Rica charges a $29.00 per person departure tax at the airport when you leave the country. You can pay in US Dollars, Colones or credit card (again there may be fees when using a credit card).
Costa Rica Activities with Desafio Adventure Company
Desafio Adventure Company is a one-stop-shop for adventure with several
centers of operation throughout Costa Rica, including the Arenal Volcano, Monteverde, Playa Samara, Guanacaste and San Jose. We operate a wide-range of
our own activities such as whitewater rafting, kayaking, canyoneering,
horseback riding, hiking, biking, guided bird-tours, hot springs, stand
up paddling, snorkeling and boating tours. We work with other excellent,
high-quality outfitters throughout the country to get you set up for
activities such as zip line tours, scuba diving, fishing, surfing, and
I am a kayaker, can I kayak a rafting trip?
typically do not allow kayakers to kayak alone as part of our normal
rafting tours because unfortunately we've had situations where kayakers
have claimed to be capable of running our rivers, but they find our
rivers are very different than what they are used to. Our rivers are
very continuous with steep gradients and limited eddies and are very technical.
Some visiting kayakers have had problems navigating safely.
For that reason, we have to be rather strict about whom we permit to
kayak with us during a rafting trip. We would appreciate if you come to
our office the day before the tour (hopefully before 8:30am or between
4pm and 5pm) when our head guide for our river operations is available.
He will give you an evaluation about your skills and abilities and
tell you about the river. If he believes he will be able to handle you
on the trip (i.e. if we have enough space and perhaps an extra kayaker
to keep an eye on you) we will confirm you for the trip and try to fit
you for a kayak, if there is one available.
On another note, equipment is very expensive to acquire down here, so
we do not have many kayaks available, nor spray skirts and paddles.
It's much better if you bring your own.
There are so many fascinating things to visit in Costa Rica, but
don't miss out on getting up close and personal with at least one of
Costa Rica's volcanoes during your vacation.
Costa Rica has three
mountain ranges that dissect the country creating its own "ring of
fire" with over 100 volcanic cones, eight of which are considered Costa
Rica's major volcanoes: Arenal, Poas, Orosi, Irazu, Turrialba,
Miravalles, Tenorio and Rincon de la Vieja.
Volcano is one of most-iconic volcanoes in the world and a popular
destination for adventure travelers for rafting, hiking, canyoning,
biking and much more. The Arenal Volcano area also offers amazing
geothermal hot springs at many of the local resorts and hotels nearby.
important stop on your Costa Rica volcano-visiting vacation is the Poas
Volcano National Park -- home to one of the largest volcanic
crater lakes in the world. Our Adventure Connection will take you on a and
easy-going hike to this spectacular volcano, as well as see the sites
near by such as a coffee plantation and the famous La Paz Waterfall!
Orosi and Irazu Volcanoes can also be spotted as day-tours from San
Jose. The Orosi Volcano is near the colonial town of Cartago and has a
few steamy thermal resorts tucked away near the lush national reserve of
Tapanti. The Irazu Volcano has a remarkable emerald-green crater
lagoon. The Turrialba Volcano area is one of the biggest comeback
stories for Costa Rican tourism. This Turrialba region used to be THE
place to visit for rafting over 20 years ago due to its proximity to the
Pacuare River. The Turrialba Volcano has recently been giving off
impressive rumbles, making it on to the volcano-viewer's vacation radar
When you're in the Guanacaste area, you'll spot the
majestic Miravalles and Tenorio Volcanoes off in the distance. The
Miravalles Volcano is an important source of geothermic electricity for
Costa Rica and also feeds a series of its own hot springs resorts
nearby. And if you're looking for a volcano that reminds you of
Yellowstone in the United States, then Rincon de la Vieja in Guanacaste
will astound you! Rincon de la Vieja is located in the northwestern
part of Guanacaste and is made up of a series of 9 eruptive craters
along the ridge. If you like to hike here, be sure to check in with
the Rincon de la Vieja National Park Rangers. This Costa Rican volcano
has colorful sulfur geysers and lava mud pools - you'll feel like you're
hiking on the moon surrounded by such out-of-this-world geological
The highest point in Costa Rica is not in fact a
volcano, but a mountain called Cerro Chirripo, which rises to a chilly
3,810 meters above sea level (12,500 ft).
One of Costa Rica's most-popular tourist destinations is Monteverde. The
origin of Monteverde's tourist fame is the pristine cloud forest, home
to the Resplendent Quetzal and Bellbird and hundreds of other birds,
mammals and plant species. Trees are heavy with bromeliads, orchids,
hanging moss and vines, characteristic of the dense, rainy climate found
For your convenience, Desafio Adventure Company has an office in
Monteverde to help organize tours to the Monteverde Reserve or Santa
Elena Reserve, as well as canopy tours, hanging bridges over the
treetops, coffee tours, gallery exhibits, and much more!
Monteverde is not the only place in Costa Rica to find what we call
"horizontal rain." There are cloud forests in the mountains above the
town of San Ramon called the Los Angeles Cloud Forest home to the hotel
Villa Blanca, as well as in San Gerardo de Dota in the South-Central
region of Costa Rica.
Visitors to Costa Rica are fascinanted by being able to get up close and personal with tropical rainforests. Rainforests are what many people think of as "jungle" with thick green vegetation and vines The rain forests in Costa Rica are distinguished as being wet and warm ecological zones that receive at least 75 inches of rain per year and a consistently warm temperature throughout the year.
Some of the most beautiful rainforests in Costa Rica are located in the Northern Zone near the Arenal Volcano extending up through the Cordillera Tilaran mountains forming the Children's Eternal
Rainforest reserve land to the higher elevations of Monteverde that then becomes Cloud Forest.
It is part of the fun doing adventures in the Costa Rica rainforests like rafting and canyoning because you're bound to get wet anyway!
Rainforest is also found throughout the Osa Peninsula home of the Corcovado National Park and along the lush Caribbean Coast.
You haven't visited Costa Rica if you didn't get a chance to experience a Costa Rica river! One of the most incredible things about Costa Rica is that you can't travel more than a few miles without going over a bridge with a river flowing under it.
Although a large percentage of the larger river systems have been dammed for hydroelectric power plants, rivers are an important tourist attraction in many parts of Costa Rica. You will want to try rafting near the Arenal Volcano on the Rio Balsa or Sarapiqui.
The Tenorio River in Guanacaste is a great way to get wet and wild while at the beach along the sunny Pacific Coast. The Tenorio River ends with the famous 12-ft Cascabel Falls heart-pounding rapid. The Pacuare River on the Caribbean side has fun class 4 rapids and overnight camp sites.
And if you're not up for the adventure of a rafting, be sure to then try a nice and easy River float on the Peñas Blancas River or the lower section of the Tenorio River to see active wildlife along the shores like crocodiles, monkeys and amazing birds. Plus there are plenty of opportunities for River kayaking, canoeing and motorized boat tours along the Rio Tarcoles, Palo Verde or Caño Negro.
It is hard to know exactly how many waterfalls are in Costa Rica because we have such an abundance of rivers, creeks, streams and mountainous terrain — there are literally waterfalls everywhere. However, some are nicer than others and after much deliberation, we came up with Our Top 10 Costa Rica Waterfalls that are definitely worth "chasing":
10) Nicoya Penninsula Blue Zone —Hojancha Salto del Calvo Waterfall This spectacular waterfall is actually considered one of the tallest in Central America! It takes quite a hike to get down to the base of this hidden gem, but you’ll get an understanding of why this area is considered one of the 5 Blue Zones — pure air, rainforest, amazing views and refreshing water!
9) La Paz Waterfall The La Paz Waterfalls are a series of large, free-flowing waterfalls surrounded by lush tropical rainforest. This makes for the perfect Kodak moment when traveling from San Jose to Arenal on our Adventure Connections.
8) Nauyaca Waterfall This is one of those hidden gems that few people ever have the pleasure to experience. The Nauyaca Waterfalls are located in the mountains near the south Pacific coast. They are only accessible by horse with a local tour operator and family. The falls come in from different angles and there is a large pool beneath them that you can swim in.
7) Pozo Azul de Sarapiqui This waterfall consistently makes the Top 10 Swimming Holes in Costa Rica. It’s the perfect plunge of water that drains into the Sarapiqui River surrounded by deep rainforest. You can trek about 15 minutes down an easy trail and easily access this refreshing and picturesque waterfall for a nice swim.
6) Llanos de Cortez This waterfall has been getting a lot of exposure recently because it is conveniently located on the tourist trail in Guanacaste, but don’t let the crowds scare you. It’s a truly beautiful site to see as the water cascades down over a sheath of rock that extends a good 15 meters wide and about 12 meters tall. You’ll have to pay a small fee to the local community to enter and/or park at the Llanos de Cortez waterfall. After parking, you head down a cemented trail with a white sandy beach at the end at the base of the falls.
5) Río Celeste The Rio Celeste Waterfall inside the Tenorio National Park has often been touted as the most-picturesque waterfall in Costa Rica and definitely one of the prettiest I’ve ever seen. This famous Costa Rica waterfall has celestial turquoise waters that pour over the top into a deep aqua blue pool. According to local geologists, the mystifying blueçolored water is the result of two rivers joining together, creating a mixture of sulfur and calcium carbonate. The trail is often muddy and there are a lot of stairs to see the falls, but you won’t want to miss out on getting to the end! Desafio Adventure Company can arrange tours and Adventure Connections from the La Fortuna and Guanacaste beach areas.
4) La Fortuna Waterfall The La Fortuna Waterfall is close to the La Fortuna downtown area and is an absolutely beautiful and iconic waterfall. It is approximately 100 feet high. The way down to the falls is a bit of a hike, but on a well-constructed path with a few hundred steps, hanging bridges and photo ops at every angle. Just take it nice and slow and enjoy the beautiful scenery!
3) Cascabel Falls Río Tenorio This incredible 4-meter waterfall is actually the most-extreme whitewater rafting rapid in Central America. We are credited with giving name to this intense Costa Rica waterfall based on the “Cascabel” or rattle snake endemic to this part of arid Guanacaste.
2) El Salto de La Fortuna We like to think of El Salto as our “secret swimming hole,” however the secret has been out for quite some time — El Salto is a popular local natural attraction on the Fortuna River along the outskirts of town. Our dream since we established our company in La Fortuna more than a quarter of a century ago was to some day own land next to this beautiful natural playground. We now have our Hunters & Gatherers restaurant located there. A visit to the El Salto is a great reason to pop in for a delicious all you can eat natural buffet lunch!
1) Gravity Falls Waterfall And our very TOP waterfall in Costa Rica is our photogenic Gravity Falls 95-ft waterfall. Adrenaline seekers get to experience the thrill of rappelling down the amazing rushing waters of this tropical beauty! Check out Costa Rica’s most EXTREME tour at Gravity Falls Waterfall Jumping... especially if you want to enjoy our favorite Costa Rica waterfall!
Costa Rica, as its name implies, has some of the most-beautiful
coastline in the world. There is almost 800 miles of beaches to choose
from! Costa Rica's beaches are perfect for swimming, surfing, stand up
paddling, kayaking or relaxing with a pina colada in hand and much more.
Both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts have a mixture of luxury beach
side resorts in popular tourist zones to the more, obscure, Robinson
Crusoe-style lodges on deserted beaches.
Many people ask us what our favorite beaches are. Hands-down we like
Playa Samara on the Pacific Coast. Playa Samara is famous for its
beautiful, white sandy beaches, romantic sunsets, active local community
and laid-back "old fishing village" feeling.
However, many people like Manuel Antonio, Tamarindo, Montezuma, Jaco and
other beaches on the Pacific side and places like Tortuguero and Puerto
Viejo on the Caribbean side.
Let us help you out, should you have any questions!
Here's a photo of the pristine and beautiful Playa Carrillo beach:
For us, one of the best places to see turtles is on the Pacific Coast at
Camaronal or Ostional Reserves. If you stay in the Playa Samara area, here's a list of the turtles you will be
most-likely to see - and keep an eye out on our FaceBook page when we announce an "arribada" or mass arrival of turtles to one of those beaches:
OLIVE RIDLEY TURTLE (Lepidochelys olivacea)
Size: his is the smallest species, adults only 70cm long. Weight: 40-50 Kg. Average eggs per nest: 110 General Characteristics: Almost round body with 5 to 9
lateral scutes, dark green color, with two pairs of prefrontal scales
and two claws in each forelimb. In Costa Rica, it
nests along the pacific Coast, mainly from July to February.
At Ostional and Nancite beaches massive nesting (arribadas) of this
species occurs, where even more than 100,000 females can nest in one
single night; for about 2 to 5 nights each month.
LOGGERHEAD TURTLE (Caretta caretta)
Size: Adults 120 cm long. Weight: 180 kg. Average eggs per nest: 112 General Characteristics: The head looks big,
proportional to the rest of the body, giving it the common name of
big-headed turtle in Costa Rica. Reddish-brown carapace with 5 lateral
scutes, plastron is creme colored.
A few nests have been documented in the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica between the months of May and August.
HAWKSBILL TURTLE (Eretmochelys imbricata)
SIZE: Adults 80 cm long. Average eggs per nest: 155 General Characteristics: The common name comes from the
mouth which looks like the bill of a hawk. The end of the carapace is
serrated and the plates of the carapace are imbricated. It has 2 pairs
of prefrontal scales. This is one of the most exploited species by
humans. They are captured for their meat, eggs, skin, but mainly for
their shell, which is used to produce jewelry and other products like
combs and frames for glasses. In Costa Rica it
nests mainly in the Caribbean (although also in the Pacific) coast between the months of May and November.
GREEN TURTLE (Chelonia mydas)
Size: Adults 100 to 140 cm long. Average eggs per nest: 110 General Characteristics: Oval body with variable color and four lateral scutes. One pair of prefrontal scales. In Costa Rica it nests mainly from June to October, constituting the largest nesting colony of the Atlantic coast.
LEATHERBACK TURTLE(Dermochelys coriacea)
Size: It can get to be 2m long Weight: Up to 600 kg . Average eggs per nest: 110 General Characteristics: Dark blue color with white spots. Hind limbs very elongated.
In Costa Rica this species nests on both coasts;
on the Caribbean side they nest between March and July along most of the coast. On the Pacific side they nest between September and March, mainly in Playa Grande.
Our SEAFARI DOLPHIN tour at Playa Samara is
available all year and chances are good you will see a vivacious Bottle-Nosed Dolphin or more as they play around our Samara Explorer catamaran boat. And sometimes Humpback whales are en route from the
North Pacific and can be spotted of the coast between
December to April.
Costa Rica National Parks
Costa Rica is famous for its world-class national park system. There are
approximately three dozen natural areas composed of national parks, biological
reserves, wildlife refuges, monuments and recreational zones. Following
are a few you may want to consider visiting on your vacation in Costa
Arenal National Park - This park has both cloud
forest and premontane tropical forest. The giant volcano was recently active and rumbled and erupted
with spectacular displays of vapor and lava. It is now dormant, but a beautiful sight to see looming over the town of La Fortuna.
Corcovado National Park - Puntarenas Province on Osa
Peninsula - Pacific tropical rainforest - a wonderland of virgin
rainforest, unspoiled beaches, jungle-thick riverbanks and exotic
wildlife. Home to many large mammals, the jaguar, tapir, ocelot,
peccaries, crocodiles, scarlet macaws and giant anteaters. Conditions
are hot and humid and considered the "last-frontier" of Costa Rica with a series of luxurious eco-lodges available.
Guanacaste National Park - Guanacaste Province - Ranges
widely from tropical dry forest to cloud forest. Large felines as well
as 300 species of birds and 5000 species of butterflies.
Manuel Antonio National Park - Puntarenas Province -
south of San Jose and Quepos - Beautiful land with palm lined beaches
and titi monkeys - almost a quarter million travelers a year -
endangered squirrel monkeys.
Tortuguero National Park - Limon Province on Caribbean
coast north of Limon - Tropical lowland park lying across a system of
natural lakes - Accessible only by boat.
A passport with more than 6 months until expiration is required for entrance Costa Rica. Visas are not required for U.S. or Canadian citizens.
No immunizations are currently required nor recommended.
Citizens of other countries should consult the Costa Rican consulate in their country for entry requirements.
Get in touch with us today and start making reservations for the most-thrilling vacation of a lifetime in this tropical paradise of Costa
We have two international airports in Costa Rica: Juan Santamaria
International Airport in San Jose (SJO) or Liberia (LIR) on the Pacific coast of
Guanacaste. Both are centrally-located and equidistant to the Arenal Volcano.
The following airlines currently fly to Costa Rica from the United States:
American Airlines Daily flights
from Los Angeles, Miami, JFK in New York, and Dallas-Fort Worth.
America West Daily direct flight from Phoenix.
Continental Flights daily from Houston and Newark.
Delta Two daily flights from Atlanta.
United Airlines Daily flights direct from Washington, D.C., and from Los Angeles, and
biweekly flights from Chicago O'Hare to Liberia.
US Airways Direct flights from Charlotte, S.C.
Grupo Taca Direct flights or connections to and from Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles,
San Francisco, Houston, New Orleans, New York, Miami, and Washington.
Spirit Airlines Flights to San Jose Costa Rica
JetBlue Flights to San Jose and Liberia Costa Rica
We would like to give you some helpful hints on how to handle a possible
change in your flight so you don't miss out on your fun a and exciting
trip to Costa Rica to visit us.
In general, airlines try to accommodate bumped passengers with
compatible schedules. Airline computers automatically reroute clients
and/or will offer refunds if necessary.
Considering so many flight cancellations, most travelers still don't
realize their flights may not be waiting for them at the airport and
should should be prepared. Here are some helpful tips:
Call ahead to your airline to confirm your flight and come to
the airport early. Bring your printed itinerary, reservation code and
keep your cellular phone charged.
Know your rights. Read the airline's " Contract of Carriage"
policy. Copies are usually available online or at the ticket counter.
Make sure you have an assigned seat. If not, you will likely be a candidate for not getting on the flight.
Get to know alternative routes. For example, for flights from
the United States on American Airlines to Costa Rica, clients can get
routed through Dallas, Miami or L.A. Try to be flexible in case you get
bumped and it's easier if you present itinerary options to your
In case you loose your bags, it's a good idea to have a basic
change of clothes in your carry on. If not, there are many affordable
shopping opportunities in Costa Rica and airlines have been excellent in
getting client luggage to your exact location within the first couple
of days of your vacation. Plus Desafio has offices in La Fortuna and
Monteverde and can easily help you get your luggage fast and
Check out great flight options with the airlines above and we'll take care of you from there -- we'll pick you up at the
airport and show you an excellent time on your vacation in Costa Rica!
See how your currency is doing against the Costa Rican colones before
coming to Costa Rica. Most places will take US dollars, but they often
don't have much change, so smaller bills are best (most establishments
will not take $100 bills.) It is a good idea to get some colones (the
local currency), just in case.
By law, businesses in Costa Rica are not allowed to charge extra if
you use a credit card but they sometimes will give a discount if you pay
in cash. We recommend you get colones once you are here.
Most places here will give you your change in colones when you pay in
dollars so that is one way to get colones. If need be, you can also go
to an ATM (most ATMs will let you choose colones or dollars). Please
keep in mind, however, that your bank may charge you extra for ATM
withdrawals in Costa Rica so check with them first to see how much it
If you want, the driver who brings you from the airport to La Fortuna
on the day you arrive can stop at a cash machine along the way. You
can also bring travelers checks but usually banks are the only place you
can cash them which in most cases means standing in line for a long
time, so they are probably not your best choice.
How's the Weather in Costa Rica?:
Want to see how beautiful the weather is here in Costa Rica? We tend to
have a lot of what we call "liquid sunshine" -- light tropical rain
showers in the afternoons, but for most of our adventures like rafting
and canyoneering, you get wet anyway so the rain is not a problem. We like to know if there are any storms brewing and have the following weather website bookmarked, in case, you, too would like to be an amateur weather forecaster, just like us!
Get a jump start on learning Spanish before coming to Costa Rica.
Spanish is the official language of Costa Rica, but we have a
highly-educated public and the majority of the people working in tourism
have a good level of English. But it's also great to practice your
Spanish while you're here! If you would like to take Spanish lessons in an
immersed, homestay environment, we recommend Intercultura in Samara.
Five Tips for Choosing the Best Adventure Travel Company
Planning a trip to a foreign country can be very daunting and adventure travel is one of the fastest-growing segments of the travel industry. Many more tourists are exploring exotic regions such as jungles, going mountain climbing and bungee jumping and much more! Adventure travel companies help tourists go on physical excursions, have cultural interactions and commune with nature.
Tourists who want make the most out of their trip should seek outfitters that
will be able to provide itineraries that are both fun and safe. If you plan to do adventure activities along the way, we recommend the following advice for this important process: 1) Research if the travel company has proper government accreditations and insurance
2) Learn more about the geography and other aspects of your travel destination
3) Set a budget and compare the special offers and vacation packages offered
We look forward to helping you plan your adventure vacation to Costa Rica!
The author of
Living Abroad in Costa Rica, Erin
Van Rheenen began her career as a serial relocater at age three, when
her parents moved the family from Portland, Oregon, to Lagos, Nigeria.
The world's best guidebooks, travel advice and information.
The Essential Travel Med Kit When Visiting Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a very safe country to visit. There is reasonably very little crime and if you decide to do adventure activities, Costa Rica is famous for having responsible and safe outfitters. However, you just never know when you might scrape your knee, get a mosquito bite or more. It is always best to be prepared. You can find the following items at any pharmacy in Costa Rica, but you might want to come prepared before you come:
Prepackaged antiseptic towelettes, bandages, and topical antibiotics.
The more you're out and about, the more likely you are to get a few
scrapes. There's no sense letting a minor scratch develop into a major
infection, especially if you're traveling to a remote area.
Flashlight. Although not necessarily a medical supply, a
flashlight is necessary for many situations, from unlighted city
streets to midnight trips to the bathroom in jungle resorts that run on
Pepto-Bismol and Imodium. Rich food or bad food can give you stomach troubles. Plan for them by bringing these tablets along. Moleskin. Although not lifesaving, this adhesive
padding can be the key to preventing the activity-limiting blisters that
are likely to develop as you trek from site to site.
Sunscreen. A sunburn is not only annoying but also
cancer-causing. It can also hamper your skin's ability to perspire,
which is essential for preventing your body from overheating in hot
Motion-sickness remedies. Dramamine tablets and
Scopamine patches can relieve a lot of discomfort if the boat crossing
is rougher than expected or the bus ride is wickedly bumpy.
Thermometer in a sturdy case. The best way to assess
whether you have an infection needing a doctor's care is to take your
temperature to see if you have a fever.
Pain relievers. Such pain relievers as Ibuprofen (Tylenol or Advil) can come in handy for treating headaches, joint pain, and fever. Hydrocortisone 1% ointment or cream. The alien bacteria
you may encounter when you go swimming in the sea or other natural
bodies of water can trigger itching or a rash, which this cream can
counter. It can also help relieve those unbearable symptoms of a poison
Allergy medicine. If you are an allergy sufferer, take
along some antihistamines: your allergies may not be acting up at home
prior to departure, but changes in altitude and a different climate at
your destination may trigger even an occasional allergy. Of course, if
you have food allergies, reactions to bee stings, or other specific
conditions requiring medications, make sure you have an ample supply
before you hit the road.
Special ointments. If you are a woman prone to yeast
infections, over-the-counter creams for these infections, such as
Monistat, should also be in your medical kit. And if you are a person
who suffers from athlete's foot or jock itch, don't forget an antifungal
Repellents. A mosquito repellent containing DEET
(N,N-diethylmetatoluamide) is especially critical if you are traveling
to tropical areas where malaria, yellow fever, dengue, and other
mosquito-borne diseases are likely to lurk. Skin-So-Soft and Naturapel
are two DEET-free repellants for areas without malaria. Depending upon
your lodging conditions, you may want to bring mosquito coils and a
mosquito net for sleeping; you could even take it a step further and
have the netting dipped in insecticide.
Condoms. These can be lifesaving, no matter where you travel -- and they may not be available everywhere.
Also remember to take stock of your health. Get a
checkup, discuss your travel plans with your doctor, and look into your
last batch of shots, including your MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella
immunization) and tetanus. Make a list of any medical issues that might
affect your plans, anything from serious conditions like asthma and high
blood pressure to minor complaints like tennis elbow or foot calluses.
Create a "health" checklist with such things as medications, ice packs,
and so on. Iron out ways to cope with your health needs on the road,
like having your prescriptions called into a pharmacy in your
Consult a travel-medicine expert. These doctors know
all about things like which vaccinations are truly necessary for a given
trip and which antimalarial drug is best for a given destination. They
can also advise you on items to pack in a travel medical kit. The
International Society of Travel Medicine has a list of practitioners and
clinics around the world.
Finally, every traveler should create a Traveler Kit which with two clear vinyl zipper bags, alcohol hand sanitizer,
Imodium, Neosporin, duct tape, tissue
After you finish a tour with Desafio Adventure Company and eat one of
our yummy meals in the Desafio Lost Canyon Cafe, you'll
be longing for more!!
Costa Rica is perhaps not known for its gourmet cuisine, but we do have
delicious, excellent, all-natural foods here and some fun, cheap eats.
Here is our list of Top Eats you may want to keep in mind when you come visit us in Costa Rica - be sure to let us know if you find some new and delicious places to eat:
Top Eats in Costa Rica:
Cafe Mediterraneo in La Fortuna
Soda Viquez in La Fortuna
Benedictus Steak House in La Fortuna
Coco's Mexican Restaurant in Playa Samara
El Lagarto in Playa Samara
Tin Jo in San Jose
Taj Mahal in San Jose
Lola's in Playa Negra
Bread & Chocolate in Puerto Viejo
KOKi Beach in Puerto Viejo
If you have a group and would like to schedule an additional meal at one of our Desafio lunch locations, please let us know! If you would like us to create an itinerary with all meals included,please let us know and we can help organize your meal plan included.Otherwise, it's part of the adventure to go out and explore new and
interesting places to try different cuisine in Costa Rica.
Good eating!! No artificial ingredients COSTA RICA!
Costa Rica is fairly "dollarized" roughly 500 colones to the US$1. You can use dollars anyplace. I recommend making your first pyrchase at one of our little grocery stores called pulperias and they will likely give you back change in colones and often in US (except US coins.) Many places won't take big bills like $50s and $100s so better to have $20s. You can use your credit card and debit card in most places and ATMs abound, just be sure to tell your bank first you'll be in Costa Rica (the ATMs and your own bank will likely charge a fee for taking out money.) So, a good way to think of it is take a $20 and it's worth about the same as a Costa Rican green 10,000 colones bank note. A $10 is a little smaller yellow 5,000 colones bank note. $4 is our blue 2,000 colones note. $2 dollar is a red 1,000. And $1 is a big 500 colones coin (a little larger in size than a quarter.) You'll get used to it. A Costa Rican beer? About 1,000 colones! A delicious cup of Costa Rican coffee? Generally free or about 500 colones.
Secret Recipes for Our Famous Home-Cooked Meals
One of the many things that sets Desafio Adventure Company apart is
our attention to detail for our home-cooked meals. We strive to only use
the freshest ingredients right from our garden and our cooks have been
trained to incorporate healthy cooking techniques for all of our
We go beyond the usual "Casado" (Married Meal,) the usual rice and
beans and a choice of meat and Gallo Pinto (beans and rice instead of
rice and beans!)
You might have a chance to try the following yummy recipes after a
fun day of rafting or canyoneering with us or maybe try these secret
recipes at home, too!:
Famous Picadillo de Platano
(Zesty Plantain Appetizer)
What you'll need:
2 medium-sized green plantains diced into cubes
3 cloves garlic minced
1 medium onion minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
Â¼ cup red bell pepper diced
5 medium sized mushrooms, diced
Â¼ cup chopped cilantro
2 small tomatoes
1 cup water
3 tablespoons Costa Rica "Salsa Lizano" (if you can't find it
back home, you can almost get a similar flavor with 3 tablespoons fresh
tamarindo and dash of soy sauce) salt & pepper to taste
Here's how to make it:
Green plantain: Be sure that the green plantains have been refrigerated
overnight to make them easier to peel. To peel them, cut it along one
side lengthwise. Loosen the skin with the knife. Using your thumb, peel
the skin off. Dice the plantains into cubes. Let them soak while you
prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Add the onions, garlic peppers and cilantro in a large saute pan at
medium heat. Saute for 2 or 3 minutes. Add the blended tomatoes, Salsa
Lizano, plantains (drained) and salt/pepper.
Stir this until the plantains are well-seasoned. Add the mushrooms and 1
cup of water. Cook covered over low or medium heat for about 30
minutes, stirring occasionally. This healthy appetizer serves 4.
Here is the menu and recipes for the delicious foods we serve on our Lost Canyon Adventures canyoneering tours. Hope you enjoy
them and that you'll try to make them yourself when you return home!