Few would fail to be amazed at the natural attractions that Costa Rica has to offer. Although only about the same size as Switzerland, Costa Rica has rain forests, dry forests, volcanoes, hot springs, beautiful white sandy beaches, and an incredible variety of flora and fauna.
Sitting under the naturally warm water of the waterfall at Tabacon is a memorable experience, especially when the Arenal volcano performs a spectacular lava display, and the earth literally rumbles. At certain times of year visitors can witness turtles hatching, and laying their eggs on both the Caribbean and Pacific beaches.
Exotic birds are all around and the tiny humming bird can often be seen gathering nectar from the colorful flowers around most of the hotels.
Costa Rica is set just north of Panama in Central America-Christopher Columbus landed here in October 1502. The country is only 300 kms north to south and between 100 and 200 kms east to west, about the same size as Switzerland, with a population of around 2.5 million. Mid-way between the Pacific and Caribbean coasts is a spectacular volcanic mountain range running the full length of the country. This range has some 200 volcanoes of which five or six are still active. The most famous of these, the Arenal Volcano usually erupts around 30 times a day. The highest mountain Cero Chirripo is 3820 metres and is only 35kms from the Pacific coast, quite a gradient. Unlike most other countries in Central and Latin America, Costa Rica does not have an army. This was abolished in 1948. The civil and rural guard handle matters of security and border control. In addition to this the distribution of wealth in Costa Rica is about the best in this part of the world, which means that crime tends to be much lower.
Due to the dramatic changes in altitude over relatively small distances Costa Rica has many very localised micro-climates. This combined with the fact that it is set between North and South America has created an incredible variety of flora and fauna. In fact this represents 6% of the world's total. The Costa Rican government has been buying much of the natural rain forest to convert into national parks, protecting them against logging and clearing for agriculture. Due to this policy much of the rain forest, cloud forest and dry forest is almost undisturbed, and the wildlife is incredible.
We found the food in Costa Rica to be well prepared, imaginative and good value. The menus include very good steaks, various roast chicken dishes and an excellent selection of fish - Sea Bass, Marlin, Swordfish and Tuna.
There are no official star ratings for the hotels we use in Costa Rica. In our estimation the hotels we have chosen would mainly rate four stars. We have tried to describe individual hotels accurately, and will be happy to discuss them with you. It should be remembered that many of the hotels are surrounded by rainforest and Jungle and are built in keeping with their setting.
Weather in Costa Rica varies from area to area. On the coastal plains the Pacific North West is dry and the remaining areas are humid. The daytime temperatures range between the eighties and nineties F, usually ranging between seventies and eighties at mid-elevations and forties and fifties towards the top of the highest mountain areas.
The temperature does not vary much year round. Rainfall however changes dramatically from region to region. It could be raining hard in one valley and completely dry in the next. There are however two simple weather periods. Costa Rica has what they call the 'Green Season' between May and October when there is more cloud and rain, and the 'Summer' or 'Dry Season' between November and April.
The Caribbean coast is generally more humid and has a higher rain fall, which means that the tropical rain forest flourishes along with the spectacular wildlife it supports.The best place to visit to experience this incredible natural reserve is Tonuguero National Park.
The central mountain range rises high above the coastal plains peaking to 3820 metres, San Jose the capital, Cartago, AlaJuela and Heresia make up over half the population of Costa Rica. These four cities are based on a Central plateau at around 1600 metres above sea level- Here the humidity is almost non-existent and the temperature comfortable all the year round.
The Pacific Coast is much dryer in the north and gets progressively more humid as you go south towards the Panama border. Some of the beaches on the Pacific coast are spectacularly beautiful and in many cases completely deserted. The jungle often overhangs the beaches offering good shade. The areas we recommend to visit are Tamarindo, Jaco and Manuel Antonio. These three areas have excellent small family run hotels, with good food and a friendly service. There is plenty to see in each area making it ideal for a fly / drive tour.
British Passport Holders do not need a visa. Other nationalities should check with their embassies.
Recommended Hepatitis A, Polio, Typhoid, Tetanus. Malaria.