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I had to laugh so hard. I mean, I knew that there has to be lots of stuff, certainly more than 10 things I did not know about Costa Rica. But this one was kind of embarrassing.
This could only happen to a tourist, I guess. But let’s back up a bit.
Back in December, with Christmas around the corner, I decided to just get away from all the pre-holiday shopping hype for once, and find myself a special place somewhere to escape the cold weather.
As it turned out, one of the most fun places to visit even in the winter is actually Costa Rica. Doesn’t the name already sound exotic?
It’s a small country buried within Central America that has gained popularity as a vacation destination all year around in recent decades, with something else to offer in each of the four seasons.
Consequently, as such a really popular travel destination even in December, most hotels were totally sold out around Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
The good news is: I didn’t care at all.
In fact, the boon in tourism has led the Costa Ricans to the development of a rather extensive network of weekly and monthly vacation rentals throughout the country. And these holiday homes are way more awesome than any of the hotels anyways, as you have both: the luxury of hotels due to concierge services and private chefs, while enjoying the privacy of your own holiday mansion.
Sound expensive? It’s really not. Especially, as there are so many vacation homes in Costa Rica to pick from that everyone will be able to find a suitable place. So it can actually be more budget friendly to do so if one books early enough.
Back To The Story
But enough with the tips. Let me tell you what happened. So there I was, in Guanacaste, Costa Rica talking to a Tico (read on to find out what that is). This is how the conversation went:
Me: “I’m looking for a place to eat authentic Costa Rican food, real Costa Rican food!”
Me: “No, thank you.”
Me: “A restaurant, for Costa Ricans, no tourists!”
Me: “No, thank you.”
This went on for a while, until somebody who spoke better English than this friendly guy cleared things up for me. You might not get the joke yet, but you will if you read on and take a look at…
10 things I did not know about Costa Rica.
There Is A Lot Of Coastline To Surf Or Swim In
Costa Rica may not be all that big in comparison to many other countries in the world but there is a whole lot of it that happens to kiss right up to tropical waters. In fact, there happens to be over 800 miles of coastline split between the Pacific and Caribbean.
Thinking about Costa Rica vacation rentals beachfront property? Yup, they have that.
Costa Ricans Don’t Call Themselves Costa Ricans
Number two on the list of the 10 things I did not know about Costa Rica is that the locals actually refer to men as Ticos and women as Ticas. So, how many Ticos does it take to take a Tica out for Tacos?
Blow Off Some Steam In Costa Rica
Okay, we’re talking volcanic activity here. There happens to be well over 121 volcanic formations in the country. One way to cool down is to hike around some of the landscape. An even better way – if you ask me – is to enjoy the hot springs around the volcano.
That’s a spa day right there in the nature for you.
If you are into mountains, Costa Rica has some for you to gaze at, fly over or even climb. The tallest one is Chirripo Mountain, which has a height of 12,500 feet above sea level.
At the other end of the scale are the caves of Barra Honda National Park. They hover at 790 feet below sea level.
Speaking Of Craters…
Pop Quiz: What makes the Poas Volcano so special?
If you said it was because it happens to have the second widest crater in the world you would be correct. If that’s news to you, you just learned about another one of the 10 things I did not know about Costa Rica before my trip there.
With volcanoes in mind, the tallest one in Costa Rica is Irazu. It towers above the landscape at 11,259 feet above sea level. Another very popular one is the Poás Volcano within the Poás Volcano National Park. That one is definitely worth a day trip. Just check out the landscape below.
When Is A Soda Not A Pop? Anytime In Costa Rica
A soda in Costa Rica is what is known to you and me as a small, informal restaurant. It’s not exactly a vacation rental with private chef but it will be somewhere you’ll be able to feast on traditional dishes.
If you are a fan of rice, beans and salad, then you need a soda. The restaurant kind, that is. You can also find the fizzy variety of soda there as well but that’s not nearly as fun to write about as the restaurant kind. Just trust me on that one, okay?
So now you understand why this is the most embarrassing one of the 10 things I did not know about Costa Rica. The Tico was just answering my question while I kept thinking he is offering a drink.
Yeah, go ahead and take a laugh at me. That’s fine.
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There Is A Dry Season And A Green Season
It is very important to know which is which, especially when you are considering Costa Rica vacation rentals.
The dry season extends from December through to April. Sunny weather and beaches are impatiently waiting for you.
However, do NOT underestimate the green season from May until August. The full beauty of Costa Rica is at display, everything is green (as you can guess from the name), and while you can expect the odd shower at some days, it only lasts for a couple of hours.
Besides that, you also have much greater chances to spot lots of exotic animals during the green season that you would probably miss during the dry season.
And the best part: because most tourists haven’t read my list of 10 things I did not know about Costa Rica they are unaware of the advantages of the Green season. So what they do is to visit Costa Rica during the dry season, which results in lower prices from May until August.
See the opportunity there?
Costa Rica Is Both Big And Small
Okay, try to wrap your mind around this. The entire landmass of Costa Rica totals an astonishing .03% of the surface of the Earth. In other words, it’s a pretty tiny piece of land when you look at other landmasses on the planet. But here’s where the math really gets a tad on the wonky side.
Although Costa Rica occupies .03% of the land on Earth, it happens to be home to more than 5% of the world’s biodiversity. We’re talking about plants, animals and other living things that make the world such a cool place to be, thanks to oxygen.
Here’s a bit of a breakdown of some of that 5% of biodiversity:
Aside from Ticos and Ticas, Costa Rica is home to over 130 species of freshwater fish. There’s also 160 species of amphibians, 208 species of mammals, 220 different species of reptiles, 850 species of birds, 1,000 species of butterflies, 1,200 different orchids, 9,000 different types of plants, 34,000 different species of insects and counting.
So that was number 7 of the 10 things I did not know about Costa Rica. There are a few more fun facts to go, so let’s proceed.
Speaking Of Plants And Birds And Flowers…
You would think that with so many different species of so many different things that there would be no clear answer to the question: What is the national flower of Costa Rica?
Well, number 8 on the 10 things I did not know about Costa Rica reveals: It’s the orchid known as Guaria Morada.
While we’re at it, the national bird happens to be the Clay-Colored Thrush. Oddly enough, Costa Rica also has a national tree. Any guesses? It’s the Guanacaste.
If you got that one right either you boned up on your Costa Rica history or you live there already in one of those fancy vacation homes with private pool.
Regardless, we’re impressed with your knowledge.
If You Can Handle The Volume, You’ll Live A Long Time
If you didn’t skip anything to get to this part you will already know that Costa Rica happens to fill just a small part of the planet’s landmass at .03%. No surprises there. But if you wrote this list of 10 things I did not know about Costa Rica, I bet you would have to add what’s next:
The population there totals 4.5-million!
While that may sound like a massive amount of bodies jammed within a rather tiny space on Earth, it really isn’t. It also doesn’t take into account you and the rest of the vacationers who fill up probably another .0001% of that land mass.
There is an upside to all of this. If you were to become a full-time resident, you could extend your life as the average life expectancy in Costa Rica is 77 years. That happens to be one of the highest in the world, if you were keeping score.
If You Were In A Gift Giving Mood, Would You Do This?
The bridge that connects the mainland of Costa Rica to the Nicoya Peninsula has a couple of different names and an interesting story behind it.
Officially it is known as the Tempisque River Bridge. The locals call is something else. They have tagged it as being El Puente de Amistad, which actually translates to mean “The Friendship Bridge.”
The final point on my list of 10 things I did not know about Costa Rica is the interesting story about this bridge:
It was a gift from Taiwan! Talk about a generous gift and an incredible way to cement a friendship. Need to patch up a difference or two with someone you know? Give ‘em their own bridge and your worries will disappear.
Okay, maybe that’s a bit extreme but what an awesome way to keep the peace between Costa Rica and Taiwan.
One Never Stops Learning
And that’s why I’m adding a bonus fact to my list of 10 things I did not know about Costa Rica. But I’ll let you take a stab at it first:
Guess What Language Is The Official One Of Costa Rica
Okay, this is probably a trick question, but go ahead and take a guess.
If you said English you would be pretty close. The actual ‘official’ language is Spanish but since so many international tourists pop in and out of Costa Rica for vacations who speak English, the Ticos and Ticas happen to be bilingual.
It may not be official, but for the majority of Costa Ricans, English is their second language. We happen to think that is pretty cool, regardless of how you look at it.
Need To Know More About Costa Rica?
If you haven’t already figured it out, Costa Rica is a really happenin’ place.
It may be small but it is full of life and activity. And we never really got around to telling you about the resorts, all the fun you can have in the sand and surf or anything about the culture, history or food that will fill your minds and bellies.
Did we mention the Ticos and the Ticas? Oh, yeah, we have – a few times by now. Well, it happens to be the people (the Ticos and Ticas) that bring Costa Rica to life.
If you are looking for a vacation destination that won’t break the bank but will fill your days with lavish experiences that could easily appear to cost you a bundle, you really have to consider putting Costa Rica on your “bucket list” or upcoming holiday plan.
You won’t be sorry and you may very well end up making the trek on an annual basis. Costa Rica is that freakin’ cool.
I hope you have enjoyed this list of the 10 things I did not know about Costa Rica. And if you want to check out some of those cool vacation rental homes in Costa Rica, here you go: Best vacation rentals in Costa Rica
They have a place for everybody – from budget friendly holiday homes to luxury mansions.
Who knows, you might be my neighbor around next Christmas there.