8 Reasons to Visit Costa Rica
You might not be able to jump on a plane to visit Costa Rica today, but there are so many reasons to put this country on your list of dream places to visit when you can. Below are the top eight reasons why Costa Rica should be calling your name.
Costa Rica has long been one of the most popular tourism destinations in the world. With its golden beaches, abundant wildlife and endless opportunities for adventure, it offers an unparalleled tropical vacation experience. There is no shortage of fun things to do in Costa Rica, no matter what type of vacation you are looking for.
Costa Rica is renowned for its stunning biodiversity, vast protected spaces and warm weather. It’s home to dense jungles, active volcanoes, rushing rivers, spectacular waterfalls and vibrant cities. In a single day, it’s possible to drive from Serengeti-like plains to lowland swamps to frigid mountains.
Sadly, the global coronavirus pandemic has forced Costa Rica to close its doors to international tourism for much of 2020, but the country is gradually reopening. As of August 2020, the country began welcoming flights from the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada, parts of Asia and finally selected states from the U.S.
The vigorous measures taken by Costa Rica to contain the spread of Covid-19 has resulted in a relatively low infection rate of about 0.3% of the population as of August, compared to 1.3% in the United States.
Now let’s look at those eight great reasons to visit Costa Rica.
1. Spectacular biodiversity and natural beauty.
Costa Rica has 0.03% of the world’s landmass, yet it boasts an astonishing 5% of the world’s biodiversity. That means that of every 20 animal species on Earth, one of them is native to Costa Rica.
The country is famous for its sloths, monkeys, sea turtles, tree frogs, toucans and macaws. Costa Rican mammals include jaguars, pumas, ocelots, tapirs, peccary, deer, coatis, anteaters, agoutis, raccoons, possums, skunks and armadillos. It’s a world-class birding destination, with resplendent quetzals, oropendolas, scarlet and green macaws, toucans and toucanets, and all kinds of raptors, aquatic birds and songbirds.
Among the reptiles, Costa Rica is one of the world’s largest nesting grounds for four species of sea turtles, and it’s teeming with iguanas, geckos and snakes. Amphibians like poisonous dart frogs and red-eyed tree frogs are iconic. And the oceans are full of whales, dolphins, marlin, sailfish, tuna, red snapper, roosterfish, lobster and octopus.
The flora is also incredibly diverse, from the stately guanacaste that is Costa Rica’s national tree to the tiniest orchid. Flowering trees and shrubs provide delightful splashes of color amid the dense green foliage that covers much of the country.
2. It’s a global capital of adventure tourism.
Recreational ziplining was actually invented in Costa Rica, and it remains a breathtaking adventure that’s not to be missed. Costa Rica is also a global magnet for surfers. Other popular water sports include whitewater rafting, kayaking, scuba diving and snorkeling.
The country is also a fisherman’s paradise, with some of the world’s largest populations of sailfish and marlin. Both deep-sea and inshore fishing are big attractions, and anglers are also drawn to Costa Rica’s many rivers and lakes.
There is no shortage of exciting outdoor adventures, activities and tours to enjoy in Costa Rica. Among the ways to explore the country’s abundant natural riches are hiking, birding, horseback riding, all-terrain vehicle tours, cycling and mountain climbing.
For extreme adventurers, there’s skydiving, bungee jumping, canyoning and waterfall rappelling. And the popular ziplining tours often include heart-stopping Tarzan swings, challenging ropes courses and rickety hanging bridges.
3. Breathtaking national parks in a wide range of environments.
Roughly 25% of Costa Rica is set aside for natural preservation in the form of national parks and private reserves.
Among the most popular national parks is Manuel Antonio — a smallish, easily walkable jungle with gorgeous beaches, packed with monkeys, sloths and other wildlife.
In the southwest, Corcovado National Park is often called the crown jewel of Costa Rica’s park system. Remote, rugged and off the beaten path, it’s thick with tapirs, peccary, coati and exotic birds.
Tortuguero National Park is another vast wilderness of virgin swamps, jungles and rivers accessible only by boat or plane. It’s one of the best places in the world to find sea turtles laying their eggs on the beach, or to watch baby turtles hatching and waddling to the sea.
Costa Rica is also famous for its volcanoes, most of which anchor a national park. These include the otherworldly Poás, the moonlike Irazú and Rincón de la Vieja, a thermal wonder that boasts spouting geysers and bubbling mud pots.
4. World-class lodging, dining and pampering.
So by now you’re muddy, sweaty, exhausted and you might have peed your pants a little on the zipline tour. Where to clean up and kick back?
Costa Rica offers some of the most luxurious lodging options in the world, from the sumptuous Four Seasons in Papagayo to the five-star Tabacón in Arenal to the splendid Lapa Ríos in the Osa, and let’s not forget the countless gorgeous vacation rentals all over the country. There’s also a huge range of lodging options for the not-so-rich, including $10-a-night hostels, humble cabinas and totally decent hotels that won’t set you back more than $50 a night.
There are yoga hotels, hot-springs hotels, ecotourism hotels that specialize in “rugged luxury.” And there’s a vast array of vacation rentals where you can move into a fully equipped home for a week or two, cooking your own meals in a stainless-steel kitchen, if not inviting a chef to do the cooking for you.
Speaking of food, you’ll find restaurants and bars serving all kinds of international cuisine and imaginative cocktails. There are delicious Costa Rican foods you have to try during your visit. You’ll also find many exotic tropical fruits are abundant in Costa Rica. And you’ll have to try eating at a soda, one of Costa Rica’s ubiquitous, inexpensive eateries specializing in varied lunches called casados. You’ll also enjoy the traditional breakfast, which is gallo pinto (rice and beans), typically served with eggs, fruit and bacon or sausage.
5. Welcome to the happiest country in the world.
Costa Rica often ranks at or near the top of the list of “happiest countries in the world,” as ranked by various indexes that measure the overall well-being of their inhabitants. You’ll discover the culture in Costa Rica is unlike any other. “Pura vida” — “pure life” — is the national slogan, reflecting a happy-go-lucky attitude that is typical of the friendly people here.
Costa Rica abolished its army in 1949, diverting its former military budget primarily into health care and education. Its adult literacy rate is close to 98%, and it has one of the best health-care systems in Latin America.
A large part of the northwestern Nicoya Peninsula has been declared one of five “blue zones” in the world with extraordinary longevity rates — a place where it’s not uncommon for people to live to be 100 years old.
Tourism is Costa Rica’s top industry, responsible for some $2 billion in annual revenue, and it’s hard to find a business here that doesn’t benefit from the approximately 3 million people a year who normally visit. The naturally friendly Costa Rican people are well aware of that, and they go out of their way to make visitors feel welcome.
6. It’s hard to complain about the weather.
Average temperatures in Costa Rica are between 70° and 80° Fahrenheit, and that’s in any month of the year. Temperatures vary by elevation, but in any one place there’s very little change in temperature throughout the year. So don’t expect cold winters or hot summers, and by the way, there’s no such thing here as spring or fall.
There are two seasons: the dry season and the rainy season. The dry season, known as verano or summer, lasts from December to April, at least in most of the country.
The rainy season, known as invierno or winter, lasts from May to November, with September and October being the wettest. On the flip side, this is the low season for tourism, when you’ll find the best prices and the smallest crowds.
However, rainfall patterns are much different on the Caribbean coast. You might find the driest weather there at a time when the Pacific coast is experiencing its wettest.
Rain usually falls in the afternoon, allowing visitors to explore the country in the morning and relax in the afternoon. The rain also turns the countryside a resplendent green, making the “green season” many people’s favorite time of year.
7. It’s close, and it’s safe.
Not counting migrants from Nicaragua, most visitors to Costa Rica are from the United States. It’s a three-hour flight from Miami to Costa Rica — compared to over five hours from Los Angeles and Hawaii. Costa Rica is the Central Time Zone, so visitors from North America experience little if any jet lag.
Also, Costa Rica is one of the safest countries in Latin America. Crimes against tourists are rare, with the most common being theft of valuables that are left in the wrong places.
It’s a bad idea to leave valuables in cars, and rental cars are especially vulnerable. Also, never leave bags full of wallets, passports and phones on the beach while you swim in the ocean.
Walking alone in isolated places at night is also inadvisable. Be aware of your surroundings at all times, keep your valuables in a safe place, and you should experience no problems.
8. Dazzling beaches on two coasts.
Costa Rica has 800 miles of coastline along the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, and that means there are lots of beaches. Some of them are postcard-perfect marvels, with white sand, turquoise water and shady palm trees. And the water is always warm.
All beaches in Costa Rica are open to the public by law, so nobody can prevent you from going to any beach. In practice, there are a few secluded beaches with big hotels in front of them that are hard to get to if you’re not a guest. But if you do a little hiking, it’s not hard in most places to find a beach that you’ll have all to yourself.
Do be aware that riptides and heavy surf sometimes cause drownings. Ask the locals if a beach is safe for swimming, and beware of venturing into deep water in heavy seas. But if you take reasonable precautions, you’ll generally find that Costa Rica offers a world-class beach experience.
These are just eight of the reasons Costa Rica stands out on a global level as a near-perfect tropical vacation spot. We didn’t mention the country’s vibrant nightlife, the museums in San José, the bachelor parties in Jacó, the spelunking in amazing caves, the fascinating archaeological sites or the … insert your preferred adventure here. If you’ve never been, you’re in for a treat … so start planning your trip to Costa Rica today!
Costa Rica has it all, and we invite you to come explore!