CurrencyCosta Rican Colón (CRC)
Located in Central America, southernmost region of North America, Costa Rica is a destination of interest for many tourists, especially for those who come from the United States of America (1,000,000 visitors in 2016) and Europe (434,884 visitors in 2016). Get inspired by one of the best Costa Rica Travel Guides that intends to provide you some tips on places to visit, things to see and to do, and much more.
Costa Rica (literally “Rich Coast”), officially the Republic of Costa Rica (República de Costa Rica in Spanish), is bordered by Nicaragua (313 km border) to the north, the Caribbean Sea (212 km of Caribbean Sea coastline) to the east, more
How big is Costa Rica?
Costa Rica has an area of 51,100 km2 (including the islands) and is surrounding the point 10° north of the Equator and 84° west of the prime meridian.
There are about 79 islands in Costa Rica including Calero Island (151.6 km2), Brava Island (44 km²) and Chira Island (43 km2), the top 3 largest islands of the country. The fourth largest island and at the same time the most remote island of Costa Rica is Cocos Island (23.52 km2), located about 550 km southwest of the Costa Rican mainland in the Pacific. It was designated a national park - Cocos Island National Park since 1978, which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.
How many beaches are there in Costa Rica?
Because of its large coastline, which is 1,290 kilometres long, Costa Rica has about 600 beautiful beaches including Manuel Antonio, Conchal, Flamingo, Tamarindo, and Grande.
On which plate is Costa Rica located?
Costa Rica is located on the Caribbean Plate, which borders the Cocos Plate in the Pacific Ocean. The subduction of this plate beneath the Caribbean Plate forms the volcanoes in Costa Rica, also known as the Central America Volcanic Arc. There are several volcanoes in the country, six of which have been active in the last 75 years. The highest volcano in the country is Irazú Volcano (3,432 m). Located about halfway between the eastern Caribbean coast and the western Pacific coast, Irazú Volcano is an active volcano that offers the opportunity to see from its top both the Caribbean Sea / Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean on a clear day. However, the volcano’s summit is usually cloud-covered and such clear days are very rare.
Is Costa Rica the most visited country in Central America?
In 2018 Costa Rica was the most visited country in the Central American region reaching 3.0 million foreign visitors. The opening of the National Congress and Convention Centre (CNCC) that can welcome some 4,600 people to its meetings in 2018, contributed to the development of MICE tourism. The new space is just 10 km from San José, bringing together people from different backgrounds and cultures to exchange experiences and new businesses. The tourists who arrive in the country go to Tamarindo (22%), go to Arenal (18%), pass through Liberia (17%), go to San José, the capital of Costa Rica (16%), choose Manuel Antonio (18%) and Monteverde (7%). The great number of Costa Rica package vacations allow you to choose a thematic tour (nature, adventure, culture, beach, etc.) including different tourist attractions or opt for a tailor-made tour.
What are the Extreme Points of Costa Rica?
The Extreme points of Costa Rica are as follows:
Northernmost point: Peñas Blancas at 11°13′5.214"N 85°36′43.218"W;
Southernmost point: Cocos Island at 05°31′41″N 87°03′40″W;
Westernmost point: Cocos Island at 05°31′41″N 87°03′40″W;
Easternmost point: Boca del Río Sixaola at 9°34'1"N 82°34'19"W;
Lowest point: Pacific Ocean (0 m);
Highest point: Mount Cerro Chirripó 3,819 metres at 9°29′2.7″N 83°29′19.2″W.
The landscape of Costa Rica is one of great variety, including majestic mountain ranges, active volcanoes, pristine beaches, lush rainforests and stunning displays of flora making Costa Rica one of the most diverse countries in the world.
Does Costa Rica have mountains?
Costa Rica has many different mountain ranges and rugged highlands ranging from approximately 1,000 to 2,000 metres above sea level. Two mountain chains run throughout most of the country: the Cordillera Volcánica, noted for its volcanic activity, in the north, and the Cordillera de Talamanca in the south. From northwest to southeast the Cordillera Volcánica can be divided into three ranges: the Cordillera de Guanacaste in the north, more
How many volcanoes are there in Costa Rica?
Costa Rica is home to a great number of volcanoes, six of which are active volcanoes including Arenal Volcano, Irazú Volcano, Rincon de la Vieja Volcano and Turrialba Volcano and 61 dormant or extinct ones. Overlooking the Valle Central, Irazú Volcano (3,432 metres) and Poás Volcano (2,704 metres) are two of the highest peaks in the Cordillera Volcánica and have paved roads that reach the rims of their active craters. Situated northwest of San José, Arenal Volcano (1,633 metres) is the youngest stratovolcano in the country. Although it entered into a resting phase in 2010, Arenal was the country’s most active volcano for the last 50 years and is still one of the country’s best-known and most-visited volcanoes. Lake Arenal, by Arenal Volcano, is the largest lake in Costa Rica at 85 km2 and its depth varies between 30 and 60 metres depending on the season.
What are the highest peaks in Costa Rica?
Quite different geologically from the volcanically active northern ranges, the Cordillera de Talamanca is a massive granite batholith including Costa Rica’s highest peaks, Mount Cerro Chirripó (3,819 metres) and Mount Cerro Kamuk (3,549 metres). The hike to Chirripó is a 20 km well-marked trail that passes through a range of different environments from cow pastures at 1,219 metres elevation near San Gerardo de Rivas to paramo (tundra) ecosystem near the summit at 3,819 meters. A trail has also been established to access the peak of Mount Cerro Kamuk, beginning in the small community of Tres Colinas.
Much of the Cordillera de Talamanca is included in La Amistad International Park, split between Costa Rica and Panama, as part of the former La Amistad Reserves. The park comprises 1,992 square km of land and is a unique site in Central America, home to many species of fauna and flora, tropical rainforests and four different Indian tribes. The Cordillera de Talamanca and La Amistad International Park (La Amistad Reserves) have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983.
The coastal plain of the country is separated by the Cordillera Central and the Cordillera de Talamanca forming the spine of the country and separating the Pacific and Caribbean drainage divides. The Caribbean lowlands lying to the north and east of the mountainous central spine, reach less than 120 metres in elevation and constitute about one-fifth of the country, while the Pacific lowlands lying to the west, contain several small valleys and plains which constitute only about one-tenth of the country’s territory. The Valle Central is separated into the eastern part, which is drained by the Reventazón River to the Caribbean, and the western part, which belongs to the basin of the Tárcoles River flowing into the Pacific.
Why is Costa Rica’s terrain so rugged and mountainous?
Costa Rica’s terrain is so rugged and mountainous, because it came from a string of underwater volcanoes that have erupted and grew in height and breadth over the years, until they broke the sea surface and continued to spread. The subduction of the Cocos plate beneath the Caribbean tectonic plate continually for about 50 million years forced the Central America isthmus to be raised off the sea floor. The high mountains surrounding the Valle Central nowadays were also a result of many volcanoes, being created when the volcanoes erupted and pushed the two tectonic plates against each other.
What percentage of the world’s biodiversity is in Costa Rica?
Because of the formation of a landmass connecting North to South America, animal and plant migration became possible. Exotic wildlife and lush flora and fauna migrated both from the north and the south resulting in the spectacular biodiversity of Costa Rica. Although Costa Rica is a small country covering only 0.03% of the globe surface, it proudly shelters 5% of the existing biodiversity in the world. More than 25% of the country is composed of conservation and natural protected territory consisting of national parks, reserves, and refuges.
How much of Costa Rica’s landscape is forested?
About 51% of Costa Rica’s landscape is forested. Dense broad-leaved evergreen forest including mahogany and tropical cedar trees covers about one-third of the country’s territory. On the Pacific Coastline, which is more mountainous and makes up about 80% of the coastal land, you can mostly find rainforest to the south and dry forest to the north. The lowland seasonal dry forests of Guanacaste and the Nicoya Peninsula on the northern Pacific Coast of Costa Rica receive much less precipitation than the rainforests and cloud forests. The cloud forest of Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve located on the Tilarán mountain range in northern Costa Rica at an altitude of over 1,400 m above sea level, is so called because the clouds are often closely hugging the tree tops. The Osa Peninsula, which is in the south and reaches into the Pacific Ocean, is home to the abundant rainforest wilderness of Corcovado National Park. There are also mangrove forests along the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. The Térraba-Sierpe Mangrove Forest Reserve, in the south of the country, has the largest mangrove forest in the country. The Caribbean Coastline features long stretches of sandy beaches with lower ocean tides and Palm trees. Important turtle nesting sites (Tortuguero National Park) and coral reefs (Cahuita National Park) attract visitors each year. Numerous evergreen oaks grow on the Talamanca range.
How many species of flowering plants are there in Costa Rica?
Costa Rica has an incredible abundance of flora, boasting more than 9,000 species of flowering plants including about 1,400 species of orchids, 20% of which are endemic (live nowhere else on the planet). The country is also known for being home to Guaria de Turrialba (Cattleya dowiana), a species of orchid considered one of the most beautiful flowers in the world and Guaria Morada (Cattleya skinneri), a stunning orchid shining with purple hues and thin, rounded petals, which is the national flower of Costa Rica.
How rich is Costa Rica’s fauna?
Costa Rica also has a rich fauna including over 300,000 species of insects, 850 species of birds, 220 species of reptiles, over 200 species of mammals and 200 species of amphibians. About 50 of 338 hummingbird species known in the world are found in Costa Rica. You can also spot various birds including toucans, macaws, pelicans, mammals including coatimundis, tapirs, monkeys, jaguars, turtles, dolphins, whales, and reptiles including caimans, lizards and iguanas.
The great variety of Costa Rica’s landscape filled with lush vegetation and stunning displays of flora, mountains, volcanoes, rivers, jungles and beaches, allowed the country to become a playground for the adventurous people attracting wildlife viewers, hikers, kayakers and rafters from all over the world.
For public administration purposes, Costa Rica’s territory is divided into 7 provinces (Alajuela, Cartago, Guanacaste, Heredia, Limón, Puntarenas and San José), 82 cantons and 478 districts. There are also 24 indigenous territories in the country.
What is the capital of Costa Rica?
The capital of Costa Rica and the capital of the province of the same name is San José (“Saint Joseph”), named in honour of Joseph of Nazareth. The city is located in the centre of Costa Rica, in the mid-west of the Central Valley, within San José Canton and has a municipal land area of 44.2 km2. more
When was San José founded?
San José was founded in 1736 by the Spanish council of Cabildo de Léon and has been the capital of Costa Rica three times. More than one million people travel to the city centre to work each day. San José is one of the safest cities in Latin America, notable among other Latin American cities for its high quality of life, level of globalization, security, environmental performance, public service and recognized institutions. The city is home to the National Museum of Costa Rica, the National Theatre of Costa Rica, and La Sabana Metropolitan Park and was appointed as the Ibero-American Capital of Culture in 2006.
What large cities are there in Costa Rica?
Other large cities in Costa Rica are: Alajuela, known for its large mango production, Cartago, which was the capital of Costa Rica from 1574 to 1824, Heredia sometimes called "the City of Flowers", home to National University of Costa Rica, Puerto Limón, a multicultural urban centre with Afro-Caribbean people who speak Spanish and Limonese Creole, Desamparados, the perfect blend of urban excitement and rural relaxation, Liberia, nicknamed la ciudad blanca (the white city) and home to Guanacaste Museum (Museo de Guanacaste), Puntarenas, nicknamed “the Pearl of the Pacific” with a major port on the Pacific Coast and many islands, inlets and beaches in the region.
Located between 8 and 12 degrees north of the Equator, in the region between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, Costa Rica is a tropical destination with a tropical climate all year round. The average annual temperature in the country is between 12 and 27° C. The climate in Costa Rica is hot throughout the year in the plains and along the coasts in the so-called tierras calientes with temperatures reaching 35° C, while it’s milder in the plateau (between 10-22° C), in the so-called tierras templadas at altitudes between 800-2,000 m above sea level, and cold (below 10° C) in the tierras frías at high altitudes above 2, more
How many seasons are there in Costa Rica?
Due to the fact that the country is located near the Equator, the temperature variations are low and the main difference between the seasons is found in the amount of rainfall. The year can be split into two seasons: the dry season known locally as summer (verano) that goes from December to April, and the rainy season, known as winter (invierno) that goes from May to November.
Each side of Costa Rica, both the Pacific and the Caribbean Coast, has its own precipitation and temperature regime with specific spatial and temporal distribution. The well-defined dry and rainy seasons characterize the Pacific Coast, while the Caribbean Coast experience random rain showers throughout the year.
When is the dry season in Costa Rica (Pacific Coast)?
The Pacific region starts in the northwest and ends in the southeast, therefore the dividing line changes from north to south. In the central-northern part, there is a well-defined dry season from December to April, while going south, the dry season becomes progressively shorter and it often rains even in December and April. In the southernmost part the climate is pretty much like on the Caribbean Coast. The hottest and driest month is March.
When is the rainy season in Costa Rica (Pacific Coast)?
During the rainy season that goes from May to November, it begins to rain around 2:00 pm and rains on and off through the afternoon and evening. The amount of rain decreases relatively during veranillo or “little summer” (Indian summer) occurring in the months of July and August, which are marked by an intensification of the trade winds. The rainiest months of the year are September and October, mainly due to the influence of the cyclone systems, sea breezes, and monsoon winds from the equatorial Pacific Ocean. The least rainy area of the country is the north-western part (province of Guanacaste) characterized by particularly hot temperatures from February to April and an average rainfall of around 1,300-1,600 mm per year.
In the Caribbean region the climate regime does not have a well-defined dry season, receiving more than 3,000 millimetres of rain per year. Even in the driest months, September-October and February-March, the rains remain steady with the relative minima between 100 and 200 mm per month. September-October dry season occurs during the rainiest months on the west Pacific Coast, while February-March dry period is in synchronization with the Pacific dry season.
Two rainy periods occur between the dry periods: the first one stretches from November to January and is the strongest rainy period, while the second one goes from May to August. There are two peaks, in July and December, both receiving about 440 mm of rain per month. The peak in July coincides with the “little summer” (Indian summer) in the Pacific, while the peak in December is influenced by the greatest effect of cold fronts coming from the Northern Hemisphere between November and May. Rain falls mostly during the night and morning, reaching up to 5 metres per year in the south of the Caribbean Coast, on the mountain slopes of Braulio Carrillo National Park.
What is the water temperature in Costa Rica?
The sea water in Costa Rica is warm all year round, with a sea temperature near Quepos on the Pacific Coast between 28-29 °C (but the sea temperature on the coast of the Caribbean Sea is similar).
The two precipitation regimes mentioned above, along with the variation in elevation, the orientation of the mountains and the influence of the winds and oceans (winds and sea breezes and the temperature of ocean currents), allow the identification of several main climatic regions in Costa Rica: Guanacaste, Central Pacific, South Pacific, Central Valley, Northern Plains and Caribbean (South and North).
What is the climate regime in San José?
Situated in the western Central Valley at an elevation of 1,160 metres, San José, the capital of Costa Rica, enjoys a temperate climate and average rainfall of more than 1,800 mm per year, from under 25 mm in February to more than 300 mm in September. The dry season in the Central Valley lasts between December and March and the rainy season goes from May to October. At the end of June, a very popular veranillo occurs in the Central Valley, known as the “Veranillo de San Juan”, called like that because it usually occurs around 24 June (San Juan’s day).
When is the best time to visit Costa Rica?
The best time to visit Costa Rica, either for a beach holiday or for exploring the country’s natural diversity, is from December to April, when the dry season known as summer occurs on the Pacific Coast, and in particular the months of February and March, when the dry season on the Pacific Coast coincides with one of the driest (least rainy) periods on the Caribbean Coast (although it rains here all year round). In the north-western part of the country (province of Guanacaste), where there is particularly hot from February to April, you may prefer to travel in December when it rains already little. In the south-western part of the country (southern part of the province of Puntarenas, including Quepos, Golfito, and the Osa Peninsula), where it still rains quite frequently in December, you may prefer to travel from January to mid-April. But no matter when you travel to Costa Rica, there is always something exciting to discover in this amazing country.
When the Spanish conquerors (conquistadores) came to Costa Rica in the 16th century, their culture and its evolution has marked the everyday life and culture of the Costa Rican people, with Spanish language and the Catholic religion as main influences. The country has the largest percentage of people of Spanish descent in Central America, with a great number in the Central Valley, the most predominantly Spanish region in both its manners of living and its ancestry. The second largest group consists of mestizos (people of mixed indigenous and white European ancestry). more
Why Costa Ricans call themselves Ticos?
Costa Ricans are proud of calling themselves Ticos or Tico (male) and Tica (female), colloquial terms used due to their linguistic tendency to add the diminutive “tico” and “tica” at the end of words. For instance, “un poquito” (a little bit), the Spanish diminutive of the word “poco” meaning “a little”, becomes “un poquitico” when spoken by a Costa Rican. Something small which is “chiquito” becomes “chiquitico” (masculine) and “chiquitica” (feminine). The use of the suffixes -tico, -tica and -ico, -ica also denote affection showing the friendly and warm-hearted manner of the Costa Rican people.
What does “Pura Vida” mean?
In November 2017, Costa Rica was named by National Geographic magazine as the happiest country in the world, and the country regularly ranks high in various happiness metrics. One of the most recognizable terms you will notice when getting to Costa Rica is “pura vida” (pure life in a literal translation), two words that sum up everything that makes this Central American paradise so amazing. Pura vida is how Ticos live, denoting a relaxed, simple way of looking at life without worries, fuss or stress. Pura vida means being thankful for what they have enjoying the pleasure of living their daily life in a place that mitigates stress and maximizes joy.
The expression is used in various contexts in conversation, therefore don’t be surprised if you see people walking down the streets telling each other “pura vida” instead of good morning or “buenos días”. When you hear the term used as a question with the connotation “how are you?”, a recommended response would be “pura vida” translated as “awesome” and denoting that everything is very well. In Costa Rica, everyone is very friendly, and when you hear this expression, give the person a big smile and say “pura vida” back.
How do Costa Ricans spend their leisure time?
The diversions of the Costa Rican people are cosmopolitan rather than nationalistic in nature. They attend cinemas with great frequency, enjoying international cinema, listen to an extraordinary variety of music, love to dance and watch cable TV. They also celebrate many holy days and feasts, the most important being Semana Santa, or Holy Week, and the Day of the Virgin of Los Angeles (August 2) that honours Costa Rica’s patron saint and is marked by feasting and fireworks.
Costa Ricans take a great interest in their pre-Columbian art including big stone statues from the Pacific northwest of the country, finely carved stone spheres from the Pacific southwest region, and exquisite figurines of jade and gold. The National Museum of Costa Rica in San José houses the largest collection of pre-Columbian art of the country. The Pre-Columbian Gold Museum in San José boasts a fine collection of gold objects, while the Fidel Tristan Jade Museum located in the same city has the largest collection of jade in the Americas. Located near Turrialba, outside of San José, Guayabo National Park is home to the only preserved pre-Columbian archaeological site in the country.
Among the folk arts, Costa Rica is most famous for its colourfully-painted wooden oxcarts (carretas in Spanish) and wood carvings. The highly decorated oxcarts, dating from about 1840, were used to transport coffee beans, corn, sugar cane, etc. from the Valle Central of Costa Rica over the mountains to Puntarenas port (Pacific Coast) or Limon port (Caribbean Coast) for export. The route that today can be travelled in a little over an hour to the Pacific Coast and in about two hours to the Caribbean Coast, took 10 to 20 days at that time. The tradition of painting and decorating oxcarts started in the early 20th century and has been passed down in families from generation to generation, especially in the Central Valley town of Sarchi, where you can also see the “World’s Largest Oxcart” built in 2006. Oxcarts are not used only in Costa Rica, but the Costa Rican oxcarts are known for their unique and colourful painted designs on the cart, oxen yoke and wheels including geometric patterns, flowers, faces, animals, and miniature landscapes. Although in most regions of Costa Rica trucks, tractors and other motorized vehicles replaced oxcarts in everyday life, they remain a strong symbols of the country’s rural past and are still proudly exhibited in parades, festivals, and other celebrations. In 2008, UNESCO inscribed Costa Rica’s traditional oxcarts on its Intangible Cultural Heritage List.
Music is also part of the Costa Rican culture and you can still hear its native folk music in villages across the country, often accompanied by traditional dances. Indigenous people had been making music in the region for thousands of years and had developed their own instruments and scales. Several new instruments and musical traditions were introduced when the Spanish people arrived in the country, but the final influence that helped develop the sound of Costa Rican music and affected the rhythms in particular, came from the African population. The diverse selection of instruments used in the folk music around the country include the ocarina and quijongo (a stringed instrument played with a bow). Among the European instruments you can distinguish the guitar, the accordion, and even the violin, while the African instruments include several types of drum and the marimba, declared a national instrument in Costa Rica.
Classical music in Costa Rica showed a considerable development in the second part of the 20th century, particularly with the growth of the National Symphony Orchestra since 1971, the ensemble playing in large halls and also taking music to the countryside. It is considered one of the best orchestras in Latin America and was awarded the Latin Grammy in the category of “Best classical music album” for its album “Música de Compositores Costarricenses, Volumen 2” (Music by Costa Rican Songwriters, Volume 2) in November 2017.
Most of Costa Ricans, regardless of their age, love to dance. Although the most common dance is salsa, originated in Eastern Cuba, such dance genres as soca, bachata, merengue, cumbia and the Costa Rican swing are very much enjoyed by Ticos. Costa Rica’s traditional folkloric dances (Punto Guanacasteco is considered the most popular among them) are popular at festivals and parades, each of them telling a different story with complex dance steps and colourful costumes.
Introduced to the country by English settlers in the early 20th century, football (soccer) became the Costa Rican national pastime. There are dozens of local and provincial teams in the country. Costa Rica’s national football team is the most successful national football team in Central America, leading the Central American Cup (Copa Centroamericana) tournament with 8 victories out of 14 until 2017, when it was assimilated into the CONCACAF Nations League.
When Costa Rica’s beaches were prominently featured in the American film The Endless Summer 2 released in 1994, such water sport as surfing began to develop in the country, attracting surfers from around the world. They began to visit such impressive surfing spots as El Potrero, Callejones, Pico Pequeño, Roca Bruja, Mal País, and Puerto Viejo (lying alongside a tall coral reef).
Costa Rican cuisine is known for being quite mild (not very spicy), highly based on fruits and vegetables. Even if you are a vegetarian or a vegan, you will be pleased to discover here many vegetarian dishes and a wide variety of tropical fruits. As Costa Rica is not a meat-centric country, it is very easy to find here many delicious plant-based foods.
What vegetables are widely used in Costa Rica?
Vegetables are used mostly in soups, stews, salads or as a side dish of a “casado”, a traditional meal served for lunch in Costa Rica. Rice and beans are included in nearly every Costa Rican meal and are often served three times a day. more
What fruits grow in Costa Rica?
Costa Rica is definitely a tropical fruit paradise for anyone, but in particular for vegetarians and vegans. The country is the world’s largest pineapple exporter leading the list with over 44% in 2020. There is a huge diversity of fruits that grow in Costa Rica including mango, papaya, pineapple (piña), guava (guayaba), watermelon (sandía), melon (melón), lemon (limon), blackberry (mora), passion fruit (maracuya), and avocado (aguacate). Many of these are served plain or as a refreshment (refresco), a blended drink with ice. An exotic way to have a refreshing drink is by chopping the top of green coconuts (pipas), which by the way are extremely popular among Ticos, and tapping the core hole with a straw.
Some of the most unusual fruits found in Costa Rica are the following: star fruit (carambola); marañon, a fruit with delicious flesh whose seed is the cashew; sapote (zapote), a brown fruit resembling an oversized avocado with a very sweet bright red-orange pulp; rambutan (mamón chino), a juicy sweet fruit that looks like a sea urchin with a translucent, whitish or very pale pink fruit flesh with mildly acidic flavour reminiscent of grapes; soursop (guanábana), a textured, large green fruit with white fibrous flesh that can be eaten plain, or as a juice; peach palm fruit (pejibaye), a bizarre fruit with thick and fibrous flesh resembling the taste of chestnut or pumpkin (it is usually first boiled in salt water, peeled, halved, pitted, and then eaten); and Malay apple (manzana de agua), a dark red, pear-shaped fruit which is full of juice and pretty refreshing.
You can purchase fruits at the supermarket, but buying them at the market or even roadside will offer you the possibility to interact with locals and ask what way a specific fruit is best enjoyed or even have a taste before buying it. You will surely have a great time hunting down all of them for giving them a try.
Another commonly used fruit in Costa Rica is the plantain (plátano), a larger member of the banana family, which can be served in a variety of ways. Unlike the banana, the plantain is eaten cooked as if it was a vegetable. Ripe plantains (plátanos maduros) are sweet and delicious when fried in oil or baked, and will often accompany many meals. Green (unripe) plantains can be boiled in soups or can be sliced thinly, fried, smashed and then refried to make “patacones”, which are basically thick green plantain chips.
What are the most commonly eaten meats in Costa Rica?
Pork and beef are the most commonly eaten meats, but chicken is also widely available, especially on the Caribbean Coast, where there are Afro-Caribbean influenced traditions. On this side of the country, it is common to find pork cracklings and a tripe soup called “mondongo” during the holidays. Pork and chicken are often roasted over coffee wood, giving them a savoury, smoky flavour. Steaks can be found at many restaurants, while roast pork is the chief meat staple.
What kind of fish is popular in Costa Rica?
Fish dishes prepared from a multitude of species including sea bass, gilt-head bream, swordfish are also very popular in the country. One of the seafood dishes you have to try in Costa Rica is the “rondón” (seafood and coconut stew). The stew is made with whatever fish (red snapper, shellfish, etc.) and vegetables (a variety of tubers like sweet potatoes and yucca) are available, simmered in coconut milk with herbs and spices. As the stew was brought to Central America by the Jamaican labourers in the late 19th century, it is more common on the country’s Caribbean Coast.
What is the national dish of Costa Rica?
Costa Rica has many traditional dishes, but “gallo pinto”, literally translated “spotted rooster”, is the traditional national dish of the country. Claimed by both Costa Rica and Nicaragua, “gallo pinto” consists of rice and black or red beans which are stir-fried together in a pan. The dish doesn’t contain chicken, but its name refers to the spots of beans that stand out against the white rice. It is one of the favourite dishes of Costa Ricans, being served everywhere for breakfast with a cup of coffee. Each Costa Rican has its own way to prepare this dish. It is usually served along with scrambled or fried eggs and sour cream or cheese. Seasonings in the mixture of rice and black or red beans include coriander, red pepper, onion, and celery, but what makes it so unique is the special Salsa Lizano (Lizano Sauce). It was created in 1920 by Lizano company and became the favourite condiment of Costa Ricans. This brown sauce includes onions, carrots, cauliflower, cucumber, pepper, mustard and turmeric and has a tangy flavour goes well with almost anything.
What traditional dishes can you taste in Costa Rica?
Another traditional meal, served for lunch in Costa Rica, is called a “casado”, literally translated “married man” in Spanish. It acquired the name from the times when wives packed their husbands a lunch in a banana leaf when they went to work in the fields. The dish contains rice and beans, one or two slices of fried sweet plantains, vegetables, coleslaw and an omelette. It is usually complemented by some type of meat (beef, pork or chicken) or fish, but there are also vegetarian variations with some avocado, eggplant or white cheese.
At family gatherings or other special occasions, it is very common to make “arroz con pollo”, which is a mixture of yellow rice, chicken, vegetables such as carrots, peas, and corn, mild spices, and the renowned Salsa Lizano. Yellow rice is basically white rice that is coloured with Achiote (Bixa Orellana) and is best served with mashed black beans, French fries or chips.
“Ceviche” is a Costa Rican dish made up of fish or seafood (including octopus, shrimp, shellfish, sea bass, tilapia, gilt-head bream) that’s typically marinated in lime juice for at least an hour in the fridge. It is then mixed with seasonings such as coriander, finely chopped or minced onions, garlic and chillis. Many locals also add a splash of ketchup or tabasco.
“Olla de carne” or "pot of beef" is a stew which comes from the Spanish influences in post-colonial Costa Rica and is eaten every weekend in many Costa Rican homes. It contains beef (usually short ribs and various off cuts) simmered for four to eight hours with vegetables that may include cassava (a starchy tuber), potatoes, corn, green plantains, chayote, carrots.
What are the most popular beverages in Costa Rica?
The most popular beverages in Costa Rica are “refrescos” (refreshments made of blended fruit and ice), horchata (a sweet and spicy drink made of roasted ground rice and cinnamon), coffee (served black or with milk), “frescos” and “batidos” (drinks made from fresh fruit and milk or water), “agua dulce” (a common Tico drink made of cane sugar dissolved in hot water), beer (the most commonly served alcoholic drink in the country), “guaro” (a clear liquid distilled from sugar cane juices similar to vodka), and Café Rica (a locally produced coffee liqueur). Wine is not very popular in the country and is usually imported. However, an interesting fact is that a traditional alcoholic drink originally made by the Chorotega people in Costa Rica is called “vino de Coyol” (Coyol wine). It is made by fermenting the sweet, watery sap of the Coyol palm (Acrocomia vinífera).
What are the most popular desserts in Costa Rica?
Most Costa Ricans naturally have a sweet tooth and they tend to enjoy desserts based on milk, corn, sugarcane, eggs, and/or fruit. In the province of Limón, on the Caribbean side, most of the desserts are made from a coconut base as well as from fried plantains, while in the province of Guanacaste, on the Pacific side, the main dessert ingredient is usually corn. In the province of Puntarenas, which is also on the Pacific side, the main ingredients are milk, coconut, and fruit.
One of the most common desserts is “tres leches” (literally translated "three milks" in English), a very sweet soft cake composed of three types of milk such as evaporated milk, condensed milk and whole milk as well as eggs, wheat flour, heavy cream, sugar, baking powder, ground cinnamon, vanilla extract and dark rum. It is usually eaten after lunch or dinner and is available at many restaurants.
Rice is often popular as a dessert ingredient contained for example in “arroz con leche” (literally translated rice with milk). The dessert usually consists of white rice, sweetened condensed milk, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla and is particularly delicious with lemon zest.
Another popular dessert in Costa Rica is the fruit salad including fruits such as watermelon, mango, papaya, pineapple, banana, etc.
A typical Christmas dessert is “queque navideño” or Christmas cake, a sweet fruitcake that is usually soaked in rum before the big night. Costa Ricans enjoy to give this Christmas cake away to friends and families as gifts.
One of the most endemic desserts in Costa Rica is called “miel de chiverre”, a chunky, sweet paste made from chiverre (fig-leaf gourd), a species of squash. This large squash has a sweet, spaghetti-like flesh that gets dried and then cooked with panela (unrefined whole cane sugar), cinnamon, and other spices. The locals’ favourite way to eat the “miel de chiverre” is as the filling of a sweet empanada, though it can also be eaten just as it is with a spoon.
Whatever your taste is, you will surely find plenty of food to love in Costa Rica.
As one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, Costa Rica is known for its beautiful tropical beaches on both the Pacific and Caribbean Coasts (especially in such beach destinations as Tamarindo, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Manuel Antonio, Tortuguero, Nosara, Santa Teresa, and Jacó), national parks (including Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Tortuguero National Park, Arenal Volcano National Park, Manuel Antonio National Park, Rincon de la Vieja National Park, Tenorio Volcano National Park) with incredible flora and wildlife, volcanoes (including Irazú Volcano, Arenal Volcano, Rincón de la Vieja Volcano and Poás Volcano) and hot springs (including Tabacón hot springs in Arenal Volcano area, more
You will be impressed by the lush tropical rainforests (including the abundant rainforest of Corcovado National Park, Manuel Antonio National Park, Cahuita National Park or Carara National Park), mangrove forests (including the largest mangrove forest in the country found in the Térraba-Sierpe Mangrove Forest Reserve), coral reefs (the spectacular 600-acre coral reef found in Cahuita National Park is one of Costa Rica's most popular marine attractions), turtle nesting sites (including Tortuguero National Park, Ostional Wildlife Refuge, Las Baulas National Marine Park, Santa Rosa National Park, Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge), botanical gardens (including the Lankester Botanical Garden, which protects more than 800 species of orchids), hanging bridges (including the hanging bridges of Selvatura Park, the largest in the system of hanging bridges and the toughest of Costa Rica), and rivers (including Pacuare River, renowned as one of the best 10 rivers in the world for its scenic beauty and its rapids).
There are many cultural and tourist events organized in Costa Rica all year round and below you can see some of them. However, changes and updates may occur and because of that, it is necessary to verify the information before travelling.
Fiestas de Palmares, Palmares (Mid-January, lasts for two weeks)
Some of the largest and best organized of the traditional fiestas in Costa Rica are the Fiestas de Palmares which takes place in Palmares, a small town located in between Alajuela and San Ramon. The fiestas include many concerts, carnival rides, sporting events, fireworks and food booths, but the crown jewel of the Palmares Fiestas, more
Fiestas de Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz (January 14-18)
Every year from January 14 to 18, Santa Cruz is home to the famous Fiestas de Santa Cruz, a religious celebration honouring the Christ of Esquipulas. The festival features folk dancing, marimba music, carrousels for kids, concerts and street food. Other cultural activities include a pasacalle (street procession) headed by mascaradas with people wearing big and colourful masks, a horse parade (tope), and a rodeo.
Fiesta (Juego) de los Diablitos, Rey Curré (January - February)
The Fiesta de los Diablitos, literally translated the festival of the little devils, is an indigenous celebration that takes place in Rey Curré village near San Isidro de El General. This celebration is wrapped around a re-enactment of the struggle of the Boruca Indians (the little devils) against the Spaniards (the bull), emphasizing the indigenous resistance to colonization. The participants wear striking hand carved wooden masks and traditional costumes. Firework displays, foods and an Indian handicrafts market complete the scene. The Fiesta de los Diablitos was declared an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Costa Rica in 2017.
Puntarenas Carnival, Puntarenas (February - March)
Puntarenas Carnival, one of the country’s most popular festivals, is a festive season that occurs in February and March. Known as the queen of Carnival celebrations in Costa Rica, the festival features parades in which visitors can see comparsas (groups of dancers) and mascaradas, a firework display, dances, motorcyclists and local bands. There is also an open-air concert in the Paseo de los Turistas featuring bands from all over the world, including Chile and Puerto Rico. Another exciting aspect of the Puntarenas Carnival is the Carnival Queen beauty contest that takes place on the first day in the Plaza Pacifico.
Envision Music, Art and Sacred Movement Festival, La Uvita de Osa (February)
Envision Music, Art and Sacred Movement Festival, which takes place in La Uvita de Osa, offers one of the most immersive festival experiences in the world, featuring music events, live concerts, art, yoga, meditation, workshops, fresh food and much more. The festival encompasses 8 pillars which are: music, permaculture, spirituality, movement, art, community, health, and radical acceptance.
Día del Boyero (Oxcart Driver’s Day), San Antonio de Escazú (Second Sunday of March)
Día del Boyero (Oxcart Driver’s Day), which takes place in San Antonio de Escazú, features a parade of over 100 colourfully painted oxcarts and even more oxen through this suburb of San José. The driving competitions are surrounded by traditional costumes, food and dancing and every boyero (the person who drives the oxcart) hopes to receive the award for the most precious oxcart combination. The festivity is also the time when the oxen and crops brought to the parade by the farmers are blessed by local priests. Besides the parade, this day is filled with traditional marimba music, delicious local food and handicrafts. The festival is one of the most colourful celebrations in Costa Rica and a real photo opportunity for visitors.
Día de San José, San José (March 19)
Día de San José (Saint Joseph’s Day) commemorates the patron saint of the capital city San José and the universal patron of the Catholic Church. Saint Joseph or Joseph of Nazareth had the great responsibility of being the husband of Mary and assuming the earthly paternity of Christ. This is a religious celebration with special masses (also celebrated in the many other towns named San José), displays of beautiful pieces of artwork, parades and food.
Holy week (Semana Santa) and Easter (Pascua), all over Costa Rica (April)
The Holy Week (Semana Santa) is celebrated a week before Easter. Religious processions are held in cities and towns throughout the country on Holy Wednesday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Each procession is dedicated to Passion of Jesus - his journey through Jerusalem, crucifixion, and resurrection.
On Easter Sunday churches in Costa Rica usually organize a communion or eucharist service. Church bells can be heard ringing through the streets of the country.
Día de Juan Santamaría (Juan Santamaría Day), Alajuela (April 11)
Día de Juan Santamaría is a national holiday honouring a young fighter from Alajuela who defended his country against William Walker’s forces at the Battle of Rivas, Nicaragua in 1856. Costa Rica’s army and the army lead by William Walker, who had assumed control of Nicaragua, were fighting against each other for over nine hours, without either side gaining any decisive advantage, when Juan Santamaría, a little drummer boy from Alajuela, volunteered to burn down the "El Mesón de Guerra", a building, in which Walker's troops where gathered. He threw a torch onto the thatched roof of the building, causing it to catch fire, but was killed by sniper fire. His heroic action was the defining factor in Costa Rica’s victory in Rivas and for his sacrifice, he became recognised as a National Hero of Costa Rica.
Juan Santamaría is honoured by a statue in a park bearing his name in the city of Alajuela and the country’s main international airport, Juan Santamaría International Airport, is also named after him.
Celebrated on April 11 in Alajuela, this public holiday features parades, marching bands, dances and other celebrations.
Día de los Trabajadores (Labour Day), all over Costa Rica (May 1)
Día de los Trabajadores (Labour Day) is celebrated all over the country from May 1, 1913 featuring parades, marches and the Presidential “state of the union” address to Congress and the people. Cricket matches take place in Puerto Limón.
Fiesta de La Virgen del Mar, Puntarenas (Saturday closest to July 16)
The Fiesta de La Virgen del Mar (Fiesta of the Virgin of the Sea) is celebrated in Puntarenas by a regatta of colourfully decorated fishing boats carrying a statue of La Virgen del Monte Carmelo (the city’s patron saint) and a special mass. They seek protection from the Virgin for another year at the sea. Besides sailing and racing, the secular celebrations include parades, dances, concerts, sport events and fireworks which are all enacted in her honour.
Día de Guanacaste (Guanacaste Day), all over Costa Rica (July 25)
Día de Guanacaste (Guanacaste Day) celebrates the annexation of Guanacaste by Costa Rica from Nicaragua in 1824. Three major cities of Guanacaste region participated in the referendum deciding the switch of Guanacaste from Nicaragua to Costa Rica. As 2 cities, Nicoya and Santa Cruz, voted yes to joining Costa Rica (Liberia voted to stay with Nicaragua), Guanacaste region was annexed by Costa Rica on July 25, 1824.
The holiday is marked all over Costa Rica, but with a greater fervour in the province of Guanacaste, including street fiestas, topes (horse parades), folk dancing, concerts, handicraft displays, traditional dishes, rodeos and cattle shows.
Día de la Virgen de Los Ángeles (Day of Our Lady of the Angels), all over Costa Rica (August 2)
Día de la Virgen de Los Ángeles is a national holiday celebrating the patron saint of Costa Rica, the Virgin Mary. The holiday specifically honours a small statue of the Virgin Mary carved from dark wood called “La Negrita” found on August 2, 1635 by a native woman called Juana Pereira. The statue, taken home by Juana, mysteriously vanished, only to reappear at the same spot she originally found it. The local people saw this as a sign of divine intervention and built a shrine around it. La Negrita is kept in the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles that was built over the shrine in Cartago in 1639 and restored in 1722.
During this day, pilgrims come from all over the country, many of them walking 24 km from San José to the basilica in Cartago to celebrate the mass.
Día de San Ramón, San Ramón (August 31)
Día de San Ramón honours San Ramón’s own patron saint and celebrates the arrival of about 30 statues of saints from various towns to San Ramón, where they are paraded through the streets with flowers and music to do honour to the saint.
There is also an oxcart parade during which the rural areas of the town exhibit their bulls to the town. This tradition celebrates the rebuilding of the church in San Ramon. After the church was destroyed by an earthquake, new materials, brought from Germany to Costa Rica, had been carried by several oxcarts from Puntarenas to San Ramón.
It’s the time of the year where people that live far come and visit their families and you will see a town alive with a lot of people, families, and youth involved in the traditions.
Fiesta del Maíz (Corn Festival), Upala (October 12)
The Fiesta del Maíz (Corn Festival) is annual event in Upala celebrating the corn. The festivities focus around the corn crop and include the crowning of a Corn Queen (wearing outfits made from corn plants) and a corn-product costume parade made entirely of corn husk, grains and silks. There are also typical corn foods and dishes as well as arts and crafts made of corn which are exhibited to celebrate the regional corn crops.
Limón Carnival, Limón (October 12)
Limón Carnival celebrates the discovery of Costa Rica by Christopher Columbus, who first dropped anchor in the country in 1502 at Isla Uvita, just off the coast of Puerto Limón. The carnival, which honours Christopher Columbus, as well as all the immigrants who later came from all over the world, is an international celebration of the diversity of Costa Rica and of its people.
Narrowly, the holiday is celebrated on October 12, but it usually spans an entire week offering activities and shows for visitors of all ages, with its vibrant colours, delicious dishes, and musical entertainment. The Day of Cultures (Día de las Culturas) honours the diverse ethnicities that live in the area (including the Spanish, African, Chinese, Italian and Indigenous populations) and typically features singing, dancing and calypso, an Afro-Caribbean music. A visit to Costa Rica during Limon Carnival is an excellent opportunity for visitors to truly experience the unique culture of the community. Many typical dishes including “rice and beans" and “gallo pinto” are served throughout the week, allowing tourists to taste them at a variety of food stands.
Fiesta de los Negritos, Boruca (December 6 - 8)
From midnight on December 6 until dawn, Boruca Indians, with their charcoal-painted faces, dance in a circle and suddenly in a linear way, to the rhythm of the drum, flute and accordion. The “Baile de Los Negritos” or “La Mura” (the Mestizo name for mule) is a tradition that represents a mix between Boruca and Catholicism. When Africans were imported to Costa Rica and were used as muleteers on the “mule road” from Cartago to Panama, they passed through the indigenous villages of Quepos, Boruca, and Terraba, where they were supplied with food and indigenous muleteers. Thus, there was interbreeding between Africans and the Indigenous.
On December 7 and 8, the “negritos” (little negroes) and the mule made of wood start their tour of the town dancing non-stop for about five minutes at each house. When the dance stops, the hosts give them “chicha” (a fermented beverage) and tamales.
On December 8, Boruca Indians celebrate the feast day of their patron saint, the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception.
El Tope and Carnival, San José (December 26, 27)
El Tope celebrated on December 26 is a horse parade through the centre of San José proudly displaying the equine traditions and unique Costa Rican “Paso Fino” horses, known internationally for their beauty, their strength and the way they do dance steps. You will see a lot of people dressed like a cowboy wearing cowboy hats and boots and there is a lot of flirting, dancing and inevitably drinking in the streets.
The next day, on December 27, the same streets are taken over by Carnival floats, marching bands, and street dancers.
The currency of Costa Rica is the colón (plural: cólones; international code: CRC), named after Christopher Columbus, known as Cristóbal Colón in Spanish. The symbol for the colón is the capital letter "C", which is crossed by two diagonal strokes.
The first real currency, known as pesos, was introduced in Costa Rica by the Spaniards in the 16th century. These coins were originally manufactured in Spain and transported to Costa Rica, being later minted in Peru after gold and silver mines were discovered. After Costa Rica gained its independence from Spain in 1821, it joined the Federal Republic of Central America and adopted the Republic’s currency. The country’s currency changed again after the separation from the Republic. more
The colón was introduced in Costa Rica in 1896, replacing the peso at par. It exists in banknotes of various denominations such as 1.000, 2.000, 5.000, 10.000, 20.000, and 50.000. The colón consists of 100 centimos, although between 1917 and 1919 coins named centavo were issued in the country. Coins go in denominations of 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, and 500. Most of the newer coins are gold-coloured, except the 5 and 10 coins, which are silver. The cólones were produced by many banks in the first half of the 20th century, but since 1951 they have been issued only by the Central Bank of Costa Rica. In 2012 there was a design change consisting in introducing new images with the most beautiful and famous animals from the country on the banknotes: a sloth, a white-faced monkey, a morpho butterfly, a gentle hummingbird, etc.
Does Costa Rica accept US dollars?
Costa Rica is known as the most stable country in Central and Latin America and you will have no difficulty when it comes to exchanging money in the country upon your arrival or departure. US dollars are widely accepted in the country, especially at hotels and restaurants, however you will have to pay with colónes for smaller services (including local meals or public transportation). Many banks will exchange US dollars, British pounds or euros to colónes. There are many cash machines (ATMs), known as “cajeros automáticos”, available in Costa Rica. Credit cards are also widely accepted throughout the country, but most of them include a transaction fee for international purchases.
1 USD = approx. 620 CRC
1 EUR = approx. 730 CRC
If you are a citizen of one of the following states, you will not need a visa to enter the territory of Costa Rica for a period of stay of up to 90 days (however changes can occur and the list could be updated, so it’s necessary to check the information before travelling):
Hellenic Republic (Greece)
Principality of Monaco
Republic of South Korea
Trinidad and Tobago
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Nothern Ireland
United States of America
Vatican City State
The citizens of the following states do not need visas to enter the territory of Costa Rica for a period of stay of up to 30 days (however changes can occur and the list could be updated, more
Antigua and Barbuda
Kingdom of Tonga
Micronesia (Federated States of)
Northern Mariana Islands
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Saint Thomas and Prince