If you are wondering if you should visit Costa Rica, stop wondering! PURA VIDA...that's their motto. It means "pure life"or "simple life". It's a way of life for Costa Ricans. They use it to say hello, goodbye, cool....we heard it a lot!
Do you love wildlife? National parks and volcanoes? Latin American food? 4 different types of rainforests? Water activities?
If you answer YES to any of these, then perhaps your next trip should be there.
5 Things to Experience When Travelling to Costa Rica
1. The Wildlife
Being from Toronto, Canada our wildlife is very different from Costa Rica. In Costa Rica, you can ride a bike along a road and an iguana will run right past you.
Then there are the monkeys. Costa Rica has 4 different kinds including capuchin, spider, howlers and squirrel. All you need to do is walk through a forest in the Guanacaste region and monkeys are climbing and jumping from trees. Here's a lesson we learned. Do not carry any sort of food (even food that is packaged up) if you think monkeys are going to be around. They can sniff it and will follow you. We had two monkeys snarl at us and it was kind of scary. Who knew that those cute capuchins have sharp incisors!
The national animal of Costa Rica is the three-toed or two-toed sloth. We saw a two toed sloth from a very far distance hanging from the top of a canopy. It took our guide in the wet rainforest to find it. If you want to see them, I highly recommend taking a sloth tour as they are very difficult to find on your own.
2. National Parks and Volcanoes
There are 28 national parks and over 200 volcanic formations of which 5 are active. We visited Tenorio Volcano National Park in the Guanacaste Region. You can walk suspension bridges on the Heliconias Trail where you cross deep valleys and hike through the wet rainforest. We had a tour take us as some the roads can be quite rugged at times.
We also took a tour down the Rio Celeste in inner tubes. It was quite safe as the guides directed us through the rough parts. You see beautiful trees and different plants along the way. Sadly we didn't spot any monkeys!
The national parks offer so much! Hiking, waterfalls, zip lining, animals and more.
If you are looking for an organized tour, I highly recommend using Viator to book.
3. Latin American Food
Costa Rican food has many influences. From countries in Central America, to the Caribbean and South America, Latin American food abounds. Costa Rica is fortunate to produce a lot of their own food from farmlands, to sea and the jungle. You will find cattle ranches, coffee plantations, vegetable and fruit farms. Their pineapple and watermelon is so good!!
One of their most famous dishes is gallo pinto which is a variation on rice and beans. I really enjoyed trying different types of fish while we were there. The pico de gallo was so tasty. Guacamole isn't usually my favourite but in Costa Rica they know how to make it!
4. Areas to Stay
Before we visited Costa Rica, I assumed all areas of this country was rainforest where it rained every day. But I quickly learned, they have 4 different regions of rainforest. On the eastern Caribbean side it is known as the humid rainforest. The Caribbean is much more humid and can rain all year long. Their summer month is October and the rainiest months are June and November on the Caribbean coast. It is less developed than the western Pacific side and less tourists.
In the middle you will find both wet rainforest and cloud rainforest. Monteverde is located in the cloud forest with birds to explore, parks and waterfalls too. If you like to have the best of both worlds of wet and dry, I recommend staying in the wet or cloud rainforest for a few nights and then heading to the dry rainforest for the rest.
The dry rainforest is located in Guanacaste Region and there you will find sunny skies. This region is found on the western side of Costa Rica on the Pacific Ocean. It rains for maybe 15 minutes a day from late May onward with more rainfall in September and October. We were there in January and the temperature rises to 38 degrees. It can get quite warm there in February we were told.
5. Spend a Day on the Water
I don't know if I need to say more! I love seeing the sunset on the water. This was taken when we were coming back from a boat ride. You can enjoy catamarans, fishing, surfing, swimming and snorkelling on the Pacific side of Costa Rica.
Here are two things to keep in mind. The heat is intense. It's hard to stay in the sun for longer periods of time. Be careful as there are jellyfish in the water. My son got stung and here's a tip. Spray the area immediately with vinegar and that helps to calm it down.
This was the first time we had visited Costa Rica. We had heard so many wonderful things about this country. It did not disappoint. If someone asked me if I would go back, I would in a heartbeat!
If you have any questions, let me know in the comments!
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Until next time, enjoy the Beauty of Nature!