Tropical Costa Rica holidays
The mere mention of Costa Rica is enough to have you daydreaming of tropical rainforests, cloud-shrouded volcanoes, and exotic wildlife. This is one of the most biodiverse countries on the planet, and whether you’re hiking through its lush interior or ziplining through the tree canopy, it’s a place where outdoor adventures reign supreme.
Around one quarter of the country is protected, which means its national parks and reserves are bursting at the seams with wildlife. There are 800 bird species here, plus famous residents like the sloth, spider monkey, green iguana, and red-eyed frog. Elsewhere, perfect beaches beckon. Among its many nicknames, Costa Rica is dubbed ‘The Rich Coast’, thanks to the sandy, palm-fringed bays that unravel along the Caribbean and Pacific coastlines. One of the best-loved is Playa Tamarindo, a sultry stretch with a neighbouring laid-back surf town. Then there’s Conchal Beach, where you’ll find crystal-clear waters and one of the best spots on the island for snorkelling. You can take your pick from 288 other tropical swathes, too.
Whether you set off on an independent tour, join us for an escorted itinerary or opt for a self-drive holiday, Costa Rica will wow you with spectacular wildlife, culture and scenery.
With its eponymous capital city, San José is where most travellers will enter the country. The lovely colonial city centre in well worth exploring, and don’t miss a visit to the dazzling Pre-Columbian Gold Museum. Elsewhere in this region you’ll find the Talamanca Mountains and, of course, several national parks.
This landlocked province borders Nicaragua to the north and San José to the south. Here you’ll find the sublime cloud forests of Monteverde, the smoky Poás Volcano, and the hot springs of Arenal near La Fortuna.
The long, meandering coastlines of Guanacaste and Puntarenas provinces offer up many a beautiful bay and deserted beach – head to the Nicoya Peninsula for some of the wildest. The Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the country’s loveliest, with its sandy coastline and rainforest habitat home to a kaleidoscope of colourful wildlife, from capuchin monkeys and toucans to the rare three-toed sloth.
This region of Costa Rica has a different feel to the rest of the country, with its mix of West Indian influences and indigenous peoples. Head to Tortuguero National Park to visit the sea turtles, to Chirripó for volcanic vistas and to Cahuito for the coral reefs. The biggest city on the Caribbean coast is the busy working port of Limón.
The currency in Costa Rica is the Costa Rican colon, and each colon is divided into 100 centimos. Large retailers accept major credit cards and you’ll find ATMs in most places (except very remote beach or jungle areas) for withdrawing cash.
The official language is Spanish - in fact the Costa Ricans claim that they speak the purest Spanish in Latin America. English is also widely spoken in the main tourist areas.
Tipping is not always expected in Costa Rica but it is appreciated. Many restaurants will add a 10% surcharge to the bill, so it’s a good idea to check before paying. If you take a taxi, round up the fare to the nearest dollar unless you are on a long journey or the traffic is bad, in which case you should offer a bit more.
Despite its small size, Costa Rice has a variety of microclimates, which makes it difficult to typify the weather. It’s a tropical country so expect rain, especially between May and November. March through to May are usually the hottest months and the average annual temperature is between 21ºC and 27ºC.
The UK is six hours ahead of Costa Rica (seven hours ahead during British Summer Time).
British passport holders don’t need a visa to enter Costa Rica. You can stay as a visitor for up to 90 days, but your passport must be valid for the length of your stay. However, entry requirements can change so we recommend that you check before you travel. CIBT provide a useful tool to do this at CIBT Visas or you can visit GOV UK.
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