Costa Rica is a small state in the very heart of Central America. It borders Nicaragua on the north and Panama on the south-east. On the south and the west, the country is washed by the Pacific Ocean and on the east by the Caribbean Sea. The capital city is San Jose.
Costa Rica has a sub-equatorial climate. There are two seasons in the country: the dry season (from December to April) and the wet season (from May to November). The best time for a holiday in Costa Rica is the dry season but the wet season is good for the surfers.
The people speak Spanish and this is an official language in Costa Rica. The major religion is Catholicism.
The tourists come to Costa Rica mainly to spend lazy time on the beaches. Typically, each beach can offer something special. Thus, in the Province of Guanacaste, the beach Playas del Coco is good for diving but Playa Flamingo beach is a good place for fishing. The Tamarindo Beach is the destination for the surfers.
Costa Rica is a good destination for having active holidays. The experienced surfers know where to surf, namely, in Mal Pais and Playa Grande. The windsurfers choose the Arenal lake. Add some adrenaline to your holidays and go for mountain river rafting.
The tourists will be really satisfied by the fishing on the Pacific coast. Virtually every piece of land from the Gulf of Papagayo to Golfito is good for fishing.
About 30% of the country is occupied by the reserves and national parks open for the tourists. The most popular touristic route lies across La Amistad International Park.
There are no direct flights from the Russian Federation and other CIS countries to Costa Rica. One can get to Costa Rica with a stop in some European countries, the USA or Cuba. Iberia offers a transit flight with a stop in Madrid, Lufthansa flies through Frankfurt and Cubana flies through Havana.
If your trip to Costa Rica is a part of a large travel around the countries of Central America, then you can get to Costa Rica by an international bus or by car from Panama or Nicaragua.
A ferry goes between Los Chiles in Costa Rica and San Carlos in Nicaragua.
Currently, visa policy in Costa Rica is undergoing some changes and even in the official documents the information is twofold. Shortly before your trip, learn about the current rules of entering the country. Since May 2015, the Russian tourists do not need a visa to travel to Costa Rica provided that their stay in the country does not exceed 30 days. The citizens of other CIS countries must obtain a visa. The citizens of EU countries can come to Costa Rica visa free.
If the tourists are planning to stay in Costa Rica for a longer time, they can submit the documents for a visa to the Embassy. Usually, it takes 1-3 working days to process the documents. The applicant can submit the documents personally or through a trusted person.
The customs legislation of Costa Rica does not restrict import and export of foreign and national currency but cash in any amount must be declared.
The tourists can import in Costa Rica duty-free the following goods:
- a small amount of tobacco and alcohol;
- perfume, clothes and shoes for personal use.
It is prohibited to import:
- vegetables, fruits and any products made of them;
- meat and meat products;
- plants and seeds;
- medications (without a doctor's prescription or a medical record).
It is prohibited to export:
- archaeological findings;
- rare animals, their skins and stuffed animals.
The traditional cuisine of Costa Rica is an extraordinary mix of Spanish and Indian influences which makes this country a good destination for gastro-tourism. The staple foods are rice, beans and vegetables.
The most delicious meat dishes in Costa Rica are rice with beef Arroz con Carne, stewed meat with vegetables Picadillo and banana leaves stuffed with rice and chopped meat Tamales.
Hardly any tourist leaves Costa Rica without trying Arroz con polo (chicken with rice), Arreglados (chicken in dough) and Huevos revueltos (scrambled eggs with chicken).
We recommend trying beef and vegetable soup Olla de Carne, soup with chitterlings Sopa de Mondongo and soup with black beans and an egg Sopa Negra.
It is such a pleasure to eat seafood after a boat trip! Try baked fish A la plancha, seashells Conchas with various side dishes and risotto with crabs Arroz con camarones.
Corn in Costa Rica is the main ingredient for porridges and bread, it is also used as a side dish. So cuisine in Costa Rica suits those who eat healthy food.
For a dessert, they serve sugar candies Melcochas, small chocolate candies Milanes and Tapitas and thick milk syrup Dulce de leche.
Do not miss a chance to try local beverages from milk with flour Cebada, Pinolillo and Horchata. Coffee in Costa Rica is believed to be the best in the world.
The king of alcohol drinks in this country is rum. In Costa Rica, they prefer Abuelo, Centenario and Cacique. You will also like the taste of the liqueur Cafe Rica.
The official currency is Costa Rican colón which is equal to 100 centimos but today the coins are almost not used. The bank notes from 50 to 10.000 colóns are in circulation.
The tourists can exchange foreign currency for the colóns right at the airport, at banks, in exchange offices and hotels. Banks offer the best exchange rate. It is easy to exchange the US dollars but you can face some difficulties with other foreign currencies, especially outside large cities. It is legal to pay with the US dollars and the locals are willing to accept it.
Credit cards and traveler's checks are accepted in large hotels and stores which makes shopping in Costa Rica easy and enjoyable. There are ATMs at banks and in supermarkets in large cities. You will avoid many difficulties if you have the checks in US dollars.
Details of interest
Sightseeing in Costa Rica
In Costa Rica, there are 4 sites from the UNESCO World Heritage List which are of great interest.
- La Amistad National Park is situated partly in Panama and partly in Costa Rica. It is famous for its rich flora and fauna.
- The Cocos Island National Park is famous due to the legends about the pirates' treasures. However, it was inscribed in the UNESCO list because of its exceptional ecological significance.
- The Guanacaste protected nature territory which consists of four national parks: Santa Rosa Park, Guanacaste, Rincon de la Vieja volcano, Santa Elena Park and Junquillal Bay Wildlife Refuge.
- Stone Spheres of the Diquis in the Puntarenas province.
The UNESCO candidate sites in Costa Rica are a must-see: the Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula and Isla del Cano Biological Reserve.
In Costa Rica, there are many other places that are worth visiting.
- Those who love historical and architectural monuments will enjoy the excursion to the historical center in the capital city.
- You can see the real life of people in Costa Rica in Alajuela and Heredia.
- Poas volcano not far from the city of Cartago and the active Irazu volcano are also of a great touristic interest.
- The tourists should visit the Vernando cave in the northern part of the country.
- Enjoy the view of the La Paz Waterfall and San Rafael Falls.
- The city of Puerto Limón is famous for its market, carnival and marvelous beaches.
- Pacific coast is a popular destination for windsurfers but the best place for windsurfing is the Lake Arenal.
- Divers usually choose the Cocos island and the beaches of Playa Hunkiyal and Playa Flamingo.
Costa Rican Souvenirs
In Costa Rica, the tourists usually buy:
- wooden oxcart which is a symbol of the country;
- Indian masks and jewelry;
- jewelry boxes and other wooden crafts;