10 things I wish I knew before going to Costa Rica
Hearing the name of this distant exotic state, the imagination draws us paradise beaches, next to which are adjacent mighty volcanoes and impenetrable jungles. And before the eyes of avid travelers, the mysterious Stone Balls of Costa Rica appear. However, not everyone will immediately answer the question of where is Costa Rica.
Costa Rica is located in the southern part of Central America, adjacent to Panama and Nicaragua. On the west side of the coast of the state are washed by the waters of the Pacific Ocean, on the east-the Caribbean Sea.
Many travelers visit the country to relax on specific beaches that have their own characteristics. So, the beach of Playa del Coco is chosen by diving enthusiasts, Tamaringo-surfers, and Playa Flamingo is suitable for avid fishermen.
However, do not rush to enter the search query "Costa Rica tours" in the search engine. Before planning a trip, be sure to study some useful facts that will certainly be useful to you on your journey.
1. Expensive vacation
So, you have chosen to visit the amazing country of Costa Rica. Costa Rica holidays with a lot of unforgettable impressions is provided for you. But it is worth bearing in mind that it will not cost as cheap as it seems. Many people think that being in the central part of America, life here is akin to living in Guatemala or Nicaragua. This is a misconception. Prices in Costa Rica for accommodation, food and many household services can be compared with the United States, especially in the height of the season.
By the way, about money. The local Costa Rica currency is the colon. The rate of 1 dollar is approximately 600 columns. But do not rush on arrival to immediately look for an exchange office. US dollars are loved here, so almost everywhere you can pay in American currency. And some supermarkets or travel companies accept only "green" payments.
2. Rules of entry
Be sure to specify the rules for visiting the country that apply for this period of time. The fact is that Costa Rica periodically makes changes to the visa policy in relation to tourists from different countries. It happens that official sources may contain different data in their essence. For example, Russians can visit the country for up to 30 days without a visa, as well as tourists from the EU. All other CIS citizens will need a visa to enter.
It is also not superfluous to study the current restrictions on the import and export of certain categories of goods. It is not allowed to import vegetables, fruits, meat products, medicines without a prescription, plants and seeds. The ban is imposed on the export of archaeological items, antiques, as well as the skins of local Costa Rica animals from the country.
3. Costa Rica weather
Costa Rica belongs to the territory with a sub-equatorial climate. The dry hot season, when the average temperature is kept in the range of 26-28°C, falls on the period from December to April. However, this is the highest season, when the number of tourists increases and prices increase. From May to October, despite the rainy Costa Rica weather, the Pacific Coast is also crowded. It's not just about discounts. At this time, surfers come here from all over the world. However, this is not a reason to refuse travel to Costa Rica - tours can be selected at quite attractive prices.
It is also worth considering that the climate varies depending on the area and altitude. The higher the temperature, the cooler it is. Therefore, when planning to visit volcanoes, it is better to stock up on warm clothes, since the temperature in the highlands does not rise above 10°C. In addition, the Monteverde and Poase regions are cold and humid all year round. So, being here, a raincoat and an umbrella will be very useful.
Another fact that should not be neglected before the trip – vaccinations. In some areas of Costa Rica recorded cases of malaria, dengue, zika, and chinangwa. The greatest danger to a foreign traveler is dengue. However, if you follow certain precautions and have the appropriate repellent, you have nothing to worry about. Take care of your health, and all that the Instagrammable country of Costa Rica will give you is a rest of body and soul.
4. The distance
Costa Rica on the map seems to be a very small country-slightly larger than Switzerland. Therefore, many assume that movement within the state does not take much time. We hasten to disappoint you. Given that the roads here are not the newest and quite narrow (usually single-lane), and the routes are laid through numerous natural parks and nature reserves, it can take a lot of time to overcome the seemingly short distances. In addition, local residents often ignore the rules of the road and the speed limit (they say that this is due to their excessive punctuality). So just plan your trip around the country correctly and be patient. After all, it is not enough to come just for the beaches in the magical Costa Rica-the sights of Costa Rica are so colorful and interesting that they will not leave anyone indifferent.
5. Tap water
Tap water in Costa Rica is considered safe, especially in tourist areas. In hotels, as a rule, there is always information about this. The guides who accompany the tourists during the Costa Rica tours also reported this fact.
If you prefer not to take risks, you can easily buy bottled water in plastic bottles of various capacities in stores.
The traditional cuisine of Costa Rica is a combination of Spanish traditions and Native American heritage, imbued with simplicity and environmental friendliness. Seasonings here, unlike the rest of Central America, are used in moderation. The main ingredients for cooking are fish and seafood. This is not surprising, given where is Costa Rica. Rice, legumes, and corn are also used in local cuisine. Grown on volcanic soil, the vegetables have a special sweet taste.
For example, a dish made from a mixture of rice and beans with meat ("Casados") will give you strength and vigor. Baked fish "A la Pancha" will leave a pleasant aftertaste. And you will not find such a variety of corn pastries in any other country.
Exotic fruits delight with their variety. Passion fruit, papaya, rambutan, guava, carom are insanely juicy and fragrant. And fresh juices will quench your thirst in the summer heat and fill you with energy.
Your trip around the country can hardly be called full-fledged, if you do not try the local Costa Rica coffee, which rightfully shares the first place with the Brazilian one. Or try a soft drink made from milk with the addition of bread flour – a very unusual combination.
Costa Rica is the most peaceful country on the planet. Do you know why? This state simply does not have an army! The President decided to disband the armed forces in 1948 when he won the civil war. By the way, the civil war in Costa Rica lasted 44 days. And this period can be called the most tragic and bloody in the entire history of the country.
Since 1996, the national security forces have been the police. It patrols the border areas with Panama and Nicaragua and also monitors drug trafficking.
Police often stop people on the streets to reduce the smuggling of illegal substances, so always carry your passport or a copy of it, and be prepared to show your return ticket.
Costa Rica residents are very positive about the absence of the army. After all, they are used to being considered a democratic nation. In addition, the country's economic growth does not suffer from constant investment in the needs of the armed forces. And a significant part of the budget is spent on the development of the health and education system.
Thinking through the routes of excursions before visiting the country, you should definitely explore the place where is Costa Rica. This is the Ring of Fire in which the Pacific Plate collided with the Caribbean plate. As a result, many volcanoes were formed, which are the hallmark of the country of Costa Rica. The Costa Rica attractions of the state-national parks-are located around volcanoes. That is why ecotourism is so developed here.
One of the largest volcanoes in the world is Poas. It is considered the largest and most Instagrammable. The height of the volcano is more than 2700 meters. According to the results of a study by scientists, it began its activity 10 million years ago! Over the entire history of observations, 39 of its eruptions are known, the last of which occurred in 2014.
Poas has three craters. One of them looks like a greenish lake with very picturesque jungle shores. It is home to rare species of animals and birds. Surprisingly, many native trees cannot reach their normal height due to acid rain, so they resemble a dwarf bonsai.
When planning an excursion program for travellers to Costa Rica tours almost always include a sightseeing trip to the Poas volcano.
9. Stone Balls of Costa Rica
This phenomenon is called the most mysterious and inexplicable mystery of our time. Until now, there is no consensus about the origin, age and purpose of these stones. One thing scientists are sure of unequivocally – these balls are not one thousand years old and they consist of magma. As a result of these facts, it is assumed that they arose after the eruption of several volcanoes. And yet the appearance inclines to the version of their creation by man. All the balls found are of different diameters (from huge boulders to very small ones, the size of a palm) and there are traces of engraving on them. And the trajectory of the stones was also discovered-from north to south. Individual copies were even installed on elevations. Studying the location of the Costa Rica balls on the map, it was found that together they make up different geometric shapes.
The study of this unusual phenomenon is complicated by the fact that many of the stones were moved from their original location, some ended up in museums, and some of them were split into small pieces (probably someone was looking for precious metals in them).
According to one version, the stone balls of Costa Rica are an ancient calendar of Costa Rica holidays. On the other hand, they reproduced the star map or represented the planets. There is also an assumption that these balls marked specific points of the globe, since later the same stones were found in different parts of the planet.
10. Happy Country
If you are still thinking about the next country to travel to, we strongly recommend: travel to Costa Rica vacation here will bring you a lot of positive emotions. All because this state is considered one of the happiest in the world and even topped this list in 2009, 2012 and 2016.
Costa Rica people are distinguished by their friendliness, hospitality and participation. Quite often, local residents approach tourists just to talk "about life". At the same time, in conversation, they are always relaxed and sincerely interested in foreign guests. And their favorite phrase "pura vida", which means "pure life", is used as a wish to the interlocutor when greeting or saying goodbye. Accept this kind mantra, and you will always "pass for your own".
Of course, these are not all the facts that characterize the wonderful country called Costa Rica. The sights here are so large-scale and philosophical that it takes more than one month to fully immerse yourself in an exotic fairy tale. But the fact that, at least once in a lifetime, every lover of ecology and incredible nature should visit here is indisputable.
Daiva was born in Lithuania, but almost all her conscious life she lives in Belarus - the most beautiful region of lakes, forests and fields. She has always liked to put her thoughts on paper, whether it was keeping a diary or a school essay. By the way, while she was still a schoolgirl, Daiva wrote a children's book. No less critical hobby in her life is travelling and visiting new places. The nearest and the main goal for Daiva is the dream of a miniature house by the sea in picturesque Spain. The list of countries she visited includes such countries as Turkey, Egypt, Thailand, Bali, India, Sri Lanka, Spain, Montenegro, Germany, Poland, Ukraine and Russia.