Where "Pure Vida" is a way of life
One of the most biodiverse regions on earth, Costa Rica is the ideal destination for nature lovers. With its “Pure Vida” philosophy, Costa Rica is not only one of the happiest countries in the world, it’s also the safest country in Central America and one of the most peaceful countries in the world. Find out more about Costa Rica.
Costa Rica at a glance
- Currency: colón
- Sales Tax: 13%
- Electricity: 100V
- Emergency: 911
- Winter avg temp: 21°C
- Summer avg temp: 30°C
- Time Zone: GMT-6
- Capital City: San José
- Language: Spanish
- Entry Requirements: Passport, Return Ticket
- Good morning: Buenos dias
- Good evening: Buenas noches
- Philosophy: “Pure Vida” (pure life)
Where in the World is Costa Rica
Costa Rica is located in Central America on the southwestern edge of the Gulf of Mexico, between the Caribbean on the east and the Pacific Ocean on the west. It shares a border with Nicaragua in the north and Panama in the southeast.
Costa Rica is a relatively small country (approx. 51,180 km²), roughly the same size as Denmark, in Europe or a bit smaller than the US state of West Virginia. However, due to its location, it is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, with 26 National Parks and Reserves and 26% of its land protected, making it a nature lovers’ paradise.
A flight from Toronto to Costa Rica is roughly 6 hours. The country is serviced by two international airports, San Jose (Juan Santamaria International Airport – SJO) in the centre of the country and Liberia (Daniel Oduber International Airport– LIR) in the north.
Costa Rica has 7 administrative provinces: Alajuela, Cartago, Guanacaste, Heredia, Limon, Puntarenas and San Jose. Each has its own unique characteristics and climate zone. While it can be cloudy or raining in one province, it can be dry and sunny in another, but with temperatures averaging 22°C to 28°C, Costa Rica is warm all year, making it a year-round destination.
Is Costa Rica safe for solo female travellers?
Costa Rica is a peaceful country, one of the safest countries in the world, and the safest country in Central America.
Generally speaking, Costa Rica should be safe even for solo female travellers. However, you should always take the usual safety precautions which I highlight here.
As well, despite its high safety rating, some activities in Costa Rica can be dangerous if not practiced safely. So here are a four travel safety tips to help you stay safe when you explore Costa Rica’s wonderful regions.
Beautiful waterfall on Celeste River in Tenorio Volcano National Park, Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica
The river is famous for its unique turquoise colour. A hike to the waterfall takes about an hour and along the route are several hot springs. Pic via Pixabay.
Costa Rica Travel Tips
- Only use an authorized tour company and certififed guides for tours and excursions
- Confirm they have an operating permit from the Ministry of Health as well as insurance
- Always check the weather forecast and local conditions before exploring, especially if touring independently
- Follow safety instructions and regulations before starting any activity
- Despite its lower crime rate compared with other Latin American countries, never leave belongings unattended, lock the car doors and use authorized parking lots.
Sustainable Tourism in Costa Rica
In October 2020, I shared some tips on how we as travellers can practice sustainable tourism in my blog post, Rethinking Travel in a Post-Pandemic World, which you can read here, but when visiting Costa Rica how can you be sure you are choosing travel services that also use sustainable practices?
Well, since Costa Rica is a leader in sustainable tourism, it’s quite easy.
Sustainability is ingrained in Costa Rica’s culture. Not only does this Central American country have the goal to be the first carbon neutral country in the world by 2021 and to become carbon-free by 2050, the evolution from Ecotourism to Sustainable Tourism started as long ago as the 1980s in Costa Rica.
All regions of the country are committed to sustainable practices—in ALL industries not just tourism—with around 350 tourism businesses awarded the CST (Certification for Sustainable Tourism)—a voluntary program introduced in 1997 by the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT) / Costa Rica Tourism Board.
The CST program is quite detailed and the process to become certified is very rigorous (too detailed for this post). However, the aim is to motivate tourism companies to positively impact the natural environment, society and economy by using sustainable practices such as recycling, saving energy, proper waste disposal, conservation of the natural environment and a better system management.
For a company to receive the award, they have to meet the strictest sustainability requirements, which means around 350 Costa Rican companies in the tourism sector practise responsible tourism. These companies don’t just include accommodations, but also gastronomy, theme parks, rental vehicles, hot springs and spa companies, tour operators, and various institutions and organizations, and they can be recognized by the sustainable tourism badge.
For you, the traveller, to determine whether the services you plan to book or use in Costa Rica use sustainable practices, you can easily check to see if they have been awarded the CST. The CST badge will be displayed on their website, and on doors or windows at their establishments. You can also find a list of all tourism businesses that have been awarded the CST on the Costa Rica Sustainable Tourism website.
A waterfall near Dominical, Savegre in Costa Rica
According to the photographer, Asap Story, via Unsplash “After hiking through the rain forest for about 30 minutes you pop-out to this breath taking waterfall, seemingly all by itself.”)
Five fun food facts for foodies visiting Costa Rica
- Traditionally, lunch is the main meal of the day in Costa Rica. So skip breakfast and wait till lunch to eat.
- The best place to get the freshest and most authentic lunch is at a “soda” (a small, locally owned cafe) in smaller communities or at the local market.
- A Costa Rican staple is its national dish, “gallo pinto” but it is not chicken as the name might suggest – it’s a mix of rice and beans. Most “ticos” (locals) eat gallo pinto for breakfast, however, you can also eat it as a side dish.
- Another fun fact about gallo pinto… apparently Costa Rica and its neighbour, Nicaragua, where it’s also the national dish, argue over which country originally created the dish – so when you visit and eat this dish, keep quiet, and don’t let on you know about the argument.
- A few other favourites to look out for if you visit Costa Rica are hand-made tortillas, ceviche (which is made of fresh fish and lime juice), Caribbean rice and beans (a rice and bean dish with spices and coconut milk), and plantain tart. If you visit the South Caribbean region, you’ll also get a chance to taste the region’s famous creole and Caribbean seafood.
- Due to the fresh, clean air and its year-round warm climate, Costa Rica’s food is very healthy for you (oh no…we can’t eat healthy on vacation!). Some locally grown favourites are fruits such as papaya, mango, pineapple and watermelon. (I lied—there are 6—I liked the alliteration with five!)
PS: Did you know, the water is also drinkable in Costa Rica? Oh and coffee…did I mention the coffee? It’s world renowned and on a visit you can sip on fresh locally grown and ground coffee every morning when you wake up.
Experience Costa Rica on a Women Only Adventure!
Women Only Costa Rica Wellness & Adventure
If you’re a solo female traveller looking for an exciting mix of wellness and adventure in a bucket list destination, then this Costa Rica Women Only Wellness Adventure in Central America’s safest country will satisfy your travel desires. Your wellness adventure will include yoga sessions, hiking excursions, sea kayaking, SUP, snorkelling and more.
7 Nights / 8 Days - Dec 5th to 12th 2022
Visiting: San Jose – Sarapiqui – Arenal – Rincon de la Vieja – Playa Carrillo