Costa Rica – Around the World from A to Z – C
Costa Rica – Around the World from A to Z – C
In this post, our featured destination Around the World from A to Z for C is Costa Rica. This Central American country has been on my bucket list for a while, and I can’t wait until we can travel again to explore its volcanoes, forests, rivers and waterfalls. I’m planning a women only travel group to this lush tropical destination for when we can travel again. In the meantime, here is some inspiration for you.
Lake Arenal in Costa Rica’s Northern Plains region
You can see the almost perfect conical shape of Arenal Volcano in the distance. The lake can be explored by stand up paddleboard or kayak, you can hike, climb or bike the lower slopes of the volcano along old lava fields, and through the rainforest, or soak away your stresses at one of the many hot springs at nearby La Fortuna.
Let me introduce you to Costa Rica.
Located between Nicaragua in the north and Panama in the south, the Caribbean Sea to the east and Pacific ocean on the west, this Spanish speaking Central American country is a democratic and peaceful nation, whose philosophy in life is “Pure Vida” (pure life). This mindset carries through in everything they do.
Without a military since 1948, Costa Rica was ranked number 16 best holiday destination for 2021 by Condé Nast. This peaceful country was also recognized as being the safest country in Central America by the 2020 Global Peace Index (a snapshot of the global state of peace). It is also ranked as the 32nd most peaceful country in the world.
It’s safe to say, it is one of the safest countries in the world, and it is good to know, especially during COVID times, that Costa Rica takes health and safety seriously, particularly since the country is famous for its Pure Vida lifestyle.
When it comes to accommodations, Costa Rica has also received many accolades, including the Conde Nast reader’s choice awards for best spa resorts and hotels in the Caribbean and the world.
A small country with much to offer
For such a small country (Costa Rica covers only 0.03 of the world’s surface), it has an abundance of attractions to offer visitors.
For a start it has 1,228 km of coastline on both the Pacific Ocean (1,016 km) and the Caribbean Ocean (212km), which are less than six hours by car from each other and less than an hour by plane (although I recommend driving as it’s a much more sustainable way to travel this short distance, plus you’ll get to see more en route). If you’re a beach lover, you’ll have plenty to choose from.
There are also four UNESCO World Heritage sites in Costa Rica (one of which is a conservation area, one a national park, one a nature reserve and one is a historical site) to explore. The sites are: Area de Conservacion Guanacaste, Cocos Island National Park, Talamanca Range-La Amistad Reserves and PreColombian Chiefdom Settlements with Stone Spheres of the Diquis.
The country also has five percent of the world’s biodiversity with 26 percent of its territory protected for conservation, which makes Costa Rica especially ideal for nature lovers. Divided into 11 conservation areas comprising 29 National Parks, 58 wildlife refuges, 32 protected zones, 15 wetland areas, 11 forest reserves and eight biological reserves, Costa Rica is also an industry leader in sustainability and is an ideal destination for nature lovers looking for sustainable travel experiences.
Green Honeycreeper, one of over 900 bird species in Costa Rica
Photo via Pixabay.
Activities in Costa Rica
With it’s geographical location in Central America and such a lush and diverse terrain, that includes volcanoes, hundreds of miles of coastline, waterways, with hot springs and waterfalls, plains as well as its proximity to the both the Pacific and the Caribbean, there is an abundance of activities in Costa Rica, especially for outdoorsy peeps, nature lovers and thrill seekers.
Costa Rica is an one of the best destinations, if not THE best, for bird watching—there are over 900 species to spot and the diversity and density of air birds per square kilometre makes bird spotting in Costa Rica very easy. In fact, there are more bird sightings in Costa Rica than in any other county in the world in less travel time.
For those seeking a thrill in nature you can choose to go hiking and/or zip lining through the tropical forests (including hanging bridges suspended 40 metres above the ground), biking up and down mountain slopes, or climbing and rappelling sheer cliffs.
For those who would prefer an adventure without the leg work, horseback riding is the perfect way to explore Costa Rica’s varied terrains such as mountain trails, the slopes of Arenal Volcano or along the coastline (avoiding the beach area).
With the Pacific ocean on the west coast and the Caribbean on the east coast, and hundreds of miles of waterways with hot springs and waterfalls, there are an abundance of water sports and activities including surfing, snorkelling and swimming as well as a variety of wind sports on both coasts, and whitewater rafting and tubing on the country’s fast flowing rivers or stand up paddle boarding, kayaking and diving its slower waterways.
Golf lovers have several championship golf courses to choose from, and fishing is also a popular sport.
But for those seeking the ultimate relaxation and well-being experience, Costa Rica is second to none. With 200 hot springs and an several yoga classes, retreats and nature experiences such as forest bathing, earthing (barefoot walks on the earth) and a variety of spa treatments using locally-sourced volcanic mud, coffee, tropical fruits, and chocolate, Costa Rica is paradise.
Jaco Beach on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast.
Photo via Unsplash.
Weather in Costa Rica
If you’re wondering when the best time to go to Costa Rica is with regard to its weather, below are a few tidbits about Costa Rica’s climate and what weather to expect.
Costa Rica has a temperate climate with warm weather all year making it a year-round destination. Annual average temperatures range between 21C-30C (70F-82F). The ocean waters are also warm enough for swimming and water sports all year long.
However, Costa Rica does have rainy or “green” and dry seasons, the timing of which varies depending on the region.
Weather in Costa Rica’s Pacific region
In the Pacific region, which has distinct dry and “green” seasons, you can expect dry weather from December to March. The driest and hottest month of the year is March, while the green season is from May to October, with winds ramping up during July and August leading to the region’s wettest months in September and October.
Weather in Costa Rica’s Caribbean region
Although the seasons are not as distinct in the Caribbean region, you can expect constant rain showers from May to August and November to January. But October has endless sunny days. January is the wettest month in the Caribbean region but most rain falls during the night and in the early morning, which means you have the rest of the day to explore.
Best time of year to travel to Costa Rica?
Any time! It’s a year-round destination. Because of its size, you can be experience the dry or the green season in one day, so don’t discount the green seasons. This is why Costa Rica is so lush and, despite the rain, attractions remain open and many events happen including bird and whale migrations as well as sea turtle nesting.
Also, no matter which region you want to stay in there are two international airports to choose from: San Jose (Juan Santamaria International Airport – SJO) in the centre of the country and Liberia (Daniel Oduber International Airport– LIR) in the north. Border to border, no area in Costa Rica is more than 10 hours’ drive. If you’d like to experience both a dry season and a green season on the same vacation, travel between two regions on the same vacation or stay longer.
Irazú Volcano, Cartago Province, Costa Rica
Picture via Unsplash.
Where to go in Costa Rica?
For nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers there is so much to see, do and experience in Costa Rica, but if you’re short on time, you can’t go wrong exploring the Central Valley region.
With San José as your base, you can fly into Juan Santamaría International Airport and you’ll be in close proximity to volcanos, rainforests rivers, and both the Pacific ocean and the Caribbean ocean.
In Costa Rica‘s capital, you’ll find lively culture in both gastronomy and the arts, and plenty of sites to visit including Catedral Metropolitana, the National Theater, Melico Salazar and the Post Office Building. Be sure to visit the Central Market for souvenirs and to try traditional cuisine.
In the nearby highlands you’ll discover the coffee plantations where the beans for Costa Rica‘s famous coffee are grown. Braulio Carillo National Park, one of the largest protected areas in Costa Rica, is also nearby. Here you’ll find seven diverse habitats as well as mountain forests and river canyons. Barva Volcano National Park, the highest point in Braulio Carillo National Park, sits on the continental divide and is home to one of the most stunning cloud forests in Costa Rica.
In nearby Irazu Volcano National Park you’ll find Costa Rica’s tallest volcano, and Tapantí-Macizo de La Muerte National Park is home to ancient oak and alder forests as well as horseback riding trails. It is also home to 45 species of mammals, 260 species of birds and 30 reptile species.
Of course there are a lot more places to go in Costa Rica (too much for this post), so if you want more ideas to plan your trip, feel free to contact me.
Did this article inspire you to add Costa Rica to your bucket list?
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Hummingbird, Puntarenas Province, Monteverde, Costa Rica. Taken at Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve. Pic via Unsplash.