There is a little piece of paradise in Central America with a name of its own: Costa Rica. With its exuberant nature, its precious culture, its varied fauna and its dreamlike landscapes, it spreads out over 51 thousand square kilometres, giving everyone who fantasizes about visiting it plenty of reasons not to postpone it any longer.
This country is the essence of its volcanoes, which rise towards the infinite seeking to touch the sky. It is the tranquillity of its paradisiacal beaches, which extend both along the Pacific and the Caribbean Sea. It is the way of being of its people, the Ticos, friendly, welcoming and always ready to make the stay unforgettable. It’s the taste of its rice and beans, but also of the avant-garde cuisine that is moulded in the restaurants of San José, the capital city. It is, after all, all those reasons why every time someone visits even a small corner of their wonderful land, they already want to come back.
There are some reasons why it is one of the most special countries in all of the Americas, exotic, sustainable and diverse, there is no other country that can beat it. Let’s see them.
Costa Rica has an immense green heart. Its territory is conquered by a nature that translates into the lushness of its jungles and forests, in the palms that populate its coastline, in its waterfalls, or in the coffee plantations that produce that exquisite fruit with which to later enjoy the traditional “chorreados“: the Tico coffee par excellence.
Its small territory is home to almost a million species, or what is the same, and a quarter of its geography is protected by the National System of Conservation Areas. That’s why a visit to Costa Rica will always be full of activities that allow you to enjoy nature, whether it’s walking the trails of its national parks – let’s call it Tortuguero, Guanacaste, Braulio Carrillo or Cahuita, just to name a few – or doing any active tourism activity in unparalleled surroundings. You can rent your perfect car here to explore it at your leisure.
Paradise: this is, without a doubt, the best word to describe those immense extensions of white – and black – sand and turquoise waters that decorate both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, giving us incomparable landscapes.
And it turns out that, besides, between both coasts, there is barely a distance of 212 kilometres. What does this mean? That, if we feel like it, we can dive into the warm waters of the Caribbean during the morning, and surf the waves of the Pacific, ideal for the practice of this sport, at the end of the afternoon. In short: we are talking about around 600 beaches where we can indulge in the pleasure of the contemplative life, lie down in a hammock and read a good book while the sun’s rays tan us.
That, or something more fun: we can also take advantage of the opportunity to dive and discover the marine ecosystems that populate the coast by snorkelling, one of the most enriching water activities that can be done here, although not the only one. Don’t forget these places: Guanacaste, the southern Caribbean and the beaches of Puerto Viejo, the southern Pacific and some of its treasures, such as Golfo Dulce and the Osa Peninsula. And also remember that Costa Rica has more than one hundred islands that you can visit.
Affable, welcoming, endearing and always with a smile on their face. Costa Rica has many natural treasures, yes, but perhaps one of the most valued is that of its own inhabitants: without a doubt, the country would not be the same without the Ticos.
Because they are the ones who immediately dare to engage in conversation anywhere and in any situation. They are the ones who are proud of their homeland and who show it off to the world. Those who always have a “dripping” coffee ready to serve and invite the traveller. Those who are helpful, happy and honoured by all those adventurous spirits who choose their wonderful land to spend a few days of vacation.
You might think before you leave for Costa Rica that the most famous national dish is its rice and beans, or as they call it in the Caribbean area, rice & beans, but there’s so much more, such appetizing and exotic names as tamales, chicharrones or empanadas are also part of the Tico recipe book. In addition, there is the Gallo pinto, the Olla de Carne, the Casado or even the ceviche.
But if you’re looking for something more avant-garde, there’s nothing quite like trying any of the restaurants in Barrio Escalante, a true gastronomic temple in San José. That’s where some chefs are experimenting more with flavours and ingredients, taking ideas from the kitchens of other parts of the world as well as from those that the indigenous people have developed over centuries, to give them their place in today’s cuisine and, in the process, give us a real feast for the senses.
Almost a million different species populate Costa Rica, making the country one of the 20 richest in the world in terms of biodiversity. Or, in other figures: its lands are home to around 250 species of mammals – of which 28 are aquatic -, 900 species of birds, 230 of reptiles and approximately 190 types of amphibians.
This is a great reason why most travellers arrive eager to contemplate its natural wealth and enjoy it. Actually, you don’t have to try too hard. There are many occasions when, just by being good observers and taking a closer look at what surrounds us, we will discover some animal or other with which we live without hardly noticing.
Quetzals, toucans, hummingbirds, howler monkeys, raccoons, jaguars, white-faced monkeys, dolphins, whales, red-eyed green frogs, snakes, crocodiles, turtles or the already mentioned sloths are just some of the exotic animals present in Costa Rica and that make up its diverse nature.
Vibrant San Jose, the capital city.
San José is the gateway to and from Costa Rica, and sometimes, due to the desire to get into the pure and hard nature of the country as soon as possible, it goes unnoticed. The great capital has so many that it’s worth a visit.
And by attractions, we mean not only the majesty embodied in buildings like the National Theatre, inaugurated in 1897, or the hustle and bustle of the Central Market, the nerve centre. We also mean its lively nightlife, concentrated in places such as 21st Street, or the urban art tours that may be enjoyed in the area to see the murals and graffiti of both national and foreign artists. It is also worthwhile to try the local gastronomy and go into Barrio Escalante or take an interesting route of handcrafted beers through some of the most fashionable bars, terraces and markets.