Just a few hours’ flight from Houston, Costa Rica has always been an attractive destination for travelers who are seeking good surfing conditions and true biological diversity. A nature-lover’s dream, this Central American nation offers over 600 miles of beautiful shoreline and vast stretches of protected rain forest and reserves. Residents, known colloquially as Ticos, are eager to share their ecologically rich home with visitors. Where else can you enjoy volcano-heated hot springs, cloud forests, and lush river valleys, sounds like paradise right?! Just a number of things that have long enticed adventurers to Costa Rica.
With a recent culinary revolution, new life has been given to overlooked districts like Barrio Escalante, in the capital. Now with a growing number of young chefs, craft brewers, and mixologists can be found transforming San José into a gastronomic hotspot. And with the Liberia International Airport opening in 2012, new luxury developments have begun popping up beyond already established beach communities. Plan your adventure —be it a high-adrenaline one, a mellow, family getaway or a yoga retreat—with the Unconventional Guide to Costa Rica.
December through April is high season, offering reliable sunshine, larger crowds and the prices to match. The rest of the year is green season, with better deals and regular rain showers. October is typically the wettest month, so try and avoid traveling then if you want to maximize your beach time.
Costa Rica’s bus system may be a challenge to navigate in San José, but once you’ve paid the cheap fare (starting at $1 within a city, $10 for cross-country trips) and boarded, transportation is a breeze. For those with bigger budgets, Interbus and Grayline run shuttles between top destinations starting at $40, and Sansa and Nature Air offer quick domestic flights starting at approximately $60. If you’re planning to visit areas on Costa Rica’s southern Nicoya Peninsula like Montezuma, Mal Pais, or Santa Teresa, one great option is to take the Puntarenas Ferry. This ferry accommodates passengers but you can also take your car. The Puntarenas Ferry travels between the ports of Puntarenas on the Central Pacific Coast and Paquera on the Nicoya Peninsula. The ride across the bay is 11 nautical miles and takes about 70 minutes. The large ship holds 170 cars and up to 700 passengers but is rarely full. Because of the size, the ferry is very steady in the water and you can hardly feel any movement from waves or winds. The views along the way are beautiful too and make for a nice break from driving or riding the bus. Click here for more information on traveling by the Puntarenas Ferry.
Costa Rica has a tropical climate, with a wet and a dry season each year on the Pacific side, and occasional showers throughout the year on the Caribbean side. Note that the Caribbean is often gorgeous in October, while this is the dreariest month on the Pacific side and in the Central Valley. Costa Rica’s weather varies wildly depending on which side of the country you’re visiting.
Costa Rica isn’t as cheap as it used to be, and you will get hit with a 13 percent tax at every hotel and restaurant (in addition to a 10 percent service charge at every restaurant). Tipping is uncommon in restaurants, but it is customary to round up to the nearest 100 colones for the taxi driver and to offer a tour guide a few extra bucks.
Type A (two-prong plug)
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Source inspiration for this blog post can be found at TravelandLeisure.com