Costa Rica is the jewel of the Caribbean with sandy beaches, spectacular diving, great hiking and friendly people. It is one of the best places to experience the tropical temperatures and rain forest in Central America. From December to April is the best time to go if you want to go during the dry season, but even if you go during the rainy season, it only rains for a short time during the day. Some of the exciting activities that Costa Rica offers include zip-lining, soaring across the top of the jungle on a flying fox and turtle watching on protected beaches. Deep-sea fishing, windsurfing, horseback riding in the mountains and white-water rafting in the spectacular canyons are some of the other thrilling adventures you can take part in.

Attractions

See the tropical flowers of Puerto Limon and the breeding ground of the green sea turtles in Parque Nacional Tortuguero. Over half of this island country is designated as national parks and wildlife refuges so it is a naturalist's dream.

San Jose

San Jose is the capital of the country and has a wealth of department stores, luxury hotels and glamorous restaurants. It is also home to many museums, such as the Museo Nacional, which has many exhibits about the archaeology, colonial history, art and religion of the country. Visit the Meseo del Oro Precolombino, where you will see an impressive array of gold pieces and the jade collection at the Museo de Jade is out of this world. Teatro Nacional is one of the oldest buildings in the city, built in the 1890's, is the place to go for operas, symphony concerts, and theatrical performances. Mercado Central is a lively market where you can buy just about anything.

Monteverde

This small town in the northeastern part of the country was founded by the Quakers in 1951 and is one of the popular tourist destinations. Here you will find the Monteverde Cloud Reserve and the small town of St. Elena. You can visit the Butterfly Garden, a cheese factory, several art galleries and a serpentarium. There are many walking trails and the "Sky Walk" a series of suspended bridges where you seem to be walking on the clouds over the top of the jungle.

Travel to Costa Rica

You can drive to Costa Rica from either the US, Mexico or Guatemala. The airport in San Jose also receives international flights from Canada, the US and Latin American cities. There are also many tour operators in Canada and the US that offer different types of tours to Costa Rica.

Travel Within Costa Rica

You can fly to several smaller airports within the country and the public transportation system here is well developed, but the buses are quite overcrowded and chaotic. If you do not drive here in your own vehicle, you can rent a car in San Jose or you can also rent a taxi for a day or part of a day.

Language

Spanish is the official language, but English is widely spoken.

Visa

You do not need a travel Visa to enter Costa Rica, but you do need to have a valid passport with a return ticket.

Safety

Costa Rica is one of the safest countries in Central America for tourists. The only concerns may be regarding health. Be sure to drink bottled water and to be careful when visiting here during the rainy season because of the mosquitoes that carry malaria and dengue fever.

Food and Drink

Some of the local dishes that you might like to sample when you visit Costa Rica include casado, a mixture of rice, beans, stewed beef, fried plantains and cabbage, "sopa negra", black beans with a poached egg, and "picadillo" meat and vegetable stew. Many of the cold drinks are made from fresh fruit, milk or cereal flour. Cebada is made from barley flour, pinolilo is made from roasted corn and horchata is made from corn meal with cinnamon. The alcoholic drinks and beers are imported.

Shopping

Wooden items, especially rocking chairs, leather goods and jewellery are items that many tourists like to shop for in Costa Rica. There is also a wide selection of unique native crafts. Although there are department stores, the best place to shop for local goods is at the markets.

Entertainment

There are many nightclubs in San Jose and with the many resorts throughout Costa Rica the nightlife is usually hopping. All the hotels have bars where you can listen to music and have a drink and there is a wide variety of music available for dancing.

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