Blue Zone Costa Rica: Living Longer, Living Better

Thanks Special Places of Costa Rica for this excellent article! If you visit the Playas del Coco area you can explore the mountains of Costa Rica very quickly with a rental car or tour guide.  Well worth the time to take a break from the beach.  Not only the Peninsula but the Rincon de La Vieja mountain are is magical as well and is only one hour drive from sea level to 800 meters plus above sea level.  HD

The secret to living a long, happy life may be found in the mountains of Costa Rica.  Specifically, the rural landscapes of the Nicoya Peninsula, where people have some of the longest lifespans in the world. That’s why this part of Costa Rica is designated a Blue Zone, the term used for just five areas of the world where people live extraordinarily long and vibrant lives.

Once you get off the beaten path in Costa Rica and away from the paved roads, mammoth tourist resorts and bright lights, you’ll begin to understand why this place is so special. Traveling deeper into the green valleys and higher into the lush hills, you’ll begin feeling the carefree lifestyle and suddenly realize you’re in another world.

A lush valley near Nicoya, Costa Rica, one of 5 recognized blue zones in the world - brought to you by
The longest-lived people in the Nicoya Peninsula tend to live in rural mountain settings.

It’s a place where monkeys, parrots and iguanas live in tandem with the human population. The wildlife howls and caws at the crack of dawn. It’s a natural alarm clock that rouses the locals to brew their coffee and begin the day’s labors.

Two oxen yoked to a decorative cart while their owner sits and takes a break - brought to you by
People in the Blue Zone don’t necessarily go to the gym, but they get moderate exercise every day working and walking.

It’s like stepping back in time. Saddled horses are hitched to posts outside the small shops and bars. Farmers still use oxcarts more than a century after they became antiquated in most other countries. Pastures are dotted with cows and goats, and families enjoy meals in small, simple homes. It’s far removed from the stresses of modern life. Relax, amigo, you’ve arrived in Blue Zone Costa Rica.

What makes an area a Blue Zone?

“Blue Zones” is a term coined by National Geographic’s David Buettner, who led a team of scientists to discover why people in some areas of the planet live longer and healthier lives than the rest of us.

A world map showing the 5 Blue Zones - brought to you by
The five Blue Zones of the world.

They narrowed their findings to five regions, all in totally different countries and all with varying factors that led to the locals’ good health. The research led to the best-selling 2008 book, The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest.

What are the world’s Blue Zones?

The five Blue Zones of the world are:

  • Sardinia, Italy. Wine and laughter contribute to the longest male lifespan on earth.
  • Loma Linda, California. The healthy vegan diet of a community of Seventh-day Adventists here contributes to a lifespan 10 years longer than the average lifespan in the U.S.
  • Okinawa, Japan. Japanese dedication to family and friends fosters the longest female lifespan on the planet.
  • Ikaria, Greece. One in three people live into their 90s and are almost free of dementia.
  • Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica. Men over the age of 60 are seven times more likely to reach the 100-year mark than the global average.

What part of Costa Rica is a Blue Zone?

Costa Rica’s Blue Zone is located in the central part of the northwestern Nicoya Peninsula. Specifically, it includes the cantons of Hojancha, Nandayure, Carrillo, Santa Cruz and Nicoya. Well-known towns in these cantons include Playas del CocoFlamingo, Tamarindo, Nosara and Sámara – yet the natives who live extraordinarily long lives typically live in rural and mountain communities and not in these beachfront tourist destinations.

An interesting looking old man in a ratty cap that looks like he has stories to tell - brought to you by Special Places of Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s Blue Zone is known for people of remarkable longevity.

Since its designation as a Blue Zone, the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica has drawn the interest of scientists, nutritionists and anthropologists, and anyone else looking to unlock the secrets of vitality from the far-flung areas in countries with the highest longevity rates. Why is Nicoya, Costa Rica, a Blue Zone? Why is Costa Rica’s life expectancy so high? It has a lot to do with three basic principles: diet, lifestyle and sense of purpose.

Nicoya Peninsula Blue Zone diet

What do people eat in the Blue Zones? The Costa Rica Blue Zone diet is mainly natural, unprocessed wholesome foods such as squash, rice, beans, and corn. Much of the food is still homegrown and homemade – such as tortillas, gallo pinto, plantains and tropical fruits, with meat thrown in just a few times a week.

Rice, beans, cheese, fried plantains is another version of Gallo Pinto, a staple in the Costa Rican Blue Zone - brought to you by Special Places of Costa Rica
Gallo pinto (rice and beans) with eggs is a breakfast staple throughout Costa Rica.

Families tend to eat larger meals at lunchtime and lighter meals early in the evening. The food is low in added sugar, and there are few processed snacks. Studies have linked diets that are lower in calories to longer lifespans. You can find some Blue Zone Costa Rica recipes here. 

The water may also affect longevity in this region. The water of the Nicoya Peninsula is high in calcium and magnesium, contributing to low osteoporosis rates and low rates of heart disease.

Nicoya Peninsula Blue Zone lifestyle

The people of the Nicoya Peninsula Blue Zone value hard work. The daily routine often consists of household chores and manual labor – physical exercise that keeps seniors fit and healthy – and out of hospitals and old age homes.

A man carries his board as he walks to the surf at Playa Grande, Costa Rica - brought to you by Special Places Management Rentals & Sales
Getting some sun by spending time outdoors every day appears to be one of the keys to longevity in the Blue Zone.

And don’t forget the sun. It’s clear and sunny almost every day during the dry season (December-May) and many people live outdoor lifestyles. They work, eat and relax outside. This is in stark contrast to North American lifestyles where people spend the vast majority of time in their homes, schools and offices. Exposure to the sun in healthy intervals is a natural source of vitamin D, which helps with heart and bone health. Another Costa Rica plus.

Nicoya Peninsula Blue Zone sense of purpose

Family, friends and community are the most important aspects of life. Many people walk to visit neighbors and often live with extended family. They listen, laugh and connect. It’s a sense of purpose in life that they call plan de vida, or “reason to live.” It’s what keeps many of the elderly working, active and contributing to the community.

An opulent church sanctuary in a larger Costa Rican town - brought to you by Special Places Management Rentals & Sales
A spiritual life, in addition to a sense of purpose and community, are other factors found in all the Blue Zones.

Faith in a higher power is also cited as a factor that leads to long lives. Many Costa Ricans are religious (mainly Catholic), and researchers say that a spiritual life and a connection to the divine are elements that may play a role in longevity.

Blue Zone Costa Rica: final thoughts

Why are Costa Ricans so healthy? It’s this low-stress, natural and healthy environment that makes this such a remarkable and relaxing place to visit. Of course, just visiting the Nicoya Peninsula won’t make you healthier or help you live to 100, but tourists often say they can feel the stress leave their bodies as soon as they arrive. Maybe that’s why the Costa Rica Blue Zone is such a popular location for retreats centered on well-being, yoga, mindfulness and health.

Make this magical area your next destination and explore and discover the long-life secrets of the Nicoya Peninsula Blue Zone.

QR Code FAQ – UPDATE OCT 14, 2021

After the announcement of the QR Code mandate and other COVID updates yesterday, we have received several questions. We have sent several clarification requests to the Ministry of Health, and they have answered all of them, we understand the urgency and our team is committed to share everything we know as soon as the official information is sent to us.

This is a short, straight-to-the-point article to go over what we know so far, and if you have any other question please leave it in the comments, and we will consult with the government if needed. We kindly ask you to keep the conversation respectful.

First, we would like to clarify that there is a lot of misleading  and false information being shared on social media. Unfortunately this is the norm when it comes to topics related to the pandemic. Our goal here at Outlier Legal News is to contribute by sharing trustworthy data, that is why we only work with official sources, and we attend the COVID press conferences.

We appreciate your patience while we are gathering reports, translating and connecting the dots before we post. We are also very grateful with those sharing our content, we see you Tico Times and every single one of you.

Guidelines confirmed by the Ministry of Health

Underage Tourists
  • Everyone over 12 years of age will use QR Code to enter to the established places.
Those who are in the process of getting DIMEX (vaccinated abroad)
  • They have to follow the same process of getting the vaccine card certified by the Ministry of Health, and sending the documents to their email.
  • The process remains the same, regardless if you are Costa Rican or foreign in the process of getting your residency.
Those who are in the process of getting DIMEX (vaccinated in Costa Rica)
  • They can request the QR Code online, and with it, they will be able to access all places.
Unvaccinated tourists
  • They can enter the country with medical insurance.
  • They won’t be able to access to the places where the QR code is mandatory.
Vaccinated tourists
  • They can enter the country with the Health Pass.
  • They will be able to access places where the QR code is mandatory, once they complete the form online.

Places where the QR Code is mandatory

  1. Restaurants, sodas, cafeterias and food courts and food trucks.
  2. Bars and casinos.
  3. General stores (supermarkets and grocery stores are exempt from QR code), department stores and shopping centers.
  4. Museums.
  5. Fitness centers.
  6. Hotels, cabins or accommodation establishments.
  7. Spas.
  8. Activities, organizations or congregations in places of worship.
  9. Event rooms for business, academic or social activities.
  10. Adventure tourism.
  11. Theaters, cinemas, art and dance academies.
  12. Establishments for sports and cultural / artistic activities

We asked about AirBnBs, but the statement from the Ministry just says “hotels, cabins or accommodation establishments” we can assume AirBnB is an accommodation establishment then.

Find here our blog from yesterday, which includes the vehicle restriction and the details from the press conference. Here are some helpful links:

Mandated Vaccines, part of Costa Rica’s Constitution

How to: COVID Vaccination Certificate

QR Announcement

COVID Updates and Mandatory QR Code

The government just announced the gradual opening for the last quarter of the year, there were several changes announced which you can find below in our summary of the press conference.

Sanitary Vehicle restriction

Sanitary Vehicle Restriction Explainer Tables

Sanitary Vehicle Restriction Explainer Tables


From October 16 to October 31, the sanitary vehicle restriction will be from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. from Monday to Sunday and commercial establishments may operate with the same schedule.



November restriction change was also announced,  however Daniel Salas, Health Minister, explained that this will happen according to the evolution of the pandemic:

  • November 15, the daytime restriction on weekends would be eliminated.
  • Night restriction would start at 11 p.m.

The changes’ implementation depend on the epidemiological evolution as well.

  • Vehicular circulation from Monday to Sunday from 5:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. and the sanitary vehicle restriction for plates during the week would only be in the area known as the ring road.

Mandatory QR Code

As of December 1st, it will be mandatory to show your QR code (COVID-19 vaccination certificate) to enter the following establishments:

1. Restaurants, sodas, cafeterias, food courts and food trucks.
2. Bars and casinos.
3. General stores, department stores and shopping centers.
4. Museums.
5. Fitness centers.
6. Hotels, cabins or hospitality establishments.
7. Spas.
8. Activities, organizations or congregations in places of worship.
9. Event rooms for business, academic or social activities.
10. Adventure tourism.
11. Theaters, cinemas, art and dance academies, and artistic activity establishments.
12. Sports activities establishments.

The QR code will be available on Monday, November 8, through the site:

It was explained that internet service won’t be necessary to verify the code, and it can be printed if for any reason you cannot use the digital format.

If you already have the previous certification, as of November you can access the site and get the new version, which was created with international security standards under the new parameters that the European Union is using.

How to download it?

People who have already received their certificate should only enter again the link sent to their email, and place the assigned pin, and your certificate will be updated with the new safety standards.

Those who have forgotten or misplaced their pin can retrieve it on the same website.

If you completed your two-dose vaccination schedule more than 8 days ago and have not received your COVID-19 vaccination certificate in your email (after checking your spam folder), you can request it here.

The issuance of the certificate takes an average of 10 business days, however, those requests for certification of vaccines placed outside the country may take a little longer, taking into account the review of the documentation submitted.

Those who received their vaccine outside the country can request their certificate via email to the Minister of Health, by submitting an affidavit and the vaccination card.


In November and December, tourists who enter the country with a full vaccination scheme won’t have to present a medical policy, just as it is now.

Capacity Updates

  • Trains: Standing capacity according to the type of wagon (Apolo 29 people, conventional 9 people and new units with 102 people).
  • Buses: 15 people standing.
  • Social events: 100 people (without vaccination scheme) or 200 people with full vaccination scheme.
  • Academic, business and church events: 500 people.
  • Culture pilot plan in Parque Viva: November 6 2,500 people with a complete vaccination scheme.
  • Bars, restaurants, casinos and shops: 50% capacity
  • Hotels over 100 rooms: 100% capacity. Common areas 50%.
  • Beaches: hours extended, open from Monday to Sunday from 5:00 a.m. until 8:00 pm.
  • NOVEMBER 15: Sports and cultural activities in establishments with a sanitary operating license (SOL): capacity 25% of the total capacity (complete vaccination scheme).
  • Buses: 20 people standing.
  • Social events: 200 people with a complete vaccination scheme.
  • Sports, cultural, academic and worship activities, in establishments with SOL: 30% of the total capacity or a maximum of 500 people maintaining distance and using masks, and with a complete vaccination scheme.
  • The operation of the Amusement Park would be authorized, with a capacity of 50% (5000 people) and compliance with the specific protocol.
  • Bars, restaurants, shops and casinos: 75% capacity, with a complete vaccination scheme.
  • The option of carrying out sports activities on public roads would be enabled.

Immigration Update for Expats and Tourists in Costa Rica: Visa vs Legal Residency

By Laura Gutierrez of Immigration Help Costa Rica

Due to COVID, rules and procedures continue to change and evolve regarding travel and how one remains legally in Costa Rica.

For tourists and those of you preparing for or waiting to have your applications for legal residency submitted (by appointment) or for those of you awaiting approval on submitted applications, the dreaded border runs are still required. Based on the many emails I receive weekly from clients and those thinking of pursuing a legal residency, an update about visas and maintaining their validity is necessary.

There is also confusion for some between the term “visa” and “legal residency.”

Entry Visa

Anyone with a valid passport from “Group One” Countries such as the U.S., Canada, or EU and several other countries entered Costa Rica before COVID were automatically granted
a non-renewable 90-day VISA stamp on their passport. It allows you to stay and drive legally (with a valid foreign license) in Costa Rica for the duration of those 90 days. (If unsure which of the three-country groups you belong to, please get in touch with your nearest Costa Rica Embassy or Consulate.)

Legal Residency

Unlike a visa, legal residency is something you apply for, and it involves a particular process that ends in the applicant holding a DIMEX card. (Also referred to as a residency card or cedula.) Therefore, when inquiring about living in Costa Rica permanently and legally, please know that you are talking about residency – not a visa. Big difference.

Keeping your visa valid

Post-COVID, entry visa requirements have been modified several times and left many confused about the difference in entry rules.

If you can provide proof of complete vaccination with either the Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, you are no longer required to purchase COVID insurance coverage for your stay in Costa Rica. For U.S. citizens, the “COVID-19 Vaccination Record” will be accepted.

If you are still unvaccinated, you will still need to purchase COVID insurance coverage. Please visit the Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT) English-language website detailing these entry requirements for more details:

The visa stamp is limited to the number of days of COVID insurance you purchased for the unvaccinated. IE: If you purchased only 30 days of insurance, your visa stamp would be for 30 days – not 90. You will have to leave Costa Rica by day 30.

Whether vaccinated or not, all visitors entering Costa Rica will still be required to flash the Health Pass QR code ( online Health Pass ) on their cell phones or show the paper record to customs officials.

Visa Stamp Updates

Once the days allotted to you on your last entry stamp into Costa Rica have expired, you must leave the country and then return. Upon your return, you are issued a fresh visa stamp, and on that stamp will be written the number of visa days based on the conditions mentioned above.

A valid, non-expired visa will be required for specific numbers of you having your applications for residency submitted digitally or in person.

For many readers, this will entail a border run to either Panama or Nicaragua (or a flight to Mexico where entry requirements are less stringent than the U.S. or insane Canada.) In the past, the trip into Panama or Nicaragua usually involved a 60-90 minute U-turn back into Costa Rica. Things have become hostile in Panama. Unless you are prepared to stay in Panama for up to three days, love the idea of quarantine in a pricey hotel, etc., avoid any border runs there.

On the other hand, I have received favorable first-hand accounts from clients about runs to Nicaragua. There have been some instances of over-charging or border staff “forgetting” to return the proper change. If it happens, consider it arbitrary tipping. Arguing with the guy with the gun and passport stamp for the sake of frugality is not a good strategy. Remember, these people have dull, underpaid jobs and endure much nonsense with many who walk up to them. Maintaining a good mood is a tremendous challenge for any staffer. It is best to lower your expectations but still lead with a smile, and good deportment.

These border runs can also cause significant concern for some in fear of contracting COVID at the border in those crowded conditions. You might also inquire about hitching a ride of border runs by bus tours. Ask around and find them. The driver will be experienced at the border and help you through the process safely. As for keeping free of COVID, common sense and following mandated protocols will keep you perfectly safe. Keep the alcohol gel close at hand because 90% of COVID is spread by touch.

Please do not procrastinate when it comes to keeping your visas up to date. Visas are a non-negotiable requirement if you wish to avoid deportation or a smooth residency application submission.

One thing to pay extremely close attention to (triple check) is those visa stamps on both sides of the border. One person emailed me recently about a Costa Rican border guard who forgot to put the return entry stamp on his passport. When he pointed it out, the staffer argued the point until asked to show exactly where the stamp was placed on the passport. The embarrassed guard could not find the stamp and quickly complied.

As an aside, mistakes like this are also occurring on required government fee payments receipts at BCR bank branches. In any instance where you are in a transaction involving stamps or receipts, you must now be very vigilant that the content is accurate. Your name must be
spelled out precisely as it appears on your passport. Do not sign any receipt if there is even the slightest error.

I will go into more detail about this issue in my next article.

If you are in need of immigration assistance Laura can be reached by clicking here, Toll-free at 1-833-733-6337, Locally at or by sending an email to [email protected]

30 Reasons Why You Should Not Move to Costa Rica

Entry Requirements for Costa Rica, Canada and the USA

Costa Rica does not require a Covid Test to enter the country.  However, you must have a negative antigen Covid Test to enter the US, even if it is for a short layover between flights.  You can get the antigen test at any Shopper’s Drug Mart in Calgary for $40 pp – best to book an appointment ahead of time.  Results arrive to your email in a few hours.  The test must be completed within 72 hours of your flight to the US.  
1. Complete the digital form called HEALTH PASS and available at You will be asked to upload scanned copies of your vaccination cards.  You will then be given a personal QR code to show to immigration personnel at all airports. The Health Pass can only be completed within 48 hours of arriving in the country. It must be accessed in updated browsers with the exception of Internet Explorer. One form must be completed per person, including minors, without exception.

2. Have a return flight booked for exit out of Costa Rica within 90 days.

As of August 1, 2021, all tourists who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and inoculated with Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson can enter the country without a travel policy. The last dose of the vaccine must have been applied at least 14 days before arrival in Costa Rica.
Vaccinated tourists must attach the vaccination certificate to the Health Pass. As proof, vaccination certificates and vaccination cards that contain at least the following information will be accepted:

1. Name of the person who received the vaccine
2. Date of each dose
3. Pharmaceutical company (ie. Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, etc.)
4. Location of where the vaccine was administered.
1.  A negative PCR Covid Test is required to return back to Canada.  It must be completed within 72 hours of your flight arrival in Canada.  Results are sent to your email usually within 24 hours.  We can help you with suggestions as to where to get this test complete once you are in Costa Rica.  It will cost about $115 US pp.
2.  Again, proof of your vaccination is required to enter Canada to avoid a 14 day quarantine.
3.  Everything (negative PCR tests and vaccination cards/certificates) must be entered into the ARRIVECAN App which can be downloaded onto your smartphone.  Follow directions on the ArriveCan app.  Once completed, you will receive a code which you show to immigration personnel at all airports.

Costa Rica Sea Turtles: Where to Watch Them and How to Help

Thanks Special Places of Costa Rica for this excellent article. 

Do you want to see baby sea turtles hatching on the beaches of Costa Rica? Your best bet may be to contact one of the many grassroots Costa Rica turtle conservation groups.

Newly hatched leatherback sea turtles make their way to the sea.

Many organizations are trying to save the sea turtles that lay their eggs on the beaches of Costa Rica. There are at least two of these groups located near Tamarindo that need your help. 

One is a project coordinated by a Costa Rican group called Verdiazul. Its mission is to save sea turtles and repopulate them along the Pacific coastline of Guanacaste.

“Sea Turtles Forever” staff pose for a photo on the beach.

The other is called Sea Turtles Forever, a nonprofit group that turns poachers into protectors. More on these groups later, but first, here is some information about sea turtles in Costa Rica.

Where can you see sea turtles in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is home to dozens of important nesting beaches for four species of sea turtles: leatherbacks, green, olive ridley and hawksbill.

In a mass “arribada,” hundreds of sea turtles come ashore at once to lay their eggs.

These sea turtles lay their eggs up and down Costa Rica’s Pacific and Caribbean coasts. However, they tend to concentrate in the following areas:

A view of the Osa Peninsula, one of Costa Rica’s sea turtle nesting sites.

Why are turtles threatened in Costa Rica?

In Costa Rican culture, there’s an old culinary tradition to eat sea turtle eggs taken from nests on the beach – though today this is illegal except in rare cases. Sea turtle eggs have been a dietary staple of coastal communities for generations.

Today, though, the people of Costa Rica have access to a variety of food sources, so eating turtle eggs is unnecessary. And in today’s age of environmental protectionism, eating turtle eggs is a contentious issue. 

A snorkeler encounters a sea turtle.

It may be surprising to many tourists, but the Costa Rica government allows some restaurants to sell turtle eggs, but only if they have a special license. A few restaurants and sodas in Costa Rica still advertise sea turtle eggs on the menu, even though most sea turtle populations are threatened. 

Additionally, turtle eggs are sold on the black market as an aphrodisiac, though there is no evidence to support this idea. 

What conservation efforts are helping sea turtles?

In response to poaching and government inaction, Costa Rica turtle volunteer groups are taking matters into their own hands. Here are two groups that are doing important work in Guanacaste. 


When it began, this group’s focus was on the largest of all sea turtles, the threatened leatherback species. The giants come ashore on the beach at Playa Grande and Las Baulas Marine National Park. However, today the group tries to save all sea turtles, including olive ridley and black turtles.

Playa Junquillal, a common turtle nesting site.

The group has a station in Playa Junquillal (HOONK-ee-YAHL), which is a small village located about a 35-minute drive south of Tamarindo and Playa Langosta. On the beach, the group has constructed a large cage. Inside the cage, it looks like a garden, with rows of signs sticking out of the sand. 

The signs identify rows of individual nests that are full of sea turtle eggs. Written on the signs are their expected hatch dates.

Verdiazul staff and volunteers watch for adult female turtles that come ashore, usually at dawn or dusk. The slow-moving turtles dig large holes in the beach, into which they deposit dozens of eggs before covering them back up with their flippers. 

A sea turtle that has just finished laying her eggs and burying them in the sand prepares to return to the sea.

When they see this happening, Verdiazul members jump into action. Before poachers and other predators can get to them, they carefully take the eggs from the hole and transport them to the safety of the cage in Playa Junquillal. It’s this method that has saved thousands of sea turtle eggs from harm, allowing them to safely incubate. 

Sea turtle conservation volunteers in Costa Rica rebury turtle eggs in a place where they’ll be safe from predators.

Stray dogs, seabirds, raccoons and fly larvae are all potential dangers to sea turtle eggs. The biggest threat, however, is human beings who poach the eggs to sell on the black market.

How to see baby sea turtles hatch in Costa Rica

When the eggs are ready to hatch, Verdiazul sends messages to nearby hotels and tour operators, notifying them that the babies are ready to break through their leathery eggs and begin their scramble to the ocean. 

It’s go time! Newly hatched sea turtles are released into the ocean.

There’s little time to spare. Tourists have no more than an hour to make their way to Playa Junquillal to watch the spectacle. There’s no guarantee you’ll see anything, though, as this is an act of nature. In the end, it’s the baby sea turtles that decide when they’ll ultimately hatch. If you do get lucky and see the baby sea turtles on the beach, it’ll be a Costa Rica vacation memory that you’ll never forget!

Sea Turtles Forever

Verdiazul is just one of many groups working to conserve and protect sea turtle populations in Costa Rica. Sea Turtles Forever (STF) is another. STF says it saves between 5,000 and 12,000 turtle eggs every year. 

The group has been working on the beaches of Guanacaste for more than 20 years. It has seen nesting numbers dwindle to a fraction of what they used to be. Near the community of Playa Negra, nesting has gone from approximately 300 per night to around one or two, raising the alarm that every effort to save and repopulate sea turtles is critical right now.

Turtle conservationists pose behind a sand sculpture of a sea turtle.

STF offers residents and sometimes even former poachers a wage higher than what they would make selling sea turtle eggs. These recruits scan the beaches at night looking for fresh nests. Instead of moving the nests to a cage, STF members move the nests to other areas of the beach and erase any tell-tale signs that an adult female was ever there, allowing the eggs to hatch in a natural environment.

STF also tags and monitors adult females to record their activity and migrations. 

How do I volunteer to help sea turtles in Costa Rica?

Verdiazul and Sea Turtles Forever are always looking for help in their mission to protect and repopulate sea turtle species in Costa Rica. Here’s how you can help:

  1. Volunteer

Verdiazul offers a volunteer program that offers lodging and meals in exchange for work. It’s a great opportunity to see Costa Rica and to help local wildlife. Volunteers are required to patrol the beaches at night, look for fresh sea turtle nests, plant native trees and clean the beaches.

  1. Donate

Verdiazul and STF need money to survive. Donations fund the full-time staff and help buy equipment. The goal of Verdiazul is to eventually become self-sustainable, but right now they need donations to keep working. The staff members live in Junquillal, where they coordinate the volunteer and conservation efforts.

Sea turtle preservation organizations always welcome donations.

Sea Turtles Forever has a unique program. For a $100 donation, you can choose the name of one of its tagged turtles. 

  1. Visit and educate yourself

The team at Verdiazul loves it when travelers from all over the world come and visit their station in Playa Junquillal and witness the turtle hatchings. The more people who are educated about Costa Rica sea turtle conservation, the easier it will be to restore threatened sea turtle populations. 

Volunteers in Costa Rica dig up turtle eggs to move them to a safe place.

During the high season, Sea Turtles Forever conducts sea turtle nesting tours. Times depend on the tides and the phases of the moon.

Special Places of Costa Rica also offers amazing sea turtle tours from Playa Flamingo that include guides and park fees.

Costa Rica sea turtle FAQs

Here are some other frequently asked questions about Costa Rica turtle conservation:

Are sea turtles protected in Costa Rica?

In Costa Rica, like most countries in the world, almost all species of sea turtles are considered threatened or endangered. Sea turtles are slaughtered for their shells, skin, meat and eggs. They are also often caught and killed in fishing nets. 

Phone home! A sea turtle outfitted with a satellite tracker returns to the sea after laying her eggs.

The Costa Rica government does allow residents to harvest turtle eggs under certain circumstances. However, those caught illegally killing, hunting or capturing sea turtles or selling turtle products face prison time.

Can you see turtles in Costa Rica in December?

A phenomenon known as an “arribada,” an arrival, takes place on the beach at the Ostional Wildlife Refuge in Costa Rica. Thousands of female olive ridley sea turtles simultaneously come ashore and lay millions of eggs.

Hundreds of sea turtles come ashore to lay eggs in a mass arrival called an “arribada.”

It’s an incredible sight, and scientists and wildlife experts still don’t know exactly why it happens. This takes place about once a month, with the peak season between August and November. It happens in December too, although the number of turtles that come ashore begins to decrease.

What month do turtles hatch in Costa Rica?

Sea turtles hatch all year long, and it differs by species, but you’ll have a better chance of seeing it happen between March and November. 

Can you swim with turtles in Costa Rica?

Sea turtles are docile and passive creatures and aren’t scared of human beings. Lucky scuba divers and snorkelers off the coast of Costa Rica may get to swim with sea turtles in their natural habitat if they treat the sea creatures with respect and watch them from a distance.




5 Traditional Costa Rican Dishes and How to Make Them Yourself


I borrowed this from Special Places Costa Rica – excellent property managers.  Such as good article I was starving by the time I finished putting it on the blog!  

It was a simple dish — beans and rice — and, yet, the traditional Costa Rican food welcoming me to Doña Mireya’s kitchen table was one of the best meals I’d eaten abroad. This intimate lunch, lovingly prepared by the matriarch of Santuario Ecológico in Monteverde, introduced me to Costa Rican culture in a way no tour guide ever could.

You should absolutely sample some of Costa Rica’s traditional foods in a restaurant, but you can also make them yourself at home.

I don’t blame anyone who seeks out traditional Costa Rican dishes at the country’s amazing restaurants, but it’s important to remember that authentic Costa Rican recipes aren’t kept under lock and key. With the right ingredients, a little time and a passion for savoring the flavors of Tico tradition, you can taste the history and culture of Costa Rica from anywhere in the world. Here are five traditional Costa Rican recipes you can cook right in your kitchen.

Gallo Pinto

Perhaps Costa Rica’s most iconic dish, gallo pinto is rice and dark beans. Translating to “spotted rooster” because of its light and dark colors, this traditional Costa Rican dish is a favorite among Central American locals and tourists alike. You’ll spot gallo pinto on restaurant menus throughout Costa Rica, served for breakfast with accompaniments like eggs, bacon, tortillas, fried plantains, cheese and sour cream.

Gallo pinto is a hearty and tasty combination of rice and dark beans, a favorite among Costa Ricans.

What does gallo pinto have in it?

Gallo pinto is an easy way to introduce a traditional Costa Rican food to your breakfast table. While many Latin American countries have their own variations of the dish, the Costa Rican version usually contains the following ingredients:

  • Whiteice (often leftover)
  • Black or red beans
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Cilantro
  • Red pepper

Finally, you’ll want a few teaspoons of Salsa Lizano, a Costa Rican brown sauce similar to Worcestershire sauce. Throw it all in a skillet and within a few minutes, gallo pinto is ready to serve. If you’re staying at one of Special Places’ casas in Playa Potrero, or any of our vacation homes with fully equipped kitchens, you can easily prepare this dish any day. Here’s one recipe for authentic Costa Rican gallo pinto.


Whether you’re scanning an appetizer menu or attending one of Costa Rica’s yearly food festivals, you’ll likely come across patacones. Green plantains are cut into thick slices, mashed into a pulp, then fried, creating a tasty treat. Though you can munch on patacones alone, they’re usually served as an appetizer or side dish.

Fried green plantains? You bet! Much better than fried green tomatoes!

How do you cook patacones?

If you’re searching for a recipe that will please everyone from formal dinner guests to picky children, look no further than patacones. This easy recipe requires only minimal ingredients:

  • Green plantains
  • Vegetable oil
  • Salt

Peel the plantains before cutting them into thick, round slices. Lightly fry them in oil on all sides, then use a tortilla press to smash them into discs. Put them in the oil for one last fry, sprinkle with a little salt, then stand back as your family devours every last one.


If you asked a Tico what are the three most popular dishes in Costa Rica, the casado would always make the list. The casado is a full-blown meal that is often a typical lunch in Costa Rican households and restaurants. The word “casado” means “married,” and this hearty meal of meat and vegetables is so called because wives would traditionally pack these lunches in a banana leaf for their husbands to take to work. There are dozens of variations, but you’ll certain say “I do” to casado time and time again.

A little bit of everything goes into the casado, Costa Rica’s traditional lunch.

How do you make casado at home?

A casado is a wonderful dish, particularly because it allows you the freedom to express your culinary creativity. The traditional Costa Rican recipes will almost always feature rice, black beans, salad, fried plantains and a meat like chicken, beef, pork or fish. Often they also include patacones, a vegetable hash called picadillo and other sides. Feel free to create your own variation using:

  • Fish, pork, chicken or beef
  • Mixed greens
  • Vegetables like onions or peppers
  • Seasoning like black pepper or paprika
  • Toppings like sour cream, pico de gallo or avocado

One of the perks of vacationing at one of our Costa Rican condos is that you can find the ingredients for a casado nearby. Head to a market or grocery store and you’ll find most of the ingredients above, as fresh as the Costa Rican breeze.


Many of the dishes above are meals embraced by other Central and Latin American countries, but chifrijo is 100% authentic Costa Rican food. If gallo pinto is the heart of Costa Rican cuisine, then chifrijo is the soul. At first glance, it’s hard to distinguish what exactly a bowl of chifrijo is. It’s hearty like a dry plate of rice and beans yet brothy like a soup, though neither label fits perfectly. Instead, it’s best to just call this mix of beans, rice, and pork what it truly is: delicious.

Chifrijo – pork rinds, rice and beans – is one of Costa Rica’s culinary inventions

What ingredients are needed to make chifrijo?

Before cooking chifrijo, it’s important to note that this recipe is not as simple as throwing ingredients into a pot and cooking to taste. You’ll need to prepare beans, chimichurri, rice, and fried pork belly separately before combining them for serving. Add these items to your grocery list:

  • White rice
  • Red or black beans
  • Chicharrones (pork rinds)
  • Chimichurri ingredients (tomato, onion, cilantro, lime)
  • Avocado
  • Tortilla chips

Keep in mind that preparing chifrijo is a little more detailed than other authentic Costa Rican dishes. Here is one good chifrijo recipe.

While you’re in Costa Rica, you can fill your kitchen with some great smells AND take time to smell the flowers.

Olla de Carne

Nothing satisfies quite like olla de carne.

This traditional Costa Rican food is a meal that you’ve likely had many times: beef and vegetable stew. Though it sounds simple enough, you haven’t had a beef stew quite like this in North America or Europe. Costa Rica’s regional vegetables make an appearance in this mix, giving the dish a decidedly Central American taste.

Olla de carne is a hearty beef and vegetable stew

How many ingredients are needed to make olla de carne?

Of the many authentic Costa Rican dishes on this list, olla de carne may feel the most familiar to those residing outside of Costa Rica. Like any homecooked stew, you’ll need the typical staples of meat and potatoes. You’ll also prepare and cook the meal the same way you do any other stew. The Costa Rican twist is found in the regional ingredients mixed in, including:

  • Beef
  • Potatoes
  • Cassava
  • Carrots
  • Corn
  • Taro roots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Plantains

Savor the flavors of authentic Costa Rican food right in your kitchen, and share your favorite traditional Costa Rican recipes with your family and friends!

Costa Rica: Digital Nomad Visa (Law 10.008)

Thank you Dentons Munoz for this update you can contact them through

September 3, 2021


On 1 September 2021, Law 10.008 came into force. This Law allows foreigners who provide remunerated services remotely for a legal entity abroad (“Digital Nomads”) to remain in Costa Rica for one year, with the option to extend their stay for one additional year, by creating a new immigration category known as Remote Employee or Provider of Remote Services.

The Regulation to this Law should be published in approximately sixty business days, which should include pending details of this new visa and the procedure to apply for it.

The Law states that, to be eligible for the Digital Nomad Visa, the foreign individual must comply with the following special requirements:

  • Prove they have been receiving, in the last twelve months, a stable monthly salary, fixed income, or an average monthly income, during the last year, in an amount equal to or greater than US$3,000.00, or its equivalent in a foreign currency. If the applicant chooses to request the visa also for their family (spouse or life partner, children under twenty-five years old or disabled children, as well as any elderly adult who lives with the applicant), the monthly income to be evidenced will be US$4,000.00, which amount can be integrated with the income of the spouse or any of the other family members. In either case, this income should be continually received even though the applicant is not in their country of origin.
  • Have private insurance for medical services that cover the applicant for the entire duration of their stay in Costa Rica. Likewise, all the family members must be covered with this insurance if they are also beneficiaries of the visa.
  • Comply with the visa payment, which amount will be established by the regulation to this Law.

The following incentives have been approved by this law for Digital Nomads:

  1. Legal residency in Costa Rica for one year, with the option to request an extension for another year, with the condition of having stayed in Costa Rica for a minimum of 180 days during the first year.
  2. Income Tax exemption for the amounts declared by them as income. This benefit will not apply to the beneficiary’s family.
  3. Exemption of all import taxes of basic personal computer, technology, telecommunications, or similar equipment necessary for the beneficiary to carry out his/her work in the country.
  4. The foreign driver’s license of the beneficiary will be valid for driving in Costa Rica.
  5. Savings account opening in the national banks of Costa Rica.

Regarding fiscal residency, Digital Nomads will not be automatically considered fiscal residents, per specific local laws applicable to the subject matter.

The Digital Nomad awarded these benefits will enjoy them during the term of the visa.

To obtain legal advice on Costa Rican Employment and Labor, Human Resources, and Immigration Law, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Ready, Set, Wet! The 5 Best Waterfalls in Costa Rica

Excellent article on waterfalls in Costa Rica – thank you Special Places Property Management and Karl Kahler – author.  So if you want to get away from the beach consider any one of these.  Closest to our beaches is Llanos de Cortez – an excellent day trip from Hermosa, Coco, Ocotal, Panama, Matapalo. 

Before God created waterfalls, He knew He would need torrential amounts of rain, multiple rushing rivers and abrupt changes in elevation. So when He got around to making Costa Rica, He basically perfected the formula.

Costa Rica is known for its beaches, jungles, volcanoes and other natural wonders. But don’t overlook its waterfalls!

 The magnificent 600ft waterfall in the Diamante Adventure park, Costa Rica | Ready, Set, Wet! The 5 Best Waterfalls in Costa Rica Put on your swimsuit and your cliff-jumping shoes and join us on this tour of the five best waterfalls in Costa Rica - brought to you by Special Places of Costa Rica

The Diamante Waterfall, said to be 600 feet, is the tallest in Costa Rica.

The best ones offer five attractions in one: 1) a stunning view, 2) a swimming hole, 3) cliff-jumping, 4) a great way to beat the heat, and 5) an exhilarating adventure just getting there.

So here are our picks for the five best waterfalls in Costa Rica. We dare you to visit them all!

Montezuma Waterfall

Montezuma, near the southern tip of Nicoya Peninsula, is sort of like a Costa Rican town from another dimension. It’s a tiny but thriving village filled with hipsters, rastas, European trekkers and other chilled-out people. It’s sometimes called “Montefuma,” from the Spanish word for “smoke,” and we’re not talking tobacco.

 Several people gaze up at Montezuma falls, Costa Rica | Ready, Set, Wet! The 5 Best Waterfalls in Costa Rica Put on your swimsuit and your cliff-jumping shoes and join us on this tour of the five best waterfalls in Costa Rica - brought to you by

The Montezuma Waterfall is a great spot to get wet on the southern Nicoya Peninsula.

Within walking distance of the downtown is what may be the greatest waterfall in Costa Rica. You can walk or drive to the parking lot, just south of town, and then you have to walk along the banks of the Río Montezuma to get to the falls. This involves scampering over boulders, wading across the river and even holding onto some ropes thoughtfully attached to a little cliff. We recommend humming the tune from “Mission Impossible” while negotiating the ropes.

Just when you think you must be on the wrong trail, an 80-foot waterfall suddenly comes into view, and it’s dazzling. There are actually three falls here, and if you like you can drive to the top and hike down a hill to the uppermost fall instead of walking up the river. You can even go ziplining above these falls.

 A woman in capris pants and a safety helmet rappels down a waterfall in Costa Rica | Ready, Set, Wet! The 5 Best Waterfalls in Costa Rica Put on your swimsuit and your cliff-jumping shoes and join us on this tour of the five best waterfalls in Costa Rica - brought to you by

Waterfall rappelling in Costa Rica is an unforgettable adventure.

But at the bottom, there’s a wonderfully cool pool where you can swim around, or muster the courage to jump off a pretty tall boulder into the water.

Speaking of cliff-jumping, have you heard of Tom Brady, the greatest quarterback of all time? He and his supermodel wife Gisele Bündchen own a home not far away, and he once proved his immortal cred by taking the very scary 39-foot leap from the top of the middle fall, a feat you can watch on YouTube.

Nauyaca Waterfall

Located 2.5 miles off the highway between Dominical and San Isidro on the central Pacific coast, Nauyaca is possibly more spectacular than Montezuma, though harder to get to. The best option is to pony up for a horseback tour, though you can also hike to the falls in less than an hour.

 The majestic Nauyaca Waterfall, Costa Rica | Ready, Set, Wet! The 5 Best Waterfalls in Costa Rica Put on your swimsuit and your cliff-jumping shoes and join us on this tour of the five best waterfalls in Costa Rica - brought to you by Special Places Management & Rentals, Costa Rica

The Nauyaca Waterfall between Dominical and San Isidro is one of the country’s most spectacular.

This two-tiered catarata has an upper fall that’s 45 meters (148 feet) and a bottom fall that’s 25 meters (82 feet). The top fall is kind of a narrow shower emptying into a small pool – not recommended for either jumping or swimming. But the bottom fall is a real beauty, as it cascades over a broad cliff face into a delightfully swimmable pool.

 A local guide leads three people on a horseback tour through the jungle near the Nauyaca falls in Costa Rica | Ready, Set, Wet! The 5 Best Waterfalls in Costa Rica Put on your swimsuit and your cliff-jumping shoes and join us on this tour of the five best waterfalls in Costa Rica - brought to you by

The best way to get to the Nauyaca Falls is by horseback.

Best of all, if you’ve paid for a guide, he will attach ropes to the cliff and lead you through the thundering bottom fall to a climbable cliff, where you can jump from as high as you dare.

La Fortuna Waterfall

Probably Costa Rica’s most famous waterfall, La Fortuna is a short drive from the town of the same name in the adventure capital known as Arenal. It’s visited by some 100,000 people a year, at least in normal years.

 four people swim in the pool at the bottom of La Fortuna Waterfall, staying clear of the pounding water column | Ready, Set, Wet! The 5 Best Waterfalls in Costa Rica Put on your swimsuit and your cliff-jumping shoes and join us on this tour of the five best waterfalls in Costa Rica - brought to you by

La Fortuna Waterfall is probably the country’s most famous.

At 70 meters (230 feet), La Fortuna is quite a bit taller than Niagara Falls – and no, there’s no jumping. To get there, you have to walk down a hillside stairwell of nearly 500 steps. And if you think that’s hard, wait until you have to walk back up.

The pool at the bottom is a ridiculously fun adventure. Rather than a place to “swim,” it’s more like a place to wade into a giant, wet wind machine. Most people don’t have to be warned not to get too close to the bottom of the waterfall, because it’s almost impossible to approach the ferocious blast of the water. It’s like trying to walk into a hurricane.

Río Celeste Waterfall

Nothing tops this one for sheer beauty. Río Celeste is famous for the unique sky-blue color of the water, which is caused by suspended alumino-silicate particles. They say that after God was finished painting the sky, he washed his brushes in the Río Celeste.

 Bamboo stairs lead down to the Celeste Waterfall, Costa Rica | Ready, Set, Wet! The 5 Best Waterfalls in Costa Rica Put on your swimsuit and your cliff-jumping shoes and join us on this tour of the five best waterfalls in Costa Rica - brought to you by Special Places of Costa Rica

The Rio Celeste Waterfall plunges into a sky-blue pool.

This fall is located in Tenorio Volcano National Park, a remote and often overlooked gem north of Monteverde and Arenal. It makes a great day trip because its main attraction is an easy trail you can hike in two or three hours, with great views of the bright blue river.

Like La Fortuna, the fall is accessed by a long set of stairs carved into a hillside. At the bottom there are viewing platforms, but unfortunately there’s no swimming, and “Do Not Enter” signs are prominently posted on the railing. However, locals sometimes hike up the river to get there.

Llanos de Cortés Waterfall

This is another contender for most beautiful waterfall in Costa Rica, located a half-hour southeast of Liberia in the northwestern province of Guanacaste. If you’re staying near Playas del Coco or Flamingo, it’s the closest waterfall on this list, and it’s well worth a visit.

Llanos de Cortés (sometimes spelled “Cortez”) is about 20 meters (66 feet) tall and almost as wide. The water spills off a broad cliff face, similar to Nauyaca, making for a splendid view.

 A person crouches near the shores of the wide and wonderful Llanos de Cortez waterfall, Costa Rica | Ready, Set, Wet! The 5 Best Waterfalls in Costa Rica Put on your swimsuit and your cliff-jumping shoes and join us on this tour of the five best waterfalls in Costa Rica - brought to you by Special Places Management & Rentals, Costa Rica

Llanos de Cortés is a beauty, and it’s the most accessible waterfall in Guanacaste.

The pool at the bottom is swimmable and delightfully refreshing, and in most places you can walk on the sandy bottom comfortably in bare feet. But this is not a good place for cliff-jumping, as the pool is not very deep and the rocks are too brittle to climb.

What is the tallest waterfall in Costa Rica?

If you’re an incurable waterfall junkie, find your way to Diamante, a set of 10 falls on private property near Dominical, Uvita and the aforementioned Nauyaca. The largest of these waterfalls is estimated to be an astonishing 600 feet, though there’s no telling how they measured it. Some of the smaller falls have caves behind them complete with kitchens, sleeping platforms and bathrooms.

 The picnic area within a cave behind one of the Diamante falls in Costa Rica | Ready, Set, Wet! The 5 Best Waterfalls in Costa Rica Put on your swimsuit and your cliff-jumping shoes and join us on this tour of the five best waterfalls in Costa Rica - brought to you by Special Places of Costa Rica

A picnic area in a cave behind one of the Diamante falls.

These falls are WAY off the beaten path and rarely visited, though you can book a tour with the property owners if you have the stamina for the hike.

What waterfalls can you swim at in Costa Rica?

 A raised bamboo boardwalk takes a lone man in a red sweatshirt through the jungle to foot of the mystical La Paz Waterfall Gardens, Costa Rica | Ready, Set, Wet! The 5 Best Waterfalls in Costa Rica Put on your swimsuit and your cliff-jumping shoes and join us on this tour of the five best waterfalls in Costa Rica - brought to you by Special Places Management & Rentals, Costa Rica

La Paz Waterfall Gardens is one the country’s most popular private nature attractions.

As noted, all the falls on our list are swimmable except Río Celeste. We should also mention La Paz Waterfall Gardens, a very popular nature park and wildlife refuge near Poás Volcano National Park. It has five striking falls, but they are for viewing and not swimming.

Is it safe to swim in rivers in Costa Rica?

Swimming in the rivers of Costa Rica is generally safe, with certain caveats. Drowning is sadly common in Costa Rica, though drownings usually occur in the ocean. In one extremely unusual incident, four U.S. citizens and a Costa Rican guide drowned in the swollen Naranjo River in 2018 while whitewater rafting under unsafe weather conditions.

 A young girl smiles while floating on a slow moving river in Costa Rica | Ready, Set, Wet! The 5 Best Waterfalls in Costa Rica Put on your swimsuit and your cliff-jumping shoes and join us on this tour of the five best waterfalls in Costa Rica - brought to you by Special Places Management & Rentals, Costa Rica

Swimming in most rivers in Costa Rica is safe if you take reasonable precautions.

Crocodiles can be a threat in certain places, though crocodile attacks on humans are very rare. Bull sharks sometimes feed at the mouth of rivers that spill into the ocean, but shark attacks are almost unheard of. Costa Rica does not have piranhas or the dreaded Amazonian candiru that supposedly swims up your urethra if you urinate in the water. So feel free to pee freely!

The most common injury that swimmers in Costa Rica suffer is … wait for it … sunburn.


Published on September 1, 2021 by Karl Kahler