Updated on December 8, 2021
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
Regarding the policy, you can choose any international insurance company that meets the following requirements:
1. Valid during the entire stay in Costa Rica (coverage dates). Be sure that your policy covers the entire length of your intended stay because Costa RIcan Immigration will stamp your passport with the number of days that your insurance policy covers.
2. $50,000 for medical expenses, including COVID-19 disease.
3. $2,000 for lodging expenses in case of COVID-19 quarantine.
Ask your insurance company for a certificate/letter in English or Spanish stating the following:
1. Name of the person traveling.
2. Validity of the effective policy during the Costa Rica visit (travel dates).
3. Guarantee of coverage for medical expenses in case of COVID 19 in Costa Rica, for at least $50,000
4. Minimum coverage of $2,000 for lodging expenses for quarantine or trip interruption for this same amount.
This certificate must specify that the policy covers COVID-19 and must be uploaded to the HEALTH PASS to be reviewed and approved by the Costa Rican authorities. Insurance cards are not accepted, it must be a document that allows the verification of the coverage mentioned.
Posted on October 8, 2021
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:
- Las Baulas Marine National Park, near Playa Grande.
- Santa Rosa National Park, with two main nesting beaches.
- Ostional Wildlife Refuge, near Nosara in the Nicoya Peninsula.
- Tortuguero, on the Caribbean coast.
- The Osa Peninsula, a protected area in southwestern Costa Rica.
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:
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
Updated on October 8, 2021
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.
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
- 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
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)
- 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:
- Taro roots
- Sweet potatoes
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!
Updated on October 8, 2021
Thank you Dentons Munoz for this update you can contact them through https://www.dentonsmunoz.com/
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:
The following incentives have been approved by this law for Digital Nomads:
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.
Updated on September 11, 2021
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Posted on August 27, 2021
August 24, 2019
Okay, okay – “best season” is a relative term. The best season to visit Costa Rica is, obviously, whenever you can carve out the time. But, if you can swing it, then may we suggest a visit during the rainy season? Because, it’s truly a special time of year.
The rainy season, also known as the green season (or, to Costa Ricans, as “winter”), is generally pegged as the months of May through November. Well, unless you’re visiting Arenal/La Fortuna. Or the Caribbean. Because there, the seasons flip-flop. But, more on that in a moment.
Because, before we get into the minutiae of rainy season and all its many iterations, there’s something you should know: Green season is spectacularly beautiful. The scenery is lush, wildlife is happy, and flowers are in bloom. Not to mention, the coffee is just-picked, freshly dried, and ready to be roasted.
5 Reasons to Visit Costa Rica during Rainy Season
Green season is a perfect time to visit Costa Rica. Here’s why you should consider a trip during the off-season, aka the best-kept-secret season. You’re going to love it.
Reason #1: It’s Not That Rainy
Before we jump into the heart of why we love green season, you should know that rainy season isn’t all rain, all the time. We know – if you check the weather forecast for Anywhere, Costa Rica, almost any day between May and November, you’ll see full days, weeks and months of predicted rain.
The truth is, though, you’ll probably see only a couple hours of afternoon rain a day (if that), especially if you travel May-August or in November. (September and October are the rainiest months.) In any case, if you ask us, a quick afternoon storm is the perfect time to enjoy you private balcony, overlooking the view and sipping a cup of fresh Café Rosa Blanca.
Reason #2: It’s Spectacularly Beautiful
Ask anyone who lives in Costa Rica, and they’ll probably peg a “rainy” month as their favorite. Why? For a few simple reasons: In addition to cool breezes and that near-daily excuse for afternoon coffee (as if we needed a reason!), the green season brings, well, green.
After a long, dry summer, there’s nothing more beautiful than the flush of green, as it overtakes Costa Rica’s hills and valleys. Think of it as spring on steroids: Instead of the north’s gentle melt into new buds and timid blades of grass, Costa Rica’s green season roars into the picture, taking mere days to paint the country in every shade of emerald, olive, and jade. And then, for the rest of the season, all of Costa Rica is ablaze with a jewel box of flowery hues. It’s beautiful.
Reason #3: Prices Dip (and So Do the Crowds)
If you need a good, documentable reason to visit during the green season, then consider that prices are about 15% to 25% lower, from May through November. (Note: Certain sub-regions see a mid-season boost, usually around Costa Rica’s school vacation in July.)
Hot tip: Check out our own green season special: Stay 3 nights, Pay 2!
What’s more, the green season is considered Costa Rica’s off-season, which means you’ll usually combat fewer crowds: You’ll have certain beaches all to yourself. Your tours may feel more private than group. And, reservations are easier to come by. Costa Rica almost feels like a different place, when you’re here during rainy season.
Reason #4: It’s Sun Season in Certain Areas
We won’t dive into all the exceptions – despite its diminutive size, Costa Rica is a vast country of many microclimates – but there are some big exceptions to Costa Rica’s weather rules. Namely, Arenal and the Caribbean: If Arenal is on your list, know that its dry season runs May-October; meanwhile, the Caribbean coast sees the most sun in September and October.
Reason #5: Your Bucket List May Be Rainy Season-Only
If reasons #1-4 haven’t converted you to a green season traveler, then consider this: Certain must-see, must-do, must-visit items can only be appreciated during the rainy season.
Beyond our own front door, green season also brings a riot of wildlife: Costa Rica’s Pacific coast sees the year’s largest arribadas, or mass sea turtle nesting, during the months of September, October, and November. If dolphin- and whale-watching are on your must-see list, then this is also the best time: Though Costa Rica has the longest humpback whale season in the world, the true sweet spot is in August and September.
And then, there are the practical considerations, like fuller rivers: Want to spot a waterfall or tackle whitewater rafting? They’re better when the rivers are topped up with recent rains. Snorkeling the living reefs of the Caribbean are better, too, since less rain equates to better visibility.
All this to say, we’ve only just scratched the surface. In many ways, green season is an incredible season, if not the best season to visit Costa Rica. So, why not give us a visit? You may soon be the ones telling your friends, “rainy season is the best season to visit Costa Rica!”
Posted on August 27, 2021
This is one of the best if not the BEST short summary about the main volcanos of Costa Rica published on July 26, 2021 by Nick Dauk
Volcan Irazú seems inescapable when you’re peering at its peak from the San Jose province. I’d sailed beside smoky Mount Etna in Sicily and hung my feet over the edge of Telica in Nicaragua, but nothing quite prepared me for the majesty of Costa Rica’s volcanoes.
Though Irazú was far from the first volcano I’ve ever viewed with the naked eye, its imposing stance surrounded by a loyal cluster of clouds set it apart from what seemed like the feeble volcanoes I’d seen elsewhere in the world.
Irazú is the tallest volcano in Costa Rica, but is easily accessible by a paved road.
Costa Rica may be renowned for its heavenly rainforests and rich biodiversity, but those in the know are well aware that the country has hundreds of volcanic formations within its borders. Between 1 and 3 million years ago, the Central American isthmus arose from the ocean during a period of tectonic uplift that created a corridor of volcanoes in Costa Rica. Most volcanic structures in Costa Rica are considered dormant or extinct, though as of July 2021, five Costa Rican volcanoes are officially “active” — meaning they’ve had an eruption within the last 10,000 years.
When planning your trip to Costa Rica, try to include a visit to at least one volcano.
When planning your trip, a visit to one of Costa Rica’s volcanoes should be on your to-do list. Not only are these natural wonders stunning to see, they are also an important part of the ecological and cultural history of Costa Rica. Here are eight volcanoes to choose from while exploring this amazing country.
Rincón de la Vieja
If you’re searching for places to stay in Costa Rica, we suggest you book your vacation rental near Rincón de la Vieja.
A waterfall with a swimming hole at Rincón de la Vieja.
Located in the Guanacaste province within the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park, it offers waterfalls, hiking, flora, fauna and geothermal activity throughout the area, as well as some of the nicest hot springs in Costa Rica. This volcano has been pretty vocal over the last few years. In fact, the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano has erupted over 1,400 times since 2019. Though it erupts frequently, rarely does it explode with significant force. Ash and gas typically spew from its cone.
One highlight of hiking through Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park is that it doesn’t need to be a stand-alone activity. If you want to maximize your time in Costa Rica, the surrounding area has plenty to see and do, including ziplining tours, whitewater rafting and wildlife tours. You can combine convenience and comfort when you book a day trip from one of Special Places vacation rentals. Our private villas, beachfront homes and luxury properties located throughout Flamingo, Potrero and Coco are perfect base camps for exploring Rincón de la Vieja.
The most popular volcano in county, Arenal is also one of the top tourist destinations in Costa Rica. In 2010, it ended an eruptive cycle that saw gas, ash and lava spew into the air, beginning with a major eruption in 1968.
The cone-shaped Arenal Volcano is the backdrop to what has become Costa Rica’s adventure tourism capital.
This 7,000-year-old volcano is considered a “young” volcano, and despite its 42-year period of eruptions, it hasn’t stopped visitors from enjoying Arenal Volcano National Park. Also nearby is the extinct Chato Volcano which cradles a spectacular lagoon. Small trails throughout will walk you past lava fields and secondary forests, but the biggest allure is found in the water. The hot springs near La Fortuna will pamper you with an unforgettable soak.
An immense volcanic aquifer under Arenal Volcano heats a variety of hot springs in the area.
If you’re hoping to enjoy a picture-perfect beach vacation in Costa Rica but still want to elevate your adventure with a visit to a volcano, we suggest booking an ocean-view room in Playa Flamingo. Approximately 200 km from the shoreline, Arenal Volcano National Park is accessible from Flamingo on a day trip.
If it’s not Arenal that tourists are flocking to, it’s Poás. This active volcano features one of the largest craters on the planet and has a vast network of hiking trails that provide ample time to stretch your legs after you’ve driven your car to the summit. Depending on the weather, a thick layer of clouds may cover the view of the main crater of the Poás Volcano.
Poás Volcano National Park, one of the country’s most visited parks, is an easy day trip from San José on paved roads.
No worries; trails like the Laguna Botos will present you with a beautiful green sulfuric lake in one of the volcano’s other two craters. A visitor center, museum and café add to the experience, giving visitors of all abilities an opportunity to relax under the shade and learn more about the geothermal and ecological elements of the Poás Volcano National Park. Poás was closed not long ago because of volcanic activity, so before you go, make sure it’s open.
If you’re spending time in San Jose, you won’t be able to ignore Irazú’s gaze. Irazú is the tallest volcano in Costa Rica and is mildly active. Its eruptions have been long documented, and although one explosion destroyed 300 homes in Taras de Cartago, most volcanic activity from Irazú comes in the form of fumaroles.
The aquamarine lake in the crater of Irazú dried up in recent years because of cracks in the crater bed.
Though this volcano seems unapproachable, you don’t need to be a veteran hiker to reach its stunning vistas. You can literally roll right to the top of its peak along a paved road, making it an easy and accessible day trip for anyone visiting Costa Rica’s capital city.
Is all this talk about active volcanoes making you sweat? Then Tenorio Volcano National Park is the perfect way to beat the volcanic heat. Located in Bijagua, Alajuela, only 90 minutes from Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport, The Tenorio Volcano no confirmed historical eruptions. What it lacks in a smoldering cone, it makes up for in serene forests. This lush park has a single hiking trail that will dazzle you with natural wonder.
A spectacular blue-green lake can be found at the base of the Río Celeste Waterfall in Tenorio Volcano National Park.
At El Teñidero, two rivers meet to form the spectacular, sky-blue Río Celeste. Follow the river and you’ll find volcanic gas bubbling up in Los Borbollones. The stunning Río Celeste Waterfall also makes this trail well worth the walk.
Although the Miravalles Volcano formed approximately 1 million years ago, the Miravalles Volcano National Park was recently established in 2019. Miravalles National Park is 15 km from Bagaces and hasn’t had a significant eruption since 1946. Relaxing mud baths and soothing swims in the hot springs await you in this often overlooked park.
Painting yourself in volcanic mud is said to be good for the skin, but it’s definitely good for a smile.
Unlike other volcanoes that stand alone, Orosí is part of a cluster of four Costa Rican volcanoes which includes Orosilito, Pedregal and Cacao. All are eroded and heavily vegetated, with no historical eruptions reported over the last 3,500 years. You can visit these four cones and a transitional cloud forest within the Guanacaste Conservation Area.
The remote and other-worldly Orosí Volcano is one of the least visited volcanoes in Costa Rica.
Though Arenal may be the most popular among tourists, San José’s residents will have one particular volcano on the tips of their tongues. The active Turrialba volcano has erupted several times over the last few years (including as recently June 2021), coating San José in ash and drawing the eyes of geologists who wonder if Turrialba is due for a larger, more destructive eruption.
A keel-billed toucan takes in the view at Turrialba Volcano National Park.
Home to the second tallest volcano in the country, Turrialba Volcano National Park is fantastic destination for wildlife viewing, particularly for birdwatchers. It was closed for many years and reopened in 2020, but it’s best to check its status before you go.
Are Costa Rica volcanoes safe to visit?
When you tell a friend or family member that you’re off to the Ring of Fire to get up-close-and-personal with an active volcano, they may think you’re crazy. It’s important to always be mindful of any natural phenomenon unique to your destination, including the potential for sudden volcanic activity. Yes, Costa Rica is home to active volcanoes that do occasionally erupt and the lava, smoke and gas they emit from these amazing formations can be dangerous.
Rafting the Tenorio River: If you’re concerned about whether visiting volcanoes is safe, try this!
However, it’s also important to acknowledge the risk of danger appropriately. Rough seas, earthquakes, torrential storms, mudslides and other natural events can also pose a risk of harm, injury or even death. Some volcanoes, such as Arenal, were heavily active for a long period of time and have since returned to a dormant state. Others, like Turrialba, were quite quiet before their recent eruptions.
Are you brave enough to cross this bridge through the mist? Enter the clouds and see what’s on the other side….
There’s no argument that volcanoes can be deadly and Costa Rica has unfortunately witnessed its share of tragedy. The Arenal Volcano erupted in 1968, claiming nearly 100 lives and destroying three villages. In fact, Arenal was thought to be extinct from 1500 until it erupted in the mid 1900s. Volcanoes in Costa Rica may erupt at any time, though most eruptions are likely to be small and have a small likelihood of causing harm to tourists or visitors.
The beauty and power of Costa Rica volcanoes
Trust me — it’s easy to fall into a trance when experiencing the magic and wonder of Costa Rica for the first time. Whether you’re exploring the lush forests of Monteverde or catching waves on the coast, you’ll fall into tico time almost instantly and savor the lifestyle during every moment of your visit.
Depending on the conditions at Arenal Volcano, you may feel like you’re at Mordor instead.
Because the drive and hike to some of the volcanoes of Costa Rica can take hours, it’s best to plan your volcano visit ahead of time. Schedule volcano tours that will conveniently take you to and from your vacation rental and the volcano of your choice. If you’re renting a car, schedule at least a half-day for your visit, being mindful of inclement weather or national park closures.
A hike to one of the country’s active, dormant or extinct volcanoes is not only a memorable experience you’ll treasure for a lifetime, but also one of the best budget-friendly activities in Costa Rica you can add to your itinerary.
Posted on August 19, 2021
Thank you to Special Places Costa Rica for this excellent article on whales and whale watching in Costa Rica.
Did you ever wonder what whale watching in Costa Rica looks like? Imagine this: You’re enjoying your Costa Rican vacation, exploring a coastline on a catamaran, when suddenly, in the distance you see something like a spray of water exploding from the ocean’s surface. You’re watching the water shoot towards the sky with your eyes wide open. Yeah, it’s a whale! And a big one too.
Costa Rican waters are home to a lot of species of marine mammals. However, the whales spend more time in these waters than anywhere else in the world. Hence, whale watching in Costa Rica tours are not so uncommon. So, climb aboard, and get ready for the whale watching adventure of a lifetime.
What is it about the whales?
What makes whales so unique? First of all, they are large. And when I say large, I mean gigantic. Do you think I’m exaggerating? Whales range in length from 2.6 meters up to 30 meters. Their weight also varies from more than 100 kilograms to almost 200 tons. The dwarf sperm whales are the smallest while the blue whale is the largest. It’s actually considered to be the largest creature that has ever lived.
Secondly, some whales can be pretty fast. Although it’s the biggest whale, the blue whale can swim as fast as 50 km/h when it’s fleeing from potential danger. However, this whale typically swims at a speed of 22 km/h. The sperm whale is much slower and swims at a speed of about 10 km/h.
Did you know that, according to the Evolution Theory, whales have evolved from mammals that used to live on the land? Scientists assume that’s the reason whales have to breathe air regularly, although they can stay underwater for quite some time. Some species can remain submerged for more than an hour, and others need to resurface after 10-20 minutes. They can dive to great depths and resurface with ease.
Species of whales you can see in Costa Rica
The humpback whale is the one you can often see in Costa Rican waters. Adult species are about 15 meters long and weigh around 30 tons. Humpback whales are known for breaching from the water and propelling themselves out. That makes them quite popular with whale watchers.
Humpback whales are also famous for extended songs and a variety of vocalizations they produce. Although both male and female vocalize, the former produce longer and more complex songs. No one really knows what the purpose of their songs is. However, scientists have noticed that all the whales in one area repeat the same sequence of notes.
Quite extraordinary, isn’t it?
Sei whales, bryde’s whales, blue whales, and pilot whales can also be seen in the waters of Costa Rica. On the other hand, orcas, also known as killer whales, are rarely seen.
What are whales doing in Costa Rican waters?
Now that you’ve read all those interesting facts about the whales, we can move on, and learn some more. For example, do you know what whales are doing in the waters of Costa Rica?
Most species of whales prefer living in colder waters of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. However, whales move to warmer waters to breed. Also, they stay in warmer waters until their offspring is strong enough to survive cold waters.
Some species are capable of traveling thousands of kilometers before reaching their breeding grounds. And when baby whales grow up, whales migrate back to the places they came from.
There is also a region called the Costa Rica Dome. It’s an offing site on the southern part of the Pacific coast of the country. It is one of the favorite breeding and feeding places of blue whales due to the highly nutritive waters. Beside the blue whale, there are many other marine animals.
Whale watching season in Costa Rica
There are actually two seasons for whale watching in Costa Rica. The first is from December to April, and the second is from July to November. These seasons are established upon the migration cycle of the humpback whale.
As we know by now, whales leave the waters they are living in when it becomes too cold, so that those living in the waters of the Northern Hemisphere arrive in the waters of Costa Rica in December and stay there until April.
The same goes for the whales living in the waters of the Southern Hemisphere, only they arrive in July and leave the Costa Rican waters in November.
However, you have a better chance of seeing humpback whales between August and October. Some whales from the Northern Hemisphere waters migrate to Hawaii, so it’s harder to see them during the December-April season.
Top spots for whale watching in Costa Rica
It is possible to see whales anywhere along the Pacific coast, as well as along the northern Caribbean coast. With that being said, whales do appear more often along the southern part of the Pacific coast. Uvita and Drake Bay are the best places for whale watching in Costa Rica. Also, in these places, you can go for a whale watching tour during both seasons.
Pretty convenient, huh?
Uvita is a town of the Costa Ballena, which translates to The Whale Coast. Besides the actual whales, you can also see the Whale’s Tail – a famous giant sandbar shaped like a tail of a whale.
The town of Uvita and the whale’s tail are a part of the Marino Ballena National Park. This marine national park preserves not just the land, but also the ocean with its coral reefs and whales breeding grounds.
If you want to increase your chances of seeing a whale there, you should visit Uvita in September. That is also the reason why the annual Whales Festival takes place in this town at the peak of the whale watching season.
Now, Drake Bay is a village on the Pacific side of the Osa Peninsula. This bay is a perfect place for a mother whale to raise their young.
Another excellent place for watching whales on the Osa Peninsula is the Golfo Dulce. It’s located on the east side of the Osa Peninsula. Because of its shallow protected waters, you can often see whales and dolphins.
What are other popular places for whale watching?
If you are visiting the northern areas of Costa Rica, like Guanacaste province, you might be able to see whales too. Whales have been spotted in Papagayo Bay, especially from July till October. However, it’s not clear whether whales are staying there or just passing through.
The Manuel Antonio National Park is another popular whale watching destination. The best time to see our big friends from this place is during July-November season.
When it comes to the east coast of Costa Rica, it’s good to know that whales also migrate to the northern Atlantic Ocean. In fact, there are more whales during the December-April season than most other places. However, they are spread over a vast area, and it’s harder to see them. Also, it’s more difficult to launch a boat through the rocky northern Caribbean coast.
What can you expect from a whale watching tour?
Humpback whales are the most popular ones for watching because they spend so much time above the water. They can pop above the surface to take a look around, or do some fin slapping or fluke flipping.
Although that happens occasionally, you’re more likely to witness another fantastic experience: a huge mother whale and its offspring playing around her.
Besides the whale watching tour, you’ll have the chance to see the whales if you go exploring a coastline on a catamaran, or during a dive and snorkeling tours. You’ll also have a chance to see some of our other exotic friends during these tours such as sea turtles, and dolphins too.
Tips for whale watching
- Take anti-nausea medicine, in case you get seasick. Take it even if you are not prone to it. It can be quite a rocky ride.
- It’s against the law to swim with whales and dolphins in Costa Rica. So if you are thinking about jumping off the boat, don’t.
- Make sure your camera or your phone are fully charged and can zoom in clearly.
- Have in mind that the rainy season in Costa Rica is from May to November.
- Even if you go whale-watching during the recommended seasons, you may not see them. Like other animals, whales are unpredictable.
Now, let’s go back to the beginning of this story and imagine you’re witnessing a humpback whale breaching out of the water, hanging in the air for a brief moment, and then diving back in. Your eyes are wide open, and you are mesmerized by the incredible creature of the open sea.
How’s that for an unforgettable experience?
Posted on August 17, 2021
- By Allan Garro – August 15, 2021
Many foreigners who decide to live in Costa Rica, or come to visit seasonally, find that it is necessary for them to acquire a vehicle to get around. In this way, the high costs of renting a vehicle are avoided, since it is not an occasional visit. However, some have encountered bad experiences when acquiring a vehicle that has been salvage, total lost, suffered odometer alterations, and the like. Therefore, care must be taken to avoid buying a “lemon” car.
The safest way is to buy a new car from an authorized dealer. That allows starting from scratch with care and maintenance. A new car can last for years in good working order. Most new car dealers offer a warranty that is typically three years or 100,000 kilometers, whichever comes first. However, some new vehicles sometimes have problems that are out of the ordinary. New car dealers provide the manufacturer’s warranty manual only and does not necessarily conform to local regulations.
The warranty on a new vehicle includes the free repair of any defect or problem that the vehicle may present, except for any damages or unauthorized modifications made by the buyer. However, such repairs are understood as occasional defects or problems, considering that the vehicle must meet a standard of performance and quality. When major components such as the engine or gearbox are damaged, requiring the vehicle to be left for weeks or months, said quality standard is not met.
Nor is the quality standard met when there are multiple small failures, which require applying the guarantee on five, six or more occasions. In this case, the law allows to request the delivery of another identical new vehicle, or the full refund of the price paid. One major problem is that the price of a new vehicle is too high, due to high import taxes. In Costa Rica, such taxes reach approximately 52%, to which must be added the profit of the distributor, registration costs and the so-called property tax, better known as “marchamo”.
Some recent regulations could help buying a new vehicle with lower costs. For example, law # 9518 named “Incentives and Promotion for Electric Transport” establishes a 100% exemption on sales taxes, selective consumption tax, and customs value tax, for electric vehicles whose CIF value does not exceed USD $ 30,000. There are also important exemptions for higher value electric vehicles, as long as the CIF price does not exceed US $60,000. Likewise, by decree 41426-H-MINAE-MOPT, 100% of the selective consumption tax is exonerated on used electric vehicles whose CIF value does not exceed US $30,000.
Another recent Bill approved at Congress in June 2021 creates a number if incentives to attract investors wanting to get residency status, which includes the possibility to import up to two motor vehicles (boats and planes also) for personal or family use, free of all import, tariff, sales and other taxes. Despite this, it must be considered that said Bill must still be published in the official newspaper and then regulated by different government institutions, which will take several months before becoming a reality.
The other option that exists is to buy a used car. In this case it is important to try to determine the origin, specifically if it was sold since new in Costa Rica, or if it has been imported as used. It has been a common practice to import used vehicles from the United States. In many cases, they are vehicles that have been sold at auction as salvage and later restored here, with adulterated odometer showing a lower mileage. And there are also imported vehicles that are in excellent condition.
Homework must be done before purchasing. If it is a vehicle imported from the USA, a simple tool is to look up the VIN number and put it in Google. Many times, with just that some important data and even pictures appear. Otherwise, there is the possibility to buy a report on popular sites like Carfax or Vincheck. If it was sold domestically trying to obtain maintenance records can help. In any case, it is recommended to bring a trusted mechanic to check it.
Some may consider bringing their own vehicle from the United States. It is important to consider several aspects. It is best to contact a Costa Rican Customs Agent. There will be a list of documents required. To name a few: a. Passport and driver license, b. Vehicle registration certificate, c. Title of ownership, d. Certified emissions test, e. Bill of landing, f. Commercial invoice. The approximate amounts on import taxes are: 52% for vehicles 3 years or newer, 64% vehicles 4-5 years old and 79% for vehicles older than 6 years.
Now let’s see what rights the law guarantees. The first thing to consider is that if the vehicle is purchased from an individual who is not dedicated to the sale of vehicles, the buyer has few or no options, since in that case it is the buyer’s obligation to verify the condition of the vehicle. But if the vehicle, whether new or used, is acquired from a car dealer, the Law of Effective Consumer Protection applies. There are two types of procedures, one in front of administrative authorities and the other in the courts.
The Comision Nacional del Consumidor or National Consumer Commission https://www.consumo.go.cr/comision_nacional_consumidor/ is the government’s entity that can handle complaints against car dealers. That authority can order that the full price paid be returned if the vehicle has defects that cannot be covered by the warranty, as well as impose fines on the seller. It does not have the power to order the payment of damages, fees or interest on the money paid.
In Court, the way is a process called “Consumer summary.” You need to hire a lawyer. In this process, the Judge can order the refund of the price paid, cover interest from the date of purchase, the reimbursement of fees and other expenses of the process. It is very important that, before establishing any claim, the buyer delivers a letter to the seller indicating the problems encountered. And that said letter be delivered with a copy of receipt, or failing that, that a Notary certifies the delivery and that the seller refused to sign the copy.
In the sale of used vehicles, it is important to know that the minimum warranty period is 30 business days, and not 1 month as most indicate. Some used car dealers provide a warranty document stating that it only covers the “engine and gearbox”, which is illegal as the warranty covers all parts of the vehicle for 30 business days. If the complaint letter is delivered in that period, the term to go to the Consumer Commission is 2 months and to go to court is much longer. In any case, both procedures take months and sometimes even years. The best idea is still to take precautions before purchasing
About the Author: Allan Garro was incorporated as a lawyer and public notary in 1996. He specializes in Litigation, Corporate, and Real Estate Law. He has also acted as an external legal consultant to Congress. He has been the author of more than 100 published English Language articles and can be reached at [email protected]