3 Brilliant Wildlife Refugees to Visit in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is home to an array of fantastic wildlife refuges which do an incredible job in rescuing and protecting the country’s priceless creatures.  The land is renowned as a wildlife destination with few rivals and almost all visitors to the country come here precisely for this reason. There really isn’t a corner of the country, except the main cities, that isn’t inhabited by a kaleidoscope of unique and amazing creatures. Yet the delicate balance between man and wildlife is a precarious one, and many organizations – as well as the government – work tirelessly to ensure humans don’t encroach on the pristine wilderness on which animals thrive.

On your next trip to Costa Rica, why not include a visit to one of the many refuges which keep the country’s animal kingdom alive and thriving?

Here are 3 brilliant wildlife refuges to visit in Costa Rica.

Nosara Wildlife Refugees – Nosara

Wildlife refugees - IguanaThe protected Nosara Refuge has been sheltering and rehabilitating injured and threatened wildlife for the last two decades. Whist this was the premier animal rescue organization for the Nosara region it has now expanded its reaches and accepts animals in need from just about every corner of the country.

Orphaned possums, porcupines and various species of monkeys (especially Howler Monkeys) call this place home, and the Nosara Refuge also takes care of birds and reptiles. Aside rescuing hundreds of creatures every year, they also rehabilitate them and return them to the wild as soon as it is safely possible. If you want to do more than just ‘see’ the animals, and would love to learn more about the conservation and rehabilitation work carried out in a refuge, then you’ll find the educational visits at Nosara Refuge particularly rewarding and inspiring.

Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge – Limon

Wildlife refugees - MackawFound in the Talamanca region of south-east Costa Rica, the Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge is one of only two parks in the whole country to boast a coral reef. Here, wildlife on land competes with that underwater. In total, Manzanillo covers an astonishing 9,500 hectares of wilderness and is home to thousands of animals, including over 300 different species of birds alone.

The lusciousness of this reserve is due to the healthy amount of rains it receives, so visiting now – during dry season – is optimal. Book a guided tour on your visit and you’ll learn all about the mammals, reptiles and plants which inhabit this impressive flora and fauna haven. The hiking trails offer breathtaking views of the superb and quite dramatic coastline, and the entire area is a corner of undeveloped paradise. If you’d like to experience wilderness in its truest form then the Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge is just perfect. Due to the remoteness of the park we highly recommend visiting only with a local guide.

Hacienda Baru Wildlife Refugees, Dominical

What started off as a not-so-humble cattle ranch has transformed into one of Costa Rica’s most respected privately-run animal refuges, providing safe haven to all manner of creatures of all sizes. Covering 330 hectares of central Pacific Coast wilderness, Hacienda Baru offers exceptional chances for birdwatching and wildlife viewing.

All up, there are over 5 miles of walking trails which meander through rainforests, mangroves and grasslands. Visit Baru and you’ll see sloths, monkeys, coatis and toucans among literally hundreds of different species of fauna. The refuge runs a lodge and restaurant – whose profits fund the project – and costs only $7 to visit on your own, although the guided trips are particularly rewarding, especially if it’s your first time traveling to Costa Rica. If you’re staying in the Manuel Antonio National Park, Hacienda Baru makes for a brilliant day trip. Baru also runs a super fun Zipline tour so you can really make a whole day out of a visit.

Combine your wildlife refugees viewing journey with a week of adventure in Costa Rica, and enjoy a most unforgettable vacation.

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The Envision Festival Set to Shine its Light on Costa Rica’s Dominical!

Envision FestivalThe Envision Festival is ready to soothe, stretch and enlighten Costa Rica’s delightful Dominical province in just a couple of weeks. The experimental festival, which combines yoga, music, the arts and well-being, will be celebrating its 7th year in 2017 and is set to be the biggest and most successful to date.

With an exciting lineup of performance artists, excellent music and endless yoga and workshop practices over the long weekend, Envision aims to transport its guests into another dimension, one where the modern world seems like a million miles away. Startling sunsets, experimental music as well as tried-and-loved Reggae, Psychedelic and World tunes, all night dance-a-thons and sunrise yoga sessions on the beach. This, and more, is what you can expect when you pack your yoga mat and head to Uvita from the 23rd to the 26th February, 2017.

We must say…the organizers of Envision really couldn’t have picked a better place to hold their 4-day event. Envision embodies all that Costa Rica does best: relax, unwind, revitalize and enlighten your soul in one of the most idyllic and peaceful countries on earth. Along with 6,000 other like-minded souls, you’ll be lost in the ethereal beauty of the Costa Rican jungle. Three music stages, several group yoga sessions, art workshops, craft stalls and an array of locally-sourced organic food stalls are the backbone of Envision…whilst Costa Rica does the rest.

To find out more about ticket availability and discover the amazing line-up of acts and workshops, check out the Envision webpage.

What to See and Do Around Uvita Before, During and After Envision Festival

Costa Rica Envision FestivalIn just a few minutes’ walk from where envision is held, you can be soaking up the rays and frolicking in the surf of Playa Hermosa (Beautiful Beach in Spanish) certainly one of Dominical’s prettiest stretches of sparkling sandy shores.

The main town where the festival is held, Uvita de Osa, is just a swimstroke away from the Marino Ballena National Park, one of the most phenomenal whale-watching destinations in all of Costa Rica. Encompassing over 230 acres of pristine land wilderness, and over 13,000 marine acres of underwater treasures, Marino Ballena is the ideal place to visit in February as pods of humpback whales make their yearly migratory swims.

As temperatures soar during the days of the festival, head to the picturesque Uvita Waterfall the ideal place to visit when you want to cap off a stroll through jungle with a refreshing waterfall swim. If you’re feeling particularly active, then set your sight on Nauyaca Waterfalls instead. It may require a somewhat challenging 2-mile hike to reach it, but you can jump right off the edge of the falls to the pool below, making it an insanely fun way to end a day’s adventures.

Snorkeling and SCUBA fans can spend a day discovering the underwater treasures of Cano Island, which is easy to reach on a boat trip from Uvita. Dolphins, turtles, rays and sharks are some of the biggest marine wildlife you’ll encounter on an exciting trip out here.

From Uvita, you’ll also be within earshot of the Corcovado National Park, which is one of the world’s (not only Costa Rica’s!) most biodiverse reserves. Although Corcovado certainly warrants an adventure vacation all of its own, you can visit for a day from Uvita if you’re coming specifically to attend the Envision festival, and don’t have too many extra days up your sleeve. As we always love to say: a day spent in Corcovado I better than no days spent there at all!

For a truly spectacular activity, why not visit the Rancho La Merced wildlife refuge and take an unforgettable 2-hour sunset horseride along Playa Hermosa? Of all the ways to soak up the last day’s rays, doing it on horseback would surely rate as the best. You’ll find the refuge only a couple of miles north of Uvita town.

If you’re wishing to learn a new skill, and have a blast doing it, then you should know that the waters around the Marino Ballena beaches are ideal for SUP beginners. Calm and protected, they offer the perfect platform to learn and breathtaking landscapes that’ll do their best to distract you.

Want to know and do more when visiting Costa Rica? Then check out the brilliant adventure tours we offer and let us plan your bespoke and unrivalled adventure through this most fascinating and naturally outstanding country.

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Insider’s Guide to Poas Volcano in Costa Rica

Poas VolcanoThe Poas Volcano National Park is one of Costa Rica’s most visited parks and an easy add-on trip from the capital, San Jose. This is one of the country’s most active peaks and it is an incredibly picturesque sight, with a bubbling lake of aquamarine water in its crater spewing out plumes of steam during times of explosive action. Poas Volcano boasts the largest active crater on the planet, with powerful geysers shooting up more than 800 feet in the air. In dry season, between the months of December and May, the spectacle is at its very best. The lack of cloud cover and mist make this the most ideal time to visit Costa Rica if catching glimpses of Poas in action is on your must-do list.

Getting to the Poas Volcano

Alajuela is the base town from where you can visit the Poas Volcano National Park, and it’s only a half-hour drive north of San Jose. A daily bus service from Alajuela takes you up to the peak, gives you a few hours to wander around and brings you back in the afternoon. There isn’t much else to do in town, although it is only a couple of miles from the international airport so if you wanted to end (or start) your Costa Rica adventure trip here it would certainly be very convenient, especially if you intend to visit Poas for a few consecutive days. A smattering of lodges and B&Bs cater to visitors of all tastes and budgets.

At the Poas National Park, you’ll find a visitor center and a museum which details the geothermal activity of the region, and a small café with plenty of refreshments.

What to Expect

Poas’ reputation for being so active may lead some to believe that you’ll be on the lookout for lava showers every other day, which really isn’t so. The last major eruption was over a century ago, and aside the geysers (which really are very impressive) you’ll encounter a peaceful (if not bubbling) environment. On the absolutely brilliant other hand, however, Poas grants you the chance to hike to the peak and look into the crater of a non-dormant volcano, and for this reason alone Poas attracts visitors from every corner of the globe. The landscape is spectacularly dramatic to say the least, with the colossal amount of acid rain rendering all the nearby area striking shades of grey and brown.

Aside the startling scenes you should also expect high winds and very frigid temperatures. Poas rises from the mist during dry season very early in the morning and, by lunchtime, is almost entirely shrouded in clouds. Get here early on a splendidly clear day for the very best views. The Poas crater sits at a breathtaking 8,885 feet in elevation.

What to Do

Poas is home to the stunning quetzal, as well as a multitude of other birds. This and more you can admire when you take one of the many hiking trails in the National Park. A short 15 minute walk from the visitor center takes you to the crater viewing platform (which is a whole mile in diameter) and the Escalonia half-mile trail which is ideal for birdwatching.

Poas actually has two craters. The second, Botos Lagoon, is not as enthralling as the main crater, yet taking the 25 minute hiking trail to reach it grants stunning views of the landscape so it’s well worth it nonetheless.

Due to the high average elevation of the park, you won’t find large mammals, yet for birdwatchers and small creature lovers the wildlife viewing is superb.

You can combine a visit to Poas with a stop-over at the lovely La Paz Waterfall Gardens, a jungle haven that’s become one of the most popular day-trip destinations of San Jose residents. A trio of gorgeous waterfalls and a myriad of wildlife exhibits make this a great place to visit, especially if you’re only in San Jose for a few days.

Park Entry Info

The Poas Volcano National Park is open from 8.30am to 3.30pm every day, and costs USD$10 to enter.

Want to include a visit to Poas on your next trip to Costa Rica? We can organize a whirlwind journey of adventure and discovery for you, and plan a bespoke itinerary to include all your most desired Costa Rica destinations. Check out our extensive array of fantastic Costa Rica adventure tours, and contact us for more details.

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Costa Rica Vacation – Delight in the Best Dining in San Jose

No matter which province you plan to visit on your next Costa Rica adventure vacation, you will undoubtedly include a night or two in San Jose, the capital city and the country’s most convenient entry point and home to some of the best dining locations.

Lucky you!

San Jose is the heart and soul of Costa Rica’s culinary scene and, besides the incredible foodie options, also offers plenty of historical attractions and nightlife to boot. More than a mere springboard for adventurous fun in the many national parks, forests and beaches, San Jose is a brilliant destination of its own accord, so make sure you do square up some time to check it out.

The eclectic mix of cuisines on offer in San Jose is proof that Costa Rica is, in fact, one of the most hospitable countries in all of Latin America, home to a remarkably large expat community, who have imported flavors from every corner of the world. No matter what cuisine you crave aside the comida tipica, or typical Costa Rican fare, you’ll certainly find it in San Jose, where Italian, Asian and all manner of international eateries abound.

Here are our favorite restaurants, cafes, hole-in-the-wall food joints and most delectable culinary highlights of San Jose. Because finding 101 ways to eat your way through your Costa Rica vacation is a perfectly valid travel mission.

Buen Provecho!

Costa Rica Best Dining

Park Café – International Fusion Foodie Splurge

Park Cafe dining experienceSabana Park’s resident culinary treasure is one of those places you need to book weeks in advance for one of he best dining experiences you can ever partake in. However, this isn’t because Park Café is so ‘in’ that it receives a cult following for trend’s sake. But rather, because the owners decided that their main credo would be quality over quantity, in every which way.

Superb, locally sourced and imported ingredients, super fresh food and attention to detail, for just a handful of lucky customers at every meal. An inventive menu, an incredibly cozy and romantic setting (Park Café moonlights as an antique shop) and a leisurely dinner where you’re neither rushed nor taken for granted. If you’d love a piece of that, then check out the English chef’s blog for stunning food pics and do book ahead.

Av. de Las Américas 48, San José

Phone+506 2290 6324

La Esquina de Buenos Aires – Argentinian Steak

La Esquina dining experienceIt’s hard to argue that Argentina doesn’t boast the best steaks in all of Latin America, and some of the best in the world. So imagine your delightful surprise then, when you discover that San Jose boasts La Esquina de Buenos Aires, one of the best Argentinian steak houses outside of Argentina.

The spicy and fruity home-made sangria could well take center stage at any meal here, although the evening’s honors will no doubt be awarded to the sizzling meat grill plate, called a parrilla, that’s meant to be shared. Or not! A gorgeous décor and cruisy musical accompaniment make this an ideal place for a romantic dinner out in San Jose, especially for carnivores!

Calle 11 corner with Av. 4, San Jose

Phone: +506 2223 1909

Kalú – for Mouthwatering Desserts

KalúKalu best dining experience is one of San Jose’s most revered cafes and although the charming joint serves main courses you should definitely try, the primary reason you should head here is to dive, head first, into their wide selection of drop dead drool-worthy desserts and one of the best dining experiences ever. This is what the owner and head chef, Camille Ratton, is best known for.

The dessert menu changes often and can include a velvety chocolate trifle, an orgasmic cheesecake topped with fresh strawberries bathed in balsamic vinegar jus, and a totally addictive passion-fruit pie. The best part is that at Kalú, you can order a mini sampler dish, so even if traveling alone you need not have to make that tough decision of ‘which ONE shall I taste?’ Have ‘em all! A welcoming and warm atmosphere makes an afternoon of sweet indulgence all the more enticing.

Calle 31, Avenida 5, San Jose

Phone: +506 2253 8426

La Ventanita Meraki – Funky Street Food Experience

La Ventanita Meraki best diningIf you’ve been to Costa Rica before you’ll know that the country doesn’t really do ‘street food’, not in the sense that is found in other continents. Food outlets here, no matter how small, always have a roof and at least a couple of walls!

But considering La Ventanita – which means ‘the little window’ in Spanish – is literally not much more than an open window, this may well be the closest thing to ‘street food’ in the Costa Rican capital. A small but nice selection of home-made burgers and sandwiches, served with excellent chunky chips and an array of delicious sauces to match. Plenty of vegetarian options but if you are a meat eater then don’t walk past the pulled pork: it’s just perfect. No seats, no lavatories and no fuss: just great food on the go, ideal as a refill on a night out in town and a secret place known only to locals and a few expats who’ve caught on.

Costa Rica is a fantastic country to visit, especially for those looking for adventure and extraordinary experiences. So take your taste buds along for the ride with San Jose’s best dining joints, and check out all the unforgettable adventures we have in store for you.

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Costa Rica’s Most Bizarre and Unique Animals

Costa Rica’s idyllic location, nestled cozily between two continents and two oceans, has guaranteed an unparalleled biodiversity. In total, the country is home to over half a million different species of wildlife, representing almost 4% of our world’s flora and fauna. Given its compact size, that is quite a remarkable amount. Among the kaleidoscope of animals that inhabit Costa Rica’s rain forests, mountains, valley, rivers and seas, a few standout for their incredibly unique characteristics.

Bizarre and Unique Animals:

Strawberry Poison Dart Frog

Bizarre and unique animalsOne of the most strikingly colorful creatures in Costa Rica, the Strawberry Poison Dart Frog is one of the most mesmerizing amphibians inhabiting the country’s rain forests, as well as one of its smallest. Growing to an average of only 2 centimeters (that is really very tiny) the gorgeous creature comes in different variations.

The most common is known as the Blue Jeans, thanks to its blue colored legs, but you’ll also find polka dot red or blue morphs (bastimentos) and ones with green legs and yellow stomachs, known as Chiriqui River frogs. Interestingly, the male does most of the egg rearing until they hatch, after which the mum will place each tadpole on a different pond (tiny droplets of water), where they are kept separated in order to prevent them from eating each other. It takes about 8 weeks for the tadpoles to transforms into beautifully vibrant frogs.

Ocelot

Like a real-life Puss in Boots, the Costa Rican Ocelot boasts possibly the sweetest eyes in all of the feline world. Known also as the dwarf leopard, the ocelot is about twice the size of an average domesticated cat, weighing in at about 30 pounds and measuring between 40 and 60 inches in in length.

Its distinctive fur made it a victim of hunters but their numbers are on the rise all over Central America and they are no longer listed as threatened. The ocelot’s extra-large round eyes hint at it being a nocturnal animal. Unlike other felines, it takes well to water and is an excellent swimmer, as well as a proficient tree climber. The Ocelot feeds off iguanas, birds, fish and frogs and is the second-largest spotted cat in Latin America, after the jaguar.

Elephant Beetle

Costa Rican elephant beetles made international headlines a few years ago, when one intrepid wanderer managed to travel all the way to the UK among a bunch of exported bananas. The happy hitch-hiker was so well fed that by the time it crossed the Pacific it had grown to the size of a small hamster.

Closely related to the Scarab Beetle family, the elephant beetle is a formidable and territorial creature, one which protects itself and fights off fellow males by utilizing its rather unique tusk. Their appendages are not only fighting weapons. The elephant beetle using his horn to unlock sap from trees and dig up dirt under which he will seek refuge. As rotten and decayed wood is one of the beetles preferred meals, it is considered an essential creature for a healthy ecosystem, and one of nature’s most effective recycler.

Kermit Frog

bizarre and unique animalsThis distinctive-looking frog’s proper scientific name may be hyalinobatrachium dianae, but since it was discovered in Costa Rica just a couple of years ago it has been known, worldwide, as the Kermit Frog. For obviously adorable reasons. Part of the rare and mesmerizing glass frog species, which boast such translucent skin that their internal organs are visible, Kermit is one of 13 such species of frogs in Costa Rica.

Jesus Christ Lizard

Many people may find it odd that a lizard was ever baptized with the name of Jesus Christ but all confusion soon dissipates as soon as the lizard starts running on water. The green basilik lizard, which is actually much more renowned by its moniker, the Jesus Christ Lizard, is not an endangered species and is commonly found performing its little miracle along rivers all over Costa Rica, and all of Central America.

When in flight, it can sprint upright over the surface of water at an astonishing rate of 1.5 meters per second. Its unique feet and toes allow for a much greater surface area coverage, creating small pockets of air that allow it to ‘hover’ over the surface, and not sink. However, the Jesus Christ Lizard can’t really keep up the trick for very long. Their short burst of aquaplaning usually only last about 3 seconds, after which the lizard will eventually sink and swim off with ease.

Tapir

bizarre and unique animalsA cross between a wild hog and an anteater, but actually much more closely related to rhinos, the Costa Rican tapir is a funny little guy which is endangered in all the regions it inhabits. There are 4 different species found in the world, numbering just over 10,000 individuals in total. Deforestation and hunting are the main threats to tapirs outside of Costa Rica, and the fact that its gestation period is 13 months doesn’t help its repopulation. The tapir’s curious snout is used as a snorkel when it swims, and as a trunk to pick up leaves. In Costa Rica, the Baird’s Tapir is one of the country’s most protected animals, and a program designed to track and protect is the world’s longest-running program of its kind.

Let us whisk you away to Costa Rica on an adventure-filled wildlife spotting tour and come discover all of the country’s most magnificent creatures.

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Guanacaste Province to Get a Tourism Boost in 2017

Costa Rica’s Guanacaste province is one of the most enticing and visited regions in the whole country and the upcoming expansion of the international airport in Liberia is set to inject a tourism boost that’s been a long time coming.

Guanacaste ProvinceThe expansion of the Daniel Oduber Quiros Airport was set to start in 2016 but unforeseen circumstances have delayed the commencement of work until January, 2017.

New boarding gates and a host of new shops, bars and restaurants will set to increase traffic passenger volume by approximately 20%. An upgrade of the airport’s technology, which will include faster Wi-Fi connectivity for visitors and state-of-the-art communication systems, will also be a welcomed improvement. Among the most exciting announcements is the immediate increase in flights, with new direct connections from Denver.

What Makes the Guanacaste Province so Special?

The Guanacaste Province is directly north of the San Jose Province, and the country’s capital. It is here that a large concentration of the country’s most revered sites and activities are found. Fantastic beaches, awe-inspiring volcanoes and mystical rainforests brimming with waterfalls attract crowds to Guanacaste all year long. Tourists make up almost 99% of all the passenger traffic at the Liberia International Airport, making its expansion even more essential.

Tamarindo Beach is one of the country’s best-known surfing hubs while Nosara, a delightful hidden spot, caters to the desires of those who want a quieter beach vacation. For a beach vacay with all the frills, then head to Flamingo Beach instead, where hip bars and trendy cafés abound. This eclectic mix highlights the main aspect that makes the Guanacaste province so very special: it literally has something to suit all budgets, tastes and ages.

Guanacaste’s main claim to tourist fame, however, would have to be the world heritage listed Guanacaste Conservation Area, which encompasses immensely stunning Rincon de la Vieja volcano. No less than 4 volcanoes converge here and the stupendous landscape, flora and fauna the unique topography has spawned, makes this region a nature lovers’ unrivaled paradise. Between the surfing and swimming, Guanacaste offers mountain climbing and exceptional hiking, as well as wildlife refuges which are open to the public and more than 15 miles of sea turtle nesting beaches. There are rivers, lakes and wetlands absolutely bursting at the seams with iconic native wildlife.

For an outdoor vacation that’s fun, active, educational and immensely inspirational, Costa Rica’s Guanacaste province simply can’t be overlooked.

Gateway to the Nicoya Peninsula

The Guanacaste Province lays a claim to the northern half of the spectacular Nicoya Peninsula, and the new Liberia airport will be the ideal springboard for exploring this amazing region. Visitors flock here to surf the crystal clear barrel waves which roll off the seemingly endless coastline. Ziplining, horseriding and mountain biking keep adrenalin junkies off their feet and the underwater world off the shores, chock-full of mantas and sharks, keep snorkelers and scuba divers entertained for days on end.

The Nicoya Peninsula is one of Costa Rica’s wildest destinations, where nature – and not human development – takes center stage. Although, to be honest, this pretty much describes the whole country anyway. Amidst the awe-inspiring nature, you’ll still find a smattering of boutique eco-friendly resorts, fantastic restaurants and, of course, incredible rejuvenation spas. Just one more corner of the Guanacaste that’s infinitely rewarding to explore.

The Montezuma waterfalls, one of Nicoya’s startling attractions
The Montezuma waterfalls, one of Nicoya’s startling attractions

A fantastic destination for active holidays, honeymoons and family trips, Costa Rica’s Guanacaste Province is an absolute playground for nature lovers. Let us help you plan a custom-made itinerary that’ll tick all your boxes and make your next Costa Rica vacation a truly unforgettable adventure.

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Why Costa Rica is a Healthier Place to Live and Visit

Costa Rica has long been hailed as one of the healthier place to live in the world with impressive longevity and good quality of life being two of the country’s most coveted attributes. But what are the reasons which make Costa Rica a healthier place to live? Why is it that even if this is considered a still-developing country, do people enjoy such high levels of good health?

We explore the reasons that make Costa Rica an exceptionally healthy place to live and show you that even on a short visit you can soak up some of its superb benefits.

Natural Superfoods Abound

Costa RicaWhen it comes to highly nutritious superfoods, the kind that are packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, Costa Rica is an absolute goldmine. The foods which are on everyone’s lips nowadays – from coconuts to noni fruit and raw cacao, the golden ingredients which we know to be good for us grow in Costa Rica naturally, are sun-kissed and as organic as it comes. In such a highly agricultural nation, where the cuisine is based on fresh tropical vegetables and fruit – and very little meat – the healthy diet, and occasional culinary indulgence, is a way of life and one of the most delightful aspects of a Costa Rica vacation.

An Ideal Climate with Plenty of Sunshine

healthier place to liveVitamin D, the Holy Grail of just about everyone; that one vitamin which strengthens our bones and nurtures our well-being. The sun has it…and Costa Rica has plenty of sun! Not only does Costa Rica’s idyllic climate help in the fight against Vitamin D deficiency, but the abundance of good weather and sunny skies has an untold beneficial effect on people’s mood and happiness levels. Costa Rica’s dreamy climate is one of the reasons many foreigners make the move to a healthier place to live after retirement. With warmer temperatures, aches and pains are mitigated and life becomes infinitely more enjoyable. If you’re not convinced, try swapping your cold and dreary end of year vacation at home with a fantastic week-long Costa Rica escape. You’ll never doubt again.

Healthier Place to Live

Costa Rica healthier place to livePura Vida, the Costa Rican mantra, epitomizes a culture of laid-back and relaxed living. Of all the intangible benefits of Costa Rica living this would have to be the most health-beneficial of all. Experts have long agreed that a lack of stress, happiness and optimism are three immensely important ingredients for a long and happy life. Some say they are even more important than genetics. Luckily for those living in Costa Rica, stress-free living comes with the territory and is a natural inherent characteristic of the local culture. People don’t rush here, because nothing is rushed. Life is enjoyed to the fullest, as are meals and time spent with loved ones, with the emphasis very much on ‘living’ rather than ‘existing’. At times, expat retirees find the transition from hectic city life to laid-back country life a little disconcerting. They find they have so much spare time that they don’t know what to do with themselves! But soon enough, they make friends, they develop hobbies (more on this below) and find alternative and much more relaxing ways to spend their days.

Outdoor Life = Happy and Healthy Life

Stress-free and active? Now there’s a recipe for success!

Those hobbies most expats develop have to do with Costa Rica’s array of outdoor activities. Hiking, cycling, surfing, kayaking: you name it, and if it requires you to enjoy the great outdoors, then in Costa Rica you will find it. For longevity, exercise need not be strenuous, but it should be enjoyable and constant, something which locals understand all too well. Costa Rica is home to some of the longest-living people in the world (most probably because they do not spend their life in front of the TV) especially in the Nicoya Peninsula, one of the world’s so-called ‘Blue Zones’, where a great percentage of the population lives well beyond 90 years of age. Costa Rica’s obsession with outdoor fun is what makes it one of the best adventure vacation destinations on the planet, where the emphasis is very much on fun in the sun, surf and sand, and where people find it a healthier place to live.

A Loving and Welcoming Community Feel

In many ways, Costa Rica can be considered an ‘old-fashioned’ country, where a sense of family and community belonging is still very much high in the list of life-priorities. A feeling of belonging is arguably one of the country’s most attractive attributes and a pivotal reason cited by many foreigners who move here, especially those with no family back home. They share meals and festivities with neighbors and help plan local fiestas, they go for hikes and then enjoy a chat and a regroup in a thermal spa. How can any day spent like that be stressful?

If living in Costa Rica is sounding a little bit dreamy then rest assured that yes…it really is! Luckily, you can take advantage of all the best bits even on a short, one-week adventure trip. Indulge in the excellent fresh food, enjoy the great outdoors, have plenty of fun in the country’s forests, mountains and beaches and don’t forget to include a visit to one of best rejuvenating retreats when visiting.

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3 of the Most Unique Wedding Venues in Costa Rica

Costa Rica weddingAll-inclusive wedding resorts are unsurprisingly popular with couples who head to Costa Rica to exchange their vows. Tailor-made to provide full wedding services – from accommodation for all guests, scrumptious feasting, wedding cakes and spectacular views – the country’s most beautiful resorts certainly offer unforgettable options for your Costa Rica wedding.

Are you looking for something a little different? You got it! In Central America’s most spectacular country, your wedding venue can be as distinctive as you are.

Here are 3 of the Most Unique Wedding Venues in Costa Rica.

Tie the Knot in a Private Villa

Costa Rica weddingBooking a private villa for your Costa Rica  wedding is a wonderful option if you still want luxury and comfort, but with the added bonus of privacy and intimacy. Not only do you and your guests get to experience a truly authentic vacation but some of the options are even more affordable than many resorts, most especially if you have quite a few guests attending your big day. Costa Rica boasts some magnificent villas for hire, which can cater for groups of anywhere from 5 to 50 guests. What’s more, although with a private villa you will have to organize all the added extras on your own, most come with in-house wedding planners, so you’ll be getting the convenience of a resort wedding anyway.

Check out the three options on BarefootVacationVillas to get a taste of what you can expect of a luxury villa set amongst stellar landscapes, or the exceptional Villa Punto de Vista (a magnificent 10-bedroom villa designed specifically for destination weddings) as well as Casa Fantastica, one of the sought-after private estates in the country.

(Photo courtesy of CostaRicaWeddingDestinations.com)

Say ‘I do’ Next to Breathtaking Waterfalls

Costa rica waterfall weddingThe La Paz Waterfalls Gardens offer one of the most spectacular wedding photos backdrop of all: five cascading waterfalls framed by luscious tropical wilderness brimming with a myriad of exotic birds. This eco-lodge is only an hour out of San Jose (perfect for long-weekend weddings) and is ideal for nature-loving romantics. Beautifully set amongst a pristine natural landscape, this incredible resort also boasts a butterfly observatory, as well as a wedding coordinator who’ll organize your perfect day from beginning to end.

Costa Rica Wedding Aboard a Catamaran

Costa Rica catamaran weddingFor a totally out-there Costa Rica wedding, nothing beats getting married aboard a luxury catamaran. The King Catamaran is a popular choice for young and energetic couples who want to kick off their married life with a big splash (sometimes literally) and what’s an incredible plus about them, is that they are experienced wedding planners and can actually take care of all your wedding plans, both on and off the catamaran. From the rehearsal dinner to the accommodation, photos and video on the day and, of course, a spectacular catamaran cruise for the ceremony.

Exchange Vows on a Glistening Costa Rica Beach

The most iconic of all tropical wedding venues would have to be a stretch of pristine beach. Luckily, Costa Rica, has tonnes of them! The Pacifico Beach Club is unlike any other resort and plans some of the most outrageously beautiful beach weddings you could ever dream. Located right on the shores of Playas del Coco on the northwest coast, PBC is perfect if you’re looking for a one-stop paradise that you and your wedding guests will absolutely love. The in-house wedding coordinator will make your life ridiculously easy, and you can rest easy knowing that the restaurant for your wedding reception is one of the best rated in the country. Walk down the sandy isle to exchange vows under a tropical flower covered arch, enjoy your cocktails and appetizers as the sun descends over the crimson horizon, and have a fantastic wedding party that we’re sure you’ll never forget.

And when vows are exchanged and photos taken…let us whisk you away to a dream Costa Rica honeymoon vacation which’ll be the ideal cherry atop your extraordinary wedding cake.

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Costa Rica Christmas: The Best Family Vacation You Can Plan

Imagine spending your family Christmas vacation hiking through rainforests and frolicking in the crystal clear surf of a tropical paradise? Have a Costa Rica Christmas…because you can!

Cost Rica is a fantastic family vacation destination at any time of year, and even more so during the Christmas holiday break. Parades, fiestas, processions and street parties characterize December in most parts of the country and, being in at the height of tourist peak season, it means that everything – from the weather to the attractions and activities – is at its very best.

Costa Rica Christmas

It’s not too late to plan an unforgettable Costa Rica Christmas in one of the most enticing and varied countries on earth. With its enticing culture and myriad of natural wilderness, Costa Rica offers an infinite array of exciting adventures, spectacular scenery and amazing cultural insights, for young and old alike.

So let us help you plan a Costa Rica Christmas you will never, ever, forget.

Trust the Experts

There are some parts of the country you may want to avoid when visiting during a Costa Rica Christmas holiday break. Places where the tourists outnumber locals and where crowds swell to such an extent that enjoying a particular place, no matter out extraordinary, becomes a tad challenging. An expert and trusted tour operator should always be able to cater to your needs for exclusivity when planning a wicked itinerary. They’ll know the best places to visit (and ones to avoid) and even plan your daily itinerary to dodge the crowds. Never will it be more priceless to plan a private and personalized Costa Rica tour than at Christmas, a time when families should enjoy quality time together. The best Costa Rica tour operators should be creative in tailoring your tour and take all your desires into consideration.

Costa Rica Christmas

Expensive? It’s Relative!

While it’s true that the big holidays in Costa Rica (like Christmas and Easter) attract the highest prices, it’s also true that, relatively speaking, travel to Costa Rica is still an absolute bargain when compared to other popular holiday destinations. Sure, your flights and accommodation may be dearer than at other times of year, but they’ll still be more affordable than, say, Hawaii or the Caribbean islands. So don’t be scared off by the ‘high season pricing’, Costa Rica is one of the most rewarding travel destinations of all at Christmas, and paying a few extra bucks for the privilege of spending your family vacation here is certainly a very worthwhile thing to do. Besides, check out the red-eye flights to San Jose from LA, with arrival on Christmas Eve, and you’ll be surprised to discover how cheap flying at peak times can be.

Adrenaline-Pumping Activities

Costa Rica Christmas

Costa Rica is renowned as an active traveler’s paradise and this is a side of the country you should definitely explore. From forest canopy zip-lines to white water river rafting, horse riding and downhill mountain biking: you name it, and in Costa Rica, you’ll find it! Costa Rica is a perfect destination for families with active teenagers in tow and also those with younger children.

The options for safe modifications of activities to suit smaller kids are always on offer. This is arguably why Costa Rica makes for such a fantastic family vacation destination. Children simply go nuts for the wildlife, the water sports, and all the fun activities enjoyed in pristine nature.

It’s a Costa Rica Christmas – Book Ahead

When traveling at peak tourist times it’s a very good idea to book as many activities as possible ahead of time. About the only thing we’d say you can safely leave until the last minute are surfing lessons, which you can book right on the beach on the day you visit. Not only will you avoid disappointment by booking ahead, but you’ll also save a neat bundle, as last-minute prices for group activities are usually much higher.

Costa Rica surfboards

Ready to book that exceptional Christmas family experience? We offer the best Costa Rica family guided tours you’ll find anywhere, and will tailor an itinerary to suit your specific needs and wants, and those of your whole adventurous brood.

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Costa Rica Honeymoon Holiday Tips for Active Couples

Costa Rica honeymoonIt is often said that the couple who plays together, stays together, and if you’re a firm believer in that you’ll definitely enjoy a Costa Rica honeymoon.

Costa Rica is revered as an active holiday destination, with its myriad of zip lines, abseiling, white water rafting, hiking, surfing, SCUBA diving, horseback riding…and about a million more active pursuits. Of course, thanks to the sublime pristine nature and laid-back vibe, Costa Rica still offers plenty of downtime activities, when all you want to do is lay on a glorious beach, soak in a thermal spring or enjoy a fantastic massage in a 5* eco-lodge.

The best of everything, you say? We certainly think so!

Here are some of our favorite Costa Rica Honeymoon Holiday Tips for Active Couples.

Take Surfing Lessons

Costa Rica honeymoon surfingCosta Rica is an insider’s surfing mecca, a place where enthusiasts head to when they want wicked waves and a chilled out vacation. No fuss, no glitz, no crowds. Just you, your love, two boards and endlessly rolling waves. Whether you’re both experienced surfers, or wish to learn a new sport together, taking a few surfing lessons on one of the country’s premier beaches is an absolute must.

The western coastline of Costa Rica, as well as the Nicoya Peninsula, boasts the best and most accessible surfing beaches. For casual surfing lessons with professional and friendly local instructors, head to Tamarindo Beach, Playa Grande, Playa Negra and Playa Avellana in Guanacaste; Playa Bejuco (near Manuel Antonio Nature Reserve) and Playa Hermosa in the Central Pacific. If you’re visiting the stunning Nicoya Peninsula, then include a few days in Malpais or Montezuma, both tried and tested surfer’s paradise.

Tackle a Costa Rica Honeymoon Day Hike

Costa Rica honeymoon hikeGet that blood pumping by tackling a full-day hike with your beloved. Whether you want the satisfaction of ending your hike on a breathtaking waterfall, or the challenge of ascending a vertiginous volcano, you’ll find a hiking trail that’s just right for you. Among the most popular trails are those of the Arenal Volcano Park (with various paths leading through forests and offering stunning views of the volcano), Tenorio Volcano (which end at the eerily translucent Rio Celeste waterfall and include a dip in hot thermal springs), the Manuel Antonio National Park (take the trail on the edge of the park and accost sparkling beaches the whole way) and the Santa Rosa National Park.

This last destination, in the Guanacaste Province, is beyond precious. This is Costa Rica’s oldest protected reserve and boasts trails among forests brimming with wildlife, before emerging on a superb beach which is favored by nesting Olive Ridley turtles when in season.

Scream Your Way Through a Zip Line Course

Costa Rica honeymoon zip lineComing to Costa Rica and not screaming your way down a zip line course while suspended up 1,400 feet is like going to Italy and not trying pizza. It would be a travesty! Canopy and zip line tours are scattered all over the country, and although the activity is offered the world over, Costa Rica really does seem to have a monopoly over the adrenaline-pumping exploit. A collection of a dozen or so bases, connected via cable, hanging bridges and flying foxes, all suspended up to head-spinning heights above the ground of cloud and tropical rain forests. If you and you partner love nothing more than to share adventures, giggles, and screams of excitement, then this activity will tick all your boxes

There are at least two dozen canopy tour companies who’ve set up trails all over the country. The most popular are in the most visited areas (around the Arenal Volcano, Manuel Antonio National Park and the Monteverde Cloud Forest) but if you are visiting any of the national parks and forests, you can bet there will be a canopy zip line tour on offer nearby. Simply ask at your hotel or resort at any point during your Costa Rica honeymoon stay.

Multi-Sport Adventure Tours

A multi-sport adventure honeymoon is the Holy Grail of many honeymooning couples. Spending days hopping between whitewater rafting on raging rivers, kayaking in secluded lagoons, zip lining above rain forests, horseback riding on the beach, rappelling down hidden canyons, and mountain biking through some of the most remote trails in the country, is about as good as an adventurous honeymoon can get.

Problem is…how on earth do you organize all of this on your own?!

You don’t!

Simple.

We do!

Bahía Junquillal National Wildlife snorkelingCosta Rica is popular because it is an extraordinary country offering a myriad of attractions, yet what lures many couples here is the fact that it is so incredibly affordable. So much so, that enjoying a full week on a fully planned vacation (that’s the vacation where you do nothing but show up at the airport, and we take care of the rest) can cost a mere fraction of just a couple of days spent anywhere else.

At Costa Rica Rios, we plan unforgettable Costa Rica honeymoon vacations that can be tailor-made to suit your pace, likes, and budget. Moreover, we can take you way off the tourist trail and show you incredible places you many never get to experience on your own. We can fit in all the adrenaline pumping action you like, and make sure to include plenty of relaxing and romantic pursuits to boot. We do all the work, so that you don’t have to, and can just concentrate on having an amazing, memorable time with the love of your life.

And isn’t that what honeymoons are all about?

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