Costa Rica Honeymoon Itinerary Ideas

Costa Rica is set to celebrate the kick off the 2017 wedding season in roaring form. With projected spikes in visitor numbers, this incredibly beautiful country is once again rated as one of the world’s top 3 wedding and honeymoon destinations. The appeal is certainly easy to understand. Merely a few hours’ flight from North America, this tropical haven is utterly blessed with pristine beaches, roaring volcanoes, stellar rain forests and a plethora of unique wildlife. If that’s not enough, Costa Rica has marketed itself as an active lover’s playground, so for those looking to do more on their honeymoon than simply sit on a beach catching sun rays, this country is an absolute dream. It packs in plenty of action with romance and passion, and throws in innumerable exotic locations and an idyllic tropical climate to top it off.

So what’s not to love?

Costa Rica honeymoonYet with all the options available, choosing an itinerary that’s right for you may seem a little overwhelming. We’re here to help!

Following are some itinerary ideas and destination timelines, which will help you work out just how much you can fit into your honeymoon. Whether you have 7, 10 or 18 days at your disposal, you’ll be surprised just how much you can squeeze into your unique Costa Rica honeymoon.

Arriving in Costa Rica

There are two options for entry into the country. The first and most popular – and often the one with the cheapest flights – is the capital city, San Jose, which sits right at the heart of the country. The second, the Liberia International Airport, lies at the north-western corner. These two springboards are conveniently located and offer easy gateways for active jaunts through every corner of the country.

Getting Out and About

Costa Rica honeymoon sunsetWhilst it’s true that the infrastructure in Costa Rica has made impressive progress over the last decade, and the fact that the country isn’t all that big, transfer times are still considerable. This is why it pays to maximize your holiday time by drawing up an itinerary that includes little or no backtracking, and always including one ‘free’ day near your departure city, in case of any transport mishaps or delays.

It’s also worth remembering that every destination in Costa Rica offers multiple attractions and activities, some requiring half-day excursions while others, a full day outing. Combine this with the need for some R&R while on honeymoon (half days spent doing nothing except enjoying your beloved’s company while luxuriating in some stellar resort) and it becomes obvious that you probably wouldn’t want to spend less than 3-4 nights at each destination you visit.

One-Week Costa Rica Honeymoon

If you’re heading to Costa Rica on a one-week active honeymoon, you can count on including the two most popular destinations, Manuel Antonio and Arenal Volcano, into your itinerary. Each of these delightful destinations offers a wealth of varying attractions and activities, making for a comprehensive honeymoon vacation that’s exhilarating, romantic, relaxing and invigorating, all at once.

Conveniently enough, Manuel Antonio and Arenal are literally on the way between San Jose and the Liberia International Airport, so your point of entry will simply determine which one you’ll visit first.

Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio is often dubbed the ‘crown jewel’ of Costa Rica, given its startling collection of exceptional highlights. This amazing national park comprises lush tropical forests cascading onto a long stretch of outstanding Pacific Ocean coastline.

Once here, you can hike through rainforests, horseback ride, swim and snorkel among pristine coral reefs and mountain bike amidst brimming of coffee plantations. And that’s just day 1. For a comprehensive active honeymoon itinerary which includes the best of forest, mountains and beaches, then Manuel Antonio is where you’ll want to be. With plenty of land and water-based pursuits to keep you out and about, and stellar resorts in which to luxuriate in the evenings, Manuel Antonio offers a honeymoon escapade like no other.

Arenal Volcano – La Fortuna

La Fortuna rests right at the base of stunning Arenal Volcano, one of the world’s (former) most active peaks and one of Costa Rica’s truly romantic destinations, thanks to its array of outstanding volcanic thermal pool resorts. Luxury, comfort and romance are interwoven into the very fabric of La Fortuna, with the most famous hot springs delightfully set amidst luscious tropical rainforests. If you’re looking for a relaxing place for some post-wedding R&R, you really couldn’t pick a better place. A full day’s relaxation is on the cards, before diving straight into the adrenalin-pumping sports for which the area is revered.

On the second day of your La Fortuna adventure, it’s time to explore the amazing rainforest, by way of cable car, walking trails, hanging bridges and ziplines. There’s nothing quite like discovering this dense wonderland from every height imaginable, and in every way possible, and adding an adrenalin rush to top it off.

Want even more action? You got it! Arenal is home to exhileraying Class III and IV white water rafting rapids, and on a full-day outing you can tackle over 40 rapids on a raging river gorge that stretches form more than 30 miles. Keep your eyes on the shoreline forests – if you dare – and you may even be lucky enough to spot monkeys and sloths.

Two-Week Costa Rica Honeymoon

If you have an extra week at your disposal, then you can set off to explore the further reaches of this incredible country. Simply continue your itinerary from the one-week honeymoon idea mentioned above, and add the following exhilarating destinations.

Guanacaste

The extreme north-western region of Guanacaste is home to some of the most divine beaches in the whole country, where you can spend endless days relaxing on glistening sandy beaches, taking surfing and SUP lessons and joining snorkeling tours.

In the evening, you’ll be privy to some of the most breathtaking sunsets you’ll ever see. Popular towns (and beaches) to explore here include the ever-famous Playa Hermosa, Tamarindo and Playa Samara. Along the stretch between Playa Hermosa and Tamarindo is where you’ll find some of the country’s most exclusive honeymoon and all-inclusive resorts, so if you’re looking for a splurge during your once-in-a-lifetime Costa Rica trip, you may want to indulge right here.

Nicoya Peninsula

Heading further south, you’ll discover the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica’s wild child. This magnificent peninsula is as remote and desolate as it is stunning, and with fewer crowds around you’ll get that privacy and intimacy you’ll no doubt desire on the second week of your honeymoon.

The Nicoya Peninsula straddles two of Costa Rica’s provinces and is one of the world’s famed ‘Blue Zones’, unique corners of the world where people enjoy exceptional longevity. This is one of Costa Rica’s least developed areas and its natural attributes, a fiercely protected highlight, means it will remain unspoilt. The attractions here are numerous, so the most adventurous couples may choose to spend their entire honeymoon vacation down here. Along with its vast array of wildlife, Nicoya offers action in spades. You can hike to waterfalls, horseback ride along the beach, explore wet and dry forests and surf some of the wildest waves in the country. Make sure you include a day trip to Isla Tortuga, a striking island whose turquoise waters attract sharks and rays, and verdant forests host sloths, monkeys and a multitude of birds.

For a particularly unique way to tour the country during your honeymoon, you can take a car transfer from San Jose to Puntarenas, where a passenger ferry will take you across to Nicoya, before making your way back to San Jose through the northern reaches of Guanacaste, the Arenal Volcano area and Manuel Antonio. A two-week Costa Rica honeymoon itinerary doesn’t get any better than that.

Itching to start planning your Costa Rica honeymoon? Call us today. We have an extensive array of fantastic honeymoon itineraries you can peruse, and the priceless option of planning a bespoke, tailor-made itinerary to suit your timing, desires and budgets.

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Unique Cooking Classes in Costa Rica

Nothing about Costa Rica is run of the mill, so you’d expect that any cooking class you’d come across in this country of flourishing wilderness, fertility and delightful produce, would be quite something. And it is! Fancy taking home more than just fantastic memories from your next adventure vacation in Costa Rica? Then add one of the following inspiring and totally unique cooking classes to your itinerary, and you can recreate your Costa Rica holiday vibe at home for many years to come.

From learning to make cheese and chocolate to discovering real farm life and exploring the health benefits of an organic diet with superb ingredients, the most unique cooking classes in Costa Rica are sure to be an unforgettable highlight.

Cooking Classes in Costa Rica:

Cheese-Making Class – Queso Canaan

Queso CanaanCooking classes in Costa Rica is one of Costa Rica’s true hidden treasures. This cheese factory, located in the Chirripo Valley merely 80 miles south-east of the capital, San Jose, is run by a family whose love for milk, and newfound passion for making cheese, is something to behold. With skills learnt in Switzerland merely 15 years ago, the Mata-Hernandez family have literally changed their lives, and have turned their 40-year old milk farm into the country’s most revered artisanal cheese farm. The family create a Swiss-like cheese that’s immensely tasty, rich and milky, and spending a few hours learning and practicing the art of cheese making here just feels like an absolute privilege.

On a day-tour (something you can organize through your hotel) you’ll be part of the process right from the start: from the milking of the cow, to the boiling of the milk, the adding of the salt and the final curing. The cheese wheel you create will have to age a few months, but you’ll still have the chance to take home a tasty morsel of this unique cheese at the day’s end. For a country that isn’t particularly renowned for its tasty matured cheeses, the Queso Canaan produce has been a huge hit, especially with expats and tourists. As a consequence, Queso Canaan is now found served and for sale in many hotels, restaurants and resorts (even as far north as San Jose) but visiting the original farm is highly recommended. The family is still keeping its boutique production small, creating merely a few pounds of cheese a day. Visits by tourists are highly cherished.

Chocolate Workshop – Samaritan Xocolata

Chocolate cooking classes in Costa RicaRight next door to Queso Canaan is where you’ll find Samaritan Xocolata, yet another of Costa Rica’s hidden gems. This artisanal chocolate factory uses only the best organic cacao beans, and is committed to sustainable and socially-conscious farming.

They run hands-on workshops that allow you to learn all about the history of chocolate, the modern cultivation practices and the process needed to create divine bonbons and chocolate bars. Unlike many other chocolate making tours, at Samaritan you will actually make your own chocolate bar (and yes, take it home!) as well as sample the vast array of sweet treats they produce. If you’re not a chocoholic by the time you visit Costa Rica, then add this workshop to your list of must-dos and we can guarantee you will be by the time you leave!

Farm experience – Granja Eco Turistica Victoria

Classes in Costa RicaA tour of Granja farm in La Fortuna gifts a fantastic insight into the life of a working Costa Rica farm and is a wonderful experience for the whole family. Aside from the delightfully charming family, who’ll welcome you with open arms (and moonshine in shot glass!) you’ll meet a plethora of animals that you can milk, herd and feed. A visit to this farm culminates in a delicious home-cooked meal, but if you prefer to be more hand-on you can include a cooking class and make a day-long excursion out of your visit of it. Absolutely recommended, especially if traveling with children.

Cooking Classes in Costa Rica – The Healing Cuisine

Specialized cooking classes in Costa RicaWorkshops with The Healing Cuisine, in Santa Teresa, are less about traditional Costa Rican cooking than about the health benefits gained from utilizing the exceptional organic ingredients grown in the region. Cooking class menus take advantage of the freshest of produce to make exceptionally yummy dishes like fish tacos, coconut shrimps and tangy ceviche. The Healing Cuisine’s emphasis is very much on healthy eating and utilizing organic ingredients to cleanse and revitalize the body while satisfying the taste buds. Healthy eating has never tasted this good! Considering the fact that Costa Rica’s fast becoming a mecca for health retreats, the Healing Cuisine is right on the money with its healthy take on delectable cooking. There are various styles of cooking to choose from, including tropical, gluten free and raw. The Healing Cuisine offers casual cooking classes and more intensive 10-day workshops.

Want to include one of our favorite cooking classes to your adventure tour of Costa Rica? Ask us how!

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Best Apps For Easy Traveling in Costa Rica

There’s no denying that smartphone applications have revolutionized travel to Costa Rica. Gone are the days when you had to navigate your way through this wonderful country with a paper map and just a smattering of Spanish. Nowadays, the best local info – and the means to communicate with friendly Ticos – is all right at your fingertips.

Download these apps before you leave home and, once in Costa Rica, buy a local sim-card loaded with data.  With easy access to internet – at immensely reduced prices – the best apps for easy traveling in Costa Rica will see you touring like a pro.

Apps for Easy Traveling:

GoCostaRica

goCostaRica apps for easy travelingThe brainchild of the Costa Rica Tourism Board, this app does a fine job of showing off the most impressive attractions, by means of high-res videos and photos. You can check out that waterfall you’re thinking of hiking to, or the beach you may catch a bus to, and see exactly what they look like. The only downside to this fantastic app, which is a great way of narrowing your wish-list before you even arrive, is that (so far) it’s only available for IPad download.

CRMaps

CRMaps apps for easy travelingThis is a local app that will likely become your go-to guide every day of your vacation, as it lists all major attractions and activities aimed specifically at tourists. From the best restaurants to the closest hotels, bus stops and points of interest, there’s a host of useful info and special treats to discover at each stage of your Costa Rica vacation.

Maps.Me

maps.me appGoogle maps is a fantastic GPS tool to get around town but there are certain countries, like Costa Rica, where it doesn’t quite cut it. Maps.Me, on the other hand, is extremely detailed and shows roads and trails that Google doesn’t even know exist. Moreover, you can use the app offline while traveling, without the need for an internet connection. Just download all the maps before you leave home and you’re set to go. There’s an impressive amount of details on Maps.Me, and options include choice of transport mode (on foot, by bicycle or car), and fastest route possible between two points. Since Maps.Me uses the built-in GPS on your smartphone, it means you can use it while the phone is on airplane mode, thus saving you battery time. Moreover, although other apps mentioned in this article are based on ‘maps’ they include a wealth of icons which kind of get in the way if the only thing you wish to see is that map itself.

CurrencyConverter

Currency converter appThe handy app lets you keep an eye on your expenses and updated on the exchange rate at time of purchase.

This is particularly handy if you’re planning on using your credit card for payments, or your key card at local ATMs.

WhatsApp

Whatsapp appIf you’re not using WhatsApp already, let us assure you that you certainly will by the time you come back home. WhatsApp is very popular in Costa Rica and invariably used by everyone for both business and social communication. To stay in touch with new friends or book just about anything, this texting app is essential, and will cut the need for phone calls in Spanish.

SpanishDict

More thorough than Google Translate, SpanishDict will be your savior when traveling through Costa Rica and making new local friends, although it doesn’t include all the idioms and special regional sayings for which the country is so renowned. But at least it’s a good start!

MagicSeaweed

Magicseaweed appHeading to Costa Rica to catch some waves? Then download MagicSeaweed before you leave and you’ll have all the latest surfing conditions, swells and forecasts, right at your fingertips. With more than 300 beaches covered all over the world, this handy app will be your ideal surfing companion in Costa Rica.

YoViajo

Yo Viajo appIf you’re planning on touring Costa Rica by bus – or actually, catching any bus in the country – then YoViajo is the app for you. Although the app is in Spanish, it is very user friendly and it’s easy to work out the over 800 bus routes included, countrywide, as well as their times and costs.

TripAdvisor

TripAdvisorIf you’re a frequent overseas traveler then you will no doubt be already a fan of TripAdvisor and consider it one of the best apps for Traveling in Costa Roca. This is about the most useful tool for checking personal reviews on restaurants, hotels and attractions, anywhere in the world. Down this neck of the woods, Yelp hasn’t really taken off, so TripAdvisor is your best bet for finding the most current feedback on top things to see, do buy and eat in Costa Rica.

VivaelMenu

Viva el Menu appWant to indulge in some gastronomic delights whilst in Costa Rica? Then this is the app for you. Showcasing menus and reviews of popular restaurants in your area, VivaelMenu is a great way of seeking out the hottest and best eateries in Costa Rica. Unfortunately, being a local startup, the app is only offered in Spanish for now, but if you master a few key words you’ll find this app very user friendly. You can also check out their FB page which has a host of fantastic recommendations for restaurants all over the country.

A note on UBER

UBER is in a bit of a conundrum in Costa Rica. As of right now, the service acts outside the country’s laws and there have been reports of attacks on UBER driver by vigilante taxi drivers. No tourists have ever been targeted, by the way. The best advice here is to keep well away from UBER, even though you’ll find the app operational in the capital, San Jose. It is a good idea to check UBER prices, however, because they’ll give you an idea of how much you should negotiating with local taxi drivers.

When traveling in Costa Rica, nothing will replace the knowledge of a local guide, but with these useful apps you’ll at least have a wealth of information close at hand. So check out the amazing active Costa Rica vacation packages we offer and, combined with your nifty new apps, you’ll experience this country at its fullest potential.

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Your Guide to Corcovado National Park

Corcovado National ParkHome to half of Costa Rica’s flora and fauna, the remote and spectacular Corcovado National Park is considered the most bio diverse region in the world.

Nowhere will you find this many species of flora and fauna thriving in such a small pocket of natural wonderland. Within its boundaries, which are still impressively large, there exist 13 different ecosystems, including several different types of forests, swamps, mangroves, and marine environments. For nature loving enthusiasts, few places elicit the kind of excitement and expectation that Corcovado does. For it is here that you have the best chance of spotting some of the most elusive animals in Costa Rica, like tapirs, jaguars, squirrel monkeys, scarlet macaws and Harpy eagles.

Moreover, the park’s remoteness means that no matter where you go, you’ll feel like you have the place to yourself. Oftentimes, you really do. Gone are the tourist crowds and long stretches of souvenir stalls.  The only thing that reigns supreme here is nature, in all its wonderful glory.

For the adventure and wilderness seeker, and the traveler who prefers exploring way off the beaten path, an action-packed adventure in Corcovado is an absolute must.

Where is Corcovado National Park?

Located on the south-western tip of Costa Rica, Corcovado makes up a great chunk of the beautiful Osa Peninsula. There are several entry points into the park but Puerto Jimenez remains the most popular, and most convenient. Although only 240 miles from the capital, San Jose, driving time to Corcovado National Park is approximately 9 hours.

Unless you’re planning to take two days to reach Puerto Jimenez (there’s certainly plenty to see along the way) you should consider flying down instead. The chartered flight is inexpensive and a great option, yet they’re extremely strict on weight allowance so you must pack light from home. An alternative and immensely beautiful entry point (by boat) is Drake Bay, in the north.

When’s the Best Time to Visit?

Exploring Corcovado will require a few river crossings, so it is recommended to travel here during the dry season, in the months, between December and April. The moment you step out of the tourist areas in Costa Rica, you’ll see the rest of the country beating to a completely different drum. Down in the Osa Peninsula, it is another world, one where 4WDs are almost mandatory, especially when visiting Corcovado. The state of the roads makes transfer time-consuming, but it’s also immensely fun.

What Activities Are There?

The majority of Corcovado is completely inaccessible to visitors, yet there are still enough hiking trails here to keep you entranced for days on end. The trails take you right into the heart of the rainforests and along the startling beach, and connect the 4 different ranger stations: La Sirena, La Leona, San Pedrillo and Los Patos, with the latter being the only one inland, and not along the coast. It is on hikes through this spectacular reserve that you’ll enjoy up close and personal encounters with some of its most enticing animal species.

Upon arrival, you can grab a copy of the trails map, and get an updated condition on tide levels. Whether you walk through the forest, or along the 23 miles of rugged beach, you’ll be required to cross rivers, some of which are inhabited by American crocodiles and bull sharks. There is also the incredible opportunity to kayak through the estuaries within the rainforest, but this must be planned ahead. In the town of Puerto Jimenez, you can rent kayaks, bicycles, and even horses for excursions.

In Corcovado, even the shortest hike is a full-day affair, so multi-day hikers (as opposed to day trippers who visit a ranger station and walk nearby) will need to carry camping equipment, and book their stay along the way.

What Animals Will I See At Corcovado?

If it lives and thrives in Costa Rica, chances are you’ll find it in Corcovado. This includes all the felines living in the country, all nesting turtle species, all the monkey species, over 40 different types of frogs, dozens upon dozens of snakes and lizards, hundreds of birds and tens of thousands of insects.

For wildlife lovers, Corcovado promises a truly unforgettable experience, one that plays out among some of the most unspoilt wilderness on earth.

What’s it Like to Hike in Corcovado?

This would have to rate as one of the hardest – and simultaneously most rewarding – places to visit in all of Costa Rica. Getting there is half the fun and half the struggle, as the remoteness of the region and lack of development translate to hours spent hiking, on a boat, in a car, or on a charter plane. Once there, you’ll be welcomed by a humid, wet rainforest that drenches everything, including you. Yet for all the hard work, the rewards are stupendous. This is a spectacular place, a pocket of natural wilderness the likes of which you simply won’t find anywhere. A feast for the senses, Corcovado is a world of unique sounds, deafening sounds at times, and intense smells. Yet it’s the sights that impress most. The verdant colours of nature, from the trees to the flowers and all the animals, makes this an unparalleled visual feast.

Where Can You Stay When Visiting?

There is a smattering of lodgings in Corcovado National Park (and surrounds) ranging from cheap and cheerful backpackers’ hostels and dorms at ranger’s stations, to luxury jungle lodges that are out of this world.

The Logistics of Visiting Corcovado

If you want to visit Corcovado you’ll need to add a USD $10 per day into your budget, as well as rates for local guides. As of a few years ago, guides are compulsory, and visiting independently is not allowed.

You can choose to visit Corcovado on a multi-day hike (but be prepared for a hard slog!) or set your sights on La Sirena (the most beautiful park headquarters in the world, we think!) on a day trip from Drake Bay. La Sirena is actually a brilliant ‘end point’ for first-time hikers to tropical rainforests, because if you can’t manage to cope with the very basic accommodation choice at the park headquarters, you’ll have the option to leave by boat, and head back to Drake Bay and stay in one of the beautiful Corcovado hotels there instead.

Want to explore one of the world’s most incredible treasures? We can take you there. Contact us for more details, and let us show you how easy it is to combine a visit to Corcovado with a host of active pursuits in the region’s pristine nature.

 

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How to Find the Best Planner for Your Costa Rica Wedding

Costa Rica weddingAnyone who’s ever planned a wedding will attest to it being a tad stressful. There are 101 things to think about, all simultaneously, and 101 more that’ll slip one’s mind until the time it becomes obvious that they have been all but forgotten. When you plan a wedding abroad, however, you can just about quintuple the stress! Not only do you have countless things to think about and organize, but you and your wedding venue manager, cake maker, florist, make-up artist and string quarter are in different countries. How on earth does one organize a seamlessly beautiful and breathtaking Costa Rica wedding?! With a fantastic wedding planner, that’s how.

Costa Rica wedding planners are renowned for being exceptional at what they do. They live in a country that has become the epitome backdrop for a destination wedding, and they have the know-how to make your special day something extraordinary.

Need some help scoring that one-in-a-million-planner that’ll make your day an unforgettable experience?

We’re here to help.

To Plan or Not to Plan

Many couples will indeed be wondering if they can actually organize their Costa Rica wedding without a local planner. The short answer is ‘Yes, you can!’ yet the more comprehensive response would be ‘Of course you can, yet you may find it too time-consuming and stressful to make going it alone worthwhile’. Whilst many resorts in Costa Rica offer wedding packages which include reception dinner, flowers, wedding cake and the likes, you will be left to organize quite a few things on your own. Moreover, if you wish to do anything out of the norm, like have a beach wedding or organize a full weeklong event held in a private villa, a little external help will be not just helpful, but rather essential.

Dedicated Costa Rica wedding planners are adept at bringing all the pieces of the puzzle together effortlessly, leaving you and your beloved to simply show up, make your vows, and celebrate. The best part? Hiring a wedding planner in Costa Rica costs just a fraction of what it does at home, making their services even more enticing.

Locate Your Perfect Costa Rica Wedding Planner

Wedding coupleTrusting the most important day of your life to a complete stranger may be daunting, we know. Yet there are plenty of things you can do to ensure you catch yourself a priceless ally. Someone who understands you, knows your likes and dislikes and totally gets where you’re coming from. Someone on your wavelength. To this end, here’s our list of tips and hints to help you find that perfect Costa Rica wedding planner match made in heaven:

  1. Trust personal recommendations – with a tiny grain of salt. Professionalism, great communication skills and competency are the main attributes you ought to look for in a wedding planner. Everything else, becomes very objective. Just because your friend just luuuurved her wedding planner in Costa Rica, it doesn’t mean you’ll be able to build the same rapport with him/her. You can’t expect the same result just because you choose the same wedding planner. Costa Rica destination weddings are always unique, as is every couple, and your aim is to find a planner that’s just right for the two of you. Recommendations are wonderful and should be graciously accepted, but don’t rely on them completely. Contact as many planners as you can and make your decision based on your heart and gut feeling, primarily.
  2. Make sure you and your planner can communicate well The great majority of the time, you’ll be communicating with your planner via email. It is imperative that you understand each other and can communicate well. Perhaps you speak Spanish fluently, but if you don’t, you really ought to ensure your planner can express her/himself clearly in English. A slight misunderstanding via email can translate into a huge disappointment on your big day.
  3. Know what you’re getting Be very clear and knowledgeable about what you planner can and can’t organize. Ask your planner to make a precise list of what they can do for you, and to outline what is needed for a Costa Rica wedding (they will know this) and the details with which they cannot help.
  4. Only choose a planner who’ll be there on your wedding day Make sure your wedding planner and the whole planning team will be on hand to take care of your special day on the actual day. They must be there, from beginning, to end. If they can’t – because they are booking 4 weddings on the same day – look for someone else. You will only have a stress-free day if you know your planner will be by your side and available to fix any problems should they arise.
  5. Experience and accreditation are a must Choose a wedding planner who’s been at it for a while, a few years at least, and who is certified and a member of the Costa Rica Tourism Board.
  6. Short of ideas? Ask your planner! They are a boundless source of info and creative ideas, and can incorporate a myriad of crazy beautiful wishes into your event. Never mistake your wedding planner for a simple logistical facilitator: these guys are artists. They have visions, experiences and know what works best where and when.
  7. Trust is key Once you find a planner you absolutely adore….trust them. When it comes to planning unique and amazing wedding in Costa Rica, they really do know best.

Before heading out into the virtual yonder to seek your one-of-a-kind wedding planner, you may appreciate a little more info:

*Want to know when you should plan to get married? Read our Guide on How to Time Your Costa Rica Wedding Right

*Want to know the legalities involved in getting married here? Read our Everything You Need to Know About Costa Rica Destination Wedding Guide

*Want to know what the best part of a Costa Rica weeding is? Then do read our guide to Planning the Perfect Bespoke Honeymoon in Costa Rica

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Discover the Anti-aging Benefits of Costa Rica’s Green Coffee

Costa Rica's green coffeeNews has hit the international headlines that renowned French cosmetics brand Chanel is about to launch a new anti-aging serum containing green coffee from Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula.

To those who are familiar with Blue Zones – those unique parts of the world where people seem to thrive to a very ripe old age – this may not come as much of a surprise. The Nicoya Peninsula boasts an unusually high percentage of centenarians, or people who live beyond 100 years of age. This kind of longevity is only found in five pockets of our planet and Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula is the most famous of all and the only one found in the Western Hemisphere.

Costa Rica’s Blue Zone in the Nicoya Peninsula has been the subjects of much research in recent years, with experts trying to determine the precise origins of people’s wellbeing. It’s not only that inhabitants live longer here, but they also suffer from far fewer illnesses and are much healthier, for much longer. Studies have revealed that there are a few commonalities which all inhabitants from Blue Zones share, including a semi-vegetarian diet, moderate physical activity as part of everyday life (no sedentary office jobs here!) a life purpose which extends beyond careers, where family and leisure rate higher than work and money, as well as a very high incident of family living, where multiple generations live in close proximity to one another, if not in the same household.

Chanel’s own experts have honed in on the green coffee for which Nicoya is so renowned, but it’s fair to say that there is much more to it.  Pura Vida, the iconic cry of the country, is designed for better life-enjoyment, where family, good food and happiness are the three most important aspects. This general, country-wide ‘happiness’ is one of the many factors which make Costa Rica such a phenomenal country to visit. Hop off a plane on holiday, and you’ll feel an instant lifting of the stresses of everyday life. The climate is idyllic, the nature resplendent, the food amazing and the people friendly. What more could one need for a happy, healthy and long life?

Chanel has added green coffee from Costa Rica as one of the main active ingredients in their new Blue Serum. The extraction process used is estimated to produce antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which are about 70 times higher than those normally found in regular coffee.

You can see the promotional video below.

Nicoya’s green coffee is produced by a small cooperative in Nandayurre, near the north-eastern border between the Puntarenas and Guanacaste provinces. One of the best places to visit if you’re interested in learning more about this coffee, perhaps take a tour and sip some exceptional green coffee, is at Monteverde’s Coffee Lab, who carry several different types of coffee from all over the country.

Green coffee is only one of the nearly infinite assets which make Costa Rica one of the world’s most special countries. Pristine nature, an abundance of wildlife and a relaxed lifestyle all combine to make life in this country immensely enjoyable. This is one of the reasons why Costa Rica has grown in popularity among North Americans, as an idyllic retirement destination. As a holiday destination, it also doesn’t hold back. An array of fantastic active pursuits including white water rafting, horseriding, ziplining and hiking is on offer in almost every corner of Costa Rica, a place where nature takes centre stage and where relaxation and rejuvenation are guaranteed. Ready to do your body and soul a world of good? Then check out our tours and contact us for tailor-made itineraries that’ll have you dive straight into this most magnificent destination.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Puntarenas

PuntarenasThe closest beach destination to Costa Rica’s capital of San Jose, the Puntarenas Province is as popular with locals as it is with foreign tourists. And what’s not to love?

As the country’s largest province, covering almost two-thirds of the entire Pacific coastline, this incredibly diverse region boasts stunning stretches of pristine beaches, unspoilt islands, and protected reserves brimming with waterfalls and rivers; striking mountains offering infinite hiking possibilities and, as the epitome cherry on the cake, it is the gateway to the splendid Nicoya Peninsula. Our Insider’s Guide to Puntarenas brings you the very best highlights of this region and how best to enjoy them.

Best Time to Visit

With its extensive borders, tropical climate and diverse geography, Puntarenas offers an eclectic mix of weather patterns. Generally speaking, however, the best months to visit are between December and April, which is during the dry season. Rains, which typically occur during the northern summer, can play havoc with mountain hiking and beach combing, although rains are usually concentrated in just a couple of afternoon hours.

Overview of the Province

Up until a few years ago, this was Costa Rica’s wild side, with little in terms of tourist infrastructure outside of the main seaside town, also called Puntarenas. Yet as popularity for the region increases so do all the services, and nowadays there is much in terms of attractions and destinations which can easily be reached by boat, or by road. From Puntarenas town, you can take boat rides to visit small villages dotting the coast of the Nicoya Peninsula, like Montezuma and Malpais. The town of Puntarenas is only 60 miles from San Juan International Airport.

Best Starting Point

Puntarenas town is the best starting point for explorations of the region, boasting the highest concentrations of hotels and restaurants. The aptly named Tourist Walk, which runs along the town’s seaside front, is chock-full of art and craft stalls, as well as food stands selling typical Tico fair. The freshly squeezed fruit juices (batidos) are particularly recommended, as are shrimp and lobsters. This town is particularly revered for its selection of fresh seafood, which is the best in the country! While here, visit the historic Marine Museum located inside the Puntarenas Barracks. Overlooked by a great many visitors, this small yet interesting museum showcases the maritime history of the town as well as the ecological origins of the regions. If you’re looking for something a little different, you may find a visit here quite rewarding.

What to See and Do

The beaches of Puntarenas are by far the most popular and visited in Costa Rica, thanks to them being just an hour away from the capital city. Luckily, the sheer choice of beaches means that crowds are dispersed, so whether you want to worship the sun and surf the waves in company, or just stroll on a desolate stretch with your beloved, there is a corner of this province’s coastline that’ll be perfect for you.

Playa Hermosa and Pavones offer the best surf breaks, as does Dominical, especially if you’re an experienced surfer. From Hermosa, you can hop on a boat to laze along the sandy shores of Isla Tortuga, or Turtle Island, which also offers exceptional snorkeling. Nearby at the Manuel Antonio National Park, you’ll discover what is arguably the most pristine stretch of beach in the whole country, which snorkelers and swimmers spend entire days exploring.

If you’re an active traveler, you won’t be disappointed. In Puntarenas you’ll find all the outdoor pursuits for which Costa Rica is so revered, like hiking, ziplining, horseback riding, mountain biking, kayaking, snorkeling, wildlife watching and so much more.

Shoppers who happen to visit when a cruise liner is in town will find the whole esplanade filled with vendors selling all sorts of hand-made souvenirs and fresh produce.

Puntarenas is also the most popular stopover for those heading to the Monteverde cloud forest, and a wonderfully relaxing place to end an action-packed tour of the rest of the country.

At Costa Rica Rios, we offer a comprehensive array of fantastic adventure tour vacations, perfect for honeymooning couples and families. Contact us for more info and let us show you the best this incredible country has to offer.

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10 Fascinating Facts About Costa Rica’s Rain Forests

When people plan their Costa Rica Rios adventure vacation the first thing they envision is taking unforgettable walks through the country’s jungles. Havens of pristine wilderness and varied wildlife, rain forests are the world’s most complex and important ecosystem. Collectively, they harbor a colossal chunk of the biodiversity the planet needs to thrive, or between 40 and 75% of all biotic species. You’ll be undoubtedly be planning a visit to some of Costa Rica’s rain forests.

So let us help tickle your curiosity.

  1. Costa Rica's Rain ForestsRain forests are made up of two distinct ecosystems: tropical and temperate. Tropical rain forests are found between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. They are primarily characterized by how much rain they receive, which is about 66 inches a year, on average. Temperate rain forests are found on just about every corner of the globe, all the way up to (almost) both Polar Regions.
  1. Every tropical rain forest scan be divided into four layers: the forest floor, the understory (everything at eye-height), the canopy (what you see when you look up) and the emergent layer, which is everything that grows and lives above the canopy, usually obscured from view. Each layer is inhabited by quite distinct species of flora and fauna.
  1. The largest tropical rain forest in the world is the Amazon, which runs through nine South American countries. Over 50% of Costa Rica is made up of primary rain forest, which is the most carbon-dense and bio-diverse in existence.
  1. Rain forests are likened to the planet’s thermostat: they regulate the global climate and temperatures. About 28% of the oxygen produced on earth is from rainforests. This is what makes them so important, as well as highly susceptible to the detrimental effects of global warming. Aside this threat, rainforests are also subjected to catastrophic logging, mining, ranching and agricultural expansion, the world over. Deforestation has decimated about 40% of the rain forests which once existed on our planet. Costa Rica is one of the few countries in the world which makes conservation a priority, and over 75% of the country’s rain forests are protected reserves.
  1. Our planet’s rain forests boast 70% of the plants currently used to treat cancer, and it’s believed many more are yet to be discovered as only 1% of the flora has ever been studied for their medicinal purposes. Each square mile of rainforest boasts, on average, 400 species of flowering plants and 200 different types of trees.
  1. There is still, to this day, much that we don’t know about these incredible ecosystems, and estimates of new and unidentified species of flora and fauna are believed to number in the millions.
  1. Every single day, the world loses the equivalent of 80,000 football-field-sized portions of rain forests.
  1. The world’s rain forests currently supply livelihood for over 1.2 billion people living in poverty.
  1. In tropical rain forests, the canopy is so dense that rainfall can take up to 10 minutes to reach the forest floor.
  1. Rain forests are the oldest ecosystem on earth

Discover Costa Rica’s Forests

All up, Costa Rica is home to six different kinds of rain forests, including tropical, tropical dry and the mesmerizing cloud forests. Over 100 different species of trees are found here, as well as an enticing array of wildlife, including sloths, a nearly endless array of monkey and thousands of bird species.

Costa Rica slothThe most famous cloud forest in the country is undoubtedly Monteverde, a mystical place brimming with coffee plantations, rowdy monkeys, and endless hiking possibilities. Cloud forests are very special, almost magical, as they are shrouded in a mist that makes them feel quite ethereal. The wonderful thing about Costa Rica’s rainforests is that they are thriving centers for eco-friendly activities. Ziplining, hiking, canopy tours, visiting butterfly farms and bird-watching: these are some of the ways you can experience the rainforests in this spectacular country.

In the northern Pacific coast, in the Guanacaste province, is where you’ll find tropical dry forests. These are not nearly as dense as cloud forests, so your chances of spotting wildlife are much higher. Kayaking and horseback riding are two of the best activities in which you can indulge here.

If planning a white water rafting tour in Costa Rica you’ll be exploring what are known as lowland rainforests. These occur up to 1,000m in altitude and boast the tallest trees of all, harboring a huge number of micro environments.

At Costa Rica Rios, we strive to showcase the inherent beauty of the country’s rain forests, as it is inherently human to only protect what one knows, and loves. We are committed to promoting eco-friendly tourism, where the only things you take are unforgettable memories, and the only things you leave behind are your footprints…and just a little piece of your heart. Contact us for more info.

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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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