The Most Famous National Landmarks in Costa Rica

The most famous national landmarks in Costa Rica take you on a whirlwind tour through the country’s long and illustrious history, showcasing the fact that Costa Rica is as rich in cultural and historical treasures as she is in nature-filled ones. From beautiful centuries-old cathedrals to opulent theatres, mysterious archaeological finds and incredible eco-tourism legacies, the following prominent landmarks beautifully complement the natural riches which have made this one of the world’s most revered travel destinations.

Include one, two or all on your next adventure vacation in Costa Rica, and make your journey a comprehensive, varied and immensely rewarding experience.

National Landmarks in Costa Rica

Museo Nacional de Costa Rica, San Jose

national landmarks in costa ricaHoused within the protective walls of a late 18th-century fortress, the country’s largest and most important museum is as enthralling in content as it is in utter visual delight. Used during the civil war of 1948 (bullet holes are still visible) the Museo Nacional de Costa Rica offers a summarized glimpse into the history of the country from pre-Columbian times right up to the present day and hosts a wealth of beautiful historical artefacts, war memorabilia and more.

The fact that the Bellavista Fortress is an absolute splendor – and the addition of a stunning butterfly-filled garden together with English-language info-boards – make this an absolute must-visit for anyone traveling through the capital.

Museo de Oro pre-Columbino, San Jose

national landmarks in costa ricaConcentrating on the pre-Columbian era, this ‘museum of gold’ gifts a fascinating look into the complex and unique attributes of Costa Rica’s ancient indigenous cultures. Found right next door to the abovementioned Teatro Nacional, the Museum of pre-Columbian Gold showcases an interesting, comprehensive and quite glistening collection of ancient gold dating back to 500AD. From animal statuettes to amulets, jewelry and coins, the collections here are incredibly interesting especially if you’re party to ancient history.

Cartago

Costa Rica’s first colonial capital is one enormous highlight and home to some of the country’s most revered national landmarks. Just a half hour’s drive south of San Jose, right on the foothills of Irazu Volcano at an altitude of more than 4,700’, Cartago was established in the mid-16th century and extensively damaged in several devastating earthquakes. Nowadays, Cartago is a striking walk-through outdoor museum, with pedestrian-only access around the ruins of the first cathedral, as well as the picturesque Our Ladies of Angels Basilica, quaint stone bridges and picturesque old houses. Fantastic eateries and plenty of hotel choices mean you could spend a couple of days exploring the town in great depth.

The Hanging Bridges of Arenal

national landmarks in costa ricaThe spectacular hanging bridges of Arenal may not be as old as Cartago but they are just as indicative of the country’s eclectic history as any ancient architecture. A superb 2-mile trail of 16 bridges – a few of which are hanging – take you on a whirlwind tour through the virgin rainforests of Arenal, as they transition from highland to lowland ecosystems, displaying flora and wildlife native to all. An interactive and unforgettable trip through the natural history of the region, the hanging bridges of Arenal offer an unrivalled chance to explore and admire more than otherwise possible from ground level.

Ancient Stone Spheres

The country’s most mysterious national landmarks are mystical granite sphere of varying sizes, found in various locations. Their exact date, use, and the culture which built them are unknown to this date, making them all the more appealing. Found primarily in the Diquis Valley, as well as Caño Island and even some of the remotest parts of the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica’s enigmatic ancient spheres – some of which weigh up to 15 tons – are mostly found in their original locations although, on Caño Island, some were moved to an ancient cemetery by the indigenous Boruca people.

Guayabo de Turrialba

Often rated as the most impressive national landmark in Costa Rica, Guayabo de Turrialba is its most prominent archaeological site and home to some of the above-mentioned spheres, as well as ancient plazas, stone carved streets, bridges, aqueducts and housing projects, some of which date back almost 3,000 years. Used as a ceremonial center, as well as being a thriving city for over two millennia, Guayabo is where some of the gold showcased in the pre-Columbian museum was found. The national monument is hidden within the luscious canopy of the rainforest flanking Turrialba Volcano, and restoration works, as well as exploratory excavations, are still ongoing and probably will be for years to come.

Megalithic Monuments at Rivas

A colossal collection of ancient pottery, musical instruments and more have been discovered in an archaeological site which dates back to the Chiriquí period in the first millennia CE. The megalithic site at Rivas, close to the capital San Jose, is a fantastic place to explore on a day out of the city and is one of Costa Rica’s most picturesque national landmarks. The modern town of Riva sits just north of the confluence of two rivers and is framed by a supremely scenic landscape. In this valley region, there have been over a dozen archaeological sites discovered dating back to the Chiriquí period and although much of the area is now covered in farming plots, there are still plenty of ruins to discover on foot. A wonderful stop-over on the way to Chirripo.

Petroglyphs of Cacao

Chocolate petroglyphs, you ask? Nooo!! The petroglyphs of Cacao Volcano in the Guanacaste Province are almost as mysterious as the granite boulders. Petroglyphs number in their hundreds and have been discovered near El Pedregal, with more discovered only recently.

An extensively larger collection of megaliths and petroglyphs have been unearthed all over Costa Rica and, although the country never boasted a powerful indigenous mega-culture (such as the Incas or Aztecs) when the Spaniards arrived, it’s clearly evident it nevertheless was home to many different ancient cultures, dating back thousands of year.

Visiting a few national landmarks in Costa Rica on your adventure tour of the country will certainly grant you the chance to explore the historical and cultural side of this marvelous country. For more info on comprehensive and eclectic adventure tours of Costa Rica, simply contact us.

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Discover Costa Rica’s Blue Zone – The Healthiest Place on Earth

The Nicoya Peninsula is one of a few rare places in the world (known as a blue zone) where people live longer, happier and much healthier lives. This is, quite simply, the healthiest place on earth.

Renowned for being home to more centenarians than any other place on earth, Costa Rica’s Blue Zone has fascinated the world and captivated the attention of scientists for decades. The Nicoya Peninsula, in northwest Costa Rica, is home to a staggering number of old, happy and healthy folks (like, really, really old) and it is said that living here doubles your chances of reaching a very healthy state at 90 years of age, and very high chance that you’ll get to 100 still enjoying la Pura Vida. It’s certainly incentive enough to move to Costa Rica in retirement, some may think, although scientists believe that it’s a full life lived in this stupendously luscious wilderness, and genetic inheritance, that actually counts most.

Oh well. We could always visit and soak up the benefits. And plenty of green coffee. That couldn’t possibly hurt.

When was Costa Rica’s Blue Zone Discovered?

Scientists have been moseying about Nicoya for decades but it wasn’t until US researcher Dan Buettner published his 2004 study (which he carried out in conjunction with National Geographic) on the world’s Blue Zones that the rest of the world learnt of this phenomenon, and its new moniker. Buttner’s book shone the light on this incredible region, and that of specific pockets of Japan, Italy and Greece, and even California where people don’t just live longer but also enjoy a much better state of overall health, requiring far fewer medication because they simply don’t suffer as many ailments. Not even much later in life.

Costa Rica blue zoneIn Costa Rica, longevity has always been celebrated and anytime someone turns one hundred a special mention is made in the national newspaper. Needless to say, this happens a lot. Out of the five Blue Zone regions, Costa Rica boasts the most number of male centenarians and the lowest rate of middle-age mortality.

What Essential Factors Hint at this Unique Longevity?

Demographers have been trying for the last decade to hone in their research on the specific reasons people in Blue Zones enjoy such healthy longevity. So far, they’ve managed to narrow it down to a few commonalities of all five regions:

  • They feel a strong sense of community with focus on nuclear families
  • They feel needed and have plenty of reasons to live
  • They live in sociable communities which include them
  • They’ve all enjoyed active lives, mostly working on the land
  • They boast a healthy amount of daily exercise, although for most it’s through work
  • They’ve enjoyed mineral-rich drinking water all their lives
  • Leading outdoor lives ensure they’ve all had their fill of Vitamin D and all boast stronger bones
  • Whether religious or spiritual, they all maintain a deep faith of one kind or another
  • They all maintain an overall healthy lifestyle, with a focus very much on moderation for just about everything. From drinking to eating, exercising and resting

The Costa Rica Blue Zone Effect

These reasons, in general, account for the high rate of good health in the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica. There are fewer instances of heart disease, obesity, cancers and ailments (at any age), given the healthy lifestyle and uber-healthy eating habits, with most diets based on raw and organic fresh produce, which boast plenty of antioxidants. Heavily processed foods, animal fat and added refined sugars are almost non-existent here.

What is beautiful to know is that the emotional wellbeing really seems to place an emphasis on physical wellbeing. Ticos are a sociable and loving people and this is a culture where older people are respected and included, not locked away in homes and hardly ever visited. There are certainly old age homes in Costa Rica, but visit one in your 40s and you may be excused for wanting to move in right away. Jovial, helpful and communal, Costa Rica’s aged home care centers are totally unique.

Nuclear families and daily social contact seems to be imperative in ensuring one’s heart, mind and body, reach a ripe old age. In Costa Rica, grandparents are encouraged to contribute to family life, so whether it’s to babysit a little one, peel potatoes or buy groceries, they all have a reason to get up in the morning and head out, which undoubtedly helps them feel needed and loved.

There are plenty who would argue that Costa Rica’s top notch health care system and peaceful essence help people live longer, yet what is important to note is that centenarians of the Nicoya Peninsula have had little need for modern medicines. And, besides, there are quite a few peaceful countries around the world, yet they don’t seem to benefit to such high degrees as Costa Ricans.

Perhaps all visitors to this magnificent country could take home a few pointers. Have a reason to get up in the morning, enjoy a close family life, don’t overindulge in anything and enjoy everything…in moderation. Keep active, keep interested, nurture friendships and, above all else, remove the excessive stresses of modern day life in frenetic countries where the pace seems to overrun everybody.

And if you can enjoy a cup of green coffee and a –plate of maze and beans every day, then you’ll be well on your way to discovering the secrets that lie behind Costa Rica’s Blue Zone.

Fall in love with Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula. We have.

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Most Indulgent Costa Rica Spa Treatments

Adventure and pleasure go hand in hand on a Costa Rica vacation and, to help you on your merry way, we’ve scoured high and low to find the best Costa Rica spa treatments on offer, so you don’t have to. You’re welcome. Whether you’re heading to Costa Rica on a unique honeymoon adventure, planning a destination wedding or looking forward to a fantastic family fun vacation, we’re certain you could always find some time to indulge in a little ‘me’ time.

Costa Rica Spa Treatments

Brown Sugar & Orange Soufflé Scrub, at Tabacon

Costa Rica Spa TreatmentsIf you’re looking for the best and most revered, award-winning spa resort then you shouldn’t float past the Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort, the country’s premier mecca for relaxation and rejuvenation.

Between the volcanic mud wrap, coffee exfoliation and milk baths – all treatments that sound good enough to eat – you can soak in the steaming thermal pools or your private mineral-enriched Jacuzzi, to unleash any leftover stress. There probably won’t be much chance of there being any, to be honest. Set in splendidly wild surroundings near Arenal and offering luxury along with plenty of Costa Rica’s authenticity, this place is an absolute stress-free choice.

Green Clay Detox and Sugar Cane Therapy at Andaz ONDA Spa

Costa Rica Spa TreatmentsIf you’re feeling like you’ve been transported literally in the heart of the jungle during your sumptuous aromatherapy massage at ONDA, that’s because you have. With 9 exotic rooms to choose from, all set in open air terraces and surrounded by unspoilt Papagayo wilderness, the treatments at this resort offer a complete sensory rejuvenation.

Part of the international Hyatt group, Andaz ONDA Spa tailors treatments to guest’s needs and desires, and offers a plethora of treatments which incorporate the country’s ancestral wellness treatments and organic, local botanical ingredients.

Hot & Cold Stone Couple Massage at Nayara Spa & Gardens

Honeymooners wishing to relax together should make a point of visiting the Nayara Spa & Gardens in Arenal, where his & hers treatments include hot stone massage and facials.

Nayara also offers classes for couples who wish to learn how to massage each other. As they say: if it’s good enough for Conde Naste Traveler to swoon over, it’s good enough for us.

At Spa Sha, Kura Design Villas

We love this place and named it one of our favorite honeymoon sundowner spots in the whole country. Well, now you’ll have yet another reason to visit.

Kura Design Villas’ in-house spa offers a full-service spa that includes massages, facials, deep tub soaks, rubs, wraps and even a couple therapy aptly named Kura Paradise that’ll have you both floating on cloud 9 for hours afterwards.

Four-Hand Deep Tissue Massage at Harmony

At the Harmony Hotel in Nosara they call it the Octopus Massage but we call PURELY.DIVINE. Revered by discerning holidaymakers, this gorgeous ecoresort certainly offers many indulgences, including a 2-therapist massage that’ll rub all those stresses right out of your back and shoulders. The Harmony Healing Centre is exactly as it’s named, and after a full day tackling the Nosara waves on a surfboard, that could be precisely what you crave.

Looking for a spa destination?  Costa Rica Spa Treatment’s are swiftly becoming one of the world’s leading spa vacation destinations, testament to the sheer concentration and diversity of wellness retreats and resorts. And that just goes to show what an all-encompassing travel destination this is: a place where you can set off on a week of incredible adventures and cap your vacation off with a sublime spa treatment or two. And we can help with both. Contact us for more info.

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Best Places for a Honeymoon Nightcap in Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s western coastline is arguably its most revered destination and that’s certainly no incidental, for it is here that you can soak up some truly mesmerizing sunsets. Heading to Costa Rica on honeymoon? Then hold a cocktail glass in one hand and your dearly beloved in the other, and check out the best places for a honeymoon nightcap in Costa Rica.

Hotel La Mariposa, Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio, the most visited area in the country, is awash with spectacular hotels and resorts set amidst dense jungle cover, and facing the pristine Pacific coast. Yet very few can boast the honeymoon sundowner effect of La Mariposa.

With an infinity pool and gorgeous bar looking out over blissfully unobstructed views of stellar sunsets, this one is an unparalleled couple favorite.

Kura Design Villas, Uvita

honeymoon nightcap in Costa RicaThe sky over Uvita seems to take on a life of its own at sunset, and infinite shades of red drench the entire landscape. It’s simply magical. And you know what else is magical?

Enjoying the spectacle from a private balcony of this luxurious honeymoon boutique hotel, set high in a remote area of Uvita overlooking the ocean. There’s even a hammock for two in the terrace, so there you have it. Pure honeymoon sundowner perfection.

Observatory Lodge & Spa, Arenal

honeymoon nightcap in Costa RicaJust to prove a point, we’ve found a stunning location that’s not on the coast but still rewards you with an incredibly spectacular sunset. The place? The stunning Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa, a remote and gorgeous resort set on the foothills of Costa Rica’s most revered peak.

The sunset view? Over Lake Arenal! Soak up the spectacular volcano views by day and head to the restaurant’s terrace for breathtaking sunset views by night. The perfect combination for a honeymoon nightcap in Costa Rica.

Nogui’s Restaurant, Tamarindo

To highlight the fact that Costa Rica dishes up sensational sunsets no matter where you go, here we have a local low-key favorite that’s all about the views. Nogui’s is set right on the beach in the vibrant seaside town of Tamarindo and serves local specialties right by the seaside.

An inexpensive local dinner with a fab happy hour deal and priceless honeymoon sunset views? Yep…we’re into that too.

Hotel Villas Alturas, Puntarenas

But let’s be honest, honeymoon sundowners should probably be a bit special, right? Then head down to Dominical, in the lesser-visited southern Pacific Coast and you can soak up startling sunset views in one of only a few select hotels which boast spectacularly elevated settings.

Hotel Villas Alturas is set on levels with prime position given to the terrace pool, although magnificent views are afforded from every corner.

All of the above-mentioned resorts are open to the public, which means you need not spend the night to enjoy a honeymoon nightcap in Costa Rica with killer views. That just goes to show how incredibly proud and generous locals are in this picture-perfect honeymoon destination. And when you’re all done with the romance and sunset indulging, why not join us on a once-in-a-lifetime Costa Rica honeymoon adventure? Because in this part of the world, glorious sunsets are just the beginning.

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Costa Rica Green Season – A Rewarding Hidden Secret

Costa Rica Green SeasonWe love Costa Rica green season. To us, it’s the calm before the storm although it may seem the opposite to those who’ve never visited during the months of June and July. During the Green Season, the country is blissfully drenched in sporadic downpours, the revered rain cleansing the wilderness and filling those raging rivers (we love to raft in) up to bursting point.

Experiencing the heavy rains, knowing they are the precursor to an upcoming exciting rafting season, has us all smiling contentedly with every drop. So we relax and rest, await in anticipation, and take advantage of the ‘calm season’ to tour the country. Because to seasoned Costa Rica aficionados, Green Season is the ideal time of year to experience parts of the country you’ve yet to visit.

You’ll still see plenty of glorious sunshine when you travel to Costa Rica during Green Season.

Get Costa Rica all to Yourself

Travel through Costa Rica in Green Season and you’ll find beaches are devoid of crowds. You won’t need to be a booking-master and can wing it anywhere at the last minute, can score exceptional deals on resorts and – more often than not – end up having the whole place to yourself. It’s the kind of loneliness discerning travelers simply cherish to bits. You’ll definitely come across other visitors, no doubt, adventurers who actually go out of their way to only ever visit Costa Rica during Green Season. Some come here year after year, only in June or November. They find that the whole country is at its absolute verdant best, and the lack of crowds and stifling heat are priceless bonuses to boot.

Rest Your Body & Rejuvenate Your Soul

Costa Rica Green SeasonWhat we also adore about Green Season is that those afternoon rains (which come like clockwork anytime between 3 and 4pm) force us to indulge in a local tradition that’s far too underrated: the siesta! Rather than running around like headless chickens, we take a book (or maybe just an eye-mask) and bask in some afternoon rest, arguably the most coveted luxury all travelers seek. Travel here during the busiest months and your FOMO will propel you out the door at first light, trying to fit in as many activities as possible into a single day. Vacations in Costa Rica can be exciting and fun-packed, which also means you may need another vacation just to rest from all the adrenaline rushes. Travel to Costa Rica in Green Season and the once a day rains will force you to stop, breath, chill and recoup. It’s an absolutely delightful – and addictive – way to travel. You can use the afternoons to indulge in spa treatments, really savor a long and leisurely lunch and soak up the sight, smells and delights of the many beautiful eco-lodges all over the country. Doesn’t that sound a tad delicious?

And it’s Gaining Popularity…

Having said all this, Green Season travel in Costa Rica is increasing in popularity. Apparently…someone let the cat out of the bag! So July, which actually coincides with European school holidays, is becoming progressively busier down this neck of the luscious woods. But June is still sublimely quiet and, to many, it’s still the best month to visit. Everything just about drops in price in June: from flights to accommodation and car rental deals, the usual big-ticket expenses, can be nabbed at anything up to 30 and sometimes even 40% off.

It’s not the first time we’ve waxed lyrical about Green Season travel in Costa Rica. We’ve already blogged about the brilliant delights of Green Season, and even given you a rundown of the best places to visit during the rainy months.

Because above all else, the Costa Rica green season is still a brilliant way to explore the country and discover its pristine wilderness and its exceptional wildlife. With so many animals out to play thanks to the rains, tours and excursions are immensely rewarding, even with gum boots and poncho in tow. So come on down! Hike a volcano, go zip lining, or thermal pool soaking and don’t, whatever you do, let a few drops of rain deter you.

Traveling while in a Costa Rica green season is that hidden secret you absolutely must experience for yourself.

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Costa Rica’s Best Farmers Markets

Going to a feria, a local farmer’s market, is a weekly highlight for all of us who live in Costa Rica. Heading out to peruse the fresh, organic and local-grown produce – which actually also includes meat, fish and a lot of home-made delights – is not just your average shopping trip but a bona fide social and cultural event. And that’s even without considering the amazing savings. In Costa Rica, where fresh vegetable sell at the local market for $2 a kilo, following a healthy organic diet based on fresh produce is so easy and enjoyable, that for many it’s one of the primary reasons they love living here.

Costa Rica Farmers Markets

Costa Rica farmers marketsAnywhoo. It dawned on us that you need not live in Costa Rica to enjoy a day out at a local feria. Even if you’re just visiting for a week or two, you’ll no doubt enjoy discovering all the amazing and exotic produce grown in the country. And besides, every market boasts its fair share of sodas (food stalls) selling local Tico dishes so if you feel the hunger pangs screaming for your attention, you’ll certainly be able to satisfy them abundantly.

Have we enticed you to fit in a visit to a feria during your trip? Then check out Costa Rica’s best farmers markets and come see how lucky we are to call this place home. And keep in mind that although the largest markets are found in the largest cities and towns, every town boasts a weekly produce market so ask around and you shall find!

San Jose

It stands to reason that farmers go out of their way to travel to the capital to sell their weekly spoils. San Jose has several excellent produce market, including the Mercado Central on Avenida Central which is actually a great place to buy local souvenirs as well. But for a thoroughly delicious and less touristy treat, head to the Organic Farmer’s Market in Aranjuez on a Saturday morning. Growers come here from all over the country and you’ll get to see what wondrous produce is in season during your visit.

San Isidro de El General

Costa Rica farmers marketsThe Feria del Agricultor in San Isidro de El General (about 80 miles south of San Jose) is one of the largest farmer’s markets you’ll find and although prices are a little higher than elsewhere, it is a well-organized, clean and incredibly well stocked. Held at the Fairground in Santa Cecilia, the San Isidro markets comprise over 200 stalls and are best visited at the crack of dawn on a Thursday. We love these markets because they seem to be way off the tourist path although expats have certainly caught on and as Western start appearing, more and more vendors are joining the tribe. Wonderful!

Tinamastes

Held along Routa 243 about half way between San Isidro and the west coast, the Feria Tinamastes is a fab alternative if you happen to be in the area on a Tuesday instead, headed towards Dominical. This market may be way smaller but it’s oh-so cool and chock-full of superbly delicious home-made foods, as well as a bevy of fantastic fresh produce.

Tamarindo

Over in Tamarindo, along the Pacific coast in Guanacaste, you’ll find a weekly mecca brimming with fruits, vegetables, ice cream, smoked cheese, spices and a host of exotic food. Also held on a Saturday (from 8am to 1pm), the Tamarindo Feria is a huge hit so head here early as stalls empty out in a jiffy. You’ll find stalls setting up early on Calle Tigris. Oh…and bring some extra cash: the hand-made jewelry and artefacts are a stunning surprise!

San Ramon

If you’re heading north out of San Jose, then don’t miss your chance to drop into the Saturday feria in San Ramon, a lovely old town in the splendid Alajuela province. At these markets you’ll experience a totally different vibe, and get a taste for the real country life. Farmers bring not only their produce but also their wares and cattle to sell at the weekly market, and the whole town is buzzing in anticipation. The town itself is a delight to explore on foot and nearby cloud forests means you could be out in the wilderness in no time at all. After your morning shopping spree, naturally.

Ready to explore more of Costa Rica’s best farmer’s markets? Then head down here already! We have a fantastic array of adventure vacation packages on offer and will be delighted to show you some of our many hidden spots around this beautiful country. Contact us for more info.

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Fascinating Facts About Costa Rica’s Kings of the Wild: Jaguars

Costa Rica’s Kings of the WildAs Tortuguero National Park eagerly closes off a portion of its nature reserve in order to safeguard more habitat for the endangered jaguar, we introduce you to this iconic symbol of Costa Rica’s wildlife world. A fierce and elusive predator, the jaguar is one of the most coveted sights and is among Costa Rica’s Kings of the Wildand.   Tortuguero is arguably the hot-spot where your best chances of seeing Jaguars rests.

With its golden-hued coat and distinctive black spots, the jaguar closely resembles the leopard although is much larger in size and stockier in build. Want to find out more fascinating facts about jaguars? Then read on and discover more about this magnificent animal before you head to Costa Rica.

Jaguars are the Largest Cats in the Americas

The jaguar (panthera onca) is the third-largest cat in the world, trailing behind the lion and tiger, although boasts the strongest bite-power of all three when taken pound-for-pound. On average, males weigh between 100 and 250 pounds (whilst females are about one-third smaller) and can grow up to 7.8 ft in length.

You Could Say they Have Good Self-Esteem!

Not known to be a shrinking violet, the jaguar will take on formidable prey if it thinks it has a good chance of overpowering it. Sir David Attenborough once famously called jaguars the ‘killers of killers’ duetheir knack for taking down large and dangerous predators. Just take a look at the video below and see a jaguar phenomenally tackling a crocodile.

The Name Derives from the Native American Word ‘Yaguar’

Which means “pouncing killer”. Quite apt!

Jaguars Have All but Disappeared From the U.S.

Alas, when faced with its main threat (humankind) the jaguar has little chance. Loss of habitat has pushed this glorious big cat south to Latin America – and Costa Rica in particular – and the US is thought to now be home to only a couple of male individuals. The last female known to have existed in the US was shot in 1963 by a hunter who thought she was a bobcat. A very sad state of affairs, considering that up until a century ago the jaguar was the wilderness king in states like Arizona, Texas and New Mexico.

They Thrive in Costa Rica’s Pristine Jungles

Make no mistake, the jaguar is still a highly endangered species in Costa Rica, but at least here it has comprehensive pockets of protected reserves where it can live and thrive. As opposed to most other cats, Costa Rica’s Kings of the Wild are water babies by nature and will never stray too far from rivers. Its preferred habitats are swamp lands, grasslands and tropical rain forests. Considering the fact that over a quarter of Costa Rica is protected reserves, the jaguar has a lot more space to roam. Jaguars are known to inhabit not only Tortuguero, but also Corcovado, Monteverde, Santa Rosa and the Rio Macho National Parks, as well as several nature reserves.

A jaguar will use its Tail to Lure Fish

Costa Rica’s Kings of the WildBeing the cunning predator it is, the jaguar will often dip its tail in rivers in order to lure fish (much like you would with a fishing line) before pouncing in the water and catching its prey unawares.

In Costa Rica the Jaguars Have Become More Sociable

Although solitary by nature, the jaguars in Costa Rica’s Tortuguero National Park have evolved into sociable creatures and experts believe this is due to so many of them sharing a conservation area of 100 square miles, and the fact that the reserve is teeming with turtles(which they love to eat) for at least 6 months of the year, so competing for food has become a non-issue.

In Ancient Times, Jaguars were Revered

Back in the days of the Aztec and Maya cultures, jaguars featured heavily in local mythology and were the epitome symbol of strength and courage.

Jaguars are Seen as Ecosystem ‘Health Meters’

Due to being apex predators, jaguars are seen as pivotal to a healthy ecosystem and their roles considered vital in preserving the balance of the food chain in their environment. That’s why jaguars are considered a ‘keystone species’.

PHOTO

Only Around 15,000 Jaguars are Thought to be Left in the Wild

Luckily, a bevy of conservation efforts are in place in several countries, all aimed at reducing habitat loss and protecting this magnificent beast.

Costa Rica is an outstanding wildlife and wilderness destination and jaguars aren’t the only ones who think this is the best place in the world to live! Why not plan your next adventure vacation in Costa Rica and come see what other fascinating facts you might discover? Simply contact us for more info.

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Best Kid-Friendly Activities in Costa Rica

Kid-Friendly Activities in Costa RicaFamily vacations are a wonderful way to reconnect with your partner and children and spend some quality time together, although it’s probably wise to point out that not all destinations can offer both bonuses in equal measure. When it comes to superlative family travel destinations,

We have researched and found the best kid-friendly activities in Costa Rica. If you’ve visited before, you’ll know that Cost Rica is the best kid-friendly destination on the planet! Aside the fact that the local culture is very family oriented and local Ticos simply love children – ah yes, you’ll undoubtedly be stopped in the street and told how cute your children are – the very essence of the country makes it an idyllic family vacation playground. With so much nature to explore and so many fun and safe activities suitable for anyone of any age (even grandma should come along!) family vacations in Costa Rica are an absolute bundle of fun. Fun that you can all have together.

In Costa Rica, smartphones and tablets soon become uninteresting and if you don’t believe us just try it! Your kids (even the broody teenager) will be far too busy zip lining, kayaking, rafting, mountain biking, horse riding and hiking up volcanoes to worry about the latest posts on Facebook. What’s more, you can be right there alongside them sharing the adrenaline rushes and the new and exciting adventures. Perhaps this, more than anything else, is what makes Costa Rica so ideal for families. YOU don’t have to compromise so THEY have fun, and vice versa.

Costa Rica is Simply Fun For Everyone

Kid-Friendly Activities in Costa RicaThe country is brimming with amazing family-friendly resorts, all designed with you and your little ones in mind. Set amidst pristine wilderness and filled with incredible wildlife, these resorts are the kind of places you and your children will never want to leave. We’re particularly fond of Si Como No, an unparalleled natural haven that’s set deep in the Manuel Antonio tropical rainforest and boasts the kind of amenities that are just perfect for kid-friendly vacations in Costa Rica – including nightly movie shows.

And if you think Costa Rica’s best family-friendly resorts are prohibitively expensive, then think again…because one of the important reasons this country is so very popular among traveling families, is that it’s an immensely affordable place to visit.

Below are just some of the fantastic destinations you should include in your itinerary.

Kid-Friendly Activities in Costa Rica

Playa Hermosa – Any family will love spending a few days in Playa Hermosa. The bay waters are calm and inviting, ideal when traveling with kids. Moreover, the Aqua Sport Centre rents a host of fun water sport equipment, so you can soak up the rays while older children burn off energy heading off on adventures on kayaks, paddleboats and sailboards.

Playa Tamarindo – Have an active teenager who wants to take some surfing lessons? Then Playa Tamarindo’s the beach for you. After they get their fill of the surf and sun, you can all head off on a full-day excursion to explore the nearby delights.

Lake Arenal – If you have smaller kids with you then you can opt to take a boat trip on Lake Arenal, which is much more conducive for little ones than a full-day hiking trip. Actually, there are a lot of alternatives for younger children around. Take the Monteverde Cloud Forest, for example. Yes, older children may want to scream their lungs out while ziplining on the forest canopy at breakneck speed, yet younger ones need not miss out on the fun. There’s a fantastic enclosed aerial tram ride (and sky walk) that offers all the views but with added comfort of a slow and steady ride which, is perfect for younger kids.

Hot springs – All kids put up an argument at bath time at home, but that’s because there’s no home on the planet that boasts a Costa Rica thermal pool.  Make sure your accommodation includes a thermal bath in-house (like the Tabacon Hot Springs Resort) and the biggest challenge you’ll face every day is getting the kids OUT of the bath after a full day of adventures!

Sundays in towns – Every town is the same the world over and never is this truer than when talking about kid-friendly activities. No matter where in Costa Rica you are on a Sunday, hit your nearest town square and you’ll meet countless local families out for some entertainment. Larger towns put on fairs and rides to entice the kids, and all will have a bevy of food and drink stalls as well. Take a soccer ball along (which you can buy in any local market) and watch your kids make brand new friends in an instant.

Take a wildlife guide along for the hike – Wildlife is abundant in Costa Rica yet even though you may be tempted to spend a whole day on your own trying to spot endemic creatures, it really pays to take a local expert guide along. This is especially true when traveling with children, as they are often most impressed with insects and reptiles, which are both hard to spot for the untrained eye. A local guide can really make the jungle come to life, which not only makes children ecstatic but also helps take the pressure off parents. If you are going to take a guided wildlife tour then we couldn’t recommend a night excursion highly enough. For most families, this is the absolute highlight of their trip.

San Jose’s Children Museum – Now don’t let the name deter you: Los Museo de los Ninos is a fantastic place to visit in the capital, for children and adults alike. Educational and interactive, this museum offers interesting insights into all aspects of life in Costa Rica and boasts a really eclectic mix of attractions. Housed in a former military prison, the museum can easily take up half a day to explore at length (there are some 40-odd rooms here!) and children will be enthralled with the exhibits ranging from history to astronomy, music and science.

At Costa Rica Rios, we specialize in family adventure vacation and have the most magnificent country to thank for this opportunity. Costa Rica is the place to go for kid-friendly activities and is the one place you should visit if fun, adventure, family time and relaxation are on top of your must-do list. So simply contact us for more info and let us help you plan the family trip of a lifetime.

 

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Top Tourism Activities in Tamarindo Costa Rica

Renowned as the hub of tourist activity in Costa Rica’s Guanacaste region, Tamarindo is that relaxed yet thrilling beach side paradise you dream of when you think of a tropical vacation. Arguably the first region to hit tourism superstardom in the country, Tamarindo straddles Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coastline and is often considered its surfing and socialising mecca. With good infrastructure and plenty of accommodation and dining options – not to mention plethora of exciting outdoor pursuits and impressive nightlife – Tamarindo is an all-encompassing destination that offers something for everyone. Whether you’re into surfing, zip lining, hiking, indulging in gastronomic delights or simply soaking up the rays on a stretch of idyllic beach, you’ll certainly find a corner of this region with your name all over it.

Top Tourism Activities in Tamarindo:

Surfing

Tourism Activities in TamarindoCosta Rica’s Pacific Coast is brimming with excellent surfing beaches yet if you’re a beginner then Tamarindo is where you’ll want to head. Here, you’ll find a collection of reputable surfing schools and camps that offer lessons for absolute beginners as well as intermediate surfers.

The long stretch of beach at Tamarindo offers waves to suit all skill sets but what makes them ideal (for anyone) is the fact that they are reliably consistent. Surfers head here from every corner of the globe because they know they can head out to catch waves every day of their vacation. From week-long surf camps to private hourly lessons or simple hourly rentals of boards, there’s a surfing plan on offer in Tamarindo to suit everyone.

Ziplining

Ziplining would have to be the most iconic of all Costa Rican adventures and in Tamarindo you need not travel far to indulge in some adrenaline-pumping fun. As you swing and fly through the treetops you’ll get breathtaking views of the pristine wilderness and spot howler monkeys, toucans, iguanas and a vast array of exotic animals. Zip lining options in Tamarindo abound and many include add-on adventures such as horse-riding, repelling, waterfall hiking and visits to natural hot thermal pools. While it may sound ‘too exciting’ for some, zip lining in Costa Rica is actually a very safe sport and there are tours suitable for children as well. Everyone who partakes in a tour claims it is an absolute must-do when in Costa Rica…and we couldn’t agree more!

Day Trips to National Parks

The Tamarindo area is blessed with some of the most magnificent national parks in the whole country, each offering a particular highlight. The revered Las Baulas National Marine Park is home to leatherback turtles during nesting season, whilst Barra Honda offers a collection of underground caves you can explore on tour. Avid hikers can head to Rincon de la Vieja, where nine volcanic craters and host of striking waterfalls can be explored on foot, or set off on a day trip to Palo Verde or Diria National Park for wildlife viewing.

Catamaran Sailing

The sheer collection of stunning beaches and beautiful snorkeling spots makes catamaran sailing in Tamarindo an incredibly rewarding experience. You can choose from morning or sunset sails (the latter ideal for honeymooners) and if traveling at the right time of year you may even spot migrating whales along the way. The two best companies in Tamarindo are Marlin del Rey and Sailing Hibiscus, and both offer exceptional catamaran tours which include fantastic snorkeling spots and delicious refreshments.

Beachcombing

If there’s one thing we can’t stress enough is to always make sure you leave a couple of days in your itinerary to simply enjoy Tamarindo’s many beaches. Many first-time visitors make the mistake of overbooking themselves (not that we can blame them, with all the exciting things to see and do here!) yet there’s something to be said for actually pencilling in some down-time to do absolutely nothing. Well…except beachcombing, perhaps. In Tamarindo, you’ll find a beach to suit all tastes and desires: there’s breathtaking Conchal with its crystalline water, Avellanas with its social and chilled-out vibe, Langosta with its beautifully relaxing shore and, of course, Tamarindo with all of the above combined.

Not only are the tourism activities in Tamarindo a stellar destination for your next Costa Rica vacation, but it’s also an immensely convenient place to reach, being merely an hour’s drive from the Liberia Airport. Want a hand planning an unforgettable adventure vacation in this pristine part of the world? We can help! We offer Costa Rica adventure tours and bespoke itineraries to this and all other regions of the country, so contact us for more info and we’ll help you plan the trip of a lifetime to the most astonishing country in the world!

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Work on a Costa Rica Extravagant Adventure Park Set to Begin

Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis has recently announced that American giant Discovery Communications – owners of the Discovery and Animal Planet channels – are set to lend their name to a $1 billion dollar Costa Rica Extravagant Adventure Park, which is set to open in the Guanacaste province in 2020.

The ambitious project will cover an area of over 880 hectares, adjacent to the Liberia Airport, and will include a vast array of services and attractions. Alongside the Discovery Ranch, the estate will boast an ‘inland ocean’, a water theme park, a wellness centre, various biking, hiking and outdoor adventure options, as well as plenty of accommodation choices. Developers say the park is aimed at showcasing the very best of Costa Rican culture to the world, and it is hoped that the project will give the region a much-needed employment boost in the short and long-term, and tourism boost in the long-term. Once completed, the park is set to generate about 4,000 jobs in the immediate area.

Costa Rica Extravagant Adventure Park

Critics have been quick to question how a project such as Discovery Costa Rica could be materialised in a province of the country which routinely suffers from severe droughts, and whose locals deal with water shortages on a daily basis.  However, assurances have been made that the park will utilize water wells which already exist on the private property which Discovery purchased, and both the developers and the Costa Rican government have expressed their commitment to ensuring the park reflect the country’s fervent stance on sustainable tourism.

An Overview of the Guanacaste Province of Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s premier beach tourism destination lies less than 200 miles north of the capital, San Jose. It is a both a hub for tourism and a gateway, as visitors must pass through here to reach the north-western Pacific coastline where most of the country’s resorts are located. The Liberia airport, which is set for expansion, is swiftly becoming a convenient alternative to the main airport of San Jose, offering foreign tourists the chance to fly in and be at the beach within an hour of clearing customs.

A popular hub for surfers, kayakers, scuba divers and hikers alike, Guanacaste’s main strength is in its incredible biodiversity. Some of the most popular beaches in the country are found here, like idyllic Playa Hermosa and Playa Blanca, as well as a host of luxury resorts along the pristine stretch of coast off the Papagayo Peninsula, and a formidable mountain range brimming with volcanic calderas and lush national parks.

This is, by far, the most developed region in the country and offers a wealth of attractions and activities for those who are BIG on wishes and short on time. Infrastructure is good and traveling is ever so easy. Although some may begrudge the extensive gentrification of this part of Costa Rica, there’s no denying that the tourism boom has had a beneficial effect on the country’s economy. And besides, being the kind of exceptional country it is, finding a quiet nook for relaxing contemplation, a desolate beach or a remote hiking trail that you can have all to yourself, is always easy in Costa Rica.

Want to find out more about this and other regions of Costa Rica? The check out our range of Costa Rica adventure tours and contact us for more info.

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