Costa Rica’s Magical Arribada of Olive Ridley Turtles

Arribadas are synchronized turtle nesting events on a mass scale, whereby tens of thousands of turtles converge on very specific beaches to lay millions of eggs, simultaneously. For threatened Olive Ridley Turtles, the favored beaches are along Costa Rica’s Pacific coastline and, more famously, Ostional Beach in the Nicoya Peninsula. Arribadas, whose term translates to ‘arrivals’, are incredibly magical events to witness and occur over a period of several days, usually up to a week.

Costa Rica’s magical arribada of Olive Ridley turtles are recognized as one of the world’s true wonders of nature.


olive ridley turtlesWhat makes arribadas so exceptional is the fact that not much is known about them. To this day, scientists are still in the dark as to how thousands of turtles know to return to their own nesting beaches, year after year, and all at the same time. Their innate homing ability is one of the greatest mysteries of nature, especially when one considers the sheer distances each animal covers, over the course of a year. Moreover, as turtles reach maturity at about 10 years of age, it means that hatchlings who are born here will not return for at least 10 years. Yet they will still know that this is the beach they were hatched and this is the only place in the world they must return to

In Costa Rica, bearing witness to an arribada is one of the most iconic experiences you could ever dream to have and if you time your visit to the country just right, you could include one in your itinerary.

Costa Rica’s Olive Ridley Turtles – One of the Country’s Most Precious Assets

One of the world’s last true unspoilt countries, Costa Rica is home seven marine turtles, including the threatened Olive Ridley and the Giant Leatherback, the largest species of its kind on our planet.

Olive Ridley turtles arribadas occur sporadically all year long yet the ones with the highest numbers happen during the rainy season, between August and November. They take place about 10 days before each new moon during this period, and you’ll see endless waves of sea turtles to come ashore and lay millions of eggs in shallow holes in the sand. Aside from one other specific spot in India, this is the second largest Olive Ridley turtle nesting site on the planet. The immensely instinctive behavior of nesting turtles makes them very determined, so they seem not to be affected by onlookers at all. Understandably, there are very strict codes of conduct during arribadas in the most visited beaches, to help avoid the kind of disruption which occurred in Guanacaste back in 2015 when thousands of turtles, and onlookers, descended on the same beach simultaneously.

There are volunteer associations that help hatchlings make it ashore. Given that arribadas occur during low tourist season, the local Ostional Guide Association is always happy to accept help in times of need and if you’d love to be a part of this incredible event, and lend a hand, you can contact them here.

Arribadas – a Danger at Every Turn!

Arribadas are dangerous affairs, both for the mothers that come ashore to lay their eggs and the eventual hatchlings who will struggle and face unfavorable odds to make it to the sea. Predators and threats abound, not only from other animals (including human poachers) but also from their own kind. Arribadas happen in waves (literally and figuratively speaking) on any given night, and due to their sheer numbers and the turtle’s seemingly self-centered instinct, the first ‘wave’ of laid eggs actually has a high chance of being destroyed by subsequent turtles who trample all over them. The local government has been criticized for making this the only place where harvesting turtle eggs is legal yet their rather logical solution to a huge problem has actually been very effective at promoting the overall survival of the species.

In Ostional, locals are allowed to take and sell a certain number of turtle eggs that belong to the first wave of an arribada, eggs that have the highest chance of being destroyed. They can fetch a considerable amount of money. In return, however, locals keep a vigil over the subsequent waves, helping to keep poachers, stray dogs, crocs, vultures and coatimundi at bay and giving the hatchlings the best chance at life. It is a solution which drew skepticism at first, but one which seems to be working remarkably well. Local communities are also being educated as to the importance of these arribadas and are becoming quite vocal protectors of the events.

Although human help is arguably warranted, it is also restricted. Witnessing an arribada, in all its natural glory, therefore, can be both mesmerizing and totally heartbreaking. Not every turtle and egg can and should be saved or helped. Nature also needs to take its course.

Costa Rica’s Olive Ridley arribadas can attract up to 150,000 turtles. The largest ever recorded occurred in November, 1995, when half a million turtles turned up for an arribada of astronomical proportions.

After an Arribada…Come Hatchlings!

Around 45 days after eggs are first laid, another wave occurs. This time, of tiny little Olive Ridley turtles hatchlings! Their own struggle to reach the seas is monumental. Flapping over what is, to them, colossal sand dunes, the hatchlings must dodge predators at every turn. Although, once again, human help is at hand, the actual scrambling to sea from their nest is a very important process as it helps the baby turtles develop their lungs. Moreover, scientists –even though are not 100% certain – do believe that setting a course over sand to the sea helps them develop the very homing skills they’ll need to tap into, in order to return. So in this particular case, help is mostly limited to protecting the hatchlings, not picking them up and taking them to sea.

Scrambling to the sea is something they must do on their own.

Survival odds may be stacked against Olive Ridley turtles from before they are even born yet thanks to a little bit of human help, and Costa Rica’s magical arribadas, the state of the species continues to improve, year after year.

Traveling to Costa Rica during rainy season offers huge rewards. Not only can you bear witness to a magical arribada on the Pacific Coast, but you’ll find fewer tourists and lower prices no matter where you go. For help in planning an adventure-filled trip to this outstanding country, contact us today.

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Top 10 Costa Rica Instagram Accounts You Need to Follow

Whether it’s to research a new region of the country you haven’t yet visited, discover hidden treasures off the beaten path, or to simply satisfy the heart and soul with idyllic images of your upcoming trip, the Top 10 Costa Rica Instagram accounts you need to follow are blissfully inspirational. And just a little bit wanderlust-inducing…

  1. Visit_CostaRica

Top Costa Rica instagram accountWe love that the Costa Rican government showcases such a fervent commitment to eco-tourism and protection of the amazing wilderness and wildlife, and their efforts to show off the best assets of the country should be recognized.

The official Instagram of the country’s Tourism Board has access to an endless cache of seriously drool worthy photos and a quick scroll is enough to make you want to pack those bags for a trip with no return date.

  1. Discover Costa Rica

Diego Eskenazi describes himself as a wildlife seeker, nature addict and consummate photographer and, luckily for us all, the immensely talented man calls Cosa Rica home.

Diego LOVES colors and it seems that no effort is too much to capture breathtaking sunsets, elusive wildlife and even the tiniest of creatures. This talented photographer’s extensive travels means you’re exposed to an array of destinations, as well as photographic subjects. Great Costa Rica travel inspiration and wonderful research base point.

  1. This is Costa Rica

Some of the most spectacular Costa Rica drone photos on the net, right now, This Is Costa Rica is visually mesmerizing, to say the least. These guys don’t just make you wish you could see a bird in the country…they make you wish you could be one.

  1. CRAnimalRescueCentre

Helping in the rescue and rehabilitation of injured and orphaned wildlife, the Costa Rica Animal Rescue Centre – located in the Alajuela Province – does really amazing and much-needed work. These guys are true angels and the photos and videos they upload to their Instagram account are infinitely heartwarming. For those stressful days at work when only an impossibly adorable photo of a sloth being weighed will do.

  1. Costa Rica Traveler

Andres Madrigal is a photographic contributor to the local Tico Times news service and widely acclaimed inspirational Costa Rica Instagrammer.

If his outstanding photos don’t make you want to go to Costa Rica five minutes ago, then you need to refresh your browser! Andres travels the country extensively, bringing the world some truly astonishing scenes

  1. Picsbypipo

Nature-lovers and extreme wilderness seekers will get their pulses racing just scrolling through this Instagram account. Most of the photos are captured, in action, with a GoPro Hero 3.

  1. EatCostaRica

Because mouthwatering Costa Rica food!

With detailed description of the places behind the delicious photos posted, this is THE best travelling foodie’s account to follow. Don’t mind our drool….

  1. MyTanFeet

Living the dream-life of adventurous couples the world over, Yeison and Samantha get up to all sorts of inspiring shenanigans all over Costa Rica. From rafting to repelling, snorkeling, hiking, wildlife-spotting and more, these two embody the very essence of the country’s Pura Vida mantra. And their Instagram account proves it.

  1. PacuareLodgeCostaRica

One of the most stunning lodges in the whole country manages an Instagram account that’s as delicious as the culinary treasures that emerge from its gourmet kitchen. This place offers a super intimate rainforest lodging experience and their Insta-GLAM account will fuel your indulgent jungle dreams to no end.

  1. Costa Rica Rios

Well…we don’t normally like blow our own trumpet but if you’ll excuse us, we may just sneak ourselves in there. Why? Because we do all the hard work for you, bringing you the very best and most evocative Costa Rica Instagram pics right to your feed. You’re welcome!

At Costa Rica Rios, we bring you the most mesmerizing adventure vacations to Costa Rica, a country not even Instagram’s best filters can do justice. So turn your daily swoon worthy photo scroll into an unforgettable real-life adventure and come experience Costa Rica up, close and very personal.

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Costa Rica’s Love Affair with the Slow Food Movement

The Slow Food Movement was first dreamed up in Italy in 1986, as a way to combat the popularity, worldwide, of unhealthy and environmentally damaging fast food. The premise is quite simple: to shine a light, promote and protect authentic regional cuisines, and preparing wholesome and nutritious meals using only organic, locally-sourced produce. The idea spread around the world like wildlife, infecting countries as far afield as our own beautiful Costa Rica. The culmination of Costa Rica’s love affair with the Slow Food Movement was the wonderful Slow Food Fair which took place last month in the capital, San Jose.

Slow Food Movement

slow food movementFeaturing stalls brimming with regional culinary specialties of the highest order, from cheese to coffee, chocolate and unique fruits and vegetables, as well as stalls selling local arts and crafts, the Slow Food Fair – or Mercado de la Tierra – aimed to showcase unique regional produce and products that are made with so-called ‘clean technologies’, which are farming methods specifically designed to reduce environmental and animal impact.

The premise of the movement is admirable and it’s certainly found its ideal home in a country so enriched with regional culinary culture.

The Slow Food Movement focuses on the conscientious farming, production and consumption of food. It promotes local produce, wherever one may be, and the sharing of food to prevent wastage and mindless consumption. Costa Rica, at its core, is the very personification of this movement. Meander your way through any of the weekly produce markets held all over the country, and you’ll feast your eyes on fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs you’ve probably never seen. Vibrantly fresh, aromatic and undoubtedly local, the fresh produce here is second to none. The country is brimming with organic farms, where GMO is shunned in favor of sublimely fertile soil and an ideal climate. Add to that a culture that is near food-obsessed and what you have is a feast for the palate and the soul. Every single day.

Mind you, it hasn’t always been like this in Costa Rica, a country that has always had the potential for great culinary greatness, but one seduced by the allure of the imported. Like many other countries in the tropics, the belief has been that imported must always be better than local when, in fact, it most often isn’t. In the last few years, however, there has been a noticeable shift in thinking, not just in Costa Rica but in other less-developed countries too. A return to nature, if you will, and the sparking of a new and deeper love affair with indigenous ingredients to make authentic dishes following old-school regional recipes.

The tourist industry hasn’t exactly been kind to local Costa Rican cuisine either, if truth be told. Many come here for a week, surmising local fare to be bland and simple, never giving a second-thought that perhaps they should frequent a kaleidoscope of different food outlets. Instead, they’ll look out for Italian pizza joints or sodas selling hamburgers and chips. But authentic Costa Rican food is delightful and unique, flavorsome and wholesome. And, more often than not, is prepared and savored at leisure.

Clandestinos are local unlicensed restaurants and, not unlike agriturismo farms in Italy, lack any kind of structure or menus. They are held in people’s homes, are known only to locals and having a meal at one can take anything from half an hour to three hours, depending on what time of day you visit. Clandestinos serve the most authentic food in the country, cooked by mothers and grandmothers with recipes passed down through the generations. Whilst most tourists pay top dollar for mediocre fare (the travesty of this is they go home thinking food is boring here) astute travelers know to seek out a clandestino. They go there with only a few dollars in their pocket and plenty of time up their sleeve. Real Costa Rican food, of delicious tastes, local ingredients and old-world methods, takes time. And it’s always worth it. Yes, you can find tamales, empanadas and ceviche served in touristy restaurants, but once you taste them a la authentique, you’ll never go back.

Eating like a local in Costa Rica necessitates knowing a local in Costa Rica. So next time you head to this mesmerizing country, make friends with your guide and ask them for recommendations.

The slow food movement has always been part and parcel of Costa Rica life. When you visit Costa Rica, leave your watch at home and seek a more authentic culinary experience in this magical place. Your taste buds will thank you for it.


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Time-saving Tips for Rewarding Costa Rica Adventure Vacations

It may seem like a corny cliché to say that ‘time’ is life’s most precious luxury…but it is. We’re forever craving more time with our loved ones, more time for fun, more time for relaxation and, when it comes to Costa Rica adventure vacations, more time to see and do it all. Yet unlimited time is a luxury afforded to no-one, so the next best thing is to make sure whatever time you do have, to visit this splendid country, is time spent well.

To this end, we’ve compiled a few of our best time-saving tips for rewarding Costa Rica adventure vacations. A collection of tried and tested habits we’ve learnt over the years, which ensure any trip be a memorable, rewarding and unforgettable one. Because it shouldn’t matter how much time you have to spend in this magnificent country: whether you’re visiting for 3 days or 3 weeks, a Costa Rica adventure vacation can always be the best-spent time of your life.

  1. Don’t cram too much into your vacation

Usually, our first tip to anyone heading to Costa Rica is to not endeavor to cram too much into a single visit. If you do, you’ll risk ending your vacation exhausted and spent rather than invigorated and amazed. Between travel time, acclimatization, activities and sheer enjoyment of the place, you should aim to visit only two destinations a week. FOMO (fear of missing out!) has no place in a country which offers innumerable highlights and is easy and affordable to reach. You will always be back, trust us! So fight the urge to fit in everything on your first trip and hone in on a specific region of Costa Rica for each and every visit.

  1. Choose great base points

Costa Rica AdventureA great base point is the holy grail of all those who wish to save precious time on their Costa Rica adventure vacation. A town, hotel or resort that’s strategically located and offers multiple options for activities should be your priority. Spend a few days in one spot and take advantage of the surrounding highlights and all the sports on offer, before moving on to the next, making sure to squeeze every moment from your full-day outings without having to pack, move, unpack etc.

  1. Pre-book as much as you can

The most important titbit of advice is to pre-plan and pre-book everything you wish to do, most especially if you only have a short time at your disposal. In fact, pre-booking becomes more important the shorter your vacation time. Tours – whether they be white water rafting, hiking, kayaking, horseback riding or wildlife watching – can sell out fast in this very popular destination, as do the best accommodation choices. The only time in Costa Rica when it actually makes sense to ‘wing it’ is when you have a lot of time at your disposal. Wasting a day here or there is fine if you’re here for a month, but not so fine if you can only stay one week. The last thing you need is to arrive with only a few days up your sleeve and find everything booked out! Avoid this disappointment and book ahead, especially if traveling during high tourist season, Christmas and Easter week.

  1. Choose your destinations wisely

There are very valid reasons most travelers to Costa Rica make it to the Manuel Antonio National Park but not to Corcovado. The former is infinitely easier and faster to reach and perfect for a few days’ explorations. Corcovado on the other hand, whilst immensely breathtaking, necessitates a full day of travel to and from, and at least 3-4 days to fully appreciate. Make sure you know your destination and understand the logistics of reaching certain parts of Costa Rica. Consider travel times when mapping up your route and don’t rely on Google maps for drive times. Google may not be aware of the country’s driving conditions, so make sure you do!

  1. Combine an adventure Costa Rica trip with your honeymoon

In case you haven’t heard, Costa Rica is one of the world’s most coveted honeymoon destinations and with this much beauty, relaxation, romance and adventure on offer, it’s not difficult to see why that would be. Honeymoons would have to be some of the most unique getaways of all and for this reason even our own honeymoon adventure vacations range in time frames, from 6 days to grand 18-day adventures. Time your Costa Rica vacation with your honeymoon and you’ll bag the most priceless adventure of all!

  1. Bespoke, make-your-own adventure vacations rock

All-inclusive Costa Rica adventure vacation itineraries are immensely popular, especially with first-time visitors. It’s hard to imagine what travel here is like, how difficult it sometimes is to get from A to B and all the logistics that go along with a smooth and hassle-free trip. Sometimes, it’s just lovely to have someone do all the hard work. Save yourself precious time (both before and during your trip) and enlist the help of Costa Rica experts.

Here at Costa Rica Rios, we offer an array of Costa Rica adventure vacations, from weeklong family, solo and couple adventure trips to romantic honeymoons and bespoke tours that are ‘made to order’. Because no two travelers are ever the same and their vacations shouldn’t be either.

For more advice, planning help, itinerary ideas and bookings, simply contact us today.

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How Much Time Do You Need for a Costa Rica Adventure Vacation?

Costa Rica adventure vacationCosta Rica’s breathtaking mountains, rainforests, stunning beaches and awesome volcanoes attract adventure seekers from every corner of the globe. They come here not only because the nature is impressive but, primarily, because this is one of the most interactive travel destinations on earth and the PERFECT adventure vacation.

There is a TON of fun and invigorating stuff to do among all this natural beauty! In Costa Rica, you won’t just sit back and admire the wilderness; you can dive right into it. You can whitewater raft and kayak down raging rivers, you can surf awesome waves, hike mountains and volcanoes and you can snorkel and scuba dive in turquoise waters brimming with colorful marine life. You can also fly on zip lines, walk on hanging bridges suspended in the clouds and, more than anything else, you can get away from it all and relax with your loved ones immersed in pristine nature.

And what’s not to love about that?

A Week of Adventures in Costa Rica

Generally speaking, we think Costa Rica is the perfect destination for a one-week adventure vacation, ideal for those who are big on dreams and short on time. You’d be surprised at just how much adventure, discovery, culture and wildlife encounters you can squeeze into even just a single week of travels to Costa Rica.

Costa Rica adventure vacationFrom the Pacific to the Caribbean coast and all through the central highlands, you can soak up an array of contrasting scenery and partake in plenty of exhilarating adventure sports. On our own 8-day adventure tours, we also love to include an overnight rafting trip as this gives you the chance not only to enjoy phenomenal rafting in III and IV-graded rapids but also to seamlessly change locations to boot. When a tour is perfectly organized, you could enjoy 3 base points in a week without hassle. Moreover, the mix of activities can be brilliant, and include not only adventure sports but also wildlife watching, coffee tours, cultural encounters and stays in tropical jungle lodges and resorts.

Plenty of choices make a week-long adventure tour ideal for those whose traveling partners have diverging interests. You need not do the same activity if you don’t want to, and can split up for the day and reunite for sun downers and a recap at day’s end.

Short & Sweet Adventure Tours

Sometimes, time is of the essence. But fear not, for a 5-day itinerary need not feel restrictive in any way. With just 5 days to enjoy the best in Costa Rica, you’ll still have the chance to soak up the splendors of Costa Rica and three full days of outings can see you canyon, raft and zipline with abandon in two iconic locations.

Adventure Honeymoons

The sheer variety of honeymoon experiences makes Costa Rica a very coveted destination for newlyweds, especially those who want more than a simple lay-on-a-beach type vacay. Unique and unforgettable, Costa Rica honeymoons can be thrill-filled, relaxing, romantic and exhilarating, depending on your specific wishes. Again, a week is the most popular time-frame for a rewarding honeymoon here, with the most revered itineraries being split evenly between adventure sports and relaxing days on idyllic beaches. Our Best of Costa Rica honeymoon tour, for example, covers the two most popular destinations (Arenal and Manuel Antonio) and offers hot spring soaks at the sublime Tabacon Spa Resort, canopy swinging, whitewater rafting and 3 days of fun and relaxation on the glistening Pacific Coast beaches. When you hone in on these most popular and well-developed areas, you can really fill your days to the brim because infrastructure and sheer volume of activities are simply excellent.

Lucky enough to have even more time for your Costa Rica honeymoon? Then an intrepid 18-day honeymoon tour is for you. In just over two weeks, you can expect to cover a lot more distance and indulge in many more adventures. With added day-long hikes, cave explorations and plenty of downtime, a two-week (or longer!) honeymoon can see you discover wonderful, remote and spectacular Corcovado as well as the more visited northern hubs.

natl'l parkCorcovado is home to 50% of the country’s wildlife species and is one of the most priceless natural reserves on the planet. Hidden in the far western reaches of the Pacific coastline, Corcovado is a magnificent nature wonderland of its own accord and the most biodiverse region of Costa Rica. It calls for a few extra days to explore well but if you have the time and you do make it there, your rewards will be infinite. Read our Corcovado National Park guide for even more inspiration.

Of course, a long weekend getaway to Costa Rica is nothing to be sneezed at, either, if that’s all the time you have. As we love to say: a weekend in Costa Rica is better adventure vacation than a weekend anywhere else!

With even more time, the world is your delectable oyster. Combining adventure trips in several destinations means you can return to Costa Rica time and again, year after year, exploring new and exciting horizons. And it also means you can plan a journey of weeks and even months, without ever needing to backtrack – unless you want to, naturally! With custom-made tours you can literally build your own vacation, based on your time and budget constraints, as well as your wish list for travel styles, activities and comfort level.

Whether in Costa Rica for a weekend, a week or a fortnight, you can always experience the best this country has to offer. And remember, whatever you can’t fit into your itinerary will make for a wonderful incentive to come back, time and again.

How much time do you need for a Costa Rica adventure vacation?

Whatever time you have!

Contact us for more itinerary ideas, planning help and to dream up YOUR ideal itinerary through one of the world’s most astonishing adventure destinations.

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Costa Rica’s Most Memorable Road Trips

Fancy taking a memorable road trip through Costa Rica? We show you how!

Top Road Trips:

Top road tripsA compact country that’s easy to navigate and brimming with exceptional attractions, Costa Rica is full of truly EPIC road trips. Within merely an hour of exiting the capital’s international airport, you could be exploring some of the world’s most astonishing natural landscapes, discovering cloud forests, tropical rain forests, stunning volcanoes and countless valleys brimming with rivers, waterfalls and wildlife. For the adventurous traveler, one doesn’t mind going way off the beaten path, Costa Rica is a gem. A rewarding, exhilarating and unforgettable treasure. And the best part of it all is that whether you’re a self-drive vacation novice or expert, you’ll find a Costa Rica road trip that’s perfectly suited to your set skills and adventurous spirit.

For ease of planning, we’ve combined our favorite of Costa Rica’s Most Memorable Road Trips starting from San Jose, the capital. Although there is a slight chance you will arrive at the northern airport in Liberia, chances are higher you will land in the capital. Once you circle the most enticing spots on a map, you’ll get a good idea of how to combine the different destinations to create one continuous, awe-inspiring road trip through the whole country, if time allows and you so wish.

Please do note that drive times reflect time spent behind the wheel. Combine these memorable Costa Rica road trips with plenty of rest stops, lunch stops and overnight stays for a most rewarding travel experience.

San Jose to Arenal Volcano National Park, 90 miles, 3.5 hours

The most iconic destination in Costa Ria is reached after just a couple of hours’ drive from the capital, San Jose. Whilst there are plenty of curves and a bit of traffic to negotiate out of the city, the road trip is spectacular and a wonderful introduction not only to the country itself but also to the driving conditions and overall appeal of overland travel here. Arenal is stupendous and the whole region brimming with fantastic adventure sports like white water rafting, trekking, horseriding, kayaking and so much more. A 3-day stay would be ideal here if you have the time.

San Jose to Monteverde, 87 miles, 4 hours

The drive to the northern ethereal cloud forests of Monteverde is outstanding, as the road kisses the western coastline before ascending up into the clouds. Costa Rica’s most unique and spellbinding destination comprises virgin forests literally set on a bed of clouds, with dense wilderness and spectacular viewpoints making it difficult to stay focused on the actual driving. Take breaks, stop at every turn and soak up the magnificent scenery. With a bevy of activities on offer, with special focus on hiking, canopy tours, ziplining and hanging bridges, you’ll certainly be enticed to stay here for a couple of days, especially if you choose to spend a night on the cost in Punta Arenas.

San Jose to Manuel Antonio National Park, 85 miles, 5 hours

Take the road south of the San Jose and immerse yourself in the splendid wilderness of the Manuel Antonio National Park, by taking the long way down that cuts through the Quetzales National Park. This route may be longer than the alternative (it will see you emerge in Dominical on the coast before heading north but will grant an array of landscape vistas. Plenty of mountains curves on this route suit the experienced self-drive traveler but with plenty of time for multiple stops this memorable Costa Rica road trip is just sensational. Besides the road trip itself, the route ends in the country’s most celebrated national park. A wonderland of dense forests literally cascading onto stupendous beaches. A most fitting destination, we say!

San Jose to Tamarindo, 160 miles, 4.5hrs

Gained your confidence on the road? Then why not tackle a cross-country drive that’ll see you first head to the coast in Punta Arenas, head northwest and into the Nicoya Peninsula, finally across to Tamarindo. This Pacific coast destination is one of Costa Rica’s most popular tourist destination so it offers a plethora of options, from accommodation to dining, activities and extras. Great shopping, plenty of yoga retreats, fine dining, excellent resorts and a myriad of sea sports are just the start. The wonderful beaches of Tamarindo are a sight to behold, especially if you stretch this road trip to a few days, spending time in the mountains first. Combine this with a visit to Monteverde and it will be a most memorable Costa Rica road trip indeed.

Self-drive road trips are indeed phenomenal but they aren’t for everyone. That’s why we offer an exhilarating collection of adventure vacations in Costa Rica that’ll see you explore the country’s best regions AND have an absolute blast along the way. Prefer us to be in charge of the driving? No problem! Contact us for more info and let us plan your own memorable Costa Rica road trip, with us at the wheel.

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Must See Wildlife in Costa Rica

Revered for being one of the most bio diverse countries on the planet, the wildlife in Costa Rica is an animal lover’s dream playground. So enriched is the country with unique and interesting creatures, that you need not even specifically go on dedicated wildlife-watching tours, if you don’t have the time or wish to keep expenses down. For in Costa Rica, wildlife is everywhere.

The most common, the most famous, the most beloved and even the most feared: here is the top wildlife in Costa Rica.


What they lack in size, insects more than make up for in sheer numbers in Costa Rica, where they make up almost 60% of ALL the wildlife species. Here, you’ll see over 1,200 vibrantly colorful butterflies, which equate to more than 10% of all butterfly species on the planet. Together with an impressive array of bee species, butterflies are responsible for the enormous variety of flora which blankets Costa Rica in its entirety.


Four species of monkeys inhabit the luscious forests of Costa Rica and the fabulous thing about them is that they live and travel in big troops, so once you spot one you will have time to grab your camera and, soon enough, you’ll spot several. These noisy and clever creatures can be sneaky and have been known to steal visitor’s lunches, so hold on to your foodie stash the moment you hear the cries of the cheeky mantled howler monkey.


wildlife in Costa RicaOut of the 900 species of birds found in Costa Rica, over 600 live there permanently. Non-birders can’t help but notice the more eye-catching species like the magnificent toucans and scarlet macaws, but fact is this is one of the most respected dedicated bird-watching destinations on the planet. From the lovely Yiguirro, the country’s national bird, to the stunning quetzal and impressive jabiru, Costa Rica’s birds come in all colors, shapes and make for astonishing viewing. In total, you’ll find six species of toucans inhabiting all the wonderful forests throughout Costa Rica.


Ever-smiley sloths are arguably everyone’s favorite Costa Rica wildlife and even if going in search of them gives you a crick in the neck it will be well worthwhile once you come face to face with this goofy character. Sloths do a mighty fine job of camouflaging in the canopy of low and mid-elevation forests and spotting them can actually be quite pesky. So channel your inner sloth, move slowly and carefully and you’ll no doubt soon see one just ‘hanging about’.

Sea Turtles

Renowned as one of the world’s premier turtle nesting destinations, Costa Rica is home to 5 out of the 7 existing sea turtle species, with each species preferring certain stretches of beaches. So take it slow when visiting Costa Rica, and follow our turtle-watching guide to get the most out of your trip.


Given Costa Rica’s prime location, its pristine seas are brimming with migrating whales in July and March, the gargantuan sea kings and queens make their yearly pilgrimage.

If catching a glimpse of these magnificent beasts is a priority, check out our guide to whale watching in Costa Rica for more detailed info.

Tree frogs

Over three-quarters of all of Costa Rica’s amphibians are frogs, the most notable of which is the red eyed tree frog. As a great many of frogs are nocturnal, the best chance of spotting several species of frogs is to go on a nighttime hike, but we do recommend you take a local experienced guide with you. Not only will it be safer for you but you’ll also see many, many more creatures than you would on your own.


The Costa Rica racoon gets a lot of flak from North American tourists, with many first-time visitors assuming they are as bothersome as those back home. But this gorgeous coatimundi is much more placid but just as curious, so although you should definitely never approach one or try to pet one, there’s no reason to run away screaming! But yes…do make sure you don’t wave your sandwich around should you spot one. They are very sweet…but they still wouldn’t turn down a free lunch!


Now here’s a species of wildlife you should definitely admire from a little distance! In Costa Rica, you’ll find two crocodilians: the large American crocodile and the much smaller and less threatening spectacled caiman.


Between November and May, large pods of dolphins can be easily spotted swimming off the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. Although dolphins live along this coast all year long, winter is when they breed so your chances of spotting many of them on a boat outing, are infinitely enhanced.

Big cats

Costa Rica is home to several big cats, many of them remaining elusive and very difficult to spot. Of the 7 species, the most coveted would have to be the jaguar and the puma, with the former being the largest wild cat in the country, growing up to an impressive 2 meters in length. Of all the top wildlife in Costa Rica, the jaguar remains the hardest to spot in the wild.

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Costa Rica’s Top Five Most Romantic Getaway Locations

In a country that oozes romance at every turn, it’s hard to pick a favorite. Costa Rica, the honeymoon choice of all adventure-lusting couples, offers several romantic getaway locations. From adrenaline pumping action down raging rivers and on active volcanoes to candlelit beach side dinners, spa treatments for two, luxury adults-only resorts and dreamy sunset horseback rides and catamaran cruises: your options for injecting some serious R.O.M.A.N.C.E. on your Costa Rica vacation are out of this world.

So fine, we’ll choose some favorites if we must! Here are just a few of Costa Rica’s Most Romantic Getaways.

Romantic Getaway Locations:

Manuel Antonio – When Only the Best Will Do

Romantic getaway locationsThe country’s premier travel destination boasts the most established infrastructure and arguably the most comprehensive array of luxury accommodation and activities in the whole country. If it’s ‘the best’, most hassle-free, most comfortable and most luxurious that you’re after, then Manuel Antonio is the romantic getaway for you. Luxury upscale boutique hotels and restaurants abound, each one offering a little something unique. Moreover, the sheer array of wildlife and breathtaking scenery in the Manuel Antonio National Park will make you love Costa Rica, as much as your partner! No wonder this is the Costa Rica splurge honeymoon destination of choice.

Volcano Arenal – For the ‘WOW’ Factor Alone

romantic getaway locationsThere’s something about a smokin’ hot volcano that makes everyone a little amorous. And in Costa Rica, that postcard-perfect sight is Arenal. There’s no denying this is the most coveted scene in Costa Rica, and with Arenal’s nearly endless array of fantastic hot spring resorts (check out this exclusive one!) romantic times are just about guaranteed. When you choose an intimate hotel set amidst exotic tropical rain forests, surrounded by a flurry of creatures and boasting magnificent views from every corner, your unforgettable honeymoon is made.

Osa Peninsula – For Adventurous Couples Craving Solitude

The remote and unspoilt Osa Peninsula is a little pesky to reach, granted, but adventure-seeking couples who want to get away from it all will be handsomely rewarded for their efforts. And don’t worry, you’ll still find plenty of romantic resorts and hotels tucked in amidst pristine wilderness. Only here, you’ll have loads of room to yourself, fantastic wildlife watching options and oodles of solitude. The perfect romantic getaway, you ask? Could well be!

Puntarenas – For Beach-Loving Active Couples on a Whim

For short romantic getaways or last-minute trips on a whim, Puntarenas can’t be beaten. The closest seaside destination to the capital, San Jose, this phenomenal region actually stretches more than half of Costa Rica’s Pacific coastline. The beaches are long, sandy and gorgeous, the interior national parks brimming with waterfalls and hiking trails and just off the coast lie a multitude of stunning islands just itching to be explored. Perhaps, by a honeymoon couple just like you! Charming fishing villages, excellent snorkel trips, zip lining, horseback riding, mountain biking and wildlife watching are just a few of the amazing activities on offer here. So if you’re in the mood to be active and/or are headed to Costa Rica on a whim, just beeline it for Puntarenas and you’ll have an unforgettable time.

Tortuguero – for Lovers of Jungles, Remoteness and Uniqueness

Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast is revered my lovers of all that is exotic. It is here that you’ll discover untouched jungles, masses of wildlife and uniquely romantic hotels.  In Tortuguero, the beloved mecca for nesting turtles and a stretch of coast that is simply spectacular, the tropical rain forest literally cascades into the sea, making for awe-inspiring sunrises. Exclusive romantic resorts here are few and far between. But when you do find one, you can trust that it will be something very special. From boutique riverside hotels for only 20 guests to private estates literally embedded in pristine jungle, and resorts only accessible by boat: Tortuguero romantic getaways are sensational to say the least.

Ready for various romantic getaway locations with a difference? Then skip the cookie-cutter itineraries and choose Costa Rica! We have something to offer all adventure-seeking honeymooning couples and can include as much luxury and adrenaline-pumping fun as you’d like. Simply contact us for more info.

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Whales & Dolphin Festival Heats Up Costa Rica in September!

Whales & Dolphin FestivalCosta Rica’s Whales & Dolphin Festival, held on the idyllic coast of Bahia Ballena in Uvita, will take place during the first two weekends in September. Considering this is the ideal month for whale watching in Costa Rica, now’s the perfect time to plan a last-minute getaway to the world’s best adventure travel destination.

The 2017 Whales & Dolphin Festival will be in its 5th year and is a well-organized event that shines a spotlight on one of the world’s most magnificent natural phenomena: the mass migration of humpback whales along the coast of Costa Rica. Aside from whale watching tours, you’ll find the town of Uvita and its surrounding areas awash with fairs, concerts, exhibitions, environmental workshops that teach all about the marine life found here and, as always anticipated, a wonderful array of exceptional food. Attracting families, singles, old and young alike – not only from other regions in Costa Rica but from every corner of the globe – the festival is a wonderful celebration of one of the country’s most revered attractions.

For any animal lover, the Marino Ballena National Park is a perfect destination. At this time of year, you’ll see not only humpback whales, but several species of dolphins, pilot whales, sharks and plenty of turtles, as well as colonies of unique and endemic birds. For experienced sea lovers, there are also options for whale watching tours by SUP and kayaks.

Amazingly, the southern Pacific Coast of Costa Rica actually harbors humpbacks almost all year round, as pods flee the cold of Antarctica and the Arctic to seek shelter in the balmy waters of this glorious country. It is in September, however, when numbers (and your chances of spotting them) are at their highest.

Whales & Dolphin Festival Locations

Uvita & the Marino Ballena National Park

The small and unassuming town of Uvita is preferred by those who want a more laid-back beach vacation when in Costa Rica. Away from the well-developed north, you’ll find long stretches of palm-tree fringed, pristine sandy beaches, and just a smattering of accommodation choices.

Uvita is the best base town for adventures in Marino Ballena, the marine crowning glory of the Puntarenas Province. The park encompasses over 100 hectares of unspoilt land wilderness, as well as 5,400 hectares of pristine marine areas, including the largest coral reef on Costa Rica’s western coast.

The aptly named ‘Marine Whale National Park’ boasts a captivating landscape, with a ‘whale tail’ promontory that is simply breathtaking, especially from a higher vantage point.

This is one of the country’s youngest and most protected national parks and attracts visitors who seek an organic experience (with fewer commodities, perhaps) but with the priceless chance to be completely at one with unspoilt nature. The park hosts at least 85 unique species of marine wildlife and almost 20 species of coral. Snorkeling the reef is outstanding here and, because of its protected status, the park’s beaches are perfect for quiet sunbathing and lounging, away from the at-times rowdy crowds of surfers found further north. The waters and currents can be a bit fierce but you’ll find plenty of tranquil coves and swimming holes.

Getting to Uvita

A 3 hour drive from San Jose will see you take in the countryside of Puntarenas and arrive in Uvita. Alternatively, you could also fly into the small regional airport at Quepos.

If you’re looking for one of a kind adventure-filled tours in Costa Rica, check out our comprehensive list of tours and contact us for further info. We’d be delighted to plan an itinerary that’s just right for you and help you have a WHALE of a time in Costa Rica!

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Costa Rica’s Enviable Living Costs

It really is no wonder that Costa Rica is fast becoming one of the most coveted expat destinations on the planet known for its enviable living costs. And not only for retirees looking for a warmer climate and good health care. Waves of young entrepreneurs, digital nomads and ecotourism operators are scrambling to get a piece of the Costa Rica pie. And no wonder: with such enviable living costs, exceptional health benefits, fantastic natural landscapes, clean living and a stress-free living…who wouldn’t want to live here?

An Enviable Lifestyle – A Priceless Bonus

Costa Rica living costsCosta Rica is one of those rare countries that offers a fantastic lifestyle for a fraction of the cost you’d normally expect. This is what ultimately makes it such a coveted expat destination. Sure, other countries may be just as inexpensive to live in, yet none match all the added bonuses that Costa Rica can. With its array of fresh produce and penchant for clean eating and an active life, living in Costa Rica is simply better for you, price irrespective. More sunlight, tastier fruit and vegetables, walking or cycling everywhere, skipping the high levels of stress that go hand in hand with big city living and easily building social connections with like-minded expats.

Yet when it comes to the bottom line…yes, Costa Rica’s enviable living costs play a huge role in people’s ‘big move’.

Monthly Living Costs

Most retired couples who move to Costa Rica find they can enjoy an unrestricted lifestyle here for about 2,000 to 3,000 USD a month, including entertainment expenses, plenty of fresh food, health care and, of course, housing and utilities.

MEDICARE – The Caja, the local universal health care, is of exceptional high quality, this being arguably one of the best relocation incentives for older couples looking for peace of mind. For a low monthly fee, expats have access to all the Medicare benefits granted to Ticos and, for a fraction of what they’d pay at home, they can also pay cash for specialist surgeries or anything else not covered by the State-run healthcare.

FRESH FOOD – Fresh food is where Costa Rica really shines and, as long as you keep it local (by going to the weekly feria produce markets, for example) you’ll find your weekly food bill slashed. From fruits and vegetables to meat, eggs, cheeses, milk, bread, coffee and more: a fridge full of delicious fresh produce sets you back only about 30USD a week. With fruit and vegetables at less than 1USD a kilo and meat and seafood for under 5USD, eating well and plentifully is super easy in Costa Rica.

HOUSING – Luxury, US-style condos are becoming popular in Costa Rica and are ideal for those who only spend a portion of their time in the country – perhaps splitting their year with family stays back home – or those who don’t want the hassle of a garden. Flash condos can be rented for less than 1,000USD a month , whilst a 2-3 bedroom house can range in price between just 500USD and 1200USd depending on location, size of the home, age and overall land size.

UTILITIES – For under 100USD a month you can cover all your needed utilities, including unlimited internet access and cable TV.

HOUSE HELP – Need help around the house and garden? Helpers can be hired for just a couple of dollars an hour or, if you’d like their services exclusively, you should expect to pay a salary of about 200-300USD a month, depending on their task and expertise.

The Ins and Outs of Living in Costa Rica

Many long-term expat residents say that although you could get by well for 1,000USD a month, per person, stretching the budget will make for a much more enjoyable life. This is especially true for those who wish to fly home often or travel extensively through the country and the general Central American region. Because that’s an absolute must, right? On the upper limit, well, there really isn’t one. If you wanted to, you could also spend upwards of 5,000USD a month by renting the most luxurious digs, dining in top-notch restaurants, having 5* spa treatments every week and a team of helpers at home to look after the garden, pool, dogs and children. Curiously, although this may seem to be a lot of money, it is still only a fraction of what the same Hollywood lifestyle would cost back home.

What may strike many as idyllic is the fact that life in Costa Rica feels remarkably more ‘Western’ than one may first imagine. There’s a feeling of familiarity, here, that seems to be missing in many of the neighboring countries. Because foreign and exotic may be alluring for a vacation, granted, but you will likely desire your choice of home to be more homely and less challenging.

Expat communities have sprung up in every single region of Costa Rica, some a little more substantial in numbers than others. Although budget is not necessarily at the forefront of everyone’s mind, it pays to travel here and do your homework if you’re ever serious about moving here. And note than in a small country such as this, moving just 15 minutes’ drive from a known hub can easily halve living costs. No matter where you go, trust that there will be an expat community, however small, ready to welcome you home.

Costa Rica’s enviable living costs have helped cement the country’s spot as a top retirement and expat destination. But it is clear as day that there is so much more to this country than simply low prices. When life is prioritized and free time is spent hiking, kayaking, surfing and sharing meals with dear new friends, life can be quite priceless indeed.

A much coveted expat destination, Cost Rica is your ultimate adventure vacation destination. So why not come discover what all the fuss is about? We can show you the best of this country and can guarantee that once you get a taste of this heavenly place you’ll also never want to leave!

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