Pura Vida or Pure Life is the Costa Rican way of life. Where Americans may say the phrase "time is money," Costa Rican's believe "time is life." Costa Rica values its biodiversity from its wildlife and rainforests to its rivers and tinest organism. A single tree can have numerous inhabitants in it, each affecting the ecosystem. A bird may nest in the treetops above a sloth who eats the tree leaves and has tiny insects living in its ... more
Pura Vida or Pure Life is the Costa Rican way of life. Where Americans may say the phrase "time is money," Costa Rican's believe "time is life." Costa Rica values its biodiversity from its wildlife and rainforests to its rivers and tinest organism. A single tree can have numerous inhabitants in it, each affecting the ecosystem. A bird may nest in the treetops above a sloth who eats the tree leaves and has tiny insects living in its fur, which the bird may then enjoy eating. The sloth will then climb down the tree once a week to relieve himself, which nourishes the tree, and the insects will scurry off the sloth allowing for new insects to hop a ride on the sloth as he chooses a new tree to climb back up for the week. Eco-lifecycles like that exist everywhere in the Pura Vida of Costa Rica. The entire country is also on track to be completely sustainable by 2021.
Costa Rican food is so fresh and pure, your tastebuds will be on overload. All of the fruit in the country may be the freshest fruit you've ever had and don't get us started on the fruit juices! The outstanding fresh fruit juices are refreshing and thirst quenching and like nothing available in the U.S. Rice and beans with the addition of chicken, beef or pork at times is also huge on the Costa Rican menu. But don't think you'll be bored of eating rice and beans all the time because no two plates of rice and beans taste the same. Different spices and recipes keep your tastebuds guessing. Some dishes are sweet, some are spicy, and some you just can't figure out but you will want seconds.
Costa Rica is 10 degrees above the equator so it is hot on most days and the humidity can be thick as well. High altitude and cool air come with visits to the volcanos and the mountain ranges can be less hot than the beach areas. The sun also sets around 6 p.m. in Costa Rica, year-round, because of its proximity to the equator, so don't expect to stay late on the beach. While Costa Rica can experience small earthquakes, volcanic activity and mudslides, it never sees hurricanes.
There are seven provinces within Costa Rica and each is different from the other. Soft sandy beaches, calm waters, heavy surf, mountain ranges, volcanos, rainforests, cloud forests, slothes, monkeys, more than 900 species of birds and loads of other wildlife can be found in the biodiverse lands of Costa Rica. Mountains divide the Pacific and Caribbean coasts and each region features its own microclimate and rainy and dry seasons.
Pacific Coast or Puntarenas
The Pacific Ocean runs along the Central Pacific and South Pacific regions of Costa Rica where the rainy season runs from about May to mid-November. Families will find Manuel Antonio National Park
and the towns of Quepos
, Jaco and Puntarenas on the Pacific Coast. Beauitful soft, white sandy beaches line the Pacific side, as well as tropical rainforests, and families will find lots of wildlife like sloths, monkeys, birds and more.
The Caribbean Sea stretches along the 200 miles of coastline on the Caribbean side and Limon is a popular destination. Birds and sea turtles nest on this side of Costa Rica and Tortugero National Park is a great place to see the turtles hatch. The beaches on this coast are picturesgue, so if your Costa Rican family vacation plan is to lounge on the beach, this is the coast for you. Black, yellow and gray sandy beaches can be found here, along with coral reefs that make it a great place for snorkeling.
Central Valley or San Jose
As the country's capital, San Jose
is a bustling "city" with lots of history and culture for families to enjoy. The San Jose International Airport is located here, so many visitors will arrive here. Costa Rica's many museums like the Jade Museum
and Children's Museum
are located in San Jose, along with the National Theater. While families won't find any beaches in San Jose, there are volcanos bordering the Central Valley.
Tropical rainforests, cloud forests and mountain ranges can be found in the Cartago Province, which is situated between Limon and San Jose, less than an hour away. The city of Cartago is at the base of the Irazu Volcano
and families will love to visit the Central Market and coffee plantations here.
For adventure, visit the northern plains of the smallest Costa Rican province. In Sarapiqui
, families can find an excellent adventure tour company called Aventuras del Sarapiqui
for whitewater rafting, zip-lining, horseback riding and more. Many of the more than 900 species of birds that inhabit Costa Rica can be found in Heredia region, too.
Two of the country's most impressive volcanos can be found in the Alajuela region
. The Arenal Volcano
and its numerous hot springs are located in the city of San Carlos, and the Poas Volcano
, surrounded by a cloud forest, offers excellent landscapes. Waterfalls and whitewater rafting are also big in the Alajuela Region of Costa Rica, which is north of San Jose and borders Nicaragua.
The north end of the country, closest to Nicaragua, runs along the Pacific Ocean and features some of the most beautiful white-sand beaches and calm blue waters you may ever see. The Daniel Oduber International Airport is located in Liberia, along with the tourist towns of Santa Cruz and Tamarindo. Guanacaste is heavily visited by local and international tourists because along with its gorgorous beaches, there are tropical forests and mountain forests.
The only "problem" for visitors to Costa Rica is the temptation to try to do it all in one family vacation. Our advice? Don't. Avoid spending too much time on the road. Instead, pick a few regions to visit, and select one hotel in each area to use as a base for day trips.
Written by Courtney Elko less