Why you should visit Costa Rica!

I have spent more time in this lush country than any other this lifetime so far. Costa Rica was my first big adventurous trip and it’s abundant charms made me keep coming back for years until I actually moved there, half a year at a time.

Read on for my top reasons

you should visit Costa Rica &

begin your own love affair.

300 Micro Climates to Explore

montevrdeCosta Rica is one of the biggest small countries ever! Long & lean, boasting 2 coastlines on opposing oceans with a huge range of elevations on the mainland. Whatever you’re looking for in terms of weather over 15c, Costa Rica has it going on in terms of variety of climate. 

Cool, misty high mountains to interior lakes, crazy waterfalls tumbling into endless rivers that eventually lead into oceans. Volcanoes with resulting hot springs. Rich agriculture land high in the Southern hills. Balmy & humid coastlines cloaked with jungle. 12 different climate zones broken into more than 300 micro climates. Surely a gardeners dream world. As a general rule, the North is drier overall. The South hot and humid. Going up in elevation brings down the temperatures. Now there’s a way to pick a novel itinerary!

Rich & Diverse Wildlife.

If you adore Nature, Wildlife and pristine places there is no doubt Costa Rica needs to be on your must travel list!

One of things I love most about this country is the way its taken to protect its wildlife and jungles. Costa Rica is home to a whopping 500, 000 species holding almost 5% of the worlds biodiversity both on land and water. The Osa peninsula where I’ve made my home is the wildest and most biodiverse spot within the country itself. Scarlett |MaCaws are a daily sight. Pumas, Ocelots and Tapirs roam the dirt roads. If shows like National Geographic make you excited, can you imagine living it! Of course the entire country is worth a visit as many species tend to stick to one region. For example in Drake we have only Scarlett MacCaws but on the Carribean they have Green!

Want to see it in person? Check out my curated trip to Drake Bay. The heart of the jungle.

Rich History

Costa Rica isn’t JUST about the amazing weather & wildlife. History and culture buffs have plenty to come and learn about too. As many countries were, Costa Rica has also had many countries try to take over and exploit them in the past. Christopher Columbus landed here on his 4th voyage and soon after the colonization began. Costa Rica has been within territorial bounds of Mexico and Guatemala in the past. They finally revolted along with the rest of Central America and independance was gained in 1821. Small pockets of a few of the once many indegenous tribes remain with the Bri Bri that can be found in the South East of the country.

Wild, Beautiful Beaches & 2 Coastlines

Mother Nature was generous when she created what is now Costa Rica. Wrapped on either side with the Pacific to the West and Carribean Sea to the East.

Each coast have a very distinct flavour and some people have a marked preference. I however love them all for different reasons. On the Pacific side we have hundreds? of beaches that run up and down the coast, into coves and up estuaries. Most are still empty of buildings and western development with wide expanses of white to black sand from hard packed to plush. Palm trees generally provide natural shade at most. There’s nothing like chilling out under a beautiful almond while warm waters lap at your toes. Most of Costa Ricas beaches are what I term ‘surf beaches” with incoming waves that are sought after by surfers but not as much for swimmers. Look for protected bays for calmer waters. Places like Tambor, Drake Bay, Golfito, Zancudo on the Pacific. Punta Uva is my favourite spot on the Carribean and they have amazing beaches of every colour in the South. Make sure to go in September or October for the best weather on that side.

3. Summer Forever – Sub Tropical Climate

When do you want to escape the less than ideal climate of your country? Have specific weeks off at work that can’t be changed?  One of the many things I love about Costa Rica is that it is truly forever Summer, somewhere in the country at all times. Chase abundant sunshine by switching coasts throughout the year. The heavenly Southern Carribean coast has high Summer in September and October when the rest of the country is in monsoon season. Expect year round heat near the coastlines all year round between 28-35C without humidity. Climb further North and inland into higher elevations and the temps can drop as low as 10c! Many expats and long term travellers tend to prefer the highlands for “comfortable” temperatures all year round. If you’re a beach girl like me, prepared to sweat!!

Good Public Transport Options

Being someone that rarely rents wheels, public transport has always been important. Not every country is easy to travel through. In fact CR was one of those countries and can still be a bit challenging to understand. These is public transport of one form or another available to most parts of the country. The schedules, routes stops and patience you need to pack to sometimes navigate them can be alot. However once you learn the ways things become easier. It takes time here, in all ways lol

There is a network on buses that work on a country wide to super local routes. The bus drivers on these interconnecting routes usually know each other and have a system set up for the daily runs. For most tourists, you can pick up a bus going to almost any direction in San Jose. Those not in San Jose can meet those buses on specific route stops and times as they “pause” to pick up any passengers. I saw pause because if you’re not clearly waiting and waving them down…they may pass you by haha.  The timetable of these stops is important but know that these buses, epecially local buses sometimes just don’t run. If you’re staying somewhere its best to ask the host for details. They can sometimes message the driver to look for you on the road.

Other than buses, shared shuttles are another good option for land travel. Boat taxis are a must for any visits to remote peninsulas. Car rentals are always available for ultimate freedom, but with a hefty pricetag.

5. Warm, welcoming locals

Cooking Tico StyleThe people you meet along the way always have a huge impact on your explorations and this is another reason Costa Rica shines.

Costa Ricans (called Tico/male and Tica/female) tend to be warm and welcoming. Everyone greets you with Hola and asks how you are. They are genuinely interested in where you come from and love showing off their amazing country. While Spanish is the official language, many locals can speak at least a few words in English and love to practice speaking with new friends.  I’ve made so many wonderful Tico friends throughout my travels. It doesn’t take long to become part of the village and community if you stay in one spot. Even if you’re on the go, wave hello to everyone. Say Hola (hello) and you’d be suprised how many strangers can become friends in the land of pura vida.

Short Flights from Canada/ |USA

Flight costs make up for a majority of most trip budgets. Travel time can eat into precious, actually there enjoying the stuff time. True, the journey should be part of the fun but all things should balance out when choosing a good destination. Costa Rica offers this in spades when you are visiting from both Canada and the United States. Direct, often inexpensive flights are available year round. Time of travel? From Toronto, Canada a direct flight is 5.5 hours. Amazing. You can set alerts on flight price scanners that will auto email to your parameters. Even in 2024, I’ve seen direct flights from YYZ for under $400. I’ve also had to pay upwards of $1000 but the deals are there if you’re able to have flexibility and book the ticket as soon as a great deal appears. That being said, it’s still more than worth coming at a higher rate or longer flight time…it’s just easier and faster for us North Americans. Similar to Bali and Australia!

Volcanoes, Hot Springs & Endless Waterfalls

anton valley take me to summer panamaFor such a tiny country, Costa Rica encompasses a vast amount of amazing places and things to visit. With a terrain that spans its tallest mountains ( Mount Chirripo at 12, 536 feet) all the way down to zero at the coastlines. In between there are a huge number of volcanoes — six active volcanoes and another 61 dormant or extinct ones. How crazy is that. Having so many changes in elevation also gives birth to hundreds and hundreds of waterfalls throughout the country. You can climb dormant volcanos, frolick in endless waterfalls and chillax in some of the fabulous resulting hot springs. Anything is possible here and you will never get bored. There’s as much adventure and activities as you could ever want while also offered tranquility and relaxation. Just about perfect don’t you think?

Pura vida & Unhurried Life

Have you ever heard the term Pura Vida?

Such a simple term but it carries many meanings and really exemplifies the culture of Costa Rica. Pura vida is a term that can be used in response to almost anything. How are you? Pura vida. It looks like there’s a storm on the way! Pura Vida.   How much does this cost? Pura Vida…haha maybe not the last one. Seriously though. Pura Vida literally translate into pure life. When Costa Ricans say it, it usually means “okay” or “no worries”. It’s used in daily conversation and can be a response to almost anything. Pura Vida also goes deeper into the culture of how Costa Ricans live their lives and view the world. It means..chill. A relaxed, today focused lifestyle. It takes some getting used to for those arriving from other cultures that have set schedules and expect speed but it’s well worth the disconnect of letting go and enjoying right now. Pura Vida..let’s enjoy whatever is here to be enjoyed.

The Taste of Eggs.

costa rica eggs taste betterFor those that have never visited outside of Europe, Canada or the US there are things that your taste buds need to experience.

I can totally see why food tourism exists. While I’ve never considered myself a foodie, over the year spending extended time in different amazing countries the truth is clear. Everyone is a foodie with amazing food around.

Costa Rica is about lush nature and exploding fresh and simple tastes. Did you know they don’t even refrigerate the eggs? Protected by the natural wax, they are sold & stored at room temperature. When you first taste an egg from Costa Rica, it will blow your mind. Sweeter, lighter, richer and delicious. I don’t even like eggs in Canada but love them in CR. Other things are like that too. The fruits are dripping with natural sweetness. The vegetables crisp and fresh. I notice the difference in every visit, every time transitioning from a North American diet to local food.

Getting ready for a trip?

Read my post on MUST HAVE items for any traveller.

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