When arriving in Costa Rica one of the things you will notice are the words, Pura Vida, spoken a lot, which is characteristic Costa Rican phrase. It literally means “pure life”, however, the real meaning is closer to “plenty of life”, “full of life”, “this is living!”, “going great”, or “real living.”With a tropical climate second to none, a string of fabulous tourist attractions ranging from exhilarating whitewater rafting hurtling down impressive rocky gorges on the Sevegre River and breathtaking zip-line tours over dense jungles to the often active and imposing Arenal volcano, some of the world’s best sportfishing, and great places to stay and eat, including four-star hotels and restaurants dotting the entire country, Costa Rica, perched in Central America between Nicaragua to the north and Panamá to the south, is a solid choice as one of the continent’s most popular year-round tourist destinations.
More than two million tourists from around the world visit Costa Rica annually 40% of the country’s own population of about five million, a very high visitor-to-population ratio for any country. Most visitors are Americans. And many of them make Costa Rica an annual pilgrimage, attracted not only by its sublime beauty, but its political stability and warm welcome accorded Americans.
What do they find there? Great beaches, especially on the Pacific coast, most of them small, secluded and relatively uncrowded. Exotic tropical wildlife the inimitable white faced and titi monkeys and sloths in the world-famous Manuel Antonio National Park; lush, emerald green vegetation in the magical Monteverde cloud forest reserve; hidden jungle lagoons and canals you can navigate in flat bottom boats in the Caribbean tropical paradise of Tortuguero National Park; the dusky, mysterious rainforests of Sarapiquí; hundreds of species of multicolored frogs, birds and animals; and for the gourmand � arguably some of the world’s finest coffee, along with delicious tropical fruit such as mangos, papayas, pineapple and passion fruit.
For your convenience, everyone in Costa Rica’s tourist industry
speaks English, so you will have no trouble at hotels, airports, bus terminals and local travel agencies. If you need help finding your way, ask the Tourist police who have taken special English classes, and are scattered around the center of San José and in most of the major tourist destinations. You will also find that a surprisingly high number of the general population, especially the younger generation, speak English, as it is now an important subject in the country’s very advanced (for Latin America) public and private school systems, right from the initial junior grades.
Costa Rica’s 19,700 sq miles make it slightly larger than Massachusetts, Connecticut and Delaware combined. But this small size packs an incredible, diverse and easily accessible tourist wallop. Over a quarter of the country’s expanse is protected area including 32 national parks, 12 biological reserves 13 forest reserves and 52 wildlife refuges. The majority offer tours with experienced bilingual guides, many of them trained biologists and naturalists, who will introduce you to their wealth of tropical flora and fauna, so bring your camera! Tiny Costa Rica has 5% of the world’s biodiversity, including 221 mammal species, 150 amphibian species, 215 reptile species, 830 bird species and 1,080 species of saltwater and freshwater fish.
Once in Costa Rica, it’s no trouble getting to where you want to go in this compact tropical paradise. Nothing one could want to see or do is more than hour’s flight or more than a seven-hour drive for those who prefer traveling overland – from the country’s capital San José, a bustling hub of over two million people, perched on a plateau smack in the middle of the country.
Article by Mark Sydney, who has lived in Costa Rica for 17 years, and has 15 years experience putting together custom travel arrangements for Costa Rica. Mark is a associate of Richard Krug who its the owner of Americana Sportfishing one of Costa Rica’s oldest sportfishing charter services.For more information, please contract Mark at Costa Rica’s Travel.