Costa Rica Travel Guide

Costa Rica Introduction

A country in Central America that provide nature, endless activities, and relaxation. Costa Rica has a stable democracy. It was previously dependent on agriculture, but is now focused on other sections such as finance, foreign companies, ecotourism, and many more. In addition, there are many foreign companies that operate in this country, so many benefit from investment and tax incentives due to the free trade zones.

They were inhabited by indigenous people before Spanish rule in 16th century. Their culture was heavily shaped by these influences, which is why they were so focused on agriculture before. The Spanish colonization turned settlers into working for their own land, making them being looked down upon. They had to develop on their own which turned this into a more egalitarian society compared to their neighbors.

Cuisine

Costa Rica Cuisine-7 Costa Rica Cuisine-2

Their cuisine includes of Spanish, Native Americans, and other cuisine origins. Indigenous inhabitants made traditional dishes that includes many dishes using the ingredient corn, such as tamale. However, the Spaniards brought over spices and domestic animals, which influenced their cuisine. In addition, the Africans brought in different flavor of mixtures such as the Caribbean taste. Their main dish includes rice and black beans, but they are more known for using fruits and vegetables in their dishes. It is due to their location where fruits and vegetables are all around and easily accessible. Food is very important because a majority of their culture is centered around it: family gatherings, celebrations, etc.

  • Gallo pinto — A national dish that is typically made with either red or black beans paired with rice in a stir-fry style. There are other variations of this dish, but it is based on other countries and how they will prepare it accordingly.
  • Arroz con pollo — a typical dish that is served for family gatherings or special occasions. It is made with rice and chicken mixed with other ingredients such as vegetables, spices, and salsa lizano.
  • Ceviche — In Costa Rica, fish is marinated in lime juice, salt, pepper, and mixed with onions and cilantro.
  • Chicharrón — It is usually made with fried pork belly or fried pork rinds. However, it is not limited to only pork. It can be made with chicken, mutton, or beef.

Famous Attractions

Costa Rica is one of the happiest country as it is the most satisfying place to live in, according to Happy Planet Index! It is a great place to indulge your taste buds in cuisine that utilizes local ingredients. Here, you are able to experience different activities that will leave you in awe. For example, being able to experience sea turtles hatching. You can even go on adventures by surfing on the Nicoya peninsula! This place will leave you wanting more adventures, wanting to explore more, and wanting to gain all the cultural experiences it has to offer.

Here are a few of their top attractions:

  • Manuel Antonio National Park Costa Rica-3Manuel Antonio National Park — A national park filled with beautiful beaches and hiking trails. It features fantastic scenery that contains an amazing degree of biodiversity.
  • Arenal Volcano — A conically shaped active volcano that is 5,358 ft high. It offers a volcanic hot springs with breathtaking views.
  • Tortuguero National Park — A national park with lots of biodiversity: rainforests, mangrove forests, and other varieties. Since it is located in it tropical climate, it can get very humid. Not only is it rich in biological diversity, but the art around it is stunning.
  • Corcovado National Park — The largest national park in Costa Rica. It is considered the ‘crown jewel’ due to it being the most biologically intense place. You’ll be able to enjoy and learn about the different wildlife that lives in this national park. This is a great place to go on a long, calming hike while enjoying nature.

Nightlife

Costa Rica isn’t too big and have fancy parties at night time, but it sure does know how to celebrate. For example, they have an annual event called Fiestas Palamares that happens around Octoberfest — which is recognized all around the world! It is suitable for those that love listening to discos, DJs, or just want to have a chill night with friends at a local karaoke bar. If you are in San Jose, you’ll be leaving with a night to remember! You can hit the dance floor dancing to beats such as Salsa and Merengue. There are plenty of activities at night!

Currency

Costa Rica CurrencyThe currency of Costa Rica is colón (CRC) — which is named after Cristóbal Colón. In some places within Costa Rica, 500 colón is called a dollar. Banknotes come in denominations of 2, 5, 10, 500, and 1,000 colones. However, each note have a different serial and series numbers printed in red when their design or other features are changed. The exchange rate is 566.60 CRC = $1 USD, with rates fluctuating.

Customs & Languages

The official language of Costa Rica is Spanish. However, it is a very diverse country and have many local indigenous languages that are spoken by pre-Columbian people. Their culture is heavily influenced by the Spanish culture due to the Spanish colonization. However, there are other parts that are influenced heavily more by other cultures such as the Jamaican immigrants and indigenous native people. Did you know that Costa Rica is now smoke-free? They have lightings on every public buildings that showcase the ban of smoking. Another thing to note is to not feed the monkeys. Doing so will allow their survival instincts to slowly fade away. A tip when traveling to this country is to bring some insect repellent. Mosquitoes can get annoying and persistent, so be prepared!

Here are some helpful words/phrases:

  • Hello — Hola
  • Please – Por favor
  • Thank you — Gracias
  • How much? — ¿Cuánto cuesta?
  • Where is the bathroom? — ¿Dónde está el baño?