Where To Go In Costa Rica When you are planning your vacation it is good to know a little about the area so you can choose what suits your fancy. The locals refer to themselves as Ticos and they are warm and welcoming wherever you visit in Costa Rica. My friend and I plan to visit all areas of Costa Rica but you may have to consider what to put in your itinerary if you have only 7 days. The following is a list of the various regions and what they might offer in the way of entertainment. Pick and choose whatever combination you like. San Jose Most museums and art galleries in Costa Rica are found in San Jose. The central part of San Jose is noisy and crowed as the capital of any city will be. The airport is located outside of San Jose and you may come into Costa Rica via San Jose anyway, why not check it out while you are visiting. I have been told that you step of the curb carefully in Europe or get run over. Pedestrians do not have the right of way in San Jose either so watch yourself when you cross the street. The Northwest Arenal and Monteverde are located in the Northwest. Arenal is the Volcano located in this area and it is a game of wait-and-see to get the opportunity to view the cone of the volcano spew hot lava. Arenal is one of the only active volcanoes in the world that can be safely viewed by tourists without the threat of bodily harm. I live in the Pacific Northwest, also in the shadow of Mount Rainier so volcanoes don't bother me. The road to Monteverde runs from the small town of Santa Elena to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve with hotels, nightclubs and restaurants. This area is usually very dense with tourists. Originally settled by Quakers this area now has a thriving eclectic artist community. Quakers are also reported to be great cheese makers in this area. I just love cheese and Quakers are cool too so I gotta plan to visit the cheese farm. Although this is one of the busiest this region offers many day trips and interesting things to do. Nicoya Peninsula While the Costa Rican government would certainly welcome the revenue from more tourists, for the moment the beaches of Nicoya remain somewhat of a secret. Beaches are still relatively deserted. If golf is your thing the course at Playa Conchal is renowned. This would be the vacation for you if you have water sports in mind. There is snorkeling, swimming, diving, surfing, fishing, and even kayaking. The drive from Carrillo to Mal País by 4-wheel drive is simply amazing. This area is also surfer heaven. Horseback riding is also offered by most of the hotels. Quepos & the Central Pacific This area is known for beaches and water sports. There is an abundance of quiet beaches to choose from while you do see surfers frequently the beaches are not crowded and it is easy to relax. Along their Pacific Coast Highway there is a vast array of lodging anywhere from the seedy to the luxurious and in between. This area is a wonderland for any beach lover with diving, fishing, golf, and horseback riding, kayaking and even surfing. I want to try the Titi Canopy tours. A canopy tour is like a ski lift going from tree to tree like the monkeys. If you are afraid of heights this is not for you! Osa Peninsula & Golfo Dulce This area is much more remote, however there are several luxury hotels. Drake Bay has whale-watching tours and you can often spot dolphins playing around your boat. Corcovado National Park offers tours that are teaming with wildlife to see and take photos of. In Golfo Dulce the are 2 botanical gardens, Casa Orquideas Botanical Garden and Wilson Botanical Garden. South Caribbean Miles of banana plantations can be found here. Some believe these to be the most beautiful beaches in the country, although it is much more humid. The culture here is more Caribbean in it's inhabitants. The usual water sports can be found here. Vacationing in Costa Rica When you're seeking an exotic spot to vacation or honeymoon Costa Rica is a beautiful country located in Central America nestled between Nicaragua and Panama and is just a few square miles smaller than West Virginia. According to reports done on this country you can find the beauty and tranquility in one small little place with a huge appreciation for life and the pursuit of relaxation. Covering just less than 0.1% of the Earth's land mass and is home to 5% of the world's biodiversity. There are 26 national parks and protected areas spread out across the country. Costa Rica offers a lot of great ocean views since it's got the Pacific Ocean to the West and the Caribbean Sea to the East so those who want to catch a wave can stay in hotels along the Pacific Ocean side and those who want that tranquil island breeze can stay on the Caribbean Sea side. There's so much you can do while on a Costa Rican vacation and the activities are endless where you can do like looking at the rare wildlife like macaws, leatherback turtles, morpho butterflies, and the central American squirrel monkey. They offer tours of the rainforests there and even jungle safaris. You can also get an opportunity to see migrating whales, various dolphin species, sea turtles, and manatees when they migrate through the area at specific times of the year. There are 3 volcanoes in the country and you can view one of them that's currently active and that's the Arenal, which is located in the northern part of the country, the other two are just to the midpoint and southern end of the country. Many people also love to go soak in the hot springs near the volcano. Much of the most lush and beautiful plant life is near the volcanoes because of the ashes it gives off actually works as a fertilizer since the lava had burned away old plants giving new growth nutrient rich soil to grow from. Many people come from far and wide to spend a few days basking in the sun and taking in some of the culture and language since Costa Rica's national language is Spanish. The best time to visit Costa Rica is between December and April which is the period of the dry season and May through November when they go through the rainy season. Usually it's best to visit when the weather isn't very hot and humid since Central America is only mere miles from the equator, which borders the northern end of South America. Tourists should be aware of all natural disasters and who they tour the country with because if you don't know the area or language you're stuck and many Americans have gone missing in foreign lands because they go off with people they don't know very well so to make your trip a memorable experience to do your homework thoroughly before you plan a trip to Costa Rica so you know all the important details of how long you're staying and where you'll be staying at in terms of hotels or resorts. Traveling Safely in Costa Rica Costa Rica is a country that has had a comfortable democracy for quite some time. Even though her neighbors have been torn apart with political strife, Costa Rica has remained peaceful and with little or no political upheaval. It seems to have created a genuinely happy group of people. However, human nature being what it is, there is some amount of crime that does exist. The usual warnings apply. Stay out of any red light districts there may be and always travel with groups in well-lit areas. Keep your money in a hidden pocket somewhere in your clothing but do not carry a wallet. It is advised that you keep a credit card or travelers checks. Both are insured and when you are on vacation if you are mugged you can get them replaced. Don't leave your drinks unattended and don't make change or flash your cash. It's not difficult just handle your transactions discreetly. Stifle the need to wear expensive jewelry it's overdone in this environment anyway. It has been suggested that visitors keep photocopies of their return plane ticket and their passport. Keep an extra stash of cash in your hotel room just in case of an emergency. If you drive your rented car out of a gas station, grocery store, your hotel, or just about anywhere and it ends up with a flat tire. Don't let the inevitable Good Samaritan help you that comes right along as soon as you have broke down. In the past there have been tourists that allowed this nice guy that just happened along, to help them change the tire while he has you distracted his buddies sneak into the other side of the car and steal you belongings. The roads are usually paved and easy to travel but occasionally you have to go down some rough dirt road. If you are unsure of the roads don't drive them. As a matter of fact, it just isn't good sense to rent a car. The cost of gas is terrible and you have to stress out about figuring out where you are going. It would be smart to set aside a bus/taxi fare when you plan your trip. If someone spills food on you move quickly away from them as they try to help you. Wiping ketchup off of you is a way to grab you and pick your pockets. This is an old ploy that is used all too often in many ports of call, not just Costa Rica. Many people come to Costa Rica looking for photo opportunities. Shutterbugs just love their equipment and it is a big tragedy when their cameras get stolen. Get vacation or travelers insurance for your camera and equipment. If you do get equipment stolen or your wallet stolen, call 911 and follow through with getting a police report. You will need a copy of the police report in order for your camera to be replaced. Chances are that you will never have to use any of this advice, but it never hurts to be safe. Timeline Of A Typical Tour Of Costa Rica The average tourist spends anywhere between 7 to 10 days, but many tour companies are offering full 10-14 day tours. One Costa Rican-based company called Costa Rica Tours t offers tourists an 11 day tour where you're doing different things for the entire 11 days and it's very well planned out because you're seeing a lot of the country on their itinerary. The first night is usually when you're getting settled into your hotel and then day 2 is when you start off by visiting a coffee plantation since coffee is one of the products produced out of Costa Rica that is also a mainstay in their economic background. Day 3 you're visiting a village in Cartago to where the tour guide gives you some background information about a young girl witnessing an apparition (she testifies bearing witness on seeing the Virgin Mary) and then the tour continues on to another town where you spend the night at a plantation overlooking Lake Angostura. Day 4 Your journey takes you to the small village of Tucurrique for a short cooking lesson from the natives in making tortillas and other authentic Costa Rican cuisines. Day 5 is a hiking adventure in learning about the Costa Rican indigenous people called the Kekoldi and you get a tour by a Kekoldi leader and you will spend a night at a hotel that's just steps from the Caribbean Sea. Day 6 is a leisure day spent swimming, hiking, and even seeing wildlife on the Gandoca Wildlife reserve near the hotel. Day 7 you'll board a flight from Limon to Guanacaste to where you get to tour some of the most spacious ranches and beaches and spend a night at 4 star hotel near the town of Tamarindo. You're on your own after the days' activities which many people take it upon themselves to go sightseeing or soaking up rays and taking in other tours before continuing with their main tour group. Day 8 is going on a tour of the artisian village of Guaitil where you can try your hand at some authentic pottery making with the Chorotega Indians who's centries old tradition of pottery making is still the mainstay of this particular group of Indians. After you spend a good deal of time making a few pots and learning about pottery, tourists are encouraged to go check out the little gift and pottery shops in the town of Guatil. Day 9 takes you on a tour of Santa Rosa National Park which is home to the dry rain forest and a historical landmark for two important battle conflicts. The tour makes a stop in the town of Liberia-the center of Costa Rica's agricultural region to the northwest part of the country and later staying a night at a Las Espuelas a working cattle ranch. Day 10 You will return to San Jose to spend overnight at a luxury hotel in the downtown part of the city. Day 11 The tour wraps up with tours of the Gold Museum, National or Jade museum-this depends on the itinerary that's planned at the time a tourist arranges a trip through Costa Rican Tours. A final dinner is planned at an authentic Costa Rican restaurant that specializes in Costa Rican cuisine. You spend a final night before leaving for the airport the next morning at Grano De Orio. A tour like this would run a typical visitor about $2500-3000 depending on the tour package you select since student and group tours are usually cheaper since group rates start when you have 15 people or more to bring the cost per person down so that it's cheaper and inexpensive to travel to Costa Rica. Scuba Diving And Snorkeling Trips In Costa Rica Many people who are experienced divers and snorkelers pick Costa Rica as one of the prime locations for scuba diving and snorkeling because of the beautiful crystal blue ocean waters. Costa Rica's environment makes it premier in the idea of snorkeling and diving in some of the best waters in the world. Not only do tour companies do regular tours, weddings, but also they do have special tours for those who wish to spend a week diving at various beaches around the country. Many people who are new to diving are strongly advised to undergo training and certification prior to their travel plans because it can get expensive if you come and get certified by an instructor down there and certification standards are different in the United States and Caribbean. It's easier to do that so you can be prepared and have yourself together. It's ideal to be an experienced diver when you visit places like Costa Rica so you can travel with your own equipment since airlines usually allow divers to travel with their tanks and gear depending on who permits it since it's considered extra weight on flights. They have packages for how long some people wish to go diving and usually the average times people go on diving trips are about 10-14 days. Divers depending on the tour company you go with will allow you to customize your trip and usually if you're traveling in a group, it's a lot cheaper and you get more for your money when you book as a group. Rates for snorkeling go by how much you're charged per day to rent a boat to go out on the water. The rates are also priced by the season meaning it can cost more if you're going out during the high tourist season and it's cheaper when you're going on the low tourist season. Usually peak travel seasons are when it's the most expensive to travel to Costa Rica. It's cheaper to visit on the off-season because you can get a good rate for travel with airfare and hotel since rates go down in the off-season. That's why it's ideal to plan your trips in advance so when you come across a good deal you can book it ahead of time to get the rate that you want. Google can pull up countless websites for travel agencies that offer diving travel packages so people can customize their vacation packages for their specific need and budgets since not everyone wants elaborate, but want to go low key and inexpensive. Everyone wants to have a good time, but you want to also save some money in the process of it all. Planning the ultimate diving excursion with friends and family who are into diving can be a lot of fun and having quality time with loved ones and friends is what makes a vacation worth every penny spent. Researching your vacation options early ensures that you get what you're paying for in advance. Romantic Getaway Costa Rican Style For those who are married or dating and are looking for a nice romantic getaway Costa Rica has vacation packages for those who want an intimate getaway for two. Costa Rican Tours Inc. offers romantic getaways for 11 days/10 nights and the itinerary consists of mostly remote hiking, rafting and overnight stays at upscale resorts and hotels with a spa session to relax and pamper you. Packages such as this usually aren't that expensive since one price can cover two people and these are perfect for the couples who want a romantic getaway for Sweetest Day or Valentine's Day where it's breaking with tradition of the 'Hallmark Holiday'-greeting card overkill, chocolate, and flowers. The website Resortflamingobeach.com does this package deal called 'baby-moon' which is a special package designed for parents who want that special getaway kind of like second honeymoon for parents. The cheapest time to go on a getaway is during the summer when the rates are cheaper since it's more expensive to go in the fall when rates go up. Some romantic getaway packages can be tailored to include spa sessions for a nominal fee and even some horseback riding on the beach and strolls along the beach during a sunset or even a sunrise for those who are early birds. Some hotels and resorts have the all-inclusive option which means you pay one price for all you can eat meals, snacks and drinks which is actually a great value for couples on set budgets and they can get more for their money which is good for those who want to have a good vacation for a good price and value. It's important to plan your trip so that you're not going to overspend and going over budget. Romantic getaways are just the kind of rest and relaxation many couples need to reconnect and bond with each other in a loving and caring way. Many couples find it exhilarating to wake up to smelling fresh air and looking out on the beach when they sit out on the terrace of their hotel room having breakfast or that first cup of coffee in the morning like many people have when they get up in the morning to start their day. Looking onto the ocean is a nice feeling first thing in the morning you're waking up to the birds chirping and the crashing of the waves and the smell of the ocean air and not waking up to the rustle and bustle of urban city life. This is a change of pace for couples who spend so much time on a job or some occupation that often leaves them stressed and worn out and a romantic getaway to someplace tropic can be an adjustment to one's attitude when they're stressed and burned out from all the things that everyday life brings them. Once you come away from one of these getaways you'll be a normal person who got some rest and relaxation away from the insanity that everyday life brings to people. Renting Villas in Costa Rica Instead of renting a high priced hotel room, you can go and rent yourself a villa for $1500 a week which is cheap. Comparing to a hotel room costing that much, and with a villa you can get more like a eat in kitchen and actual bedrooms not just a single room. You can rent out up to 6 bedrooms if you have a group of 12 of more. Costa Rican vacation rentals provide some upscale properties you can rent by the week and is in perfect view of the oceanfront. The homes are privately owned so you don't have to worry about waking up to dealing with hundreds of other hotel and resort guests. You can wake up in a normal home environment exactly how many people are used to on a daily basis. It's feeling like you're at home. Costa Rican vacation rentals also offer amenities like tours around the area, car rentals, social activities, recommending local restaurants and taverns, and more. The management team that is on-site is committed to assisting you through your stay. All the homes come fully furnished complete with a full kitchen, DVD-CD stereo, satellite television, private pool with waterfall, and central air conditioning. Dishes and beds are maintained with maid service the company provides during your stay. This is what some people call a great vacation because having a house over a hotel room or resort, is actually much more peaceful than to just deal with annoying hotel guests. And you can wake up and have a cup of coffee without the hustle and bustle of a hotel having to wake up at once to make it to breakfast. Basically you can shower and relax as you were at your own home. Renting a house is actually much better if you're planning to bring family and friends, so it's a lot more relaxed and stress free and nobody dealing with having their rooms all screwed up where as everyone has a room and is comfortable. The nice thing is that honeymooners would appreciate renting a house because it's much more private than a hotel or resort and it's putting the romance back into the environment. When you have your own space and not having to deal with anyone outside of the confinements of your villa. What's even more convenient is that all the properties in the area are within 20 minutes of the Liberia International Airport, when you depart to fly home which is nice because the staff will ensure that you get to the airport to catch your flight home. Too many places where some people are just too far away and have to leave super early just to make it in time for check in, and have enough time to get to the gate so they can get their boarding passes. At least this place you can relax and get to the airport on time and still make your flight on time. According to the website people who loved staying there left comments about coming back which says a lot for the company's reputation. Fishing Vacations In Costa Rica Those of you out there who love to fish will enjoy the vacation packages that are set up for people to get a 5-day vacation and 2-day rental of a boat with all meals and equipment included. The hard-core fisherman will be in paradise when they're out there fishing in some of the cleanest waters in the world. And some of the best fish like tuna, which is the most popular of fish to be caught. Costa Rican laws are restrictive to the types of fish caught and ones they stipulate are asked to be released back into the waters since they have to maintain some conservation of specific non-edible fish to keep the population stable and to lower the pollution that excessive gaming and fishing brings to the waters of Costa Rica. The fish are of better quality than you would find in the United States since the waters aren't as clean and well kept as the waters down in Costa Rica are. You can sit out on the boat with all your meals and drinks included in the price you paid to rent the boat with a crew, but you get your money's worth when you get out on the boat starting at 8:30am and return at 4:30pm and for the price you get to spend the whole day out on the boat and for about a grand and a half. You can get plenty of time on a boat to relax with breakfast, lunch, snacks, and drinks for the whole day. For the price many pay for an entire day out on the ocean fishing, in absolute tranquility is probably the best grand well spent. You get your choice of heavy and light fishing gear and tackle so it's easy for the amateur and experienced fisherman to partake in their favorite pastime. It's pretty expensive in the states to even rent a boat for fishing, but to know that in Costa Rica it's one price and you get all your meals except dinner. This is what many avid fishers enjoy about their experience fishing and having a positive experience out on the ocean. Some of the other package options also include ground transportation so you get all your rides to and from the boat and from the hotel to the airport. Which means you won't have to fork out money for a taxi when you need to get to the airport, when you are leaving to go home after spending a week relaxing on the ocean with friends and family if you bring them to have fun fishing on the ocean and chilling out in a peaceful place where relaxation is the key for a trip to Costa Rica. Costa Ricans take relaxation and their love of fishing seriously, because fishing is also a part of their livelihood and culture. The ocean symbolizes tranquility and peace since much of the environment is very tropic and exotic which fits like a glove on many of the people who visit the country looking to kick back for a few days and enjoy a full vacation of fishing and forgetting about the stress in their lives. Costa Ricans And Their Attitude Towards Outsiders The average Costa Rican is usually laid back and friendly and Americans are treated with respect and shown hospitality and are almost well liked. Aside from the current social standards of today, Costa Rica has soured relations with the United States in terms of some it's social policies. Such as the Tradado de Libre Comercio which is a trading agreement that stipulates, that the United States only trades with specific places. Yet Costa Ricans consider the United States a friend and ally and acknowledges the contributions made by Americans, through various things and tourism is what makes up the bulk of their gross national product is the number of Americans who visit Costa Rica annually and contribute to the country's economic growth. Costa Ricans also have their opinions of certain cultures mainly American and European cultures, where some people are not ideal about using deodorant or conducting some kind of hygiene will be looked down on by native Costa Ricans. And that's why Americans should visit with a clean and fresh appearance since they are pretty hardnosed about those who don't partake in bathing or washing. Most of the time Costa Ricans actually are some of the most well-rounded, friendly people around. They love those who share the same values as they do which makes them really good to get along with. Usually, most Costa Ricans are pretty open to anyone no matter what color you are which makes them a versatile kind of people to associate yourself with. Much of their structural system has been tailored more and more like Americans and Europeans since they live identically, but yet the country is more known for its scenic beauty and the friendly people. According to reports written ever since the advancement of technology it's become a symbol of the people in Costa Rica since their attitude is more like they want to be up there with the rest of the world who own cell phones and other devices and partaking in the same things and virtually becoming a melting pot in a lot of ways with the ethnicities that are making up the bulk of the country's population. Most of the time many different ethnic groups have pretty much harmonized together and racism isn't really a huge issue in Costa Rica. Versus some areas of the world that aren't really accepting of other ethnic groups outside of their own social and racial circles. It's always wise for potential tourists to do a lot of reading on the culture and the people before visiting. So that you can do a comparison to what you read to what you were exposed to, so that it gives you some idea of how Costa Ricans are towards those outside of their inner circle. Tour companies usually tell you that the people are very open to non Costa Ricans and others and because everything is identical to American southern hospitality, you'll be right at home since tradition and family values are the most important things to a native Costa Rican. Costa Rican Vacation Packages Most of the tour companies and even the major airlines have packages tourists can look through brochures and pick out a tour package that fits their budget since many run someone back around $1500-2000 for the average 5 to 7 day tours and a little more if you're doing the full 10-14 day tours. You can Google up Costa Rican vacations and you'll pull up countless tour companies that offer everything from student to specialized tours for people with disabilities. There's a package for everyone and the budgets they wish to spend since some people want to keep it simple and some want it to be elaborate. Most of the tours usually feature tours of ancient ruins of Costa Rican indigenous people. Always go for tour companies that are experienced and know everything from A to Z about Costa Rica. Inexperienced tour companies are not up to par with issues that many tourists ask questions about such as the full cost of an actual tour and any other information pertinent to you booking or otherwise. You want to get the most out of your money when booking a vacation package and make sure that what is stated in the literature matches what you see because those who book with companies that don't have a good reputation should be aware and it's ideal to check them out through consumer protection websites to see if they're accused of pricing unfairly or misrepresenting something in their literature about the tour(s) they're advertising. Many companies even allow tourists to design their own packages by giving them a choice of different things to mix and match and come up with a price that's satisfactory to the customer's budget needs. A good solid package if someone's on a limited budget between $490-900 for 3-5 days, or if someone's wanting an elaborate type of tour package of 10-15 days could spring up $3500-5000 depending on what the tourist puts in their package which determines the cost of the trip in total. Most packages include your airfare, meals, and hotel costs, and all gratuities (tips), but some of them don't include airfare or meals or hotel costs so it's important to research this before you put a down payment on the trip. It's cheaper to do packages because if you had to cover the cost of airfare, meals, and hotel stay separately you would be looking a lot of money. This is why packages are important to tourists, so they can get more out of their money and not have to spend more than they are wanting to do just to have a vacation that's relaxing and fun. Investigate all travel companies and agents through word of mouth if you know anyone who's used them for a vacation tour package and the major airlines have a travel bureau. That you can look at since many travelers who use the same airline can rely on their carriers information, but the only downside is that they don't provide extra details such as issues with personal and public security, and knowing how to convert currency. Travelers are advised to consult with the Costa Rican consulate for any information surrounding security and conversion of currency so you're getting the right and correct information. Costa Rican Tourism The tourism in Costa Rica is identical to what you see if you toured the Bahamas or the Cayman Islands. The activities tourists took part in ranged from rafting to scuba diving and snorkeling. The things people did were things done out of relaxation and exposure to a new culture and a new way of life that many aren't used to seeing. Costa Rica isn't as ritzy as Mexico and the West Indies, yet in terms of those who enjoyed a secluded romantic getaway would find it in Costa Rica because of the endless resorts this small nation offered on both the Pacific and Caribbean sides. Since surfing is one of the most popular sports and many who like to catch a wave in the pristine waters of Costa Rica will find their paradise on the endless stretch of beaches. Some who want to experience a tropical romantic environment will find it in some of the private resorts that offer people the chance to swim in their natural hot springs. Many tropical places are known for their beautiful sunrises and sunsets on the beach or balcony of your hotel or resort. Some other activities for those who are the outdoorsy types would value hiking in the lush rainforests around the area and even doing some of the hiking by canopy, which is riding across a single area by wire cable. There are tours fit for all kinds of tastes some people like to go and visit small villages and learn about pottery and cooking where some would like to take in the shopping and nightlife of the city. Costa Rica is full of life and fun when you want to experience a whole new life in this Central American country. Most people come because of the beauty of the countryside that's what people are drawn to because color and atmosphere brings out the tranquility of a single country. Some people will even spend months in Costa Rica since you're allowed to spend up to 90 days in the country on a visitor's visa so those who love the tranquility and beauty so much can go down and rent a home and spend the next 90 days in opulent luxury and returning to the states in a blissful state of relaxation and looking someone fresh from a spa treatment. If you can afford to rent the house and all the amenities you can have what many celebrities spend good money on which is a complete and total rejuvenation of the mind, body, and spirit. Change of scenery is what makes people function and live better when they're taken out of the hustle, bustle, and everyday stress in life and allowed to recharge and rejuvenate their battery. So they're able to think and function clearly when they return to their everyday life. This is why a vacation to a tropical paradise is recommended for those in high stress jobs. And Costa Rica is among the most chosen of places for those to surround themselves with fresh clean air and colorful plants, flowers and breathtaking wildlife to stimulate the senses and refresh the soul. Costa Rican Environmental Tours For some of you who are supporters of the environment there's a tour just for you that you can book through some travel agencies who offer environmental tours for those who are looking to enhance their experience with an educated filled itinerary of places that are protected and are in danger due to urban sprawl and pollution. College and graduate students who are studying the environment and are looking for an educated vacation will certainly find themselves on a group tour of like-minded people who are concerned with the environment. Science tours, eco-tours, and eco-tourism is now becoming a more prominent thing among the supporters of the environmental community and those who have visited Costa Rican waters know they are some of the most beautiful in the world. Many who value and appreciate the environment come down to take part in boating expeditions and visiting wildlife reserves to go on safaris and getting an educated filled week on things they usually wouldn't learn in a science class. Many travel agents today do have student tours which are done at certain times of the year so it's inexpensive to go and you can either fly or take a boat out on the ocean for a week to catch a few rays and to just chill out with others like you who came to learn about the environment for a week. It's a matter of doing your research to find the best group deals around. Usually most excursions like this are about 5-7 days long and you leave from one place and you begin the tour and then conclude back where your starting point is at. Costa Rica offers a lot of breathtaking views of wildlife and if you like to dive to go look at fish that can be added to a tour for a nominal fee per person. Those who like to dive will have some really breath taking photos if they have an underwater camera. The pictures can be used for research on how the waters and the fish of the world look like and can provide a visual record of how beautiful Costa Rican waters really are from down below. Very few people get a chance to dive down and look at some of the most unique fish around and to take back pictures to show people how clean and clear the water really is. Tours such as this are usually beneficial for those who are studying ecology and the environment to get a general feel of their field of study in the form of a vacation while learning about the world at the same time. Tours like these are ideal to take during the summer months because usually it's a lot less hectic since not all college students are able to afford the $2500+ price tag for 7-15 days. It's ideal to go with an experienced travel company because when you're dealing with college students it's necessary to give them solid information on security and where and where not to hang out in town and to stick together as a group. Student tours like this are good for those who are getting their degrees in Environmental studies, Ecology, Biology, and any other science that studies animals and plants since some colleges and universities will give credit to students when they take excursions like this as a part of their coursework. Costa Rican Destination Weddings If anything's more fun it's a destination wedding and many couples that want to experience a real tropical paradise can arrange for their wedding to take place in Costa Rica. Some of the more experienced tour companies have special rates for wedding/vacation packages for couples that want to have a destination wedding and vacation for their wedding party and incorporating a honeymoon at the same time. Some packages are cheaper when booked at the group rate so it's cheaper for members of your wedding party, friends, family, and other guests to be able to travel at a cheap rate. Costa Rica has some really scenic tropical beaches and hotels and resorts that are priced right for someone's budget whether it's big or small. The idea of having a destination wedding is kind of for those who like to get away from the ordinary church/hotel weddings and being able to enjoy a different kind of scenery where the sunsets and sunrises are breathtaking and enjoying a peaceful kind of setting that really makes getting married worthwhile. There are many tour companies that offer wedding/honeymoon/vacation packages Costa Rican Tours Inc. that is based in Costa Rica offers wedding packages for at least $500-1000 since in most cases all you have to do is handle the legalities and paperwork to get married in Costa Rica. The U.S. Embassy or Costa Rican consulate will have the required paperwork needed to marry in a foreign land. Usually, the only thing that you have to provide is that you are single or divorced (You must provide a copy of your divorce or annulment decree) will prove your marriage was legally dissolved in a court of law in the United States. The cost you pay can go to cover the flowers, food, and entertainment since many hotels provide this for one price to make it less expensive since it's not cheap to fly to Costa Rica at certain times of the year since airfares can be super high during the high peak travel season and not everyone can travel for a destination wedding especially if your guests have to take off from school and work to attend. Most who are getting married in destination weddings usually don't have a lot of people attending because not everyone can afford to jet off to some exotic location for 5 days and usually many who do this are usually eloping because of the fact that not everyone can come to the wedding. Usually many couples who do destination weddings don't regret it because it was a positive experience with less of a hassle dealing with ungrateful relatives and friends and just being with the person they love and not having to worry about the expense many couples face after a wedding for at least 2-5 years depending on how long it takes for them to pay down their debt from the wedding. Usually destination weddings are inexpensive, but it's the airfare and hotels people who go to them worry about since they're not cheap to book.
Costa Rican Culture And The Diversity Costa Ricans are actually a close knit people who are homebound until they get married or leave home for college. Many events like baptisms and weddings are prominent among native Costa Ricans because this is where they have the largest turnout of family and friends. Traditions are also gender based and many tourists learn about that when they visit the country. What makes Costa Rica different from other countries is their practice of a lukewarm approach to Catholicism that combines a strange ritual of parties and religious celebrations during the time mostly Catholic and Indian traditions. Tourists would be lucky to catch natives engaged in rituals common to them. Most of the things that natives do that tourists are lucky to catch are mostly religious based since Costa Ricans are Catholic and it's all church or family based when they celebrate special occasions. Even the most non-traditional tourist will get the feeling they're right at home when they visit Costa Rica since much of the lifestyle there is all based on generous hospitality. This is kind of like the American south where hospitality is the way of life and tourists who visit get the feeling like they're at home with nice people. That's the feeling tourists get when they're at home with Costa Ricans who make you feel like you're one of them. The traditions of family, and religion go hand in hand with many different kinds of people and the diversity of the cultures that partake in the spirit of family and religion. Music is also a huge thing in Costa Rican culture and most of it is based on ancient Mayan influence and a mix of Afro/Cuban/Caribbean bringing the east and west together to make what they call tambito and punto. Costa Ricans also pioneered their answer to the funk music movement of the 1970s identical to what the American genre that was popular among teens and young adults. The food is a mix of Mexican, Spanish, Caribbean, and Southern American influences so many Americans who come to visit Costa Rica feel as if they're right at home since the culture is so diverse in ethnicity even though the national language is Spanish so anyone who visits who's pretty fluent in Spanish will be able to communicate and fit in with the people even as a visitor. The food many tourists are encouraged to try is 'Gallo Pinto'-Spanish for 'Spotted Rooster', but there's no chicken in this dish. That consists of black beans and rice seasoned with cilantro, onions, garlic, salt, and a locally made condiment 'Salsa Lizano', and this dish is typically a traditional meal eaten for breakfast with eggs, meat and sour cream. Another traditional Costa Rican cuisine is 'Arroz con pollo' (rice and chicken), the dish has bite sized chicken chunks mixed with rice and diced vegetables of carrots, peas, corn and garbanzo beans (known in America as chick peas). Which is typically made as a weekend meal is called 'Olla de Carne' which is a soup made up by boiling water, meat usually chicken, and whole to large pieces of vegetables and seasoned with spices. Making this dish is time consuming since the bulk of the meal consists of preparing the vegetables. Experiencing a multitude of flavors in Costa Rican cooking will make a tourist leave there with the flavor of home on their mind. Costa Rican Cruises Some people want to take the slow boat to China deal by doing a cruise to Costa Rica leaving out of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida with stops in Costa Maya, Limon, and Colon, Costa Rica and you can spend 8 days on a Carnival Cruise down to Costa Rica and experiencing port of calls along the way. This is a lot more exciting than being cramped on a flight when you can spend all the time relaxing and having a good time before you get to the ports of call, which is on days 3,5 and 6. Each stop is approximately one day long and there's only one stop in Costa Rica that is on day 5 of the trip. You can just sit back and look out on to the ocean and take in the next breath of air so clean you forgot you're not in the city. Par t of the fun about a cruise is the nighttime sky when you can walk out on to the deck and look at the clearest sky around. Most tourists enjoy that where they can go walking around the deck at night and the cost doesn't come cheap you're looking at about $3-5 grand for a week and a half or longer that's why tourists need to plan their trip well to make sure you can get the most of out of it financially. Carnival cruises is one of the lines that does have stops in Costa Rica as their port of call and usually there's a trip through the Panama Canal, but it's just straight down south winding your way through the Caribbean islands and stopping in some places, but you spend more time out on the water than you do stopping on land. Sailing instead of flying just buys you more time to relax comfortably instead of being squashed up inside a plane for a few hours when you can spend a few days chilling out on the deck and enjoying a drink while taking in some rays. There are a lot of cruise ship websites out there that can tell you when you should book your trip since like the airlines prices change quickly in a matter of a day. So it's ideal to get email notices about the fares so you can book them quickly. Doing your homework can ensure you get the best fare possible for your money since it's not exactly cheap to go on a ship. The average person spends a couple years saving up for a cruise and booking when the price is not so high since like flying cruises are costly at certain times of the year. Booking a year early is your best bet in getting the dates you want so you're not paying full fare when the reduced rate is offered to you in advance to give you a chance to book your cabin. Cabins are booked by level and are priced differently. The most expensive would be towards the front. Costa Rica: Music, Dance and Nightlife Music in Costa Rica is music to dance to. From Salsa to Chamber music there is something for everyone. Live bands play at different clubs all over the country. Salsa, Jazz, Rock, Tango, Tex-Mex, and Calypso are all on the venue at different nightspots in Costa Rica. If you are staying in and around San Jose the best nightlife is found at El Pueblo in Escazu. Here you can find restaurants, nightclubs and shops. Club Twister is one club that is very popular playing contemporary and Latin music. Another is El Tobagan and while they are open only on the weekend they are always packed. Somewhere in El Pueblo the Tango Bar is located. It has a couple of older gals that serve drinks and perform sentimental ballads. If you are lucky an Argentine visitor will be able to translate the lyrics. Occasionally you will have the treat of seeing a good tango performed. Costa Ricans love to dance and they are so good that it is scary. Not too much cha cha, but there is plenty of cumbia, merengue, lambada, and salsa. If you get a chance before you go to Costa Rica try to get in some salsa lessons. It is the most fun you can have and it sure makes you know that you are alive. There is dancing at night in any number of clubs all over Costa Rica but most of the better hotels have music at night. If you speak a small amount of Spanish and you are looking for local happenings then you can try to read the local papers the Tico Time and La Nacíon. These should help you find local movie times and info on concerts and festivals. Every year in February and March there is the Monteverde Art Festival, which has local musicians and visiting guest musicians. The venues for the music change from year to year depending on what festival planners have in mind so check the local newspaper or simply ask around. The local Ticos will be more than happy to give you any info they have on where the next performance is. Costa Rica is predominantly Catholic so most of their holidays follow the usual Catholic holidays such as Christmas and Easter but one holiday that stands out is the celebration of the Black Christ Esquipulas. This festival originates in Guatemala but is celebrated all over Costa Rica. There is large population of Guatemalan immigrants so this may have something to do with the celebration. The Teatro National was built over a hundred years ago an in that time Costa Ricans have developed there own national theater company. Additionally Costa Rica has their own Symphony and Ticos love classical music almost as much as Salsa. For those of you that like a different kind of nightlife there are also a few nature and wildlife tours. In the Mountverde Cloud Forest there are night tours that show you the beauty of wildlife that only shows itself at night. Costa Rica Vacation -- Best Flight Out of Town After my girlfriend and I took a look at the various locations and the entertainment provided we made a decision. It seemed the best thing to do was to do a 10-day trip. We thought that 5 days on the coast and 5 days inland around San Jose and Monteverde would give us a nice visit and allow us to see a wide area of the country. I got on the phone and called a local travel agent and had a little talk. I learned quite a bit. You can book your own flight because these days there aren't many tour discounts. That is becoming a thing of the past. But with tours you have it made easy for you. You are picked up and directed to the different restaurants and entertainment available to you. September, October, and November are the rainy and hurricane season. Prime season is January, February, March, and April. You will pay top dollar for these times of year. It seems there is a small window in the beginning of December and again for the month of May for you to get good rates. When I talked to the travel agent she said she had been to Costa Rica a couple of years ago. She said that the traffic in San Jose was miserable. I am from Seattle and I hate traffic. It seems I can never get away from it. When I said that I had issues with traffic I was told that I could fly into Liberia Airport the other side of the island and avoid the capital all together. It seemed to me that spending one day in the capital would be sufficient. I wanted to spend the rest of my 5 days inland at Monteverde and visit the Arenal volcano. So I decided that I would fly in from Houston Airport to Liberia Airport on the coast of Costa Rica spend my 5 days there, and then I would fly out of the San Jose airport back home. I was still unsure of when I would be able to actually take this trip but I did ask the travel agent to give me some sample rates for flights. She gave me Wednesday thru Thursday bookings because she said that you get better rates booking that way instead of weekend to weekend. It allows the hotels to maximize their occupancy. You might keep that factoid in mind when asking the boss for time off. The agent gave me sample prices for flights. For the high season of January, February, March, April, the plane fare on Continental and Delta were $655.00 per person. In the off-season the plane fare was $502.00 so at least there is a choice. The first thing I have to do is get a passport and that has worried me. With all the changes brought about by 911 I know it is nowhere near as easy as it used to be to get a passport. I had heard that it can take you up to a year to get one. I asked the travel agent about this and she said that things were running much smoother and it was taking a little more than 12 weeks to get your passport. When planning your trip, consider your comfort. The Caribbean side of the island can be more humid, especially in the summer months. Costa Rica Tourist Traps Costa Rica has a great tourist industry. They are welcoming and friendly and in most cases they are honest and genuine. But human nature being what it is, sometimes we end up getting less than we bargained for. The following are just a few tips on what to look out for before you pay out of pocket. In most cities these days, when the local cops aren't busy they park in a discreet spot and scrutinize drivers to see if they can catch them in an infraction. One person I read about got stopped for speeding and the cops told him that it was an expensive ticket. The cop told them that for $100 he would look the other way. Later he was told that he could have settled the ticket at any Bank of Costa Rica. This is a great example of why you should take the bus and taxi whenever possible. You may think you are free with your own vehicle but you won't be very free if you are stuck in a hole on a dirt road in a foreign country. Just figure into your budget, taxi and bus fare. Always hide extra cab fare on you somewhere just in case of emergency. Another trap is that using travel agent doesn't always pay off. You could end up paying as much as $50 a night more on your lodging because of the travel agent's cut. Go ahead and book your own rooms and make payment arrangements. Also try to find out the distance from your hotel to your destination. Why pay a cab to drive half a mile when you can walk it, unless it's raining of course. This next thing isn't necessarily a tourist trap but you should know about this ahead of time. In the Monteverde Cloud Forest there are the attractions of the Sky Bridge and Canopy tours. A sky bridge is a bridge made over the tops of the trees. Canopy Tours are like ski lifts, the canopied car moving on a cable from tree to tree. The idea being, that you are able to see a great variety of wildlife from this vantage point. I hope you don't have vertigo. You are walking off into a bridge into the trees and the clouds, or your are taking the Canopy ride through the clouds but your purpose in doing this is to be able to see the wonderful wildlife. You will see nothing unless the clouds clear. It does cost you money to get across the bridge and to ride the Canopies but why pay the money if you can't see anything. Better to wait until you have a clear day. The next one is really important. Look before you sit when using the restroom in remote locations. One lady said that someone had stolen the toilet seat and she had no place to sit. To make matters worse there was no toilet paper. So my advice to you is to always go to the restroom in a store or restaurant if you have the chance before going into on tours and always, always take some toilet paper. Costa Rica on a Dime If saving money while you vacation is your concern then don't worry, it can be done without sacrificing your comfort and good time. You should know that the off season is referred to as the Green Season and this last September to December. The Christmas season would be the time that they come out of the Green Season. I don't know if this means their rainy and hurricane season has ended but Christmas is a time when some families decide to go on vacation. The first consideration is trying to get a good deal with the airlines to get you into Costa Rica. There are 2 airports, Liberia airport and San Jose International Airport. Liberia is located on the coast and San Jose International is inland outside of San Jose. If you purchase your plane ticket scheduled during the green season you can save up to $150 per person on airfare. It is possible to fly standby as well. The 2 main airlines into Costa Rica from the U.S. are Continental and Delta. Another possibility for saving money on airfare has just surfaced. Costa Rica has given the official okay for 3 other airlines to land on their airstrips. One of them is an American airline and it is the economy company of Frontier Airlines. I don't know if rates are available yet but you might want to check with them. If you are going to Costa Rica during the Green Season you are a person that likes rain. It might just be worth the extra money to go during the High Season when it is dry and sunny. The most affordable lodging I have found is the Bed & Breakfast trade. One way of searching is to go to Pamela Lanier's Bed & Breakfast website www.lanierbb.com. When I navigated her website and put Costa Rica in her search window I pulled up nothing. So I clicked on the map that is to the side of the search window and I got Latin America. Click near Central America and you have a list of Costa Rican cities that you can search for a B&B from. As an example I clicked on a B&B in Monteverde. I found La Colina, which is located in the Cloud forest and surrounded by the local Quaker community. The rates run from $38 -- $40 per night and they have quite a few amenities. This facility also offers showers and baths to campers, although I am not sure I would want to camp in the jungle. Give me 4 walls please. The most inexpensive lodging I found was the Kalexma. This B&B is owned by a woman that is an English teacher. She first started this rooming house to offer lodging to her students. She believes in immersion as a way of learning the language and offers low cost rooms as bridge to that end. These rates are as low as $15 per night. This is a bare bones arrangement and you have a bed and a bathroom. The site can be found at www.Kelexma.com. Villa Mango located in Nosara, Costa Rica, has the most moderate of prices. A room will cost you approximately $59.00 per night, and $385.00 for a week. This B&B is a 10-minute walk from the beach. The Villa Decary has rates that run about $85 a night and it is located about 10 miles from the Arenal volcano. The hotel sits on the shore of Lake Arenal with a view of the lake from you window. If you are a woman traveling on your own I would check our Bed & Breakfast rooming, as it is easier to meet people in this type of environment. A good travel resource for women is journeywoman.com. This site gives great info for the single woman traveler. My final advice is on eating. The water is good in Costa Rica, you don't have the problems that the Mexicans do with Montezuma's Revenge. There are plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to eat that are very cheap to buy. Also there are many Mom & Pop restaurants that cost much less than the big fancy restaurants. My advice is to pick a meal a day to eat big, then, keep on hand snacks for the rest of the day. You don't want to go home heavier than you arrived do you? Costa Rica Is Calling My Name I haven't had a vacation in 20 years...really. So when my gal pal came to me and started talking about wanting to take a vacation in Costa Rica, my ears began to perk up. She told me that it was a vacation destination that few people think of and because of that it can be more pleasant and less populated by other tourists. The Crazy girl is thinking of retiring there and buying property. She asked me if I would consider doing that. I told her that maybe we should just get a vacation under our belt and then we can think about moving there. Quite frankly folks, the only date I have had in a while on a Saturday night is my 7-year old grandson, so it is safe to say that I need to get away. Planning a vacation is something totally foreign to me. I get dressed up for a trip to the grocery store so thinking about this is big, very big. The Internet has cornered the market with online travel agencies but I really want to talk to a person and get the scoop. I have heard of how people plan trips and when they arrive, their luxurious accommodations turn into a community bathtub in a tent and a port-a-potty. I want to get the most for my dollar and avoid the pitfalls most tourists make when planning to get away. I don't even have a passport and I have heard that it can take up to a year to get one. So it is safe to say that I am planning a vacation in at least a year in advance. I am a researcher and I like to get all the information in place before I make plans to pay for a trip. Of course it is Sunday and no travel agency listed phonebook is open. I went to the library yesterday and found books on Costa Rica and I am reading like a fiend. The only travel guide they had for me to check out on Costa Rica was a 2003 edition. However, most of the restaurants and hotels have web addresses and toll free phone numbers, so I can contact them to get current information if I need to. I decided to check into the different types of vacations you can plan. I came up with Spa Resort vacations, wildlife and national parks, sport vacations, historical, shopping, nightlife, and my personal favorite, the art vacation. I will write about these as I find out about them. To begin with there are 7 areas to explore. The most logical place to start is San Jose the capital of Costa Rica. The other areas that follow are; the Northwest, Nicoya Peninsula, Quepos & Central Pacific, Osa Peninsula & Golfo Dulce, South Caribbean, and Tortuguero/North Caribbean. The first thing I have to do is start saving money for a vacation and plan the vacation. Then I have to get a passport. Since 911 there have been many changes in international travel and now it can take up to a year to get your passport. So I am getting started now. Costa Rica Art Vacations Costa Rica has quietly been growing in the art world, but in recent years there has been even more of a developing art community. While this island is located in an area that is heavily influenced by Pre-Columbia art, artists that are indigenous and those that have elected to move to Costa Rica are producing new and exciting works of art. For them it is a world of art where they are breaking new ground. There are more than enough museums in the capital of Costa Rica, San Jose. But there are no real "art" museums yet. One way of showing what their artist's have is in the artists themselves displaying there art in their own environments, their homes. There is a tour that takes you to 5 or 6 artist's homes in a day's tour, and you get a chance to really experience the their work. You get to actually talk to the artist and find out their process for their art. If you are a creative person this can be a real inspiration. Another tour is given by a fellow Art Journalist, Jan Yatsko. I have always kept a journal but when I discovered art journaling my creativity bumped up a notch. One type of art journal is a travel journal. Travel journals are also much like scrapbooks but you use the bits and pieces of your trip on you pages and write around them. Photos are used a great deal in travel journaling, of course. Jan's tours are quite different. She takes you into the jungle and shows you the beauty of Costa Rica and you make your own art. The flora and fauna of Costa Rica are amazing and slapping paint around in bright colors is great fun. Mind you, this is not for everyone, but for those with an artistic nature this might be right up your alley. Jan teaches you portability in your art journaling kit and she has 8 years of experience in biking in and around Costa Rica. She takes you to beautiful locations to show you amazing things to draw and paint. If you are not into actually "doing" art yourself, but are and art lover, there are offerings in the way of museums in San Jose. The Costa Rican Art Museum in San Jose is actually housed in the building that used to be the city's airport. It must make for a very interesting museum. There is also the Museo De Oro Pre-Colombino, which translated means Museum of Pre-Columbian Gold. This has a display of gold sculpted and rendered into beautiful pieces and presented in a fascinating show. If it interests you there is a coin museum in the INS building, but that doesn't really float my boat. There is a Contemporary Art Museum showing local artist's work as well as a Children's museum that is quite large and will take up a lot of kid time if you need it. There is also an insect museum, a snake exhibit, and finally a crime museum. There is also wonderful indigenous art. If you go to www.galerianamu.com/map/ you will find a map of all of the tribes indigenous to Costa Rica. This map will show you the tribes local to the area of Costa Rica you will be visiting. I encourage you to look at their art and get your own piece of original Costa Rican Tribal art to take back home with you. If you are looking to have a truly unique experience, stay for at least a day at the Finca Rosa Blanca. The owners, Glenn and Teri Jampol have created an artful environment. The architecture and decor is whimsical and the service is remarkable. Glenn is an artist himself and might discuss art with you. Each of the rooms is original and different from the others and comes with Jacuzzis and balconies. It is said that no window is square in the hotel and art treasures from around the world are to be found everywhere. The food provided is a 4-course dinner and it runs about $37 per person. While this is vastly more expensive than any other dinner venue it seems to be worth it in this environment. Throw caution to the wind and treat yourself to a dinner or two at Finca Rosa Blanca Inn. Costa Rica, Spas and Retreats If your goal is to escape cigarettes, whisky and wild, wild women, then you might consider the benefits of a Costa Rican Vacation that is a Spa or Retreat. There are those of us that cannot just vacation, we have to have more meaning in our adventure. In this case, instead of getting away from it all, you are getting to it all. It seems the result is the same you get to relax and unwind. I found many, many yoga and meditation retreats so I will just try to tell you about the ones that stand out. I encourage you to do your own search Pancha Mama Pancha Mama means Mother Earth in Spanish and if you are a time-warped hippie that had a go around with communes this is gonna ring your bell. Pancho Mama is referred to as a Spiritual Eco Village. The fees are extremely reasonable, if I read their fee chart correctly. A number is listed with no digits behind it so I am relatively sure these are the rates. For a tent it is $12.00 for a single and $20.00 for a double. For a House it is $28 for a single and $50 for a double. Offered are lessons in yoga, meditation, tai chi, surfing and horseback riding. This is also a total vegetarian cuisine and the meals approximately $4.00 a piece with children's meals costing a mere 1-2 dollars. Luna Lodge Lana Wedmore has worked in the tourist service industry for years and her final destination for her own Lodge is the Osa Peninsula in the southern region of Costa Rica. Her rates are not cheap but they are competitive with the larger hotels and she has included a Wellness Center where you can learn or practice Yoga, Tai Chi, Reiki, or massage. The buildings are beautiful and in harmony the ocean and jungle that surround it. Her rates run from $125 -- $200. Tree Houses Hotel I didn't see any ads for yoga or massage but I did see info on the Hot Springs. That's gotta be healthy. So, here is another unusual way to spend your holiday.... in a tree house. Mind you, these tree houses have full bathrooms with tubs and they have Air Conditioning. You have got to at least visit the website, the rooms are very cool. The rates run $75 -$85 per night. Costa Rica Quilting Retreat I can't imagine making quilts in the jungle, but if there are any enthusiasts out there, this is your lucky day. Bungalows are offered in a private gated community. The Main building has a swimming pool and they have BBQ's out by the pool. The fee for this is $925 for the B&B arrangement in the main house, or you can pay $950 for a cottage. With only the $25 extra for the cottage, I would take the cottage In Conclusion. I have found that most of the spas or retreats are very spendy, and atmosphere is the largest offering. They do many weddings in Costa Rica and the luxury Hotel/Spa experience is the fancy pampering newlyweds enjoy. I have listed retreats that are a bit less expensive and more individualized than the normal offering. Costa Rica: Let's Eat! I was mistaken when I thought I would be eating mostly Latin food but Costa Rica has a phenomenal diversity in the foods that it serves. You would be surprised to find that there are many Asian restaurants and just as many European restaurants. The food is plentiful and the cost is reasonable. Of course every fine hotel has a restaurant on the premises but you will want to eat at the local restaurants. In San Jose there are quite a few fine restaurants. Ristorante Bohemia is a fine European restaurant that serves a formal European dinner with a fine wine list. While looking for restaurants to try out, I repeatedly found Tin Jo's on the list. This is a restaurant that seems to have stood the test of time and is still in business. The food is considered Pan Asian and you can find Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and even some East Indian food. The deserts are delicious. I once went to a Cuban restaurant and found out the hard way that not all Latin food is like Mexican food. I embarrassed myself and asked for chips and salsa. Big oops, I got a dirty look for that one. The same is true of Costa Rica; don't go expecting the native food to be like Mexican food. It could be considered bland and is healthier than the Mexican food that we usually eat here in the States. Costa Rican food is considered healthier because it is more fresh and natural. No canned peas here! The nicest thing about eating in Costa Rica is that all fruits, vegetable, and seafood are very fresh. In some cases the beef and pork are actually fresh as well. In all restaurants the juice served is usually fresh. It seems that it is cheaper to serve fresh rather than frozen. Many smaller restaurants actually grow their own fruits, vegetables, and herbs There is also the cheese made by the Quaker community from Monteverde and if you travel through Monteverde you will get a chance to meet the Quakers. * One thing that I have to have in the morning is a hot cup of coffee. I don't care if the weather is hot or not, I must have a cup of hot coffee to get moving in the morning. One nice thing is that Costa Rica produces a fine crop of coffee. You may want to stock up and take bags of coffee home with you as gifts for friends and family. Many of the hotels are located on either old coffee plantations or on actual functioning coffee plantations. One of the local dishes is Ceviche, which is wonderful and is made from seafood. I make my own version here at home with cooked shrimp and crab. One of the delicacies found in most salads is Hearts of Palm. I think that is great, especially since I love Hearts of Palm. Here in the states they are expensive and I haven't had any for quite some time. As with any Central American country, Plantains are a staple it the diet of Costa Ricans. When I was a kid my Puerto Rican friend was served fried Plantains for breakfast made by her mother. I was shocked to see her put ketchup on a fried banana. Well I soon found out that Plantains are in the banana family but they are used more like potatoes. Because of all the fresh produce available, Costa Rica is a heaven for vegetarians or those with vegan diets. You will find many vegetarian restaurants available for your dining pleasure. Most of the big hotels have buffets and you can always eat at these but you will do yourself a disservice if you don't try the local cuisine with it being as fresh and original as it is. There are a many Americans and others that come to Costa Rica and open up businesses. No matter where you are in Costa Rica, get out and try the food. Visit someplace new every day. Conventions and Conferences in Costa Rica Large companies and corporations sponsor destination business meetings and Costa Rica is one of prominent spots to have a conference and conventions. Exotic locations combine business and vacation at the same time and give a fresh look to business. When you want to bring some relaxation to your company and employees having it in an exotic locale like Costa Rica it's offering employees a chance to kick back and relax and take advantage of getting in some quality time to go fishing, swimming, horseback riding, golf, tennis, or taking in getting a body massage and spa treatments. Some companies host their annual company trips to exotic locations for a chance of scenery and environment and to give people a chance to get in some vacation time without actually taking off and holding business meetings and conventions. Most resorts have special packages for companies to book a specific number of rooms and have arrangements for all budgets and to have someone on hand to help with the arrangements of the convention or conference. This actually is a great way for employees to get out of the office and yet do something fun and not feel stressed. Most companies who do something to take the employees out of the office tend to have less stressed out workers because a change of scenery is usually good for someone not to feel burned out. Getting in some sun, hiking, horseback riding, diving, fishing, tennis, snorkeling, swimming, soaking in the hot tub, and taking in a full body massage and spa treatment is key in lowering someone's stress level because it's a way for someone to relax and cool out. Some social organizations plan their annual trips to exotic locations as a way to change the scenery too and to give their people a chance to relax and do something fun instead of the same stuff. Flamingo Beach Resort has a staff that handles groups and events and can help plan out the stay exactly specified to your instructions and meeting your budget restrictions. You can go on their website and request information for catering and planning your group event to Costa Rica and the resort can hold meeting space for up to 190 people which is ideal for people planning moderate sized events. The catering menu can serve everything from elegant to international cuisine and casual poolside. This is what you call an awesome business meeting you get to spend it in a foreign country and getting in your vacation without exactly taking off since you're actually working at the same time. You can even have the planning staff plan mixers, welcome receptions, and themed ice breakers to get employees to interact with each other if some of them work in different departments and aren't around others from the same office. Group discounts are given if 10 or more rooms are booked. An event like this will make one feel rejuvenated and refreshed after a week in a luxury hotel and being in a peaceful environment. Airfares to Costa Rica When you're traveling to Costa Rica you want to get the cheapest airfare and the issue with flying is that the prices change every few minutes to an hour and it's ideal to research sites like Orbitz.com, Travelocity.com and Cheaptickets.com because they offer rates for flights at different times whether it's high or low travel season. Most of the major carriers have fares that are early bird specials for when the peak season of travel happens usually during the summer and holidays. Nailing the perfect airfare when you want to travel to Costa Rica will be a work in progress because you could be sitting in front of your computer for hours surfing travel sites for the perfect airfare because the rates change quickly and they can be up one moment and down the next. Your goal is to book the cheapest rate possible and it's ideal to do it through travel sites like Orbitz, Travelocity, Cheaptickets, Priceline, Hotwire, Expedia and Hotels.com because independently owned websites may not be reliable and you will get a better deal through these reputable sites. Book your flight at least 90 days before you travel so you can have time to get your tickets if mailed to you and any documentation with travel visas and passports. Usually the summer is the best time to book flights for the fall season because late summer is when you can get the best deal on airfares. Airfares aren't cheap to Central America since you're looking at least a couple grand and that even depends on who you're flying with since the major carriers out here will change rates quickly usually on the hour because of the competition that's out here they have to be able to keep up with the current rate for airfares. So it's ideal that if you have an account with the travel sites on the Internet always check on a frequent basis usually early morning, mid-day and evening to see how the airfares to one place change within 12 hours. When you see the airfare that you want book it right away because within the hour it will likely go up since travel sites usually change their information when the carriers change up. The only downside is that if you book online you have to have a major credit card and not everyone has a credit card to book their flights with. Now it's easy to use your debit card since many banks issue them with the VISA or MasterCard logos on them so that people can use it to book an airline ticket right away when they spot the fares they want and can catch it before the fares change in the next few minutes to an hour. If you can access the Internet wherever you can it's easy to nail the fares you want if you catch them early and often. Some sites offer email notices that can inform you of when a discount or reduced fare comes up during the hour since emails are sent on a daily basis so you can keep tabs on when the airfare you want is posted and sent out by email.
InfoBank Intro | Main Page | Usenet Forums | Search The RockSite/The Web