Favorite thing: One of the reasons why I was glad I didn't have to drive on this trip was because I could spend the entire time we were on the road taking in the scenery while trying to spot exotic birds and animals. While you might think that you're only chance of seeing Costa Rica's rich wildlife is to visit a national park, in reality many species can be observed near small towns and villages all over the country. Howler monkeys were especially easy to see (and hear!), and we also pulled over on a few occasions to take pictures of coatis, toucans, parakeets and several other bird species.
I have never been to Belize. Had planned a trip there but was not able to go.
Have been to Costa Rica twice and would go back again in a heart beat.
Yes there are sections that are not the best places, heck look around the united states.....
The east coast is not as nice as the west coast . As for being expensive maybe things have gone up but it was fairly inexpensive when we went.
Both places have a lot to see and do.
If you are very adventures Costa mica i think offers more..
Fondest memory: Way to many to say, but i think swimming in the water fall was great, and well SKY TREK was absolutely awsome
The first question you must ask yourself is how much time, energy and money are you willing to spend. How serious are you? Are you serious enough to start before your arrival learning phrases and certain fundamentals like what each letter sounds like? Are you really going to dedicate almost all your time while attending a school studying, practicing and doing "homework" to get the most out of your time and money?
A goal of learning "travel Spanish" seems reasonable. Even in a relatively brief period of time (2 weeks?) you could learn fluency for general/usual travel situations, but I would expect even with this limited goal the standard program of most language schools would prove inadequate:
For one, their introductory courses tend to be of low intensity. You would probably discover that both your fellow students and the instructors are shall we say, 'less than driven', and their goals may not match your own. (Some just want to have fun. Some want to just try to start to learn the language. Others want to polish what they know, and others like yourself may have a "travel Spanish" motive, but they may not be willing to work hard at it.)
For another, class size is important. I would say that if the class has more than five students, the intensity of your individual experience with the instructor will be excessively diluted. Personally, I feel that number of hours in class is less important than the quality of the time spent both in class and outside class.
If you are really serious, the more time and money that you are willing to dedicate to the process, the more satisfied you are likely to be with the result. Unfortunately it is hard to determine over the internet how much help a specific school will be and whether a larger school with higher fees would be better than a cheaper or smaller school. There in lies the dilemma. Do you commit to a specific school for the duration of your study or do you make a minimal commitment with a plan to extend it or move on to someplace else depending on your initial satisfaction? This would be an argument for going to a larger town with multiple schools.
In the wrong school and the wrong town there is a danger that you will find yourself speaking English with your fellow students and people of the community rather than struggling with Spanish. This even happens with home stays because often they will have more than one visitor. (The town mentioned by an earlier poster, Turrialba, sounds good to me because I feel that larger cities are less useful for someone trying to learn a language.)
I've only been to some parts of the Atlantic/Caribbean side, but never been to the Pacific side. I wish I can explore more of CR next time. The Atlantic/Caribbean side seems to have a more off-the-beaten path appeal. I've only heard that the Pacific side is relatively more dry & more sunny all year round, so it attracts more tourists. It also depends on what you're going to do there. The Pacific seems to have better diving spots. Read more on the two areas and determine your preferred activities before choosing your CR destination.
Good Luck & Enjoy Beautiful Costa Rica!
Costa Rica was awesome, but if you are foodie, leave your foodie traits back home, and be prepared to eat because you need nourishment, that's it.
To bo honest, the food is not all that bad, but when you've had Dominican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Colombian, Argentinian, etc...you would be dissapointed with CR's food. While all these different countries have similar ingridients and have a lot of the same dishers (rice, bean, and meat) they all taste awesome and different. In Costa Rica there is nothing special about it. It leaves a lot to be desired.
If you want to eat "typical" food, eat at Sodas and not the regular restaurants. Here you will get the best value and eat where the locals eat (well the ones that can't afford to eat at the fancy intertantional cousine restaurants). I have typical in quotes, because they sall tons of non typical dishers like enchiladas, tacos, hamburgers, hotdogs, ceviche, etc...none of these are typical CR food.
The one dish that is fairly typical is Gallo Pinto, which is a mixture of rice, beans, and cilantro all cooked together. However, while the taste varies, it's not all that great and they love their rice really aldente, almost too undercooked.
When I was travelling to Costa Rica, I felt really safe, because it is always said that it's extremely secure. The truth is that security on the beaches is really bad...
I was robbed, the windows of my car was broken and they took my baggage from the trunk... People from Costa Rica told me that it was very common to have these incidents.
Be very careful when going to the beaches in Costa Rica. I lost my bagagge and lost of money.
Favorite thing: It seems to me that no matter what place you go to in CR (except the big towns, of course), you will always face the challenge of finding the post office. Dominical has a very small post office (I am not sure you can have something smaller than this!) and you need to keep your eyes open when trying to find it. The best way is to go to San Clemente Bar and Grill and look for a tiny window in front of the restaurant entrance.
As I mentioned before, the roads in Costa Rica are good, bad and very bad. You also need to keep in mind that the highways are not illuminated, therefore it is a good idea to travel during daylight. Start your day early and make sure you are back at the place you will spend the night at no later than 6pm. We drove during the night hours, but we were close to San Jose and there were lots of cars leading the way, but I was still a little bit nervous until we reached our hotel.
Also, make sure you use a private parking lot if possible, when parking the car over night.
If you drive a lot and go to less touristy places (as we did during our second trip to CR), make sure you rent a GPS too. The roads are not very well marked in remote areas and the GPS will be your best friend. We were really glad he had one!
Check out the GPS when you get the car delivered to make sure it has the latest software uploaded. We did not have a problem with ours, but we met some people that could never get theirs to work. So when renting a GPS, do not leave the premises of the car rental place until you make sure it can find the places you want to go to!
I would take them to Jaco Beach AKA Playa Jaco. It has everything from the surfer hostels, to the 5 star Marriott Los Suenos resort. Something for everyone, I have been there 4 times this year. I found much information about Jaco on anonline directory. www.ohiost.net then Jaco directory.
Fondest memory: Meeting friendly Tico's (Locals) and people from all over the world.
Many thank for your comment, I am aware of the driving time!!! actually there is a very good site to help you with the travel time here is the link in case you want to go back and enjoy pura vida again!! http://www.yourtravelmap.com/costarica/travelmap/index.php.
I know I may have to scrap Coyotte if the roads are not very bad, in that case we may spend some time in Mal Pais instead.
If you want to send a postcard from La Fortuna and you need to buy stamps, you need to go to the Post Office. This is the only place in town that sells stamps.
If you are like us, you will most likely expect to easily see the Post Office building, but this is not the case in La Fortuna/Arenal. The Post Office in La Fortuna is a tiny building located just by the town church. You need to keep your eyes open and look for it pretty hard in order to notice it. We passed the building 3 times before we noticed it :)
I have added a picture here, so you know what to look for when in town.
Costa Rica has a countless number of butterflies, moths, ants, bees and other tropical insects. Nobody knows the real number of beetles and grasshoppers there.
The most brilliantly painted insects are the butterflies. They vary in sizes from small ones to huge ones, as big as the palm of your hand. While in Arenal, I had the pleasure to see some very bright colored butterflies fly freely. I also had the unpleasant surprise to find myself being "attacked" while drinking a cup of orange juice on the hotel patio, by a huge grasshopper that caught me by surprise and landed on the top of my head. I was scarred since I did not know what creature landed on my head, but I started to laugh pretty hard as soon as I saw it jumping from my head to the window of my room. I went inside the room, grabbed my camera and took a picture of it.
Costa Rica lies at the heart of the most active regions on earth. It is the home of 7 active volcanoes (out of the 42 active ones in the whole world) and another 60 dormant ones.
If you are one of the many curious tourists (like me!) that wants to peek inside the bowels of a rumbling volcano, you have no better option than Poas Volcano, where you can get close to its rim and gape down into the well-like vent, see lava bubbling and fumes of sulfur rising in the air.
The type of magma that fuels most of the volcanoes in Central America is thick, viscous and filled with gases that the erupting magma often blasts in the air. I read that if it erupts in great quantity, it may leave a void within the volcano's interior, into which the top of the mountain crumbles to form a caldera.
You will be amazed at the sight of lush vegetation! The green you see here is not the green we are used to seeing in North America or in Europe. It is a different shade of green, much deeper and greener!
Costa Rica’s flora is protected by a large system of national parks, which makes up for at least 20% of the country’s area. Thanks to these extensive protected areas, Costa Rica boasts more than 9,000 species of “higher plants”, and at least 800 species of ferns. There are many more species, some of which are widespread in the country, and some which are limited to an ecosystem or a particular area.
This region, which measures as much as the state of West Virginia, is responsible for the preservation of many of the world’s endangered species of flora.
It is a good idea to have some colones with you while traveling in Costa Rica. We run into situations when we wanted to pay in American dollars and the exchange rate varied from store to store or from restaurant to restaurant during the same day. The difference between the official exchange rate and the rate these places gave us was not that big, but it was bothering me to see how they try to get more money from you when you pay in another currency.
I have no problem giving an extra tip (we did that several times while vacationing here because we really liked the service and we wanted to give them more than the standard 10% tip they added to the bill), but I want to give it because I feel they deserve it and not because they are trying to get it from me in a sneaky way.
San Pablo De Turrubares, Costa Rica (Formerly La Finca Que Ama Hotel)
Good for: Business
I don’t know how many of you have stayed in an all inclusive hotel before... but this resort was so...more
Very friendly an to other d helpful staff. The newer rooms are excellent. good value relative...more