I visited different countries in America since the last six years of my life. From Cuba to Panama or United States until Mexico driving. I love adventure. I'm a nature fan. But let me explain my top 5 reasons and recommendations to travel off the beaten path in Costa Rica.
It is easy to travel off the beaten path in Costa Rica. No need to suffer to enjoy it!
Wildlife and nature
With more than 4% of world-wide biodiversity, Costa Rica and its jungles, beaches and National Parks really impressed me a lot. I'm Canadian from the North. I saw a lot of animals. But nothing compare to that country. In fact, they still discovering species every year...what about that!
Depending on where you go, you can have a tropical climate, rainforest, dry or even cold. From 34 degrees and above to 10 degrees in the same day if you want.
Yes, "ticos" are one of the most sympatic people I have ever met. Kind, respecful, generous, real.
Quality of life
Food is excellent, you can drink water at the source without turning sick and the variety and low price of vegetables and fruits drive me crazy-happy! What about picking up my own pineapple or to go for some fresh orange in the tree next to the house...
In resume, yes, I recommend Costa Rica as a place of living. But also, as a family vacations or for a romantic getaway. Theonly danger here is that you'll want to come back every year!
For some vacations, here are my hotels list in Costa Rica:
#1. La Leona Eco Lodge : http://www.laleonaecolodge.com/
#2. Cristal Azul:http://www.cristalazul.com/
#3. Whales and Dolphins Eco Lodge: http://www.whalesanddolphins.net/app/cms/www/index.php
#4. Golfo Dulce Lodge: http://www.golfodulcelodge.com/
The morning after our stay in the Tonjibe guesthouse, young guide Alfonso took us for a walk in the surrounding forest. Alfonso is only 50% Maleku, his father being from San José. At one time only 200 Maleku people remained, while in 1824 there were still 3200 living in 17 communities. As marriage between cousins is taboo, with so few people left the Maleku had to accept spouses from other indigenous tribes (e.g. Bribri), even tico's as long as these are willing to adapt to Maleku culture.
Alfonso pointed out several plants with medicinal virtue, for healing wounds, against pain and natural viagra. But his his ancestors have know many more, much knowledge has already been lost.
Alfonso also led us to an ancient burial site, hardly visible under dead leaves. Here he picked up some carved figurines to let us see them, then put them back. “You westerners store these in museums, we leave them where our ancesters wanted them to remain.”
If you happen to be in te neighbourhood on October 12, that is when the three Maleku villages - Margarita, Tonjibe, Sol - celebrate their yearly festivities!
Directions: On route #143, south of San Rafael de Guatuso.
We wanted to see the Atlantic Coast, so we headed to Puerto Limón. There is really not much to do there, except for surfers. At the beach Palaya Bonito 4 km west of town we saw a couple of local youth surfing, no foreigners.
It is the best place for swimming aorund Limón, many locals were here to relax on the beach or the restaurant terraces, even though it was not sunny.
After our evening meal at the Tonjibe guesthouse, we attended and took part in a cultural performance. This consisted of dance and prayer por la naturaleza (for nature). We felt the sadness of the performers for what already has been lost, but also their hope that the Creator (gran dios Tocú) will not abandon the natives.
Said elder Dagoberto Elizondo: “You westerners come as eco-tourists to admire Costa-Rica's natural riches, but we natives know how much of it has disappeared. We cannot live in our traditional houses, because few trees remain the leaves of which we were accustomed to use for the roof. So that 25 years ago we reluctantly accepted the offer of president Oscar Arias to have brick houses built for us. We have to walk for days to find a tree of the species of which the bark is suitable for making our traditional clothing. So that we now only wear it for ceremonial purposes.”
The Maleku claim 3500 ha as their ancestral lands, but now own only 800 ha. Most of their land has been converted to pasture by cattle growers. With the little money they earn they try to buy back some land and let forest regrow on it.
If you happen to be in te neighbourhood on October 12, that is when the three Maleku villages - Margarita, Tonjibe, Sol - celebrate their yearly coming together.
Directions: On route #143, south of San Rafael de Guatuso.
Consider which part of Costa Rica you want to visit. I live on the Caribbean side. Here you can be minutes from an uncrowded beach in a rental I know of for $600.00 a month. You have internet, security and a kitchen so you can eat cheap if you cook for yourself. The place is small, clean and the owners are a very nice congenial family.
The Caribbean is unique to Costa Rica with Afro Caribbeans descended from Jamaica. They are warm, friendly people. More English is spoken here than any other part of Costa Rica. We have gorgeous beaches and lots of other fun things to do.
The Pacific side is generally more expensive and developed. The Caribbean is more primitive - no high rise hotels here. And that is only one of the reasons why I love living here.
Travel agencies and online sites often direct people to the Pacific side of Costa Rica. The is because it is the more developed part of the country and there are more opportunities for them to make money from the tourists. Some even say to stay away from the Caribbean side due to high crime. Well that just is not true. There is just as much crime anywhere else in the country.
If you like things less developed and you want a more cultural experience, you will really like Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, on Costa Rica's Caribbean side. I live there and I love it! The people are warm and friendly. Lots of English is spoken. The culture is unique to Costa Rica.
There are lots of fun things for you to do in the Puerto Viejo area. Besides swimming at many different gorgeous beaches and hiking to beautiful jungle vistas, you can see and learn about the wild animals of Costa Rica at our wonderful animal rescue center and play with the baby monkeys. You can see how chocolate is made from the local cocoa trees. You can visit the Indigenous and learn about their culture. You can take Salsa dancing lessons from a local, take a Caribbean cooking class and try our delicious local food. You can see the Blue Morpho Butterfly in the jungle and learn about the many uses for the jungle plants - or visit a butterfly garden. You can stay up late for a night time guided jungle walk, and stay up even later to see the Sea Turtles come ashore and lay their eggs. And you can hear some good live music almost every night: calypso, reggae and even rock and roll. Of course you can swim in the waterfalls, ride horseback on the beach, go rafting on a wild river and zip lining in the high forest canopy!
I would suggest you consider the Caribbean!
My advice is to drop all your plans and go to the Pacific and come to the Caribbean! I live in Puerto Viejo and I can tell you that August and September is just about the most beautiful time of the year to be here. The ocean crystal clear and great for swimming, snorkeling & diving. And the weather is almost always sunny. In the fall it is rainy season on the Pacific side.
All the outdoor activities you could want - zip lining, water sports, jungle hikes, horseback riding and more, can be done here in the Puerto Viejo area, with the exception of visiting a volcano. But you can take a day at the beginning or end of your trip to visit Poas Volcano, which is not far from the area you fly in to, the town of Alajuela.
The Caribbean is less developed - a bit more rustic - than the Pacific side and that is it's real charm. The people are warm and friendly. Lots of English is spoken. We have some very good restaurants, fun nightlife with excellent live music. And our beaches and jungles are just amazingly gorgeous!
Let me know what you are interested in and I can make more suggestions.
I just bought an Ocean Front lot and used Mariette Daignault to help me. She is one of the most wonderful people I have encountered in life. I was referred to her by someone I met down there, and have ended up staying in one of her rooms for rent below her home also. She knows the in's and out's of buying land, homes, etc, has a wonderful reputation, speaks 4 languages at least, Spanish, French, English, and something else..? She has some wonderful rooms available, full kitchen, pool, etc. Drop her a line.
Potrero is the village we lived in for six weeks. It is an absolutely perfect place to TRULY get away from it all. The only store in the village is a grocery store called Super Ceymi. It is owned by two wonderful friendly men, Miguel and Orlando. We rented a little house just down the road from the store from a man named Gato. He owns a number of houses and will rent them out at reasonable prices for all lengths of time.
There are two beaches in this area--Playa Penca and Playa Potrero. Playa Penca is the prettiest and while we lived in Potrero we went to this beach every day and only a couple of times did we ever see anyone else on this beach.
There isn't a lot to do in Potrero. We spent our time going for walks, going to the beach, riding our bikes and a lot of reading. Originally we had planned to spend 6 months here but after 4 weeks I was bored out of my mind. That is when we decided to travel the rest of Central America.
Overall Potrero was a wonderful place to relax and enjoy village beach living. The people were wonderful, the animals plentiful (howler monkeys everywhere!) and the weather perfect. If you are looking for culture and activity this isn't the place to go though.
If you really want to experience life in Costa Rica, avoid the tourist areas. Volunteer with ANAI and work for a week in Gondoca and live with a local family. For only $15 a night, you get accomodations and three excellent meals. Plus you get the chance to see and work with sea turtles. It's far from luxury, in fact, you'll get to be on a first name basis with every mosquito in the area, but the project is a great experience.
I have lived in Costa Rica for 3 1/2 years and I love it. I live on the Caribbean side. This part of the country is an undiscovered treasure.
I love it here because we have enchanting uncrowded beaches, amazing jungles and awesome mountain vistas. This part of Costa Rica is less developed than the Pacific side but with accommodations from primitive and cheap to five star.
WEATHER: The most rain is from November through January. Ocean storms bring it the best waves for the surfers at that time of year. It is drier in August and September and the water is flat, not so good for surfers but fantastic for diving and snorkeling. Regardless of the season, there is always sun, mixed in with the rain.
English is spoken everywhere, due to the Afro Caribbean culture descended from Jamaica. The locals are warm, helpful, friendly people. There are lots of Europeans and tourists from all over the world. It is truly a relaxed, laid back, inviting atmosphere. We also have lots of good restaurants, live music – Reggae, Salsa, Calypso and American. There is lots to do, yet it is easy to get away and find an isolated beach of your own.
I spent a little over 3 months in this beautiful town just a bit outside the capitol. Where as this is a place you can walk around wearing your ipod at 3am, places like Alajuela (closer to San Jose), and San Jose itself you wouldn't think of it in most areas anytime of the day. Alot of people will try to steer you away from many of the cities in Costa Rica, but know that most of this has either changed or just isn't at all true. That's another subject though....... As far as Poas, it's a great and inexpensive place to stay. You can currently takes buses from here for 85 cents to a couple bucks depending on how far you're going. Taxi's run you to any neighboring city for $5 or less. The whole area is loaded with places to check out that aren't FLOODED with tourists ANYTIME of the year. This is a great little town to sit and relax in if you're just not a fan of hot and humid weather. I was there in the "rainy season" and it pretty much rained every other day or so from around noon to around 4pm through 2008's season at least. It wasn't bad at all and the rain never interrupted my travel. When it rains in the mountains it does pour though, so be aware of this. Lightning is a VERY common occurrence in the rainy season as well. I feel like I've said so much that's general about the town that many may not care to visit it, but it really is a town to experience and tour yourself. Like most of Costa Rica, you shouldn't have a guide. You should be the guide. I'll throw out there that white water rafting, canopy tours, and many other activities are within quick access. As, well as active volcanoes and coffee farms galore! A place you'll really enjoy whether you're 15 or 80. I still have a place down there and plan to be back to build my new home in April of this year! I'm excited. Pura Vida!
For fashion-shooting a superb location; the design and the decor are the most important to create a fabulous atmosphere. Even you donot actually see the surroundings, it does not matter. The Hotel Villa Caletas has all of it. It's hard to find a luxury hotel in Costa Rica with a more spectacular setting.
High on a mountain you feel like in heaven, well,... at least "close to heaven"! Most spectacular is the stunning view which is 360 degrees around. Great background for fashion shoots!
Even when you are a very to-the-basic and averse-to-luxury person this spot is fabulous! Take a drive, a walk up on that hill. Take a cup of coffee, and see the Pool; the aquamarine blue, refreshing pool, reaching perfectly for its horizon, creating an illusory unity with the ocean. That is unbelievable ...
Costa Rica has some of the most beautiful country i've ever seen. This picture was taken between Monte Verde and San Ramon. Make sure you rent a four wheel drive, because some of the roads are not in very good shape.
A santuary for macaws, other birds, sloths and monkeys; it's about an hour from Puntarenas.
There are wild macaws fling around you, toucans, love birds and assorted parrots. Some are caged and some free to fly away.
Also, there are monk monkeys, lizards and sloths.
The fauna is beautiful too!
Fresh fruit and water was served before we were given an opportunity to buy trinkets.
The warden was interesting and he was keen to chat in excellent English.
I'd like to go back.
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